From former chairs of Justice Sciences Charles Lindquist and Brent Smith to current chair John Sloan, anyone who knows Davietta McDole likes to tell stories about her. And because McDole is shy and modest, they usually make her blush or laugh.
Lindquist hired McDole as a clerk/typist and secretary July 9, 1979. He always bragged on McDole and ragged her a little bit, too. She made the mistake of telling him once that she always closed her eyes anytime she passed a cemetery. “He always told these great stories about how when I came here I was just a little baby, because I was two years removed from high school when I started,” McDole says. “And he always felt he needed to tell that cemetery story about me.”
Sloan is in on the act these days, too. When people ask him a question, he’ll tell them to go ask McDole to get their answer. “He likes to tell everyone I’m the boss,” McDole says laughing. “I’m flattered by that, even though I know I’m not the boss.”
But McDole, an administrative associate, is a big part of the success of the Justice Sciences department. Her professionalism, good humor, sunny disposition and knowledge of UAB policies and procedures make her an invaluable member of the department’s administrative operation and May’s Employee of the Month.
“Ms. McDole’s assistance during my early time as chair of the department helped keep me sane and avoid making mistakes,” Sloan says. “She always has time to listen and has proven a wonderful sounding board for me for new initiatives.”
Co-workers says McDole’s vast knowledge of UAB’s administrative systems is often put to the test, and she is considered the group’s expert in every aspect necessary for the smooth operation of the department.
“Every faculty member depends on Davietta’s expertise to guide financial decisions, assist in grant-related processes and answer academic and student related concerns when needed,” says Martha Earwood, teaching assistant professor and internship coordinator for Justice Sciences. “There is no one else in the department with her experience or knowledge, and we all depend on her to accomplish our own responsibilities.”
Trying to navigate through policies and procedures can be frustrating, which is why McDole is so valuable to the department, says Beth Gardner, assistant professor of Forensic Science.
“Davie is extremely knowledgeable about university policies and procedures, and if she doesn’t know the answer, she knows who to contact,” Gardner says. “More important, she is always pleasant and willing to do what it takes to get the job done.”
McDole says she understands navigating the system can be stressful. She believes her role is to be a calming influence on those around her. That also includes those times when she can be the one overwhelmed. How does she stay so calm?
“I just manage. I get through it,” McDole says. “Sometimes you just have to take a breather and focus on what you’re doing, what you’re trying to do and not let things get to you. I try to stay calm in every situation.”
Co-workers marvel at how McDole can play the role of teacher, too. Jason Linville, assistant professor of Justice Sciences, remembers how important McDole was to him when was first hired seven years ago.
She still helps him with the day-to-day administrative duties in his position as graduate program director, and it was those duties she was responsible for teaching him when he was hired.
“I had a vague notion of what the duties of my position were, but I had absolutely no idea how to accomplish any of them,” Linville says. “For something as simple as ordering lab supplies, Davietta had to show me the process. For more complex tasks, such as submitting a contract and hiring students, she had to show me the forms, how to fill them out, the names and contact information for departments across campus. Davietta demonstrated an understanding of how UAB functioned well beyond the walls of our department.”
For her part, McDole says she has been fortunate to be a part of Justice Sciences for almost 33 years. Her daughter has asked her to consider retiring to take care of her 5-month-old grandson Trenton. “He’s my little joy,” she says.
But McDole isn’t quite ready to do that just yet. She’s made plenty of great memories — enough for many more stories — and she’d like to make a few more.
“I’ve been fortunate because from the beginning of my time here, I’ve had very supportive people behind me,” McDole says. “It was a little rough for me in my younger years when I first started because I was still nervous. There were times I thought, ‘Wow, am I going to make it.’ But I had good people behind me, and I still do.”