Each year, dozens of employees are recognized for achieving milestones in years of service at one of the university’s awards. In the year Recipients at the 2023 ceremony will include faculty and staff who have served 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years of service to Syracuse University in 2022.
In an age where the average length of time employees stay with one employer nationally is 4.1*, long-tenured employees are becoming something of a unicorn.
What is the secret to a long and fulfilling career? Three celebrated 45-year employees at a university—Ann Marie McGinnis, David Jensen, and Marie Sarno—share some of their stories, memories, and advice for those on their career journeys.
Ann Marie McGinnis, Data Analyst, College of Arts and Sciences Consulting
permanent memory; One beautiful late summer day in the mid 90’s I was on my way to work and Captain Scott King was doing an air traffic report. Instead of reporting on normal vehicular traffic this day, he reported on the student line that stretched from Steele Hall to College Place, the Quad and beyond.
“As the person who manages it [class registration] Process, I know it will be a challenging day ahead. Administrators vowed to prevent it from happening again. I have developed a plan to change the way we handle registration for new students during the winter months. This new system, AutoReg, came into play 27 years ago when I went to college for arts and sciences and had the tools to develop a system for creating schedules for first-year students. Since AutoReg was created, new programs have come on the market and the university currently uses a scheduler for this process.
Tech, then and now: “After a few years with the registrar, I became the enrollment manager, which was an arena-type process at the time. All this happened in one day starting at 8am and ending around 2am for the workers who needed to complete the process. My biggest fear was dropping the battered cards into the trays where the cards were placed through the card reader as we carried them from Archbold Gym to the Machinery Hall. Now, registration is an efficient and easy self-service process. I have to admit I love the arena style and can say I miss those days.
Advice for someone who is just starting out: “Keep an open mind. Change is inevitable and it’s easy to resist change that doesn’t seem good for us. I’ve found that if I develop a positive attitude and try to see things differently, it works for me.”
David Jensen, Library Technician, Acquisitions and Cataloging, Research Excellence
A wonderful memory; “September 11, 2001. I listened to NPR all day as I continued to catalog through the special collections. When the first tower came down, I went up to the Special Collections Reading Room to deliver the news – the only time in my life that the word ‘grandmother’ worked. The university has sent out an email to send representatives to residence halls to offer counseling and anyone with counseling experience to contact them.
“I’ve done informal suicide counseling with people who know and trust me, but that’s very different from grief counseling, especially with strangers—so I ignored that email.
“In shock [after a third email from the University] I wrote back saying that informal suicide counseling was very different from grief counseling and that I wasn’t qualified, and I thought it should be with older students if they wanted me anyway. They took me at my word and assigned me to the Washington Arms (junior and seniors). They had a TV there in the common room, so that’s where I saw my first photos of 9/11 looking at the students around me.
“With one specific exception, the students were engaging with each other, they didn’t seem withdrawn or subdued or otherwise balanced. I could only see one person who clearly wanted someone to talk to, a young woman who was very ‘shocked’ – but I couldn’t shake the broader 9/11 analogy to strangers. A stranger intervened as I approached her.
“When she left the room, I immediately got her name from someone, and made sure the director of Washington Arms was looking for the student when he returned. I felt for the man who was clearly troubled.
[Editor’s note: This anecdote was condensed from its original version.]
The biggest change in campus: “Computing should be the biggest order of change. When I was a freshman at SU in ’73, people were allotted a fair amount of computer time per year, and the interface was called DECwriter: a large freestanding interactive typewriter printed out of a box on fan-folding paper. the floor.”
Advice for someone who is just starting out: “Make sure you love what you do. The people you work with may come and go, the technology may change, your workplace may move – I think the most important thing is to love what you’re doing.”
Marie Sarno, Program Specialist and Academic Advisor, School of Education
A very important achievement; “My ability to simultaneously see the big picture and the small details in the various roles I’ve played has made a difference in the school experience for students, faculty and staff. I started at the school in my first year, bringing new students directly into the school (with upper-class internal or external transfers) and a large “After they reformed. That gave me the opportunity to create new initiatives, write policies and educate and involve myself in various educational services and issues. It set the stage for the rest of my career,” he said.
Tech, then and now: “When I first came to the university, computerized mainframe records were just getting started. There was no email, and desktops had typewriters! Registration was still in the large gym where the students were collecting and exchanging computer cards for each class.
Other changes in the campus: “Student needs and wants seem to have grown. Mental health needs have grown (and perhaps we all know more about them). Technology has had a profound impact on their lives and has probably helped to increase their expectations for service, in some cases expecting more rapid action. There are additional university-wide initiatives in the area of diversity and focus on health and wellness.
Advice for someone starting a business: “I learned a lot from attending meetings and reading the catalog and finally reading websites. That way (in addition to things directly related to my position) I got a bigger picture and met some helpful colleagues. It is important to accept the importance of details related to your work. Connect with your colleagues and help create a workplace that is serious about what needs to be done, but also creates fun moments that will have you laughing for years to come!”
Thomas McGinn, residential community safety officer, and Nancy Rothschild, senior associate dean of admissions, also received 45-year milestone awards this year. To see the full list, visit the One University Awards website.
*Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022