Long Time Lobo Leaves the Pack
May 22, 2020 - Dorene DiNaro
After 20 years, Shelley Simms, long-time Lobo, employee, and mentor is leaving the pack. She’s headed for retirement on June 1 and her next chapter which includes applying to the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at San Juan College. She says that she’s loved working The University of New Mexico—a place where being immersed in a community with education and curiosity are core values. Nevertheless, she’s at a point in her life where she’s ready to make a career change and is excited about the new rewarding and creative possibilities that come with it.
Her most recent stint at The University of New Mexico was in the Dean of Students office where she served as the department’s administrative support supervisor. Prior to that she worked in Continuing Education, the Jonson Gallery, the Maxwell Museum, and the Women’s Resource Center.
“I enjoyed working in each department for different reasons,” she says. “If I had to pick a favorite, I would say Jonson Gallery and Women's Resource Center because I was able to do everything from installing shows to helping to provide a safe and welcoming space for students to study.”
Simms says she has always had a passion for working with students and seeing them blossom in their educational journeys. According to Greg Golden, Strategic Support Manager for the UNM Dean of Students office, those feelings are reciprocated ten-fold from the students she’s worked with.
“Perhaps the most endearing thing about Shelley is her care for others, especially the students she has supervised over the years,” Golden says. “You could not find a student she has supervised who would tell that she was anything less than authentic, compassionate, and honest in her work with them.”
Golden says that Simms always found ways to prioritize getting answers for students who were utilizing services in the Dean of Students office, and never gave them the run around. “She had the unique ability of always finding ways to help with issues that were far outside of our scope of service,” he says. “There was never a mountain too high to prevent her from helping the student get over the hump.”
During her time at the Women’s Resource Center her former supervisor, Caitlin Henke, says that Simms was at the heart of everything that the Center did from staff supervision and fiscal management to executing the details of every event. “She is incredibly observant, compassionate and always quick to help you when you’re stuck,” she says.
And while she’s leaving UNM at an unprecedented time in our world—maybe the biggest change for any of us—she’s seen other things change over the years like the digitization of administrative processes which have made life easier for UNM employees. “The trade off, however, is less building of relationships across campus,” she says. “I miss that.”
“As a colleague, Shelley has a way of making every day feel like Friday,” Golden says. “Her warmth makes a workplace feel like a family, and her compassion has a way of rejuvenating the difficult work we do in the Dean of Students Office, even in the most challenging moments.”
Sentiments that Henke also echoes. “She always listened, had something constructive to say, and offered support and encouragement and truly made the difference between thriving at work and getting totally burned out,” she says. “She is the ultimate gem of a co-worker and friend.”
As of June, every day might feel like Friday for Simms although she says she will miss seeing the friends she’s made over the years working at UNM. “I can leave UNM knowing that I’ve been able to cultivate lasting and meaningful relationships with not only students, but staff and faculty too,” she says.
And while her UNM friends will miss her too, they’re excited to see what great things she’ll accomplish in the future. “We are excited for her to continue to pursue her passions, making time for arts, and her new-found interests in the Occupational Therapy profession,” Golden says. “And we are forever appreciative of her contributions to UNM.”