Sit anywhere in the Stevens Center and you will be able to hear a calming voice relentlessly answering the phone saying, “George Fox University,” and then proceeding to direct the caller to the right place.
Barbi Doran, information services coordinator and switchboard operator extraordinaire, is that calming voice. While she gets a never-ending supply of phone calls each day, she manages to answer the phone in the typical cheerful Barbi fashion every time.
In addition to handling the switchboard, Barbi also is the first person that most people see upon entering the Stevens Center Atrium. Barbi happily greets anyone she sees with a smile and a simple “Hi, how can I help you?”
Recently Barbi shared some of her hilarious, sometimes bizarre and rarely unpleasant phone call stories. Sometimes that basic line of “George Fox University” results in a potentially unpleasant conversation. “I answer the switchboard to a mom screaming at her kids, ‘BECAUSE I’M THE MOM, THAT’S WHY!!!’ and then asks in the sweetest voice to be transferred to someone,” she recalls.
“I had a 92-year-old woman from California call me,” Barbi continues. “She wanted to speak with the President’s Office. She informed me she had known George Fox. She asked, ‘Didn’t he have a PhD?’” Of course, George Fox died in 1691.
How often does it happen that a caller mistakes George Fox as a person who is still alive, or an active member in the community? “It doesn’t happen often, but it happens frequently,” Barbi answers.
Barbi’s role as switchboard operator has also nearly made her famous. “My claim to fame is when I helped a team on the Amazing Race (a reality TV series) win one million dollars!” she recalls. “In the last show of the season, the last three teams landed in Portland and their clue sent them to Tilikum to complete a ropes course. One team called me to get directions to Tilikum. The same team called me back a little later in the day saying they were ‘in a race’ and needed help with their clue, which was directing them to a green dinosaur near the Portland Building. After doing a Google search and not finding any green dinosaur in Portland, I gave them the address to the Portland Building to help them find their destination. It wasn’t until approximately five months later when I watched the show that I realized I had been helping a team on the Amazing Race team and that team had won the million dollar prize! By the way, in case you’re wondering, I never did receive a share of the winnings.”
When Barbi informed her supervisor that she had in fact helped a team win the Amazing Race, she was told that if she were to get a cut of the winnings, she could take the day off to go shopping.
But maybe the funniest call Barbi received was from an elderly lady who called to say she wanted to move in. “I asked her if she realized she had called George Fox University,” says Barbi. “She said ‘yes,’ so I gave her the phone number to Friendsview Manor.”
Barbi has been that warm, welcoming voice of George Fox for five years. She loves her job so much that every year on the anniversary of her hiring she throws a party – complete with food and prizes – where she celebrates her love for her job.
Barbi is always willing to help, so stop by and say hi. She almost always has candy, and all the information you could possibly need about George Fox.