Skip to Content

Announcing the You Rock! Award

Back to News Listing


University of Denver

Nominate a colleague for their good work

Announcement  •
You Rock! badge

by Dave Thomas

Kate Willink wants you to know: You Rock!

As the vice provost of faculty affairs, Kate has watched her peers and colleagues across the faculty and staff rise to the challenge of taking the university online. Witnessing so many moments of inspiration around people helping people and doing the right things, big and small, Willink wanted to help share the word.

“With so many people working extremely hard and doing amazing things we wanted to promote a culture of appreciation and recognition that is more immediate and touches people outside the limelight,” she said.

With the cooperation of the Morgridge College of Education, Willink borrowed an idea born of the unit’s Inclusive Excellence Committee. You Rock! started as a popular recognition program out of the dean’s office and has grown over the years into an important part of the college’s culture. Morgridge faculty and staff keep a stack of You Rock! slips close at hand. When they see something worthy of appreciation, they write up a You Rock! form, including the person to receive the recognition, a little bit about what they did and which of the college’s values best fit the deed. These forms end up in a jar in the dean’s office. Every other week, a name is drawn to win a prize and all the forms are distributed to the recipients. Dean Karen Riley notes that many people save their You Rock! forms, proudly displaying them pinned to bulletin boards and taped to the walls of their offices.

Recognition in Morgridge has ranged from sharing a student compliment with a colleague, to thanks for helping out with a computer issue to assistance just getting into a building. Every day, the small gestures of thanks flow into Riley's inbox.

Riley knows her faculty and staff rock.

“If we want to build a community, we need to take a few minutes to acknowledge one another,” she says.

To her mind, tent pole recognition around publications, grants and big project completions grab the attention. But it’s the daily small things that knit the community together and show a mutual care and concern for the well-being of the people at work.

When Willink approached her about borrowing You Rock! for the greater DU community, Riley and the Morgridge Inclusive Excellence Committee agree to share their work.

“Imitation is the highest form of flattery!” Riley mused.

To scale You Rock! to all of  DU faculty, staff and leadership, Willink partnered with Human Resources and Inclusive Community (HRIC). An online form collects the You Rock! compliments and after a quick review, electronic certificates are emailed to recipients. Planned prize drawings continue the recognition fun. With an eye toward making You Rock! a DU staple, the appreciation platform recently launched and has already seen the kudos start to roll in.

“We underestimate the power of a thank you,” said Ken Pinnock, HRIC's community director of people development. “Recognition is something that is sought after and desired in our community.”

In other words: You Rock!

Want to share your thanks? Let your colleague know: You Rock!