Recognition and Exploration


The Labor Program Office sponsors annual campus-wide recognition activities, but the best form of recognition occurs on an on-going basis within labor departments. To guide departments in recognition activities, the Labor Program Council offers the following principles:

Worker recognition is an integral component of the Berea College community, as stated in the Workplace Expectation “Celebrate Work Well Done.” The Labor Program Council established the following principles to guide departments in the recognition effort:

  1. Recognition should be a sincere acknowledgement and affirmation of work well done.
  2. It should be offered in a timely manner and in a way that is meaningful to the recipient.
  3. Choosing the form of recognition is left to the discretion of individual departments, but should not include additional monetary compensation or excessive rewards.
  4. Recognition activities must conform to the College’s “Policy for Use of College Funds.”
  5. Students must not be offered rewards to meet basic position requirements.

The following list suggests why some supervisors are reluctant to engage in recognition and offers suggestions for making this practice more user-friendly:

I’m unsure how to provide recognition to workers effectively.

Discuss potential recognition strategies with colleagues and seek feedback on your own recognition behaviors, so as to learn from your past efforts and enhance ongoing effectiveness. Resource guides for supervisors may be borrowed from the Labor Program Office or purchased independently.

I don’t feel that providing recognition is an important part of my position.

Recognition is tied directly to Berea College’s Workplace Expectation: Celebrate Work Well Done. The expectation is that recognition is not an optional activity but an integral part of our daily endeavors, both locally (in our workplace) and as a campus community.

I don’t have time to recognize my workers.

Some of the best forms of worker recognition (personal or written praise, public recognition, positive voicemail or e-mail messages, and the like) require very little time. Simple techniques, such as listing the students who report to you on your weekly to-do list and checking off each name once you’ve “caught them doing something right” can make worker recognition simple and intentional.

I’m afraid I might leave somebody out.

This can be combated by double-checking who and how you recognize so as to avoid inadvertently omitting someone who should be included. This may mean checking with someone to make sure you have all the names of people who assisted with a project before commending the team in public. If at any time someone deserving is left out, it is perfectly acceptable to simply apologize and make amends with that performer.

Here are additional tips to help supervisors motivate their students:

  • Find out what your workers want—don’t assume you know.

    Involve workers in determining what would best reward or recognize them for doing good work.

  • Realize that one type of recognition no longer fits all.

    Having a few traditional (and predictable) recognition activities is not enough. Update recognition activities to make them exciting and relevant. Experiment, learn, and discuss recognition ideas on an ongoing basis.

  • Lead by example—model the behavior you expect others to follow.

    Having leaders practice worker recognition sets the tone for others and symbolically says, “If I can make the time to do this, no one else in the organization has an excuse not to.”

  • Use every communication as a chance to recognize workers.

    Exchange praise and recognition in departmental communication venues (e.g., an “applause” bulletin board). Use a few minutes of group meetings to go around and have everyone share one thing they’ve done to recognize someone on their staff since the group was last together. Translate your good intentions to daily behavior! Put 5 coins in your pocket each morning and transfer a coin to another pocket each time you give positive feedback to a worker; the habit will catch on. Keep thank-you cards on your desk and spend a few minutes at the end of the day or week jotting notes to people who “wowed” you.

Other ideas for recognition:

  • Send a copy of your recognition/thank-you note to the Labor Office to be put on file; this action provides helpful material for future recommendations and consideration for awards.
  • Be specific with your praise: say what it is exactly that deserves recognition and the positive effect that behavior has had on the workplace.
  • Have a thank-you/praise box for workers to drop notes in about good work they observe; these notes can be read at labor meetings or other group get-togethers.
  • Bring refreshments to meetings from time to time.
  • Nominate students for awards.
  • Consider interesting position assignments, attendance at a conference, or other leadership opportunities.
  • Take advantage of myriad internet sites with motivational tips and messages for workers.

Labor Day

The first Berea College Labor Day took place in 1921. Through the last 100 years of celebrations, the structure of Labor Day has changed, but the meaning remains the same. Berea College Labor Day has historically been a time for everyone to take a pause and celebrate work well done, specifically the student employees. Classes and labor assignments are excused for a day of restful and meaningful celebration of the work students do for the campus community.

The first labor days that were celebrated put all the skills that students acquired in their positions on full display. Students would compete in various competitions to exhibit the technical, agricultural, or clerical skills that they used on a day to day basis in their jobs. These competitions included sheep shearing, weaving, basket making, table setting, and alphabetical filing.

Today, Labor Day is a day of celebration and exploration. There are no longer competitions, but the celebration of work well done continues. It is a full day of celebration that includes a shared campus wide meal, snacks, prizes, and games. Students and supervisors from various departments gather to display their daily work, as well as the unique or long-term projects that have been completed. During Labor Day celebrations, the Labor Program office provides a professional development session for first-year students, as well as a formal dinner for student supervisors.

Labor Expo

Labor Expo is a two-day event that gives students an opportunity to network and explore different labor positions around campus, for the upcoming summer and academic year. Supervisors can use this day to perform interviews or schedule interviews for a later date. Labor Expo happens in the Fall term, before labor status forms open for the spring. Class and Labor is not excused for Labor Expo, so departments are encouraged to allow their students to participate at least one of the two days of Labor Expo.

End of Academic Year Celebration

All student award recipients (academic, labor and service) receive their awards on a designated date at the end of the term.  Due to the enormous number of awards for all three areas, only a select few individuals are recognized with a formal presentation.  Not only is the "End of Year Celebration" a venue to recognize specific students, but an opportunity to celebrate within the campus community all student achievements.

Labor Awards


Each department is allocated a number of departmental awards based on the number of student workers assigned. The department supervisor(s) and mentor(s) decide together which student or students have contributed the most to the work environment over the past year. Recipients receive a $25 cash award and campus-wide recognition of their accomplishments. Departmental Labor Awards are coordinated and funded by the Labor Program Office.


Over the years, alumni and friends of the College have established endowed awards to honor contributions that are more specific in nature. These awards are subject to a nomination and review process, and many come with a substantial prize or cash gift. 

Anna Mae and Phyllis Shumaker Award

This award was named in 2004 in honor of two sisters who served Berea College for many years and were devoted to students in their offices. The award celebrates office work within the Student Labor Program and honors the service and dedication of the Shumaker sisters.

Berea College Outstanding Student Worker of the Year Award

Nominations for students for this award are evaluated on the basis of reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism, and uniqueness of contribution. The Berea College Student Worker of the Year is also eligible to receive honors and substantial cash awards from MASEA (Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators), and for Student of the Year Awards on state, regional, and national levels of employment organizations.

Building Care Award

This is an award selected annually by the Housekeeping Division of Facilities Management to recognize a building which symbolizes a high level of cleanliness and quality of work for the enjoyment of the campus community.

Clara Bell Hall Crafts Award

This award is given to a student who demonstrates exceptional academic and artistic talent while contributing to the Student Crafts Program.

Danforth Creative Effort Awards: 1st, 2nd, 3rd

These cash awards were provided by the William H. Danforth Foundation of St. Louis to honor students whose products of imagination and effort have a lasting legacy beyond their college career at Berea.

Food Service Special Award

This award recognizes a student who finds fulfillment in service to fellow students.

Gladys Jameson Accompanist Award

This award is given in memory of Gladys Jameson, a member of the Berea College Music Faculty from 1916 to 1954, and recognizes the most valuable student accompanist of the year.

Margaret G. Rogers Nursing Award

This award is given in honor of Margaret G. Rogers, a friend and supporter of Berea College because “the College always stressed the dignity of work.” This award goes to a nursing student who has demonstrated excellence in his or her labor assignment.

Photo Awards: 1st, 2nd, 3rd

This award was initiated by the Labor Program Office to encourage students identify a visual representation of the work our students do.

Raymond B. Drukker Memorial Award for Library Service

This award was established on behalf of Dr. Raymond B. Drukker by his wife Julia Drukker Stammer and son, Dow Drukker. This cash award is presented to an outstanding student worker in the College library.

Richard T. Hougen Hotel Management Award

Each year the Boone Tavern professional staff recognizes outstanding student contributors to the operation of the hotel.

Dr. Russell I. Todd Award

This award was established by Dr. Russell I. Todd to honor a student for the most constructive use of his or her leisure time.

Sarah Fuller Smith Loom Award

Ms. Sarah Fuller Smith visited Berea only once, but made annual gifts to the College during the last twenty-five years of her life. The Loom Prize which has been awarded since 1929. This award goes to the outstanding weaver of Fireside Industries, and provides the recipient a loom to build upon his or her weaving skills.

The William R. Ramsay Horizon Award

This award was established to honor William Ramsay's vision of labor and learning at Berea College. It recognizes a first-year student who enthusiastically embraces the Labor Program as an integral component of Berea's mission and whose work demonstrates great potential for the future. Recipients are presented with a copy of Shannon Wilson's book Berea College: An Illustrated History.

The Evans, Wilson and Ellen Best “Above and Beyond the Call of Duty” Award

This award is presented to two graduating seniors who have performed above and beyond the requirements of their labor positions.

Leadership Awards

In recognition of their critical contribution, the Labor Program Office presents annual awards to faculty and staff labor leaders who serve in many capacities through their positions within the Labor Program: supervisor, mentor, teacher, adviser, counselor, and friend.

Every department has at least one supervisor, but departments vary greatly in size and structure, which impacts the dynamics of labor supervision. As such, the Supervisor of the Year and Mentor of the Year awards are granted in three categories based on the size of the department. Awards are driven by student nomination letters, which are reviewed and ranked by the Award Selection Panel.

Student Labor Transcript

The Student Labor Transcript serves as a record of the student’s participation in the Student Labor Program during his/her period of enrollment and will provide a detailed accounting of all positions held, each department and supervisor name, the WLS levels attained, the  assigned work hours per week, and the results of the departmental labor evaluation.  In addition, the transcript will contain a record of all labor distinctions received such as awards, special trainings, and certifications.   This information can be utilized by students in writing resumes and in future job searches by providing official documentation from Berea College that shows position performance and skill levels attained.

The transcript is official only when the embossed College seal and an authorized signature is affixed.  The signature is in blue ink.  Transcripts are printed on security paper and if photocopied, the legend COPY will appear in the background.  Berea College cannot guarantee the authenticity of any transcripts not issued directly to the receiving party.  In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, this transcript must not be released any third party without the written consent of the student.

A labor transcript can be requested through the Labor Program Office. Transcripts are issued free of charge to current and former students. If labor transcripts are requested via a third-party processing system, there will be a processing fee incurred through that third party.

Former students may have holds prohibiting access to their labor records if they left Berea College with a student account balance or if their loans are not in good standing or if they failed to meet their labor hour requirement at the end of their final term. Please contact the appropriate department(s) to resolve any such holds.