Outstanding Service Award

Photo of Joyce Gardner

Joyce Gardner

Over the last 42 years, Joyce A. Gardner has served as secretary to two NIU presidents and seven provosts.

To her current boss, Provost J. Ivan Legg, she is “a household word in the university of community.”

“The people in these leadership roles tend to have rather different styles and dominant personalities,” Legg said. “That Joyce was retained over many years by these individuals reinforces her unique ability to adjust easily and be effective.”

“Joyce is the key coordinator, image-maker, harmony-keeper and staff role model for that office staff, many of whom she has hired, trained and evaluated over the years,” said Jerrold Zar, retired dean of the Graduate School.

Gardner counts among her many duties the coordination of job searches conducted by the provost and the updating of the Academic Policies and Procedures Manual, also available online.

She also advises the provost on matters of the day by providing background information and prioritizing the schedule, managing communication with virtually the rest of the university and handling office visitors and callers with tact.

Retired Interim Provost Lynne Waldeland calls these – and one of Gardner’s little-known legacies – “the sorts of things that go unnoticed if everything is working well.”

In 1992, Gardner wrote a letter to Roderick Groves, then the chancellor of the Board of Regents, to argue that the tuition waiver policy for children should carry over for retirees. Her letter helped create that change, Waldeland said.

“The fact that almost no one knows that she did this is typical of Joyce,” Waldeland said. “Joyce has always, quietly, been a builder of the NIU community.”