“P”, an institution since 1975

Everyone who has ever come through a door in Swingle Hall or called Fisheries has had contact with Annie Priscilla Butler or “P” as she is known far and wide. She’s the lady at the front desk greeting everyone personally or by phone for the past 32 years. And, if you didn’t know it, she has a mind like a trap……….she can remember just about every face and name even 30 years after she has seen them last. Department Head David Rouse says, “Priscilla is an absolute jewel. She remembers everybody, constantly helps me with names and never forgets a face. People walk through the door who were students 25 years ago and she can immediately identify them by name and tell a story about them. She is indispensable for our public relations with our alumni and friends.”

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“P” began working in Fisheries January 28, 1975, and has worked with four department heads and hundreds of students……many of different nationalities who needed the special consideration and attention that she dishes out in large quantities. Well, “P” says she is probably going to retire this year although she hasn’t set a date. All of us who work in Fisheries will be lost without her special care. Some are saying that without her strong voice in the head office that hollers down the hall to “pick up” the phone we will probably need a new intercom system. I know that students who go to her for advice and council will also be lost without her. International callers will lose their interpreter of dozens of languages spoken over our phones.

I asked “P” what she likes about Fisheries and without hesitation she said, “meeting new people and fussing at the faculty" (she’s the only one who has the courage and credibility to do that). Priscilla said, “I genuinely like the people I work with and I love to help students and others when there is a need. I will really miss them after I retire”. She also said, “I can write a book about this place”.

Asked what she will do with her time after she retires she says that she will enjoy fishing at S-6 and S-1. Fishing is one of her favorite pastimes and she told me the story of hooking Dr. Shell in the shirt on the day she found out she was pregnant with Kendra. She hated to do that because Dr. Shell is one of her favorites. She said, “he is so kind that when my mother was sick, he allowed me to have Kendra at the office and let her run up and down the halls”. Kendra is now 28 years old.

I asked Lula Jones who works in the front office with “P” to give me a quote and she said, “Priscilla is so easy to get along with, is flexible and keeps everything lively”. Phyllis Markel, who also works with "P", said, “Priscilla is always good-spirited and upbeat and delightful to work with….she never says a negative thing about others”. “She is also my funeral and wedding buddy”, she added. Professor Emeritus John Grover says that “Priscilla has been a constant in the department for 32 years. She is always pleasant and helpful and keeps up with us professionally and personally striving to help every one of us”. “She has watched our kids grow up and cared about each and every one of them”, says Grover. "She IS an institution."

I asked what she has seen as the biggest changes during her time in Fisheries. “P” says that it is the technology. “I started with an IBM Select typewriter, went to a Lanier word processor, early Mac computers and finally today’s computers. She also remembers the days of the roll-fed clunky copier that preceded the high quality copiers of today. The biggest day in her professional career was when fisheries went from only 4 telephone lines to at least one for every faculty member in the late 80’s.

Priscilla says she will miss the faculty, students, staff and her front office friends. I know all of us will miss her positive personality, helpful ways, memory, friendly banter, loud voice and a supply of snacks on the table in her office. She’s not gone yet but she says that day is coming soon, so until that day all of us need to enjoy every bit that this fine person has to offer. Love you, “P”!

203 Swingle Hall | Auburn, Alabama 36849 | (334) 844-4786 |
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