by Dr. David Dougherty, Professor Emeritus of English and Liberal Studies
The Graduate Liberal Studies Program mourns the passing, and celebrates the life, of one of its most influential pioneers. Genevieve “Gen” Rafferty ably served as the program secretary for more than three decades, and in that capacity she touched the lives of many students and faculty. For many, she was the voice of the program – the person one called, or wrote, to arrange a meeting, navigate a regulation, find information, or nudge a program administrator to move a task toward completion. Gen departed this life after a long illness on July 11, 2017.
She began her life at Loyola (College in those days) working with the philosophy department, and later the Master of Business Administration Program, before settling in for nearly four decades as the English department’s administrative assistant – though she always and emphatically preferred to be called the secretary. When Dr. Charles Hands rolled out the Modern Studies program in the mid-1970s, she took on the additional tasks associated with submitting accreditation documents and administering the new program without a title or additional pay – titles and compensation weren’t what Gen cared about; she cared about people.
When the program began to expand, and we offered classes at the Baltimore location, she came into contact more frequently and directly with faculty and students. She often stayed a little late on evenings a Modern Studies class was meeting on the Charles Street campus, just in case she could be of help. Timeclocks weren’t her thing; people were. Eventually graduate students found their way to her office, where they might reap the harvest of her stash of candies, her good advice, or her welcoming smile. Students knew that Dr. Hands and I didn’t really pull all those rabbits out of the hat cutting through red tape; they knew we asked Gen to make some calls so we could learn what our options were. Over the years, more than one student advised each of us to “let Gen take care of it.” And she did. Policies weren’t her thing; people were. She helped guide the program through two separate rigorous self-studies, and one of the outside reviewers characterized our program support as “truly outstanding.” As a program consultant for AGLSP (the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs), I had to arrange campus visits and write endless reports; Gen always found a way to squeeze these tasks into an already intimidating workload.
She was notoriously a curmudgeon about computers, and she resisted automation at every step of the way. She became very good at it, nonetheless. But she always felt that it got in the way of what she loved most, direct contact with students and faculty. Technology wasn’t her thing; people were. She made Liberal Studies, or Modern Studies as it once was called – incidentally, she didn’t like the new name either, but she quickly warmed up to it – a better place for everyone, student and faculty alike, because of her dedication to the people who make up that organization. We miss her profoundly, and we’re a better program and better people for having had the joy of knowing her.