Glenda Cruise is still grateful to Registrar Kathleen Allen for first hiring her in 2000 as her assistant. Cruise retires June 30 after 15 years as executive assistant to the chancellor.
Glenda Cruise has a few weeks of organizing and throwing things away ahead of her. After 16 years at NCSSM, and 15 in her current role, the executive assistant to the chancellor is preparing to retire from NCSSM on June 30. Among the things she won’t toss away: a tiny newspaper clipping, a help wanted ad for registrar’s assistant at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. It was the year 2000 and Cruise — a former high school English teacher — had taken 16 years out of the workforce to raise her two girls. Then, with her daughter Jennifer headed to college and Betsy still in high school, Cruise and her husband divorced, leaving everyone fragile. But she needed a job, so she pulled herself together and applied.
“I saw the ad and thought, ‘Well, I’m an English major, I don’t know much about registering students but maybe they can teach me,’” Cruise remembers. She sat down with Registrar Kathleen Allen, who hired her on the spot, after calling in Tom Clayton to meet her. She’d normally have to have a search committee, Allen told Cruise, but it was summer, with not many people around. “‘If Tom likes you, we’re good’ she told me.” Clearly Clayton approved.
Cruise was so grateful for the job and for Allen’s counsel, both professional and personal, that she promised to give her at least two years in the position. But after one year, Chancellor Gerry Boarman and a number of his senior team members suggested she apply for the chancellor’s assistant position. The job was a promotion and more in line with Cruise’s skills and background — writing, editing, research — and Allen gave her blessing to go for it. Cruise has worked in her Royall Hall office ever since. She assisted Boarman for nine years, helped Tom Williams during his interim leadership, and has spent the past six years with Chancellor Roberts.
She’s loved many things about the work and school, she says. “Our board members are amazing people. I’ve enjoyed working closely with the chairs. I’ve worked with six or seven of them over the years, including assisting Shirley Frye with the search committee that hired Todd.”
She’s enjoyed getting to know faculty and staff members through Direct Reports and Instructional Council meetings. She thinks the school is headed in a good direction with the strategic plan and Roberts’ ability to work inclusively.
At a retirement reception hosted by the Class of 1988 a few weeks ago, both Chancellor Roberts and former Chancellor Boarman called Cruise a good friend, and noted her competence and gracious way with everyone from students to staff, parents, and board members. “She does her work with such kindness and grace,” Roberts noted, while handling mountains of correspondence and event planning details.
About those mountains: More than anything, Cruise says, she looks forward to doing one thing at a time in retirement. “This job is the ultimate in multitasking,” she says. “At any one time I probably have 10 things minimized on my computer screen.”
Cruise will spend time with her four grandchildren, travel with her four sisters, and reconnect with old friends who date back to her undergraduate years at East Carolina University. Beginning in the fall, she’ll look into substitute teaching younger students a few days a week. And she wants to sample a new indulgence: reading fiction. Over the years she’s read too many nonfiction self-help books, she says — how to be a better person, better parent, etc. “No more self-help books,” she laughs.