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Beloved faculty member to retire

Over the years, the leaders and members of Faculty Senate have come and gone, but there has been one constant. This will soon change when Diane Whitmire, administrative secretary of the body, retires at the end of the month, after working 35 years at the University.

“I’m the continuity of the Faculty Senate Office, I’m the only one who really stays here,” Whitmire said. “I am the institutional memory of not only Faculty Senate, but just of BGSU because I’ve been here so long.”

Rounding off her career working with Faculty Senate has been the perfect fit, Whitmire said, because of her ability to work independently.

“Working with the Faculty Senate has been very, very rewarding because it has given me many opportunities,” she said. “In a job like this, you have to be the right kind of person to adjust to a whole new group of people every year, and by the time I get to know these people and how they work and what they expect, they are gone and then you start over again.”

Her history is rich with pride, not only for her work, but for the University as well.

“You don’t stay some place for 35 years unless you love it,” Whitmire said.

Her retirement date is set for Feb. 1, and her last work day will be Jan. 28. A retirement reception will be held today from 3 to 5 p.m. in the McFall Gallery. The event is open to the public and will feature speeches by past and present co-workers of Whitmire.

Starting out as a secretary for WBGU-TV, Whitmire has made the rounds at the University working in several departments on campus.

Whitmire was lucky to get her first job at the TV station. She interviewed for the job and was accepted the same day. Her BGSU career began just three days after graduating from high school in 1967.

But times have changed since then, Whitmire said.

“It’s just not like that today,” she said. “It’s very hard for a person outside the campus to get their foot in the door.”

Whitmire is grateful to her aunt, Mary Thompson, who worked in the Alumni Center at the time, and helped her find the job. Whitmire worked at the TV station until 1971.

Whitmire grew up in the northwest Ohio area and attended Liberty Center High School in Liberty Center where she met her future husband and 36-year employee at the University, Duane.

Whitmire left her position at Bowling Green only once from 1971 to 1973, when Duane took on a job as an adviser at the OSU-Lima campus. During that time, Whitmire worked on the campus as well, and typed dissertations for Ph.D. students as a side job from her home.

After a few years there, Duane decided to attend the University of Toledo, so the family moved back to Bowling Green, and that is when Whitmire took on a part-time grant-funded position with the Modular Achievement Program.

This was similar to the first year experience and learning communities the University has now, she said. After that, she worked in the Division of General Studies and other areas of the University.

Her next move was in 1978 to the Office of Public Relations and Publications where she worked for 14 years.

“It was really an interesting place to work because you had the opportunity not only to work for the school, but it gave me an opportunity to get to know a lot of people on campus from other areas that I might not otherwise be able to meet during my time on campus,” she said.

With the encouragement of the Director of Publications, Clifton Boutelle in 1992, Whitmire took a position in the Faculty Senate office, a full-time position that she has held for 13 years now.

There are different officers each year, and the vice-chair is the only person she is able to work with two years in a row. The Faculty Senate Office is also in charge of 25 standing committees on campus, which have a yearly turnover as well.

Very few people get to meet people from so many areas of the University, Whitmire said.

“I feel like I’ve made the circle around,” she said. “I’ve worked with students, I’ve worked with administrators and faculty. I think I’ve fulfilled the circle of working at BGSU by working with all the different areas of constituents. Probably the most rewarding thing about doing that has been the many people I have met. In what other job on this campus do you have the opportunity to meet so many people?”

Past and present coworkers describe Whitmire as an expert in her field.

“I think what was the most amazing about Diane is she knew everything about the University: the policies, the rules and the all the regulations of the senate,” said Leigh Chiarelott, former chair of Faculty Senate. “I could depend on her totally for information and insights on what was happening. She was fun to be around and to work with. She always seemed to be very positive and kept things upbeat and tried to help people.”

Faculty Senate member Monica Longmore echoes Chiarelott’s views.

“She has won and received almost every award a staff member can get,” Longmore said. “She is so expert on how the government of the University works and how the charter operates. She is totally delightful and incredibly bright, organized and a lot of fun to work with.”

Her greatest honor has been receiving the Honorary Alumnus Award in 2002. It was especially meaningful for Whitmire because her aunt who helped her find her first job at the University received the same award in 1978. This award is given to someone who did not graduate from the University but has given service and dedication to the University in other ways.

“It is a great honor to achieve this,” she said. “And for me to be a classified employee at the University as a secretary, it truly was a great honor because you don’t see secretaries a lot being honored. You see faculty and administrators being honored, but very seldom do you see secretaries being honored.:

Whitmire has seen many changes in the University throughout her time here, including her work for five University presidents.

“You really see the changes throughout the years,” she said. “Not only with the way the University operates, but just I think people themselves, their work ethics and the pride they take. I think the University has changed a bit in that aspect through the University. I think we need to work more as a team.”

One of the biggest adjustments for her throughout the years has been the vast changes in technology, Whitmire said. She has gone from using electric typewriters to the complex PCs we have today.

She has seen many changes in the University as well during her time here. She remembers when the University only went as far as the education building, which is where the football field was located. And also when Oak Grove Cemetery was “way across campus.” Where she now works in McFall Center used to be the campus library.

Whitmire finds the prospect of retirement to be bittersweet.

“BGSU totally has been our whole life. So when you think about retiring and something has been part of your life for 35 years, you are bound to be both happy and sad,” she said.

There are some aspects of the University she knows she will miss.

“Yes, I have loved the work I’ve done but I’m really going to miss the contact with the people,” she said. “And I always look forward to [meeting people] and I think I’m going to miss that the most.”

Whitmire is eager to spend time with her husband in retirement. She plans on traveling, playing golf and keeping active. She is also eager to spend time with their first grandson, seven-week-old, Tanner.

“Duane and I have a lot of good things going for us. We’re both young and healthy,” she said. “We’re just going to and have fun. We’ve given our time to BGSU and now it’s time to give our time to us.”

With three sons, who also graduated from the University, they are avid Falcon fans.

“That’s one thing we will never give up; our love for BGSU sports,” she said.

When people tell her how they can’t wait for retirement, Whitmire always thinks of a quote she lives by: “Don’t just count your years, make your years count.”

With her devotion to her job and the University, Whitmire lives out that quote daily.

“And I feel that I have done that,” she said. “I truly believe I’ve done that in every job I’ve worked.”

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