When Carol Phillippe heard about the extra help opening in the department of agronomy in 1992, she quickly filled out the application.
It’s not that she needed a job – she had been a preschool teacher for six years for classes that included her two children.
To Phillippe, the new job represented the opportunity to get back into the big-people world.
“I loved the little ones, but I had spent so much time around children, coming to work in an office with adults was a pleasure,” she said. “My kids were growing up and it was time to move forward.”
Her kids are now fully grown and have their own lives, and the department of agronomy is nowcrop sciences, but Phillippe still enjoys working with faculty and staff members at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. She’s enjoyed it so much that she stayed with crop sciences for 14 years then transferred to an administrative assistant position in the dean’s office in 2007.
“The faculty and staff here are all dedicated to making the world a better place,” she said. “We have boots on the ground and people working in the trenches all over the world, and they’re helping developing countries with their food and water supplies. You can see the results of their work everywhere. It’s hard not to be proud to be a small part of that.”
Phillippe’s transition to the office environment was welcome, but not necessarily easy. She admits having few office skills beyond answering phones and typing when she first started, but over time, with the guidance of “incredible” managers and patient supervisors and colleagues, she felt confident enough to take on the dean’s office job, where she now oversees office staff members.
“I’ve had some really good teachers,” she said, “and I’ve had supervisors who helped me understand the attitude and work you need to excel here. They prepared me as best they could, but a lot of things you learn come from trial by fire. I thank my dad for passing a strong work ethic to me.”
Much of her job now is keeping the seemingly endless communications flowing between the college, the campus, the outside world and the dean.
“I used to just have a list of things to do that were given to me, I’d get them done and then start on a new list,” she said. “Here, you just keep adding to the list. You have to learn to prioritize and adjust your expectations. It can’t all be done in one day.”
She said she is lucky to be supported by “an extremely skilled and competent staff.”
“I am thankful each and every day that I share an office with these ladies and our dean,” she said. “We have a good atmosphere here and we enjoy working as a team.”
Those staff members are working on several projects right now, including a move to digitize the office’s paper files.
At home, Phillippe said she likes to garden and is a seamstress, and she and her husband, Bub, enjoy traveling. Her husband is an audio engineer who traveled with different musical groups.
Raised in Sidney, Ill, she’s been in the Champaign area her entire life, except for a short stint in Los Angeles when the Phillippes’ first child was born.
“We didn’t want to raise her out there,” she said. “We wanted to be in the Midwest and coming back to Champaign was exactly where we needed to be.”