University of Southern Indiana

All about the Eagle Hours employee volunteer program

All about the Eagle Hours employee volunteer program

10/7/2019 | University Communications
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USI’s Eagle Hours employee volunteer pilot program, jointly launched by Administrative Senate and Volunteer USI in July, encourages benefit-eligible employees to volunteer up to 7.5 hours, with pay, at USI events during the fiscal year.

This is a supplemental program and not meant to deter any individual or department from other volunteer work they are already taking part in. Approval of additional volunteer hours (above 7.5 per fiscal year) is at the discretion of each employee’s supervisor.

USI Dean of Students Dr. Jennifer Hammet helps carry items during Move-In DayMaggie Carnahan ʼ13 Mʼ18 , assistant director of development and major gifts with the USI Foundation and former Administrative Senate senator, Britney Orth ʼ03, assistant director of student conduct and outreach in the Dean of Students Office and chair of Administrative Senate, and Stacy Draper, deputy information officer, chief information security officer and Administrative Senate at large senator, helped create the pilot program.

USI Today asked the trio how the program works, why it’s valuable and how employees can participate.

What is the Eagle Hours volunteer program?

Maggie Carnahan: The reason this project came about was to promote a more consistent culture of volunteerism on campus. In the Fall Survey last year, we found that while some departments did feel empowered and encouraged to volunteer, others did not. We want to inform employees that University leadership does want everyone to have the opportunity to volunteer who wishes to do so.

Britney Orth: The charge came to the Employee Outreach Committee, and then we discussed our experiences or knowledge of people feeling like they can or can’t volunteer. Just in that room, there were different understandings of whether an employee was allowed to volunteer. We realized we need to make sure we're working on consistency.

Maggie: Benefit-eligible employees are encouraged to volunteer up to 7.5 hours within the fiscal year. So, a full workday can be split up among different days and among different volunteer opportunities. Once an employee volunteers, they are asked to submit those hours on the Volunteer USI website. Also, we are asking that employees volunteer at USI events. There are a lot of opportunities within USI’s campus to volunteer.

Taylor Gogel and Maggie Carnahan volunteer at the 2019 Varsity Club Steak Fry 'n Auction helping guests register bid numbersBritney: There are a lot of Alumni Association events, USI booths at the Fall Festival, Varsity Club events, Heritage Artisan Day events, reading at the Children's Learning Center—they're always looking for volunteers to help out with that—and United Way’s Day of Caring. We also have a large number of international students who are new to campus. The Center for International Programs is looking for people who will volunteer their time through the Host Friendship Program. Maybe it's once a month, taking an international student out for coffee. It's a way for these international students to get to know other employees on campus.

Maggie: Staff Council, Administrative Senate and Faculty Senate are all volunteer opportunities, as well.

Stacy Draper: These opportunities are not all-encompassing. Anything else that you come up with or that your department hosts is eligible for this program. (Request volunteers at your USI event.)

Why is this program, and volunteering in general, valuable to employees and the University?

Maggie: I think it allows people to give back, if they so choose. It allows people to really invest in their workplace and make it a better place.

Stacy: It’s really focusing on servant leadership in your day-to-day, and then how that can dovetail into volunteering and having this sense of giving across your team members within your group, your departments that you work with within campus. It just really helps get that unified culture. We want teams to be working together. We want the larger community to be working together. We want to have everybody feel like they can help serve a need when they see a need.

Britney: I think it's important that we give employees who are passionate about USI, about our students, about what we do, the opportunity to play that out.  

Brandi Hess, Director of Web Services, assists a student during 2019 Move-In DayWhat do you enjoy about volunteering at USI?

Stacy: For me, it's the human connection. Regardless of the task that you're doing, you’re usually side-by-side someone else, usually someone who you may not have met or crossed paths with if you had not put yourself into that situation or had the opportunity. I think that those human-to-human connections that you get during those times, they’re memories that play into your spirit for the rest of the day, or week or month.

Britney: In addition to what Stacy said, I also like to work with people who I already know and am friends with. And I enjoy opportunities to work with students, or with kids, because I think they really appreciate that.

Maggie: At my [USI Foundation] office, we don't see very many students. We're not in a centralized location. So, a lot of these opportunities have allowed me to interact with students. That's why I think most of us work at USI, because of the students. That's why my job exists. So, that's a really special opportunity. I've met so many people and formed so many new relationships from volunteering.

What will make this pilot program successful?

Stacy: We’re going to be monitoring this on a monthly basis to understand how the campus community is taking advantage of this pilot, and then through Administrative Senate, up through our leadership, we will be sharing that information and seeing if it’s something we should champion in the future. We want to hear from you [USI employees]. Certainly, submit your volunteer hours, but reach out to Administrative Senate if you've got a story to share with us regarding your volunteer time.

Maggie: We would like to see 100 percent participation from those who would like to volunteer at USI during work hours. Some people might not want to take time to volunteer, and that’s okay, too. But for those who do want to, 100 percent participation is the goal. And we plan to measure that by adding questions to the Fall Survey next year. 

Britney: We want to make sure that people in other governance groups feel like they can volunteer too. We worked with Staff Council and Faculty Senate to get them on board with it because we feel like this is an opportunity for all groups on campus to take advantage of. We certainly encourage faculty and staff to submit their hours, as well, and to be a part of this program. We want to make sure that we show that people are interested in and passionate about this, and they do want to continue this.

Eagle Hours Fast Facts

  • Open to benefit-eligible employees
  • Volunteer up to 7.5 hours, with pay, during the fiscal year (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020)
  • Hours may be used in increments or all at once
  • Prior supervisor approval necessary
  • Must report volunteer hours through Volunteer USI
  • Read the full Eagle Hours pilot program proposal

This is a supplemental program and not meant to deter any individual or department from other volunteer work they are already taking part in. Approval of additional volunteer hours (above 7.5 per fiscal year) is at the discretion of each employee’s supervisor.

USI sponsored volunteer events include, but are not limited to:

  • Welcome Week
  • Housing Move-In
  • Assessment Day (Fall and Spring)
  • USI booths at Fall Festival
  • Varsity Club events
  • Alumni Association events
  • Heritage Artisan Days
  • Reading to children at the Children’s Learning Center
  • United Way Day of Caring
  • Request volunteers at your USI event
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Photo Credit: USI Photography and Multimedia

USI's Dean of Students Dr. Jennifer Hammet helps carry items during 2019 Move-In Day

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