The biggest professional award of Bev Wyatt's 29-year career came last spring, when she was named an Outstanding Administrator of the Year.
Oct 20, 2011
By Monica Chapman
If you want a job done well, Bev Wyatt is a good place to start. She's been getting jobs done at Ohio University for the past 29 years – from her early days as a night shift custodian to her current role as associate director of operations for Event Services.
Since her arrival at Ohio University in 1982, Wyatt has been promoted 13 times – a feat she credits to sheer determination. Ask her how she managed and the Glouster, Ohio, native will tell you, "I am a child of Appalachia. I come from a family of strong, hard working people. …Good work ethic is in my genes."
As one of seven children, Wyatt grew up with big dreams despite her family's modest means. "But being a child of Appalachia, I didn't know how to even get started," she said.
Eventually, life got in the way.
At the age of 24, Wyatt found herself divorced and jobless with two children and no car. A night shift custodial position at Ohio University soon helped to make ends meet.
Former director of Custodial Services Lois Roberts, of Glouster, was among those who hired Wyatt. Roberts said she was familiar with Wyatt's diligence even before she stepped into the interview based on their neighborhood encounters. And Wyatt's performance did not disappoint.
"She had a good work ethic and did everything that was asked. (Her evaluations) were always very positive. And she took advantage of the opportunities that were afforded to employees, which was commendable," Roberts recalled.
"She was an excellent worker, very good with details, and you could depend on her to be there. You couldn't find any fault in her," added former Building Service Manager Bill McCammon.
The job paid the bills, but night shift babysitters were hard to come by. With two little boys at home, Wyatt needed a change. So she picked up a typing class, and then another and another.
"I was not a very good typist. It just wasn't natural for me. But I forced myself to learn," Wyatt said. "I was determined because I knew that was the only way I could get onto a day shift job."
Nearly two years later, she achieved her goal – landing a position with patient relations in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1983.
“That was a huge break for me. Moving into a day shift position where I could work during normal school day hours created the balance that I needed to take care of my family both financially and responsibly," Wyatt said.
It was during her time with OU-HCOM that Wyatt came to know Karen Bump and Betty Shirk, whose "knowledge, encouragement and sound advice undoubtedly were the greatest influence on my 29 years of growth within Ohio University," Wyatt said.
Bump remembers watching Wyatt deliver medical records by pushcart and contemplating her potential.
"At that time several of us thought, 'She is so sharp; she needs to get a college degree and get a better job,'" Bump said.
Eventually, Bump broached the subject.
"(Bev) kept saying, 'I don't think I can do it.' And I said, 'There is no doubt in my mind that you will excel,'" Bump recalled. "She just needed someone to tell her, 'You can do it.' And she sure did it. She just kept on going."
Under Bump and Shirk's mentorship, Wyatt slowly worked her way up the corporate ladder. She also focused on educational pursuits, taking one or two classes each quarter. In 1993, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Health, becoming the first in her family to earn a college degree. Then in 2000, she earned a Masters of Education.
Wyatt said the University's tuition benefit for employees made all the difference.
"I could not have gone to school if I didn't have that tuition benefit," she said. "I mean, I just couldn't afford to raise two kids on my own. And when I did get remarried, we were trying to pay for a home. So it was just very difficult, and the tuition benefit is just wonderful."
Hard work was paying off, and it was also recognized by Wyatt's colleagues, who nominated and awarded her the Classified Employee of the Month several times. In 1995, after accepting an administrative position, she earned the Standard of Excellence Award at OU-HCOM, where she worked for 16 years.
But Wyatt's biggest professional award came last spring, when she was named an Outstanding Administrator of the Year. Her nominators praised her creativity, dedication and resourcefulness, among other attributes.
In Wyatt's acceptance speech, she thanked Ohio University for taking care of a "Glouster girl."
"People look at Glouster as a poor, run-down community and that nothing good can come from it. And that's not true. There are a lot of people that come from there that are success stories," she said.
As a top-level administrator with 13 promotions behind her belt, Wyatt is surely among these.
"I'm a fighter, and I would have always had a job. But I would not have the skill set that I have, had it not been for the University," she said.
This special Compass series features the programs and initiatives through which Ohio University students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends are realizing their promise as they elevate lives across the region. These people-focused success stories take you behind the scenes and highlight the many meaningful ways OHIO serves society by supporting educational, economic, creative and wellness endeavors, as well as other humanitarian efforts.