Gick focuses on birthday bash

April 01, 2004, vol. 29, no. 7
By Roberta Staley

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The job interview could have gone either way.

But Moyna Gick's resumé didn't end up in the SFU paper shredder. Instead, the interviewer recognized the young woman's enthusiasm as eagerness and joie de vivre - not desperation.

“It was April of 1975,” Gick recalls. “As I was driving up to SFU, I was dazzled by the beauty and the wildlife. I told the human resources person that this was such a beautiful spot I didn't want to work anywhere else. I would wait at home for their call, and I wouldn't look for another job.

“Luckily,” Gick says, “they called me.”

Lucky, yes, for SFU. Gick was hired as secretary to the chair of economics, her first job in Canada since emigrating from Jamaica as a single mom with two youngsters. (Grown daughter Natalie is the librarian for SFU's Surrey campus. Son Bruce has a company in Toronto.)

Since then, Gick has been executive assistant to a long line of SFU presidents, from Bill Saywell to Michael Stevenson. Gick just wrapped up work in the president's office to devote all her attention to helping organize the university's 40th birthday bash, set for 2005-06. Gick is certainly up to the challenge of coordinating this auspicious event.

As executive assistant to a string of presidents, Gick was an efficient right hand to the university's captain. She was a repository of confidences and a front-line point-person for daily phone calls and drop-ins from parents, students, faculty and government representatives, all demanding an audience. Gick would screen calls and, if necessary, try to arrange a meeting with the president. “I'd try to let anyone who wanted to see the president have a meeting, so long as their issue was relevant.”

One of the things Gick learned as executive assistant is that hell hath no fury like a student who can't get into a required course. “We'd have students storming in, upset. We'd have people crying on the telephone. Some would swear at you.”

Rather than hang up on those turning the air blue with epithets, Gick would calmly listen. “Irate people eventually get around to a sane conversation if you acknowledge their concerns.”

Such diplomacy complements Gick's fastidious organizational skills and will help in her new role working on the university's 40th anniversary celebrations. She is assisting Tim Kelley, a consultant hired to co-ordinate the event. Gick is helping gather together committee members who have sufficient joie de vivre of their own to pull together a a variety of events in 2005-06. “The anniversary will showcase SFU, its accomplishments and community spirit and raise awareness of the university nationally and internationally,” says Gick. Kelley expects that a preliminary plan will be announced by the fall.

In the meantime, Gick isn't letting another of her pet projects, SFU's annual plant sale, languish. After last year's cancellation of the event, which raises money for bursaries for needy students, Gick is redoubling her efforts to ensure it flourishes this May.

An avid gardener herself, Gick knows that most things, be they plants, anniversary parties - or upset or needy students - need care and attention. And until she retires in 2005 (although she's too busy to concoct retirement plans, she is looking forward to spending more time with her partner, SFU professor Arthur Roberts) Gick will ensure this is one anniversary party with no shortage of TLC - or joie de vivre.

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