Farewell and Welcome : Carol and Cheryl
15 August 2012
The Center is a busy place. It is full of comings and goings. Fellows arriving. Setting up offices. Fellows meeting. Talks. Errant speakers. Donuts. Rearranging rooms. Conferences. Programs. Schedules.
One thing prevents all this activity collapsing in chaos. That is our staff, vigilant and diligent. They give us the stability that grounds the Center. They do not come and go. Carol, Karen and Joyce have been in the Center since my first day as Director; and were here for years before that. They are the permanence behind the flux.
Earlier this summer, Carol announced that her time had come. She was going to take advantage of the University's "VERP," the Voluntary Early Retirement Program. Her life now needed a little more gardening and dogs and family; and a little less Photoshop and deadlines.
Carol--more properly, Carol Weber--started in the Center over a decade ago in the waning summer of August 2001. Her job was to look after "technology." In 2001, that meant more looking after the computers in the offices and perhaps spending a few moments on the Center's small website.
What we did not know then was that Carol is more than technology. She has a wonderful eye and sense of design. That emerged early in the flyers she helped produce. Her job grew. Or perhaps she grew her job. In 2006, when we rebuilt our Center website, Carol carried the heaviest burdens.
Today the website is the way we transact almost all our business. We use it to make announcements, to organize conferences and as an historical record of what has happened in the Center. Its pages are elegant and restrained; and they are so because every one of them has been touched by Carol's hand and eye.
We will miss Carol very much. She has been an innermost part of the Center. My morning has long started with a walk down the hall to my office past Carol's open door. I glance in and find her scowling at the latest computer insult delivered by Photoshop or Dreamweaver. She is talking back in the manner that insolent technology deserves. Lunchtime is the moment when our halls are filled with a fragrant smell that says delicious. Carol is toasting her special bread. Then Carol, Karen and Joyce are huddled round the lunch table talking dog.
Earlier this summer, we took Carol downtown to NOLA for a farewell lunch. Afterwards we stood on the sidewalk, realizing that this was a moment of history about to be lost. I had not brought my camera. Bryan Roberts pulled out his cell phone and took this photo.
It is August and our new staff member, Cheryl Greer has arrived. She is now the occupant and owner of Carol's desk. I noticed sheepishly that we had not yet updated the names on our masthead outside the door when she arrived.
Cheryl brings us formidable computer and design skills. I still recall awkwardly asking her if she knew how to handle this or that computer or design chore. Her answers were quiet and polite and conveyed a strong sense of "yes--of course." I knew from her impressive resume that it was true, without any doubt.
When Carol left, she took much of importance with her in her head. Fortunately, she agreed to come back, meet Cheryl and... (if you will forgive me, these are computer folk)... download. I was eager to sneak into their office during the download and snap some photos. Alas, by the time I arrived, it was over. It was for the better. I can alarm people when I burst in and poke a camera in their faces.
They did agree to fake it for me. Here's Carol pretending to show Cheryl something. Moments before, she had been gesturing at a blank screen, which they reawakened to complete the scene.
Then they turned and smiled for the camera.
Cheryl has only been in the office for a few days. She is still in the awkward phase of figuring out if this place of old friends that never changes really can accommodate a newcomer; and we are trying our best to reassure her that we can.
Earlier this morning I was musing with her about how we might give some attention to the interior of the Center. We have scarcely changed anything in years and it shows. "I'd like something that says this is a place where you can think differently." I began talking about the most unacademic neon "OPEN" signs of the type you find in cheap bars and old convenience stores.
Cheryl ran with it. "You know you can make a sign that says _anything_. How about 'Center for Philosophy of Science'?" A little while later she emailed me a link from a business that custom makes neon signs.
And, she said, we need a Facebook page.
I think this is going to be fun.
John D. Norton