Sherry Miller, administrative aide in the Office of the Registrar, has worked at the UI since April 1987.
Born in Cairo, Ill., Miller and her family lived in St. Louis briefly before settling in Mahomet, where she grew up.
After graduating from Mahomet-Seymour High School, Miller started as a secretary in the School of Life Sciences. When the school reorganized into the schools of molecular and cellular biology and of integrative biology, she stayed in the latter until transferring to her current position in the Office of the Registrar in 2002.
She’s married to Jim, a sawyer at a roof-truss plant in LeRoy. (Roof trusses are the triangular wooden structures used for support in houses and other commercial structures.) They live in Mahomet and have a boxer named Titus.
Outside of work, Miller is earning her bachelor’s degree through Eastern Illinois University. She started in fall 2007 and hopes to finish by 2013. She received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Staff Award in 2006.
Tell me about your job.
I assign general campus classrooms based on the times that departments set for the entire campus. It’s a year-round job.
Do you enjoy being in charge of the class schedule?
Yes, absolutely. When I tell people what I do at work, their first response is, ‘Oh.’ (Laughs.) It sounds big, but to me it’s just puzzle pieces that need to fit in place based on what’s available. We have around 400 classrooms, so there are only so many classrooms and so many times during the day that you can teach.
In my previous job, I worked on the school’s scheduling, and I also helped with the budget and teaching assistant appointments. You name it, chances are, I did it.
When this job came up, with its primary focus on putting together the class schedule, I thought it was a good opportunity to face a big challenge, so I jumped at the chance. I hit the ground running and never stopped.
I’m a people-person and I like to solve problems – two necessary qualities when you’re putting together the class schedule.
What’s your average day like?
Right now, we’re working on the fall schedule. We like to have it ready by registration, which is right around the corner. We’re in the final stages right now, so it feels like we’ve been working non-stop.
I also field questions from staff members who need to change the day and time of their classes, or need to change rooms because they need a certain type of equipment that the scheduled room doesn’t have.
Some units have busy periods of time throughout the school year, but we’re busy all the time, all 12 months of the year. We work nine months ahead for the next semester that’s going to start. So, that means we have to send information out to the departments well in advance.
What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
Working with all the departments across campus. Every day is a different day, and a different challenge. You come in to work with a to-do list in your mind, and if you get a couple of things done, that’s great, because someone always needs a room change or a room at a different time or location. I never know what I’m going to face when I come in every morning. It’s an adventure and a challenge.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
In a word: Banner. (Laughs.) Banner works well for the class schedule and registration, and students really like it. But as with any new system, there’s always a period of adjustment.
What do you like to do off the job?
Ironically, one of my hobbies outside of work is working on puzzles. I like crossword and jigsaw puzzles. My husband and I compete against each other in jigsaw puzzles. He’ll start working on them, and then I’ll elbow him out of the way, and try to finish them.
You could say I like to put puzzle pieces together, I guess.
I also love to cook – anybody will tell you I’m a party planner. I also bowl in the winter and root for the St. Louis Cardinals in the summer. My husband is a Cubs fan.
What’s it like being married to a Cubs fan?
That depends on who’s winning. It makes for an interesting baseball season. When we go to Cardinal games in St. Louis, I dress in my Cardinals gear and he wears his Cubs gear. When we walk down the street, people always ask us: ‘How does that work?’ After 13 years, it just does.