Mary Ann Stauffer, who announced her retirement effective December 2013, joined the School of Visual Arts in 2005. She served on the College Staff Advisory Council for four years and was chair 2008-2009. Through staff changes and reorganizations she has relocated her work station from the Patterson Building to the Arts Cottage, and back again to Patterson, always willing to be wherever we needed her most. Common phrases we use when describing Mary Ann’s position are “face of the office” and “on the front lines.” However, she tends to many behind-the-scenes tasks as well, from textbook orders and SRTEs, to faculty activity reports and data warehouse queries. She has been our resident expert for processes related to student teaching and Saturday Art Classes. She makes our visitors feel welcome and her genuine concern for our students always shines through. While we celebrate this new beginning with Mary Ann, we are sad to see her go and we will miss her spirit.
Not surprisingly, it’s the students that Mary Ann identified as the best part of her work in SoVA: The Art Education students who “work so hard” and are so ready for the next phase of their education when they leave campus to student teach, and the BFA students whose senior shows in the Patterson Gallery are a weekly source of surprise and amazement. She says she has been inspired by our students who know that it is important to just go for it: to pursue their ambitions to become artists, teachers, and designers. “They have to work, of course. But I have never heard anyone say, ‘I shouldn’t have done this,’” as they finished their programs and prepared to graduate.
Asked what she has learned from her job, Mary Ann says that she realizes that “no job is too small.” To keep everything running in the front office, “you have to know a thousand things,” simply to answer the questions that come across the counter every day. She advises the person who follows her as the voice of Saturday School and the Art Education undergraduate program to enjoy the process, realize that he or she is an important part of a complex process, and know that he or she will be appreciated.
Mary Ann’s fondest memories are of the days she shared with Charolette Waltz, who retired in July, in the Arts Cottage. They hit it off immediately and never stopped talking and laughing, or feeding the squirrels and the hawk that made a home in and around the Cottage. She thinks of our late colleague David Ebitz when she remembers those days, because he was was always in his office, and always supportive and genial.
Her plans for the future include spending more time with family—nearby granddaughters, her daughter in Florida, and her sister, a master carpenter who recently moved home and is preparing to help Mary Ann with a list of projects around the house. As retirement approaches, she is more and more confident that she will find productive and enjoyable ways to spend her days.
Thank you, Mary Ann, for everything. We wish you a long and joyous retirement!