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Linda Magner Retires

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February 29, 2024, was Linda Magner’s last day as the Department of Art History’s business administrator.

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​Linda Magner with “Hello Kitty" swag that adorned her widely attended surprise retirement party.​

​​Long serving business administrator Linda Magner retired this year after several decades of service to the University. Magner first worked for art history in 1990 as a photo technician while an undergraduate student. After graduating with a photography major and art history minor, she returned to UD for a bachelor of science in agriculture before earning her MBA at Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington. She started working with the Department of Computer and Information Sciences in 2002 and joined the Department of Art History full time in 2010.

Department Chair Sandy Isenstadt reflects on Magner's service to the department and her enormous impact on students and faculty.

Many of you know Linda in one capacity or another. Perhaps she helped you file documents so you could graduate on time or spoke on your behalf to an instructor so you could enroll in an otherwise oversubscribed class. Maybe she pointed you in the right direction elsewhere on campus to better resolve some issue. Possibly you saw here staying after hours to make sure one or another event was properly set up or to make a room ready for classes the next morning. Or maybe you were one of those students struggling with an ill-fitting cap or gown at graduation when Linda showed up out of nowhere with a hair pin or a safety pin to make things right.

Most likely, though, you have little idea of all that she has done for our department. I was her supervisor, but I will be the first to admit that I didn't know the details of her job responsibilities. I just knew she made things happen. And she did so when we needed them and to the extent we needed, no matter the obstacles. I pity the poor soul who might have stood in her way.

We are a relatively small department but a multifaceted one, with outstanding and renowned faculty and an internationally recognized graduate program, as well as a centerpiece of humanities undergraduate education at UD. Linda has been a steady hand at the department's helm for the past 14 years, guiding us through grants, budget crunches, administrative snafus and more. During the pandemic, her experience, savoir-faire and hands-on approach were pivotal. Working closely with me and Professor Margaret Werth, our graduate director at the time, Linda found various ways to guarantee summer support for students and to do so in a manner that was both transparent and equitable. Several students may well have had to quit our program were it not for her quick and innovative ideas for continuing their support as various outside opportunities evaporated.

Linda has also been a key factor in our ability to maintain a diverse faculty and student body. Questions of diversity, equity and inclusion have long been at the forefront of departmental concerns, but these mean little without someone with the know-how and determination to connect students from different backgrounds and with distinct needs with the particular resources they require and to do so under often pressing circumstances. BIPOC and international students face numerous challenges while studying in our department. At both the graduate and undergraduate levels, Linda oversaw their academic progress, anticipated barriers well ahead of time and in many cases found overlooked resources to assure continued support of their studies.

How did she do all this? Certainly, it's the result of dedication, technical expertise and plain old hard work. But there's also a great deal of creativity and humanity. She can spot inaccuracies in a spreadsheet or discrepancies in administrative policies a mile away and, at the same time, will put aside whatever work she is immersed in when a student appears looking distressed. Within seconds she offers comfort, assurance and a solution. Whatever the problem is, Linda inevitably found a way forward.

It is no exaggeration to say that Linda has been at the center of our operations with her expert knowledge of UD systems and procedures, her streamlining of any number of logistical matters, her pro-active thinking, her commitment to diversity across our entire community and her deeply humane accommodation and advice for our undergraduate majors, our graduate students and our faculty. As former department chair Larry Nees put it, Linda brought efficiency and soul to all that we do.

With her position in our front office, Linda was in many ways the very face of our academic unit, embodying our academic excellence, our passion for learning, our commitment to student success and our shared humanity.

We will miss you, Linda, and wish you all the very best for a well-deserved retirement.

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