Supporting academic excellence through decades of change

Linda Leon is the department manager for romance languages

Editor’s note: Duck of the Week is a new section in Around the O Workplace that highlights UO employees and their work. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.

Linda León
Department Manager, Department of Romance Languages

How long have you worked at the UO?

I passed 33 years in June.

Tell us about your work:

As the department manager for romance languages, I wear a lot of different hats. I assist my department head with administrative work, take care of payroll and office assignments, onboard new employees, and assist with faculty searches. I’m also the budget manager for the department and purchase equipment we need for the office or, on occasion, for guest speakers. I’m heavily involved in planning special events – like dinners and talks for international faculty searches – and am responsible for running the front office.Linda Leon, right, on her motorcycle

We normally have a graduate and undergraduate coordinator to help with tasks, but the undergraduate position is currently vacant. So in addition to the things I mentioned, I work with classroom scheduling, commencement planning, and am the point of contact for the scholarship program.

What does your typical day look like?

If we were with each other in person and on campus, my day would begin with an office staff check-in. I then move on to my email, which is something that I refer to as a Pandora’s Box because I never know what’s going to come out. My email inbox pretty much determines my day because even though I have my to-do list of things I need to get done, once I open my email that list gets laid down and I take care of things that need immediate attention. Now in a remote setting, I check in with my staff at least once a week by phone and communicate with them through email.

I am thankful that the university has given us the opportunity to work remotely and feel so lucky that we have the choice to be at home in a safe environment. I feel so blessed that the UO is doing that for us because I know many other people do not have that choice. With our department, we do have a resumption plan where my graduate coordinator and I switch times. She’s in the office for a certain amount of days, and when she’s not there, I am.

What do you like about working at the UO?

Having been here so long, I would say that my experiences at the UO are more modernized since I’ve seen a big transition in the way things are done. When I first joined the university as an employee, the business systems were incredibly centralized. It was a big deal to write a letter on the computer. They had one computer in the business area where you could compose a letter and print it out as opposed to typing a letter on a piece of paper. If you wanted to order supplies, you had to fill out a form that was in triplicate. You’d send the white paper to this office and the yellow paper to another office and keep the blue one for yourself. Everything is automated and feels so much quicker now that we do all of our forms online.

The one thing that remains constant over the years, however, is our community's dedication to the mission of the university. Sometimes we get tired and frustrated, but I really feel like my colleagues and the individuals I’ve interacted with really try to make a difference. They are focused on creating knowledge, and from my end I see my colleagues who I know are trying to do the right thing as good stewards of university finances and property.

The University of Oregon appeals to me because I feel like I am one little drop in something that could make a difference in the world. I get a real satisfaction out of knowing that I am a small part of that. My favorite day of the year is spring commencement because there’s nothing like the reward of watching the parade of students walking down 13th Avenue. Seeing them so happy with their mothers and fathers and grandparents really warms my heart and keeps me motivated to do what I do. That brightens my day and is what makes my job so worthwhile and satisfying.

What keeps you motivated?

I am inspired by the faculty in my department, who motivate me to keep doing the best that I can. My colleagues who are department managers in other disciplines also inspire me because they are just as dedicated to academic excellence as I am. They strive to maintain the mission of the university and support the UO community by ensuring that we adhere to state laws, policies, and guidelines.

What is something people may not know about you? 

I love to go fishing and camping on the river. My family and I will float down the river by boat, camp there, fish all day, and eat the fish that we catch. I also love to ride motorcycles, and have a bike that I enjoy zooming around on. I miss that because I used to ride my motorcycle to work in the summer. I like participating in group rides for benefits and other events. One time we took a motorcycle ride to Roseburg to memorialize a motorcycle shop owner who passed from cancer. Other times, I just go with groups of friends and we ride to the coast. We’ve ridden to Albany, up to 126, and enjoy going for rides around. I love to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine when it’s warm, and motorcycle riding provides me with one of those opportunities.

Linda León is part of the Department of Romance Languages.

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