Carol Hartley wins Staff Employee of the Year Award for devotion to duty

Carol Hartley
Monday, April 25, 2022

Carol Hartley, business services coordinator for the Department of Languages and Culture Studies, is this year’s Employee of the Year recipient in the category devotion to duty. She won not merely because of her devotion to duty, but because “Carol is the heart of our department,” said nominator Ana-Isabel Aliaga-Buchenau, associate chair of the department.

Employees of the Year in devotion to duty go above the normal requirements and have contributed significantly to the advancement of UNC Charlotte and service to the citizens of North Carolina. 

Throughout the past two years, Hartley committed to ensuring the safety of faculty, staff and students in her department while minding their well-being. She was the glue of the department, vigilantly implementing COVID-19 safe practices and re-entry plans, providing areas for interaction and communication with and between faculty, managing challenging budget ramifications and ensuring that new remote working and teaching didn’t prevent the department from being absent.

“Carol managed to keep the department going in a practical sense,” said Aliaga-Buchenau. “But she also kept faculty, staff and students going when things appeared impossible to maneuver.” 

Hartley led by example; she knelt on department floors to place arrows to direct foot traffic, posted social distancing signage and taped the fridge and microwave shut to avoid congregation of small groups. She facilitated listening sessions to gauge safety concerns and understand how people in her department were feeling. 

Using their feedback and keeping safety protocols top of mind, Hartley rearranged classrooms and other public spaces to adhere to safety protocols and public health rules, not an easy feat. She kept masks available and fully stocked. When COVID-19 variants were spreading quickly, Hartley provided faculty guidance on helping students with positive tests and even how to navigate teaching if they contracted COVID-19. 

“Hartley implemented an incredible system of makeup exams, which allowed students who had missed exams to continue with their education with the least amount of disruption due to falling ill with COVID-19,” said Aliaga-Buchenau. “At the same time, Carol preserved the sanity of our faculty, who had to deal with large numbers of students out, due to the pandemic, who needed to make up exams with proctoring.”

Her contributions went beyond practical means to the psychological well-being of the students, faculty and staff in her care. 

Hartley desired to help connect people through a difficult time by hosting a virtual happy hour once a week where faculty could connect, share their stories and tips on how they were navigating online teaching and opening up about their personal lives. Many faculty and staff members talked to her one on one as she listened and offered wise advice and deep compassion to those who entrusted her with their challenges and difficulties. 

“It is difficult to describe in two pages why Hartley is most deserving of the UNC Charlotte Employee of the Year Award,” said Aliaga-Buchenau. “The best way to express what Hartley means to us is ‘Carol is the heart of our department.’”

All 2022 recipients will be honored at the Employee of the Year event Tuesday, April 26.