When Leslie Sitz graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in history, she never thought she would find herself back on campus.
“I had a long journey [to get] here. I worked in lots of different places, lots of different organizations and had different experiences,” she said.
Before becoming the executive assistant to the dean in the Odum School of Ecology, Sitz worked in federal government, county government and the private sector. After a full career, she was ready for a change. When a position opened at UGA, she felt called back to Athens and took a leap to join the university staff.
Sitz started in the College of Veterinary Medicine, eventually taking on a joint appointment between the veterinary school and the ecology school in various administrative roles.
“When the assistant to the dean came open in ecology, I applied and I got it,” she said.
Sitz served the founding dean of the Odum School, John Gittleman, until 2021 and now works with Interim Dean Sonia Altizer. Sitz will continue to support Altizer and the associate deans as the search begins for the next dean.
“I have really enjoyed working with both of them,” she said.
Throughout her tenure at the Odum School of Ecology, Sitz has enjoyed the variety that her job provides.
“I’m really glad that every day is different. I thrive on that,” said Sitz. “On a typical day, I get there, and I get my bearings as to what we need to get done. … A day might be taking meeting minutes for the faculty or scheduling the rooms that have different activities. I get the administrative memos, and I make sure that the dean knows about them and what we need to do to follow up. I also keep her calendar so that we don’t miss anything that she needs to be doing during the day, and I help the associate deans with any requests that they have.”
If that wasn’t enough, Sitz also manages the facilities and is often communicating with engineers and maintenance workers to keep the ecology buildings running smoothly.
“There’s a lot of things that have to be done,” she said. “It’s a myriad of things, anything that comes up administratively.”
She encourages anyone who hasn’t come down to the Odum School before to come check it out and all the school has to offer.
“I think it would be incredible for people to see us,” she said. “Everybody’s heard of the Joro spiders. Well, come see what one looks like and learn more. We have monarch butterflies being raised here. We have the Center for the Ecology of Infectious Disease and River Basin Center that are doing amazing work. I just like to invite people to come and see what we’re doing and enjoy nature even here on campus.”
Though she doesn’t work with students directly, Sitz says seeing students learn and grow into independent adults makes every day worth it.
“I really enjoy working behind the scenes for the students. It’s a joy for me to see students every day,” she said.
Sitz said when she was a student, she never realized how much work it took behind the scenes to keep classes and the dining halls and other services running smoothly. Now, she feels like she is giving back to the university in her own way.
“One day, a time will come, and I get to walk away feeling like I contributed in a lot of ways to this university,” she said.
When she’s not on campus, Sitz is out walking with friends or her dogs, a golden retriever and a whippet. She also enjoys walking to campus on gamedays to people watch before going home to watch the football game.