Thank You Rice campaign posts words of gratitude, encouragement for all to see

'Tis the season for giving thanks

Have you thanked a Rice colleague lately? (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

The entire Rice community has pulled together to keep the university running smoothly amid a historic pandemic — and showing your appreciation for the people who are making it happen is now a little easier.

The Thank You Rice campaign posters, designed by Hanszen College senior Emily Chang, can be found across campus.
The Thank You Rice campaign posters, designed by Hanszen College senior Emily Chang, can be found across campus.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, a new online campaign is designed to help you extend your gratitude to a co-worker, professor, staff member, student leader or anyone at Rice who’s made a difference during this difficult time. The online portal hosted by the Crisis Management Team (CMT) also includes a message board where each thank-you note is posted for all to read.

You can find the Thank You Rice portal at coronavirus.rice.edu/thank-you-rice or by scanning the QR codes found on Thank You Rice posters across campus.

One note to a staff member in the Student Wellbeing office reads, “You are such a wonderful fixture on campus, and I miss seeing you around. Thank you so much for all that you are doing to help our students stay safe and healthy. You really make a difference, and we are eternally grateful for you.”

Another note to a Rice University Police Department officer reads, “I am so grateful to have you on our team. You are so valued, trusted and appreciated. It is so easy to work with you, and you give so generously of your time and talents.”

The idea for the Thank You Rice campaign occurred to Wendi Schoffstall-Nunez one day after leaving a difficult CMT meeting. Schoffstall-Nunez, the student services administrator in the Dean of Undergraduates’ office, and her co-workers were feeling overwhelmed and exhausted after months of continual efforts to keep the campus safe and COVID-free.

“Someone said in the meeting that they felt unappreciated, and I thought, well that's a really horrible thing for people that are working so very hard … people that have been working nonstop since February,” Schoffstall-Nunez said.

“It’s awful to feel unappreciated — especially when I know that that's not the case,” she said. “After all, it's a testament to you doing your job very well that people don't notice you doing it right.”

Have you thanked a Rice colleague lately? (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)
Have you thanked a Rice colleague lately? (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

Schoffstall-Nunez quickly called Susann Glenn, director of communications for administration, to help brainstorm a simple solution for letting folks share their words of appreciation. Glenn got in touch with Jon-Paul Estrada, the associate director of web development in the Office of Public Affairs, and two websites were born: an online submission form and the message board that already boasts dozens of thank-you messages.

Thank You Rice may be hosted on the CMT’s website, Glenn said, but it’s a product of Rice’s sense of community: close-knit, collaborative and always willing to help each other out.

“When Wendi shared her idea with me, I knew we had to make it happen,” Glenn said. “It’s been so uplifting to read the numerous messages that have been sent in so far. People are so grateful for the little things and in a time when contact is limited, messages of gratitude go a very long way.”

Being able to thank Rice community members by name was also important to Schoffstall-Nunez when the site was being designed. It can be easy to keep your head down while helping to keep a department or program going, but Thank You Rice wants people to know they’re valued independently as well.

“It's so special to say ‘thank you’ to an individual — to say, ‘I see what you're doing, and I appreciate what you're doing,’” she said. “I think it really matters, and I think we have a community that’s so small it is completely reasonable to be able to do that — to say ‘Hey, I came across these people today that really positively impacted my day.’”

Give your thanks to a fellow Rice community member at coronavirus.rice.edu/thank-you-rice.