Campus News

End of the line

Long-time admissions employee ends 30 years of ‘sympathetic listening’ at university

Brenda Greene has spent 30 years in the admissions office-most of that time as secretary to the admissions director. That’s put her right on the firing line for incoming phone calls from parents unhappy that their son or daughter did not get into UGA. Through the decades, Greene has been the patient, sympathetic listener on the other end of the line.

“I help people diffuse their anger,” she says. “I explain how the admissions process works and tell them it’s a fair and honest system. Just last week a father said to me, ‘You didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, but you were gracious.’ “

At the end of May, Greene will leave those conversations behind as she joins her husband in retirement. But she has mixed feelings about saying goodbye to a job she has loved and considered her mission in life.

“At age 16, my goals were to be a wife, a mother and a secretary,” she says. “I feel very blessed to have accomplished that.”

Born and raised in Athens, Greene graduated from Athens High in 1966, then, as she jokingly puts it, “earned my M.R.S. in ’67 and M.O.M. in ’71.” When Greene started working in the admissions office in 1975, Mo Phelps was the director and the staff of about 30 was housed in the Academic Building. She was hired by associate director Claire Swann, who introduced the new employee as the “head of the typing team.”

“What she didn’t say is that I was the typing team,” says Greene with a smile.

But Greene remembers her pride and excitement in landing the job. “I recognized that there would be no university without students and no students without an admissions office,” she says.

Besides answering countless phone calls, Greene has processed endless pieces of paper over the course of 30 years. Even today, with computer technology and online applications, there are seven to 11 pieces of paper per application-and Greene has often helped get the right papers in the right folder.

But the process is much easier today than 30 years ago. Back then, rejection letters to students were typed on a Selectric typewriter using a Mag card. “It was the only technology we had,” Greene says. “I’d type in the name and address, then the rest of the letter would be typed automatically.”

Greene admires her colleagues in the admissions office. “I’m awed by the ­ability of the people here,” she says. “This is a very hard-working group. I’m always amazed that we’re able to process more than 25,000 applications a year, counting freshmen and transfers.”

Greene says she is looking forward to not getting up at 5 a.m., which she currently does to allow herself some quiet time for “centering” before she starts her workday.

Over the course of her 30-year career at UGA, she says she has always tried to keep in mind that there is a student behind every piece of paper and phone call. She treasures the cards and notes she has occasionally received from them.

“There were times when I looked at my job and thought anyone can type a letter or answer a phone call,” she says. “But I’ve come to realize that I’ve been where I needed to be. I believe in what we do here and it’s been an absolute joy.”