Showing Gratitude – Recognizing Good Work

September
2013
Julie Adams, Executive Director

Recently, I travelled to Atlanta and needed to navigate my way around a new city. While I knew where I wanted to go, I was not quite sure how to get there. The young man at the hotel desk was very helpful as he assisted me every day in navigating the city with ease and confidence. As I departed the hotel on the last day, I wanted to thank him again for his assistance. However, it was his day off. Since this staff member was not available, I asked for the general manager’s information so I could send a note of gratitude for how a member of his staff welcomed me to his city, shared his excitement for local businesses, and overall helped make my experience enjoyable.

As I prepared to write this article about recognizing our own faculty for doing an exceptional job, this experience helped me to reflect on the challenges individuals have in thanking people who have an influence on their lives – whether something as simple as navigating a new city or as complicated as navigating one’s life. In the moment of appreciation, most people share their gratitude freely. While individual recognition of doing one’s job well is very much appreciated, sharing the good work we observe with others may be more difficult. With the busy lives we lead, we are all sometimes guilty of failing to show our gratitude as openly and as widely as we should.

As senate leaders, all of you struggle to meet the needs of your students, your departments, and your campuses, while still balancing your responsibilities to your partners, families, friends, and even pets. However, you also interact each day with individuals who are doing amazing work with their students, and you recognize their contributions regularly. As I talked with the young staff member, I realized that while people often recognize individuals for work they do daily, rarely does the recognition rise to a level where their community realizes their contributions.

Each August the Academic Senate sends out award announcements for local senates to recognize programs or faculty on their campus. In community colleges, faculty are the foot soldiers, daily doing the job that is expected, serving our students and our community without complaint and more times than not without recognition. Metaphorically, they direct visitors around our city, ensuring their experience is pleasant, following up with how our service can improve, and generally educating them about the benefits we offer. Where we fail, however, is in telling our story about how wonderful our faculty are. We all struggle with being too busy—too busy to stop and share gratitude, too busy to acknowledge those that make a difference, too busy to nominate a faculty colleague who deserves to be acknowledged for the great work he or she consistently provides to us as faculty, our students, our college, our community, and California.

Look around your department and your campus for those that quietly perform at an exceptional level. Every day you interact with individuals doing amazing work, and you as a senate leader are likewise an outstanding member of your community. The Academic Senate offers an opportunity for you to recognize your colleagues. Perhaps your department or your college acknowledges faculty accomplishments regularly, and therefore you may question the need to go through the effort to complete a nomination application, write letters, and seek approval from the local senate president in order to nominate a colleague for a statewide award. One reason to do so is that Senate recognition goes beyond your department or your campus. Academic Senate awards serve a greater purpose. The Exemplary and Hayward awards are presented before the Board of Governors, the Stanback-Stroud award is presented at the Spring Plenary Session, and all awards are shared with all 112 campuses via press releases. The Senate uses this opportunity to share with the Board of Governors the amazing work that faculty do on a regular basis. Because the Board often only receives reports about problems or complaints, every opportunity faculty has to share how their work daily contributes to student success is a win for all our campuses.

The ASCCC challenges you this year to work with others to nominate a program or faculty member—part-time or full-time—for one of our awards. You do not need to do it alone; get several colleagues to help. The requirements, including application and rubrics, are posted on the Senate website at http://www.asccc.org/awards. Do not hesitate nor waste time thinking about all the other priorities you have; your work and priorities will still be there waiting for you. The first award is due in November, so you still have time. Start the nomination now and ensure that your college’s outstanding faculty and programs receive the recognition they deserve.

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