Created in 2000, the Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence is conferred upon a graduating senior from one of the State System universities. This award was founded by Dr. Syed R. Ali-Zaidi, a charter member of the Board of Governors. Funding for this academic excellence award was made possible through gifts from Dr. Ali-Zaidi, Highmark Inc., and the State System Foundation, Inc. Dr. Ali-Zaidi wishes to inspire and honor State System students who exhibit excellence in their pursuit of knowledge.
Candidates for the 2017 award were recommended by their university president at the conclusion of a campus application and selection process that was open to all graduating seniors. Multiple selection criteria included outstanding academic scholarship, including prizes, honors, and honorary societies; participation in extra/co-curricular activities; and a two-page essay by the nominee addressing how the university has prepared him or her for the next career step.
- Boenell Kline – Bloomsburg University
- Claudia Pehowic – California University
- Jasmine Richardson – Cheyney University
- Kelly Dungan – Clarion University
- Danielle Ard – East Stroudburg University
- Breanna Purnell – Edinboro University
- Kara McClain – Indiana University
- Margariete Malenda – Kutztown University
- Heather Porter – Lock Haven University
- Sarah Polinski – Mansfield University (winner)
- Sylvia Hitz – Millersville University
- Michelle Bradley – Shippensburg University
- Timothy Samec – Slippery Rock University
- Kellen Kane – West Chester University