NEWBERRY — It’s quite difficult to sum up the many roles of Piedmont Technical College’s (PTC) Newberry campus director, Beth Jaeger. In an average day, she is, of course, an administrator. But she’s also a photographer, tech support guru, special events coordinator, social media influencer, logistics manager, consultant, furniture mover, art curator, and even resident elf or cupid, depending on the holiday. In short, Jaeger is a problem solver and general spreader of happiness throughout the building.
“On this campus, we have fun. We are positive. And we’re nice,” Jaeger said. “As long as we can laugh at ourselves, we had a good day.”
When she started working at PTC in December 2013, Jaeger had little experience in higher education, but she came with a strong desire to make things work. She brought to campus 19 years of experience working in a long-term care facility as Director of Operations and later as Director of Personnel. Taking over running the Newberry campus was daunting at first.
One of his first challenges was tracking classroom, workspace, and auditorium bookings using a building room grid.
“It looks like a huge Tetris puzzle,” she said. “It was a big stressor. I’m grateful that I never booked a double room.
As she settled into work (there is no such thing as a “routine” day), Jaeger widened her scope to address the friendliness and warmth of campus. She had seen a mural painted by local artist Robert Matheson for a June 19 municipal event and wanted to share it with the students. PTC maintenance technician Brian Hare knew the artist, so Jaeger asked him to investigate. Next thing you know, the mural is on display in the campus lobby. But it took almost a village to get there. The mural would not fit in a standard car or truck.
“We ended up having to hire a U-Haul to transport the mural because it’s so big,” noted the brave one-day logistics and transportation manager.
Jaeger works hard to provide engaging activities for students, like a Black History Month Q&A contest, a Valentine’s Day swap, traveling art exhibits, and even a free little library box. in front of the building. A particularly inspired event was “Blind Date with a Book”, in which forgotten library books that are rarely borrowed were wrapped up and displayed on a table for people to borrow. The attendees seemed to really enjoy it.
“I get all my ideas from Pinterest. I’m not that creative,” she said humbly. “I want students to want to be here. I want them to have fun when they’re here. .
Jaeger lives in Newberry with her husband, Mike, and daughters Kindel, 14, and Mallorie, 21. For Jaeger, a conversation about family isn’t complete without mentioning fur babies Holly, a mixed-breed rescue dog, and Bluebell, a bluetick dog. Last November, the family lost their beloved beagle Kiki, and her loss remains palpable. The screensaver on her computer is a family photo with Kiki just before she died. She cries at the memory.
“I’m a sentimental jerk,” she said.
His penchant for animals, especially dogs, is no secret to the campus Veterinary Technology faculty. Jaeger audited their courses several times, and on his birthday they presented him with an honorary veterinary technical lab coat.
In his spare time, Jaeger enjoys making quilts and spending time with his active family. They participate in Crossfit together and his youngest daughter even participates in the competition.
Jaeger is grateful for the exceptional people she works with and does not hesitate to give them credit. She noted that Dean of Off-Campus Academic Affairs Lisa Toland and Academic Services Coordinator Ashley Boone are indispensable members of her winning team.
“There’s no way one person can do this,” she insisted. “You have to have a good team”
These days, Jaeger is something of a “campus whisperer,” for whom no job is too small.
“If it has to be done, I will do it or I will learn to do it. It’s kind of what I’m standing on,” she said. “I don’t have all the answers, but I have no qualms about finding the people who do. We have a tremendous wealth of knowledge at PTC. It’s a wonderful family.