The past two and half years have been challenging on many levels; not least among those challenges is the disconnection and distance that many people have felt during the pandemic. Reconnecting with colleagues and students is a major theme for Phoenix College (PC) this fall. PC president Dr. Kimberly Britt kicked off the reconnection focus at fall convocation with an announcement of the Phoenix College Rubber Chicken Award.
The Rubber Chicken Award is a new award, which focuses on recognizing colleagues who commit random acts of kindness and go above and beyond to put smiles on the faces of those around them. It was inspired by a practical joke that was played on the incoming president when she took a vacation in July. In her absence, 60 tiny rubber chickens were hidden all around her office. This little, silly act, put a smile on her face for the rest of the day and left her with 60 toy chickens to rehome.
“We seek to build an inclusive and caring workplace, and a culture where laughter and joy fuels the soul. The rubber chickens were used to decorate my office as a kind prank, and now they serve as a ‘presidential award’ of sorts, to say thank you for making someone’s day,” Dr. Britt said about the project. “At Phoenix College, we take student support and instruction very seriously, and we take joy and kindness just as seriously, and the Rubber Chicken Award reflects that balance. Spread kindness and joy … and rubber chickens!”
Reception for the Rubber Chicken Award has been extraordinary, with the initial 60 chickens distributed to worthy recipients within days of the announcement. Dr. Britt has already ordered an additional 100 rubber chickens to catch up with all of the incredible stories of camaraderie, laughter, and kindness that have been pouring in. The small prize is one way that PC is striving to rebuild and strengthen its sense of community as faculty, staff, and students return to a stronger on-campus, in-person presence.
Dania selflessly volunteered to assist at the last minute with a recruitment event offering to lead a workshop for Phoenix Union High School students. Her extensive past experience with A&R and Early College programs allowed her to easily step in to lead this session, despite her having moved out of Student Affairs into a new grant funded role in Academic Affairs. She never hesitated when I asked if she could help; she embodies the spirit of collaboration we have at PC. Her joyful, helpful demeanor and willingness to step outside her new role is so appreciated! - Rubber Chicken Award nomination by Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Heather Kruse.
The PC initiative got the attention of New York Times journalist Catherine Pearson, who interviewed Dr. Britt for a story about random acts of kindness. The article points out that many people underestimate how much recipients of small acts of kindness are impacted by such gestures.
“As we return to campus it is important that we take time to show each other kindness and to laugh together. And, it is even more important that we recognize and celebrate moments of (re)connection,” Britt said.
Read the New York Times story HERE