Before the Addlestone Library, or even the Robert Scott Small Library. Before the Graduate School, or even the first graduate program. Before Clyde, or even the Cougars.
Before the College as we know it: There was Betty Craig.
Having worked at the College of Charleston for 50 years, Craig has been on campus longer than any other full-time employee – and longer than most of us can even remember.
And yet she still remembers her first visit to campus like it was yesterday.
“I went in for my interview and took my typing test, and Tom Hamby [President Ted Stern’s executive assistant] hired me on the spot,” says Craig, who was 22 and had just graduated with a degree in business education from the University of Kentucky. “I didn’t know anything about Charleston or the College, really. But I wasn’t nervous at all – I felt at home immediately. Everyone made me feel welcomed from my very first day.”
That was in 1970, when Craig was hired as the first of two faculty secretaries responsible for, among other things, typing up exams, scheduling meetings and composing correspondence for the entire faculty.
“Of course, there were only 87 faculty members and around 500 students back then,” she says. “We’ve gotten so big now, each department has its own secretary. A lot has changed since then.”
Including Craig’s job: In 1972, she moved to the president’s suite as secretary to Larry Davis, former director of the College of Charleston Foundation. Less than a year later, President Stern offered her a position as his executive secretary.
“I thought, ‘I’m not going to move up in life if I just keep doing the same thing,’” says Craig. “So, I said, ‘Sure,’ and started working for the president – and the rest is history.”
That history has seen Craig through a number of positions and administrations over the years. When President Stern left in 1978, she continued to serve as the executive secretary to President Edward Collins (1978–85) and then to President Harry Lightsey (1986–92).
“All the presidents had different styles, so there was always a little adjustment,” she says. “But I can work with anybody and just did what I was told. I guess that’s how I lasted so long!”
Craig has not only lasted – she’s outlasted a total of seven presidents. It was when President Alex Sanders came in 1992, however, that she moved into her current position as the administrative assistant for the Board of Trustees’ executive administration and institutional resources.
“I’m happy to do whatever it takes to get the job done, because I really do enjoy it,” she says. “I love what I do, and the College is just such a great place to work. Let’s just say I don’t mind coming to work every day.”
That’s due in large part to the people in the College community.
“We’re just a big, happy family,” she says. “That’s one reason I really just can’t imagine retiring. When you’ve been somewhere for so long, it’s very difficult to think about leaving.
So, as long as health permits – and the College will have me – I don’t see myself going anywhere anytime soon. Fifty years just goes by way too fast!”
Photo by Heather Moran