Commitment to Excellence Award

Congratulations to the 2020-2021 Commitment to Excellence award recipient, Carla Dennis!


Carla's nominators wrote the following:

“It is with great enthusiasm that I nominate Carla Dennis for the Student Affairs Commitment to Excellence Award. She immediately comes to mind when I think of someone who is dedicated to the success of UGA Student Affairs.

Carla consistently demonstrates exceptional leadership and exemplary service to UGA students, staff and the community. Her excellence is witnessed on so many levels and she truly goes “above and beyond” in all that she does.

Within the Administrative Services and Communications (ASC) unit in University Housing, Carla cultivates the building of relationships through continual communication and focuses on an inclusive environment for all staff. From surprise snack breaks, to Bingo, to connecting with each staff member in a 1-1, Carla is sincerely dedicated to engaging, inspiring and encouraging growth for each and every staff member on her team.

Within the ASC team’s supervisory group, Carla leads engaging conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion; initiated a book club; and encourages participation in numerous ways. Whether she’s sharing a professional development offering she thought might be of interest, or, encouraging participation in a department/division/university opportunity, she makes sure our team is apprised and engaged with events and important communications so that we are all best prepared to serve as a resource for each of our own staff and the entire UGA community.

Within the Housing leadership team and University setting, Carla is a respected peer and trusted advisor that is looked to for sound advice and broadened perspectives when exploring strategic decisions from all angles. This trust comes from decades of commitment where the growth and success of students (#forthestudents) is always at the forefront of her decision-making. One of her most recent contributions includes successfully leading a Housing COVID-19 response group. Through her leadership, this group convened to create a plan to navigate the multi-layered complexities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, from welcoming students back to campus housing in the fall to ensuring continued health, safety and wellbeing through the spring. Furthermore, Carla is frequently asked to serve on and/or lead various committees, including most recently chairing the Director for Residential Programs and Services search committee and serving on the DawgCheck Key Stakeholders group.

All that is mentioned above is a testament to her hard work and dedication, but what is truly inspiring is her “above and beyond”. Carla always takes the time to listen to staff whether it is a matter of sharing successes or navigating difficult conversations; is compassionate and ready to share insights and foster learning opportunities when students (and parents) reach out for assistance; spearheads the annual Housing Against Hunger initiative resulting in the contribution of around 60,000 pounds of food for the Northeast Georgia Food Bank since 2016; takes the time to recognize and submit thoughtful award nominations for so many staff; and even led a quest for the purchase and installation of mini-refrigerators and microwaves to ensure the upmost comfort for students staying in isolation spaces. Even with this handful of examples, I am confident there is so much more! She is a humble, authentic, and ever-encouraging leader. It is because of her “above and beyond” contributions to the student experience, department, division, university, and beyond, that I nominate Carla for the Commitment to Excellence award.”



“Dr. Carla Dennis is nothing short of miraculous.  Not only have I observed her provide great leadership to the overall University Housing team but I have witnessed her pause to provide thoughtful coaching and feedback to staff, I have seen her drop everything to put on work clothes and physically pick up mini fridges and microwaves and transport them to hotels for our students in need, and sometimes stay in the office until 11pm at night because the work needed to get done. Carla strives for excellence in everything that she does and does it with a caring and leaders heart. It’s the first time I’ve ever worked at a university where a director is dedicated to modeling both the administrative and physical work for the team. 

As a result of her leadership we have had students who receive regular and routine communication, we have 96% occupancy in our halls (likely the best occupancy rate in the country this year), maintained high motivation in the team, contributed to meeting all the needs of the institution and University System of Georgia, and still found time to practice self-care and being a mom.  All of this is in addition to what her normal every day job consists of (which already includes a lot of leadership and supervision, service work, and staff appreciation). Not to mention in her free time she lead the search for the director of housing facilities position. There’s literally nothing she can’t do!”


Recipient: Individual

Do you know someone that has been here for 10 or more years and want to recognize that person for their hard work and commitment? Does a name come immediately to mind when you think of someone who is dedicated to the success of UGA Student Affairs? 

This award recognizes a UGA Student Affairs staff member who has contributed at least 10 years of service to UGA Student Affairs. This staff member, regardless of position or title, has demonstrated exceptional leadership and exemplary service to UGA students, staff, and the community.

Nominations will be evaluated according to one or more of the following criteria:

  • Displaying a steadfast commitment to performance beyond regular position responsibilities
  • Modeling an example of excellence for students and staff
  • Providing a level of service that exceeds their position responsibilities and expectations to prioritize the student experience
  • Positively impacting, engaging, and/or supporting the Division and UGA community
  • Nominee serves as a staff member in UGA Student Affairs with a minimum of 10 years of service to the Division at time of nomination

Previous Award Winners

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Staff Awards

The Student Affairs Staff Awards, given to deserving staff across the division and the University, recognize outstanding accomplishments and leadership in student affairs at the University of Georgia.

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University of Georgia
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James Crawford
Student Affairs Staff Development Lead

Matthew Waller
Chief of Staff