On the job: Lori Dick
Lori Dick, administrative aide and assistant to the director of graduate studies in the department of mathematics, has worked at the UI for more than 23 years. After graduating from Farmer City-Mansfield High School, Dick worked in an insurance office and at a few other part-time jobs before starting in the math department typing pool in 1985.
Dick grew up in the small town of Mansfield, and now lives in Monticello with Scott, her husband of 29 years who works at United Prairie, an agricultural retailer in Tolono, and a yellow Labrador named Abby. They have two sons, Nathan and Travis. Since her children are grown and out of the house, Dick decided it was time for her to concentrate on herself and go back to school. She’s attending Parkland College part-time, pursuing an associate’s degree in business management, and eventually hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a business minor through Eastern Illinois University.
Tell me about your job.
I manage the Office of Graduate Studies, which means if it relates to graduate studies, I’m the one to see. I help evaluate the applications to the graduate program for the director. We usually have around 400 applicants each year. I also schedule classes, reserve rooms for classes and seminars, assist our faculty and teaching assistants with their Instructor and Course Evaluation forms, and oversee the mailroom and the mailroom staff.
What was it like working in the typing pool?
I typed papers for faculty for publication or anything else that the faculty needed typed at the time, including tests. We were just getting computers, so a lot of the work was still being done on typewriters, although I was lucky and had to do only one paper on the typewriter. Typing a paper on a typewriter was a challenge because you had to change out the letter and symbol balls continually, which made your fingers sore.
What’s your typical day like?
Right now is a very busy time. My day starts early and ends late. At this time of year there are many deadlines that need attention.
You have to learn a balancing act. It’s a challenge, and I love challenges. That’s why I like this job: It’s never the same thing every day.
What’s it like to work with graduate students?
Right now we have about 200 graduate students, and to me, each one is special. They’re usually far away from their families, and they’re here for so long, usually five to seven years to get a Ph.D., that you can’t help but become close to them. Some have become lifelong friends.
I have one who lives in Tennessee. Not only does she like to fly planes, she owns her own plane. Every so often, she’ll fly up here to have lunch with me, which I think is pretty cool. (Laughs.) That makes me feel pretty special.
I still keep in touch with a lot of former students, and they’re all special to me. If I didn’t keep in contact with them I probably wouldn’t like this job nearly as much as I do. They become more than just a face and a name.
I hate when they leave but I’m happy for them. When they return, it’s like they’ve never been gone. I love to hear about their lives. They’ll send me pictures of their kids and cards on holidays.
What do you like most about your job?
The people. All of them – the faculty, staff and students. Everybody here is great. We’re like one big family.
A few years ago, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. I don’t know what I would have done without this group and without their support. They were there for me, even when I didn’t realize it. I can’t imagine not working here.
What’s it like to work at Altgeld? Do you hear the bells while you work?
Unfortunately, I can’t hear the bells down on my end of the building. I love Altgeld. I think it’s a cool building. I like that it’s a focal point of campus, and that it’s close to everything.
What do you like to do off the job?
I love the outdoors. My father-in-law owns a place down in Southern Illinois, and my husband and I are there every chance we get. It has a pond and four-wheeler trails. Anybody who knew me back in high school probably wouldn’t believe it, but I like to hunt and I like to do archery. I’m even in an archery league.
What do you like to hunt?
I hunt deer. I keep saying I’m going to hunt turkey but I haven’t done it yet.
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