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VCU and VCU Health employees celebrated at Staff Senate professional development conference


By Carrie Carroll
University Public Affairs
(804) 827-0890

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Approximately 800 Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health employees attended the fourth annual VCU Staff Senate’s professional development conference, “Discover the Greatness in You,” March 8 and 9 in the University Student Commons. The conference was part of the Staff Senate’s first ever Employee Appreciation Week and focused on making positive changes in the lives of employees and appreciating individuals’ differences or “greatness.”

It included two keynote speakers and 12 workshops for attendees to choose from. The two keynote speakers were Andy Core, author of “Change Your Day, Not Your Life,” and Yewande Austin, an award-winning artist, activist and honorary U.S. cultural ambassador.  

The workshops were led by faculty and staff from VCU and VCU Health speaking about subjects such as “The Science of Happiness,” “Cyberspace Survival Guide,” “Presenting with Power,” “Finding Mindful Moments” and “Civility in a Polarized America.”

“The minute your hand touches the steering wheel it’s time to start thinking about gratefulness, gratitude, appreciation.”

Core spoke about how to make positive changes in attendees’ lives.

“When thinking about your day, what are the triggers, the actions, the mindsets that put you in the place to really connect with people or really not?” he said. “I want you to try this for a trigger: The minute your hand touches the steering wheel it’s time to start thinking about gratefulness, gratitude, appreciation. It’s an evidence-based way to improve how happy you are and I think one of the fastest.”

Austin encouraged the audience to discover and celebrate the greatness in themselves, as well as others around them, and to celebrate the differences and experiences of others.

“Our diversity is where our greatness lies,” Austin said. “Scientists have discovered that humans possess a default mechanism that essentially conditions us to fight anything that is foreign to us. Ida B. Wells knew what diversity, inclusion and celebrating our greatness was about over 100 years ago. She was a journalist, a suffragist, a sociologist and an anti-lynching activist that knew that our greatest lied in our connection with one another. We are all connected.”

“And hopefully that is why you’re here today,” Austin continued. “Not only to get a better understanding of how to implement practices to see and celebrate the greatness in you, but to also understand that the different experiences that you bring to our global community is what makes us great.”

VCU staff member and mascot

Employee Appreciation Week included activities such as free Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Einstein’s coffee, office visits from Rodney the Ram, tours of the Capitol, pickleball, free membership to VCU Recreational Sports facilities and classes and discounts at RamTech and Barnes & Noble @ VCU.

“This conference and Employee Appreciation Week is for you,” Sania Marcoccia, president of the Staff Senate, said to conference attendees. “We’re all so busy so we don’t always get a thank you. This is the time for us to thank you. We appreciate each and every one of you and all of the important things that you do and we do it together.”


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