Beverly Moss and Tina Paul had very different starts at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, but both finished their respective careers here with a reception attended by a large crowd, lots of kind words, hugs and more than a little bit of emotion.
With the retirement of the two staff members who had nearly 30 years of combine service to UACCB, a reception was held to honor Moss and Paul.
Moss started to work at the college part-time as a purchasing agent in May 2011, then went full-time in continuing education and then joined Student Affairs in November 2012.
Greg Thornberg, vice chancellor for student affairs, said Moss has been instrumental in getting a number of programs off the ground, such as the Sunday Study Stop program, tutoring in the library on Sunday afternoons; as well as the performing arts series which now draws 3,000 students to the campus each year.
Three years ago she initiated the One Student, One Staff Initiative, where staff members "adopt" a first-time new student each semester to encourage them, show them the ropes and be a "warrior" for them.
He said Moss has a big heart for the students. "Beverly has consistently gone beyond the call of duty, assisting students in need."
Lost and found is in their office, Thornburg continued, and when backpacks were turned in Moss would go into the computer system, find out what class the student had next and would take the backpack to him or her.
Last April, the campus held a poetry slam in the library and Moss was asked to send out a campus-wide email to let everyone know.
Instead of just sending an email, she wrote:
"Just in time
to make it rhyme,
everyone really should go
to RJB to see the show.
You'll have fun
before it's done.
Sharon and Jay
will make your day."
"That's the attitude that Beverly takes in her work -- she wasn't going to just send an email; she was going to make something that people would pay attention to," he went on to say.
From purchasing and requisitions, to hiring packets, time sheets and payroll, "Everything we do in Student Affairs just about has Beverly's hand on it," he said.
The morning of the retirement reception, Thornburg said he saw Moss putting on a pair of plastic gloves and heading to the Student Success Center. The center has been remodeled and some new chairs had arrived. Moss, he said, went over there to clean the chairs for the new director and staff member.
Brian Berry, former vice chancellor for student affairs at UACCB, described Moss as always willing to do whatever was needed to help the college and its students.
On April 17 the college hosted an academic awards reception. "Being Beverly's last reception, she created an over-the-top program, this being her last event, that's how she does things," Moss said.
"I told Beverly how good of a job she'd done and quoted the Bible, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' The next morning I got to thinking that might be an insult to call her a servant because that's not what I meant at all. She simply replied by saying that serving others was her greatest joy, working at UACCB."
Moss said she didn't have an easy path to working at UACCB. More than once she applied for a job, only to be turned down.
"Today is not about me or Tina -- it's about our journey. Our journey is every interaction we have ever had with every one of you on campus, that makes a memory. It leaves a footprint. ”¦ I certainly hope when you think of me I have given you a hug along the way, smiled at you, complimented you on your work, or inspired you to do something. I think all of us need that so we have a good memory."
She went on to say that "the Lord puts you in places where there's a purpose for you to do something good. I certainly feel like that's why he put me here."
She recalled applying for a job at UACCB and meeting with the search committee. She didn't get that job, nor the next one she applied for at the college. But she was contacted and asked if she wanted to work part-time in purchasing, and she agreed.
That led to another job, this one full-time, at the college, and Moss said she felt blessed to be a part of the UACCB family and to be able to touch students' lives.
"Thank you all for the journey," Moss said.
Paul has served in a variety of positions at the college starting in August 1998, Chancellor Deborah Frazier said, most recently as the director of development.
"If you see Tina working with students you understand, like Beverly Moss she has a tremendous passion for students," Frazier said. "When they're in a difficult situation, she's able to provide an opportunity for success."
"She is able to develop those opportunities because of you, because of the relationships she has developed with you as faculty and staff, the donations to our foundation and to our community," Frazier said. "Her encouragement, her personal investment in those students has a lot to do with who she is and what she does."
Karla Rush, chairman of the UACCB Foundation Board, said she said recently read a quote that stated, "In life, every person that we encounter, we encounter for a reason and that's either to help them or to be helped by them."
Rush said it been "a breeze" to serve on the foundation because of Paul's organization and hard work, and she has been impressed by the relationship she's built with the chancellor, Paul's "open-door" policy and access to students.
Development does mean raising money, and year after year Paul has cultivated relationships in order to do that, but she's also forged countless friendships during her time at UACCB.
"We've heard your stories, those situations where a student needed to be rescued and you were in a position to walk that delicate line between being a good steward of the institution's money but also having the heart it takes to find a way to save that student, to keep them enrolled, to do what's necessary, even if it's just taking some time and lending an ear, or maybe being able to find some funds, a resource, and we greatly appreciate that. There's no doubt you have changed lives, and I know that's what you intended to do, so job well done."
Rush said Paul has been a joy to work with and "has enhanced our community in so many ways."
Frazier echoed that sentiment, saying Paul has served the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce as an ambassador and has worked with nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity and Batesville Booster Club.
Paul's husband Rusty accepted a position with Beaver Water District in April of this year, so her family is moving to northwest Arkansas and she does plan to return to the workforce at some point. Paul said she will forever be grateful for the opportunities she has been given at UACCB, and she has grown both personally and professionally during this time.
She said she has had the privilege to work for three chancellors besides Frazier: Dr Jack Lassiter, who hired her; Dr. Jim Daniels and Dr. Tony Kinkel.
Lassiter, she said, was a very "take-charge person."
"I never wanted to disappoint him, I never wanted to tell him no, so I always figured out how to make it happen." She learned she could do things that might seem improbable if she looked at things in different way.
From Daniels, she said, she learned, "You're never going to make everyone happy, and it's OK that they're not happy because at the end of the day you do what is best for UACCB and what's best for this community, and if you did, it was all going to be OK."
"What I learned from Dr. Kinkel is that when you're putting your message out, it's important how you deliver your message, and that you get buy-in from the people you're working with, whether they are internal or external."
She said she has worked closely with Frazier the whole time Paul has been at the campus, but especially since 2007 when Frazier was appointed chancellor and Paul became her assistant.
"She has taught me the importance of partnerships and relationships," and how they will "truly make a difference, especially in the role of development."
Those gifts of all sizes add up and make a difference to students.
"I'm so proud of what UACCB has been able to accomplish over the last 20 years, and I see that in those kids that didn't think they'd ever get anything other than high school diploma. They walk through our doors every day and they leave with a certificate or they leave with a diploma. That's what it's been about for me from the very beginning -- making a difference."
And that is true not just for the students but also the faculty and staff. "If nothing else, I hope I've done something to brighten your day or to make a difference for you, and I'm so thankful to be given the opportunity to do something I love for the last 20 years."