The Student Government Association has partnered with the provost’s office to honor the University of Arkansas-Little Rock faculty for their hard work and dedication.
A new student choice award known as the We Heart Our Faculty Award was designed to give students an opportunity to nominate their favorite faculty member. The results of who voted for who will remain anonymous, but the awards will be presented at the faculty excellence award ceremony April 9. The five faculty members chosen will receive a small glass heart with UALR’s colors in their honor.
This is the first year We Heart Our Faculty Awards will be given out. There was no student-sponsored award for faculty members last year. In 2018, there were awards that recognized a few exceptional faculty members during SGA’s student choice award ceremony. SGA president Katie Zakrzewski created the new award to work in conjunction with the We Heart Our Student Awards. Her hope is to show how much students care about the university’s employees.
“I am hoping to prove that even though morale is very low at the university right now and even though our faculty members are really overworked, we still appreciate everything they do and we still notice when they go out of their way for us. They are always willing to spearhead campaigns that let us know how much we mean to them and we need to return the favor,” Zakrzewski said.
Dean of Students Richard Harper said this award is a recognition opportunity for students to acknowledge faculty who are doing outstanding work on campus.
“At its most basic level, it is to recognize their good work and the excellence they are doing. Whether it is inside the classroom or outside the classroom, whether it is advising student groups or research related, it is the students’ opportunity to pick and choose who they believe is making a meaningful impact,” Harper said.
Harper said he believes the awards could serve as motivation for other faculty to rise up to a better level of work. He said seeing their peers recognized and honored could cause faculty members to improve their own roles.
“I am looking forward to seeing who is going to be named as winners. Hopefully, they can serve as role models for the rest of the faculty,” Harper said.
SGA senator Landon DeKay said discussions with his teachers caused him to realize they do not receive the recognition they deserve. DeKay chose a professor who cares about student input and pushes for students to succeed as his nominee. He said the faculty members at UALR cause students to choose the university.
“Faculty are the reason why the students are here. If you ask any student what their favorite part of going to school here is, it is most likely their teachers. They actually think they’re caring and they want them to succeed. I think that is something our school could use to increase enrollment,” DeKay said.
Five faculty members will be nominated to represent each of UALR’s five colleges: the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences (CALS), the UALR College of Business, the College of Education and Health Professionals (CEHP), the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT), and the College of Social Sciences and Communication (CSSC).
Zakrzewski said more than 500 students nominated a faculty member within the first week of voting. The voting for We Heart Our Faculty Awards closed on Feb. 1, but both Zakrzewski and Dean Harper hope this award will become an annual event.
“I think it is a great idea. It is great on both sides. It gives the students an opportunity to recognize faculty members that are doing a good job and also it gets to highlight the campus community,” Harper said.