In the last few weeks we have seen a number of changes in the professional services team with two valued members of the team leaving us for retirement and pastures new.
Chris Williams joined SAC (then the Department of Anthropology) as a part-time clerical financial assistant in April 2005, shortly before the retirement of Joan England as departmental administrator. With very little hand-over time, Chris and Susan Simpson (the new adminstrator) not only had to work out their new roles together, but do so amidst the prolonged disruption that was the department’s piecemeal move from Eliot to the newly re-furbished Marlowe building. In the eleven years since then Chris has presided quietly and efficiently over an increasingly busy finance office. As the first port of call for staff and students alike, whether chasing equipment purchases, grant money, payments, contracts or anything else that can be remotely described as financial, she has managed to remain calm and even-tempered throughout. After a long working life, Chris deserves a happy retirement. With no need to worry anymore about the vagaries of the purchasing system, students who lose their receipts, or staff who don’t get their expenses submitted in a timely fashion, her increasing brood of grandchildren can enjoy her undivided attention.
We all wish her well, but will miss her experience and knowledge.
We also say goodbye to John Moore, who, for the last year and a half, has been very much the public face of the school whilst manning reception. To staff, students and visitors alike, John was the ‘go-to’ guy for all manner of enquiries, from room bookings to equipment requests, whilst gracefully accepting blood, sweat and tear-drenched coursework, hastily filled attendance sheets, and daily ruminations from all about the inflatable globe.
John was known for his affability in the face of stressed academia and his aura of calm was infectious to even the most implacable of individuals. As liquor and bullfighting was to Ernest Hemingway, John’s earthly passions constituted crisps and sweeties: indeed, he would often chimney his way through nine packets of kettle-cooked potato slices before lunchtime; come the afternoon, he would be as effervescent as the party bag of flying saucers habitually dropped in his mouth. Yet he retained his svelte figure, kept in check by running up and down the awkward gradient of the foyer staircase in dutiful service to the school, whistling while he worked or lowing a sedative syncopation to a ‘bom-b-bom’ recitative. His last gift to the school was a menagerie of little Easter chicks to brighten the mood of all who were enduring a long term of busy and stimulating activity. We are still finding miscreant ones, mischievously hidden by John on his final day.
Having moved to a similar job at the School of European Culture and Languages, we hope John raises as many smiles and loyalties there as he did with us.
Many thanks to colleagues Christine Eagle and James Kloda for their respective pieces.