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USC holds inaugural staff appreciation day

Two staff members pose in the Russell House during Staff Appreciation and Awards Day

The University of South Carolina’s first Staff Appreciation and Awards Day attracted staff members from throughout the Columbia campus to the Russell House University Union for food and fun on Tuesday, May 14.

About 1,400 staff members came to the free event, which was established by a Staff Senate resolution and approved by the Board of Trustees and executive leadership. Attendees had lunch, played games for prizes, met special guests and danced the afternoon away to the sounds of DJ Zay Pola (Isaiah Fields).

“I think this event meant a great deal to our staff,” said current Staff Senate president Tyson Lusk. “These folks put in the work day in and in day out, supporting our students, faculty, and others. The work we do creates impact throughout our community, region, country and world.”

After the lunch and festivities, an awards ceremony was held in the Russell House Theater. A total of 98 staff members were nominated by their peers for this year’s awards, and three winners were chosen. 

Jan Smoak, assistant dean for awards and enrollment management in the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs, won the top award: a $1,000 cash prize. Two runners-up — Lindsay Arave, business manager for the Department of African American Studies, and Claire Miller-Sword, project director for the Department of Psychology — each received $500 prizes.

We are the backbone of the university, always striving to ensure that USC operates at the highest of levels to attract the best and brightest.”

— Tyson Lusk, Staff Senate president

President Michael Amiridis and Provost Donna K. Arnett joined Lusk to present the awards. “This is a day to honor our university staff, who work hard every day to support USC, and to celebrate their spirit of collaboration and dedication, which makes us stronger," Amiridis said.

While Staff Senate established and coordinated the event, with the support of university leadership and the title sponsor, Founders Federal Credit Union, it got a lot of help from volunteers and sponsors.

Along with Founders, the sponsor list included USC’s Student Affairs and Academic Support, Staples, Forms and Supply Inc., the Controller’s Office, USC’s Office of the Controller, the USC Bookstore, women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley, men’s basketball head coach Lamont Paris and Barefoot Campus Outfitter. Giveaway items were donated by sponsors as well as by Staff Senate members.

And the day did not go unnoticed outside the USC community. Several local media outlets, including WLTX, WIS and Cola Daily, featured the event, and the S.C. State Legislature even passed a formal resolution recognizing May 14 as Staff Appreciation Day.

Staff Senate plans to make the day an annual event. “We want this event to grow and find new and creative ways to honor our staff,” Lusk says. “We are the backbone of the university, always striving to ensure that USC operates at the highest of levels to attract the best and brightest.”

About Staff Senate

The University of South Carolina Staff Senate serves as an open forum to facilitate communication and collaboration among university staff members. It also serves as an advisory committee to the university president, adding an essential voice to strategic conversations and decisions that support the goals of the institution. Find your staff senator here.