Smith's efforts make UNC events flow seamlessly
Changes to UNC system’s retirement
fund have been approved
make UNC events
It is hard to capture in a few words what it is that Jane
Smith does, or for that matter, why it is so vital to the University that it be
It is not an occupation typically found listed in a college
catalogue or a newspaper want ad.
It is a job that was invented by Catherine “Cat” Williams,
who hired Smith as an assistant more than 18 years ago, a job that continues to
evolve too quickly to master every detail.
And that is all right with Smith. What is not all right is
the reaction she gets from people when she tells them what she does.
“When I tell people I plan special events for the
University, they almost immediately say, ‘Oh, that must be so much fun. You get
to plan parties,” she said.
Her job includes preparing for convocation, the Chancellor’s
Box for home football games, Board of Trustees’ lunches and dinners, chancellor
installations and countless other University events – most of which occur
outside the regular work week.
Those events may be festive and lively, but they are not
parties, Smith said. To call them that makes them seem both extravagant and
frivolous, and they are neither.
If done well, they are more evocative of stagecraft in that
they create an ambience through symbols, sights, sounds and smells that
together manage to capture what Carolina means. The events join one generation
after another to timeless tradition.
“Over the years, people have come to realize that special
events can go a long way toward enhancing the relationship this University has
with the range of people who feel a tie to Carolina,” Smith said. “We feel that
a big part of what we do, and how well we do it, helps to determine whether
that sense of connection becomes a
How well Smith has done this job also earned her a 2009 C.
Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award recognizing “unusual, meritorious or
superior contributions” by University employees. The award is supported by the
Chancellor Holden Thorp selected the honorees from
nominations submitted by the campus community; each received an award citation
and $6,000 stipend.
Attention to detail
Details are crucial to everything Smith does – from
making sure nametags are spelled correctly to assembling a dinner seating chart
based on her inventory of knowledge about the people to be served.
“You have to know who people are, where they are from, who
their friends are, what their politics are,” she said. “You also have to know
where the hidden skeletons are – the issues that you can’t talk about but
must always be mindful of.”
One campus colleague likened Smith to a conductor of an
orchestra, and yes, she concedes, there are elements of similarity. But there
are crucial differences as well.
“I am basically a shy person,” Smith said. “I don’t like to
be the center of attention. I’m not comfortable in that role. You will most
always see me in the corner or by the door or out in the hall. My job is to set
the stage, and then step off of it.”
It might be surprising to those who know Smith well that the
person who choreographs events down to the most minute detail has led a life
whose turning points have come about more by accident than design.
Smith met her husband, Dale, who was working as an
accountant for a chemical company, through his devoted secretary. She spotted
Smith’s picture in the twice-weekly newspaper in southwest Virginia’s sparsely
populated Giles County shortly after Smith took a job as a home economist in
the county extension office.
That newspaper story gave a thumbnail sketch of her life
story to that point – hometown, Winston-Salem; alma mater,
UNC-Greensboro; degree, home economics. Most important to Dale’s secretary was
what the story did not mention: a husband.
“Dale’s secretary saw the story and she called the secretary
at the extension office and said, ‘Tell me about this new girl,’” Smith said.
Her first date with this mystery man was in July 1972. She
learned he was 28, a Navy veteran who had served two tours in Vietnam and had
two degrees from Carolina – a bachelors degree and an M.B.A. he earned
after completing his military service.
By December, they were engaged, and five months after that
they were married. This May, they celebrated their
Job of a lifetime
Dale’s career eventually took them to Charlotte, then
Columbia, S.C., Rocky Mount and finally to Chapel Hill in 1985. Through all the
changes of address, Jane’s job was to care fulltime for their two young
children, Claire and Andrew.
But in 1989, after Dale lost his consulting job, she knew
she had to get a job – any job – and fast.
Smith soon landed a job as Williams’ assistant. Once
described as “the ultimate hostess,” Williams also proved to be the ultimate
mentor who generously and graciously taught Smith everything she knew.
What began as a necessity turned into a career Smith is not
yet ready to give up, and the people she has worked with over the years have
turned into extended family.
Smith has been involved in special events in some way for 18
years and five months – and she is still learning, she said.
The job requires style, grace under pressure, creativity
and, perhaps above all, loyalty to Carolina – qualities that can take
years to perfect. But Smith tells each new employee who joins the events team
about three essentials.
You need a sense of humor, Smith said, so that you can roll
with the punches when something inevitably goes awry.
You need a comfortable pair of shoes that will allow you to
stay on your feet – and toes – for a long, long time.
“You also need a good raincoat,” Smith said, “because you
will get rained on, standing out in a parking lot to direct people into a
building, or standing outside the Smith Center to direct people onto a bus at
11:30 at night.”
Changes to UNC system’s retirement
fund have been approved
The Optional Retirement Plan Investment Advisory Committee
has conducted its annual year-end review and made several recommendations for
changes, which have been approved by UNC President
Effective June 12, TIAA-CREF closed three funds that were
included in the core fund group. These changes will also apply to the UNC
system’s 403(b) retirement program fund options.
TIAA-CREF will map existing assets to new funds, and any
contributions, after June 12, will be directed to these new funds.
The Advisory Committee recommended that the Lincoln James
Small Cap Value fund be removed from the core fund lineup. This fund will be
available through Dec. 31, and existing assets will remain in this fund unless
participants choose to transfer their existing assets to another fund.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, any future contributions to this
fund will be defaulted to the age-appropriate Lincoln life cycle fund. Since
this fund will no longer be available, a fund with a similar investment
objective, the Allianz NFJ Small Cap fund, will become a part of the core fund
lineup effective July 1 for those participants who wish to transfer their
assets or redirect their future contributions.
For more information:
to intranet.northcarolina.edu/docs/hr/benefits/403(b)RFP/Plan-Document.pdf for
the Voluntary 403(b) Investment Policy Statement (Appendix D in 403(b) Plan
Benefits Services at 962-3072 if you have any questions about these changes.
Benefits Services will contact plan participants directly.