In case you missed it, August 2018 was a big month for the Collat School of Business: It opened its new $37.5 million state-of-the-art facility, a 108,000-square-foot building located along the north side of University Boulevard between 12th and 13th streets south. It was a significant undertaking — one that many Collat employees say wouldn’t have been possible without Kris Boyle, manager of administration and operations.
The new Collat building had been in development for six years. During that time, Boyle’s work included everything from facilitating feasibility studies and meetings with the project team and design architects to the office furniture-selection process for faculty and staff, then managing and executing the move from the Business-Engineering Complex to the new building.
“As a building committee member who participated in the whole process the past six years, I can say we’ll never overstate Mrs. Boyle’s role and contribution to this project,” said Simon Sheng, Ph.D., professor of marketing.
While juggling all of those projects and more, Boyle’s co-workers say she could always be counted on to be organized and helpful, while staying calm and professional.
“Kris is a rock for the Collat School of Business,” said Mike Wittmann, PhD., professor and chair in the Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution and Economics. “I have rarely, if ever, seen her flustered. She handles issues and concerns professionally. She understands and communicates what is possible to accomplish right now and what might be possible over the long-term. Kris always handles those situations with grace and a sense of humor. She is tough when she needs to be tough and empathetic when people need empathy.”
“Kris is a fabulous employee and a huge asset to our school,” echoed Chen Song, instructor of accounting and finance.
Boyle’s secret, she says, is staying organized. Beyond that, she strives to remember to pass the help she’s received from others and to be considerate. That positive attitude, coupled with her hard work, earned her the January 2019 Employee of the Month honor.
“The best thing for being helpful and professional, for me, is to remember to pause and be thoughtful when responding to the needs of others,” she continued.
Wittman says that, during the Collat building planning, construction and move, Boyle was pivotal at every step, working with vendors, administrators, donors, faculty, staff and contractors dealing with all manner of issues, from faulty doors to misplaced furniture, and she navigated it successfully — often taking responsibility for things that weren’t her fault.
“I have personally witnessed Kris take ownership for things that should have been completed or ordered but were not because someone else made a mistake. Rather than pass the blame, she took it. Kris makes no excuses. She just owns it,” he said.
Boyle says that, as operations manager, she feels it’s her responsibility to help others manage their experiences with issues until things are made right, and her involvement with the Collat building project since its inception helps lend a unique perspective.
“I’ve been working on the dream of and plans for this building since 2012 and have a good idea of what’s happened behind the scenes,” she said. “Understanding this helps me communicate the challenges to others in an uncommon way.”
Boyle joined UAB more than 17 years ago in 2001 in a temp role in the Office of the Provost and worked in several administrative positions there before moving to a position in Collat in 2001. Former Provost Eli Capilouto encouraged her to take advantage of UAB’s educational assistance program, which helped her grow and thrive. She earned her bachelor’s in business from UAB in 2010.
“I came to UAB a rather timid person,” she said. “I’ve overcome the challenge of believing in myself. Thanks to the trust and encouragement of leaders, professors, co-workers and others who helped me believe in myself to learn and grow, I have.”
It’s no surprise that, in her 17-plus years at UAB, the new building ribbon-cutting is Boyle’s most fond memory.
“It was a great moment not only for me personally and for our Collat school family, including students, faculty and staff, but also for UAB and Birmingham,” she said. “This event was the crowning celebration of several years of planning, designing, working, organizing, learning, constructing, collaborating and managing to make this fabulous building come together.”
Written by Haley Herfurth