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Saying goodbye to Tamie Willis

After 35 years of dedication and service to the Oklahoma Christian University Beam Library, Library Director Tamie Willis is retiring this December. Originally taking a job in the library in 1986, Willis had planned on staying for only two years, but her love for college students and the relationships she formed kept her in the game longer than she expected.

“This is going to sound so cliche, but my favorite part of the job is working with the students and the relationship with the students, employees and people on this campus,” Willis said. “That is absolutely the most fulfilling aspect [of this job].”

As she continued through the ranks of the Beam Library, Willis has worn many hats and been involved in many corners of Oklahoma Christian. From involvement in the Title IX program to President of the Faculty Association, Willis’ impact has been felt across campus. On top of all that, according to Theological Librarian Chris Rosser, her co-worker of 11 years, Willis’ legacy is being the foundation of the Beam Library.

“Tamie is responsible for building Beam Library: the library is the powerful information substructure for the University, and we are what we are because of decisions Tamie has made, battles she has fought and because of her tenacious fortitude,” Rosser said. “There’s a Japanese proverb: en no shita no chikara mochi, ‘the strong one under the floor,’ which points to the presence of a powerful but often unacknowledged powerhouse upholding the organization: at OC, that’s Tamie Willis.”

            Associate professor JJ Compton has worked with Willis for over 20 years, and said her legacy will not only be all the work she has done for the library, but also her kindness and how she treats those around her.

“She wants to make sure that everyone is seen and that everyone is heard,” Compton said. “It feels weird that she’s going to be gone because she’s been here my entire career. It’s odd to think that the library will continue without her but I know the standards she has upheld will continue to go on.”

            Just as much as Willis has shaped this campus, Willis said her experience at the Beam Library has impacted her immensely, growing her faith and challenging her continuously.

“I have been challenged in my faith, in my perceptions,” Willis said. “And that’s what I love about being on a college campus. I can’t be self-satisfied with my beliefs because I’m challenged constantly. Chapels challenge me, professors in the Bible Department — they have challenged me to look so far beyond my upbringing and the surface of my faith, religion and study of Scriptures. I think that has shaped me more than anything. And the interaction with students keeps you with a sense of purpose and also keeps you focused on the future rather than the past. It’s been a blessing.”

Her co-workers will miss the way she shapes them, supporting them constantly and pushing them towards service.

“She’s been really encouraging professionally as far as making sure we get continuing development opportunities through conferences, workshops, etc,” Compton said. “I’m also in a Ph.D. program right now and she’s been very encouraging through that. She just goes above and beyond the second mile.”

“Tamie is a mentor for me,” Rosser said. “We’ve spent much time together in deep and generative conversation, and I’ve learned from Tamie what concern for others looks like when concern is disinterested in self.”

            Looking into retirement, Willis is excited for the new leadership of the Beam Library as well as the next chapter of her life. She will be spending time with her family by helping educate her grandchildren. As she steps into a different challenge, Willis leaves Oklahoma Christian with this message:

“Every time you have an encounter with someone, you could leave them in a better or worse place. Think before you speak. Think how your words can impact others. Forgive and believe in transformation. It’s been a great ride.”

You can send Library Director Tamie Willis a goodbye note/gift through this link set up by her co-workers:

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