Innovation Award

Congratulations to the 2020-2021 Innovation Award recipient, the University Health Center!


Their nominator wrote the following:

“While it would be unprecedented to name such a large group as recipient of a student affairs award, we believe that you will not find a group more deserving of this award than the staff of the University Health Center. This award calls for nominees who “have shown initiative to innovate and create solutions that address a gap or need within their department or the Division.” This describes the response that the staff of this organization had to the challenges brought to this campus by COVID-19. Globally, health care workers have been applauded for their work in the war on a virus that changed our daily lives in a way that none of us could have imagined 14 months ago. As a division, this would be an expression of celebration and gratitude to the entire UHC staff.

In the early days of the pandemic, when there was so much yet to be learned about the virus, tents were set up outside to separate the sick from the well. The materials department worked tirelessly to secure the appropriate amount of PPE so that our staff were always protected. The facilities team implemented new cleaning methods to protect patients and staff. The lab secured new equipment and testing supplies in advance of our students returning to campus.

When UGA announced that classes would not be returning face to face, the UHC knew that we had to continue to meet the healthcare needs of our students and a team was put into place to develop and implement telehealth. What was to be part of our five-year strategic plan was up and running in less than a month. Between March 2020 and December 2020 there were over 10,200 telehealth visits conducted by the clinicians of the Health Center including primary care, gynecology, vision clinic, physical therapy, counseling, and Health Promotion.

In addition to creative solutions for connecting students with their providers, we also knew that we needed to get students their prescriptions. The pharmacy team implemented curbside pick-up, mail-order delivery, and in-person delivery to get students both their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, as needed.

During the summer of 2020, UGA decided to create a mass COVID surveillance testing site.  UHC collaborated with the School of Veterinary Medicine to make it happen within weeks. Job descriptions were written, positions were created, staff were hired and trained and a central location was found.  The amount of planning and coordinating to get this testing site up and operational by the first week of August was a feat in itself, but it got done.  The goal to test 300 students, faculty, and staff each day increased as the months passed.  By the end of fall semester Legion Field was testing close to 1,000 people a day. 

When the parking lot tents came down and the testing was moved into clinical space inside, a testing center was created with a satellite lab to separate symptomatic patients from other patients. Since its inception, this testing center has conducted over 5,200 COVID tests. Our laboratory staff has worked tirelessly, and at its peak saw over 200 tests a day in addition to their routine work.

With the delivery of vaccine just before the winter break, many UHC staff worked over the holidays to administer vaccine and plan for the delivery of vaccine to those who were eligible when faculty, staff, and students returned to campus after the break. To date, nurses have delivered over 4500 vaccines, while many others from across the Health Center have worked to support check-in, clinical consultation, traffic flow, and checkout. But, vaccine delivery is more than getting vaccine in arms; it has required many departments to step up. The pharmacy has been instrumental in the receipt, storage, and dispensing of the vaccine. Health Promotion currently staffs a hotline for the campus community to call for vaccine questions. Registration sees up to 200 more patients per day and answers many more phone calls. The Business Services department has worked tirelessly to create health records for all faculty and staff vaccine recipients as well as file insurance claims for every vaccine delivered. And our IT department has been key to the success of getting patients scheduled for vaccine.

Perhaps the greatest achievement for the UHC staff has been their flexibility.  And did we mention, that while all of this has been occurring that the staff has continued to maintain as normal operations as possible?”


Recipient: Individual or Group

Do you have a coworker who embodies innovation and creativity in their work? Are you someone that is actively developing new solutions to help students succeed?

This award recognizes an individual or group of individuals that utilized a creative approach to advance the work of UGA Student Affairs. Nominees for this award have shown initiative to innovate and create solutions that address a gap or need within their department or the Division.

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

  • Establishing and/or strengthening relationships with campus partners external to UGA Student Affairs to foster a supportive student development environment
  • Identifying a creative and sustainable solution to an identified gap or need in their department or the Division to advance the mission of UGA Student Affairs
  • Demonstrating initiative in the creation of a new process or solution to enrich student development or enhance departmental effectiveness
  • Individual nominee must serve as a current UGA Student Affairs staff member at time of nomination – at least one person in a group nomination must serve as a current UGA Student Affairs staff member 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.

Contact Us

408 Memorial Hall
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602

James Crawford
Student Affairs Staff Development Lead

Matthew Waller
Chief of Staff