UCSF Wins 4 Regional CASE Awards for Communications Excellence

By Brandon R. Reynolds

A story about Norway as a model for prison reform; a video celebrating how one fundraiser can make a difference; and “compelling,” “provocative” design: UC San Francisco’s mission of education and change is reflected in awards it won this year from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

These entries reflect the inspiring work of UCSF’s brilliant investigators and caregivers, as well as our university’s commitment to serving the public.

Erin Hickey

CASE’s 2022 Circle of Excellence Awards recognize “institutions worldwide whose talented staff have advanced their organizations through their resourcefulness and ingenuity,” according to the organization.

CASE chose work from UCSF’s University Development and Alumni Relations (UDAR) to win four awards. This year, CASE received 4,500 entries from 636 institutions in 30 countries, choosing 626 winners in various categories. UCSF competes against southwestern states plus Guam, Hawaii, Nevada and the Northern Mariana Islands in CASE’s District VII.

“These entries reflect the inspiring work of UCSF’s brilliant investigators and caregivers, as well as our university’s commitment to serving the public through our research, patient care, and education missions,” says Erin Hickey, Vice Chancellor, University Development and Alumni Relations. “It is an honor to help tell UCSF’s story, and we are grateful to CASE for recognizing the outstanding work of our UDAR team.”


UCSF Magazine’s Website

The website for UCSF Magazine took gold in the online category after a total redesign last year that clocked 1.5 million page views in the latter half of 2021. The new site emphasizes accessibility, expands its content offerings, and better reflects the university’s brand. CASE called the site “the most professional of all the entries … The quality of UCSF’s writing and content is what secured the number one spot. Most judges found themselves sticking around to read far more than was necessary for pure interest, which is saying something about a medically-focused website. Beautiful and compelling work.”

“The quality of UCSF’s writing and content is what secured the number one spot.”

Explore UCSF Magazine’s Website



UCSF Magazine’s Design

The university’s flagship publication took silver for its summer and winter 2021 issues. The magazine’s audience of faculty, alumni, and patients requires a deft balancing of content and storytelling, or as defined in its entry, “accessible, but not overly dumbed-down science.”

Cover of UCSF Magazine: top reads “UCSF Magazine, Summer 2021”. Closeup photo half of a woman’s face, with her eye closed. Text on her cheek reads “Sleep Science Awakens: Can our genes point the way toward a better night’s sleep?”
UCSF Magazine Summer 2021 Edition
Cover of UCSF Magazine: left corner reads “UCSF Magazine, Winter 2021”. Illustration in background of a scientist overlooking converging planes of nanoproteins; one nanoprotein stands out in the background.
UCSF Magazine Winter 2021 Edition

“Our goal with the magazine is to engage and inspire UCSF’s community of supporters through great storytelling,” says Cyril Manning, the university’s Executive Director of Advancement Communications. “This can mean explaining difficult science, or exploring baffling diseases, and illuminating social issues that UCSF is helping to solve.”

CASE complimented the magazine’s beautiful imagery; a story about a recurring fever that still managed to be fun; and timely content on COVID-19 and race issues in medicine. “The print magazine,” said the judges, “is provocative and brings the reader into the story.”

Fundraising and Stewardship Videos

UCSF’s communications team took silver for a video celebrating the diversity of current fundraisers while also encouraging potential fundraisers to take that next step. The video, created for the university’s fundraising community, told the stories of three members of the community, emphasizing how givers can make a difference at various levels of support. The CASE judges were impressed: “The UCSF team skillfully and subtly addressed a quite complicated message and goal – to encourage patients and friends to raise money on behalf of the organization through UCSF’s crowdfunding platform.”

“Together at UCSF - The Stories” earned a silver CASE award.



UCSF Magazine writer Ariel Bleicher won a bronze award for her feature “Norway’s Humane Approach to Prisons Can Work Here Too.” The story profiles university professor Brie Williams and her work to reform the United States prison system – and health crisis within it – by developing a model based on Norway’s approach to criminal justice.

Williams’ project, called Amend, piqued Bleicher’s interest. “You don’t tend to think of prison reform as something a health care institution would take on,” she says. But that’s what’s so compelling about Amend – and part of why it’s had the success that it has. Everyone cares about health – whether you’re an advocate for people who are incarcerated, or you work in corrections or have family members in corrections.

“We wanted to tell the story of how this very unique program came to be and how it’s tackling this very big national problem in a surprising way. Brie is also just an incredibly passionate and persuasive person, and you can’t meet her and not want to write about her.”

To this, Manning adds that this year’s award-winning work both informs and promotes change. “Anyone working at or interacting with UCSF can see a small sliver of what it means to advance health – whether that’s expert care for a family member or a breakthrough in biomedical research,” he says. “But our work shows just how broad an impact UCSF has, both in the kinds of populations we can impact and the type of interventions we create.”

Learn more about CASE and the 2022 Circle of Excellence Awards here.