President Michael Frandsen is a name that the Wittenberg community hears at least daily. Cindy Beacom is a name that is rarely heard; she is one person that makes it possible for Wittenberg’s new president to do his job.
Beacom is the executive assistant of Wittenberg University’s President. Previously to this position, Beacom worked for the provost. She left that job to raise her kids and was asked to come back to Wittenberg to work as an assistant to a friend of hers. Her friend retired after a few years and Beacom moved into her current position.
Beacom has a strong knowledge of Wittenberg, as she has been working here for 23 years.
“I’m old,” she said. “You students are young enough to be my grandchildren.”
Including Frandsen, Beacom has worked alongside seven presidents during her career.
Frandsen is a very busy man and most of Beacom’s job revolves around regulating the president’s schedule. Many people want to meet with the president, especially since he is new. Beacom noted that when a president is first hired, many of the people that want to meet him are outside of the university.
“Now is the time to put the brakes on that and let the Wittenberg people in,” she said.
Many times, the president is busy traveling, and making time for student visits is difficult. Becaom said that Frandsen has been different in this aspect. He always is open to meeting with students and even offers to meet with them in the evening.
Beacom works thoughtfully at scheduling for the new president. She has to make sure he spends enough time getting acquainted with the community, but also getting to know people on campus. She has to schedule regular meetings with senior staff and make sure the president is familiar with the processes Wittenberg follows.
Most of the time, anyone that wants to meet with the president schedules those appointments through her. Beacom said that sometimes with a new president, it takes a little while for people to know to contact her. If they do not contact her, the schedule can be jumbled. She also notes that new presidents often try to start off being independent until they quickly realize they need her help. She said this has been happening with Frandsen.
Both Beacom and the president have long work days, many of her days lasting 10 hours. Beacom also stated that the president is normally booked with eight meetings a day. This includes events in the evenings that he is expected to be at.
She said she avoids scheduling meetings for him on the weekends, but he normally attends sporting events or other extra events during that time. Beacom said that the hardest part of her job is fitting everyone in the president’s schedule that wants to meet with him.
She says she does not like to turn people away and normally works out a later date for a meeting. With such a busy schedule, does the president have any say in what he does during a work day? Beacom says that he can deny meetings, which does not happen very often. Many times she sends him a list of requests and he picks through them. Most of the time, this involves groups outside of Wittenberg.
Beacom said all the presidents she has worked with are similar in that they have confidence that she can do her job well. The biggest part of working with a new president is “learning each others quirks and preferences,” she said.
She seems pretty impressed with her new boss.
“Oh, I think he’s doing a great job,” Beacom said. “I’ve learned that he’s pretty well in there with his nose to the grindstone.”
Of course there are small adjustments here and there, but everything so far has gone smoothly. Frandsen seems to agree.
“Cindy has been a great help to me as I transition to my new position,” Frandsen said. “Her knowledge of this place and its people are invaluable. And I appreciate her patience with me as I begin to navigate Wittenberg.”
Beacom is now making this community stronger by acquainting Frandsen with Wittenberg’s history.
“What makes my job so enjoyable is the variety of things, and you don’t come in and do the same thing day in and day out,” Beacom said.
She notes that one of her favorite parts of her job is having so much knowledge of the university.
“A lot of people come to me because I have the history of the place,” Beacom said.
Beacom is a genuine, family oriented and caring person that appreciates the people she works with and the tight-knit community of Wittenberg.