Volume 7  Issue # 14
Monday, April 11, 2005

The President's Post

       In 1997 when the search for a new president at Ozarks was announced, I applied. I knew very little about the campus and had never been to Arkansas, but I was intrigued about the position and Ozarks’ potential. I telephoned to speak to the interim president, and the person who answered was the president’s administrative assistant, Paula Wills. Paula was my first direct connection with the University of the Ozarks.

   Paula has served as administrative assistant to four presidents. After I was hired, she informed me that I had to stay on as president for at least eight years, stating that was how long it would be before she was retiring. She told me she was not up to breaking in anymore rookie presidents. I have to admit the imposed timeline sounded fine to Sherée and me. With Paula guarding my back, an eight-year commitment was almost as good as tenure. The insecurities of first-year presidents run deep.

   Well, eight years have passed, and Paula is now retiring in May after twenty years as an employee at Ozarks. She has been a loyal and dedicated member of this campus, and I have been privileged to work beside her. I admire her daily interactions with the students, faculty, and staff who come into our office, and I truly believe she has done as much as anyone to breakdown the barriers of pretentiousness that often lurk by a university president’s door. I will miss her.

   Please help me in wishing Paula an enjoyable and productive retirement. She has earned it and deserves the best. Thanks, Paula!

Dr. Rick Niece
President



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