By the end of the first week of class, Dr. Andy Digh already was taking notice of the students who engaged in class or visited him during office hours — and he wanted them to know that.

So, he logged in to Starfish, a web-based student retention platform managed by Mercer University’s Office for Student Success, and left them some encouraging words.

“I love going into Starfish and sending in that kudos for doing a good job,” said Dr. Digh, associate professor of computer science, who also used Starfish over the summer. “So many former students have told me that really motivated them, and it meant a lot to them.

“Especially right now with the pandemic, when students can’t drop by my office for me to tell them things like that, Starfish is perfect for that.”

For this, Dr. Digh was awarded the Everyday Excellence in Student Success Award, which recognizes innovative work by faculty and staff to better serve students. The Office for Student Success in Mercer’s Enrollment Management Division surprised him with the award on Oct. 2 in front of Willet Science Center.

“We wanted to thank you for the work that you’ve done to support students in general but particularly in recognition of the feedback that you give to students so early in the semester,” Emily Halstead, director of student success, told Dr. Digh in presenting the award. “We appreciate the fact that you’re so intentional about doing that consistently and letting students know that you’re seeing them.”

Positive reinforcement means a lot to students, she said, and Dr. Digh goes out of his way to make thoughtful and personalized comments.

“I like taking courses with Dr. Digh because he consistently gives us feedback, so we know where we stand instead of trying to guess whether we’re doing good or bad,” sophomore Jesus Rijo said.

“Getting that feedback is also helpful because it’s not always about getting the numeric feedback because a number doesn’t tell you the whole picture.”

Mercerians may nominate online a faculty or staff member for an Everyday Excellence award. Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis.