Saturday night, Bernard and I joined well over 100 people at a retirement party given by Health Behavior and Health Education, in honor of Linda Cook‘s 35 years at the School as a student services manager. For many of our applicants, people like Linda are their first point of contact with the School. Linda and her colleagues in other departments interpret rules and requirements for our students, and along with many faculty members, help students find financial aid and jobs and support them through life’s crises. They are cheerleaders, advocates and, sometimes, the conveyers of tough love. Frankly, if faculty members were asked to play all these roles, they would get fewer grants and publish fewer papers. Anyway, the party was spectacular, not in terms of lavishness (it wasn’t) but in the love and loyalty that was displayed and celebrated. JoAnne Earp did a wonderful job recounting, in human terms, the many ways she, as a chair, came to depend on Linda. Happy retirement Linda! We thank you for everything. By the way, in this very budget-sensitive year, readers should know the party was made possible by donations from many people, including me.
Thanks and good-bye also to Lesa McPherson, HR manager in Epidemiology, who will retire Wednesday after 30 years at UNC and the School. She got a great send-off from people in Epidemiology and elsewhere in the School who will miss her. Lesa has been through many changes in the state personnel policies over the years, and has efficiently managed to guide many faculty and staff members through the sometimes-confusing HR policies and procedures. She and all the School’s HR managers keep on top of changes to policies and procedures that allow so many of us to get paid on time. They’re also there to help with any problems or grievances that might arise. We are so grateful for their diligence and patience.
I am moved by the loyalty of people to the School and the School to them. Unfortunately, we have had to lay people off from their jobs this year (not Linda or Lesa). This is a difficult topic to discuss because of personnel issues that preclude us from more than general statements, but it has been painful for everyone involved.
I will be meeting some of our alumni and attending the opening session of the North Carolina Public Health Association (NCPHA) in Asheville tomorrow. Happy Monday! Barbara