After starting work as a switchboard operator in Central Hall in 1999 and later becoming an executive secretary and project manager for the administration, Sheila Butler will join her husband in retirement in June.
Butler works under Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé. Her job includes coordinating details of building renovations and capital projects with contractors and vendors as well as assisting with payroll preparation.
“She’s really a right-hand person,” Péwé said. “If you look at the job description, there’s more than a couple jobs in there. There are a lot of things she’s in charge of and handles quickly and efficiently. It’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes things run smoothly.”
Beginning as the switchboard operator and receptionist to coordinating furniture needs in the Grewcock Student Union and overseeing the installation of the banners hanging in the Biermann Athletic Center, Butler said her job has grown and evolved over the years.
“No two days are alike, and every day is interesting,” Butler said. “I wear many hats.”
Péwé said many people with whom Butler has worked over the years have told him of her professional courtesy and efficiency — attributes Butler said have been important in her work.
Butler credited her predecessors and co-workers with helping her develop the office and telephone etiquette she has used in her work with the college.
“You never know who a visitor is on campus,” she said. “No matter who they are, you give them the time they need. If someone’s out on the sidewalk fumbling with maps or they’re trying to figure out where to go, just ask if you can help them. They’re going to remember the service, the smiles.”
Butler said this principle was especially evident to her after an elderly gentleman came into the office late in the day in 2009 to discuss a painting he wished to donate to the college. Butler said she and a co-worker listened to him politely and showed interest in his explanations of what the painting looked like. She later found out the man was John Meader, and the oil-on-canvas painting by Edward Hicks was valued at just under $1 million. It is now on display in the Heritage Room.
In her 19 years at the college, Butler said she has seen major changes in the campus, including the construction of the Grewcock Student Union, the Moss Family Laboratory Wing to Strosacker Science Building, the Biermann Athletics Center, Howard Musical Hall, Lane and Kendall halls, the AcuSport Lodge at the John A. Halter Shooting Sports Center, as well as the Searle Center in addition to renovations in the Roche Sports Complex and the development of College Park.
“When I started, instead of Moss and Delp Hall, it was Knowlton Hall and Old Fine Arts, so I got to see those buildings come down and then Moss and Delp go up,” Butler said. “Where Kendall and Lane are, that area was parking lots.”
Butler said she looks forward to spending her time in retirement bicycling on local trails, reading, knitting, crocheting, and camping, after working for the college for nearly two decades.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to riding the trails,” she said. “I’ve gotten away from that in the past few years.”
Executive Secretary to the Dean of Women Carolyn Milligan said Butler will be missed in Central Hall.
“Sheila has been wonderful to work with, and we’ll dearly miss her on the third floor,” Milligan said in an email. “She’s professional, always positive, and very loyal to the college. We love her — it won’t be the same place without her.”