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   from the issue of August 31, 2006

Stephens sows 45 years on East Campus


The university was to be a stepping-stone for Minnie Stephens.

SERVICE AWARD - Minnie Stephens, a staff secretary with Animal Science, will be honored for 45 years of service to the...
 SERVICE AWARD - Minnie Stephens, a staff secretary with Animal Science, will be honored for 45 years of service to the university during the Employee Service Awards Recognition Program. Stephens was hired in 1961 and started working with Poultry Science in Mussehl Hall. Other employees receiving awards for 45 years of service are Robert DeGunia, Ronald Hull and Arthur McWilliams. Photo by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.

Instead, the East Campus secretary's first job grew into a career move spanning 45 years. Stephens' commitment - along with that of more than 900 other UNL employees - will be honored during the 2006 Employee Service Awards, 10 a.m. Sept. 7 in the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

"This became my first and only job," said Stephens, who started as a secretary in Poultry Sciences on March 27, 1961. "Looking back, it really is surprising I've been here that long."

Hunting for a first job after graduating from Lincoln School of Commerce, Stephens was referred to Poultry Science by the state employment office. She ventured to East Campus for an interview in Mussehl Hall and waited patiently as then department head John Jack Adams was delayed by a meeting.

Stephens answered all of Adams' questions, and then left for an afternoon of running errands with her mother. She had no idea what kind of impact she had made.

"He later told me that he had decided to hire me before I even walked out the door," Stephens said.

Back at home, Stephens returned a message from Adams. She landed the job and was to report the following Monday.

"I was so tickled," Stephens said. "But my mom couldn't believe that she had to put up with me the rest of the week. She said, 'You mean to tell me that they will not let you come to work tomorrow?'"

Through the years, the staff secretary has seen a lot of change.

She weathered the 1970s merger of Poultry Science into Animal Science. Technology updates have made Stephens' job easier - especially when she recalls hammering out early jobs on a manual typewriter. She remembers watching the construction that melded the Animal Science Complex with Marvel Baker Hall. Stephens has worked with more faculty than she can recall, assisting with a host of research projects. And, then there's parking.

"When I first came here you could park for nothing. Of course, the lots weren't paved either," Stephens said. "Then it went to a dollar per year and everyone was upset. Look what we pay now."

Stephens' fondest memories involve working with students, especially those in the Japanese Agricultural Training Program. Her late husband, Dwight, served as director of the program for a number of years.

"The real enjoyment I have had has basically been working with foreign students," Stephens said. "I've made a lot of friends through the Japanese Agricultural Training Program. It has been a great experience."

Stephens will retire from UNL on Oct. 26.

"My career at the university has been wonderful," Stephens said. "I have no regrets working here for 45 years. I'm going to miss it, especially the students. But, it's just time to go out and try something else."



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