Following SMU’s Staff Recognition Initiative

In May, the Office of Operational Excellence launched the Staff Recognition Initiative to identify existing and potential outlets for creating a culture of honoring staff excellence and service. “Employee engagement is a critical component in successful organizations,” said Rebecca Sampson, Senior Employee Relations Specialist and project manager for the initiative, “and recognition is a crucial part of engagement.”

After a period of campus-wide investigation and assessment, the initiative team discovered that there is a desire and a need to develop a campus culture of recognition and appreciation as a core SMU value. Recognition is inconsistent across the schools and business units and many staff members feel undervalued.

To address these issues and ensure that employees see a connection between their work and the University’s vision, several programs will be implemented throughout the year.

This fall, the SMU Staff Association and Human Resources will revitalize the annual staff recognition and awards ceremony as the “Staff Celebration and Convocation.” President Turner will give a “state of the University” address, present the President’s Awards and Loretta Hawkins Award and recognize staff with 25+ years of service. Family members and supervisors of award recipients will also be invited.

The initiative team is also working to promote a culture of staff recognition and appreciation by:

  • Developing staff recognition training through Human Resources for managers to learn the impact, importance and return on investment of recognition and to understand how to effectively recognize employees.
  • Creating a centralized Staff Recognition Portal that will highlight past and present University award winners and 25+ Club members along with professional and personal staff accomplishments.
  • Establishing an annual “Staff Appreciation Week” to be held the week of the President’s Picnic with daily events and promotions that focus on staff.
  • Exploring changes to the Staff Service Awards to including new gift options and non-gift opportunities such as library donations in the name of a staff member.
  • Assigning an ongoing committee to continue to study, provide feedback, and monitor the needs and challenges related to staff recognition at SMU.

If you have ideas for promoting staff recognition and appreciation on campus, please send them to


Announcing the Staff Recognition Initiative

In recent years, ways in which outstanding staff members are recognized annually have become less clear. With change taking place in all parts of the University, it is increasingly important that outstanding staff work and length of service to the institution be acknowledged prominently and regularly. In order to improve, enhance and chronicle staff recognition efforts at SMU, the Office of Operational Excellence has launched the Staff Recognition Initiative.

Composed of members with years of service ranging from one to nearly 40, this initiative team is charged with identifying all of the ways in which SMU staff are recognized each year at the University, school and unit level. The team will strive to identify why previously esteemed celebrations, like the 25 Year Club ceremony, are not as well-known as they once were and create a University-wide comprehensive staff recognition program to be executed on an annual basis.

The Staff Recognition Initiative Team will begin meeting later in May and consists of the following members:

Project Manager: Rebecca Sampson – HR

Jim Dees -Lyle School of Engineering

Bill Dworaczyk – Central University Libraries

Ana Giron – HR

Tamara Hurdle – Staff Advocacy Council/Campus Services

Joan Jackson – DEA

Jennifer Jones – Student Affairs

Brinklee Noll -HR

Marjorie Rush – Staff Association/Payroll