Staff honored at annual Alice W. Chandler Staff Service Recognition Ceremony
Judy Earley can vividly recount how the University of Chicago has changed over the past few decades. She remembers when the Wyler Pavilion was a parking lot, and the original children’s hospital was about the length of a hallway. Earley was then a recent college graduate who had just moved into her own apartment and joined the UChicago staff.
That was 45 years ago. “I love the spirit of my co-workers,” said Earley, senior research technician in the Biological Sciences Division, Department of Cardiology. “Sometimes you go through things that are difficult, but here, there is a spirit of triumph.”
Earley was among the staff members who were honored at this year’s annual Alice W. Chandler Staff Service Recognition Ceremony in June. Each year, the ceremony recognizes University staff members who celebrated a service milestone in excess of 10 years, in five-year increments, in the previous calendar year. Earley’s service made her the longest-serving employee honored this year.
The ceremony was named last year to honor the memory of Alice Chandler, who set the bar high for years of service. Chandler, who started at age 16, worked for 75 years at UChicago, until her death in May 2011.
University President Robert Zimmer compared Chandler’s outstanding service to Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs, which seemed ironclad until Hank Aaron later surpassed it. “It seems like no one will ever approach Alice’s 75 years, but perhaps among someone in this room,” Zimmer said to the audience, “someone will be the Hank Aaron of the University of Chicago and break Alice’s record.
“The University of Chicago is a complicated place,” Zimmer added. “It’s a place that has been important to the world, and the reason that happens is because this is a very large team effort. Everybody in this room, everybody who has been here for years, has contributed to making the University of Chicago a place where important things happen and have an impact on the world.”
Beginning at 25 years of service, staff members receive special on-stage recognition, and more than 30 staff members were honored for completing a quarter century of service in 2011. About 50 had completed 30 or 35 years. University Provost Thomas Rosenbaum recognized about a dozen employees who completed 40 years of service.
“These staff members are a fantastic statement about the supportive, intellectually challenging environment,” said Rosenbaum, who has been at the University for nearly 30 years. “One of the best benefits is the people who come from all walks of life and pull together to accomplish great things.”
Renee DuPree’s 30-year career is an illustration of how one opportunity after another helps keep staff planted and growing. She started out as a clerk in what is now the Office of Campus and Student Life. She was hired on the spot after her first interview, and since then her steadily expanding roles have been the result of a large and supportive network of colleagues who have kept her apprised of new opportunities on campus.
“For me this was fertile ground,” said DuPree, now associate director in the Office of International Affairs. “It’s a place where people really watch you, and if you’re good, word travels. It’s a place where you can create your own niche.”
Deborah Fallahay, a 35-year veteran, said the University is not just her employer, but is a part of her family. She had just finished high school and gotten a job as a mail clerk in the University Comptroller’s Office now known as Financial Services. While working at the University’s Printing Department (now the site of the Hyde Park Art Center), he met her husband. They were married in Bond Chapel. He earned his undergraduate degree from the College, where their daughter is now a rising second-year.
She credits the mentors at the University who encouraged her to advance from that first position at the Comptroller’s Office—“before computers,” she noted—and then to other departments. Now, Fallahay is associate director of operations and student services at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business executive MBA program.
Aside from her professional success, Fallahay also takes in the culture of the University. “I’ve seen great plays at Court Theater. I’ve been out on the Quad for movie night, and recently attended a concert at the new Logan Center,” she said. “The University is in my blood.”
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