By Mary Boone
A.J. Williams ’04 came to the University of Puget Sound determined to play some basketball, earn his degree, and head back home to San Jose, Calif. But things don’t always go the way you think they will. Williams, who earned his degree in communications, joined the Puget Sound staff in early ’05.
“Something about the area just drew me in,” he says. “I fell in love with the campus and everybody here. It’s not what I planned, but it’s working out awesome.”
Williams is among 130 university employees, about one-sixth of the total faculty and staff, who are also alumni.
“Once a Logger, always a Logger,” says Associate Dean of Student Services Houston Dougharty ’83.
Dougharty joined the college admission staff right after graduation, left for a year to work at the University of Hartford, and then returned to Puget Sound in 1987 to work in admission and complete his master’s degree at Western Washington University. After jobs at a couple of other colleges, Dougharty returned to the university for good in 1999.
“In my field, I really had to go away in order to gain the education and experience I needed to come back,” he says. “Once I got my master’s degree, I was always eyeing opportunities out here, and I feel pretty fortunate to have been able to return.”
Ed Snyder ’94 came to Puget Sound from upstate New York. He admits the region’s beauty and recreational opportunities had a lot to do with his decision to stay around Tacoma. Snyder spent the first few years after graduation as a construction land surveyor, working in a bike shop, and guiding white water rafting trips. He joined the university’s Alumni Programs staff in 1996.
“When the opportunity arose, I jumped,” says Snyder, who thinks alumni employees have a head start on things like learning the school’s culture and becoming familiar with places and faces.
“It’s important to remember, though, that not everyone on staff started out as alumni,” says Beverly Smith ’81, an employment training manager at the university. “One fabulous benefit of working here is that we provide educational opportunities.”
In fact, Smith is among those who earned her degree while working at Puget Sound. She had completed two years of courses when she was hired at the university in 1976.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to get my degree before I came here,” she says. “But once I did I started taking classes. It took four years, but I was determined and I’m so glad I did it.”
“This is an easy place to love,” Houston Dougharty says. “The people, the landscape, the ethic of caring—it’s a terrific place to both go to school and work.”