Athens, Ga. – On May 15, the University of Georgia will show its gratitude to more than 6,300 employees through its first Staff Appreciation Celebration.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at intramural field 1 and will include lunch, music, giveaways and interactive activities ranging from mechanical bulldog rides to a photo booth.
“Our staff members are vital to the University of Georgia’s success,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Through their commitment and dedication, we are able to move the university forward as an institution. This event is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to thousands of individuals who support the university in so many ways.”
Plans for a staff appreciation day started two years ago, said Michael Lewis, chair of the UGA Staff Council, during a time period when wage and salary increases were put on hold at the state level.
Lewis had previously participated in a similar recognition event and brought the idea before the council’s executive committee. They agreed, and with approval from Morehead, who Lewis said “was instantly on board,” a group formed in 2014 to turn the idea into a reality.
“I hope what this celebration says to our staff employees is that the university knows you work hard and knows that the successes achieved here happen in part because staff employees have a hand in it,” said Lewis, who is an information technology professional in the geology department.
Lewis sees the event both as a gesture of appreciation and as a way to build community at the university. That is why much of the planning has focused on the space, such as chairs and tables where staff can gather; fun activities, which the committee hopes will generate conversation long after the event is over; and the food, which is key to the event.
“Celebration creates community,” he said. “Universally, sharing a meal is the best way to create community and relationships. We’re doing both. It’s been really great to work with other groups on campus to get to this point.”
This year’s Staff Appreciation Celebration serves as the culminating event for Staff Appreciation Week, designated by Morehead to take place May 11-15. During that week, other university departments will be encouraged to host unit-level recognition activities to recognize and celebrate staff contributions.
Parking will be available on site, with E01 reserved for disabled staff. UGA buses will provide service for the event, altering their routes to provide pickup and drop-off locations throughout campus. Route information is available at http://transit.uga.edu/Staff_Appreciation.
Sponsors for the event include AT&T, Athens First Bank and Trust, Georgia Power, Georgia United Credit Union, Kaiser Permanente, Saucehouse and TIAA-CREF.
The university has created a Facebook event for the Staff Appreciation Celebration. For up-to-date schedules, parking and other information, visit www.facebook.com/UGAstaffappreciation or http://t.uga.edu/1sS.