Employee of the Year Award
Julie Eckert, Assistant Director for Health Promotion Services, Student Health Center was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2020-2021.
Julie was chosen from 12 employees of the month, who represent more than 2,500 staff employees at Texas State. Julie’s honor was announced Monday, August 9, by Texas State President Denise M. Trauth. As stated by President Trauth, “She has served the Bobcat family exceptionally well for almost thirty years.” “… her role and expertise in public health has been truly indispensable in the university’s response to the pandemic.” “The low positivity rates and lack of major outbreaks on campus are a testament to Julie’s hard work with Bobcat Trace.”
As the Assistant Director at the Student Health Center, Ms. Eckert leads Health Promotion Services, directly supervises several graduate student employees, and advocates for public health on campus and within the community. Julie has always been dedicated and passionate about her work at Texas State, and has become indispensable during the COVID-19 pandemic during which she has led Bobcat Trace, the university-wide contact tracing initiative.
Bobcat Trace is a system wherein students, faculty, and staff can either report as a COVID-19 case or a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case. This process requires tracing staff to call COVID-19 cases, investigate who they may have exposed, and notifying those identified contacts. However, this is particularly difficult in the university-setting due to confidentiality laws regulated by FERPA and HIPAA when working with patients who are also students.
Julie took on this intense and complicated new task with fervor, integrating her duties as the leader of this team into her duties as Assistant Director such as: hiring contact tracers, investigating thousands of reports, collaborating with Hays County Health Department, and leading an interdepartmental team of professionals to successfully complete this initiative. This meant Julie regularly worked evenings and weekends at the start of the pandemic, and continues to be available during evenings, weekends, and even holidays. COVID-19 doesn’t take a break and neither does Julie.
Julie coordinated with the Department of Housing and Residential Life to develop a protocol for notifying them of positive cases and helping prepare processes for isolation and quarantining on-campus. Julie has been personally responsible for tracking positive cases in residence halls to look for evidence of transmission beyond roommates. In addition to her own contract tracing, Julie also reviews others’ reports to ensure accuracy. Julie remains the point person for many departments on campus as an expert for on-campus isolation and quarantine, and as an interpreter for CDC guidelines. Throughout the pandemic, Julie has remained diligent, calm, and compassionate and has often helped anxious students, parents, faculty, and staff through these unprecedented times.
Julie’s work has not been limited to this pandemic. For 25 years, Julie has promoted healthy behaviors that support personal and academic success. She has worked in alcohol and drug abuse prevention, sexual violence prevention, and health education. She established Texas State’s Men Against Violence student peer organization and has advised other student organizations like Healthy Cats.
Congratulations, Julie! Thank you for your professionalism and dedication to Texas State.