Innovation Award

Congratulations to the 2021 - 2022 Innovation Award recipient:

Whitney Cain!

Whitney’s nominator wrote the following:

“I am nominating Whitney Cain for the Innovation Award to recognize the outstanding work she has done to improve upon the student employment experience within Tate Facilities and Operations. Specifically, this work includes the development of ongoing training modules through eLC that are dynamic and engaging and help to being meaning to student employees’ work.

Since its creation, Whitney has served on the Learning Collaborative where she has been an incredible resource. She enters the room with energy, ready to dive into our work. Whitney is continually looking for ways she can broaden her role to better serve the division. One of the goals for the LC this year is to expand EL [Experiential Learning] programs across our division, and Whitney was quick to volunteer her new student employment program. When I had the opportunity to learn more about this program, I was very impressed!

Tate Facilities and Operations currently employs 35 students, 7 of which are building managers and the remaining serve as info desk staff. Whitney views her student employees as the face of the university because Tate serves as a centralized hub for most students. As a result, these students have high expectations placed upon them, welcoming anyone who walks through Tate, answering questions, and solving any issues that arise.

Two years ago, Whitney realized that her student employees weren’t resourced correctly through their training model where all students were trained at one time with monthly check ins. To better meet the needs of these employees, Whitney created online training modules through eLC. These modules include resources shared by campus partners, resources developed in house, videos, readings, and more covering topics such as customer service, leadership, conflict de-escalation, campus resources, etc. Whitney has also been able to incorporate the initiatives of the SA 2025 strategic plan. During their shifts, employees are expected to review current modules and engage in a discussion board with fellow employees.

The move to modules within eLC has allowed training to happen in a real-time fashion, better meeting student employees’ increasingly busy schedules, especially as they progress through their time at UGA. As a result, employee retention rates are increasing (3 years for Student Managers and 2 years for Info Desk staff). The modules are also providing important tools and resources for students. Using results from last year’s SkillSurvey, which indicated Tate Student Managers perceived themselves to lack leadership skills, Whitney incorporated more leadership capacity-building activities and resources. Aligning with the division’s goals, the incorporation of the SA 2025 strategic plan has allowed her employees to better understand the goals, see themselves within them, and directly participate in advancing the division to meet them.

Whitney’s work is the epitome of learning, improvement, and innovation. Recently, during a meeting among colleagues on campus who have a significant number of student employees, Whitney offered her program as the basis of a potential division-wide student employee training effort. She recognizes that there are departments throughout our division who don’t have the resources to create such a training program, and Whitney isn’t trying to keep her creation to herself. She wants to help as much as possible.

For the creation of the Tate Facilities and Operations student employee training program and for her incredible spirit to always say yes and try something new, Whitney Cain is an outstanding nominee for the Innovation Award.”

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

Nominate someone to be recognized for their hard work!

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