A day in the life of Cathy Dyck

Who are the people running PSU? The key players are DanielBernstine, president; Michael Reardon, interim vice president andprovost; and Cathy Dyck, interim vice president of finance andadministration. But what is it that they actually do?

Dyck was willing to open up a day of her life for documentationso students could understand just what it takes to make PSUrun.

“People need to understand where the university’s at, what we’refaced with, that we care; and that’s why were here,” she says.

Apparently, that kind of caring requires a lot of time anddedication.

The scheduled day of observation was on Friday, July 9, in heroffice on the second floor in the extended studies building. Shespent most of her day here, in a small office of stark white wallsand a desk covered in papers, a flower pot on a table lending acheery atmosphere to the meetings of serious business. It reads,”Be Happy.”

It’s a piece of advice she seems to take to heart. With an 8 – 5schedule and back-to-back meetings (what she calls one of her slowdays), she manages to keep herself together, handling the stress ofher job with experienced ease. She’s a positive person, and sheloves her job.

“It’s a tough working environment, there’s more work then thereis time,” she says, “but I need to have a challenge, I need to havechange.”

The challenge of her job lies in overseeing business affairs(such as accounts), human resources (which does payrollprocessing), auxiliary services (which covers student housing,Smith Memorial, University Place and Parking and Transportationaffairs), parking and security and contact negotiations for unions,as well as signing alcohol waivers for functions that servealcohol. All in a days work for Dyck, who is driven by the problemsolving skills required for the job.

“I have no doubt that I can do what needs to be done,” shesays.

The daughter of a U.S. serviceman, Dyck traveled the world as achild. Instead of hating the lifestyle of an “army brat,” sheembraced it. She loved meeting new people and seeing new places.She still does, and those communication skills and the desire tosee something new transfer well to the job of vice president offinance and administration.

“The job calls for you to be an active part of the community,”she said.

Before she became active in the Portland community Dyck was atthe University of Alaska, Anchorage, and then attended theUniversity of Maryland, earning her undergraduate degree inaccounting and management, and later got a master’s degree inPublic Administration at PSU. She was hired to privatize GoodSamaritan Hospital and worked there for one year. She also workedfor the federal government in Germany, a high tech company inPortland and at Whitworth in Spokane as a controller.

She came back to Portland, and to PSU, through a littleluck.

A friend and former Whitworth coworker was working at PSU andoffered her a job in the athletic department. At the time, PSU wasalso looking to hire a business manager. She turned in aresumé for that position instead, and upon being hired shemoved to Portland. She’s been here ever since.

Many who come to PSU never seem to leave. Dyck is one of thosepeople. She’s been at PSU for seven years. A large part of thereason she’s stayed, she says, is because of how PSU operates. Itworks with “us” in mind versus a we/they attitude.

“Here, people care about each other,” she said.

Her back-to-back Friday of meetings was a day that displayedthat commitment.

Dyck’s work hours are unusually long, her schedule so packed sherelies on a program called Message Manager to help her check the45-120 emails she gets each day plus all the phone calls and phonemessages she receives. But she gets through her busy days with afocused mind and a strong sense of direction and responsibility, aswell as a little singing and some soliloquies.

She usually comes to work before morning traffic and leavesafter it, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“A lot of people here are people who put forth the extra effortbecause they care. Many of them are shaping lives,” she says.

Cathy Dyck is one of them.