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Duke winner Dudley delivers service with a smile

  • Lifetime of service to W&M
    Lifetime of service to W&M  Diane Dudley has spent the last six-plus of her 37 years at William & Mary in the Music Library. Her colleagues describe her presence there as transformative.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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The list of people William & Mary Music Library Assistant Diane Dudley credits for her being the 2015 recipient of the Charles and Virginia Duke Award is impressive and all-inclusive.

She cites faculty. They’ve included her among those they teach. She cites staff. They work with her to form a cohesive unit. She mentions students from the Department of Music, who give as much as they get from her. She lauds students from dozens of other departments. They offer fresh perspectives and ideas that might not otherwise be considered.

She praises Arts Librarian Kathleen DeLaurenti, Professor of Music and Ethnomusicology Anne Rasmussen and Professor Ruth Griffioen. They’ve exposed her to new experiences, guided her, strengthened her and enlightened her.

“What I’m trying to say is my job is not performed in a vacuum,” she said. “So many people pull together to help us every day.”

The only person Dudley fails to credit for her success in a job that Rasmussen describes as a combination of teacher, mentor, counselor and advisor is herself.

That’s OK. Plenty of other people appreciate the work she has put in during almost 37 years at the university, work that earned her this year's Duke Award. All non-student, non-instructional faculty employees of the university, or one of the contractors providing auxiliary services to the university, are eligible for the award, which is given for “individual accomplishment and exemplary service to the College of William & Mary.”

It isn’t necessarily awarded annually. If no one meets the criteria, none is given.

Dudley said she literally didn’t believe it when she was told that she had won.

“I was flabbergasted,” she said. “President [Taylor] Reveley called, and I saw the name on the phone. I figured it was his office calling for ‘Hark Upon the Gale’ or a piece of music that they needed, and I answered the phone like I normally would.

“I recognized his voice and I said, ‘Why is he calling?’ And then he starts into it, and I started shaking all over. I told him, ‘If I didn’t recognize your voice, I would have thought it was a joke.’

“This doesn’t happen to people like me. I’m just a regular library worker. I come in, work my eight hours, and get to work with amazing people. I’m still in shock.”Diane Dudley and her infectious smile

Staff and volunteers at the Music Library put together Dudley’s nomination right under her nose, and an impressive nomination it was.

“Every single person who walks into the Music Library, whether they be student, faculty or staff is made to feel welcome,” wrote Jessica Colbert ’15, a Music Library assistant. “Diane always asks for names, where they are from, their major, anything to help the student feel at home, just as she does for employees like me.”

At the bottom of Colbert’s letter were 30 signatures from students majoring in mathematics, business, biology, history, music, marketing, psychology, English, neuroscience, physics, Hispanic studies and biological chemistry.

“Simply put, Diane Dudley’s presence in the Department of Music has been transformative,” wrote Rasmussen. “She has helped make our little music library the place to be. There’s never a moment in the day when the space is not abuzz with activity and often our study space at the tables, on couches and at our computer terminals are full.”

Another letter supporting Dudley contained the names of 49 alumni, dating back to 2011. Among them was a pianist in the U.S. Army Band, a writer, a software developer, a data analyst and IT coordinator, a public relations professional, a program assistant at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, a high school chorus and English teacher, an officer in the Fairfax County Police Department and an Episcopal seminarian at Yale Divinity School.

“Diane goes out of her way to learn the name of every regular patron of the Music Library,” wrote Kathleen DeLaurenti, arts librarian. “One recent graduate even referred to Diane as ‘OM’ – for ‘Other Mother’ – and has shared with me how important her e-mails and notes have been during his post-graduate deployment in Kuwait.”

When DeLaurenti took over as arts librarian in 2011, one of the first things she did was put together student focus groups to see what the space needs were for the library and what students saw as priorities for new furniture, space and technology.

“The students didn’t share unified vision for space,” she wrote, “but they did share one thing: Every one of the five groups we talked to mentioned Diane as the most valuable resource in the library. It didn’t take long for me to realize why.”

Dudley’s scope of influence seemingly has no boundary. John Riofrio, assistant professor of Hispanic studies, told the story of Dudley’s relationship with his father, retired pathologist Patricio Riofrio.

Patricio Riofrio lives in Florida. Other than having a son who teaches at W&M, he has no relationship with the university.

“He isn’t a scholar and isn’t working on an esoteric post-retirement project,” Riofrio wrote. “He is, however, passionate about opera and absolutely fascinated by academia.”

One of his passions is hunting for hard-to-find opera performances. On a visit to Williamsburg several years ago, Riofrio pointed his father to the Music Library and, by extension, Dudley. She helped him find what he was looking for then; she has continued to help him discover operatic treasures during his many visits since.

Let Patricio Riofrio finish the story.

“I can say without exaggeration that I have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of librarians,” he wrote. “It is, therefore, with full honesty that I can state that I have never encountered someone as helpful as Diane; profoundly knowledgeable, organized and efficient but with one outstanding quality: a sincere desire to help, coupled with a charming social affect. Quite simply, I cannot imagine a more deserving recipient of the Duke Award for service.”