Here’s how one school uses the Mason Chooses Kindness Toolkit at the unit level.
In 2020 Nance Lucas, executive director and chief well-being officer of the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University, and Lewis Forrest II, associate dean for University Life, created Mason Chooses Kindness (MCK).
“From the beginning, Mason Chooses Kindness has worked to elevate the idea and actions related to kindness across our campus,” Forrest said. In the 2022-23 academic year, 30 members representing 19 departments or units across Mason were part of the Mason Chooses Kindness committee.
After attending university-wide Mason Chooses Kindness events, several School of Business colleagues saw an opportunity to address a larger need for continued encouragement and connection within their unit. Jackie Brown (MA ’12), area chair and senior instructor, business foundations; Cameron Harris (BA ’06), assistant area chair and associate professor, business foundations; Gretchen Hendricks, senior instructor, business foundations; and Christine Landoll (BS Accounting ’89, MS Taxation ’92), director of business engagement at the School of Business, formed the core of the group.
This “goodwill team” highlights and encourages acts of kindness and well-being across the school, leading the first unit-focused MCK activities. With the support of School of Business Dean Ajay Vinzé, the group focuses on four key areas: staff and faculty recognition and engagement, student engagement, alumni engagement, and curricular impact.
“I am delighted with the efforts of our team,” Vinzé said. “The intent of Mason Chooses Kindness and its applications are closely aligned with a key strategic priority for the business school, one that emphasizes our focus on inclusive excellence and a cohesive culture.”
One way the team has implemented kindness in the school is through its Kindness Stations at each school location. Kindness stations include a quick list of no-cost acts of kindness that can be done right at the station, such as using the Thank a Teacher or Pats for Patriots forms to share gratitude or recognition. They also served as a one-stop shop for other tips, such as helping a colleague or classmate, smiling and checking on friends and colleagues. The stations also included giveaways such as coffee, cookies, small succulent plants, and stickers, as well as fidget toys that could be borrowed from the station.
As a result of the increased visibility of Pats for Patriots, the School of Business submitted more Pats for Patriots than any other school or college during the academic year.
The emphasis on kindness also extends to the student experience. In the BUS 103/303: Developing Your Professional Skills I and II classes, kindness and well-being are integrated into the curriculum. In BUS 103, students are asked to participate in mindfulness exercises and complete gratitude journals or cards to help deal with end of the semester stress. In BUS 303, students are asked to write for the Thriving Together Series through the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, which is a series that highlights both the research and practices used to enhance one’s well-being. This assignment allows students the opportunity to research professional skills topics through a well-being lens.
Mason sophomore Jivantha Fernando became a Kindness Ambassador in fall 2022. “Many peers and professors have embraced me for my kindness. As an international student [being a Kindness Ambassador] has also given me the chance to spread kindness from my cultural viewpoint,” Fernando said.
Lucas is pleased with the growth of the project. “I applaud my colleagues in the School of Business,” Lucas said. “We’ll be able to apply what they’ve developed and lessons learned to other units across the university, which puts us on a path to sustaining this kindness revolution at Mason.”
Interested in getting involved with MCK or learning more about how to integrate kindness into your microcosm? Check out the MCK Toolkit.