In 1976, the McCormick Board of Trustees established the Distinguished Alumnus/a Award:
This award is recognition of distinguished contribution to the ministry of the church by an alumnus/a of McCormick Seminary. The award is open to all, without reference to age, sex, ethnic background, denomination, form of ministry, length of service or public fame. Rather, the emphasis will be on quality and significance of exceptional contribution to the ministry of Jesus Christ.
The award is for living graduates and cannot be awarded posthumously. Retired McCormick presidents and professors are not eligible for the award during the their first five years after leaving the Seminary. Only alums can nominate candidates, although anyone can submit a letter of recommendation. The committee emphasizes the importance of a complete nomination, which must include adequate information describing the person's history and work, as well as at least three letters of recommendation. All information must be submitted to the Alumni/ae Office.