by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

To thank employees for their contributions to The University of Alabama, UA hosted an evening of fun, activities and live entertainment for faculty, staff and their families during the inaugural You Make UA Great event, which took place Monday, Oct. 3 on the Quad.

“We are celebrating you because of an impact that you have every day on this campus and whether that’s in a residence hall, whether that’s in a classroom, whether that’s in a cafeteria, or any place on this campus, the way that you invest in our students and invest in our campus is what makes this university special,” said Dr. Stuart Bell, UA president.

The Division of Community Affairs, along with other campus partners, hosted the event.

“He [Dr. Bell] and I both agree that this institution, we’re often in the headlines for some major accomplishment, but it’s not the brick and mortar that does that, it’s the people who work here,” said Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs.

The purpose of the event was to show gratitude for all the ways employees contribute to the success of UA and the surrounding community.

“This is a really fun event to celebrate the employees here at the University because everyone here, no matter where you work, works really hard,” said Rebecca Johnson, communications specialist for UA Museums. “Sometimes we are in our own little bubbles, and we don’t know what other departments are out there, what everybody does, so this is a good way to meet other people and get to know everybody else on campus.”

As Johnson emphasized, employees in attendance enjoyed mingling with their colleagues across campus.

“I think it’s very unique for everybody ... to get together and get to know each other in different departments,” said Andrea Thomas, a staff member in facilities and custodial services.

“We are seeing friends and families from all over that we are friends with on campus that we don’t get to see very often,” echoed Lindsey Graham, associate director of operations for Student Account Services.

Attendees were treated to free food from local food truck vendors, games and activities. Local band, Bound and Determined, as well as the Million Dollar Band, provided live music, making for a fun evening for employees to spend with their colleagues and loved ones.
“I’m a remote employee, so it’s time conducive for me to be able to come with my family in the afternoon, get my kids from school and come over and get my husband off work, so I just think it’s great to have a family-friendly event,” said Jackie Harrison, program coordinator for the School of Social Work.

Big Al made a special appearance to pose for photos and mingle with the crowd. In addition to the music and activities, the event featured a resource table fair that showcased on- and off-campus resources available to UA employees and retirees.

“I think it’s a great idea because anytime there’s a large organization like the University, some people get siloed, and they don’t even know everything that’s out there, so having the opportunity to figure out what’s actually on campus, plus the surrounding resources in the community is great,” said Jeff Knox, CEO of YMCA of Tuscaloosa County. The YMCA was also one of the organizations with a table at the resource fair.

“It’s great and to be able to thank the employees because they’re our number one employee campaign,” added Monique Scott, campaign director for United Way of West Alabama.

While the event was geared toward employees, it was also an opportunity for students to share their appreciation for the impact faculty and staff have.

“Thank you for always continuing to put students first and know that we are grateful for you and the work that you put in our programs,” said Madeline Martin, SGA president as she addressed the crowd. “We couldn’t do what we do without what you do for us.”