UA Journey

Longtime UAF secretary leaves them wanting more

Darrellene Myers, confidential secretary for Dr. William R. Wood and the University of Alaska Fairbanks presidential secretary for 35 years, enjoys her retirement party. Nile Mueller, University of Alaska photo

Myers retires after 35 years by Amanda Bohman, Daily News-Miner, 2003

Darrellen Meyers retired Friday after almost 35 years of drafting letters, taking calls, making appointments, arranging travel and keeping files for University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton and nine of his predecessors.

Since its inception, there have been 131 members of the UA Board of Regents, the panel that sets policy for the university. Myers has dealt with 82 of them. Few university employees have worked so closely with so many powerful people in the university system.

Friends and colleagues say Myers hasn't been a cog in the University of Alaska machine. She has been the oil that kept the university running.

"Every letter that went out, every speech that was written, every major decision, she made better," wrote one former UA president, Jerome Komisar, 1990-1998, about Myers.

Myers was raised in Oregon, in an upper-middle-class household, the only daughter of a fruit broker father and homemaker mother. She married an architect and followed him to Alaska in 1968.

Myers was first hired by the university as secretary for the vice president of academic affairs. She went to the university president's office after then-President William R. Wood's longtime confidential secretary retired.

She says flexibility on her part and the excitement of working at an ever-evolving institution is why she never left.

"One of the reasons it was so interesting is because every five or six or seven years it was a whole new regime; a whole new vision and agenda and personality. It was like a new job," Myers said.

The secret to her staying power was two things: She kept a low profile. She kept her mouth shut.

"Just because I worked for the president doesn't mean I was going to run up and down the halls and say, 'If you don't do this, the president is going to be mad."

Myers is widely known for his discretion. Friends at her retirement party complained about her penchant for being tight-lipped.

"I have been trying to get gossip out of her for 34 year," said Ann Tremarello, retired University of Alaska Fairbanks registrar.

Hamilton, a former two-star Army general, choked back tears as he spoke about Myers at the party and presented her a special medal of achievement.

"She really has been a counselor for 10 presidents," he said.

Myers said she struggled with the decision to retire. "I thought, I can't work forever. I better quit while I still have some faculties."

She has no immediate plans except to spend more time with her German shepherd, Golly, and to play the piano.


Darrellene Myers is also mentioned in this article:

UA President's Medal for Excellence