Barbara Little: Building Relationships Through Excellence, Loyalty and Service
By Tiffany Brown, communications associate, Office of University Communications
What struck Barbara Little the most when she first arrived at Howard in January 1975 was the bustle and energy on campus.
“I had been looking at the University from the outside,” Little says. “It was interesting to see all of the buildings and the students and other people going in and out of the schools and colleges. It was fascinating to see all the activity.”
What has kept her here for 35 years are the people and the relationships that she has forged. As the biographic records coordinator in the Office of Advancement Services, Little stays connected to Howard alumni. She is engaged in research and collaboration with other departments to ensure that vital information in the alumni database is accurate.
During her time at Howard, she has held various positions while working in the same division, although when she started it was called the Division of Development and University Relations. While doing the research over the years, she has compiled a lot of interesting facts and achievements about alumni, which inspired her to start the Golden Circle Graduates program. Though the program is no longer running, for Little it was more than just keeping important contact information about the older graduates of Howard; it was about reaching out to them on their birthdays, sending them Get Well cards and congratulating them on achievements in their lives, post-graduation. Little saw this as an opportunity to keep some of the older generations of Howard graduates involved with what was happening on campus and to keep the University involved in their lives.
“I enjoyed hearing their fondest memories of Howard,” she says. “It made me wish I was here at the time they were here.”
The importance of establishing long-lasting relationships with the University community resonates with Little and her interactions with her coworkers. She makes sure to check in with them at times just to see how they are doing.
“It is one thing to be an employee or co-worker,” she says, “but it is really something special to have a friend at work or among the alumni. You never know when the circumstances in your life might cause you to need them or cause them to need you.”
Little has noticed a few changes over the years, including the employees who have left a lasting impression on her. “Sometimes I didn’t know their name, I just knew their face but I would still stop and talk to them,” she says.
She has also seen many new buildings go up and new programs implemented, while serving under different presidents, yet the biggest change she says she has noticed is in herself.
“Now, I know the meaning of accomplishment, achievement and triumph,” Little says. “I have seen it in the students, alumni, faculty and staff. I would not be the person that I am today if I had not been given this privilege. I have learned so much by being employed at Howard University.”
For Little, the legacy of Howard not only relies on the achievements of the students and alumni, but also on the hard work of its employees. She believes that when she and her coworkers succeed, Howard succeeds.
“I make sure that what I do is worthwhile,” Little says. “I want to impress people with excellence, loyalty and service.”
What drives her is her desire to see stronger and long-lasting relationships between the members of the University community. She hopes that in the future a program is established that reaches out to alumni more frequently and congratulates them on their non-academic, non-career achievements. Sending birthday cards, congratulating newly married couples and announcements of births are a few ideas that Little has for building relationships with alumni. She believes that employing these efforts to show that Howard still cares will help the University’s efforts to have more accurate and up-to-date records of graduates.
Little takes a lot of pride in the institution that she works for and tries her best to ensure that other employees have the same experience that she does. She always looks for the positive and always strives to be a part of the solution.
“I want Howard to succeed and to continue to get better,” Little says. “I want it to be a place where we can stand back and say, ‘Howard is great.’”