Fifty years of working at WMU evokes brown, 'golden' memories

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Two Western Michigan University employees recently celebrated their 50th anniversary at the University.

The two are Doralee N. DeRyke, director of budget, operations and service support in the Haworth College of Business, and Dr. Laurel A. Grotzinger, reference services librarian and professor of University Libraries.

Both officially began their service in August 1964 under WMU President James W. Miller. In honor of their milestone, the two were feted by their employing units as well as invited to pose for commemorative pictures on campus in the WMU-themed Bernhard Center.

Doralee N. DeRyke


About Doralee N. DeRyke

DeRyke has spent her entire WMU career in the Haworth College of Business.

She started as a secretary in the Department of Management, and seven years later was promoted to administrative assistant to the dean. When the college moved from the East Campus to newly built Schneider Hall on the West Campus in 1991, she was elevated to director of budget, services and operations.

"I've worked for every dean in the college of business, starting with Dr. Schneider. I've seen a lot of changes, but the most exciting one was when we got a dedicated building for the college and moved from East Campus to Schneider Hall," DeRyke says.

"I remember East Campus well, though. The college was housed in North Hall and West Hall when I started, and spread into East Hall when the Campus School and University High [two of WMU's teacher-training schools] closed. And several of us would eat lunch in the cafeteria that used to be in Walwood Hall."

Among her other early memories is traversing East Campus' steep Prospect Hill during the blizzard of 1967.

"I had to walk down the hill to Davis Street to meet my husband because my car was snowed in behind North Hall," she says. "We didn't have good weather forecasts back then, so I didn't have my boots, which is why you'll always see a pair in my car from Oct. 1 until May 1."

DeRyke earned bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration from WMU. For several years, she was a member of the Association for Business Communication and made presentations at numerous national and regional meetings. In addition, she was inducted into Beta Alpha Psi, the national accounting fraternity, in 1978 and received the Haworth College of Business' inaugural Superior Staff Award in 2011.

"I'm most proud of being able to complete my two degrees while working full time. Of course, that was with lots of encouragement from [former Haworth] Dean Darrell Jones," DeRyke says.

"The college has a friendly, family atmosphere, which makes it an enjoyable place to work. There have been some friendships that have continued over many years. And it's always heartwarming when former student employees show up for orientation with their children!"

Dr. Laurel A. Grotzinger


About Dr. Laurel A. Grotzinger

Grotzinger has held several high-profile administrative positions at WMU and has racked up some impressive firsts in the process.

She started her career teaching in the School of Library and Information Science, rising from assistant to full professor in just four years. At the same time, she established a strong scholarly record in the area of library history, focusing especially on the emerging role of women in the discipline at the end of the 19th century. Somewhat ruefully, she notes that "today's scholars cite me as a 'pioneer' in advocating women as librarian pioneers a century ago."

Prior to WMU closing the library school in 1985, Grotzinger had served as the school's assistant director, acting director and director. She was instrumental in developing the accredited Master of Science in Librarianship as well as such associated programs as three sixth-year degrees, and specializations or degrees in school library media, information science, map librarianship and library administration.

Grotzinger was active on campus as a faculty member, serving as chair of the Graduate Studies Council for 13 years as well as on many other councils and committees involved with developing WMU's reputation in graduate education and research. She also served as vice president and president of the Faculty Senate in the mid-1970s.

"The 1970s were a period of challenge, as the faculty union was approved and the concept of shared governance was redefined to respond to two different faculty organizations," Grotzinger recalls, noting that her Senate presidency was a year of debate and discussion.

"I characterize my role as being as unstable as Alice going down the rabbit hole," she says, "but in the end, 'shared governance' had reemerged with an empowered faculty."

Her career took another pioneering turn after the University's chief academic officer beseeched her to apply for deanship of the Graduate College. She ultimately applied, was selected and, in 1979, became the first woman to be appointed as an academic dean at WMU.

Grotzinger served as Graduate College dean until 1992. Under her 13-year tenure, WMU significantly expanded its doctoral degree programs as well as strengthened and institutionalized its development as a major research university.

Notably, that growth occurred while Grotzinger concurrently filled three additional roles. She was WMU's chief research officer for seven years as well as administrative head of the graduate science education unit and the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society for three years.

"I've served under six of the University's eight presidents. But I tell people I started at WMU when I was in kindergarten," Grotzinger says with a laugh. "The University has obviously been my life in many ways and has always presented opportunities to grow and to learn.

"The people here are amazing, and every decade has produced its stars among the staff and its good people who make things happen," she continues. "Every set of freshmen and transfer students, every student seeking graduate study and research, every faculty and staff member provides a new opportunity to, as one of our past slogans emphasized, 'make a difference.' I never want to walk away from that environment and that community."