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When Diane Stary started working at The John Marshall Law School in 1967, she was one of three clerical workers and the switchboard operator seated behind a counter on the first floor. The staff sat in the hallway just inside the front doors that would swing open from Plymouth Court. The work space could be drafty, but it was the hub of activity as students turned in their paperwork or paid bills.
Forty-five years later, Stary’s desk in the Admission Office is but a few feet from that original starting point, but she’s traveled a good distance through John Marshall history and is now the longest-serving full-time staff member at the law school.
Over the course of those nearly five decades, Stary worked in Admission; the Bursar’s Office; as a faculty secretary; and helped coordinate the Legal Writing Program, making sure students fulfilled their requirements, among other endeavors.
One of her first responsibilities was to monitor student attendance. She also typed exams and balanced the cash register receipts as students on payment plans would line up to pay their tuition at various points throughout the year.
After 10 years moving around, Stary returned to the Admission Office where she has kept track of the mounds of paperwork that accompany every student—application forms, test scores, letters of recommendation and more—and dealt with correspondence between John Marshall and the students.
Obviously, times have changed. Stary started out using a typewriter. Now she uses a computer to take care of business, but she still keeps an IBM Selectric nearby for the rare occasions when she needs to type something that can’t be scanned. As in many industries, the computer has streamlined much of the work she did in the early days. Nearly all of the correspondence is via email and applications, letters of recommendation and other data are filed electronically.
Stary, too, has changed, no doubt in many ways, but she points out this one: “When I came here I was really, really shy. This has made me more confident.”
The Vietnam War was raging when Stary began her career at John Marshall, and she recalls that students seeking admission were very aggressive about getting into law school. “If they were accepted they wouldn’t have to go to war,” she said.
In her current position, Stary still keeps track of files for applicants to the law school, but now there are far fewer paper folders and she deals mostly with electronic files and databases. Over the years, she may have touched close to 100,000 student files, paper or electronic.
On her off time, Stary collects novelty salt-and-pepper shakers (she owns 4,000 pairs) and travels to conventions around the United States that are run by the Novelty Salt and Pepper Shakers Club.