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UCOP Communications and partners win prestigious CASE Awards

UCOP has won three 2024 Circle of Excellence Awards this year — one gold and two silvers. These prestigious international awards recognize exceptional achievement in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing.

UCOP’s award-winning projects

GOLD:  Saving Whales – Breakthrough Tech Stops Deadly Ship Collisions

Category: Videos – News and Research
This video about UC Santa Barbara’s revolutionary technology, Whale Safe, highlights the huge, yet unseen, issue of whale-ship strikes and the solution to stop them. Professor Douglas McCauley explains the life-saving technology and its impact off the coast of California to save endangered whales. This video is part of the University of California’s Fig. 1 series, which explains research in an easy-to-digest way. The video uses narration, an interview from Professor McCauley, and stunning whale footage to communicate the importance of this research for a lay audience. This video was well received online, spawning four spinoff videos used to promote the researcher and science, as well as a retweet from Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, and funder of the Whale Safe project.

From the judges: “This video is a standout. It’s sweet, engaging and professionally produced, with impressive graphs and animations. It clearly explains the technology and showcases UC Santa Barbara’s involvement, featuring the professor and campus. The video is well-planned, nicely shot and expertly edited. We also appreciate the platform-specific presentation, making it a great example of effective communication.”

Team: Robyn Schelenz, Stephen McNally and Zak Long

SILVER: Protecting Federal Financial Aid and Student Support Programs


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A post shared by UC Advocacy Network (@ucadvocacy)

Category: Targeted Constituency Engagement
In the summer of 2023, the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a proposed education funding bill for the upcoming federal fiscal year that would have enacted devastating cuts to programs that help keep college and graduate school accessible and affordable — programs that support tens of thousands of UC students. In partnership with the UC Student Association, and in coordination with our campus colleagues and national association partners, the UC Advocacy Network (UCAN) developed a grassroots campaign to get advocates (students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends of the university) to email or call their representatives and urge them to oppose the proposed cuts. Students from across the UC system shared their stories and motivated peers to speak out too. The campaign resulted in more than 840 legislator connections and reached every member of the California congressional delegation.

From the judges: “What a great example of getting the student body organized and involved around an important topic touching everyone at the institution! We were really impressed by the various ways students could choose to engage with this initiative, and it offered asynchronous opportunities. This was clearly a great example of impact and effort toward a meaningful solution.”

Team: Brent Palmer, Carolyn McMillan, Chris Harrington, Clayton Rossman, Crystal Martinez, Daisy Kim, Erin Baum, Nicole Carlotto, Sarah Crowe and Sarah Oldenburg

Partners: UC Student Association, UC San Diego Financial Aid Office, and governmental relations teams at UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz and UCLA

Learn more about UCAN and sign up to be an advocate!

SILVER: Leading Toward Equity speaker series

Glenda Humiston, Jorge Silva and Cathy O'Sullivan

Glenda Humiston, Jorge Silva and Cathy O’Sullivan were featured in the most recent Leading Toward Equity event.

Category: Special Events – Online (Series)
UCOP’s EDI and internal communications teams partnered to develop the Leading Toward Equity speaker series to address a need for more dialogue about equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) between employees on a human level and to provide an opportunity for senior leadership to demonstrate their commitment to EDI in a genuine way. Leading Toward Equity is an opportunity for leaders to share unvarnished truths about their personal experiences with EDI and their efforts to further EDI and anti-racism at UCOP. During these virtual conversations, two senior staff members engage in a dialogue about EDI with a moderator, who also shares their experiences. This series has received an overwhelmingly positive response from all levels of the organization. Senior leaders are eager to participate, and our audience size has consistently grown. Several UCOP divisions are now using these sessions as starting points for EDI dialogue amongst their teams.

From the judges: “This was a good way to discuss what can be a difficult topic. They did a good job using a diverse range of people who have had different experiences. The program also gave viewers the option to ask questions. A thoughtful and authentic way to provoke conversations and demonstrate experiences from staff. Good internal initiative leveraging transparency. This could easily be replicated at other institutions with little to no cost.”

Watch a video and read the recap of the latest Leading Toward Equity event.

Team: Lalitha Sankaran and Michelle Simms

Check out the full list of 2024 Circle of Excellence Award winners.


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