Mary Barber’s favorite day of the year is Commencement at College of Saint Mary.
“Hands down,” she said. “The end goal of everybody at CSM should be watching that students walk across the stage. It matters. It’s the best day ever.”
As the administrative assistant to the vice president of academic and student affairs, Mary serves on the graduation committee and helps plan the events surrounding the ceremony.
“My lens on the committee is as long as we’ve provided a memorable and exciting experience for the graduate and their families, mission accomplished,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about to me.”
Mary has worked at CSM for nearly three years. However, those around her admit it seems like she has been a part of the institution for much longer.
“I think by nature I am better at my job the more I know about the complete picture. The more puzzle pieces I can put together, the better I can be even in the background,” she said. “As an administrative assistant, I know I’m in the background. It’s a career choice. I’ve been an administrative assistant my entire life. But part of what I do still contributes to the success of watching a student walk across the graduation stage.”
When she accepted her position at CSM, Mary said she knew this could be her last job before retirement. Much of that has to do with CSM’s “good climate.”
CSM isn’t Mary’s first foray into higher education. She previously worked at a Denver, CO, nonprofit that provided scholarships to traditional students in a four-state area.
“I worked with people who had been in admissions, enrollment and financial aid, and I worked with some of the industry experts in Colorado,” she said.
From there, she worked as an executive assistant to the vice president of advancement at a university in metropolitan Denver.
Mary was helping her daughter look for a job when she came across an executive position with the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). It was a longtime goal for Mary to work for the WAC.
“I love sports,” the south-central Montana native said. “I grew up in a small town, and you love sports. I’ve always been involved, directly or indirectly.”
That has been true at CSM as well. In her first year, Mary assisted the Flames Athletic Department while they were without an administrative assistant. At the end of the year, the athletic department recognized her efforts. She shared the Flames Spirit Award along with the chief operating officer.
“It means more than people know,” she said.
Mary is also a fixture at Flames sporting events. She’s often joined by coworker and friend Rita Wiley and their husbands. The student-athletes have recognized and appreciated the support, too.
“I just love supporting the girls,” she said. “I want them to know that we’re there to support them through thick and thin. It doesn’t matter, win or lose.”