Faithful readers of this blog already know that Donna Martin and Betty Dickey are retiring (see the announcement) — in fact, today is their last day.
Donna, having worked for 30 years at UA, worked part-time in REL for 23 of those years and Betty worked for over 32 of her 33 years at UA in our Department, being what was once called the full-time Department Secretary but, more recently the Administrative Secretary. Although current circumstances at UA and across the country have thrown a few unanticipated curves at their final weeks and our the transition to our new staff, they’ve both worked hard to convey decades of wisdom gained on the job — a job running the Department that today is far more involved and complex than it ever was before.
Although last Friday’s celebratory retirement lunch had to be postponed, today the faculty had a surprise Zoom session (above) with both and virtually presented some gifts, such as the top photo of Betty’s very first staff evaluation form, dated May 1989 and completed by our onetime chair, Patrick Green — who consistently scored her as “outstanding” and described Betty there as “an exceptionally accomplished member of our staff.” We aim to get this to her, in-person, as soon as we can.
Donna will also soon receive something else that we found deep in some personnel folders at the back of the filing cabinet: her August 1997 Personnel Action form (affectionately known locally as the PA — the form filled in every time an employee comes on or off payroll); completed by none of than Betty herself (on a typewriter, no less, with carbon copy paperwork), it notes Donna’s move to REL from being the A&S Computer Lab Coordinator.
We hope that each of these find a special home somewhere as a reminder to both Betty and Donna of their time in the Department, not only all of the paperwork that they’ve each helped us to move through the system over the years but, far more importantly, as a symbol of all of the truly great things that this paperwork made possible — everything from advising and enrolling generations of students in courses and scheduling scholarship awards for may of them as well as paying for all those movie nights pizzas, to hiring too many faculty members to count, helping them all to get to conferences and to purchase much-needed research materials, not to mention all of those wonderful guests who we’ve been able to bring to campus over all those the years, arranging their travel, their hotels, their speaking fees. In fact — and as our new staff members may now be understanding — there’s just too much to list when it comes to what the main office does, behind-the-scenes, to make the Department tick. For there’s nothing that happens in REL that doesn’t cross Betty’s desk, finding it’s way into one of her email folders or files.
And, it’s with Betty’s special role in mind that the faculty unanimously decided that it would be entirely fitting to rename in her honor an award established just last year, and which recognizes the wonderful accomplishments of our alums. So, not only will we frame the covers of each of her 33 years worth of UA day planners, and hang them in our main office as a salute to the longest serving member of REL, but we have some engraving to swap out on a plaque that already hangs in our lounge, so that her name will forever be associated with the wonderful things that REL students go on to do once they leave Manly Hall.
So we’re not saying goodbye, just until we meet again — hopefully soon and for a wonderful lunch with some toasts and some stories. Like the time Betty figured out how to pay an art student to draw a cartoon strip about life in the Department. And how we used to have to walk photocopying over to a building across the quad because that’s the only place that had a copier in A&S. Maybe that time we welcomed students back and all we could afford was some soda and a few bags of chips. Or what about…