Janice Virgin, 1951-2014
11 November 2014
Janice Virgin, former member of the professional services staff, died recently. Her colleagues, Melissa Werrett and Dr Marc Holderied, offer a tribute.
Janice, a dedicated employee of the University, took early retirement in August due to ill health and sadly died early in September.
Janice began her career at the University in January 1998 as an executive assistant in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. She gained promotion three years later to Departmental Administrator – a post in which she remained for a further seven years.
Six years after leaving that post, Janice is still remembered for her hard work, dedication, commitment and generosity of spirit – on both a professional and a personal level. To this day, annual rituals that Janice set up still continue within the department.
After 10 years in Engineering, the impending ‘schoolification’ led Janice to opt for a change in role, and she moved to the Centre for English and Language Studies. Three years later, restructuring led her to the new role of Undergraduate Administrator in the School of Biological Sciences. The school was undergoing a period of great change, but this upheaval did not phase her, and she quickly rose to the challenge and used her extensive experience and knowledge to get to grips with the role.
One of Janice’s areas of responsibility was organising the school’s visit days. She started work on these during a difficult time: tuition fees had been tripled, there was massive competition from other institutions, and against a background of declining student numbers and confirmation rates, the school was expected to increase student intake substantially. With an anticipated 20 per cent shortfall on the intake target, it was a very challenging situation that had to be dealt with at very short notice.
In response, Janice almost single-handedly redesigned the school’s approach to visit days: exhibits were revamped; she introduced guided tours of teaching labs, research labs and the main campus; and she helped to develop, design, and populate a welcome pack for visiting students and parents.
It was her personal drive and initiative, her great sense of responsibility, her attention to detail and her fantastic loyalty to the school that helped turn the tide. The school’s firm-up rate doubled and confirmation numbers increased, to such an extent that, from the first year, we met our ever-increasing intake targets.
Janice’s fantastic work has ensured that the school is now in great shape, and her initiative and materials are still there doing their bit in our undergraduate recruitment drive – the most important source of funding for the school. In addition, the content Janice developed for the visit day welcome pack is in the process of being rolled out for all schools in the Faculty of Science.
In conclusion, not only did Janice make a lasting impact on friends and colleagues, she has also made a lasting impact on the University.