If you’ve stopped by the President’s Office at the University of Maine at Presque Isle in the last two decades, then you were probably greeted with a smile and a friendly welcome by Ethelyn Boyd, the President’s Assistant. Boyd has been the heart of the office—a consistent and calming presence, and the one who keeps things humming smoothly—for the past 21 years. But this May will ring in the end of an era when Boyd retires after 44 years of service to the University.
“Ethelyn has been such an important part of this institution—she’s practically an institution herself—and while she will be dearly missed, we are so grateful for the many dedicated years of hard work she gave to us and for the chance we have had to work with her,” UMPI President Linda Schott said.
Boyd joined the University in February 1971 as a clerk typist, just one week after graduating from Husson College. It was a position housed in the President’s Office but one that involved working directly for the Bursar and sorting mail: “Not exactly for what I trained,” Boyd recalled. A few months after joining the UMPI staff, she began working for the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Back then, Boyd remembered, staff members were grateful to have a memory typewriter instead of an electric typewriter. Technology, she said, has certainly come a long way.
After five years of working in the VPAA’s office, Boyd moved into a position working with faculty, which gave her more time for her family. She was able to work part time while her children were young and returned to full-time work after they entered elementary school.
“After 10 enjoyable years with faculty, I moved into the Development office,” Boyd said. “This was a bit challenging, as I knew nothing about fund raising, nothing about foundations, nothing about computers, and a little about bookkeeping.”
But she good-naturedly persevered and when the Development office became part of the President’s office in 1994, she transitioned to becoming the President’s assistant full-time and has been in the position ever since. Boyd has worked directly with six presidents: Drs. W. Michael Easton, Nancy H. Hensel, William A. Shields, Karl E. Burgher, Donald N. Zillman and currently Linda K. Schott.
“I enjoyed each one of them and I missed them when they left,” Boyd said.
In addition to working with UMPI staff, Boyd said she has especially enjoyed getting to know people over the years on the various boards, including the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, Board of Visitors, as well as many others in the community.
For her many contributions to the University, Boyd was presented with the inaugural Amodeo Staff Award in 2010. Established by Emerita Professor Nancy Amodeo, the award recognizes an UMPI staff member for his or her outstanding service to the University.
On a personal note, Boyd grew up in Mars Hill, and married her best friend, who happens to have graduated from UMPI. She and Fred Boyd have two children, a daughter who graduated from UMPI and earned her graduate degree from the University of Maine, and a son who was in a transfer program at UMPI and then went on to become a graduate at the University of Maine. The couple has five grandchildren, ages 2 through 9. Three of their grandchildren are currently living with them, along with their parents, during a transition period before moving to Bangor: “Life is interesting in the Boyd household!” she said.
But change and growth and progress are all very familiar to Boyd. During her decades at UMPI, she has seen Normal Hall converted from residential dormitories to faculty offices, the construction of 7 buildings on campus, the creation of both the student-run radio station WUPI and the student-run newspaper the University Times, the establishment of the Houlton Higher Education Center, the installation of a 600 kW wind turbine and solar panels, and the University’s efforts at the national forefront toward proficiency-based education. Boyd will be viewing future changes at UMPI from a distance, but she is very excited about where her next adventure will take her.
“The University of Maine at Presque Isle has been my second family and I will truly miss the faculty and staff; but after 44 years of routine and commitment, I look forward to the flexibility to do whatever, whenever and go wherever, whenever!” she said.