July 24, 2024
College of Education and Health Professions Presents 74 Rounds of Applause to Those ‘Caught Caring’

College of Education and Health Professions Presents 74 Rounds of Applause to Those ‘Caught Caring’

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The most recent Round of Applause recipients are front, from left: Kenetheia Evans, Deniece Honeycutt, Kit Kacirek, Sandra Ward, Jennifer Muriithi, Cindy Lowery, Kristi Mascher, Peggy Lee, Fernanda Zayas, Dani McCool; middle: Laurie Brigham, Glennia Hunt, Ross Powell, Miranda Vernon, Crystal Evans, Vinson Carter, Karynecia Conner, Jessie Casida, Joanna Evans, Sarah Bemis; and back, Brent Williams, Matt Ganio, R.J. Elbin, Bernadette Moore, Jack Kern, Sean Rhomberg, Paul Calleja, Lori Murray.

Karan Burnette’s WE CARE Round of Applause sits in a place of honor on the top shelf of an antique writing desk in her office.

It shares space with three glass hummingbirds, a favorite of her late mother, and a photo of Burnette’s beloved Australian Shepherd. It’s where she looks when she needs a little “pick me up.”

Tom Bennett keeps his Round of Applause on a small table in his office to remind him of the people he “gets the privilege to serve” and the strong caring culture in the College of Education and Health Professions. 

The round keepsakes — which feature the college’s WE CARE logo — are displayed in many offices across its departments and administrative units on the U of A campus and its various outreach programs across the state.

Over the course of the 2023-24 academic year, 74 Rounds of Applause were bestowed upon faculty, staff or teams who were “caught caring.” The awards are one of the multiple action items the college activated last fall under its WE CARE — Wellness and Education Commitment to Arkansas Excellence — strategic plan. The plan has three main priorities, one of which is to foster a caring culture. One of the goals under that priority is to cultivate a culture of recognition, inclusion, engagement and well-being in the college.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to nominate colleagues for this award at any time to recognize “those who go above and beyond their job requirements and demonstrate extraordinary care for their colleagues, students or community.” Recipients receive a letter from Dean Kate Mamiseishvili, the WE CARE keepsake and a spotlight in the dean’s monthly round-up email.

image of round glass award

The Round of Applause award, given to faculty, staff or teams in the act of caring.

“I was honored when I received the round of applause and letter from Dean Kate,” said Burnette, executive director of one of the college’s outreach programs, Partners for Inclusive Communities. “Since we are off campus, mine came by mail, and I had no idea what it was when I opened it. I have such tremendous respect for Dean Kate and her leadership in our college. For her to take the time to send personal letters sharing what others have said and acknowledging caring effort makes it even more special.”

Burnette added, “I think what we need in our world and in our work is a more caring culture, so I love everything about the WE CARE campaign, including the Round of Applause.”

Bennett, chief of staff and graduate coordinator in the college’s Department of Education Reform, sees the program as a simple but profound way to “show appreciation for the people we work with every day.” He said being nominated by others has, in turn, prompted him to slow down and “catch others caring.”

Bennett received multiple nominations for the ways he cares for students and faculty and attends to all the details.

One nominator noted, “He is always there to guide students not only through the administrative hurdles of their studies, but also, as a prior principal, he offers them encouragement and advice during their Ph.D. journey. He is really the heart of [the department].” 

Another nominator joked, “His only fault is that we cannot clone him.”

Three staff members in the college’s Department of Counseling, Leadership and Research Methods also received a Round of Applause recently. The team — which includes Crystal Evans, Cindy Lowery and Sandra Ward — was lauded for significantly lightening the workload of a colleague who was in the midst of a profound personal loss.

In her congratulations letter to the team, the dean wrote, “Care is at the heart of everything we do in our college, and I am deeply proud of the way you care for each other. Even in life’s darkest moments, you all have been a source of light.”

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