A month ago, Kimberly Crowley never expected she’d be joining former colleague Dan Nadler as an employee of Eastern Illinois University.
But a series of circumstances -- some good, some bad -- paved her a pathway that led from New Orleans to Charleston, Illinois.
“It’s a temporary appointment,” said Nadler, who is preparing to begin his third month as Eastern’s vice president for student affairs. “But it’s an appointment that’s going to benefit both Kim and our university.”
Nadler, an Illinois native, left his post as associate vice president for student affairs at New Orleans’ Tulane University to come to Eastern. Although he and his family were safely in Illinois by the time Hurricane Katrina hit, Nadler found it impossible not to be concerned about his former colleagues.
“The Tulane campus suffered wind damage and, of course, some flooding,” he said. “But it’s not one of the worst-hit areas of the city. They are planning to re-open in January.”
Until then, however, many individuals could be without jobs.
Crowley, who, as head of Tulane’s Substance Abuse Clinic for the past two years, had worked closely with Nadler, temporarily moved back to her home state of Missouri after Katrina invaded her adopted city. Nadler and EIU President Lou Hencken saw that move as an opportunity – both for Crowley and for EIU.
“The president knew Eastern had a need for a substance abuse counselor and plans were in the works to eventually fill a permanent full-time slot,” Nadler said. “As a result of his willingness to reallocate some funding, we were able to offer Kim this temporary appointment at Eastern’s Counseling Center and get someone in there earlier than expected.”
News of the addition of another colleague pleased the center’s staff, as well, Nadler said. “They’re really happy to see the extra help. An increase in caseload is expected every year, but it seems to be happening earlier this semester.”
The timing also seemed right when, on Sept. 11, the Michael Andretti Foundation donated $20,000 from a $100,000 fund provided by Jim Beam to Eastern Illinois University. The donation is earmarked for the purpose of alcohol education programs on university campuses.
At Eastern, the money will be used to increase alcohol education and awareness efforts. Crowley will be among those working with Eric Davidson, associate director of Eastern’s health services, to develop and implement these programs.
Crowley, who began her work at EIU on Monday, admitted that when she got a call from Nadler to come interview at Eastern, she really “wasn’t ready.” While she and her dog, Ruby (a catahoula, which Crowley termed the Louisiana state dog), managed to evacuate New Orleans without physical harm, her home didn’t fare as well. It escaped any “significant flooding,” but not the winds. During a recent trip home, she managed to tarp the roof, but doubts that tarp survived this past weekend’s visit from Rita.
Her outlook changed when she actually arrived on Eastern’s campus. “I was impressed,” she said. “It took a joint effort by many people on campus to make this happen and to make it happen so quickly.”
She noted, too, that a fellow therapist has opened her home to her and Ruby, giving them both a place to stay for the next three months.
“Everyone’s been so supportive and helpful…they didn’t even know me and they had a care package waiting for me when I arrived,” she said. “There was no way I couldn’t come; everyone was so accommodating!”
She doesn’t anticipate staying at Eastern for long, however. “I definitely want to return to New Orleans – at least for one year,” she said. “I’ll fix up my house and see what develops as far as the city goes.”
Crowley, who received her master’s degree in both social work and public health from Tulane University, also has worked one year as a staff social worker for the Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority, two years as lead therapist at the Voyage House and two years as program director at Responsibility House Social Detox, all in New Orleans.
In the mid-1990s, she served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Hungary.