Faces of the UI: Classic cars, classic worker

BY MEGAN DIAL | MAY 08, 2009 7:30 AM

When Doris Havel began working at the UI, she used a typewriter, thermofax copier, and Dictaphone.

Now, 45 years later, she embraces the new age of technology as one of the UI’s oldest and sagest secretaries.

Born and raised in Iowa City, 63-year-old Havel graduated from City High on June 4, 1964. Six days later, she stepped into a job in the UI Educational Placement Office.

“I did the usual office things,” the cheerful red-head said about her initial position as a clerk II. “Things have changed since then.”

Havel said she not only experienced the digital transformation, she also underwent changes in work procedures, the move from Seashore Hall to the Lindquist Center, and the promotion to a clerk III position in 1970.

Today, as a senior clerk III and the Educational Placement Office’s main receptionist, Havel has many responsibilities — most important of which include greeting and assisting each visitor to the center.

Anyone from UI President Sally Mason to a young freshman walks through the office door, Director Rebecca Anthony said, and Havel greets them all with a smile.

Some of Havel’s other responsibilities involve activating candidates’ files for placement and letter service, collecting data on new master’s and Ph.D. graduates for various reports for the education college, provost, and the state Board of Regents.

But with the changes and increased number of duties, Havel’s enthusiasm for her job and her cheerful nature have remained constant.

“Doris not only always has a smile, she lets everyone know she cares and that she is here to help them,” Anthony said.

Anthony described Havel as a “truly valued employee” who is cherished by the Educational Placement Office staff.

The staff showed its respect for the senior secretary at the Staff Appreciation and Awards Reception on April 21 by developing a PowerPoint presentation showing photos of Havel through her 45 years of work.

As an extra surprise, the staff invited Herky — one of the few UI employees who has worked longer than Havel — to help present Havel’s award.

“Doris is a good colleague. She is professional and always willing to share a laugh with others,” Anthony said.

Anthony said UI alumni still call the office and ask to speak to Havel because they remember her cheerful nature and helpfulness from years before.

Havel and husband Glenn, 66, have a 22-year-old daughter, Darcy. Havel said they were married 20 years before Darcy was born.

“It wasn’t planned,” she said, adding the story is one of her favorite memories.

The secretary had been feeling unwell for a few days, and she missed a co-worker’s retirement party to visit a doctor. She called the office with the surprising news after her appointment, and staff included the news in their celebration.

Havel’s desk is home to a photo of her daughter, framed by a miniature Mustang convertible — evidence of the Havels’ main hobby: classic cars.

“We’re pretty heavily into that,” she said. “We belong to a couple of car clubs.”

The Havels helped found the Classy Chassy Cruisers — which now has more than 200 members — and the Cruisematics.

Each club meets once every month for “cruise nights.”

“I’m kind of the social chair,” Havel said. “We cruise for food, so I set up a place to eat each month.”

The taco pizza and pasta lover said she and her husband own five classic cars, including several old Chevrolet Impalas and a turquoise 1989 Mustang convertible — nearly identical to her daughter’s picture frame.

The couple attend a few Cedar Rapids-area car shows every year, but Havel said they mostly enjoy the monthly meetings and cruising the streets in their own beauties.

As much as Havel loves her cars, she said, she will remain faithful to her coworkers and her job.

“Hopefully, I don’t plan to retire for a while yet,” she said.

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