After more than 47 years of service to Saint Louis University’s School of Nursing, Joyce Huelsmann is retiring. Nearly 100 people, including current and former staff, faculty and deans, came together on Wednesday to celebrate her career.
|Sister Mary Teresa Noth and Huelsmann|
Huelsmann was hired as the School of Nursing’s receptionist in 1963, just one week after graduating from Rosati Kain, a St. Louis Catholic high school. Ironically, Huelsmann – who still has an electric typewriter in her office that she uses every day – failed the required typing test. Fortunately, Sister Geraldine Kulleck, who was dean at the time, saw qualities in her beyond her typing skills.
“Sister Geraldine said, ‘I like her use of the English language, I’ll give her a chance’ and here I am 47 plus years later,” Huelsmann said.
Over the years, Huelsmann has worn many hats. She has been a receptionist and an assistant to the dean. She worked with students, overseeing clinical agreements and student records. She also was a founding member of both the Women’s Commission and the Staff Advisory Committee, and served as a staff representative to the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC). When the current School of Nursing was built, Huelsmann served on the building committee. To this day, an artist rendering of the building hangs in her office.
According to Teri Murray, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, Huelsmann is the school’s historian, the go-to person whenever there was a question about how things have been done in the past or where something might be.
“She has been a tremendous resource and support to the School of Nursing. In today’s times, working somewhere for 47 years is unheard of. Joyce’s dedication, commitment and service to the School of Nursing has been remarkable and she will by truly missed,” Murray said.
As the longest serving staff or faculty member at the School of Nursing, Huelsmann has witnessed countless changes on campus and in the School of Nursing, as well as tremendous growth in the field of nursing. She can recall, in vivid detail, stories about her former colleagues and the school. From a nun who helped the Cardinals improve their batting swing in the 60s, to the snowy day in 1978 when she supervised the move to the new School of Nursing, Huelsmann has seen it all.
“When I started working here, Caroline Street was all personal flats and then SLU started buying things up. When I started, there was nothing east of Grand, north or south. The change on campus has been incredible,” Huelsmann said.
“As for the School of Nursing, there have been so many changes. One of the biggest changes came when Sister Mary Teresa (Noth) returned from her doctorate education. She really set the school in motion. It was exciting and fun to be a part of that.”
One thing that has not changed, though, is the character of the people. Huelsmann says the quality of the students, faculty and staff and the relationships she has formed here are reasons why she decided to stay all these years and what she will miss the most when she retires.
“I like the people. For a long time I did all the records for the master’s students so they were always in my office. And I’ve seen a lot of the faculty go through. They come to us and get their bachelors or master’s degree and then come on faculty. I’ve seen some of them retire already,” she said laughing.
“I’ve enjoyed working with the students and the faculty. They’re neat people. And the quality of the school – that has remained the same or gotten better.”
Huelsmann also enjoyed working with her sister and cousin. She recalls spending Saturday mornings as a kid helping her sister with filing and other odd jobs. Now that Huelsmann is retiring, it will be the first time since 1956 that there is not a member of her family working here.
Huelsmann’s retirement this month coincides with her 65th birthday. She plans to celebrate both milestones with her sister and best friend on a cruise to the Caribbean – just the first of many adventures she plans to embark upon in this next phase of her life.
"Joyce has been a great co-worker, mentor and friend. I will miss her, and wish her bon voyage on her retirement cruise," said Peggy Door, School of Nursing administrative assistant.