Purple & Old Gold Award

The Purple and Old Gold Award is the highest award given by the University of Northern Iowa. Named after the university colors, the traditional awards were first presented at commencement ceremonies in 1939. Recipients of this honor wear a bronze medal to symbolize their outstanding achievements, are noted in the Commencement Program, and a permanent notation is made on their academic transcript.

Departments submitting student names for recognition should complete the form online here.

The Purple and Old Gold Meritorious Award for Meritorious Scholarship:

The Purple and Old Gold Meritorious Award is awarded to one graduating student in each academic department (or major academic field when unique disciplines are combined into a school or merged department) who has demonstrated outstanding academic success at the university. Candidates are identified by the Office of the Registrar and departments select one recipient.

Students graduating at the end of the fall semester are also eligible for consideration for the awards at the following spring commencement.  Students must have earned at the University of Northern Iowa at least 60-89 semester hours with a UNI cumulative grade index of 3.60 or 90 semester hours with a UNI cumulative grade index of 3.50.

The Purple and Old Gold Award for Conspicuous Achievement:

The Purple and Old Gold Award for Conspicuous Achievements is granted to one graduating student in each of the following extra-curricular fields (Athletics, Art, Digital Media, Forensics, Journalism, Music, Performance Studies, and Theatre) who has completed an outstanding public performance, show, event, or publicly displayed piece that distinguishes their ability from their peers. Candidates are identified by leaders in identified areas and nominations are given to the Office of the Registrar.


The areas recognized will be reviewed each year by the Office of the Registrar and the Office of the Provost. Adjustments will be made to the qualifying areas when departments or colleges are added and/or disbanded. A thorough explanation (in writing) of how an academic field distinguishes itself from other similar areas is the responsibility of the academic unit requesting an additional award.

To maintain the prestige of this award, consideration of additional awards is rarely approved and must be made in writing to the Office of the Registrar one year in advance.

Procedure for Selection:

Office of the Registrar provides a list of the eligible candidates to each of the appropriate departments/colleges. The department selects one nominee in the identified categories. The name of the selected nominee must be submitted online at least one month prior to the spring commencement. For Spring 2023, the form must be submitted no later than Friday, March 31.

Current Listing of Disciplines for Meritorious Achievement

College of Business
Accounting 152, 15E, 158
Business Teaching 143
Economics 921, 922, 925, 926
Finance 16F,16I, 16R, 16S, 16W
Management 14C, 15C, 15D, 15F, 15O
Management Information Systems 141, 14A, 14B, 14D
Marketing 13B, 13E, 13F, 13H, 13J, 13M, 13R, 13S
Real Estate 166
Supply Chain Management 15S
College of Education
Athletic Training 42A
Early Childhood Education 210
Elementary Education 212
Public Health & Education 410, 411, 41A, 41C-41H, 41J, 41L, 41N, 41P, 41S, 41W, 41X
Leisure Services 43A-43J, 43L, 43N, 43P-43W, 43Z
Middle School/Jr. High School Education 21V
Physical Education 420, 42B, 42E, 42F, 42H, 42L, 42M, 42P
College of Humanities, Arts & Sciences
Art 600, 605, 60D, 60H, 60S
Communication Studies 48C, 48G, 48H, 48I, 48O, 48M, 48P, 48T, 48V
Communicative Sciences & Disorders 510, 512
Electronic Media (Digital Media) 48E, 48X, 48Y, 48Z
English 620
Humanities, American Studies, Latin American Studies, Asian Studies, European Studies (chosen by Dean of the college) 680, 911, 912, 913
Music 520, 52A, 52B, 52E, 52H, 52I, 52J, 52L, 522, 5T1-5T6
Public Relations 47A, 47B, 47C, 48P
Russian 697, 770, 77W
Spanish 780
Theatre 490, 49A-49F, 49H, 49M, 49P, 49S
TESOL/Modern Languages 692, 694, 697, 698
Biology 84A-84M, 84P, 84Q, 84R, 84T, 84U, 84V, 84W, 844-849
Chemistry/Biochemistry 86B-86E, 862, 863, 865
Computer Science 810-815, 81B, 81N, 81S
Earth Science/Geology/Environmental Science 870-873, 878, 879, 87A, 87E, 87N
Technology - BA 33W, 34T, 34U, 3GT
Technology - BS 33K, 33S, 34G, 34H, 34J, 35A, 35G, 35E
Mathematics 800-809, 80B, 80C, 80D, 80H, 80R, 80S
Physics 880-888, 88B, 88C 88E, 88H, 88N, 88P, 88S
Philosophy 650
World Religion 641
Science (selected by Chair of Science Education) 82A, 82J
College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Anthropology 990
Asian Studies/European Studies/Russian & East European Studies, American Studies, Global Studies (chosen by Dean of the college) 911, 912, 913, OGS
Criminology 982, 98C, 98J
Textile & Apparel 32T
Family Services 31F
Gerontology 31L, 31S
Interior Design 32I
Geography 970-974, 97A-97F, 97H-97N, 97P, 97R, 97S
History 960
Political Science 940, 94C
Psychology 400
Public Administration 944-947, 949, 94E, 94G, 94H, 94P, 94Q, 94X
Social Science 90A, 90B, 90C
Social Work 450
Sociology 980
Continuing Education & Special Programs
Individual Studies, BLS, General Studies

001, 030-039, 0HS, 0CJ, 0RA, 0SO, 0HU, GS0-GS4, N20-N25

Current Listing of Disciplines for Conspicuous Achievement

  • Athletics (Men)
  • Athletics (Women)
  • Art
  • Electronic Media
  • Forensics
  • Journalism
  • Music
  • Performance Studies
  • Theatre