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Jan. 25, 2012 Volume 33, No. 17

The Weekly Staff Meeting: Deborah Ratliff


Deborah RatliffDeborah Ratliff
Work Place:
College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
Executive staff assistant
Years at MU:
Shelbina, Mo.
Favorite authors:
Robert Heinlein, Spider Robinson, Carl Sagan
Favorite Musical artists:
Gram Parsons, Brad Ratliff, Jimmy Buffett
Favorite Quote:
“Learners inherit the future; those finished learning find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” — Eric Hoffer, philosopher
Undergraduate/graduate education:
BS (psychology) from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University). MA (library science) from MU.

What are your current job duties?
Whatever it takes to make the place run better. Examples: I remind people what we need to do or deliver to remain in compliance with rules and regulations. I perform hiring duties for faculty and staff. I prepare promotion and tenure dossiers, schedule annual reviews, assist with required periodic management reports, involved in visa and permanent residency application support; edit journal articles and grant proposals for professors, staff and students; and assist anyone who needs help with anything.

What is your favorite part about working at Mizzou?
I love the fact that Mizzou is a research university. The possibilities for learning are infinite and collaborations across disciplines can lead to interesting and exciting new results.

CAFNR has an amazing group of administrative staff who meet periodically, and we all know we can turn to the others for help.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

If you weren’t doing this for a living, what would your dream job be?
Working in an academic or a medical school library.

How do you spend your time away from the university?
I putter in the yard, planting fruit trees and bushes and pulling up sprouted acorns.

I’m a librarian at heart, and have been since I was 10. I have way too many books, always reading or giving books away.

I have collected witch memorabilia for about 40 years, and family members suggest I may be a “pack-Rat-liff.”

I enjoy riding passenger on motorcycles, although I try to remember the adage: “There are two types of motorcycle drivers: those who have dumped their bikes, and those who will.”

What do you consider the most rewarding aspects of your job?
It is very cool to be paid for learning. I really enjoy visiting with our international students, exchanging information and laughing over our mutual mistakes. I tell them if I visit their countries, they can reciprocate.

What is most demanding/challenging about your job?
Finding enough time to do everything I want or need to do. There’s never enough hours.

How do you meet those challenges?
Try to minimize distractions, work smarter, prioritize and chip in to help others with their tasks so that when I need assistance, I can depend on the team to help me.

Is there an achievement you’ve been recognized for as an employee at MU?
It was very special to be the recipient of CAFNR’s Above and Beyond Award after being nominated by a co-worker. If your co-workers recognize you, it means a lot. Also, when I finished my master’s degree, my boss at the time recognized how hard I worked for five years. I was so proud of the supervisor and me, because as I walked across the stage in cap and gown, there was a pay increase waiting on the other side. It is good to remember that no one receives a degree by himself or herself.

What others say about Deborah:

 “Deborah is a go-to person who, if she doesn’t know the answer, will not let the issue rest until she has tracked down an answer for you. She volunteers her time, energy and expertise afterhours and on weekends for special CAFNR events and can be counted on to show up with a cheerful and positive attitude while carrying out her duties. She’s among the last to leave at the end of an event.

 “When you look up ‘dependable’ in Webster’s, you’ll find a picture of Deborah Ratliff.” — Beverly Spencer, executive staff assistant, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources