Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier features editor
Arielle Fischer, Campus Carrier asst. features editor
Berry has a number of long-term faculty members who each have their own stories. Whether it is someone who works at the post office or in the animal science building, each faculty member has their own distinctive career and experience. Watching the campus, students and even themselves evolve throughout the years, they provide an interesting outlook on what it has been like to work at Berry for more than 30 years.
One such worker includes Tammi Freeman, manager of mail services and Berry College alumna, who began working at Berry in 1980. She said that through the years, Berry has changed as she has gained more experience.
“It [Berry] was a very different environment from what we have now,” Freeman said. “I worked in the business office, that was before Berry had a human resource department, and one of many things I did was employee insurance. I am a Berry alumna and my student job was that I worked in the post office.”
According to Freeman, the biggest change on campus includes the addition of technology. During her first few years of work, there were only typewriters rather than Mac computers.
Freeman implied that technology has helped mail services run more efficiently, creating a better experience for students overall.
Lastly, Freeman expressed her fondness for Berry and how the college’s values and opportunities are close to her heart.
“I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve worked all these years,” Freeman said. “I love Berry, and it’s a special place to me. The people at Berry are special, the students have been super positive over the years and I must say the people I remain in contact with are very special to me.”
Another faculty member that has also dedicated their personal and professional life to campus includes another Berry alumna, director of creative services Shannon Biggers. When looking back at her time at Berry, she remembers the Martha Berry quote inscribed on the Gate of Opportunity, “I pray that I may leave the world more beautiful than when I found it.”
“I would hope that my legacy here is that I leave Berry better than I found it because Berry has certainly left me better,” Biggers said.
With a community in both Rome and Mount Berry, Ga., Biggers is a 1981 graduate, while her husband, Reed, graduated in 1982. While they first moved away after college graduation, where Biggers worked a few jobs that focused on design and print publications, she said they came back for family.
“We both love Rome and [Reed’s] dad actually worked at Berry for 30 years, so Reed grew up on campus,” Biggers said. “So, Rome was very special to him, he attended Berry Academy as well. We did not want to stay in the Atlanta metropolitan area, we wanted to come back to Rome.”
In 1985, Biggers began as the publications editor in the office that later became the marketing and communications department. After 35 years of work, Biggers said that even though the campus has changed, she is more intrigued by how it has not.
For example, the work program has received changes throughout the years and is now more integrated into students’ schedules. Biggers said that this is just one of the many examples of how Berry has implemented new and improved ways of keeping the campus’s core values relevant.
“I participated in the work program in the late 70s and early 80s when I was a student here,” Biggers said. “It was a valuable experience, but it was still kind of specific to a work experience. Now, Berry has transitioned to that work experience to become a more holistic and integrated part of a path to professional and personal development.”
As she looks back at her time on campus, Biggers said that she is grateful for getting the opportunity to always learn. While desktop computers and social media were not always commonplace, she said that she was always given the opportunity to grow.
“I think that’s just what’s so tremendous about Berry,” Biggers said. “That’s the definition of Berry, learning while you’re doing. As a professional, they allowed me that transition as well and allowed me to discover new passions, new skills, new talents and just to continue to learn.”
Lastly, George Gallagher, Dana professor of animal science, first started in 1988 with a former professor’s job recommendation.
“It was very unique coming here,” Gallagher said. “Berry College has continued to embrace change and is not afraid to be really progressive. I think Martha Berry set up that legacy. I’m on my third Berry president, and they’ve all had visions to look forward to, helping to carry some of the growth and development. That’s been the key to why Berry College remains successful is to not be afraid of change.”
Likewise, Gallagher expressed admiration in Berry’s values which he believes have remained the same for decades. He said that he finds the college’s motto, “Head, Heart and Hands,” has remained consistent throughout many programs. Even if the values manifest differently, they remain Berry’s foundations.
“It’s those kinds of changes where I think we’ve taken those principles and stayed with them,” Gallagher said. “It’s just adapted to what we have now, just like we’re playing with now.”
While Gallagher has worked on campus for about 33 years, he said that the quantity does not matter. What matters are the many opportunities that can always be found on campus. According to Gallagher, as long as you continue to grow and develop, life remains enjoyable.
“For me, because I enjoy teaching and research, having the ability to work with students, plus getting to teach a wide variety of courses, makes a difference and keeps you up-and-going, finding new things,” Gallagher said. “Martha Berry built this place by looking forward to the future and being progressive, so a lot of the things we’ve done, that may seem controversial, I think have been fantastic. We’ve come a long way with it and done really well, so I’m proud to be a part of this institution.”