Remarks by Barbara Watkinson
When Carl asked me to speak on behalf of department chairs, program directors, and the faculty, I, of course, gladly accepted.
Being a person who deals with spatial relationships, I reflected on the places Betty has occupied in her more than 20 years in Arts and Sciences. With the risk of really dating myself - and Betty - we have to transport ourselves to James Blair Hall - a completely differently configured James Blair where the Registrar was on the ground floor facing the Sunken Garden. The Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences occupied the area that is now used for faculty offices in Philosophy.
The Dean's suite was a largish office that extended from the hallway to the outer wall, with the Dean's office and a shared office opening off of it. One day I went to the office for some type of information or assistance, and an early memory of Betty - this must be in about 1988 or so - is her work area set up at the far end of the office behind one of those low, temporary walls. Now, if the date is correct, we were just transitioning to voicemail on our telephones, and computers hadn't yet arrived at our desks. Here was Betty - small Betty, short Betty - behind this wall filling in a large bookkeeping ledger. She could have been doing scheduling or budgets. What I recall, nevertheless, is Betty looking up, stopping in mid-entry, to greet me. Then she gave me her undivided attention. I have come to know this as a constant, that Betty will give her undivided attention to explain a problem, give information, or just catch up on family news.
What is remarkable is that Betty always has work done before deadline. In the 20 or so years that I have known and worked closely with Betty, I have never experienced or overheard her say to anyone, "I'm busy. I'll have to get back with you later." For anyone at anytime, listening is her first priority.
For we who have been department administrators and deans, Betty's natural instinct to listen is invaluable. I think that I'm speaking for many of us that Betty's neutrality has led us to realize or discover more effective ways of dealing with a situation. Bob Archibald, interim dean in the late 90s, told me that "When I had a crazy idea, she wouldn't out and out tell me my idea was crazy. Still, I could read her reactions, and when those reactions told me to think harder about something, it was always a good idea to think harder. She just has really good sense about things. She never tried to be dean, but she really helped me to be dean."
I can second that. Guiding two interim deans and two deans in the last decade is a Herculean task.
For me, you, Betty, have been my counselor and friend for my ten years as department chair, four years as Dean of Undergraduate Studies, as a year as Interim Dean of the Faculty. I - we - wouldn't have made it without you.