The final exam was supposed to start in 35 minutes. But there was a big problem. The instructor couldn’t find the master copy.
So Deb Breneman did some last-minute cramming of her own. Working from old versions of the test, she typed up, then photocopied, a new exam. She literally ran it into the classroom as students were filing in.
For Breneman, a faculty support specialist at Central Lakes College, it was another finals week crunch. “Anything that the faculty needs, I find a way to get it done,” she says.
Breneman, a member and steward in Local 4001, started working at the college’s Brainerd campus two years ago. She provides support for 30 instructors and other staff in two departments: liberal arts and athletics. Except for 10 hours of help each week from a work-study student, “I’m pretty much it,” she says.
The budget squeeze means her job duties expand as necessary. Enrollment at the Brainerd and Staples campuses is up 29 percent, to more than 3,000, but the college hasn’t added clerical staff.
“We try to make do with what we have,” Breneman says. “We are very aware of the budget. It used to be just typing and copying, but we’ve expanded that. I work with a lot more faculty now.”
So, she serves as receptionist for the Central Lakes College Foundation, which has offices right down the hall. She helps create posters and other promotional material for basketball games, the music department and other campus events. She trains work-study students. When AARP runs free income-tax seminars in her building, she schedules the appointments.
“One of the fabulous things about my job is, it’s fluid,” she says. “It’s always changing.” It helps that everyone from the president on down keeps staff in the loop and thanks them for the work they do, she says. “Everybody and everything is valued. You don’t always find that at work.”
Read about more clerical members:
Licensed to Serve:If you’re renewing your license tabs, applying for a passport, or need a copy of your birth certificate, you want a guy like Neng Lor behind the counter.
Keeping Vital Infrastructure Working:When Robin Davis picks up the phone, she’s never sure what to expect. But there’s usually a homeowner on the other end, and there’s an issue.
Adapted from an article that originally ran in the March/April 2009 issue of Council 5's Stepping Up.