Longtime Secretary Retiring After 23 Years


When she stops to think about it, Juanita Aycock has worked at Maryville University for more than half of her married life and for longer than she lived in her childhood home in Arkansas. These realizations alone did not prompt Aycock’s decision to retire but they did give her pause.

“I actually started thinking about it two years ago when my mother became more frail,” said Aycock, administrative secretary in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences, whose final day on campus will be May 7. “There was no real event that prompted it (retirement decision). You just start to mull things over in your mind.” Aycock has worked at Maryville for 23 years and has worked in her current position since 1993. “I started on the first day of the fall semester,” she recalled.

Aycock’s first job on campus was working part-time in the Academic Affairs office. She would handle secretarial requests from various faculty as many programs did not have their own secretaries in the 1980s. Aycock later served for five years as secretary to Sally Harris, the associate vice president for academic affairs, before taking the job in Arts and Sciences. Through the years, Aycock has become known for her calm demeanor. “Sally told me one time that there could be an explosion outside the building and I wouldn’t get excited,” Aycock said with a laugh.

In addition to her even-keel personality, Aycock has been a consistent and helpful resource of information, said Carol Keyes, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, who joined Maryville’s full-time faculty in 2003 after teaching two years on an adjunct basis. “Juanita knows everything,” Keyes stated. “All these basic, little things I should know how to do, but forget how to do, like schedule a room or figure out how to show a video in a lab, Juanita helps me accomplish.”

Keyes remarked she appreciated the chance to comment on Aycock’s retirement. “It’s my opportunity to tell her how much I, and all of the faculty here, appreciate everything she has done for us.” Aycock returned the compliment, saying she has enjoyed working with the Arts and Sciences faculty. “They are just a really good group of people and I will miss them the most when I leave.” Aycock never envisioned working at Maryville for more than two decades but she treasures every day she has spent on campus. “I liked it from day one, I can’t imagine not working here.”

She won’t have any problems, however, adjusting to not working. “I want to live an unstructured life.” Aycock plans to use her new free time by scheduling more visits to see her 16-month-old granddaughter, Harper, and doing more with her husband of 42 years, Cecil, who has not yet retired from his job as a civil engineer. “He told me he’s going to see how I like it (retirement) before he tries it,” Aycock joked.