Supporting research, public health, community ties and employees

Kate Harvey

Editor’s note: Duck of the Week is a 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.

Kate Harvey
HR & Operations Manager, Prevention Science Institute and COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment Program

How long have you worked at the UO?

I have worked at the UO since 2012. I started at the Child and Family Center as the front desk receptionist and then as that evolved into what is now the Prevention Science Institute, I became the human resources and operations manager.

Tell us about your work:

I do a variety of administrative, financial and human resources support across a variety of research projects at the Prevention Science Institute. I work on things like recruitment onboarding, payroll, purchasing, accounting, travel budgets and then just daily operations like building access keys and coordinating schedules across labs. I enjoy that I get to do a little bit of everything, since it gives me a deeper understanding of how everything fits together from all perspectives. I like to refer to human resources as human respect because my job is to provide leadership management trainings and consultations for our supervisors so they can make strategic and mindful decisions. I want to help them create their vision to empower our staff and build a culture of trust. This goes hand in hand with strong employee engagement to support our research, while creating opportunities for professional development, growth and a positive work-life balance.

What does your typical day look like?

Each day brings new challenges and opportunities for growth and change, and no two days are the same. I am lucky and have been able to go to campus at least one day a week since the pandemic started. Although I miss seeing everybody on campus, I have also enjoyed working from home. I am more productive because I have less interruptions and can attend more meetings now that I don’t have to commute across campus. I'm really excited about what the remote work setting is going to look like after the pandemic. I think we're seeing possibilities for working moms since they don't have to choose whether to stay home with their kids or not anymore. We're going to be able to recruit with greater diversity across the country if we're going to support remote work.

In terms of what I do on a day-to-day basis, I have the same recurring tasks that happen but it seems like every month there are different projects or grants that get added in. I like that I am consistently challenged in my job. Working on the COVID-19 MAP project has been amazing and challenging because it is something that none of us have done before. We took people from different units across campus and came together to support and protect our UO community. There were a lot of late nights, since we had first planned to do testing at Autzen Stadium. The summer wildfire then broke out and we had to move inside. Everything constantly changed, but I felt like I was also making an impact.  

What do you like about working at the UO?

One of my favorite things about the UO is all the different people I get to meet and work with. I love that I’ve built relationships across campus, from students to senior leadership and campus planning facilities to HR. I get to work with such a diverse group of people and it’s different every day. I’m a people person, and I love to connect with others and build those kinds of relationships. It gives me a good support network, and I know I can reach out to them when I have a question about how I should handle something.

What keeps you motivated?

One of my favorite quotes by Steve Prefontaine is “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” I want to be able to give back to my community, and one of the ways I can do that is through my job. I’m organized, hardworking and love being the support system for our researchers. I want to help them find creative ways to meet all the bureaucratic rules and compliance guidelines at the UO. The mission of the Prevention Science Institute is to improve the lives and well-being of children, families and individuals. I view public administration as servant leadership, which measures the success of work by asking: did I make an impact today? That’s what I love.

What is something people may not know about you?

My nickname around my family and friends is Beverly Goldberg (from “The Goldbergs” tv show) because I volunteer for a bunch of different things all the time. I just want to help everyone, so then I take on all these opportunities. I’m not afraid to speak up and advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves. I love a challenge and want to take on adversity head on. That’s a strength of mine, but it’s also something that people kind of tease me about because I volunteer for this group and they’re like, “Of course you did.”

Kate Harvey is part of the Prevention Science Institute.

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