Hearing Ellen Heiting list all the buildings she’s worked in during her 38-year career is like getting a tour of Central geography both old and new. She began in the old student union (on the site of the Maytag Student Center) in 1974, working for the education department in the basement. When Geisler Library was built, the department moved there, and Heiting climbed to the second floor of the union to work for the Counseling Center and Upward Bound.
A few years later, she applied for an opening in the admission office. When she got the job, she moved her typewriter over to Aschenbrenner, a little white house on the corner of Broadway and University that’s now a parking lot. Years later. the admission office took over the old biology area in Central Hall, complete with stuffed owls. The office is on the first floor—and recently got an entrance makeover and a new patio with the Phyllis Bornt Plaza.
During her career, Heiting has worked as assistant to five vice presidents of enrollment. She will retire at the end of August, a few days after her 65th birthday. “I’ve been working since I was 15 years old, and I’m getting tired,” she says with a smile.
Heiting does have a favorite decade at Central—and no grad from other years can blame her. She especially loved the 1990s and early 2000s when her three daughters—Heather Heiting Van Wyk ’94, Amanda Heiting Christiansen ’99 and Jana Heiting-Doane ’04—attended Central. Their interests, such as golf, creative writing, the education department and vocal combos, became newly discovered passions for her on campus. Although none of her daughters played softball at Central, Heiting has always been a huge fan. She looks forward to attending many more games in retirement.
But for years, her main passion has been the admission office, which she says is the best place to work on campus. She loves the contact she gets with students, both prospective and current. Every once in a while, she’ll recognize the name of a former student worker on an application for their son or daughter.
“The impact Ellen has made on students and fellow employees is immense,” says Carol Williamson, vice president for enrollment management and dean of admission. “By my calculations, she has had an influence on well over 1,200 individuals during her time here. ‘Thank you’ just seems like too little.”
During retirement, Heiting plans to make her seven grandchildren, ages 15 years to 18 months, her first priority. Her other goal is ambitious. “I plan to read every book in the library,” she says with determination.
That work ethic has made her a valuable staff member for nearly four decades. “One of the nicest compliments you can give someone is that they’re a hard worker,” says Heiting. “I see that in a lot of people on campus. I like to think that I’ve been a hard worker and that the college has gotten its money’s worth out of me in 38 years.”