FLORENCE – Five Francis Marion University staff members with nearly 125 years of combined service to the university are retiring at the end of the fall 2000 semester.
The retirees are N. Casey Frederick, senior vice president for administration and finance; Alice C. Baker, assistant vice president for human resources; Donald E. Pierce, director of information resources management; Jerome Johnson, lead custodian supervisor for projects; and Eliza B. Crawford, lead custodian.
Both Frederick and Baker have been employed by the university since it was founded in 1970. Frederick came to FMU as director of purchasing, later becoming business manager and vice president for administration.
“It’s been a wonderful experience; it’s been a challenge,” Frederick said of his time at FMU. He said he is thankful for “the opportunity to have hands-on experience in building a university.”
Frederick was instrumental in establishing several campus facilities, such as the university bookstore and the library. “I remember when that was a cotton field,” he said of the spot where the library stands. The Asheville, N.C., native earned a bachelor’s degree from Mars Hill College and a master’s degree from Appalachian State University. He was an instructor of business administration at both Mars Hill and Western Carolina University before coming to FMU.
Even though he is retiring from Francis Marion, Frederick is not quite ready to stop working and has accepted a position with Pee Dee Electric Cooperative. “It’s been a good three decades,” he said.
Baker has also been at the university since its inception. “My first day of work was the first day of Francis Marion: July 1, 1970,” she recalled. She started as a secretary and became director of personnel, before assuming her current position. Baker describes the changes at the university as “miraculous.” The only buildings present when she started were the Wallace House, which is now the president’s home, and a small building that now houses Office Services.
The biggest change she has witnessed in the human resources office is that years ago “you could work with an employee without worrying whether there was a rule or regulation.”
Her professional affiliations include service as a board member of the College and University Personnel Association Foundation. She received the association’s Outstanding Service Award for the Southern Region in 1986. Under Baker’s leadership, the FMU Office of Human Resources was presented the 1995 Insurance Benefits Recognition Program Award by the state Office of Insurance Services.
The Pamplico native attended Meredith College and Kings College and worked as a secretary at First Union National Bank in Charlotte before returning to the area to work at Francis Marion. Baker said she has no concrete plans for her retirement, but may travel and do volunteer work.
Pierce’s affiliation with FMU also dates back to the university’s beginnings, when the computer company he was then working for was contracted to do data processing and programming for the new school. “I’ve only been employed here for 14 years, but I’ve been dealing with the university for 30,” he said.
The department Pierce heads handles administrative computer services, telecommunications and payroll. He said it is fascinating that students have gone from “registering for classes on punch cards to registering on the Internet. We’ve come a long way.”
The Indianapolis, Ind. native attended Columbia College, and his wife, Ruth, was a member of the first class at Francis Marion. All three of the couple’s sons have attended FMU as well.
As far as retirement plans, Pierce said, “I have two years of deferred maintenance around the house and a golf game that needs serious work.”
Eliza B. Crawford of Florence has worked as a custodian at Francis Marion for 22 years. Through the years, she has worked to keep campus buildings clean, including the Smith University Center, Founders Hall and Cauthen Educational Media Center.
In her retirement, she plans to visit relatives in New York and continue to exercise. “I enjoyed working at Francis Marion,” she said. “I worked around some of the best staff.”
Jerome Johnson has served the university for 26 years. As lead custodian supervisor for projects, one of his responsibilities is supervising set-up for special events on campus. The Marion native said he plans to take time to visit family members in his retirement.
When asked what he’ll miss most about Francis Marion, Johnson echoed the other four retirees: “I’ll miss the people.”
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