On the job: Lynn Schaefer
Marlynna “Lynn” Schaefer, administrative assistant II in the Graduate College, has worked at the UI since September 1984. Schaefer started at the Office of Admissions and Records as an extra help employee before becoming a full-time undergraduate application processor. She also worked in the Office of Continuing Education, the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of Public Engagement, before joining the Graduate College in 2004.
Schaefer, who has lived in Illinois her entire life, was born in Carmi, and grew up in Tuscola. She has been married for more than 35 years to Dan, a certified crop specialist with Illini FS in Tolono, where they live. They have four children and three grandchildren.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University in 2005 while working full-time at Illinois.
Tell me about your job.
I’m assistant to the dean of the Graduate College. My responsibilities include setting up meetings, making travel arrangements, sending out correspondence, conducting fact-finding research and working with students and graduate departments.
I’m also the human resources manager for the Graduate College, so I do all personnel-related work, including paperwork, employee reviews, hiring and writing job descriptions.
What does the Graduate College do?
We’re an academic unit and we’re responsible for the academic policies and procedures for graduate students at Illinois. There are around 10,000 graduate students on campus, which is about a quarter of the total student population. Students are admitted to a department, but their admission letter comes from the Graduate College.
Thanks to the excellent reputation of our graduate programs, our graduate students and the size of our graduate population, we’re often asked to participate in surveys and research initiatives in global and national education.
Sounds like you’re pretty busy.
All day, every day. (Laughs.) It requires work outside of office hours sometimes, but that’s part of the job.
We don’t have much downtime here because we have such a wide circle of responsibility. There are peak times, but not too many valleys. A week in December and a week in the summer, but other than that, we’re always gearing up and getting ready for what’s next. There is no boredom here.
What’s your average workday like?
Like a lot of people who work at the university, there is no such thing as a typical day here. We work with students, we work with graduate departments, we try to review policies to make sure things are working well. Service is at the core of everything we do, and we try to make sure we’re doing the best for everyone.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Just trying to make a task-list for the day and getting it done is the biggest challenge because it’s not just my own work I have to take care of, it’s reacting to everything else that comes up during the day. So making sure there’s time to get everything done and doing it right are probably my biggest challenges.
It’s also a challenge meeting all the needs of our audiences: prospective students, current students, graduate departments and university administration. We’re trying to fit into a structure that includes a pretty wide variety of stakeholders in a decentralized environment.
What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
The variety appeals to me the most. I’ve been in an administrative job since I first started at the university, and the part that makes the Graduate College unique and interesting is that it’s focused on the students. So that connection with the students appeals to me.
I also enjoy co-chairing a group of graduate contacts called the Administrative Advisory Group. We’re a sounding board and idea generator aimed at improving policies and practices that affect graduate students and graduate programs.
What do you like to do off the job?
My husband and I like to spend as much time as possible with our grandchildren. We also love to travel. We’ve been to some great places – Hawaii, Cancun, Jamaica. Warm temperatures and the ocean are attractive to me. But I always love to come back to Illinois. It’s home.
We’re also avid Illini football and basketball fans, and we try to take in as many games as we can.
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