By SUSAN JONES
When it became clear that the annual Staff and Faculty Appreciation Picnic would have to go on hiatus this year, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher reached out to Kathy Humphrey to figure out how the University could show its gratitude virtually.
Humphrey, the senior vice chancellor for Engagement, said, “We needed to find something that still sends a message that … we have amazing people who work at this University. They’re committed, they’re dedicated … think of everything that’s happened in spite of this pandemic.”
Thus was born Pitt Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week starting June 8, which will honor not just the heroic work being done during the pandemic but the work that goes on all year, Humphrey said.
“We want to say thank you for everything that people do. … We can’t make this University work, we can’t make this University great without the faculty and staff,” she said.
One central component to the celebration will be a website — thankyou.pitt.edu, which isn’t live yet — where you can post messages of gratitude for Pitt people and departments. Humphrey said the site will notify people if a thank you message is posted about them. Also, the senior staff have created a thank you video that will play on the site.
Senior administrators will be making surprise visits to online staff meetings of different departments. And Humphrey will be sending out a letter to supervisors encouraging them to do something nice for their staff that week, even if it’s just sending them a gift card for a cup of coffee.
The University will be sending lunch that week to any department that has been working on campus during the pandemic, such as the Pitt Police and the mailing department.
Humphrey said there will be a bingo game one night, a trivia contest and a variety show for faculty and staff to show off their talents. Each will have prizes to local Pittsburgh business to help contribute to the economy, she said.
A social media campaign to “Show your Pitt Pride” will encourage people to post a photo in Pitt gear using the hashtag #HailingFromHome.
Pittwire will release all of the details on June 8 via email, and check out Pittwire Live for the schedule of events.
Humphrey said she’s pleased with how efforts to keep the Pitt community connected online have been going since the launch of Pittwire Live in April.
She recently spoke to Renee Rogers, associate professor and programming director of the Healthy Lifestyle Institute, who said she’s been getting many more online participants in the Be Fit Pitt classes than she ever got in person. The classes are live four times a day during the week and available anytime on the Be Fit Pitt YouTube channel.
Humphrey herself has hosted three Women Power Wednesday sessions that have attracted between 70 and 140 people.
One bonus to having all these events online is that it’s much easier for the regional campuses to participate, she said. “I’m most proud of the fact that we are really one University and that our regionals are engaged with everything we’re doing.”
The online efforts also have helped to involve people from the community. “Like for the Diversity Forum that we’re working on right now, we’re going to invite the entire region and that should be something that I hope people will really be able to benefit from.”
Humphrey hopes that some of these online initiatives will continue even when people are back on campus. “What I have said every single time is let’s create something that will live past the pandemic.”
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-648-4294.
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