Charlotte, NC

UNC Awarded Excellence and Innovation Award by AASCU

The Hornet's Nest

CHARLOTTE, NC - In honour of the university's responses to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities has named UNC Charlotte one of its 2021 winners in the Excellence and Innovation Award.

The University was chosen for a unique prize that honours the models of student accomplishment despite the hurdles posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"UNC Charlotte's choice as the AASCU Campus Pandemic Answer Award in the Urban Category 2021 is an indication of our personnel' talent and passion and our students' commitment and hard work," stated Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. "Through our collaborative efforts, we were able to provide our students with the best level of education – online or personally – while at the same time accomplishing record-breaking inscription and funding targets. This honour is the property and pride of all the Niner Nation."

The AASCU Awards Committee has selected the University's entry, "Learning in the Time of COVID," for its remarkable outcomes and potential for influence and as a role model for other schools.

In announcing the prize recipients, AASCU President Mildred García said, "I am honoured to recognize these award winners of the Excellence and Innovation Award, who have shown enormous inventiveness, perseverance and engagement in an unbelievably tough year. These institutions pave the way to prioritize justice, student performance and promote their various communities and regions as stewards of the square."

The highlights of the creative UNC Charlotte campus response to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic award include:

Wastewater testing and quarantine procedures: Faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers from many academic disciplines collaborated to create wastewater testing as an early-warning system for COVID-19 and coronavirus clusters. The University's activities were featured in an August 2020 New York Times article.

Remote learning and student life: The Center for Teaching and Learning and the Audiovisual Integration and Support for Learning Environments teams worked extra hard to equip faculty with the tools necessary to ensure instructional continuity.

Mitigation to vaccination: For the 2020-21 academic year, the University delayed limited student move-in to allow time to implement a plan of action coordinated by the University's Office of Safety and Security. In the spring, the University hosted vaccination clinics for faculty, staff, and students. A team of University contact tracers, specially trained graduate students in public health sciences, determined who had been close to those infected.

Constant communication: An online dashboard informs the public about the institution's COVID-19 status. The dashboard shows daily health trends. The Office of University Communications began creating “The New Norm,” an educational campaign with safety information to preserve the campus community.

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