Carol Clark and Mavis Sotnick add a little class to the Jacobs Center
Ed. note: Since they began working as concierges at the new Jacobs Center reception desk in February, Carol Clark and Mavis Sotnick have become famous for their welcoming and helpful attitude, as well as their humor. To capture their distinct personalities and the way they complement each other, The Link interviewed Carol and Mavis simultaneously at their post to give an idea of why they’ve become so popular throughout the school. They are convieniently located on the first floor next to the huge purple chair.
Tell me a little bit about your different styles in terms of welcoming people to the Jacobs Center and getting them to the right place.
Carol Clark: I think Mavis cheats because she has a fabulous British accent that people love to hear. I may be a cut-above, but she’s got an unfair advantage.
Mavis Sotnick: I think Carole has an unfair advantage because she’s worked in this building for five years and she knows everybody. She has more knowledge about the building and where everyone is located. She’s much more informative than I am, but I’m learning a lot as I go.
Have you ever faked an accent, Carol?
CC: I can’t do Mavis’ accent. I’ve tried.
But you’ve learned quite a bit in the five months that you’ve been stationed here?
CC: We’ve worked out things a little better, because when we first started we had this change over when I come in and Mavis leaves. Someone would come up to the desk and ask Mavis a question, and I would answer before she had a chance to think it through. She would get so mad at me! 'Carol, would you just wait for me to answer!' Isn’t that true, Mavis?
MS: Yes, that’s true. I think the most frustrating thing is that there are a lot of events going on that we don’t know about. For instance, one company had a presentation here but a cocktail party in another building. We had all these people looking for a cocktail party, and there was no way I could have known.
CC: On the other hand I always know where a party is on campus. I wouldn’t need to look it up.
What are your different approaches to interacting with people who are visiting the Kellogg School for the first time?
MS: My approach is a little bit different –
CC : Oh yeah she’s a little different –
MS : – because I worked in the Allen Center for 10 years and one of my duties was to give tours to new students. A prospective student doesn’t know a lot of what’s going on, so I always ask them where they’re from, what they’re hoping to learn here. I give them hints, like they should get a button from admissions so that when they walk around they can stop a current student and ask them a question. The button will signal they are a prospective student, and they’ll be wonderful.
So while Carol has an edge on the building, I’ve got more experience –
CC: She’s been known to spend a half-hour with a new student.
MS: One of them wrote me a letter to thank me! He was here with his fiancé.
CC: I’ll hear her say – “and when you come back in the fall make sure you come and see me.” She’s working on that incoming class.
CC: I occassionally bring Mavis flowers from my garden. And this is her dog.
[ed. note: Carol picks up a stuffed animal Dalmatian that sings pomp and circumstance when you press its ear and has a Kellogg napkin holder tied around its cap].
Does the dog have a name?
MS: Can’t you hear the music? Any student is allowed to play the dog when they come by and practice their graduation march up and down.
CC: I mean there’s cheesy and then there’s cheesy.
MS: Well now I’ve got to tell you that we’re matchmakers here. I had a student come up to me that described a girl and told me - actually, I better not mention that.
CC: [Laughs] That’s a good place to end it.
CC: We both have very different styles. For instance, when I give out the Hershey chocolates I say: “Would you like a kiss?” And Mavis always tells me not to say that.
MS: That’s because she said it to a very shy person that works here and I thought he was going to die!
CC: And then I told a professor he could have two kisses and he said “Okay, but don’t tell my wife.”
MS: With our ages, we can laugh and joke about things that a younger person probably couldn’t. But I have to be very careful with my sense of humor, because English humor is very risqué.
[Ed. note: Interview interrupted by students bringing Mavis and Carol lunch from a meeting that just ended.
CC: People love us for the leftover food.
MS: And students will also use us as the mother figure, they’ll come and tell us if something is on their minds.
CC: My children are the same age the Kellogg students, so I totally relate to them.
How did you both find out about the new job?
CC: Carole Cahill knew I wanted to work half-time, so I took a one year leave of absence from my previous full time position at the school. When she called me about this job I thought it sounded fabulous. And she said Mavis – who had just retired from the Allen Center – wanted to a job share, which was just perfect.
MS: I had the same thing. I left the Allen Center, and at one point I ran into someone when I came back to campus to visit who told me they might have a job for me. Then last September I talked to Carole and she told me about it – she used a word I could hardly spell: concierge of the Jacobs Center. I thought it sounded tailor-made. I ran out and bought a purple blazer, which I’ve been too scared to wear!
So you had retired from the Allen Center, Mavis?
MS: Yes, I had finished a full-time job, I was the Allen Center for 10 years working in EMBA. It was the most wonderful place, and I never thought you could leave the Allen Center and come to the same kind of environment, but I found it here.
It’s wonderful; it’s a seven-minute walk from my home. Everybody sees me walking my dogs. I’m waiting for takers for additional walkers but I haven’t had any offers yet.
MS: I don’t think you can squeeze anymore out of us, is there anymore to say?
CC: You can always squeeze more out of us.
MS: Carol is a wonderful grandmother. I’m also a grandma. I love to walk the lake, and I just love Evanston.
CC: I grew up in Evanston, so Northwestern was always kind of a foreign land. In fact I’m old enough to remember before they had the lakefill.
MS: Oh you’re kidding!
CC: No! Well you were in England then, Mavis.
Mavis, when did you come to Evanston?
MS: I came with the pilgrims.