BY MOLLY ADAMSON
Linda Ryan, executive assistant to the president and secretary to the university, is slowly preparing for retirement in May.
Ryan, who has been at Drake for 24 years, has served as the assistant to the last four presidents.
“She was hugely helpful in helping me learn the university and its people,” David Maxwell, president from 1999 to 2015, said.
Ryan began her career at Marshalltown Community College, where she got her associate’s degree. After seven years, she moved on to Drake University. While working, she was able to finish both her bachelor’s degree in science and business administration and her master’s degree in science and adult learning, performance and development.
Donald Adams served as the previous presidential assistant and was a mentor to Ryan.
“She had a phenomenal insight into everyone who reported to the president,” Adams said. “She really loved the community and culture of Drake University. She did everything to preserve that culture.”
Those who worked closely with Ryan valued her place at the university.
“She always saw her role as being behind the scenes,” Adams said. “However, she always saw her role behind the scenes in a culture, in a community that she dearly loved. It was never a job for her. I think it was always just a part of her life. She was always just so excited to be at Drake.”
Ryan was also involved with the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education. A few years ago, she became the director of the association, the position she will continue to hold after retirement.
“I knew that when it was time for me to retire that I wanted to go and be more involved in their activities,” Ryan said. “People ask me why I’m going up north because it’s colder up there.”
Ryan will be moving up to Minnesota after her last day at Drake. She wants to be close to her daughter and grandchildren.
Maxwell wished her the best in her retirement.
“The primary advice is to be better at it (retirement) than I am,” Maxwell said. “Linda has spent so much of her life and so much of her career, as we all have at Drake, with other people being our priority. She’s had 24 years of that being her mission and her focus. Now is her chance to spoil herself and her family.”