Many things have changed over the last 36 years. From Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden to a revolving door of popular fads and everything in between, the world looks different in many ways.
However, one constant for Athens State University has been the presence of Tina Hooks. Hooks started in admissions and records before moving to academic affairs, where she retires today as executive assistant to the vice president of the department.
“The most impressive thing to me about Tina is she hasn't missed a graduation in 32 years, and we do three a year,” said Jackie Smith, interim provost. “That's a lot of graduations. She marched the students in, got them in line, helped with caps and gowns and made sure everyone got their diplomas. She had her hand in every aspect of commencement ceremonies.”
Smith said Hooks also worked with faculty to make sure new curriculum was implemented, helped ensure professors were paid on time and helped them apply for promotions or tenure, all while managing budgets for her office and other responsibilities.
“She works closely with faculty members on a daily basis, and they're really going to miss her,” Smith said. “I know I will. She has been a consistent voice of support. There's not a person on this campus who doesn't like her.”
Smith said she has been in denial that Hooks is retiring. She said while putting out decorations for the winter commencement held Saturday, it hit her like a “brick wall” that was the last graduation ceremony Hooks would be a part of.
“I can't even think about graduation right now,” Smith said. “(Hooks) managed everyone for graduation, even where to go and where to stand.”
Smith said Hooks is very can-do and brings a positive influence and collaborative ethic to the university.
“She has the kind of qualities you hope to find in an employee,” Smith said. “She has a good temperament and the ability to get along with all the students, parents and faculty. She has kept us on an even keel.”
Smith said Athens State has placed a job posting and description for the vacancy on its website which will close in a couple of weeks. Whoever ends up being brought into the position, they will have some big shoes to fill in the role.
“I can't imagine Athens State or a commencement ceremony without Tina,” Smith said.