Lounge Opens to Faculty

On Thursday, Aug. 26, Arkansas Tech University’s Leadership Tech officially opened the Russellville campus’s Tech Outlet. The Tech Outlet is a faculty and staff lounge located in Baswell Techionery room 204.

Leadership Tech members, Dr. Jeff Bright, Dr. Newton Hilliard, Laura Rudolph, and Thomas Strahan came up with the idea in an effort to improve employee engagement and satisfaction. When asked about the reason behind creating this project Thomas Strahan, Development/Advancement Administrator for Arkansas Tech University, stated, “We really made this to improve employee interaction and communication, that could potentially lead to better morale and retention within our employees here at the institution.”

Strahan also stated that, “I think the campus is so widespread within the different departments, and within the different offices, that there wasn’t just a central location where people could meet and that’s what we wanted to provide.”

Dr. Hanna Norton, Professor of Journalism at Arkansas Tech, was asked if she believes the Tech Outlet will boost morale and interaction amongst the staff, she stated, “I think there will be a core group of people who will go and use it… we haven’t really had our own space. I think having a space within that space is helpful.”

Dr. Jason Warnick, Professor of Psychology, had this to say about the lounge.

“When I first arrived at ATU, a lot of departments had break rooms. Unfortunately, we have outgrown that in most departments…” He went on to say, “Having our own space again will definitely offer this opportunity for future faculty to learn and develop.”

COVID-19 can also play a role in this lounge.

Warnick said, “Personally, I worked from home for over a year. It was so difficult to maintain relationships with friends and colleagues in a virtual environment. Having our own space provides a great opportunity to reestablish these relationships and build new ones.”

“Yea, so I wouldn’t go right now. I just wouldn’t be comfortable.” Norton said. “I have my bubble, and I don’t like including people outside my bubble in my bubble.”

Thomas Strahan was also asked about how the Tech Outlet will function within this pandemic, he responded, “We use the Arkansas Tech COVID management plan as our protocol, and it has a limit of the amount of people that are allowed in that space at a certain time on the front door.”

Strahan added, “We’re just really excited for this, it’s been about a year and a half worth of work to kind of get it put together, and we’re really excited to see the next milestones that come along. The wellness committee is going to be taking it over from here, as a part of taking control and moving forward with the program from this point on.”

“There will still be people who use it, and I think that’s great. For people who are a little more hesitant, it will take a bit of time before we will be comfortable using it” Norton said.

Warnick added, “Some of the best learning opportunities I’ve had in my life, have come from meeting with other faculty and learning about their scholarship and teaching methods. I can’t wait to have a coffee break and learn something new from my peers.”