Pamela Stinson: Through the Eyes of the President’s Secretary
By Heather Greene
“President’s Office,” she cordially says countless times throughout the day as she greets callers. While numerous employees work at Jacksonville State University, there is only one individual who has had the opportunity to see a side of JSU history in a way no one else has – Pamela Stinson, secretary to President Bill Meehan.
A native of Alpine, Ala., Stinson attended Winterboro High School and moved to the Anniston area after graduating in 1979. Having always had a desire to be a secretary, she completed a two-year business and office education program at J. R. Pittard Area Vocational School and graduated from the executive secretarial program at New World College of Business in Anniston in 1981. After spending six years as a legal secretary, she was hired at JSU in 1986 by Dr. Meehan, who at that time was serving as assistant to the vice president for academic affairs.
Meehan and Stinson worked together for the next 13 years until he took the helm of the presidency in 1999. As the secretarial role for the president was already filled by Linda Love, Stinson continued working in the vice president’s office until Love retired in 2006, at which time Stinson applied for the job, and the rest, as they say, is history.
So, what is a day in the life of the president’s secretary like?
“My schedule depends on how busy he is a lot of the time,” explained Stinson. However, since Meehan announced his retirement, Meehan and Stinson’s schedules have been more demanding than normal.
Stinson explained that the issues their office deals with everyday are quite varied.
“He is very close to the students and is happy to meet with students any time, but he also has a lot of civic involvement in the community and travels out of town a lot. This requires a lot of schedule coordination as well as flight and hotel arrangements and trying to help manage things on campus while he’s away. Thanks to email and texting Dr. Meehan is always able to stay in touch and helps us keep things running smoothly even from a distance.”
Graduation is another busy time for the president’s office, as they are involved in the process of helping plan the ceremony and coordinating speakers, ministers, the pre-graduation speaker’s reception, and often receive more phone calls and questions during this time.
On the subject of the most challenging part of her job, Stinson quickly responded, “The scheduling.” She tries not to overbook him, but admits that there are days with back-to-back meetings for the president all day.
As Meehan is constantly in demand, Stinson noted that he currently has over 5,000 e-mails in his inbox, which presents a headache for a secretary trying to juggle her own inbox of various Meehan scheduling requests.
One of the last generations to learn short hand, Stinson has actually used this seemingly antiquated form of communication quite often for Meehan, who desired that his secretary be able to take notes in short hand.
Stinson’s advice to future administrative professionals is “Be supportive of your boss and try to help make his or her life easier.”
Stinson explained that she has seen Meehan through many chapters of his life, which has been very rewarding. Meehan was not married when she started working for him, so she was able to witness his relationship with Beth, their marriage, the birth of their children, and numerous other seasons of their lives.
Reminiscing on the changes she has seen not only in Meehan’s life but also in the university as a whole since 1986, Stinson stated, “The university has made lots of strides in that amount of time.”
Stinson is married to Sam Stinson, owner and operator of Stinson Howard Fine Jewelry in Oxford. Together, they have two daughters who are both JSU graduates and who both married to JSU graduates: Kristen (‘10) and Chris Duke and Leslie (’12) and Steven Cruse. With Chris’s MBA degree thrown into the mix, the Stinson’s daughters and sons-in-law have five JSU degrees among them.
Leslie, who was six months old when Stinson came to work at JSU, has also worked for the university for a number of years. She currently works at AMSTI at the JSU McClellan Center. Her husband, Steven, is a teacher at Oxford Middle School. They have a four-year-old daughter, Chloey Cruse, and are expecting a son on July 21.
Stinson explains that her kids always knew Meehan, but always knew him in a manner which was much more casual and personal than many of the students at JSU. Basically, Meehan watched Leslie and Kristen grow up, attend JSU, and get married.
“He is special to them as a friend, but it didn’t impress them that he was the president,” laughed Stinson.
So, what is the best part of her job?
“Just being able to work with Dr. Meehan, the kind of person he is, knowing that he cares about people,” Stinson said through teary eyes. “Its very hard on me that he is leaving. He has been very good to me. He is not only boss, but a family friend. That’s the best part of my job – that I get to work with him.”
Stinson explained that Meehan is “very family-first” and always comes in the office each morning asking how she and her family are doing.
“I have worked with Mrs. Stinson for 29 years in almost every official position I have held at the university,” Meehan said. “She has been exceptional in each role. We have watched our families grow up and shared many experiences at JSU. I am glad she is assisting the Presidential Search and Screening Committee and will be here to assist the new president. Mrs. Stinson's experience and professionalism will be invaluable to JSU's 12th chief executive officer.”
There is, quite literally, no one else like Stinson across the campus. She had always dreamed of being a secretary and has had the opportunity to hold the job she always wanted.
For anyone interested in beginning their journey in the world of administrative professionals, the Office of Continuing Education will be hosting an administrative professionals conference at the Oxford Civic Center from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. Between now and April 3, early bird registration is $129. After April 3, registration will be $149. To register or for more information, visit www.jsu.edu/coned or call 256-782-5918 or toll free at 800-634-7199.
This article originally appeared in the "Town and Gown" of the Jacksonville News.
Photo: Pamela Stinson (Steve Latham/JSU)