Judy Whittington is one of the first people who new faculty and staff members and students meet in the department of astronomy. She makes them feel welcome and continues to provide support throughout their time at the university.
Whittington, an administrative aide, has been at the U. of I. for 26 years. She started at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, where she was promoted to office administrator. In February 2009, she went to the department of statistics, where she advanced to administrative aide. She has been in the department of astronomy since July 2012.
Her current role involves processing human resource appointments, payroll, reconciling account statements and supervising front office staff members. She said to perform the job, you need good communication skills, a good attitude and support from your department.
Whittington is not the only one in her family to work at the university. Her father, Harley Lowery, worked at the Abbott Power Plant and always talked about what a great place the U. of I. is to work. She also has two sisters who work on campus along with a brother-in law.
“It’s kind of a family thing,” Whittington said.
The people have been her favorite part of all her jobs on campus, including faculty members, students and her co-workers.
“I’ve worked for some of the best faculty members and the students are wonderful,” Whittington said. “They really make your day.”
She said the frequent changes in policies and procedures can make her job difficult, because she’s the one who has to tell faculty members about the changes.
Her favorite memory at the U. of I. involved a softball game with those at the Beckman Institute shortly after her arrival. Her group, Neuronal Pattern Analysis (NPA), played against the Beckman administrative office.
“Beckman was a great place to work,” she said. “We were all like family, it was fun, we got our work done, and the building was amazing.”
Outside of work, she enjoys working in her yard and boating. She likes to keep busy, so has also worked part-time jobs, such as at Macy’s and most recently at True Value Hardware in Champaign.
She enjoys spending time with her 24-year-old daughter and her 22-year-old son. She said her daughter has the biggest heart and would do anything for anyone. She describes her son as hardworking and an all-around good kid. Her fiancé, Patrick Johnson, is the manager-owner of Midas in Champaign.
She has two tuxedo cats, Oreo and Ricky, and an Australian shepherd named Emmett who is full of energy.
When she retires, she hopes to move, possibly outside of Illinois, and own a couple of horses. As far back as when she first started to walk, her family members remember the time she had a dollar and said: “I’m going to buy that horse with my dollar.”
Whittington said the U. of I. offers so much to its employees.
“There are so many connections and resources (at the U. of I.). If you ever need assistance or help with anything, you’ve always got a network of people to call, and they are always willing to help,” she said.
She said the people she works with are a big part of the job. She feels fortunate to have worked with so many great faculty members and co-workers who appreciate the work she does and always offer their support.
“Being happy is the key,” Whittington said. “Liking your job can make all the difference.”