Staff Awards Ceremony

Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here and be a part of celebrating all of the wonderful accomplishments of the UA Little Rock staff.

We’ve been talking a lot about depreciation lately. This morning I’d like to take a few moments to talk about appreciation. I want to talk about appreciation in two different, but related ways. First, appreciation as an input, as something we invest in each other, and second, as an outcome, appreciation in the sense of the value of an asset that increases over time. I’d like to suggest that the staff members of UA Little Rock demonstrate appreciation in both respects.

Yesterday, we saw a beautiful example of appreciation as an input. After Dr. Gail Hughes posted a message inviting us all to take time to celebrate our students, the campus community responded immediately showing their support and enthusiasm for this inspiring suggestion. The appreciation extended outward to our students and to each other. The positive vibe was contagious. But this was not something unusual on this campus; I see it all the time. Our staff members, You, invest your appreciation in a hundred small and large ways every day. From the big things like helping each other with blood drives and food drives and sustainable environment initiatives, to little things like sharing a few kind words with a colleague who has helped you or who needs your help. When I first came to Little Rock, I encountered a phrase that was new to me, but that I heard from everyone here—“I appreciate you”. I’d go into a restaurant and the waiter would tell me he appreciated me. I’d meet someone in the hallway to chat and they would tell me they appreciated me. It seems like a tiny thing you probably hardly think about, but it impressed me deeply and made me feel welcome. I think that phrase is the perfect reflection of our commitment to investing appreciation in each other and I commend the UA Little Rock staff for embracing that spirit.

Now, when we think about appreciation as an outcome, we usually think in terms of capital assets like homes and stock portfolios; retirement accounts and whatnot. But people appreciate in value too. Years of experience can translate to higher levels of effectiveness. Specialized training or education can bring new value to the organization. Many of you here today have made those investments in yourself for that very purpose. But it’s also the case that people appreciate in value when they are part of a community that works together and has a purpose. Everyone learns when we solve problems together, everyone grows when we’re able to provide real change for the better. I believe that everyone here understands that our purpose is opportunity and transformation. Just listen to the amazing stories of our students who come to us with heavy burdens and sometimes staggering obstacles. We help them create new futures that they wouldn’t have if we weren’t here. I want you to know that you are an important part of that transformation, that purpose.

We run a small city here at UA Little Rock; this is our community. This is where we and our students grow together. Like most communities, we work hard to promote the welfare of our citizens, and in our case, particularly our student citizens. We make sure that our living and work spaces are clean and safe. We make sure that everyone has access to resources they need to be productive and healthy. We make sure that our services are accessible and effective. Every one of you has a role in making this a community in which we all thrive.

So were here today to celebrate you and the many ways that you make this a better place to live every day; for all the ways large and small that you appreciate each other—and appreciate together. So it is my great honor to say to you, I very, very much, appreciate you.

Thank you.

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