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OVPI Awards recognize outstanding advisors

Alan Flurry

The UGA Office of Instruction celebrated the crucial role of advising with the 2019 Outstanding Undergraduate Academic Advising Awards to four University of Georgia academic advisors:

Mike Merva, Ali Gerlach, Umesh Patel and Antonina Ignatiuc were nominated by their supervisors and a committee of three student representatives from SGA, along with the previous advising award winners. The Office of Instruction and the Office of Academic Advising Services suprised each of the advisors with the award in their offices.

Merva, UGA’s Outstanding Advising Administrator, supervises 16 advisors for approximately 3,500 students in more than 40 majors and across departments as the coordinator of lower-division academic advising in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

“Being an exceptional advising administrator requires the ability to empathize with advisors and students while enforcing policies and procedures fairly,” said supervisor Diane Miller, Franklin’s director of student academic services. “It requires leadership and teamwork, self confidence and humility, support and challenge, seriousness and humor. Mike Merva is the rare individual who embodies all of these qualities in an exquisite balance. Yet he never seeks accolades or recognition for his contributions, instead going about his work quietly, diligently and expertly.”

One of his advising staff said, “He does not hover over or micromanage us, which is greatly appreciated. At the same time, he is always ready with a quick laugh, a friendly smile and an ocean of advice and help any time we need it. That is particularly impressive, given the number of advisors for whom he is responsible.”

Terrific and important work by our advising colleagues drives student progress, which in effect makes the whole university work. Careers on campus take many shapes, require their own specialization and knowledge, plus the ability to effectively connect with others. And like Patel in the College of Education, the advising corps around UGA are staffed by alumni of the Franklin College as well, so we celebrate their achievements and expertise on multiple levels. Great work and worthy recognition.

Image: Mike Merva, left, and Umesh Patel.


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