By: Olivia Shaffer
For a little over a year now, I have had the privilege of working for Annie Stillar at the English Department front desk. She has become a mentor and a friend, and her commitment to our department is ceaseless. (I am often reminded that I am not Annie by faculty in the department, as they frantically look for her to solve their crises while I’m working and she takes lunch).
Ask anybody in the English Department about Annie Stillar and you will hear words like “ebullient” and “magical” to describe her. Annie is the Academic Program Assistant for our, as she puts it, lively department. Aside from assuring that the building does not burn down, she relieves all of the administrative tasks from the faculty in the department so they are less overwhelmed. In all honesty, the title of Academic Program Assistant is much too narrow to describe everything Annie does for our cozy little department. Assisting the English Department, the Honors Program, the College of Arts and Sciences, and Women’s and Gender Studies, as well as working as managing editor for Rock & Sling is incredible. And she does it all with a smile on her face and a witty attitude that keeps the department alive.
Annie works toward creating communicative and trusting relationships among the students and staff to ensure she can best support and assist us academically and, maybe more so, emotionally. Professors and students alike would agree that Annie is often the rock in our department, keeping us from going completely insane. As she says, “it’s for the greater good that [she] be intuitive, attentive and not burn out” – which makes her job equally rewarding and challenging, having to be our collective backbone even when she may not have it all together all the time.
Outside of work – because yes, she does enjoy doing things that do not involve alleviating us of our own demands – she feels she’s her best self when she does what scares her the most. She spends her time outside: hiking, being adventurous, and jumping from really high places and living to tell about it. Only once did an experience like this completely terrify her: when she scaled a 400-foot mountain without a harness, but made it to the top without turning around or calling in the helicopters (pictured below). In addition to an insanely adventurous life, she’s made an unofficial career out of singing – and is good enough to make her own album, in my opinion.
I asked Annie to outline details of her work, and got an answer with an overwhelming list, which I’ll add here because there’s no other way to fully understand her dedication to us:
“On a wider scale, my job entails pulling off an academic year’s worth of events like endowed readings, socials, graduation fun, retreats and informational meetups (and where applicable, playing travel agent to guests, getting them paid, keeping them fed and hydrated and feeling like Whitworth is a delightful place to be), fostering a healthy and communicative relationship with the Business Office, becoming BFF’s with the department chairs and directors housed here (current count: 4), assisting in the execution of course schedules, contracts and office space (or as I like to call it—musical chairs), the acquisition of class/department resources from far and wide, the management and oversight of six program budgets, and the general endearing of myself to all persons regardless of how much they can do for me and how quickly. I’m an equal opportunity provider of fun and snark alike, if anyone asks”.
She is our own personal superwoman. She has worked here for 6 years, and I’m not sure how the department got through every day without her before. She is witty, and joyful, and full of an energetic spirit that executes the ideal of mind and heart. And she (almost) always has chocolate. No matter what happens, no matter what crisis we are in, she’ll tell you that the show must go on. And because of her, it does. Annie Stillar, we thank you.
Olivia Shaffer (’16) is an English Literature major and History minor at Whitworth University. Aside from academics she dedicates a large part of her time to the Jubilation Dance program at the university; an extra curricular that allows her to continue to pursue her passion for dance. She has no idea what post-graduation life will look like, but hopes for the best.