CCAC Civility

CCAC Vice President for Human Resources Kim Manigault and CCAC President Dr. Quintin B. Bullock hold the HR Innovation Award the college received at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference and Expo 2017. To the right of Dr. Bullock is CCAC Foundation CEO Roseann DiCola. The award was in addition to a $5,000 contribution to CCAC's foundation for scholarships. At right, The HR Innovation Award.

Never underestimate the power of the Tootsie Roll.

The chocolate, taffy-like candy left quite the impression when ambassadors in the Community College of Allegheny County Civility Program distributed the treat affixed to a card that read “You’re on a Roll” to students and faculty at the North campus and the West Hills Center this summer.

“People are still talking about it,” says Rob Velella, a student development specialist and Civility Program ambassador at the North campus. “Nobody expected to have someone come up to them while they were walking around campus and give them a Tootsie Roll with a note telling them they are appreciated and doing a good job. It was a small gesture but it still meant a lot.”

Kindness and appreciation are at the forefront of CCAC’s Civility Program, which is a campus-wide initiative with roots dating back to the summer of 2016. The brainchild of CCAC president Quintin B. Bullock, the Civility Program today counts around 40 employees as members.

“It’s really a program that makes you think about how you are treating others,” says Vanessa Branch, the accounts payable supervisor at Boyce Campus and a Civility Program ambassador. “It’s a proactive way to be aware of conduct here at CCAC. People can confuse being nice with being professional and I think the Civility Program reiterates the act of being kind, courteous and polite.

“We’re not just supposed to be employees; we also have to be role models.”

CCAC Director of Community Training and Development Mary Jo Guercio has been a charter member of the Civility Program. Although the program is only in its infancy, Guercio says it’s had a positive impact at the Pittsburgh-based college.

“All of our ambassadors really have been walking the walk and that is helping the Civility Program catch on,” she says. “I come from the philosophy of ‘Do unto others (as you would have them do unto you)’, and the Civility Program reiterates that.”

While the program was initially designed only for CCAC employees, students soon took an interest and are becoming more actively involved, according to Michelle L. Friedman, the senior library clerk at the South campus. While they are not yet eligible to become ambassadors — that title is reserved for employees — students can sign the “Civility Pledge”, which encourages them to act in a manner that promotes respect, self-reflection, care and empathy toward others and acknowledge the value, culture and humanity of others in the CCAC community. The single-page pledge also asks the signer to adhere to the five principles of civility: inclusivity, respect, awareness, collegiality and advocacy.

“Once the word got out about the program several students wanted to be a part of it,” Friedman says. “We are looking forward to gathering their input and making the program even better.”

One way to obtain that input started on September 11 when CCAC unveiled its “Unboxing Civility” college-wide program. During this semester-long program, employees and students are encouraged to fill out a brief questionnaire asking them to define civility and also describe a situation in which they acted civil and then drop the answers in one of the brightly decorated boxes placed throughout the campuses.

“It will be good to see what the students have to say and what civility means to them,” Friedman says. “We also hope many students will sign the pledge at this time.”

The definitions provided will likely be placed inside fortune cookies that will be distributed around CCAC later this school year, she says.

Civil Servants

Friedman says becoming an ambassador for the program was an easy decision for her because being civil is part of who she is.

“(Being part of the Civility Program) is about being genuine and true,” she says. “I care about people. That is why I became a CCAC civility ambassador.”

Kim Manigault, CCAC’s vice president for human resources, was tabbed by President Bullock to serve as chairwoman of a six-member committee formed in the summer of 2016 to lay the foundation for the Civility Program. The group created the program’s motto — “We Are Civility” — and also produced a short video that was played at each campus explaining the program.

“I believe the program has really boosted employee morale, which makes for better employees and a better workplace,” Manigault says. “We want people to come to work knowing they are in a safe environment because they will be more productive. If people do not feel comfortable coming to work then that has an impact on their co-workers and the students.”

Manigault says the program has made immediate dividends with staff.

“I have noticed a change and that people are being nicer to each other,” she says. “You can’t just talk about being civil you have to act it. A lot of people here are acting in a civil manner.

“A lot of people are taking more of an interest in the program. They are jumping on the civility bandwagon. It’s great to see.”

The Unboxing Civility event has been a good way to engage students in the Civility Program, and Manigault says she expects more student input down the road.

“It has always been our intention to reach out to the students,” she says. “I think the Student Development Department will work on ways to get the students more involved in the future. One professor even had her entire class attend a Civility Program event so there is definite interest.”

Gaining Recognition

CCAC’s Civility Program is not only becoming more recognized on campus, but also on campuses throughout the U.S. The Knoxville, Tennessee-based College and University Professional Association for Human Resources presented CCAC with its Human Resources CUPA-HR Innovation Award during its annual conference and expo, held this September at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. The award recognizes innovative thinking in higher education HR. More than 1,000 people representing colleges and universities nationwide were in attendance to witness Manigault accept the award for CCAC.

“That was a great honor and something I won’t forget for a long time,” she says. “I’m still excited (a week later) just thinking about it. (The award) motivates you to move forward and do even more.”

Manigault says she nominated the Civility Program for the award and then learned CCAC had won.

“I forwarded the email to all of our ambassadors and they were so excited.”

The Innovation Award comes with a $5,000 prize from CUPA-HR, Manigault says. That money will be given to the CCAC Educational Foundation with the purpose of creating a student scholarship.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized for our Civility Program and then be able use the (award) money to reward an existing or incoming student,” Manigault says. “Civility is always on my mind, it’s one of my greatest concerns. It’s incredible how much we have been able to accomplish in such a short period of time.”

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