The Long Run: Diane Wise

University employees with more than 4 decades under their belts reflect on their careers

They arrived in the 1970s, some after serving in Vietnam, some fresh out of high school or college. More than 40 years later, they still come to work at the University of South Carolina — some after officially “retiring.”

“This is such a great place to work, people don’t want to leave,” says Caroline Agardy, vice president for Human Resources. “They’re proud to work for the University of South Carolina and dedicated to making higher education their life’s work.”

The workers who have committed their careers to the university agree. They stay because they like learning something new every day, helping young students find their way in an increasingly complicated world and interacting with co-workers who feel like family.

TIMES spoke with a few of these long-term employees to see what keeps them coming back to work on campus, long after they could have settled into that place in the mountains or that home by the sea.

The family pharmacy

When Diane Wise began working in the School of Law in 1971, she was a young mother looking to make some extra money, and the workplace was significantly different. “Back in the day, we had to type all of the tests and run them off on those mimeograph machines,” she says. “You know, with the purple ink.”

In 1972, Wise became an administrative assistant in the College of Pharmacy, where she stayed until 1977. She rejoined the College of Pharmacy in 1981 and has been there since.

She now works as an adviser for pre-pharmacy students and is a graduate program coordinator. But many of the tasks Wise and her fellow assistants did in the 1970s and early 1980s are now automated or the professors take care of them — like preparing tests.

“Everyone can use a computer now, but back then we didn’t even have computers,” she says. “A lot of the clerical jobs when I started just aren’t there any more.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is her family’s love of the university. In May, her son received a master’s in elementary education. “He grew up riding his bike on the Horseshoe,” she says.

Like many longtime employees, Wise credits her longevity to job satisfaction. 

“I’m not sure what I would do with myself if I didn’t come to work every day,” she says. “I love being with our students, faculty and staff. It’s like a family.”

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