By Lisa Youngborg, with contributions from Joanne Goldwater
Each semester always brings new challenges but the fall semester of 2011 has been a true dedication check for staff from all corners of the campus. While it began quietly enough in August we found ourselves challenged by an earthquake that required the calming of fears, a hurricane during Orientation weekend (welcome!), a tropical depression, and then mold. Many of us were waiting for the invasion of locusts!
Staff did an amazing job of supporting our students…but they also did a great job of supporting each other! Staff members volunteered to help in areas they probably never imagined with smiles and good humor, driving and riding on shuttle vans, assisting with student activities and programs, packing, unpacking, repacking and delivering boxes from residence halls to hotels and our floating residence hall, providing office coverage for staff who needed to be out on campus attending to other tasks, and in a hundred other ways big and small, with care, concern, a listening ear and a comforting hug when frustrations and fatigue arose. Throughout all of the disruptions classes were held, residences were cleaned, food was served, and campus programs continued as planned.
Joanne Goldwater, associate dean of students and director of residence life was front and center for all of the student housing events this semester and she complimented all of the campus staff efforts.
“This fall semester has been an incredible challenge and this is especially true for our displaced students, their families, and many staff and faculty members that have been dealing with the mold problems. It has also been reaffirming in many ways. The relocation of the students, from the beginning of the mold situation until we can get them back into Caroline and Prince George in January, has been a remarkable team effort. I have been at St. Mary’s long enough to know that it is during these difficult times that our sense of community truly shines. So many people have provided so many different kinds of assistance during the past three months. I am deeply grateful to the folks in Academic Administration, Academic Services, Admissions, Athletics, Business Office, Campus Store, Counseling Services, Dean of Students Office, Design & Construction, Environmental Health & Safety, Events & Conferences, Faculty, Food Services, Grounds, HSMC, Health Services, Housekeeping, Human Resources, Maintenance, Planning & Facilities, President’s Cabinet, Public and Media Relations, Public Safety, Residence Life, Student Activities, Tech Support, the Waterfront, and a number of individuals from all over campus for the myriad ways you have worked with us throughout this semester. I am proud to work at an institution that really is student-centered with terrific colleagues willing to work in the rain and heat, and daytime into night-time focused on providing support and service to those in need.”
Many of us work in offices where our support was an expected part of our jobs but many more took the time to offer assistance and encourage the efforts of those on the front lines. As staff on campus, we understand what it takes to make the College function in order to meet our academic mission and we pulled together to meet the needs of students, faculty, alumni, the local community and staff…So pat yourselves on the back for a job well done!