Admin assistant critical for department

Administrative assistants are the little-known workers that keep each department at John Brown University running smoothly. Not many students are aware of the work that goes on in their professors’ offices outside of the classroom, nor are they aware of the personnel involved. Administrative assistants help professors with everything—from budgeting to keeping copy machines in working order.

Lynnel Lein, administrative assistant for the Humanities and Social Sciences department, said her job starts with “opening your email in the morning and just getting busy.”

Lein, who has worked at John Brown University for eight and a half years, admits to being “the detail person” for many of the office affairs. She collects syllabi, writes professional development reports and does many other things for the department.

Dr. Amanda Himes, professor of English at JBU, said that Lein’s work is very important to her.

“One of the main things is that Lynnel will arrange travel to conferences. That just takes a lot of time and she can find the really good rates. She kind of coordinates everything. She takes care of all the details,” Himes said.

While she keeps English professors organized and documented, she has enjoyed a larger project.

“Giving Voice is my big deal,” Lein said.

Dr. Gary Guinn, former professor of English and former head of the English department at JBU, started the yearly event Giving Voice Writers Festival, which invites published authors and high school students to come together on JBU campus for a day’s celebration of the arts.

“The first year, we had three or four writers. They each just gave one workshop. The high school kids came and handed me five dollars or a bag of quarters. It was pretty simple,” Lein said. “It keeps growing and getting more interesting. The last two years we’ve had three workshops (for each guest author). It’s a bear for me to schedule.”

The amount of scheduling Lein has to orchestrate between professors, authors, high schools and volunteers is huge.

“It would take (programmers) two months to make a computer program to do what I have to do just with my brain and the computer,” Lein admitted.

“Her organizational skills make Giving Voice almost flawless. She’s incredibly detail-oriented and incredibly organized,” Dr. Jacob Stratman, professor of English and chair of the division of Humanities and Social Sciences, said of Lein

Despite the sometimes hectic scheduling, Lein says she enjoys helping to put the festival on for students.

Outside of JBU and Giving Voice, Lein, with her husband Roger, has three children and nine grandchildren. She also organizes all the children’s Sunday Schools at her church, enjoys entertaining guests at her home and keeps a garden.

“And by garden I mean flowers, not vegetables,” Lein said.

Lein received her BA in English at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, Calif., before moving with her husband to Siloam Springs while he attended JBU. His schooling was cut short when he joined the air force to avoid being drafted during the war in Vietnam. Twenty years and three children later, the Leins returned to Siloam Springs.

“I started subbing, and a girlfriend showed me a job opening at JBU. It was so much better than getting a call at 5:30 in the morning. I thought, ‘Hm, I’ll try this,’” Lein recalled.

Since then, Lein has worked for the English and Music departments as an administrative assistant.

When remembering his eight years of working with Lein and how she has helped the department, Stratman said, “I think really the most helpful way is how she connects to students.”

“She greets students, she wants to know how they’re doing, she talks about their lives, she connects with them, and she’s even taken students out to lunch to talk about life issues,” Stratman explained. “She helps us really to make this place kind of hospitable. There were flowers here for Valentine’s Day and she brought oranges.”

When asked what she would tell students to raise their awareness about the hard working administrative assistants in all the departments, she said:

“They’re there to help. And if students want to find out something about the department, they can start there.