BYU employee retires after 43 years of work at the Testing Center

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Linda Shirley celebrating 40 years of working at the testing center with colleagues. (Gaylene Call)
Linda Shirley celebrating 40 years of working at the testing center with colleagues. (Gaylene Call)

After 43 years of service to approximately 30,000 BYU students, Linda Shirley, manager of the BYU testing center, is heading into retirement.

Shirley first started working for the Testing Center when she was a freshman in August of 1972. She has seen much change since her first day.

“I have seen the TC go from giving a few hundred tests a semester, where we punched out keys and hand scored test, to using computers, and are now giving over 300,000 tests a semester,” Shirley said in an interview with The Universe.

“The instructors are now able to set up their own tests and keys, rescore exams, and get all information they need online. Technology has totally changed our processes.”

The second floor of the Heber J. Grant building was originally used as a library until the Harold B. Lee Library was built. The building was then used as a museum for the College of Biology and Agriculture until the Monte L. Bean Life Science building was created.

“The Testing Center has been located in the Provo City Library (and) the Grant Building when it was the Bean Museum,” Shirley said. “Students lined up between the cages of the lions and tigers and snakes.”

The Grant Building didn’t become the official Testing Center until 1982, 10 years after Shirley started employment.

Since then, Shirley has managed all Testing Center affairs and influenced the lives of many students and faculty.

Dawson Lybbert, a junior studying physiology and developmental biology from Ottawa Ontario, Canada, who works as a Testing Center supervisor, said she will never forget Shirley’s work ethic.

“When she’s around, I want to work better and harder at my job,” he said. “Thanks to Linda, I know how to work well, even through the rough days, until my work is done.”

Shirley’s influence branched further than the walls of the testing center. Many teachers including Sue Mortesen, chemistry and biochemistry department secretary, praised Shirley for the way she revolutionized the testing center system.

Mortesen had worked with Shirley since 2009 and was impressed with her ability to “stay attuned to detail given the university-wide scope of her responsibilities,” she said.

“She knows our faculty by name and is aware of their typical testing patterns. If a test is submitted and something doesn’t look right, she gives us a call. We are able to correct the problem upfront rather than after the fact.”

Mortesen talked about how fair and kind Shirley was all the time. She was calm when circumstances were out of control, and she worked hard to accommodate teachers’ needs.

Linda Shirley (left) and Dana Lipari (right) pictured at a testing center meeting. (Gaylene Call)

“She is personable and professional in all that she does. We appreciate Linda’s many abilities and the fine-tuned system she has developed over her years of service at the Testing Center. She is one of the University’s greatest assets,” Mortensen said.

Gaylene Call, Shirley’s assistant manager and a close friend, has worked with Shirley for 26 years and said she will miss her dedication to making the BYU Testing Center proficient.

“She never made mistakes,” Call said. “She was so meticulous and worked 60-hour-weeks and never took a day off.

“What she probably doesn’t realize is that she is appreciated by so many people. She is admired because of her diligence in doing her job 110 percent, and for being a wonderful friend.”

Shirley built more than an efficient testing center; she built a family and memories she can take into retirement.

“I have worked long enough that many of the employees now working are the children of former employees; some whose parents met at the TC,” she said. “The employees I have worked with will be my lasting memory.  They are the greatest.”

In retirement, Shirley doesn’t plan to stop. After a couple months of relaxation, she wants to remain busy, helping students at local schools, patients in the local hospital, and members of her church.

 

 

 

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