Mary Byerley Is March Employee of the Month

Posted: March 1, 2010 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: February 26, 2010 at 5:04 pm

By Rashad Mulla

Mary Byerley. Creative Services photo

March Employee of the Month Mary Byerley’s job description can be summarized in one word: everything.

An administrative support specialist in the School of Management’s Academic and Career Services unit, Byerley maintains student files, supports the unit’s staff members and interacts with students and faculty to answer their questions.  She also doubles as a technological support specialist and graphic design guru; she creates posters and fliers for the department and assists the department deans with computer database projects.

Her responsibilities have evolved over the years, as has the job.

“When I first started in 1997, I think we were using MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) on our computers,” says Byerley, referring to the outdated operating system. “Each time we had a new program, I would dig into it and try to learn it myself.”

Marie Scanlon, enrollment manager for the School of Management, notes Byerley’s versatility.

“She is one of those employees who are part of the glue in the office and team environment,” Scanlon says. “She will go from handling the front desk, to ordering supplies, to assisting with computer projects, to participating on team initiatives, all in a day’s work.”

While Byerley has held her job for almost 13 years, she only began taking on graphic design responsibilities over the past three years. She took an IT class at Mason, enrolled in on-campus computer training and even dedicated her spare time to learn new software.

“It’s great to be in an environment where you actually grow with a computer age,” Byerley says. “I find it fascinating.”

But her job also features plenty of customer service and office responsibilities. At times, there is a high volume of students dropping by the office or phoning to inquire about graduation intent, course availability and even the recent job fair on campus. This part of the job, she says, was one of her biggest challenges when she first started working at Mason.

“Learning to deal with the high volume of student [inquiries] and telephone calls was difficult,” she says. “During the time I’ve been here, the office has improved technologically, and we’ve adjusted and adapted to make things run more smoothly in the office.”

Alison O’Brien, associate dean for undergraduate programs in the School of Management, says Byerley does whatever it takes to get the job done.

“She is always willing to do to extraordinary effort to solve problems, create a congenial working environment and to offer her artistic talents if it means the message will be more attractive, clearer or get the students’ attention,” O’Brien says. “A truly descriptive title of her effort is ‘whatever it takes to do things well.’”

Byerley was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Texas Tech University. She moved to Virginia in 1988.

In her spare time, Byerley runs marysloanbyerley.com, a site that features personal photography art projects, a skill she hopes to use more frequently in the coming years.

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu