They are the words of faculty members at Franklin & Marshall College who have worked closely with Lydia Brubaker:
“The work of Faculty Council would collapse without Lydia.”
“She is a spiritual agent of the College’s mission.”
“The College would grind to a halt without her.”
As executive assistant to the provost, Brubaker oversees many critical administrative processes at the College. But it’s the special ways in which she does it -- and keeps people and projects moving in the right direction -- that have made her the 2019 recipient of the Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes a member of the professional staff each year who consistently goes above and beyond what would normally be considered good performance; who has earned the respect of students and colleagues; and who has clearly demonstrated his or her commitment to the mission of the College.
“I feel incredibly honored to receive this award,” Brubaker said. “I tend to do so much work in the background, and often along with teams of great people, so it’s simultaneously gratifying to be recognized and slightly embarrassing to be singled out.”
Brubaker joined the College in February 2010 as a part-time program assistant in the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House. Later that year, she joined the Office of the Provost and began undertaking a slew of tasks central to the academic life of the College and its faculty.
In her most public duty, she manages the voting at faculty meetings. But she also makes behind-the-scenes contributions to shared governance by serving as the scribe and offering administrative support for Faculty Council, the Professional Standards Committee, and, for many years, the Educational Policy Committee. She also maintains updates to the Faculty Handbook and serves as secretary for the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees.
And often, there’s an unexpected curveball in her work, such as the night in 2014 when she remained in Old Main until 2 a.m. for last-minute preparations for a curriculum symposium. She manages it all with grace and patience, according to numerous faculty who supported her nomination for the Kneedler Award.
“My job puts me in an interesting position where I have a unique perspective on the operation of the College,” Brubaker said. “It was a real learning curve, but now I feel like I can offer my input and observations to help bring about solutions. It’s fascinating to see how faculty, professional staff, students and trustees interface through all of our work.”
A theater and philosophy major at Muhlenberg College, Brubaker credits her liberal arts background for allowing her to make connections in her everyday work. “Being a product of a liberal arts education underscores everything I do at F&M. The best parts of my job are those little moments where I see the values instilled in me playing out across campus or get to exercise my love of learning, debate and creative collaboration.”
Away from campus, Brubaker has a strong commitment to the Lancaster community by enlivening and sustaining the local arts scene. She is a founder and executive director of Creative Works of Lancaster, a nonprofit theater organization that promotes opportunities for creative expression and collaboration. She’s also facilitator for the Lancaster Dramatists’ Platform, a local playwriting group. Both give her the creative outlet she craves.
“In my theater work, I’m primarily a director, which requires the coordination of a lot of different parts,” she says. “It’s similar to what I do at F&M. I tend to sit and watch and listen, and help everyone in the room make the best choices possible. I like to make sure everyone’s moving together in the right direction.”