Here’s another story I wrote for the Liberal Arts website. The University was hosting a “staff appreciation week” at the time of writing. I was assigned to write a brief profile on Mary Johnson, who worked in the History Department for over 30 years. Here is the text of the article and a link:
Texas A&M University has experienced a lot of changes in the last 30 years, and Mary Johnson has witnessed them all. With more than three decades of experience under her belt, she is a loyal and hardworking staff member of the College of Liberal Arts.
After graduating from Central Texas College in Killeen, Johnson came to work for A&M in 1978. She spent five years working in the Department of History before being promoted to staff assistant in the Department of Philosophy. After a three-year stint there, she left campus for five years.
Not working for the university was a big change for Johnson, and she said that she prefers working on-campus. Working elsewhere was “really weird,” she said. Working off campus all day, every day, with no real breaks in the pattern bore a stark contrast to on-campus, which changes every few months. The department gets ready for a new semester, and at the end things wind down for a while. It was a pattern Johnson had come to enjoy, and she jumped at the chance to get back to it.
“The department head that was in history, Dr. [Larry] Hill, came and asked me to come back,” Johnson said, “So I did, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Johnson returned to the history department in 1990 as assistant to the department head, a position she still holds. Her current duties require being knowledgeable about everything, as she manages the office, handles the budget as well as tenures and promotions, deals with faculty affairs, and manages four other staff members.
As the years have gone by, Johnson commented on how things have changed.
“We’ve all grown older,” she said with a chuckle. “I guess our biggest change was moving from one building to the next, from Harrington to Glascock. I’m on my fourth department head, so that’s changed, too.”
Having experienced both on campus and off, Johnson said that she prefers working at A&M.
“The campus feels more like a community,” Johsnon said. “You can get out and walk anywhere. Working on-campus sort of provides a change in seasons with each semester… It kind of makes the year go by a little bit faster. You get to meet a variety of people, and I guess the campus environment is one of the main things I enjoy.”