Outstanding Service Award

Bonnie Anderson

Graduate Secretary, Department of English

Behind every great administrator is a strong secretary, something that more than one director of graduate studies in the Department of English confirms about Bonnie Anderson.

The former admissions/record officer in the Graduate School knows the school’s policies and procedures by heart – and often by page number.

Only months into her 2005 appointment in English, she helped the new director to revise the graduate student handbook. When Betty J. Birner became director last fall, it was Anderson who explained the what, when, why and to whom.

“She is careful to give me the starring role,” Birner said. “She tells me it is her job to make me look good, and she does so with humor and humility.”

But it is Anderson’s caring that makes her special.

A “tireless advocate” for students, she opened her home the Sunday after Feb. 14 for students to gather, hug and bake cookies. She collects furniture for students’ apartments, accepts deliveries of their packages at her house and offers motherly comfort and advice.

She’s an LGBT Ally, a Relay for Life participant and a local musician. She’s an animal lover who laundered loads of towels and pet bedding for TAILS, sewed catnip toys and cleaned cages. She’s an environmentalist who fills offices with plants, turns off unnecessary lights, recycles and conducts paperless graduate admissions.

“She leads by example,” Birner said, “and, in so doing, brings out the best in others.”

Bonnie Anderson