Durant recounts her 40 years at Francis Marion

Durant recounts her 40 years at Francis Marion

Photo by: Eleni Gotter

Joyce Durant first came to FMU in 1970 as a Business Administration major. She has worked in Rogers Library since her graduation.

Brittany Parker, Editor-in-Chief

Joyce Durant’s father offered to buy her a brand new blue Maverick car if she would attend Francis Marion College. That was back in 1970, and 40 years later Durant is still a fixture on the campus, which is now classified as a university.

“To have seen this institution grow has been absolutely amazing,” Durant said. “I take pride in ownership because I’ve been here all these years.”

When she first arrived at FMU the campus had no trees like it does today; instead, it was a field with a type of boardwalk that students used to walk to the few existing buildings. At that time, the Stokes Administration Building was one of the only buildings on campus, and classes were held there. The school’s library of about 18,000 books was also housed in that building.

Once the James A. Rogers Library was constructed, Durant helped to move all the books to the new building. Back then, the upstairs floor of the library was used to house classrooms and professors’ offices. Once the library was finished, Durant began as a student worker there.

“That’s the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Durant said. “I found I really loved what I did … that’s how I got started in the library.”

After the library, the Smith University Center popped up next, and Durant has fond memories of playing card games there while she was in between classes.

“Because it was a very small campus, we knew everybody,” Durant said. “We knew all the professors and students. I really developed a love for this institution.”

Durant also developed a love for a fellow student who would later become her husband. They shared the same major (Business Administration) and took classes together, and Durant even typed his papers for him.

“It didn’t dawn on me until after we were married that he could have typed his own papers,” Durant said.

Their first date was to a university party, and they’ve been together ever since. They married in May of 1973 and graduated together in December of that same year.

“I’m proud to be a graduate of FMU,” Durant said. “I always tell prospective students that they can’t go wrong with choosing FMU.”At the time of her graduation, the library was looking for a clerk typist. The head of circulation asked Durant about her plans after graduation and suggested that she apply.

“I laughed and said that they weren’t going to hire me,” Durant said.

Weeks later the position was still available and Durant was again urged to apply.

“I finally got up the nerve to go to Stokes and complete my application,” Durant said.

Durant got the job and worked in the reference department where she learned the importance of being careful and paying attention to detail. She completed bibliographic research and filed cards in the catalog for ordering records.

Durant then worked as the Public Services Librarian for References and Serial Numbers for two years before accepting a position in the acquisitions department, where she stayed for over 30 years.

From July of 2008 until January 1, 2010 Durant served as Interim Library Dean. Durant now permanently holds the position.

“I take this obligation to lead this library very seriously, and I do have a good staff,” Durant said. “We all work together for the common good to make sure we provide resources and services to the educational curriculum of this university. That can be a challenge in hard economic times, but we have a very supportive provost and president.”

Aside from her library duties, Durant also took it upon herself to teach the University Life course. She taught the course for 11 years before taking a few semesters off from instructing. In the fall of 2009 she began teaching the course again.

The University Life course teaches students how to prepare for classes, conflict management and stress management. Guest speakers are even brought in to aid the instruction. Durant said that it gives students “a broad exposure to campus life.”

“I’ve had an awfully good bunch of students this semester who worked together well,” Durant said. “I saw a large amount of team building. The students also seemed excited about learning, and that made me really happy.”

In 1985, in the midst of all her responsibilities at work and home, Durant also found the time to attend graduate school for speech communication at the University of South Carolina. She took one or two courses at a time while commuting back and forth to from Florence to Columbia. She graduated with her degree in 1988.

Durant said that she loves her job, the Francis Marion campus and the students here.

“I love this university, and I encourage young people all the time to come … I’m always promoting FMU,” Durant said.