MACON – Mercer University’s Enrollment Management Division through its Office for Student Success recently created a new accolade – the Everyday Excellence in Student Success Award – to recognize innovative work by faculty and staff to better serve students.
The award, presented for the first time on Feb. 17, is intended to showcase replicable strategies that can benefit faculty, staff and students university-wide, while recognizing thoughtful initiatives faculty and staff are implementing to support their students.
“We hear examples of faculty and staff who are doing really cool and innovative things and taking the initiative to do the best that they can for students,” said Emily Halstead, director of student success. “We want to make sure that when we have members of the Mercer community doing those intentional things, we are able to not only recognize them and show appreciation for them, but also share the word so that others can learn from their example and really make a difference in helping students.”
Dr. Kathryn Kloepper, associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. Garland Crawford, associate professor of chemistry, were the first recipients of the new award. Halstead said their decision to rename their “office hours” as “student hours” in order to foster more student participation served as inspiration to create the Everyday Excellence in Student Success Award.
“I thought, ‘I wish there was a way that other faculty could hear about this.’ It’s so simple, and they are experiencing some good outcomes from it, and students are, too,” Halstead said. “We discussed, ‘What can we do to spread the word of this and what can we do to show appreciation of this neat initiative that they are taking?’ The idea for an award just kind of made sense.”
The award was presented to Dr. Kloepper and Dr. Crawford following the dedication of the new Stembridge Center for Student Success, which houses the offices of Student Success, Student Financial Planning, Registrar, Bursar and Student Loans.
“One of our shared interests is finding ways to encourage students to interact with their faculty members,” Dr. Crawford said. “Too often, students think about office hours as their last-resort option for getting help with their coursework. We wanted students to see us as a resource for a range of issues and to feel comfortable approaching us with their questions about class and about other things that might be on their minds.”
“It is an honor to receive the inaugural Everyday Excellence in Student Success Award,” added Dr. Kloepper. “I look forward to learning about the additional creative, awesome ways our fellow faculty and staff support our Mercer students.”
The award will be presented on a monthly basis, with nominations being accepted at any time via an online form on the Office for Student Success website. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to submit nominations.
“I’m hoping that this award helps to bring visibility to what’s already happening, because supporting students doesn’t come down to any one office, any one building or any one person,” Halstead said. “It comes down to all of the little interactions, the little initiatives and the little messages we give students, and that’s in the hands of every faculty and staff member.”