The operation of our department depends on the intelligence, capability and dedication of our office staff. In earlier times administrative tasks were simpler and a staff of a half-dozen sufficed for the 48 professors that were on the physics faculty in 1960, a ratio of 1/6. Over the decades since, the management of our teaching and research has become so complicated and demanding that the staff/faculty ratio now approaches 1/2.
For many years (during the end of Randall’s term, then for Barker and finally for Dennison) Bernice Behrends acted as executive secretary and departmental administrator. A friendly but strong figure, Bernice knew how to run the department. I recall the time in August of 1962 when I went with X, another just-arrived faculty member, to her for dedtails about our office assignments. She informed us, in a friendly way, that we’d be sharing a telephone. Upon hearing this, X assumed the air of a newly-minted PhD and said “I am an assistant professor and I demand a private telephone.” Bernice gazed at him for a moment with an air of “well, well, aren’t we important?” before repeating “you’ll share a telephone.” When I told Peter Franken about this, he responded (in somewhat more colorful language) “It’s OK to get crossways with me, but don’t you ever get crossways with Bernice!”
Bernice Berends illness forced her retirement during Dennison’s term as chair. Ada Mae Newton, who had some years earlier joined our staff just after graduating from high school, became leading administrator, a role that spanned the chairmanships of Dick Crane, Sinclair, Sands, Jones, and into the term of Homer Neal.
Sarah Albert and Marion Lammers composed our front office staff during the 1960’s.