July 10, 2000
Volume 52, No. 37
Taylor made for Emory
By Eric Rangus
For staff members looking for a way to construct a career in which they consistently give back to the University, look no further than Jo Taylor. Taylor began her long career at Emory in 1962, and come Aug. 31 she will retire.
She won't be too far away come Sept. 1, however.
"Although I am retiring, it's not the end of my association with Emory," said Taylor, who is assistant to College Dean Steve Sanderson. "The next day I go back on the payroll as consultant to the dean for special projects."
Taylor will vacate her bright, comfy White Hall office adjacent to Sanderson's and move down the hall to a windowless walk-in-closet-sized box, but she is not complaining.
"It will be very different," Taylor said. "Working in my current office is kind of hectic, with the phone ringing all the time. Once I start on the new job, it'll be entirely at my own pace."
Taylor said she expects to put in about 20 hours a week, and her first responsibility will be studying the college honors program and contacting other schools to investigate differences in their programs.
A native of New England who still carries a touch of her Hahvahd Yahd accent, Taylor moved to Atlanta in July 1962 and, having never been out of the Northeast, wasn't too happy about relocating down South.
"I hated it," she said. "I hated the South when I first came here. But that changed, and part of the reason was that I came to Emory and got a job."
In October of that year, Taylor took a job as an administrative assistant in the history department (the job was called "clerk/typist" back then). The department had 11 faculty members (less than half the current 31) and Taylor was the lone support person.
She remained in history until being hired by then-Dean David Minter in 1980 and moving over to the college. Sander-son is the fourth dean she has served with.
"I don't think the job has gotten more complicated [over the years]; I think it's gotten more interesting, as faculty have been hired and have been encouraged to expand the curriculum in new and exciting ways," Taylor said.
"I've had the opportunity to get to know people from around the world, and I've formed long-term relationships with some of them. I think particularly of my good friends from the Far East: Mingquan Zhu from Shanghai and Chako Yanaka from Japan."
Taylor said, when she first started Emory, was a "small, sleepy, Southern school."
"We've always had good students, but they tended to be mostly from Georgia,' she said.
In her 38 years, Taylor has worked to make Emory a better place, particularly for women. When she started in 1962, women were unquestionably a minority on campus. In the days before the President's Commission on the Status of Women, a loosely organized group called the "Women's Caucus" worked to advance women's issues at the University.
The caucus was made up of roughly 75 faculty, staff and students (mostly graduate students) and it first met in the spring of 1974. "One of our first projects was trying to answer the need for child care," Taylor said, then paused. "My two oldest children were grown before we got anything done."
"It was a good group of people who cared a great deal about promoting the interests of women in all kinds of ways," she said. For instance, Taylor, who worked in Bowden Hall at the time, often left the office after dark.
When the sun went down, the Quad, which didn't have lights, became a black hole. In response, several members of the Women's Caucus (Taylor was not among them, she lamented) visited the Administration Building carrying light bulbs in an attempt to illustrate the problem.
And that's how the lights on the Quad were born.
Eventually this loose organization lobbied to create a more official group, and the PCSW came together. Not only has Taylor served several terms on the PSCW, but she has also sat on both the University Senate and the Employee Council. Her most recent terms in those last two groups ended this spring.
"It's a wonderful way to get to know the people and get to know the University," Taylor said about her service. "I enjoyed particularly being on the Senate, because I had a feeling that the Fourth Floor of the Administration Building] was listening to the Senate perhaps more than other groups. Just about every meeting of the Senate, [President] Bill Chace was there, [Provost] Rebecca Chopp was there, and so you had this feeling that everything we were talking about they were hearing, and there was a chance that something might be done about the issue."
Understandably, Emory has been a huge part of Taylor's life. "My children grew up on the campus, essentially. They spent a lot of time here," she said. Taylor's two oldest daughters (Jean and Nancy Jo) were toddlers when she started working here. Her youngest, Betsy, came later. "At Christmas they'd climb the trees outside Bowden Hall and get mistletoe. The youngest spent a lot of time playing in the creek by Woodruff Library," she laughed.
So, it is no surprise that when Taylor retires at the end of next month, she'd be right back where she's been for most of the last 40 years.