In the nearly two and a half decades he’s worked for JSU Drama, David Keefer says he’s only ever seen the show stop twice.
Keefer, along with 70 other university employees, received recognition for his years of service to JSU at the Staff Awards Luncheon on December 16.
When asked in an interview what the most memorable aspect of his two and a half decades of employment was, Keefer related two stories about shows forced to stop due to plain bad luck.
“There was a dinner theater in Leone Cole Auditorium. One of the two actors was running around backstage and she slipped and broke her arm,” Keefer recalls. The injury resulted in the cancellation of the show.
The other show was a play. “The power flickered and went out,” he remembers. A car had crashed into the University’s substation, resulting in an outage. The University Police Department was called to assist people out of the darkened building.
“Those are the only two shows we never finished,” he says.
Keefer received an award for his 25 years of employment at the luncheon. When he began working at JSU in 1986, Dr. Theron Montgomery was the president of the university.
Keefer was a graduate student in Library Science at JSU before he began his employment. He helped tape and edit interviews for the JSU President position for the Board of Trustees to review.
He explained that the only computer he had access to was the mainframe for registering for classes. “Now everything is computerized,” Keefer says.
He’ll be retiring in August, but says that he’s enjoyed every day in JSU’s Drama Department. “The biggest thing is doing something you love doing,” he says. “It’s never felt like work, coming to work.”
Debbie Taylor, Assistant Director of Student Life and Multicultural Programming, received a 20-year employment award at the luncheon. She began working at JSU in 1995 as a secretary in the Office of Student Life. Dr. Harold McGee was the president of the university at that time.
Just like Mr. Keefer, Taylor has seen JSU advance over the years, especially technologically. “When I started in this office, we had five SGA officers, the director, and me, and we all shared one computer.”
Students ask more questions and need more assistance from her office than they have in the past, too. “If someone calls me and I don’t know the answer, I love it when I can surprise them by calling them back with the answer.
“No day is the same in this office,” says Taylor. “You never know what you’re going to hear or experience, which is what I love about working in student affairs.”
Taylor offers some advice to those who want to keep their jobs for as long as she’s kept hers: “We all have a mission and a goal. If you know something has to be done, do it right,” she says. “I want the work I do to speak for me.”
Fifty-three employees were honored for 15 or fewer years of service at the luncheon. Fifteen received awards for more than 20 years of employment, with two employees recognized for 30 and 35 years of service.
Teresa Wilson in Student Financial Services received the 35-year award and the 30-year award was given to Wayland Smith in Maintenance and Operations, but neither was available for comment.
The luncheon was held in the Leone Cole Auditorium over the winter break last semester and is part of a yearly tradition at JSU.