Unsung, Unnamed….and Beloved

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently asked its readers, “Who are the unsung heroes on your campus….and what makes them special?” (Daily Briefing, January 31st online).  

Unfortunately, not all of these individuals can be publicly identified, due to the nature of their contributions.  Here are five such heroes, represented by their pseudonyms:

“Marlene” —  An assistant registrar at a university in the Southeastern Conference, Marlene has been changing grades on athletes’ transcripts for over 20 years.  “She’s a godsend,” says a coach at the school.  “Our football team would not have had a defensive line last year if it hadn’t been for Marlene.  What a sweet woman!  She can change a D+ to a faster than you can say ‘transfer portal’.  At graduation she gets more hugs than anyone else at the University.” 

“Dwayne” —  A sergeant on the campus police force at a major urban university in the Northeast, Dwayne provides selected faculty members with counterfeit parking stickers that allow them to access lots that are reserved for high-level administrators.  “Sergeant Dwayne is the Robin Hood of campus police,” asserts one associate professor.  “Last week I parked right next to the Provost.  I can’t tell you how good that felt, especially when I swung open my car door and dented hers.”

“Nadine” —  A 66-year-old cafeteria worker at a Bible college in the Midwest, Nadine sprinkles a bit of powdered cocaine on breakfast waffles or pancakes whenever a student gives her the ‘special wink’.”  As one grateful sophomore put it, “Nadine is so much better than my real mom.”

“Gavin” —  For a minor service charge, Gavin — an IT Help Desk staffer — will program a faculty member’s school computer so that it can access adult pornography sites in an untraceable manner.  Gavin notes that “a lot of people claim that IT jobs are sterile and meaningless.  You have no idea how much happiness I’ve been able to provide professors at my school.  Many of them tell me that I give them a reason for living.”

“Sal” —  A 30-year veteran of the Building and Grounds Department, Sal knows where the bodies are buried at his school — literally.  He is revered across campus as the “go-to” guy whenever fraternity hazing involving large amounts of alcohol and fire hoses takes a tragic turn.  Says one fraternity president, “you can call Sal in a panic at 3:00 in the morning, and he’ll come right over with a shovel and a kind word.  He’s never judgmental.  By 5:00 am it’s ‘mission accomplished’.  Thank God for that man.”

These heroes may not be named, but they can be honored.