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Reporters, curators, security chiefs … faculty aren’t the only ones with careers at universities

Faculty Aren’t The Only Ones With Careers at Universities

Universities and colleges may have had to streamline their employment rolls in recent years, but they still employ more than two-and-a-half million people — and by far most of them are not faculty members.

After all, just about every job that exists outside of academia is replicated on a campus, from chief cooks and bottlewashers to attorneys, accountants, computer operators, personnel managers, and police officers.

And because the demand for some of those professions is growing outside the academy, salaries on campus are going up, according to Kirk Beyer, chair of the Administrative Compensation Survey Committee for the College and University Personnel Association (CUPA).

“The speculation is that administrative positions cross outside education and there is more of a market for those positions…. Over the past four cars, they have averaged salary increases of 4.2 percent as opposed to 3.2 percent for [people employed in] student services,” Beyer said.

Computer Technology

One of the highest areas of demand currently at colleges and universities is in computers, according to Linda Jack, manager of staff employment at Stanford University. She said that in the last two years there has been an explosion of computer-related positions being created in higher education — and she predicts that the trend will continue.

“Because moving information is part of what they do, universities are automating their work environments. Information and computer technicians are in high demand…. It’s an excellent market and there are more jobs out there than people to fill them,” Jack said.

In Columbia, South Carolina, Julian Gayden has worked in the computer industry for twenty-five years and owns a computer consulting company. Gayden, who has a bachelor’s degree in computer science, has spent the last six years as the Director of Information Services at Benedict College. Last year, the college spent a million and a half dollars computerizing its entire campus, including wiring the dormitories to give students access to the Internet.

Gayden usually works twelve-hour days overseeing the operation and the department’s eleven employees. He said that even though he did not expect to end up working on a college campus he enjoys his job.

“Its not that different from being in business because I don’t deal with the students that much,” he said. He added that his salary of about $80,000 is comparable to what he would get in private industry. However the same is not true for some lower-level positions at Benedict. For instance, Gayden said inexperienced computer operators earn only $14,000 a year.

“We bring people in with not much experience, we train them and they leave. One guy got $10,000 more than he was making here,” Gayden said.

Unlike in the past, computer employees in higher education can easily move back and forth from the university setting to the private sector because schools are updating their equipment to equal what’s being used in businesses. Jack said that even though universities are not matching corporate salaries. “we have rich benefits packages which make up for it.”

Good benefits is why computer center director Willie Mooring has stayed at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro for thirteen years. The former data processing specialist said that even though he could be making more money in the private sector. “The benefits kept me here. and it’s my alma mater. They needed me.”

His twenty-three programmers make slightly more money than Benedict’s ranging from the low-twenties to the mid-forties. He said that at A&T, new positions are opening up as the university updates and expands its computer networks. Because this kind of expansion is happening all over the country, he said. “They will have to increase the salaries because people with experience are hard to hold…. It’s not just happening to me. but to schools around the country.”

Both Mooring and Gayden say a degree and experience are crucial in landing the better paying computer positions in higher education. About ten years of experience is needed to do their jobs, they say. Gayden advises new graduates and others to get that experience in “business first because they pay $3,000 to $5,000 more at the entry level and the technology will be newer…. We have a budget to continue to update our equipment but all schools are not as fortunate as we are.”


For Ron Michalec, working in a university setting is a constant learning experience, something he did not realize when he accepted the position at Ohio State University as deputy chief of police in 1991. Two years ago he was named chief of the department. Last fall, he realized how challenging campus security work can be when President Clinton came to the institution for a two-day economic summit.

“It was hectic and tense to get people in and out and taken care of. We had to deal with the Secret Service. State Department and the White House staff. I never would have expected to do this on a university campus.” Michalec said.

His campus experiences also made him realize that even though he had worked as a police officer in various cities, he has not “done it all or seen it all…. There’s nothing you can get used to and you don’t get in a rut here because the issues are always changing.”

Those issues range from the environment, animal rights and research, to drugs, alcohol and date rape. Also, unlike a municipality where the population is fairly stable, “Universities don’t have homogeneous populations. We get 5,000 different faces in each fall. It’s similar to being in a resort town where you get new clientele all the time.” Michalec said.

Michalec and his thirty-five officers have to police an area that is larger than many towns and cities. The daily student. employee and visitor population averages 80,000. They must also patrol thirty-seven miles of streets on the main campus in Columbus and other OSU properties throughout the state.

“We operate like regular police and have full police powers within our jurisdictions,” Michalec said.

The officers must go through the same training and certification as other police officers. Contrary to common belief, Michalec said he and his officers do not spend time mainly writing traffic tickets. In fact. OSU has a separate department that handles traffic and parking violations and accident reports. “We only get involved if there has been an injury or large property damage.”

The OSU police force is a specialized unit dealing mainly with crime prevention, criminal investigations and special event coordination, such as the President’s visit and football game crowds of 100,000 or more. As head of the department, Michalec’s main duties are administration of the division, policy implementation, and management of employees — including the forty part-time students hired mainly for crime watching assignments and the unit’s escort service. He also makes time to go on patrols in order to “identify problems and focus tine department accordingly.”

Michalec’s salary of $64,000 is higher than the national average of $44,000 for campus security heads, according to a CUPA survey. Michalec thinks the pay range of his lieutenants and captains (the mid-forties to the low-fifties) is competitive with municipalities, but said the pay range for his regular officers ($25,000 for entry level position to $40,000 after four or five years) is not keeping pace with municipal police forces.

“The University does offer great benefits and with overtime, they (officers) can make more — especially at special events. … Their pay will catch up soon, I think,” Michalec said.

The Media

In 1990 when Washington, D.C. Mayor Marian Barry was being tried for drug use, Howard University Radio news reporter Lisa Bass said, “I remember thinking at the time that I was glad I worked at WHUR.”

The trial of the city’s longtime Mayor was said to have divided the city — and in some cases, newsrooms — along racial lines. Bass described the period as a “low point in terms of objectivity of TV and radio news locally…. We (WHUR) offered a sober, objective analysis of what was happening to the city and its leader,” she said.

WHUR is a 24,000-watt, commercial radio station with a coverage area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and Southern Pennsylvania. Bass, who has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, has worked in news at WHUR for nine years. The station is number one with the eighteen-to-forty-nine-year-old audience in the D.C. market.

Bass said management has done a lot belt tightening in recent years and that the top salaries for announcers are around $60,000 and $45,000 for anchors and news reporters. “It’s not as competitive, but it’s as good as you get,” Bass said.

The station has also cut back on its news staff from six full-time people in 1984 to three now. Bass, whose hours are 5:00 a.m. until noon, thinks it’s still a good place to work.

“I have had opportunities to cover [Capitol Hill] and some stories that seasoned network reporters covered…. It’s been a good experience because I’ve covered everything I would have covered at the network level and I took advantage of the tuition benefits and earned a M.A. degree in film within seven years,” Bass said.

Bass said WHUR is different from other university stations because most campus stations are public broadcasters. “We operate on a commercial basis. We are a different animal.”

Howard does make sure that students have access to training at WHUR. Bass said they have one sports and two general assignment news interns each semester. But she sees that as no different from non-campus stations and said that they are committed to continuing the training. “We have a history of going beyond the call to help Howard interns. We have a vested interest in their doing well, and many do.”


Dorothy Brown has a stressful career and she loves it. For thirteen years, Brown has been South Carolina State University’s director of admissions.

“I like challenges and problem solving. I work well under stress,” she said.

As admissions director, Brown designs and plans marketing strategies for the university and manages the recruitment and application process for students, all while managing the department’s budget and its six recruiters and clerical staff.

She says her crunch time is March through early August. when she and her recruiters spend long hours poring over may start at 8:30 in the morning and not end until 10:00 in the evening — including some Saturdays. She is usually the last One on her staff to take a vacation at the end of the summer.

“We have three categories — the yeses and noes that will or will not get in without a doubt, and the maybes. It’s the maybes that take up the bulk of our time,” Brown said.

She said the stress comes in as they attempt to meet the enrollment goals set by the university. “You have certain kinds of students you need. The freshman class has to be those who won’t just enroll, but who will graduate,” Brown said.

Brown never expected to be an admissions director and kind of stumbled into it. Her undergraduate degree is in math and she has a master’s degree in higher education administration. In 1973, she left her position at South Carolina State as director of the Data Center to go to graduate school. When she completed her degree, “They asked me to come back as director of admissions and records. I never had any idea this was something I would do, but it was available when I needed a job, so I just took it,” Brown said.

Even though the salaries at her institution are in the low twenties for recruiters, Brown said that many are recent graduates of the school who like the travel opportunities that come with the job. A lot of the recruiters move on to other fields, but for those who want to be a director with a in the mid-fifties, it takes about ten years of admissions experience — not necessarily at the same school. Brown suggests that to help in dealing with the different personalities and backgrounds one encounters in admissions work, aspiring recruiters should take courses in communications, management, and psychology.

Although Brown confessed that “I don’t know of any African-American admissions directors at white schools,” she conceded that traditionally white institutions “have lots of African-American recruiters and assistant directors.” But Brown is satisfied where she is.

“I like being where my talents are really needed,” she said. “It’s really personal with me because I get a thrill to be able to help African-American students who need help.”

Sports Information Director

After graduating from Southern University with a degree in journalism in 1989, Errol Domingue landed a job as a reporter with a newspaper in Opelousas, Louisiana.

“I knew on that first day that I did not want to do this for the rest of my life,” Domingue said.

He stayed at the paper for five months before returning to Southern for graduate school. During his spare time, Domingue volunteered in the athletic department and was taken under the wing of the sports information director (SID). Through this relationship, he found his niche. Domingue went on to land a job as SID for Prairie View State and now holds that same position at his alma mater.

“It’s the only job where I get paid to watch ball games in the best seats in the house,” Domingue said.

Even though Domingue loves his work, it isn’t as glamorous as some people think that it is. He enjoys traveling with the football and basketball teams — but most of the trips involve long, tedious bus rides. And helping to keep player statistics does not allow time for relaxing during the games.

“People have a lot of misconceptions about this job, but it’s a lot of hard work seven days a week…. I have sixteen different sports to keep up with,” said Domingue, whose work hours are usually from 9:00 in the morning until 7:00 in the evening — and that does not include working games on Saturdays and preparing for the next week on Sunday afternoons.

Because Southern gets a lot of national coverage — they are the Black College Football Heritage Bowl champions — a good deal of Domingue’s time is spent setting up interviews for the media with the coaches and players and writing lots of press releases.

Even though salaries for SIDs average in the low thirties nationally, Domingue said it’s a competitive field. The larger schools pay more, but he said. “At this level, you’re in charge.”

Domingue predicts that because of the demands on his time, he probably will not make this a lifetime career. “It’s a great job for someone just out of college and not for family-oriented people.” he said.

His main reward is watching the students grow. “You get to know each other on the bus trips, and my office is across from where they work out in the weight room. I have an open door for them.”

Museum Art Director

Dr. Akua McDaniels will soon give up the classroom altogether to be the interim director of Spelman College’s Museum of Fine Art, which opened in February of this year. McDaniels, who has taught African-American art and art history courses at Spelman since 1980. will now oversee Spelman’s collection of 5,000 objects and works of art.

“We have three collections — African art, Euroasian and American art, and contemporary African-American women. The largest is the African art collection — with most of it coming from West Africa,” she said.

As director, McDaniels is responsible for managing the museum’s day-to-day operations, budget, staff and volunteers. She said, “I also oversee acquisition of works, preservation of the collection, research on new objects and works we already have.”

McDaniels has attended several workshops on museum management at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., to better prepare for her new position. The main difference between directing a college museum and one not owned by a college or university is that she has to “find ways to integrate the museum and what it has to offer into the general curriculum…. That separates us [from other museums] because we try to be a working part of the curriculum,” McDaniels said.

College museums often advertise jobs with salaries for directors ranging from $30,000 to $100,000, depending on the size and value of the school’s collection.

Her advice to students is to “learn the business end of it — grant writing, budget and staff management…. Volunteer in galleries as much as possible, because it will make it easier to get a job.”

Glee Club Director

Getting a position like the one Dr. David Morrow has at Morehouse College in Atlanta is “almost as bad as trying to get in a Broadway play. [The market is] competitive and saturated,” Morrow said.

Morrow is Morehouse’s glee club director — only the third director in its eighty-five year history.

“The previous one was my teacher and the founder was his teacher,” he said.

“People stay in these positions a long time and you have to wait your turn, but you have to be ready when you get it,” he said.

The thirty-seven-year-old Morrow was the assistant director before being appointed director of the 90-member glee club nine years ago. He has a music degree from Morehouse, a master’s from the University of Michigan, and Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati.

The glee club gained international recognition this summer when it performed during the Olympic Games and this year, for the first time, PBS will air the Christmas concert it performs annually with Spelman College.

Morrow’s choir travels nationally and internationally, performing a mixture of standard classical choral music, African-American composed music — “and not just spirituals, but jazz and all kinds, Calypso, African, and heritage music from the slave period,” said Morrow. He always takes a large contingent on his annual two-week recruiting tour around the country. In June, they traveled to Russia for a two-week tour.

“I watched them being mobbed by Russian kids who had never seen an African-American choir before. They signed so many autographs…. (The Russians) were moved by the music we did, including a Russian piece,” Morrow said, adding, that that kind of appreciation makes his eight-to-twelve-hour days worth it.

In addition to his choir duties, he also teaches four courses at Morehouse. His salary, he said, falls in the mid range of the national average, which is $35,000 to $60,000.

His advice to anyone interested in the field is to “absorb everything you can. Take lots of conducting classes in music — old and new trends for choirs…. Most importantly, be a musician first. You need to know and enjoy music to figure it out.”

COPYRIGHT 1996 Cox, Matthews & Associates

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