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Campus News

Working for the Workers

by Timothy Burkhardt, staff writer

Karen Huntley worked in the Work Program Office for 12 years.

Over the summer, Karen Huntley left her position at the Warren Wilson Work Program. For 12 years, Huntley interacted with students on a daily basis—arranging break contracts, finding new jobs for hard-luck cases who got fired from their crews, listening to sob stories from sick students attempting to recoup lost work hours.

“Karen wanted to pursue other opportunities,” Ian Robertson, Dean of Work, said. “It was with great sadness that I informed the community of her departure. I respect her privacy. Karen was here for 12 years. She was a strong presence for students and faculty alike.”

Robertson went on to say that the work program will strive to maintain the standard of service and dedication to the student workers that Huntley provided.

In Huntley’s absence, there have been some changes made at the WPO. Ellen Graves has been promoted to the newly created position of Director of Learning and Programs. She and Robertson will combine efforts to carry out Huntley’s role as listening ear and supporting shoulder to the workers of Warren Wilson. According to Robertson, he and Graves will be available to deal with human resources issues, confidential and otherwise.

“Before it was just Karen, now either Ellen or I will be there to listen,” said Robertson.

As the search begins for someone to fill the void that was left by Karen’s departure, an interim position has been filled by Sherrie Meehan, a Wilson alumnus from 1996. Meehan’s job at the WPO this semester is to handle time cards, sick requests, and over/under hours situations. Meehan has many ties to Warren Wilson—not only is she a graduate, her oldest son is a Wilson graduate, and her husband Pat was the crew boss for landscaping in the 1990s.

“I was here nine years from 1990 to 1999,” said Meehan, “I had a good idea of the mission of the college, and how the triad and the work program worked.”

Meehan expressed a desire to apply for the full-time position when the application process begins. She seemed excited to be back on campus.

“It’s really good to be back home,” said Meehan.

Discussing the search for Huntley’s replacement, Ian Robertson stated that students will be invited to be a part of the process, by being on search committees and attending interviews. Robertson encouraged students to come by the newly remodeled Work Program Office to speak with him or with Ellen Graves, or just to enjoy the atmosphere.

“The remodel is barrier free and welcoming, putting the students front-and-center,” Robertson said. “We invite students to come into the main office and enjoy the ambience of this old building. In the wintertime we hope to have fires going. There is checkers, chess, interesting magazines, or just come in to study.”

Robertson expressed his desire to examine all the work program policies and proceed to review and revise all forms and contracts. The plan is to assure that policy and practice are consistent. This would include a reviewal of room and board policies over breaks.

Without Karen Huntley, it is up to Ian Robertson, Ellen Graves, and Sherrie Meehan to keep the Work Program on track this semester. It is a daunting task, and they are asking for plenty of input and suggestions from the student body. Anyone who has thoughts or questions concerning changes in the work program should feel encouraged to go to the Work Program Office, and participate in the community dialogue.

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