Matt's nominators said the following:
“It is my pleasure as Matt’s supervisor to write this nomination for him for the New Professional of the Year Award. I have been honored to serve as Matt’s supervisor since July 2020. Matt joined us after finishing his graduate program to serve as a Residence Hall Director in University Housing. While this was Matt’s first professional role in University Housing, he brought a wealth of skills, willingness to learn, passion for the work we do, and constant volunteering to help. In joining a housing team, there is always a challenge to get through the first few months with move in, new staff members, and everyone learning about their roles, residence halls, and on campus life. 2020 brought a global pandemic that shifted many of our practices, roles, and areas of responsibility for all of our departments across campus.
When he joined us, Matt embraced his role as a Residence Hall Director and did not let virtual meetings, social distancing, and anything else the pandemic through at him get in his way. He regularly set up meetings for his students and student staff to connect with him. He took tours of his buildings with facilities partners to fully understand the inner workings of his community. He reached out to different staff members throughout housing and fostered relationships to ensure he was being an active member of the team.
Matt’s first two months in the role were so successful that he was chosen from the residence hall directors to assist with managing the COVID call center in University Housing. Aside from answering student and parent concerns and questions related to all things COVID, Matt also worked to train his peers and colleagues about the housing process for supporting students during their quarantine/isolation periods. Matt did this while also still managing his full time role. He serves as a supervisor to a team of resident assistants, supervises a 24 hour front desk, advises a Community Council, serves on the Culture of Inclusion Committee, and was still participating in events such as Coffee and Conversations throughout the entire year. He has thrived so exceptionally in his role that I have been overwhelmed often times with pride as his supervisor.
Matt has also stepped up throughout the department to serve on various committees such as the Jim Day Housing Scholarship review team, volunteering to assist with manual reviews, and much more. Matt also takes time to engage the team outside of the office through monthly Moon Walks hosted by our Executive Director. Matt was asked this year to serve as a facilitator for the Leadership Summit. He has also assisted with piloting a mediation program that partners UGA Law School students with University Housing residents who are experiencing conflicts that require a mediation. This program provides a neutral mediator for each situation and also allows the housing staff member to serve as a support for the students. I look forward to seeing Matt continue to grow in his role and as a staff member in the Student Affairs field for many years to come.”
“As a Residence Hall Director, Matt is pulled in multiple directions, whether it's his supervision duties, crisis response, building relationships with his students, or simply managing his daily tasks; Matt has been one to handle it all with grace, while simultaneously seeking out new opportunities for growth.
Matt has hit the ground running within University Housing. Having only started in July, he quickly became the first Residence Hall Director to assist with relocating our students due to the pandemic, which at the time was only a two-person team. Housing leadership asked him to temporarily manage the newly created COVID call center while simultaneously training his peers on COVID protocols and procedures. During this time, Matt was also still overseeing his staff of 21, while productively finding ways to combat situations within his community due to the virus. While COVID was at its peak at UGA, Matt thought about other ways to support his student's health and decided to become CPR certified through the UGA Office of Emergency Preparedness. His work ethic and genuine compassion have been seen across his team, so much so that Matt was nominated and awarded the National Residence Hall Honorary "Residence Life Professional Staff Member" for the month of September 2020. This nomination came from one of Matt's staff members who stated that even though Matt was rarely in the office due to the call center, he still made it a point to make himself accessible to his staff and purchased them snacks as a thank you for the hard work they had been doing.
Even within a global pandemic, Matt has committed himself to engaging with campus partners. Matt has made it his personal mission to attend as many "Coffee & Conversations" as possible to meet more of his peers across the division. He can regularly be found walking around Georgia Square Mall with Linda Kasper, Executive Director for University Housing, and peers, during Linda's monthly "moon walks." Matt's outreach efforts contributed to the Education Leadership & Service Office approaching him to volunteer as a facilitator for their 2021 Leadership Summit. Matt is also currently in conversations with the Multicultural Services & Programs office to foster a relationship between them and University Housing, to bring more inclusive programming to students. He has also volunteered to review scholarship applications for the 2021 Jim Day Housing Scholarship which will provide him with the opportunity to learn from residents’ perspectives how University Housing has positively impacted their lives at UGA. Matt actively seeks out opportunities to create relationships to best support his students, department, and peers.
This spring, Matt was able to partner with the Housing Sustainability Coordinator, Christy Tweedy, to lead a composting pilot program at his community on the Health Science Campus for the first time. To create a positive impact for his residents, Matt also piloted a "compost pledge" where he asked his residents to commit to compost during the spring semester. Matt physically showcased the pledge in the community office, which lead to greater participation. This program was highly successful, with over 45 residents signing up! So far, the Health Science Campus has composted a generous amount of waste in its first month of the program. Matt's second pilot program is in partnership with the University of Georgia's School of Law and the Office of Student Conduct, where law students are given the opportunity to practice their mediation skills with roommate conflicts within Matt's community.
I strongly believe that he is more than deserving to be recognized for going above and beyond in his role, all while exemplifying what it means to be a Georgia Bulldawg within the Division of Student Affairs. His leadership, charisma, and need to excel, has positively impacted Matt's peers, department, students, and with anyone he has worked.”
Have a new professional in your department that exceeds expectations? Are you a newer professional and feel like you have gone above and beyond?
This award recognizes a UGA Student Affairs staff member with 1 to 3 years total professional experience within their field (not only at UGA) who has consistently exceeded the responsibilities of their position in a way that enhances the success, mission, and goals of the Division.
Nominations will be evaluated according to one or more of the following criteria:
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.