Linda G. Burris has been chief clerk for the College of Fine and Applied Arts for the past two years after having worked in a similar position for three years in Veterinary Medicine’s department of pathobiology.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO JOBS?
A lot of it’s the same, though here I’m responsible for payroll, which I didn’t have to do when I was at Vet Med. I have to post expenses and other things related to finances. There are so many details that after two years I’m still sort of new in the learning process.
HOW WILLING HAVE YOU BEEN TO LEARN?
Well, there are always new things coming up, so you aren’t left with much of a choice. What helps is it doesn’t bother me at all to ask questions when I don’t know something – and I admit there’s a lot of stuff I don’t know. A lot of times I’m on my own here (in the Architecture Building), so I’ve learned to call or email when I need to find answers. Part of the challenge is searching for the right person to ask.
HAVE UI EMPLOYEES OFFERED ASSISTANCE WHEN YOU ASK?
Everybody’s been so nice and helpful. They’ve been very tolerant of me, so it hasn’t been too traumatic.
DOES YOUR JOB INCLUDE MUCH CONTACT WITH STUDENTS?
Not that much, really. Sometimes I’ll do their human resources paperwork if we hire them for the summer. Or, if there are students waiting in the hall outside my office for a lecture I’ll go out and offer them candy. I know some of the students are new so I just try to be friendly and put myself in their place. That’s the part I miss most about Vet Med, because I had a lot of contact with students. It’s been a big change, but I keep telling myself that with fewer interruptions, I can get more work done.
WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE TAKING A JOB AT THE UI?
I worked for 18 years at a welding company in Villa Grove. I was a secretary, but because it was a small company and there was a lot of turnover, I kind of did a little bit of everything. It’s helped me here because I’m not afraid to move on and try new things. Things change fast and you have to stick with it.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TOOL YOU POSSESS AS AN EMPLOYEE?
I am very loyal to whomever I work with and I am good at dealing with people. It’s kind of like my dad said, I’ve never met a stranger. I gab a lot but it’s because I like to learn about people.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE AFTER-WORK PASTIME?
I live on my brother’s farm near Camargo with my mother, who is 88. We raise beef cattle and walking horses. We have three calves, 10 horses, two dogs and a cat. My brother and his son are crop famers. It keeps me pretty busy but I can’t imagine living any other way. I don’t think I’d like it in a big city.
HAS YOUR FAMILY ALWAYS LIVED IN THE AREA?
My dad moved the family here from Kentucky in 1968. My dad farmed and he found a job here as a hired hand. I guess we’ve been here long enough to call it home. I went to Newman Grade School, which is no more.
DO YOU RAISE THE HORSES FOR FUN OR SHOW?
We have Tennessee Walking Horses and my nephew shows them. We like them because they have a smooth gait, they’re friendly and they’re very even-tempered. They’re just nice to have around.
DO YOU TAKE YOUR ANIMALS TO VET MED FOR TREATMENT?
We still take our horses over there. One of the ladies who answers the phone, she recognizes my voice before I can even tell her who it is.