Patricia Butler always will remember her first days on campus.
She started work in the office that then was known as reprographics on Sept. 10, 2001. The next day, everything changed.
“I remember at first not knowing whether to come to work (after hearing the news about the terrorist attacks). Once I got here, the campus was so quiet. People gathered in the Student Union to watch the news, but out on campus it was just silent.
Today, Butler has been on campus nearly 18 years, spending all but her first year in what now is known as the Lee Business School. An administrative assistant III in the school’s finance department, she is this year’s third-place recipient of the President’s Classified Employee of the Year award.
I do all kinds of secretarial work. I answer calls, talk with students, process travel documents for professors, and do a lot of scheduling.
Favorite part of the job
The people. I really like helping the students when I can answer their questions or help them get into a class. I also enjoy working with the professors. They are so nice to me.
Biggest change she has seen on campus
All the buildings that keep going up. Also, the increase in the diversity of the students.
Where she grew up
Right here in Las Vegas. I graduated from Clark High School.
Your first paying job
First babysitting, then McDonald’s. For babysitting back in the day, I charged maybe $5 an hour, maybe less. When I babysat for family I didn’t charge anything. At McDonald’s I was a hostess and worked at the counter. I was a hostess for the children’s parties. I would set up the parties and oversee them. I learned to be a people person. I found out I like working with people and I guess I have a knack for it. I like to talk to people and hear their stories.
What you thought you would do as an adult
I was thinking about being a dental assistant, but I didn’t do that.
Tip for other classified employees
Get your degree. Don’t be like me. Just do you. I thought about going back to school sometimes, but now I have the grandkids. I love them and help tend them. There are the twins, TJ and Sarai, who are 7, and Tohvias, who is 5.
A favorite spot on campus
I like to walk on the grass in the area in front of FDH near the amphitheater.
I really enjoy reading. My favorite book is the Bible. After that I like novels and mysteries. Brenda Jackson is a favorite author. I also like Francis Ray.
A book, movie, or TV show to recommend
The movie Hidden Figures. It was just amazing to me that I didn’t know about what those black women did (at NASA). It was fascinating.
What you do to decompress
I go for my sunflower seeds. I get the low sodiums, though. You can find those at the 99 Cent Store.
A dream vacation would be
A cruise to Alaska because it’s quiet and it’s slow. I don’t want all that hustle and bustle. I want to soak up nature, see some whales, and breathe some fresh air.
What People Nominating Her Had to Say
Daniel Chi, finance professor:
"Pat is the sunshine every day — always smiling, positive, and helpful. Pat came into this position with little AA experience. But she took the challenge and picked up the skills quickly, and she keeps her growth mindset to learn and master new skills with new technology. She is the front face of our department and interacts with students regularly — welcoming them and helping them solve their problems."
Theresa Boucher, executive assistant to the dean of the Lee Business School:
"She takes it upon herself to provide exceptional support and service to all faculty, staff, and students. Pat discerns quickly their individual needs and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations, or direction. Beyond this and during times of transition, she has always kept a level head and is a wonderful ambassador for our university.
Pat goes above and beyond in her work in order to help others and does so with a high degree of excellence, professionalism, and integrity; thus, contributing significantly to improving the overall environment and experience within the college. Pat welcomes everyone with open arms and is always willing to stop what she’s doing to help someone in need.
Pat has a quiet humility about herself that is refreshing and has made her an even more effective mentor for many students and faculty members. She brings true professional attributes to the Lee Business School and genuinely cares about providing excellent quality work."
Robert Chatfield, finance professor:
"Pat is always available to help, she has a great work ethic, and she is not afraid to reach out for help to learn how to perform new tasks. She is the best administrative assistant the finance department has had in my more than 30 years at UNLV!"