By MARTY LEVINE
Who remains on campus, working from their Pitt office every week?
One trio of Pitt staffers with a combined 92 years of service is still making sure Pitt’s suppliers get paid and the University’s largest assets are tracked, from their desks inside 116 Atwood St. twice a week.
B.J. Thompson, Marian Marecic and Kevin Starke, in the Payment Processing & Compliance office, are working in masks and gloves, “more than 6 feet apart,” Thompson emphasizes, in an office that has held as many as 19. “We have the whole office to ourselves,” she says. “People are getting paid. We still keep up with our time schedule. I don’t think that has changed … because we’re still doing what we have to do.
“I love it,” she says of her work.
Between them, Thompson and Marecic take care of the invoices and disbursements, making sure all the paperwork is accurate and investigating any issues, using special printers to create the checks and handling everything from the folding machine to the banking and mailing.
Starke is aiding them during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as doing his own work of keeping track of every single unit of equipment that is worth $5,000 or more and will last two or more years from when it is bought, used and put out to pasture. About 1,200 such new assets are added each year to the database he keeps, from lab equipment to new buildings.
With 48 years here in the same job, Marecic is the senior member of the group. This is the only job she’s ever had. She remembers showing up for the interview in 1972, fresh out of high school, with her mother, father, brother and sister in tow. “From that interview, I ended up staying.
“We used to do everything by hand,” she recalls. Still, with computers, “I don’t sit there and do the same thing for seven and a half hours,” which makes the workday go, she adds.
While Marecic says she is headed toward retirement soon, Thompson is the baby of the group, so to speak, with only 16 years at Pitt. She likes the three-day work-from-home schedule too: “You can get up and walk around and look outside and be at peace. I just boom, boom, boom through the things I have to do.” With a Pitt bachelor’s degree in public administration and a certificate in gerontology from the University Center for Social and Urban Research, she hopes someday to turn her passion for working with seniors into a second career.
Starke began his 28 years at Pitt with five years in the Learning Research and Development Center, then moved to his current department. He’s still nostalgic for their old offices in the Cathedral of Learning, but working at home with the cat supervising, every other day, isn’t bad, he says. Part of his job in asset management is to oversee the tagging of equipment, which until March meant moving throughout the campus. That’s one thing that likely will be a permanent change from the pandemic — departments are now tagging their own purchases.
But the impact of the department will remain, he says. Every quarter, his asset database helps determine the net worth of the University.
Whether there is a crowd or only three people in the office, some things never change, Marecic reports: “I still get yelled at because I’m loud.”
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-758-4859.
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