Frequently Asked Questions

The Program

1. Why is Amherst College bolstering its recognition and rewards program?

One of the major themes identified in the 2017 staff survey was the need to create a stronger culture of appreciation and to provide a more meaningful recognition and rewards program for our staff. This program was designed to meet that need: it expands the ways in which individuals and teams can be recognized throughout the year.

2. How was the new program designed?

The program was a collaborative effort of a working group of staff from across the College, and reflects a broad range of staff input. The group’s goal was to create a program that reflected best practices and provided a wide range of opportunities for recognizing staff. The Recognition & Rewards Working Group included the following members:

  • Rich Blair
  • Jennifer Christian Wright
  • Marie Fowler
  • Beth Ollson
  • Debbie Omasta-Mokrzecki
  • David Perez Ortiz
  • Maria-Judith Rodriguez
  • Arleen Sassi
  • Michelle Welles
  • Kate Wesolowski
  • Kathy Whittemore
  • Magdalena Zapedowska
  • Lisa Rutherford

3. What elements are included in the new program?

The Recognition & Rewards: Amherst Appreciations Program, which is aligned to the mission, strategic vision and desired culture of the College, contains several components:

  • Spot Award: A new on-the-spot award given to staff members by supervisors/chairs for a specific and exceptional activity
  • Staff Shout-Out: A new immediate award for staff members from peer community members to thank them for noteworthy actions or contributions
  • Mammoth Milestone: Recognition from the College for a staff member’s years of service (expansion of the Service Award Program)
  • 1821 Award: An award for exceptional employees of the year across five categories (expansion of Employee Recognition Award)
  • Herd of the Year Award: A new award for a group or team that exhibits an outstanding collective effort
  • Culture of Appreciation: Funds for department and/or division recognition and celebration
  • Appreciations Toolkit: Online resource with information on the program and simple ways in which departments and divisions can celebrate staff contributions

4. What is my role in the Recognition & Rewards program?

As a staff member of Amherst College, you are encouraged to help support a culture of appreciation by participating as much or as often as you think is appropriate. It is your choice.

5. When and how will recognition be communicated to the campus community?

Awards and recognition will be given and communicated throughout the year through the programs listed above. Prizes include tokens of appreciation, thank-you notes via email or paper, items from the Terryberry catalogue, monetary rewards, experiential awards, and public recognition at events such as the Staff and Faculty Picnic or through internal campus communications.

6. How do I opt out if I do not wish to receive public recognition?

If you would like to opt out of public recognition for any components of this program, please contact the Office of Human Resources (OHR) at (413) 542–2372 or recognition@amherst.edu.

7. Can I receive different types of recognition (e.g., a Spot Award and an 1821 Award) in the same year?

Yes, a staff member is eligible to receive Spot Awards, Staff Shout-Outs and an 1821 Award (and be included in a Herd of the Year Award) within the same fiscal year. There are no limits or restriction on the number of Spot Awards or Staff Shout-Outs an employee can receive (or give). A staff member may receive only one Staff Shout-Out award item via the lottery in each fiscal year. Additionally, to ensure that as many staff members as possible receive awards, a staff member cannot receive 1821 Awards across multiple categories in the same year and cannot win an 1821 Award more than once in a five-year period. Similarly, the same team cannot win the Herd of the Year Award more than once in a five-year period.

8. Whom do I contact if I have additional questions about the program?

Additional information about the program may be found on the Recognition & Rewards: Amherst Appreciations website, a one-stop shop for recognition and rewards at the College. Please direct any questions or comments to the Office of Human Resources (OHR) at (413) 542–2372 or recognition@amherst.edu.


Spot Award

1. What is a Spot Award?

A Spot Award is a way for a supervisor/chair to quickly recognize a staff member for a specific and exceptional activity or accomplishment with a thank-you and a token of appreciation.

2. Who can receive or give a Spot Award?

All staff members are eligible to receive Spot Awards from their respective supervisor(s)/chair(s).

3. What activities would merit a Spot Award?

A Spot Award may be given when a staff member…

  • Provides great service: Delivers superior support to a student, faculty member, staff member, alumni or visitor; exhibits compassion, positivity and understanding when providing assistance; makes a community member feel valued
  • Is a great campus citizen: Upholds the College’s mission through an on-campus activity such as serving on/contributing to a committee beyond normal job duties
  • Goes above and beyond: Exceeds regular job responsibilities by going the extra mile with a positive attitude and taking initiative without being asked
  • Solves a problem: Exhibits creative problem-solving; offers an idea that improves our workplace or College operation
  • Commits to a team: Puts in extra effort to help out a co-worker or team; fills in to support someone else in need outside of normal work expectations
  • Is an outstanding rookie: Makes an immediate impact and meaningful contribution to the department or the broader campus community as a new employee to the College
  • Innovates: Thinks outside of the box; puts forth a creative idea or solution for achieving the Amherst vision or improving divisional, departmental or College-wide operations, processes and procedures

4. What does a Spot Award recipient get?

A staff member receives a thank-you note, via email or in print, from their supervisor/chair describing the contributions being celebrated and an item of appreciation. Awardees who have not opted out of public recognition will be featured in a range of other internal communications and announcements.

5. How do I submit nominations for a Spot Award?

To nominate a staff member, a supervisor/chair will fill out an online form. The supervisor/chair can then pick up a token of appreciation from their departmental representative to give to the staff member. If you do not know your departmental representative, please contact the Office of Human Resources (OHR) at (413) 542–2372 or recognition@amherst.edu.

6. When and how will Spot Awards be delivered?

A staff member will be recognized with a Spot Award within one or two days of the submission. The awardee will receive the thank-you via email soon after the supervisor’s/chair’s submission. The token of appreciation will be picked up by the supervisor/chair and delivered to the awardee, along with a printed version of the Spot Award if the awardee does not have easy access to campus email. Awardees who have not opted out of public recognition will be featured in a range of other internal communications and announcements.

7. When can I be nominated for a Spot Award?

Nominations for the Spot Award can be submitted at any time during the year.


Staff Shout-Outs

1. What is a Staff Shout-Out?

A Staff Shout-Out is our peer-to-peer recognition program—a quick and easy way to recognize staff members for making a noteworthy contribution to our community.

2. Who can receive or give a Staff Shout-Out?

Any Amherst faculty, staff member or student may recognize exceptional activity and/or action of any staff member. 

3. What activities would merit a Staff Shout-Out?

A Staff Shout-Out is a great way to recognize staff members who are making a noteworthy or extraordinary contribution, including but not limited to:

  • Completing a job or task especially well
  • Performing a random act of kindness
  • Working behind the scenes to make an event or process run smoothly
  • Mentoring or helping other Amherst community members
  • Collaborating with others and breaking down barriers
  • Promoting positive morale and camaraderie through attitude and actions
  • Exhibiting creativity and effective problem-solving
  • Consistently and obviously putting forth hard work
  • Being an ambassador of the College
  • Achieving an educational accomplishment or skill improvement

4. What do Staff Shout-Out recipients get?

A recipient of a Staff Shout-Out will receive a personalized note from the recognizer, through email or on paper, thanking them for their notable activity. Recipients also will be automatically entered into a monthly lottery administered by the Office of Human Resources (OHR). The lottery winner (drawn at random each month) will receive an Amherst-themed token of appreciation. Awardees who have not opted out of public recognition will be featured in a range of other internal communications and announcements.

5. How do I submit nominations for a Staff Shout-Out?

To recognize a staff member for a Staff Shout-Out, any staff member, faculty member or student will fill out either an online form or a paper form that can be submitted through a nomination box in the Service Center, Dining Services, Custodial Services or Rental Housing. (Please check with the Office of Human Resources for exact locations of the boxes.)

6. When and how will Staff Shout-Outs be delivered?

Staff will be recognized with a Staff Shout-Out within one or two days of their exceptional activity. If the Staff Shout-Out is submitted online, the recognized staff member will receive a thank you note via email. If a paper version of the Shout-Out is used, the recognizer is responsible for providing a copy to the staff member (as well as submitting a copy to the Office of Human Resources) at their earliest convenience. The winner of the monthly lottery will be notified and will receive their item as soon as possible following the lottery. Awardees who have not opted out of public recognition will be featured in a range of other internal communications and announcements.

7. When can I be nominated for a Staff Shout-Out?

Nominations for Staff Shout-Outs can be submitted throughout the year. Lottery drawings will occur once a month and include all submissions from the previous month.

8. Can I nominate or receive more than one Staff Shout-Out?

Yes. There are no restrictions on the number of Shout-Outs a staff member can give or receive. However, staff members may win only one lottery prize per fiscal year.


Mammoth Milestone

1. What is a Mammoth Milestone?

The Mammoth Milestone Awards are an expansion of our Service Award Program and recognize staff members for their longevity and commitment to the Amherst College community. Mammoth Milestones are awarded for each five-year milestone of employment with the College.

2. Who can receive a Mammoth Milestone?

Staff members are eligible to receive this award at their respective five-year service milestones. They must be employed with the College for at least five consecutive years in a regular, benefited position.

3. What do Mammoth Milestone recipients get?

Each recipient may choose an award item from the Terryberry catalogue or, based on their years of service, select a monetary award or experience option.1 Recognized staff members are also invited to attend an annual Mammoth Milestone Recognition Lunch. Recipients who have not opted out of public recognition will be featured in a range of other internal communications and announcements.

4. Do Mammoth Milestone awards increase based on years of experience?

Yes, staff members with more years of service receive different awards based on their tenure. At 10 years of service and beyond, a monetary award option is available.1 At 20 years and beyond, an “experience award” option is available, which may include a restaurant gift certificate, a chance to attend a special event or a weekend getaway opportunity.1 At 25 or more years of service, staff also are automatically members of the 25+ Year Club and each is invited, along with a guest, to the annual Retiree and 25+ Club Dinner.

5. How do I select my Mammoth Milestone award?

The Office of Human Resources (OHR) distributes Mammoth Milestone letters in the month of a qualifying staff member’s employment anniversary, offering congratulations for the years of service. The staff member will then receive a catalog from Terryberry with a link to select an award online. Once the gift arrives, OHR notifies the recipient’s supervisor /chair, who subsequently presents the gift to the staff member, or the recipient may pick up the gift in OHR.

6. When can I receive a Mammoth Milestone?

Mammoth Milestones are awarded upon each recognized five-year service milestone, during the month of your anniversary date. Milestone Lunches and Retiree and 25+ Year Club dinners are held annually for recognized staff members.

1. Awards are subject to existing federal and state income tax laws.


The 1821 Awards

1. What is an 1821 Award?

1821 Awards are an expansion of the existing Employee Recognition Awards and are given to staff members who have demonstrated extraordinary achievements and/or who have done an exceptional job throughout the year. There are five categories of 1821 Awards that reflect the culture we hope to build and strengthen.

2. Who can receive or give an 1821 Award?

Any staff member, faculty member or student is eligible to nominate any staff member for an 1821 Award. Non-faculty employees, including casuals, who have completed a minimum of one (1) year of service by the time of the nomination and who are active at the time of the summer Staff and Faculty Picnic are eligible.

3. What activities would merit an 1821 Award?

Staff can be recognized in one of five award categories:

  • Above and Beyond: Demonstrates sustained, exceptional contributions that consistently exceed day-to-day responsibilities, goals and expectations; takes initiative to solve problems and improve work situations; demonstrates hard work, perseverance and commitment in carrying out responsibilities; assists others consistently and in unexpected ways.
  • Collaboration: Exhibits dedicated commitment to teamwork and collaboration across departments and divisions; reaches across traditional boundaries to partner with diverse groups and drives collaborative contributions that achieve departmental, divisional or College-wide goals and objectives; allows all voices to be heard while working within a team or group of campus community partners; proactively shares resources and knowledge with others whenever possible; establishes positive relationships and partnerships throughout the College and works to break down barriers where possible within the College community.
  • Everyday Leadership: Provides a clear sense of direction, purpose and vision for staff through demonstrable actions; develops a culture of trust and provides open communication; helps to build a positive and uplifting culture that focuses on transparency, appreciation and respect; demonstrates accountability for their own actions as well as others in their department or division; supports others by sponsoring and promoting personal and professional development.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Embraces the values of a culture of inclusion on a daily basis; fosters an environment that encourages collaboration, trust and respect; welcomes new ideas and input from others; promotes diverse perspectives and opinions; exhibits an attitude and actions in day-to-day work that contribute to a positive and inclusive work environment; raises awareness and participates actively in diversity and inclusion efforts within the College; displays a commitment to continual development in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Exceptional Service: Models the values of Amherst College through interactions with students, faculty, staff, alumni and/or visitors by representing the College in a positive way and working to improve the lives of others and the campus community; maintains a consistent commitment to ensure that the needs of students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors are met at the highest level; anticipates needs, explores potential solutions and serves as a trusted partner and role model to others in the community; demonstrates a proactive commitment to improving the Amherst College community as a place to live, learn and work beyond day-to-day responsibilities and expectations through participation in College initiatives, committees, events and activities; may also show a commitment to sustainability and promoting conservation or minimizing the environmental footprint and impact of the College.

4. What do 1821 Award recipients get?

Each will receive a monetary award of $1,821, in honor of the year Amherst College was founded.2 Awardees who have not opted out of public recognition will be featured in a range of other internal communications and announcements.

5. How do I submit nominations for an 1821 Award?

To nominate a staff member, complete a nomination form and include two additional letters of support from Amherst community members.

6. Who determines the recipients of 1821 Awards?

Nominations for 1821 Awards will be reviewed by the Annual Award Committee, which includes members of senior staff, faculty, supervisors and staff members who are appointed on a biennial basis. Members of the Annual Award Committee will be charged with ensuring nomination forms are complete, following up with any questions, including input from supervisors/chairs and selecting the award recipients.

7. When and how are 1821 Awards delivered?

Awards are formally announced each year at the summer Staff and Faculty Picnic and delivered immediately.

8. When can I be nominated for an 1821 Award?

Nominations can be submitted from the beginning of February through the end of March.

9. Can I nominate or receive more than one 1821 Award?

You may nominate more than one individual for an 1821 Award. Individual awards will be given for each category. To ensure that as many staff members as possible receive awards, a staff member cannot receive more than one 1821 Award in the same year and cannot win an 1821 Award more than once in a five-year span.

2. Note that awards are subject to existing federal and state income tax laws.


Herd of the Year Award

1. What is a Herd of the Year Award?

The Herd of the Year Award is designed to recognize at least one group or team each year that has done an exceptional job on behalf of the College.

2. Who can receive or give a Herd of the Year Award?

Any member of the Amherst community, including staff, faculty, and students, can nominate a team for the Herd of the Year Award. All staff members are eligible to receive awards, as long as they demonstrate the outlined behaviors.

3. How is a herd or team defined?

A herd or team is defined as a group of more than one staff member aligned by a departmental, divisional or special initiative or project team responsibility. Teams can also be cross-functional formal committees and groups. Final determination of whether or not a group constitutes a herd or team will be made by the Annual Award Committee, a cross-functional group that reviews nominations and selects the winner of this award.  See Question 7 below for further details on this committee.

4. What activities would merit a Herd of the Year Award?

To be eligible for the Herd of the Year Award, a team must work toward achieving departmental, divisional or college-wide goals and objectives. Eligible herds may exhibit behaviors such as improving the operation of the campus, collaborating across departments or divisions, or working collaboratively and positively to address a core need of the College.

5. What do Herd of the Year recipients get?

Winning herds receive a team celebration with the President and a special award or gift. In addition, members of the winning herd who have not opted out of public recognition will be featured in a range of other internal communications and announcements.

6. How do I submit a nomination for a Herd of the Year Award?

To nominate a herd, complete a nomination form and include two additional letters of support from Amherst community members.

7. Who determines the recipients of the Herd of the Year Award?

Nominations for the Herd of the Year Award will be reviewed by the Annual Award Committee, which includes members of senior staff, faculty, supervisors and staff who are appointed on a biennial basis. Members of the Annual Award Committee and will be charged with ensuring that nomination forms are complete, following-up with any questions, including input from supervisors/chairs and selecting the award recipients.

8. When and how is the Herd of the Year Award delivered?

Awards are publicly announced at the annual summer Staff and Faculty Picnic and will be received shortly thereafter.

9. When can I be nominated for a Herd of the Year Award?

Nominations can be submitted from the beginning of February through the end of March.

10. Can I nominate or receive more than one Herd of the Year Award?

You may nominate more than one team for a Herd of the Year Award. At least one team will be recognized each year, and more than one team may be recognized in a given year, at the discretion of the Annual Award Committee. To ensure that as many staff members as possible receive awards, a team cannot win a Herd of the Year Award more than once in a five-year period.


Reinforcing a Culture of Appreciation

1. How can departments and divisions reinforce a culture of appreciation?

As part of our commitment to promoting and supporting a culture of appreciation, the College wants to encourage recognition of staff contributions that often go unrecognized throughout the year. The College will provide annual funding to divisions to support opportunities for department and division recognition activities.

Building and strengthening a culture of appreciation involves everyone. We encourage you to consider small, simple ways of fostering a general feeling of appreciation and mutual respect for one another. Saying “thank you” or “good job” helps to improve our culture.

2. What activities would merit a department or division celebration?

Broad ranges of activities are worthy of celebration, from accomplishing major milestones to working together under a tight deadline, collaboratively solving a pressing need or performing everyday hard work well. Department or division efforts may also be initiative- or project-based (i.e., for initiatives that are cross-functional and not limited to a specific department or division). 

3. What do department or division celebrations entail?

A department or division celebration may include a small event, lunch or special activity. Please see the Appreciations Toolkit for creative ideas.

4. Who can be recognized in a department or division celebration?

Any Amherst College staff member(s) may be celebrated on an individual or group basis.

5. How do I share my ideas for a department or division celebration?

The leader of a department, division, special initiative or project can submit a celebration idea to their division leader or department head for consideration.

6. When can department or division celebrations be held?

Such celebrations may be held at any time during the year.

7. How do we celebrate efforts and accomplishments of the collective campus community?

The College recognizes that some major successes that deserve celebration require significant effort across campus. In instances where our community works together toward a campus-wide goal or accomplishment (a successful campaign, completion of the staff survey, etc.), Senior Staff may sponsor a campus-wide celebration at their discretion and as they feel is appropriate.


Appreciations Toolkit

1. Are there other tools and resources that can help me recognize the contributions and accomplishments of staff?

The Appreciations Toolkit on the Recognition & Rewards website serves as a one-stop shop for everyone at the College. It includes guidelines, forms and policies for all aspects of the program. The website also has helpful tools, materials and resources that make recognizing staff easier, including a sample thank-you letter, an e-card, “50 Ways to Say Thank You,” training for the program and more.

2. Is training available to help me effectively recognize staff?

Yes, the Office of Human Resources (OHR) offers training for our Recognition & Rewards Program, and how to effectively recognize staff and contribute to a culture of appreciation.