Sometimes the best inspiration for giving back is sitting right next to you. At least, that's how Connie Kissee sees it.
Kissee has been a classified, or hourly, employee at K-State for more than 36 years -- roughly 30 of them spent working for K-State Libraries. A member of the Classified Senate for a combined 18 years, she has helped oversee changes to bylaws and spur pay-rate reform. But she wanted to do something more for the people she worked with every day, something that had impact.
"I'd always wanted to do something special for classified employees. Anything we can do to help classified employees develop themselves is good for the university," Kissee said.
Kissee, a library assistant at Hale Library, decided to start volunteering her efforts in the All-University Campaign. The campaign is a campus-wide effort that calls on faculty and staff to give back to the university, giving them the opportunity to designate their gifts to the college, department, program or cause they care about most. For Kissee, that cause was helping her fellow employees move forward.
"That year (2007) was the first year of the All-University Campaign. It was so great that everyone -- classified and unclassified -- is involved, because everyone at K-State is important. It's time for us to give back to the university," Kissee said.
In that first year, the Classified Senate established the Classified Employee Opportunity Fund. It provides support for classified employees who are attending classes part time, or funding for professional development and travel to national conferences. Kissee has become a champion of the fund and uses it as a way to ignite the desire to give back in others.
"I do it because I want to, because I see so many young people here at the library working while taking classes, trying to improve their careers," Kissee said. "So I tell classified employees what their gifts go toward. I tell them that it helps those people, and could even end up helping them down the road, in their career at K-State."
Since she began volunteering with the All-University Campaign, participation by library staff has nearly doubled from 32 percent in 2007 to 62 percent in 2008.
"In 2007 we asked Dean Lori Goetsch to match the library's contributions -- and she did!" Kissee said. "For 2009, our goal is to get more than 62 percent participation. Someday we'd like to have 100 percent participation and with the economy the way it is, that's a tough goal. But you know, even a dollar will help."
During the campaign, Kissee approaches library staff and members of the Classified Senate personally, encouraging them to donate to any fund, no matter the size of their gift. For her, it's a way to not only give back to her fellow employees, but also show the nation how she feels about K-State.
"When I started here in 1973, K-State was the best place to work in Manhattan. It still is," Kissee said. "By giving back to the university, we're showing everyone how we feel about K-State -- that we're proud of what we do and that we're proud to be here."
Story and picture courtesy of the Kansas State University Foundation.