26, No. 2, July 20, 2006
the job: Brenda Stevenson
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
photo to enlarge
by L. Brian Stauffer
is a registrar at the College of Law.
Stevenson’s nearly 31-year career at the UI’s
Urbana campus, she’s given her co-workers plenty of food for
thought – so much sustenance, in fact, that people sometimes
have requested that she quit bringing her homemade baked goods to work
because their waistlines were expanding. Stevenson, who said she loves
to cook and bake and frequently is told she should open her own bakery,
once raised the money to host a family reunion by baking and selling
cookies, sweet-potato pie and other treats. Stevenson began her career
as a clerk typist in the College of Engineering in November 1975, and
transferred to the records office of the Graduate College in 1982,
where her initial position was data-entry operator and she later became
an admissions and records officer. Since 1999 Stevenson has worked
for the College of Law, where she is the registrar.
Tell me about your responsibilities in your current position.
I register the incoming classes, which generally consist of 185 students each
year, and monitor the registration. I generate reports for the awarding of academic
honors given to our first-, second- and third-year students. I assist the Office
of International Programs with summer programs for law students, lawyers and
other professionals by processing the registrations and recording courses. I
perform degree audits three times a years for the May, August and December degree
candidates. I also work with Study Abroad, off-campus programs and with different
graduate departments that the college has joint-degree programs with.
Registration is the most-time consuming part of what I do. It includes interpreting
and implementing registration procedures, grading and academic policies.
What’s kept you here on campus so many years?
I have always worked really closely with students, which I enjoy.
Did you start at the university right out of high school?
Yes, I received my elementary and high-school education in Chicago. After high
school, in 1972, I attended the university for two years, majoring in accountancy.
How did you learn to be a great cook?
While I was growing up, my mother baked daily. When I started showing interest,
she let me help make oatmeal cookies. It became an every-Saturday event for us.
Seeing people’s reactions to my mother’s cooking was so pleasurable.
She bakes wonderful rolls, and she’ll share the recipe but the rolls never
turn out as good when someone else makes them. There are some special little
things that she does that she doesn’t share, and when you tell her that
your rolls didn’t turn out as good as hers, she’ll just smile.
I bake all sorts of cookies, cakes and pies. My favorite dessert to bake is German
chocolate cake. I don’t collect a lot of recipes or cookbooks; I have a
few standard recipes that I stick to.
How do you stay so trim with all that cooking?
I’ve always been active. I love working out to Tae Bo and aerobics and
aim to work out at least 45 minutes per session. My regular work out is to walk
around Centennial Park, then go home and put time in on the treadmill and weight
bench. I also bowl on three leagues, including the faculty-staff league, a travel
league and the Ebonite League, the only black league in town. My average is 177.
What else do you do when you’re not working?
I like to crochet and do needlepoint. I enjoy making afghans. I’m a big
kid at heart: My TV stays on the Cartoon Network, Disney and Nickelodeon. I have
a big collection of Disney movies. My favorite is “Lady and the Tramp.”