Here at the College of Charleston, we live by a certain standard: The Cistern Standard.

The Cistern Standard is the College’s new employee recognition program that acknowledges and spotlights faculty and staff who embody the College’s core values – integrity; academic excellence; liberal arts education; diversity, equity and inclusion; student centeredness; innovation; and public mission – demonstrating them through their behavior and actions. And, as an employee-driven initiative, the program gives CofC employees the opportunity to recognize their colleagues from across campus – with any title and from any department – all on their own.

“We have been working on this for a long time, and we are so excited to finally be able to launch the program,” says Ed Pope, vice president of human resources, adding that – while the Office of Human Resources is responsible for the administration of the program – The Cistern Standard was developed in partnership with Subcommittee 5 of the Strategic Plan Pillar 3 (employee experience and success) Committee and the Staff Advisory Committee to the President (SAC). “We wanted it to be an employee-driven way for people to recognize their peers, and to reinforce the Strategic Plan and the College’s core values, encouraging those behaviors in others and themselves.”

Using the Employee Recognition Form located on the HR website, faculty and staff may recognize one another for one of the College’s seven core values detailed below.


We take accountability for our actions and adhere to the highest ethical standards in all our professional obligations and personal responsibilities. We demonstrate respect for self, others and place. Examples of observations include:

  • Thoroughly following designated office or institutional standards
  • Demonstrating reliability and trustworthiness by respecting colleagues and College facilities
  • Showing respect to others with whom you are interacting, even during difficult situations or conversations
  • Consistently striving to produce high-quality work
  • When made aware of errors, accepting responsibility and demonstrating a commitment to improving
  • Challenging biases and/or countering discrimination with care
  • Consistently demonstrating respect for the personal boundaries of others
  • Consistently mentoring colleagues

Academic Excellence

academic excellence badgeWe show commitment to a dynamic intellectual community, high academic standards, strong academic programs and exceptional teacher-scholars. We exhibit behavior that engages students and promotes lifelong learning. Examples of observations include:

  • Offering time to mentor or advise students
  • Engaging students outside the classroom via extracurricular programming, student research and quality advising
  • Ensuring that classrooms and laboratories are consistently cleaned, stocked and equipped so students can learn
  • Promoting the College’s academic programs
  • Consistently mentoring colleagues or encouraging lifelong learning in colleagues
  • Inviting a professor to a team lunch
  • Encouraging team members to take advantage of professional development opportunities and/or college courses
  • Partaking in our Employee Tuition Assistance Program
  • Participating in multiple learning opportunities on or off campus each semester, including LinkedIn Learning courses, DiversityEDU or other certificate-earning programs
  • Applying culturally responsive practices to support a variety of learning preferences

Liberal Arts Education

liberal arts badgeWe encourage intellectual curiosity and foster each student’s ability to think creatively and analyze, synthesize, apply and communicate knowledge from many sources. We inspire others to offer different viewpoints and input when applicable. Examples of observations include:

  • Consistently encouraging and supporting different viewpoints
  • Creating opportunities for different areas to collaborate to expand viewpoints
  • Encouraging extracurricular and interdisciplinary student engagement through advising, mentorship and opportunities to actively engage in research
  • Inviting cross-campus perspectives to present at departmental/divisional meetings to open dialogue about another part of campus
  • Going to a roundtable discussion on campus
  • Taking the initiative to learn a new skill from another colleague

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

diversity equity inclusion badgeWe create and nurture a diverse and inclusive community demonstrated through thoughts, words and actions. We value and respect the unique perspectives, backgrounds and experiences every individual has to offer. Examples of observations include:

  • Demonstrating respect for all colleagues through actions
  • Creating opportunities for welcoming and including others
  • Helping promote DEI events/webinars/opportunities with campus colleagues; suggesting topics for DEI-focused programs to own department
  • Integrating classroom opportunities via assignments, discussions, etc., that support respectful and open discussions about race, intersectionality and associated inequities
  • Creating an office environment that cultivates a sense of belonging
  • Consistently seeking input from multiple backgrounds/perspectives on important matters
  • Partnering with historically underrepresented groups to identify and close equity gaps
  • Seeking out and/or supporting the work, art and businesses of historically underrepresented groups
  • Exercising humility about historic and ongoing oppression or creating spaces to discuss race, intersectionality and associated inequities
  • Consistently demonstrating respect for staff and faculty self-identification and/or self-expression (i.e., use of preferred pronouns, correctly pronouncing others’ names, etc.)

Student Centeredness

student centered badgeWe illustrate dedication to nurturing thriving scholar-citizens through the intellectual, ethical and social development of each individual student. We exhibit behavior that conveys commitment to student success. Examples of observations include:

  • Focusing on students’ needs through exemplary customer service
  • Providing enthusiasm daily to their position
  • Volunteering for move-in week or other campus opportunities to interact with students
  • Responding to students’ needs via conscientious advising
  • Providing research opportunities for students
  • Often going beyond expectations to support student learning or personal needs
  • Consistently engaging with students via extracurricular activities, such as student clubs, honor societies, etc.
  • Consistently receiving positive feedback from students about their role on campus
  • Striving to build new or revise existing programs or supports around student input
  • Diligently working to improve the experiences of students from historically underrepresented groups
  • Consistently demonstrating respect for student self-identification and/or self-expression


innovation badgeWe act with an entrepreneurial spirit to imagine and implement creative, bold and sustainable solutions in our pursuit of excellence and continuous improvement. Examples of observations include:

  • Taking positive approaches to meeting the needs of the students, staff, faculty or CofC community
  • Facilities Management employee recommending new way of managing inventory for their work unit that increases efficiency
  • Prioritizing the growth and wellbeing of members in the CofC community
  • Leading or mentoring colleagues to support the betterment of the College, the community and the individuals
  • Coordinating small groups of CofC volunteers for community engagement/or recruiting some volunteers for a community project on behalf of the College
  • Building upon or scaling existing community relationships to welcome and include historically underrepresented community leaders
  • Building sustainable partnerships or enhancing existing partnerships between campus members and community organizations
  • Collaborating with groups or organizations that effectively support a variety of social justice issues

Public Mission

public mission badge

We take action in meeting the educational and professional needs of our community, our state, our nation and the world. Examples of observations include:

  • Creating or sharing a creative solution to a department, facility, technology or College problem
  • Identifying and proposing a cost saving solution
  • Proposing how two departments or two divisions can team up to save resources on a project
  • Creating new and/or expanding on existing initiatives that reinforce a more inclusive and welcoming campus community
The Cistern Standard Pennant with Pins

Each recognized employee will receive a pennant and a pin representing their corresponding core value. As they are recognized for other core values, they will receive other pins.

For each core value an employee is recognized for, they will receive a digital certificate and badge and a pin representing the corresponding value, which they can affix onto The Cistern Standard pennant. Recognized employees will also be announced in the faculty/staff e-newsletter, on the Faculty & Staff News page of The College Today, in digital displays across campus and in HR Minute Messages.

When an employee is recognized for two core values, they will receive a T-shirt; when they receive recognition for four of the core values, they will receive a voucher for the College of Charleston Bookstore; and, when they’ve received recognition for all seven core values, they will receive a glass award and an official certificate.

“It’s a way to give employees the power to promote the positive in one another – and we can’t wait to celebrate that positivity with the rest of campus,” says Pope, noting that administrators from each department and office are asked to pick up The Cistern Standard pennants for their faculty and staff members from the HR office, located in the Lightsey Center basement (160 Calhoun St.). “And it’s extra special because it comes to them from their colleagues.”

“The hope is that this will make people more aware of the good things we’re all doing every day in our work – and that they will take the time to show their appreciation for each other,” agrees Becky McManus, director of employee development and employee relations in the Office of Human Resources, noting that – while the program does not include student employees at this time – all temporary, full-time and part-time faculty and staff may recognize one another and be recognized.

And it’s easy to do: Simply fill out the Employee Recognition Form for someone – or many people – who are living up to the Cistern Standard!

Reminder: Please make sure that your department administrator heads over to the HR office in the Lightsey Center basement to pick up The Cistern Standard pennants for all employees in your unit!