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Director of Extended Education puts her money where her heart is

April 9, 2003

Walking into her office, the first thing you notice is the sweeping view of Public Square and the architecture of downtown Clarksville. It is without question the best of several views Julia McGee has had in her 17 years with the University.

But while the scenery outside her office has changed, McGee's commitment to Austin Peay has remained steadfastthrough six positions and thousands of students.
April 9, 2003

Walking into her office, the first thing you notice is the sweeping view of Public Square and the architecture of downtown Clarksville. It is without question the best of several views Julia McGee has had in her 17 years with the University.

But while the scenery outside her office has changed, McGee's commitment to Austin Peay has remained steadfastthrough six positions and thousands of students.

McGee, director of Austin Peay's Extended Education Program, began working at the University in 1977 as a secretary. She moved up to executive aide in the Development Office before leaving in 1986 to be a stay-at-home mom to daughters, Christy, now 16, and Valerie, 14.

“Family time is pretty much my hobby now,” says McGee. “We love traveling and camping with the girls. We go whenever we can.”

She and husband, Dennis, were high school sweethearts. They will be married 27 years in August. Both enjoy traveling with the girls and have been to 49 states.

“We haven't been to Alaska yet,” said McGee. “We're hoping to make it out there next year.”

During the nine years McGee was home raising her daughters, she was not disaffiliated from APSU. She did some adjunct teaching at the APSU Center at Fort Campbell and on the main campus. She was able to stay home with her girls and yet stay in contact with her Austin Peay family.

Perhaps her favorite position came in 1995, when she returned to Austin Peay as director for the Elderhostel program, a life-long learning program for senior citizens.

“The seniors would come to Elderhostel for a week-long program of seminars mixed with little side trips,” said McGee. “We would offer two or three courses each session at one of several state parks. They seemed to love it, and it was fun to do.”

She also served as state director for Elderhostel during that time. The APSU program was taken over by Mary Alice Burkhart as McGee moved on to work in extended education. APSU's Elderhostel program was later discontinued at Austin Peay because it became cost prohibitive.

“I hated to see the program end, but between the changing Elderhostel requirements and the changing needs of the people in the program, we just couldn't continue.”

In her position as director or Extended Education, McGee has a full plate supervising evening, weekend and off-campus programs as well as non-credit programs. She also is responsible for directing the dual enrollment program.

“I enjoy working with the students most,” says McGee. “I get the greatest satisfaction out of helping students reach their educational goals.”

In fact, helping students is so close to McGee's heart that she set up a fund for dual enrollment scholarships through the Peay Pride Campus Campaign 2003. She and many of the extended education staff have contributed to this fund with their pledges.

“High school students are not eligible for financial aid for dual enrollment programs, but many of them need it,” said McGee. “So I'm trying to help them out with scholarships.”

McGee said she sees the need for the campus campaign to let the community know that the employees support the University.

“It's very difficult to go out and ask someone to do something you are not willing to do yourself. Our giving says to the community that we, who work here, believe in what we're doing, in serving students and in making Austin Peay a better place.

“The better the University does, the better we do and vice versa,” says McGee. “It's all about being part of the team.”