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KUDOS: Administrative Professionals

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KUDOS: Administrative Professionals

April 25, 2019

KU's University Relations (UR) office has implemented a new staff and department recognition feature. KUDOS, Kutztown University's Dedication to Outstanding Service, focuses on university administrative departments and the individuals within them, giving the campus community a better look inside many of the working areas on campus.

This week, we sat down with a variety of administrative professionals who are dedicated to supporting the university faculty and staff in as many ways as possible.

UR: Can you introduce yourselves and tell us how long you've been with KU?

LB: My name is Linda Bowen, I'm the management technician in Financial Aid and I have been at KU almost 29 years.

SH: I'm Sharon Housel, fiscal assistant for Dining Services and I started here in 2005.

MJ: I'm Martha Johnson, the athletic department's fiscal assistant and I've been here for more than 22 years.

DM: My name is Debra Mengel, I'm an administrative assistant in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and I'm in my 31st year at KU.

UR: What is your role or mission at the university?

LB: My role is the scholarship coordinator. I oversee all of the campus scholarships, whether they come from the university directly or from the KU Foundation. I work with many deans, professors and KU Foundation associates.

SH: My role is to work with the students, parents, faculty and staff on their meal plan contracts. I work with Aramark, our dining vendor, as well as manage all of the service purchase contracts for the repairs throughout the dining halls.

MJ: I'm the "money lady" for athletics. I sell football tickets, work football games, double-check money that comes in for clinics and fundraisers as well as deposit money into the correct accounts. I work with about 50 coaches and make sure they fill out and submit with their paperwork.

DM: I support the work of the dean and the associate dean in the college. The Dean's Office oversees six departments with a total of 13 undergraduate majors, 12 minors and four graduate programs. The college has approximately 115 faculty and 17 staff members. 

UR: Can you explain your responsibilities?

LB: I work with the funding sources for each of the scholarships. If a scholarship comes from the university directly, I work with Dr. (Warren) Hilton, who decides the scholarship recipients. He sends me the names, at which time I post the scholarships to student accounts and notify the students. For KU Foundation scholarships, I work closely with Karin (McClincey) and Ed (Richmond), who work with the donors, to set up scholarship descriptions. The scholarships are then each assigned to the undergraduate colleges, who are responsible for selecting the students. Once the colleges send me those names, I then post the scholarships to the accounts and notify the students.

SH: My main responsibility is to make the student's meal plan selection go smoothly, as well as reach out to students who may have questions understanding how or where to use their meal plan and dining flex dollars. I work with my boss, Kent Dahlquist, Amanda Fritz, Cody Moyer and Aramark. There are many students who have special dietary needs or restrictions, so I work with Disability Services to make sure that those are accommodated. I also work with Linda Bowen, who provides scholarship names. In addition, I pay all the dining vendor bills for service and repairs of dining equipment. It's a job that has many facets.

MJ: I make sure all the athletics staff fill out the correct forms when they travel for reimbursement, review all the p-card forms that get turned in and make sure the correct account numbers are put on those forms. I enter requisitions for all the equipment and uniforms that we order and review all the invoices that come in. In addition, we work with the Foundation, as well as the Office of Student Accounts. I'm also in charge of postseason events and special ticketing, the portable toilets for football - that's a huge job! I answer the phones, do season passes for football and basketball, communicate with the public and file all necessary forms. The responsibilities are never-ending.

DM: I do a variety of work: daily schedules, confidential issues, process faculty evaluations, faculty hiring and advertisements, budgets and purchasing, committee support, event planning, card swipe access and paperwork of all kinds: i.e., individualized instruction, independent study, internship, course substitutions and waivers. It's a lot of supportive work throughout the college.

UR: How does your role serve students and the campus community?

DM: Administrative professionals are the glue that keeps the university running. Without that support, things would break down. We are part of a big team.

SH: Pepsi is our sponsor here at KU. There are numerous events at the dining halls and the DMZ that Dining Services and Aramark hosts. They provide hundreds of free Pepsi items to students! Pepsi also provides for students who are in need of gloves or hats in the colder weather. The athletics department also hosts events that giveaway free Pepsi merchandise at various sporting events, as well as other departments that Pepsi sponsors giveaways. We're directly involved with students in more ways than meal plans.

LB: In our office, we often have students or parents ask questions that don't pertain to financial aid. But, because we've all been here so long, we know exactly how to help them or who to send them to so that they can get the help they need. We take on a helping role outside of our regular responsibilities.

MJ: Athletics has approximately 500 student-athletes, so we work with a lot of students. Each team recruits future students; they often come in the office and ask us about the university - we put in some good plugs for KU and tell them what a good place it is! I do the same thing when I sell tickets to the public. Since I grew up in town, I can give them a little extra information about the town and the university.

UR: What are your points of pride in your profession or department?

SH: One of my points of pride is the people that I work with. I'm in with the Department of Housing and Residence Life, so I have Colleen (Franclik), Shirley (Leverington) and Julia (Scheffler) to back me up when I'm busy or out of the office. I also have three student workers at the front desk who answer phone calls, greet students and perform daily tasks for me. It's nice to have a group of professionals that you can work in harmony with every day.

MJ: We all work together. We go watch and support each other at events and support each other's teams. Coaches will step in for each other whenever it's necessary.

LB: The turnover rate in our office is really low; I think that shows how much we like our jobs, the people we work with and what we do. We can really make a difference in our office because we have the ability to help students get the funding they need so they can stay at KU and complete their degree.

DM: The faculty and staff I work with are truly incredible people. They are artistic, creative and musically talented, and the department secretaries are wonderful ladies. We get along very well and we support each other in everything we do.

UR: What would you like people to know about you or your profession that they might not know?

SH: Before I came over to 'this side of the highway', I was the secretary for the Kutztown Festival under the Foundation for more than three years. I knew quite a few people before I came to KU. I also ride a motorcycle and I'm retiring on May 24.

DM: I feel it's my job to support my dean and associate dean. If I make a mistake, that reflects on the whole office. By me supporting others and being the best that I can be, I can make sure our office is being accurately represented. On a personal note, my husband and I co-own D&S Retrievers. We breed quality Labrador Retrievers.

MJ: I personally was an athlete in college - not the best athlete, but I definitely had a few good years in field hockey - but I had no idea about what goes into running games. You know teams practice hard, but the general public has no idea of everything that goes into being an athlete or a coach. The timing of everything like music and clocks, there's so much that goes into it, but it still comes off as seamless. It really does take a dedicated crew and it's really cool to watch how it comes together behind the scenes.

LB: 29 years ago I started here as a temp, and one of the things they told me was 'don't ever take a job in the financial aid office or the registrar's office.' Well, lo and behold, I got the call for financial aid and I thought 'what can I lose, I'll be there a couple weeks and then move on.' Well as you can see, I'm still here to this day. But, I too am going to retire in June. It's been a pleasure, and I don't think I'd want to work anywhere else.

UR: What advice would you give to somebody starting out in an administrative professional position?

SH: When I started over at the Foundation, Mary Henry took me under her wing during my first week and said, 'one of the best points I have to give you is to listen and watch, and you will benefit from many by doing that.' And I have.

MJ: I would say to have good communication skills. You've got to let people know things and make sure they're aware. Email them, talk to them in person or phone them. Some people are harder to reach than others, but make sure you communicate with them.

DM: Ask questions and take notes because there is so much to remember. Your boss will give you a list of things to do every morning - make sure you write them down. Steer clear of drama, it doesn't get you anywhere!

LB: Never assume anything. I've learned that the hard way over the years.

UR: What's your favorite thing about your KU experience?

LB: Being able to help the students and their parents. I had a dad call me one time and after I explained things to him, he said to me, 'you don't understand how upset I was. Now I can go eat my breakfast without worrying about bringing it back up again.' He was just so relieved. Or when a student comes in and says, 'I don't have any more money,' and we're able to come up with the money to pay their bill so they don't have to leave. It's gratifying to know what's available to them and help assuage their concerns.

MJ: I had an instance quite a few years ago where I had an irate parent call. A co-worker was sitting in the office, but my bosses weren't around so I couldn't transfer the call. I'd been around long enough that I knew some of the answers to his questions, but I didn't really need to give him an answer. I knew he needed a sounding board. So for 25 minutes, I listened to him rant and rave. As he slowly calmed down, he thanked me for listening and I told him that's why I'm here. It was a feel-good moment, and I've had a lot of those here. Also, we've had some teams that have really gone far in the playoffs, and it's cool to be part of that feeling.

DM: Seeing students arrive as freshmen at KU...being very vulnerable and shy, and watch their growth into future leaders in art, design, media, music and communication. Also I enjoy the faculty and staff I work with every day. 

SH: When the students come back and say thank you. We always tell them to stop back and see us when they leave, and sometimes they do. We have a little stool that we pull out and it's nice to hear what they're doing. It's also good to hear feedback from the students and parents about the great job KU Dining Services and Aramark are doing here on campus.

UR: What does "It's Good to be Golden" mean to you?

LB: It means it's good to be part of the university - that says it all. When you drive through campus and you think 'wow, I work here. I know these people,' you're just very full of pride.

SH: It's a beautiful campus with a great staff. I'm really proud to be an employee here. It makes your day run much smoother and makes it easier to get up in the morning to come to work.

DM: For me, it means being a part of a wonderful community in helping our students become well-rounded young people. The university community is your family - your work family. It's an amazing place to work.

MJ: It's great to be a part of everything going on. I like telling people about my job and about the university. 

KUDOS is published twice monthly by the office of University Relations. All issues can be found at www.kutztown.edu/KUDOS. For questions or more information, please contact University Relations at UR@kutztown.edu.