The Ole Miss Staff Council is an internal organization at the university dedicated to honoring the work of University of Mississippi staff members. This week is Staff Appreciation Week and the staff council is going all out to recognize the hard work of so many people.
The week is sponsored by several departments on campus as well as many local businesses including Ajax Diner, Chick-fil-A, Keila Ward Skin Therapies, Kelli’s Cakes, McAlister’s Deli, Oxford Insurance Agency, Cannon Motors, University Sporting Goods, Rachael Durham Designs and Rebel Rags.
A lot of the events involve physical activity and were organized and hosted by RebelWell and Campus Recreation. There’s a basketball tournament, a kickball tournament, a fun run, yoga sessions, aqua aerobics and more. Mississippi Blood Services also comes out for a blood drive in the Grove. Meditation sessions, first aid and CPR training and even a plant swap are on the schedule this week.
Nearly all of the events have monetary prizes, gift cards, spa passes and several other kinds of prizes that have been donated to the staff council.
The week culminates Friday with the staff recognition awards ceremony being held in the Ford Center at 9 a.m. Chancellor Jeffery Vitter will be speaking at the ceremony. Door prizes will be awarded and staff members receiving awards in the different categories will receive $500, with the over all winner receiving $1,000, a plaque and football tickets.
Gazel Giles serves as president of the staff council. An Oxford native, Giles graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s in psychology. She just wrapped up her master’s in higher education this month. She we recently brought on as a continuing education coordinator with the Department of Outreach.
She has served as a staff member at the university in a few different ways. She serves as the advisor for the UM Fashion Society. During her undergrad, she worked with athletics and would later move to facilities planning full time and serve as their receptionist. She understands what life is like for a staff member at the University of Mississippi.
Everyone on the staff council is a volunteer.
Giles became involved with the council because she wanted to help bring recognition to the staff members who keep the university functioning. She was looking for a way to give back to the university and, after a bit of research, she discovered the staff council and learned about their work.
She came onto the council and served as a member for over a year, and then became president elect. She was later voted in and began serving as president last fall.
“I got into this because I love being able to help people out. I love making people smile. We don’t get paid for it, but we do receive so much support from the administration. I have a passion for giving back, and this organization lets me do just that.”
Friday, from 1 to 3:30, the university will actually be shut down so that all staff members across every department has the opportunity to come out and enjoy activities with the staff council.
“I think the staff members deserve to be recognized because we are often put on the backburner, if that makes sense,” Giles said. “Most of us aren’t looking for fame and glory, but to be recognized for the work you do is nice. It shows that people care. It shows that the university does appreciate the work you do. It’s a good feeling. The staff here are just as important as the faculty, and I think it’s important to show them that we care.”
For a full schedule of events, visit www.staffcouncil.olemiss.edu.