UT Arlington Recognized for Going Above and Beyond During Pandemic
By Jeff Carlton, UT Arlington Communications
Posted on October 22, 2021, October 22, 2021

Person receives a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has selected The University of Texas at Arlington as a Star Award recipient for its outstanding efforts to respond to COVID-19. 

The Star Awards recognize institutions that go above and beyond to help students succeed. For 2021, the THECB honored institutions that “ensured the health, safety and success of their campus community through innovative approaches and local partnerships.” UTA was one of 10 award recipients out of 31 applicants.

“I’m honored that The University of Texas at Arlington has been selected as a 2021 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Star Award recipient for outstanding efforts in response to COVID-19,” UTA Interim President Teik C. Lim said. “This is a wonderful honor for our students, faculty and staff who unselfishly gave of their time, talent and treasure to serve others. When looking toward the future, one thing is certain: UTA will always be a force for good for the people and the communities we serve.”

UTA implemented a number of strategies since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly 18 months ago, focusing on health and safety while emphasizing student success.

These initiatives included:

  •  Success U: This new virtual five-week summer program helped more than 600 incoming first-year Mavericks get a head start on their transition to college and prepared them for the demands of its coursework.
  • (EAF): The EAF, funded by donations from UTA employees and campus fundraisers, provided approximately $500,000 in one-time grants to students needing additional financial assistance during the pandemic.
  • Testing and contact tracing: A multipronged approach that included UTA Health Services, the North Texas Genome Center and a third-party service provider helped the University administer tens of thousands of COVID tests to the UTA community. A survey of UTA students indicated that 91% were highly satisfied with the availability of testing and contact tracing.
  • Vaccination clinics: UTA offered free COVID-19 vaccinations on campus beginning in the spring of 2021, first through a partnership with the University of North Texas Health Science Center and later through third-party contractors.

The University also established numerous community partnerships to address the needs of the campus and local community.

Such initiatives included:

  • Lending A Hand: UTA’s Center for Mexican American Studies distributed “COVID prevention bags” that included masks, hand sanitizer and health literature at five Arlington elementary schools.
  • FabLab project: Volunteers at UTA Libraries’ FabLab designed and created hundreds of face shields, using 3D printers and laser cutters, for area hospitals and medical clinics.
  • Virtual reading classes: John Romig, assistant professor in the College of Education, established virtual reading classes that allowed his students to practice their teaching skills while providing valuable teaching and tutoring to grade-school students who were stuck at home.
  • Police help: The UTA Police Department sent volunteers to the city of Arlington’s first vaccination clinic to administer shots and direct traffic.
  • Nursing students step up: A team of UTA nursing students found an impactful way to give back to a rural community by driving more than two hours to administer more than 1,300 doses of the vaccine to residents of rural Fannin County.

The Texas Higher Education Star Awards were established by the THECB in 2001. They recognize exceptional contributions toward achieving one or more of the goals of the state strategic plan for higher education.

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