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Constancy Through Change

February 4, 2021 - -
Katherine Haynes, College of Business Staff

Katherine Haynes started at the College of Business back in 2002. In her 18 years at UofL, she has worked under three deans (plus an interim dean), seen Frazier Hall expand to include an Equine and Entrepreneurship wing, and observed a myriad of programmatic shifts and changes consistent with a College growing and evolving to meet student needs. “I have met some of the most talented and sensitive faculty and staff at the College,” says Katherine. “Some have passed on, but I will forever be grateful for having known them.”

Even as the College has adjusted to the Coronavirus pandemic, Katherine remains a fixture, be it in virtual meetings as a member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee or working remotely for the Accountancy office. Katherine’s experience and compassion have resonated with students — many of whom see her as a mentor. This dedication to both her work and serving students earned Katherine the College of Business Staff Excellence Award (given to her in 2011 and again in 2018). We spoke to Katherine recently about her time at the College.

  • Tell us about your path to the College of Business. What did that transition from the public sector to higher education mean to you?

After receiving a BA in Social Work in 1973, I had a short stint as a social worker with the KY State Department of Child Welfare. I was astounded at the condition of the general population — I did what I could to help, but it took a toll on me emotionally. So, I decided to help people in other ways by venturing into the world of business. In the retail industry, I worked with buyers, where I learned about sales, marketing, the textile industry, fashion, and advertising. I learned about customer service by helping consumers with purchasing decisions, which meant I had to know the product well. I ultimately became assistant director of our computer inventory department. I worked with the department of the Census, a branch of the Federal government -the training was extensive, but I found this work very interesting. I changed jobs and worked in the insurance industry, where customers were concerned with risk management. I spent 19 years working in a banking subsidiary of the 1st National Bank, where accounting operations were managed in the travel services department. This was a large department that processed and managed hundreds of travel service accounts and about two million documents per week. I learned a lot about how businesses operate as we handled accounts for many corporate businesses in other areas such as the accounts receivables department, the fraud department, and the advertising departments. At one point, several of us were selected to help an entrepreneur develop a payment processing company, which is worth millions today.

When I entered the work world, I started with a typewriter but had to train on the job through the years to master the computerization of nearly everything. My husband and I had to juggle work/ life issues while being parents to three children. Without the grace of God, support from family and friends, neighbors, and school, I could not have maintained this pace. Additionally, I had met and worked with incredibly talented people who provided awesome teamwork, inspiration, assistance, and cooperation.

By the time I came to UofL, I had 29 years of work experience. The pace seemed to be slower and calmer when I came to work in this institution, and I had to adjust to that. It’s more conducive to thinking and learning.

  • Many students have seen you as a mentor and trusted confidant. How have you built these relationships with students over the years?

Working with the students has been rewarding. To see them transform when they began to understand the world around them is gratifying. I tried to give chances to local and international students who had limited work experience because working as a student assistant is a great time to learn and build good work habits. Of course, some struggled with grades, but I always encouraged them to keep trying. I also believe that work should be fun, so I made sure they were included in some of the functions of the College, plus they knew that celebrations and humor were important. One student commented that he appreciated my interest in making him feel that he belonged. These students were pretty intelligent — I provided them a quiet place to study (after completing their tasks) and insisted that they take advantage of it. Many now have successful careers — some have gone on to earn advanced degrees. And some have come back and mentioned to me that I had set a good example of what it means to develop a good work ethic.

  • What do you feel has been the key to your longevity at the College?

This is an institution of learning, and there are so many opportunities to do so. It’s also a family friendly place to be, and aside from that, I’ve been fortunate to work with the chair of Finance and director of the School of Accountancy, from whom I have learned so much. In addition, we have a Dean who cares.

  • Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to those starting their professional career?

Make the best choices that you can, be kind, and help others. However, don’t beat yourself up if you made mistakes — no one is perfect. This world is about building and repairing, and moving on. Try not to be judgmental of others, but try to understand them. Learn all that you can and keep yourself healthy. Become interested in the community where the University is located and try to help it become a better community. At the end of the day, you want to be able to say, “I’m glad I did that.”