Graduate Theological Union
In Memoriam: Sharon-Gay Smith (1942 - 2009)
|Sharon-Gay Smith, Student Services, 1977|
Sharon-Gay and Claude Welch (GTU President and Dean, 1972-82; Dean, 1983-87) at
GTU Commencement 1996, Sharon-Gay, Registrar
Administrative Assistant for Admissions and Records
Sharon-Gay's job requires ease with computers, care for detail work and structure, and the ability to work under deadline pressure. She processes GTU Ph.D. and M.A. applications, issues transcripts for GTU and JSTB, compiles statistical surveys and uses the computer system to assist with all aspects of the Common Registration Program.
Sharon-Gay was born at the Presidio in San Francisco and spent the next 18 years traveling the world with her parents and two sisters courtesy of the US Army and Air Force. she graduated from high school in Hampton Roads, Virginia, after having attended 12 schools in 12 years. During her high school years, she was a warrior, a falcon, a yellow jacket, and a crab. She then went to college and bacme a Golden Bear. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a double major in anthropology and political science, and attended CDSP for two quarters. Much of the work Sharon-Gay did before coming to work at the GTU in 1971 was in the area of childcare.
Her hobbies include horseback riding, swimming, reading (romances, science fiction and historical fiction), handwork (needlepoint, rug hooking, and crewel), cooking and taking care of children.
Tribute to Sharon-Gay Smith on her Twentieth Anniversary of Employment at the GTU
When I came to GTU four years ago, I was a total and absolute newcomer to this complex and less than settled institution.
I had two hours of orientation by the Preseident Michael Blecker, and that was that! I was off and running one of the most exciting, but most complex and demanding jobs in educational administration, and there were no procedures, no written guidelines, no helpful job description, and certainly no written procedures!
During my first year, Betty Over was a tremendous help. She was Mrs. GTU: and she knew everyone and everybody. Moreover, she knew how to negotiate the oral tradition and informal familial system of the GTU. But like many adepts of the oral tradition, Betty also gave herself considerable hermeneutical license, and I learned that trying to follow her was like trying to follow a veteran hiker on rocks across the stream: it helps to know which ones are unstable and which are slippery.
After Betty's departure, the academic memory, the heart and spirit of the GTU came to reside in Sharon-Gay Smith. Sharon-Gay was a steady, reliable source of information and procedure.
Sharon-Gay is, as I have learned, in many ways a living embodiment of the GTU. Not one to seek the limelight, her work has been characterized by a quiet devotion both to the spirit and vision of the GTU and to the intricate attention to detail which characterize her job.
For most of her twenty years at the GTU, Gay worked quietly and effectively as Betty's assistant. She kept the same job for many years, and yet it was not at all the same. Gay has seen the GTU through a number of watersheds: the shift to the PRIME datatel computer; the journey through a number of registrations systems (this one to be opened up again); the seemingly endless revision of the form and substance of the so-called "standard" reports required by ATS and IPEDS; the shifting managerial styles and demands of five presidents. For a woman who claims to not be fond of change, Sharon-Gay has flowed with a number of changes in the GTU, not the least of which being that she had moved her office three times in three years! She deserves an award just for learning to negotiate the changing currents.
Sharon-Gay has always worked hard on behalf of the GTU, but that is just the beginning. In the years since Betty's departure, she has served as the institutional memory in the Dean's office, as our resident wisdom.
Her knowledge is more than technical and plebian. Sharon-Gay has not only "done her job and done it well," but she has a profound grasp of the vision and spirit of the GTU, and of the people who comprise it: on the GTU staff, the member school staffs, in the faculties, and among students past and present. I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many people who had a great enthusiasm for and commitment to the GTU, but none I have known has had a keener feel for and commitment to its people.
Sharon-Gay, I would argue, is a living institutional treasure of the GTU, a warm and devoted embodiment of its spirit. It is a pleasure to honor her this evening.
Judith A. Berling
Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs
June 4, 2001
A Toast to Sharon-Gay Smith on the Occasion of her 30th
Anniversary at the Graduate Theological Union
I've been asked to speak today as an old-timer on the staff. So I speak also on behalf of the other old-timers: Mike Peterson, SFTS Library; Michael Markwell, GTU Library circulation; and Ann Yesodi, GTU Library cataloger, as well as the staff mid-timers, new-comers, retirees, and formers.
Dylan Thomas begins his wonderful A Child's Christmas in Wales by saying: "I don't remember if it snowed 12 days when I was 6, or 6 days when I was 12, I just remember the snow." I don't mean to compare Sharon-Gay with snow --far from it --but I do mean to compare her to the wonderful memories that Thomas goes on to relate in his story: the cumulative memories of his friends, family, neighbors, and the toys he received. It didn't matter if a toy was received one year or the other, or if the uncles sang this song or that in any particular year. What mattered was the accumulation of consistent memories that blended all the individual Christmases into a complete joyous whole.
This is how I understand Sharon-Gay's 30 years on the staff at the GTU: a complete joyous whole. More than a staff colleague and co-worker, she is first and foremost, a friend to us all. She is always present to each person -- staff, student, or faculty -- with a smile, a sympathetic word, a laugh, or a groan just at the appropriate moment, always calm, always caring. I think of her with the perpetual glass of Tab on her desk, and always crunching the ice cubes. I think of all her beautiful earrings. I think of an office door covered with cat pictures and the annoying cat container where she keeps the chocolate. When you lift its head which is the lid, it goes meow, meow, meow. I think of her speaking up for the staff on the Staff Relations Committee --in anyone of its several incarnations since 1985. In any situation, you can count on Sharon-Gay to speak her mind, always with a clear, no-nonsense approach that goes directly to an issue without fear and without theatrics. I think of her upholding that proudest of GTU traditions -- GTU staff parties: birthdays, good-byes, end of the semester, Christmas/Winter Holiday -- always enjoying the folks and the food, always with her infectious laugh rising up over the general hum of conversation.
Sharon-Gay: co-workers like you are rare. Friends like you are rarer still. If I may speak for all the GTU staff present and past, and those of blessed memory, we are all proud to have served and continue to serve with you on the staff of the Graduate Theological Union. You live out what the GTU stands for with grace and with love, and we are all better for knowing you and working with you.
Bless you dear friend, here's to many more years of hearing your laughter among us.
Lucinda Glenn Rand, Archivist, representing the GTU Staff.