Education

Carol Higley Looks Back on 40 Years at St. Bonaventure University

af263426c9310d51a161_IMG_1479.JPG
Carol Higley (pictured) will retire on May 12 after nearly 40 years of working at St. Bonaventure University. Credits: Jason Klaiber
af263426c9310d51a161_IMG_1479.JPG

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY—When Carol Higley first stepped onto the second floor of St. Bonaventure University’s Reilly Center in August 1977, she felt ready to begin work as the assistant to the Rev. Brennan Fitzgerald, OFM, the director of student activities at the time. However, she received little assistance settling into her new job.   

“I didn’t know where my office was,” said Higley. “There was nobody to show me around. I kind of found my own way.”

She found her way so well, in fact, that since that day, Higley, now 74, never considered leaving St. Bonaventure for a job elsewhere.

Sign Up for E-News

Previously, she had worked as a secretary in the dean of women’s office at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, in advanced market development at glass manufacturer Corning Inc., in the classified advertising department at the Olean Times Herald and in plastics at consumer goods company Dexter HYSOL.        

Learning how to communicate with others within her prior working environments helped prepare Higley for her duties at St. Bonaventure, she said.

As the assistant to the director of student activities, Higley oversaw the assignments of student employees, the creation of brochures and school calendars and the promotion of campus events and ticket sales. She also expressed hospitality to campus visitors, including a number of notable performers and lecturers invited to the university over the past five decades.

On April 25, 1987, in the hours before singer-songwriter Don McLean’s scheduled concert on a grassy area beside the Reilly Center, Higley borrowed an RV from an Allegany musician for temporary use as McLean’s dressing room. Shortly into his performance, concert-goers pelted McLean’s guitar with beer bottles, promptly ending the show.

“I don’t know where he went from there, but as soon as I could, I got into the RV and got it out of there,” Higley recalled. “I didn’t want anyone damaging it, since I had borrowed it.”

When renowned painter Denny Dent visited the area in late September 1991, Higley chauffeured him from the Castle Restaurant and Motel, where the Community Bank, N.A. building stands now, across the street to campus. Dressed in paint-covered bib overalls and holding three brushes in each hand, Dent accidentally left a splotch of yellow paint on the inside dashboard of Higley’s then-brand-new Toyota Camry. Nevertheless, Higley said that she didn’t mind Dent’s interior paint job, as it provided her with an entertaining story to tell.  

The day the musical duo of David Crosby and Graham Nash were set to perform in November 1991, Nash showed noticeable signs of illness. Higley offered to bring him to either Olean General Hospital or the university’s wellness center for a check-up. Despite her persistence, the musician forewent medical treatment and eventually performed later that night.

“Being a mother, you keep trying,” said Higley, who had fully raised two daughters and a son by that point.

She admits her favorite memory came with poet Maya Angelou’s visit to campus in March 1996.

Higley and her friend Beverly Twitty-Terrien, the founder of the Olean singing group the Gospel Choraliers, greeted Angelou at her limo and walked the poet through the basement of the Reilly Center en route to her lecture in the arena.

“I was so excited because my friend was holding her hand, and they were walking down the hall hand-in-hand,” Higley said. “They’re both very spiritual. They were both touched that they met each other.”

Among the multitude of guests whose visits Higley helped organize and promote over the years were fitness guru Richard Simmons, comedian Jerry Seinfeld and iconic country music couple Johnny Cash and June Carter.

“It’s just fun to have somebody famous here to bring some culture to campus,” Higley said.

Within her time span at St. Bonaventure, Higley also founded and advised the International Student Association, which focused on the sharing of different cultural customs among international students studying at the university. Additionally, between 1998 and 2014, Higley served as adviser through 18 issues of St. Bonaventure’s now-defunct yearbook The Bonadieu .   

As her May 12 retirement approaches, Higley maintains that applying for a position at the university was the best decision she ever made. Her one complaint is the commute between Portville and campus during harsh snowfalls.

Higley, whose final position at St. Bonaventure is with the Sandra A. and William L. Richter Center with the Center for Activities, Recreation and Leadership, said she will miss speaking with students more than anything.

“It’s been fun getting to know all the students,” she said. “I hate it when they leave.”

In the years ahead, Higley plans to frequently travel to both Colorado and Wisconsin, where members of her family live. She also intends to continue her longtime hobbies of gardening and crafting quilts.

Even as she looks forward to retirement, she remains certain that she will fondly remember her time at St. Bonaventure.

“I always felt comfortable here,” Higley said. “Always.”

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

Grandpa Practiced Sustainability

My grandpa was of the Depression Era. Sustainability wasn’t “a thing” back then — it was just the way you lived. Though he was raised in a time when you were thankful to be able to put a good meal on the table, he likely had a standard of life that we would consider average or middle class today. He didn’t grow up in a slum or shanty town, but he did understand the ...

'March for Our Lives' Started A Historic Movement

Shoes on the ground. People chanting. Signs held high. Music playing in the background.

It is the start of a historic movement. A moment when every race, gender and age came together as one. A movement that involved change and a March for Our Lives.

As a student journalist going out to the world, taking part in a national movement truly moved me. Reporting the significance of March for ...

Bonnies Historic Season Will Give Community Source of Pride Years to Come

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY -- The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball season came to an end earlier than the team had hoped. Coaches looked disappointed, and players covered their faces with towels. St. Bonaventure’s (26-8) loss to Florida (21-12) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament left many thinking what if?

However, the Bonnies historic season is nothing for the team to ...

Golf “Fore” Heroes Fund supports Wounded warriors through golf

May 13, 2018

When he takes to the course on July 7, CJ Mackey will do so with a smile, but he will also know that there is a whole lot more to the day than birdies and bogies.

As a member of the Golf “Fore” Heroes Tournament committee, Mackey has been a part of organizing the annual tournament to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, which has now raised over $17,000 since 2016.

This ...

William D. and Catherine Griffin Fraser Fund established at CRCF

Nothing can replace the kind of love that persists and flourishes for 43 years, but William Fraser has found a way to preserve the name and memory of his late wife, Catherine Griffin Fraser.

Fraser recently established the William D. and Catherine Griffin Fraser Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation to make possible an annual scholarship and grants to the Olean General Hospital ...

Young Honors Allegany County Official as 'Woman of Distinction'

ALBANY, N.Y. – For her tireless commitment and accomplishments on behalf of crime victims, Shannon Ozzella, Crime Victims Coordinator for the Allegany County District Attorney’s Office, was honored this week as a New York State Senate 2018 “Woman of Distinction.” Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I – 57th District) selected Ms. Ozzella as the 57th Senate ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...