Personalities behind the phones

Theresa Montgomery

University operators enjoy helping students, parents

One of two voices is at the other end of the line when anyone calls the main number for the Kent campus during business hours.

University operators Norma Young and Shelley Evans are at their posts behind the switchboard in the telecommunications and networking department each weekday.

“Sometimes students call in and say, ‘Oh, my gosh — I’m so glad I got a person!'” Young said. Young has attended classes toward an undergraduate degree in business part time at Kent State for eight years, and estimates she has been a university operator for four years.

“I love the students and their energy,” she said. “I feel for them going out on their own, trying to get things done.”

In addition to answering all calls to the Kent campus, the university operators process work orders and act as account clerks and clerical assistants.

“You name it, we do it,” Evans laughed.

Evans has been a university operator for one year, but has worked at the university for 20 years in different departments. She also attends classes part time, and expects to graduate with her undergraduate degree in general studies in December of next year.

“We’re the central greeting for Kent State University,” Evans said. “It’s the first impression. Our tone, the way we greet the caller, says a whole lot about the university.”

She said she enjoys answering calls because she feels that she is helping people.

One mother of a Kent State student called the switchboard last year to thank Evans for helping the woman’s daughter, Evans said.

“She called me all the way from Brazil,” she said.

Comments like that mean a lot to Young and Evans, who keep a “brag book,” as Evans called it, at the switchboard desk to keep track of them.

“The parents sometimes have a tale to tell,” Evans said. “Maybe the first voice they hear they want to start with their concerns or complaints, or maybe they just want to say that we’re appreciated. People want to be heard.”

Contact public affairs reporter Theresa Montgomery at [email protected].