For history's keeper, 'the job really is my award'
She who keeps the
minutes writes history, and for the last two years, Lindi Press has
turned the often-labyrinthine deliberations of three major Faculty Senate
committees on academic policy into precise historical record.
As academic committee
coordinator, Press' responsibilities include creating the minutes and
annual reports for the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy
(C-USP), the Committee on Review of Undergraduate Majors (C-RUM), the
Committee on Graduate Studies (C-GS) and a subcommittee for General
Press is "masterful"
at translating very long discussions into concise and thorough minutes,
said Nancy Kollman, professor of history and C-RUM chair. Press can
"distill the minutes of a two-hour meeting into a three- or four-page
report, expertly focusing the discussion and summarizing complex debates,"
she continued. "She touches a lot of important faculty and senate business,
and brings her own intelligence and judgment to it."
But Press is far
more than the keeper of minutes, wrote the faculty members who nominated
her for a 2003 Amy Blue Award. She is "tutor, counselor, historian and
rapporteur," said Ewart Thomas, professor of psychology and C-USP
chair. Press is a "model partner" with the chair and committee members,
said Kollman. "Lindi is my right-hand man."
Press, whose Old
Union office is lined with the volumes holding the minutes of meetings
held decades ago, also has come to serve as the historical memory for
the committees she staffs. Her swiftly acquired expertise allows her
to provide critical links to the prior work that keeps discussions moving
along, wrote Julie Kennedy, a senior lecturer in the Earth Systems Program.
"That kind of input, offered at just the right time, is great for helping
us to wrap up a topic that otherwise might have stretched into an additional
Press said she
enjoys reading back through the minutes from the old volumes, particularly
when she comes across "names that are now the names of buildings," she
said. "I love being a part of this ongoing history. I'm a little part,
but I love it."
Press earned a
bachelor's degree in English from Stanford and enrolled in a graduate
drama program at San Francisco State University that she left before
completing because the campus was exploding into riots, she said. "An
English major can do anything or nothing," she noted, and Press spent
a few years doing a little of everything. A veteran actor and director,
Press worked for a dramatic arts company and managed an upscale candy
store in San Francisco. She also spent time working for Business Wire,
a business news wire service, and as an administrative associate for
a civil engineering firm and for a state senator.
Press didn't really
like working in politics -- "there was a degree of pettiness that I
wanted to get away from" -- and decided that what she really wanted
was to go back to school. With two young daughters she couldn't afford
tuition, so she did what seemed like the next best thing: She went to
work at Stanford. (Press' father, Harry Press, is a former associate
director of the News Service and a former director of the Knight Professional
Journalism Fellowships Program.) Press had enjoyed working for engineers,
so she took a job in the Chemical Engineering Department.
After 20 years,
"I was not unhappy there, but it was time to reinvent myself," she said.
Press found her current job at a Stanford job fair held in 2001. (She
went mostly to tease her boss at the time, who had warned her staff
she didn't want to see any of them there.) Press considers her job as
academic committee coordinator a perfect fit for her skills and interests
-- all except for the early morning committee meetings. "The job really
is my award," she said.
This spring Press
will reach a goal she had in mind when she began working at Stanford
22 years ago: In June she'll receive a degree from the Master of Liberal
Arts program. She turned in her thesis, "Transgressions Against Xenia
in Fifth-Century Greek Tragedy: The Unkindness of Strangers," exactly
two years to the day that she began work as academic coordinator.
"I've always felt
that this is my university. I have accepted a lot of good things and
I want to make sure I can give something in return," Press said. "I'm
grateful to know the work I'm doing is appreciated. I think that is
all we really want -- to be appreciated."