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Have a purpose, have fun and give a little, says campaign donor

March 25, 2003

"Im trying to help set up a system to avoid ‘the Austin Peay Shuffle. I tell our student workers, ‘dont say I dont know when youre asked a question. Thats not a suitable answer.

Malinda Mabry, technical clerk for the Office of University Center Facilities, remembers how frustrating the old run-around was for her when she was an APSU student. And, unfortunately, it's still too often the reality.
March 25, 2003

"I'm trying to help set up a system to avoid ‘the Austin Peay Shuffle. I tell our student workers, ‘don't say I don't know' when you're asked a question. That's not a suitable answer.”

Malinda Mabry, technical clerk for the Office of University Center Facilities, remembers how frustrating “the old run-around” was for her when she was an APSU student. And, unfortunately, it's still too often the reality.

“We still send students from one office to another,” Mabry says. “We've got to establish a one-stop location where they can go and get answers to their questions.”

Mabry views the UC Information Desk, which she oversees, as the logical location. Because she's determined students shouldn't have to go elsewhere for answers, she spends part of her time simply calling University offices and departments to secure needed information.

Along with Manya Hemmings, Mabry supervises 30 student-workers. For the student-workers, as well as students, Mabry's easy-going manner, casually chic attire and warm smile make her approachable. She laughs easily, and when she laughs, her green eyes sparkle and her newly cropped blonde curls bounce against her cheeks.

And she laughs and smiles often.

“I like working with students,” she says. “I'm a person who can't sit still. I like to get up, move around and have some fun.” Since she doesn't differentiate between work and play, having fun is not a problem. If she couldn't find fun in her job, she'd be “a long time gone.”

Mabry's only real job before joining the APSU staff was working for her father, Bill Mabry, at Conroy, Marable and Holleman. Just as he brought her, as an adult, into his company, earlier, her mother brought her to APSU. Perhaps that's why she's so comfortable here.

“I've been here all my life,” she says. “When I was in the first grade, my mother came back to APSU to get a bachelor's degree. By eighth grade, she finished her master's. I often tagged along with her to class, to ballgames.

“That was back in the 70sthe era of Fly Williams. We went to all the gamesat home and awayto watch Fly play," Mabry says. "And I feel as if I grew up with half the professors here.”

In addition to the people at APSU, Mabry likes the diversity of her duties. “I handle student IDs, reserve facilities, move tables, pour water, whatever needs to be done,” she says. “I'm a jack of all trades.”

Helping showcase and reserve rooms in the University Center is one of her more important duties, as that provides a new way for APSU to make money, which is increasingly important as state funding diminishes. As the word gets out about the outstanding accommodations available in APSU's new University Center, more and more groups are signing on the dotted line.

Groups that have rented space in the UC since it opened last year include Girl Scouts of America, Tennessee Baptist Convention, Tennessee Municipal Judges, Leadership Clarksville, Leadership Middle Tennessee and the Rotary District Conference.

Although it's obvious Mabry enjoys her work, she's aware of some uncertainty on campus due to seemingly endless budget problems. While some faculty and staff lament (and, in her opinion, help fuel) low morale, she believes in choosing your own attitude.

“I tell them ‘Ok, you're unsure of things. Well, nothing is ever certain, so get over it. Get up and get going.'”

To “get going” is easy for Mabry, who likes to be in the middle of the action. Why? “It makes you feel a part of things,” she says.

She recalls last year's Plant the Campus Red effort. “I was so sore the next day I could not move, but we had a ball working together,” she says. “If everyone would just pitch in a little…”

She has the same philosophy about supporting APSU financially. “I give a little. As much as I can,” she says. “But put what I give with others' gifts, and it all adds up.”

At the kick-off of Campus Campaign 2003, each member of the University community was encouraged to give whatever he or she was able to the area of the University dearest to them.

Mabry specified that her gifts go to fund various needs in the biology department. In that, she truly followed her heart. Today, the sparkle in her eyes is matched by the sparkle of a diamond ring on her finger.

This month Malinda Mabry and Dr. Floyd Scott, professor of biology, became engaged.