Emory Report
November 16, 2009
Volume 62, Number 11


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November 16, 2009
New DUC manager keeps operations running smoothly

By Margie Fishman

Two weeks into her new position managing the Dobbs University Center operations, Vickey Hanson received her trial by flood.

Merciless rains in September dumped 10 inches of water into the DUC’s east wing, flooding several campus offices and meeting rooms. In the west wing, former President Jimmy Carter — on campus for a town hall meeting — was supping in the Winship Ballroom.

Hanson and her staff sprung into action, evacuating the immediate area, wielding water extraction machines and moving electrical equipment to higher ground.

“[Carter] never actually knew what was happening,” she remembers, “and I think that’s a testament to our staff.”
Hanson is accustomed to working on the fly while keeping her cool and sense of humor. Before coming to Emory, she managed student centers at Augusta State University and Buffalo State College.

She encountered an altogether different challenge during her first two weeks at Augusta, when her boss pulled her into his office to “have a talk about the Southern way.”

Incidentally, Hanson grew up in Niagara Falls, where acknowledging a complete stranger and letting him cut ahead of you in line is met with suspicion. Before she decided to come down South, her boyfriend drew a line across the middle of a map of the United States and informed her that he would follow her anywhere “above the line.”

In the end, Hanson became versed in Southern etiquette as a student operations coordinator at Augusta, dutifully smiling and waving “hi” to fellow passersby.

At Emory, she oversees nearly 30 student employees and ensures the 10,000 meetings and events held at the DUC each year run without a hitch.

During a recent visit, she flashes a 10-page schedule from Meeting Services crammed with events during the DUC’s regular operating hours from 8 a.m. until 1 a.m. “This is actually a short day,” she quips.

While Hanson typically reports to work before sunrise to prep rooms for the day ahead, she also fields 1 a.m. phone calls at least three times a week, solving everything from cash shortages to faulty lights.
She takes it all in stride, impressed by her student workers’ academic commitment.

“They’re so smart and bright,” she says. “They’ll challenge you in ways you wouldn’t imagine.”

Hanson teaches her employees how to achieve the right balance between academics and work, and she is a firm believer in granting second chances.

Growing up with six siblings and working her way through college, Hanson learned how to operate independently but also to call for backup when necessary.

She tries to impart that same sense of personal and communal responsibility to her student employees, exposing them to practical, real-life work scenarios. They may not know how to hook up a video projector, but at least they will be in a position to ask the right questions, she says.

Before her three-month anniversary at Emory, Hanson initiated a year-long cataloguing of technical equipment at the DUC. The goal is to know where every piece of equipment is at a given time, she says.
A certified Red Cross instructor, she also plans to train her staff in first aid, CPR and emergency response.

Before landing in the higher education field, Hanson worked in public relations and marketing for the Niagara Falls City School District. She grew weary of staring at four walls all day, yearning for more variety.
In 2004, she returned to school to earn her master of science degree in student personnel administration at Buffalo State. Hanson graduated, despite being involved in a serious car accident and spending much of her time in class sitting propped up on a pillow.

At present, she serves as marketing coordinator for the Association of College Unions International. Last week, she presented a conference talk focused on millennials and the multi-generational workplace.

In her down time, Hanson enjoys walking her Blue Nose Pit Bull Terrier, Lance, and adding to her collection of 300 porcelain dolls (not necessarily in that order). Her boyfriend acquiesced and made the move down South last year.

Occasionally, Hanson will catch herself calling one of her student employees “ma’am” instead of the other way around.

“The Southern way,” she says, grinning. “It’s in there now. I can’t get rid of it.”