Lisa Smith, office administrator in the department of animal biology, has worked at the UI for more than 19 years.
She started in 1990 in the department of microbiology as an intern through Parkland College, and was eventually hired as a full-time secretary III after graduation. In 1994, she moved to the School of Life Sciences, where she worked in the director’s office as a secretary IV and staff secretary for more than 12 years until she assumed her current position in November 2006.
Born in Champaign, Smith attended Champaign Central High School and graduated from Parkland College with an associate’s degree in information processing. She continues to make her home in Champaign.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR JOB.
I perform all the administrative-related human resources duties, including payroll, for the department. The majority of it is working with faculty members and processing all the hiring paperwork for our students, postdocs and research specialists to work in the labs. I also work a lot with our graduate students in the department. I check that they’re registered for the right courses and credit hours, arrange for preliminary and final defense committees, compile the necessary paperwork.
I also work with faculty members to put together the class schedule for the department – what courses we’re offering in a given semester, and what faculty members are teaching them. I also assist with the classroom and lab times.
Between all that, I do a lot of work for Ken Paige, our department head. I keep his calendar current, I arrange his travel, and I handle his correspondence and committee work. Anything he asks me to do that’s administrative-type work, I do it. So I have a fair bit of administrative work to keep me busy.
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU DO A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING. WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I like that it changes a lot day-to-day. I like the human resources work and really enjoy working for Ken. I really like the contact I have with students and faculty; it’s the main point of contact I have with the department as a whole.
Overall, I really enjoy what I do. Each day is a challenge, as you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE ON THE JOB?
The deadlines, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. The beginning of a semester is always challenging. That’s when I process teaching assistant and research assistant appointments and field lots of questions. There are a lot of little fires to put out, but it all works out in the end.
Part of what I like about my job is the challenge, and the opportunity to help people and accomplish tasks.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORKING AT THE UNIVERSITY?
At first, the biggest thing was that it fulfilled the requirements for my degree at Parkland. So Parkland was my pathway to the university. That internship just opened a lot of doors to get in here, which is great, because it’s not easy to do.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OFF THE JOB?
I love to spend time with my family and friends, many of whom live here in town.
I also do quite a bit of volunteer work. Since losing my dad and grandfather to cancer, I’m very involved in Relay for Life with the American Cancer Society. I often volunteer at the Crisis Nursery. That can be a real challenge, but it can also be very rewarding. I think it’s a wonderful place and a safe haven for those kids. I volunteered at the Illinois Marathon last spring, which was a lot of fun.
I enjoy traveling but don’t get the opportunity to travel as often as I might like.
ANY FAVORITE DESTINATIONS?
I went on an Alaskan cruise, which I really enjoyed. Alaska was amazing – it’s not Central Illinois, that’s for sure! Each day was a new experience.
I also like New England, especially Maine, since I have a love for lighthouses.
GROWING UP IN CHAMPAIGN, ARE YOU AN ILLINI FAN?
I am a big Illini fan. I follow Illini basketball, football and hockey. I like NASCAR. I’m not the typical NASCAR fan, but I do enjoy it. My sister and I have been to a few races.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE DRIVER?
I’m a big Tony Stewart fan.