26, No. 6, Sept. 21, 2006
the job: Margaret Cupps
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
photo to enlarge
by L. Brian Stauffer
is a secretary with the Campus Honors Program.
a secretary with the Campus Honors Program, began her long affiliation
with 4-H at the age of 10. Since then, she’s
been a 4-H leader, was the assistant director of the nature area at
4-H Memorial Camp in Monticello for two summers and has judged canning
and sewing exhibits at the annual 4-H Expo at Marketplace Mall. While
studying for a bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in music
and library science, at the Urbana campus, Cupps worked for the former
Illini Union Book Center in the Union’s Pine Lounge. Over the
years, Cupps also worked as a retail sales associate at the former
Robeson’s Department Store in downtown Champaign and as a housewares
buyer for a gift store in Oklahoma. Cupps returned to the UI workforce
in 1993, working as extra help in the Illini Union Bookstore and the
I.D. Center, then transferring to the Campus Honors Program several
What are some of your responsibilities?
I answer phone queries from current and prospective students and parents, open
and distribute mail, file, make coffee, set up audio-visual equipment in the
morning for the professors, and get the labs and rooms ready. I work on several
databases and recently learned to use the digital camera and printing equipment.
I also assign jobs to the evening student workers.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The students. They’re very bright, and they are the kind of students who
will make a difference in the world. They’re involved. They want to do
something to improve our world. The hardest part for me is remembering their
Tell me about your activities outside of work.
I belong to the First United Methodist Church in downtown Champaign and am on
their building committee. We’re getting ready to celebrate our sesquicentennial,
and I’m working on a walking tour of places in downtown Champaign that
are part of the history of the church. I also am interested in promoting 4-H.
What’s kept you involved in 4-H?
It’s a worthwhile program. My mom, Marie Chambliss Tapscott, was a 4-H
leader for 32 years and a great mentor. I’d like to try to follow in her
footsteps. I’ll soon be serving on the Champaign County Committee, which
sets policy and provides hands-on help with local programs.
4-H provides the kind of information that people need – practical knowledge – such
as taking care of yourself and your surroundings. People mistakenly think of
4-H as an agriculture-interest club, but it teaches all kinds of skills: cooking,
photography and environmental projects, to name a few.
Tell me more about your family.
We are a UI family. Our older daughter, Heather, lives here in town and works
for the Office of Continuing Education, and her husband, Ryan, works for Campus
Information Technologies and Educational Services. Our grandson, Luke, is 5;
he’s the poster-child that you see with a bunch of vegetables around him
on “Champaign County Agriculture Today.” My husband, Bill, now retired,
earned his Ph.D. here and was the administrative editor for the College of Agriculture
for 11 years before he left for an administrative position at Oklahoma State
Our younger daughter, Laurel, lives in Ottawa with her husband, Brad. Their son,
Logan, will be a year old in November. Laurel and Brad breed and show Dalmatians,
and I will be going to Indianapolis with them soon to help care for Logan during
a dog show.
This summer, my husband I went to visit our nephew’s family in Manassas,
Va. We toured the Manassas Museum, the Civil War battlefield and other historic
sites. We also drove to Washington, D.C., to see the new Native American Museum
and America’s Hangar. America’s Hangar has aviation and space artifacts
that the Smithsonian couldn’t fit into the museum at the National Mall,
such as the Enola Gay B-29 bomber from World War II and the Space Shuttle Enterprise
We also went to Ohio for more than a week to rehabilitate the house where my
husband was born. It was good to visit the family farm and go to the Medina County