Glenda Fisher started her career at UI almost 17 years ago in the department of urban and regional planning. Once a part-time receptionist, Fisher is now secretary to the department head. A lifelong resident of Philo and self-described “farm-wife,” Fisher says she enjoys the rural lifestyle and simple things such as being able to see the moon at night.
Tell me about your career with the university.
I started out as extra help in January 1990 in the department of urban and regional planning and was then hired full time that April. My original duties were as a receptionist and backup to the business office. After a few years my role changed when I was assigned as secretary to a couple of the urban planning faculty members. In 1995, when DURP moved into the new Temple Hoyne Buell Hall, I became secretary to the head of the department and additional faculty members.
What are your duties as staff secretary?
I am in charge of daily department activities. This includes dealing with any crisis that occurs; handling reimbursements; planning events such as receptions; helping support staff members for all searches within the department; assisting on promotions and tenure; coordinating furniture moves; assigning space for faculty members, students and visitors; activating and deactivating telephones; reserving cars from car pool and making travel arrangements for faculty members; ordering supplies; distributing mail and just general office duties. Each year I collect ballots for the senate elections, making sure the nominations are taken care of and forwarding the winner to a committee. Twice a year I’m in charge of collecting the College of Fine and Applied Arts ‘special grant requests’ from faculty members and seeing that they get to the dean by deadline. Basically, I juggle my time getting normal work done plus handling any requests that come up during the day.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I mostly enjoy the faculty members, students, staff members and visitors that I’ve met over the years. Three years ago my department head became president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and I became his assistant. We attend two conferences each year. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Amelia Island Plantation near Washington D.C., Portland (Ore.), San Francisco, Kansas City (Mo.), San Antonio and next month we’re headed to Fort Worth (Texas). Besides being the support staff for the governing board meeting, I assist with registration during the conferences and make sure that the awards are ready for the banquet. The only sad part of this job is having people that I enjoy move on to other jobs and places.
What are your interests outside of work?
I love to golf and read. My husband and I also camp, travel and go to a casino once in a while. I’ve been in a ladies golf league for the last 12 years and we play on Tuesdays at the university golf course. My husband and I have a camping spot near Casey, Ill., and we spend weekends there during the summer. When we acquired it in August 2000 it was a wooded area. We spent many hard hours clearing it, spreading rock and making it a place to enjoy. In winter we go to Arizona for a couple of weeks. Ron, my husband, is a farmer so I get to be the gofer when they are busy. I was born and raised on a farm southeast of Philo and still dearly love living in the country.
Tell me more about your family and farm in Philo. What is your background in farming?
I’m an only child and was the only grandchild for 12 years. We didn’t have any livestock, only crops, so I walked a lot of beans and mowed the yard during the summer. After I married Ron, we raised two sons and I helped by working ground, running the combine and hauling grain to the elevator until our oldest (son) replaced me. It can be very interesting working with your spouse day in and day out.
Why has kept you in Philo all your life? What do you enjoy about a small town lifestyle?
The farm. Our son is the seventh generation to farm our land, so my roots run deep. Coming from a small community, you know everyone. After I started working at the university, the staff in the office would go out for lunch and most of the time I ran into someone I knew. This always surprised the staff.
Do you have plans for after you retire?
Hopefully I will be able to retire in a few years and go back to being a farm wife, because my husband probably won’t be retired by then. Also, I’d love to play more golf and do more traveling.