By Amanda Dyslin
---- — MANKATO — You often hear a lot about retiring faculty and administration who have committed decades of service to a college or university.
It's much more rare to hear of a member of the support staff who is acknowledged publicly for their contributions.
But after 38 years as a general maintenance worker at Minnesota State University, Georgia Jackson's friends thought she deserved some recognition. For almost four decades she's helped keep the university clean and ready for students, she said.
And now, a month after her 62nd birthday, the most senior member of the staff has decided it's time to bid MSU a final adieu. Her last day will be Dec. 13.
“From the president all the way down to (the support staff), everyone has been fantastic to me,” said Jackson of St. Peter.
Having grown up one of 10 siblings on a farm near Kasota and graduating from St. Peter High School, Jackson came to MSU in 1975. She had worked in a cafe and in a factory, and as a single mother of a 5-year-old, she was in need of a steady, good-paying job.
Jackson started working night shifts at MSU the first year, which she remembers was during the Vietnam War. The campus didn't look anything like it does now, she said, and the students were much less respectful of the space.
“They were very messy,” she said.
Jackson went from being a “rover,” going wherever on campus needed to be cleaned, to having specific designations. After the first year, she was able to get on day shifts, and in 1977 she remarried, both of which made it much easier to raise her little girl.
What kept her in the job so long was simple: the people at the university showed her a great deal of respect. The university has recognized Jackson for her work with a couple of awards. She received a Customer Service Award, presented to employees who demonstrate outstanding service, in 1997-98. And she was the Finance and Administration Outstanding Service Award recipient in 2005.
Jackson also has appreciated the students over the years.
“The students we have on this campus are outstanding,” she said. “They take pride in what their campus looks like.”
Jason McCue, director of Building Services, said Jackson has an "old-fashioned hard-working" style, and she's remained dedicated to her job. She's also outgoing, with an infectious, happy personality, he said.
"She's always willing to go above and beyond," McCue said. "I can truly say MSU is a better place because of her presence here."
Throughout the years, Jackson has commuted from St. Peter — a city she loves where her daughter grew up, and now where her daughter is raising six children of her own.
Jackson said retiring a couple of weeks before Christmas will allow her to spend a great holiday season with her family, including many of her siblings who still live in the area.
“We take turns moving Mom from one house to another,” Jackson said.
After the holidays, Jackson said she and her husband — who is retired as a maintenance worker from the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center — plan to spend time together and relax.
“Maybe we will jump in the car and go somewhere,” Jackson said. “And I won't have to listen to an alarm clock anymore.”