I Spy Someone making a difference.
Freeman is a history major's 'best friend'by Corrie Lee Lacey
Stephanie Freeman collects things – glass rabbit figures, soda cans, magnets from around the world. Her office is strewn with everything from an 18-year-old chocolate bunny to an array of dead potted plants.
But Freeman doesn’t seek these treasures out on her own – they’re given to her by the faculty, staff and students of Coastal Carolina University.
Freeman, an administrative specialist in the Department of History, came to the University 17 years ago. She arrived on campus two weeks before construction on the Prince building was complete. For 10 days, her desk sat in the hallway of the Kearns building before she was moved into her own office. It was there she began collecting her sea of sacred items.
“I tell anyone who comes in my office, ‘Don’t eat anything,’” says Freeman. “I can’t be held responsible for what’s in this room.”
But she is responsible for just about everything else in her department.
“Every member of the Department of History can attest to the incredible job that Stephanie does in her role as administrative specialist,” said John Navin, associate professor of history, in a nomination he submitted on Freeman for the I Spy recognition. “She handles an incredible myriad of responsibilities and she is every history major's best friend. She deserves our hearty congratulations and a day off, which would bring things around here to a halt, so that’s out!”
I Spy, a program created by the University’s Office of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity, provides employees with an opportunity to nominate outstanding actions and behaviors of their co-workers.
Freeman is co-chair of the victim assistance unit of the Eastern Carolina Coalition against Human Trafficking, which works to eradicate human trafficking. She also received the Staff Excellence Award from CCU in 2005, and has been nominated every year since its inception.
“Every house – and every academic department – needs a solid foundation,” says Navin. “Stephanie Freeman has provided that foundation for this department. She provides essential services to faculty and students while handling a mind-boggling array of administrative duties. Once Stephanie tells you she’ll take care of something, you don’t have to worry about it. Her competence, dedication and sense of humor make this a better place to work, day in and day out.”
Freeman came to Conway from Philadelphia, where she worked at Temple University. After vacationing in the Myrtle Beach area, Freeman’s husband, Charles, fell in love with Pawleys Island – a land of sand and trees, she says.
But working for CCU was an interesting adjustment.
“I thought I had come to the Flintstones,” says Freeman. “Temple had the latest equipment, satellite campuses. CCU was so small and so far behind.”
But her experience wasn’t all bad. Freeman valued the access students had to professors. She loved the cohesiveness of the departments she worked for, which was, at the time, history, foreign languages and the Waccamaw Center for Historical Studies. She was their first administrative specialist.
“The atmosphere was like one big family,” she says.
And according to her students, it still is.
“My students email me anytime they have a problem,” says Freeman, who plays a mother-like role to most of her students.
Freeman is also mom to her own two sons. Terrance, a graduate of CCU, works in radio in Charleston. Chaz recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in writing and producing for films. To her grandchildren – Seth, 2, and McKenna, 4 months – she’s Nana.
When Freeman isn’t with family or in her office of curious memorabilia, she’s working out at the campus gym two or three times a week. At home, she enjoys jigsaw puzzles, knitting, crocheting and making pot holders.
“I don’t like to cook,” she says. “I do not cook.” But cooking may be the only thing Freeman doesn’t do.
Handling inductions into Phi Alpha Theta, dropped classes and registered classes, money orders, purchases, audits, and everything in between, Freeman says she’s the “one Indian to numerous chiefs.” But she doesn’t mind.
“I don’t have an ego,” she says. “I look at my job as one of my jigsaw puzzles, and I just do one piece at a time.”
Freeman also looks at the people she works with as individuals; each one deserves a piece of her time.
“I treat people the way I want to be treated, and I treat kids the way I want people to treat my kids,” she says. “I value face-to-face interaction and phone conversations over e-mail and the Internet. I appreciate people who give me the same courtesy.”