News Archive

Rita Arthur Retiring as Grants Coordinator

Rita J. Arthur announced her retirement this past winter after 16 years of full-time work as Grants Coordinator for the Wabash Center. Her final day of work will be the end of April, 2016.

Rita began working at the Wabash Center on October 4, 1999, answering an ad for “Secretary” to assist Sherry Macy.  She joined the 3-year old Wabash Center, which had Lucinda Huffaker as Associate Director and was under the directorship of Raymond Williams. 

There is still a copy of the ad that Rita answered in her personnel file at the office. It was probably placed there by Rita herself, since she is our ultimate archivist. 

Within a short time, her duties expanded to “Grants Assistant,” and “Journal – Editorial Assistant,” and by 2003 she was named the “Coordinator for Grants and Publications.”  She was finally relieved of the publications duties at the end of 2007 when Beth Reffett joined the Wabash Center staff.

Wabash Center Director Nadine (Dena) Pence said, “When I began in January of 2007, Rita was clearly the senior office administrator, overseeing not only her own duties, but also the jobs of the student workers and the work flow of the office.  With her retirement this month, we will lose someone who has continued to care for the good of the whole office as well as the tasks of her own job, through these 16 years.”

Since 1997, the Wabash Center has awarded 1,356 grants to 478 different institutions for a total of $14,701,182.  For the majority of these grants, Rita was the one who did the work of correspondence, building the contracts, double-checking the financial reports, contacting all the delinquent project directors about submitting their narrative reports, and processing the correspondence from three different Wabash Center directors and two associate directors.  And she kept track of all of this work in the Wabash Center’s database. 

“Rita has a keen eye for detail, a clear sense of purpose, and a deep generosity of spirit,” Dena Pence said. “I have never heard her raise her voice in anger, though I have heard her express clear frustration when some university grants officer was asking for one more change, or one more exception, or were not getting their financial reports to us on time.  She would say, ‘Never again!’ But of course, if the school did apply again, she would sigh and go forward with the paperwork so they might have another grant.”

In addition to her work with grants (and her earlier work tracking the articles for the journal) Rita has been the primary archivist for the Wabash Center. She has tracked down and cataloged the thousands of faculty publications and other “fruits” that have emerged from Wabash Center programming. She has also served as the prime in-office proof-reader. She is called “Eagle Eye,” because of her thoroughness and attention to grammar in written documents. 

“Even our database consultant noted one day that Rita’s ability to attend to details was ‘especially granular,’” Dena Pence recalls.

“We will miss you, Rita,” Dena said in closing her comments at Rita’s farewell dinner. 

“We’ve put off this day as long as we could because it will be a different place without you.  You’ve been a steady and joyous presence through all your years of work, and we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.  Go now and enjoy your time with Rob, your daughters and son-in-law, your grand-daughter, and your Mom. Thank you for all that you have meant to the Wabash Center and to each of us as staff colleagues.”

After April 30, all correspondence about grants should be sent to Gina Haile haileg@wabash.edu