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What was your most memorable job when you were at UVA?

“I was a Rotunda guard my fourth year and am pretty sure I made a whopping $6/hour. The primary responsibility was ensuring the Rotunda did not burn down. I loved the Sunday 9 a.m.–1 p.m. shift. I lived in 16 East Lawn, so it was a quick commute to roll out of bed and walk to work—and a fun chance to meet people from all over the world who came to visit Grounds.”—Caroline Altman Smith (Col ’02)


Our most-mentioned job by far was driving the University Transit Service buses. Krisanne Combs (Col ’92) says: “It wasn’t just a job, it was a social network where I made lifelong friends! Not only did I get to see anyone and everyone tooling around normal routes on Grounds, I also got to do all kinds of cool charters like taking President Casteen and his guests down to Scott Stadium (with a police escort) for football games or shuttling teams back from CHO [airport] after away games. All this for the whopping sum of around $5/hour!”

The Manahan House on University Circle

“My most memorable job at UVA was as assistant circulation desk librarian at Alderman Library in the years bracketing 1970. I was assigned to raid history professor John Manahan’s home periodically to retrieve missing library books. Professor Manahan had married Anna Anderson, pretender to being Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia, to allow her to remain in the U.S. She considered any book about her (Anastasia) to be her property, and she periodically smuggled all such books out of the University library. Professors had total checkout privileges at that time, so one of my duties was to coordinate with Professor Manahan on returning the books without upsetting Anna. He would take Anna for a long drive in the country, and I would go to their home and retrieve the purloined books. Eventually, she would return to smuggle them out again. The cycle continued all through the years of my job at Alderman.”—Gary D. Kessler (Col ’68, Grad ’71)

Several alumni across the generations wrote in to tell us about working the information desk at Newcomb Hall, including former Main Desk Manager Alison E. Reed (Col ’96, Educ ’96), who was pictured in the 1996 Corks & Curls and had this to say: “It was the best place to work on Grounds because I was able to interact with students, staff and visitors. There was always something happening in Newcomb! It was the heart of the University!” Corks & Curls

“I taught guitar classes for one of the enrichment programs while I was in grad school—great fun. I asked the class what they wanted to learn, and we did everything from Led Zeppelin to Cat Stevens.”—Charlie Kramer (Col ’86, Grad ’88, ’93)

Expliciunt Hore Intemerate Dei Genitricis Virginis Marie, 1516, from the Langhorne A. Messenger Collection, which is housed in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

“Working in the Rare Books room at Alderman Library. It was an amazing place with all kinds of treasures. I particularly loved the various Books of Hours from the 1200s-1400s. We only got a few visitors every day, and they usually knew how to handle the delicate materials with gloves and a pointer.”—Jena Bridges Watson (Col ’94, Law ’97)

“In 1974/75 I served as a remote batch operator of the remote computer center at Thornton Hall. My job was to put their punch cards into the terminal and give them the printout. I have many memories of students dropping their boxes and trying to put their punch cards back in order!”—Lissa Power-deFur (Col ’75, Educ ’76, Grad ’82)

“While I was attending summer school in 1952, I became a cashier in the University Hospital cafeteria where on-duty professional staff and also the student nurses ate. What was memorable about the job? It led to me meeting the woman I’d spend 62 wonderful years with, Martha Zimmerman Quayle.”—Harold (Hal) Quayle (Col ’53)

Several alumni mentioned working in Food Services. Clara Steele Eden (Col ’80, Med ’88, Res ’91), who worked in the dish room and catered events, recalls: “I much preferred the dish room despite the heat as you could be yourself and work as a team, and I made some great friends there. That being said, President Hereford did politely instruct me on how to properly make a martini during one catered event when he saw me make one with 1:1 gin and vermouth!” Yolanda Burrell Taylor (Col ’76), who worked in the pastry shop at Newcomb and catered events, says: “I distinctly remember a cocktail party for instructors at the Medical School. Let’s just say the students were not the only ones who enjoyed imbibing. There was a lot of untouched food that evening, and the student workers were told they could have it. My roommate and I filled bags with meats, fruits, vegetables, bread, etc. and headed back to our dorm for a magnificent feast.” David Skinner/UVA Library

“Cleaning aquatic frog tanks for one of the labs. Spent hours emptying, scrubbing and refilling the tanks while the frogs floated, staring at me with their bulbous eyes, their long froggy legs dangling in the depths. Sometimes got to observe randy aquatic frog behavior, which broke the monotony of their uninspiring company.”—Alice Churchill (Col ’92)

“Lifeguarding at the Aquatic & Fitness Center. There’s no feeling of job ineptitude quite like dragging yourself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to watch UVA’s world-class swim team do laps. Of course, knowing all the while they’d assuredly be rescuing me before ever needing my help!”—Kyle Estep (Com ’07)


“I drove the tour bus at Monticello. I once got in trouble for going too fast. I was going 20 mph and was supposed to keep it at 18.”—Christopher Carey (Law ’88)

For our next issue:

What was your favorite study spot or hideout on Grounds? Tell us at, and we’ll select some to run in the Winter issue.