After 25 years at Indiana University, Gwen McCay, director of human resources administration in the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA), retired on February 26, 2021. McCay began her career at IU Bloomington, receiving majors in personnel & industrial relations and management in 1988 and master's degrees in human resources and management in 1990. In 1996, McCay made IU Bloomington her home, serving as assistant director of administrative support services and managing employee relations. Throughout her career, she has touched the lives of students, staff, faculty, and administration.
“I first met Gwen when she was a student in my MBA class early in my career,” James Wimbush, vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs; dean of The University Graduate School; and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership. “It was wonderful to then reconnect with her when I came to OVPDEMA in 2013. There’s no doubt that Gwen was not only committed to her work in human resources but passionate about it. I am so grateful for Gwen’s many contributions to OVPDEMA and IU, and I wish her well in retirement.”
Sara Peterson, a data analyst with IU Human Resources, recalls first meeting McCay as an undergraduate working part time with her before applying for a full-time HR opportunity after graduate school. "I knew of Gwen's management style, high expectations, respect for others, and breath-of-knowledge; there was no hesitation in coming aboard once selected. I also knew working for Gwen would increase my value/experience/knowledge exponentially, which would open up opportunities for me."
Patrick Gee, a School of Engineering lecturer at IUPUI and McCay's younger brother, believes McCay is so well respected because of her wealth of experience and knowledge. "She has interacted with various groups of people all across the IU system," he said. "She's helped everyone from students to staff and has served on a variety of committees and sat on several boards. She's been on both sides of the table, and I believe that's helped her become the person she is today."
According to Gee, because both he and McCay exist within the IU system, their paths would often cross in various ways. "There were these women development conferences that she'd attend through IU," Gee said. "And sometimes she'd speak at them and would shine with years of experience. Then she would meet someone from IUPUI, and then they would seek me out and verify if I really was this famous person's brother."
Gee believes McCay's reputation stems from her understanding of people. "She works in human resources, and she really understands the human part of that," Gee said. "She's a people person and has years of experience working in her field. She is truly dedicated to people and helping them in whatever ways she can." According to Gee, this extends to her hobbies as well. An avid doll collector and gardener, McCay has made friends with various individuals within those communities.
Christopher Burke, McCay's son and barber at Razor's Image Barbershop in Bloomington, agrees with the statement made in the email announcing McCay’s retirement that she will be focusing on her flowers and playing with her grandkids—who are thrilled to spend time with her. "They're very excited," he said. "They believe she knows everyone, and I hope that some of her traits manifest in them." He says that she was always supportive of him and that he is very excited for his children to experience that same support he continues to receive.
"Everybody's got a certain gift," Burke said. "When she describes her job, she's dynamic and wants to satisfy every angle of a situation. I'm kind of the same way. In fact, there is a running joke I tell people who know her, 'you know who raised me.' We're very similar like that."
When asked to recall a significant memory of his mother, Burke told a story of when he was in pre-school. Due to his increased reading level, he was kept inside during recess to read while the other kids played outside. "I was upset, of course," Burke said. "And when I told my mom, she immediately got everything sorted out. Went right to my teacher and negotiated me being able to go out and play kickball for half of the recess while I read for the other half."
Burke states that he would like his mother remembered as well respected and always willing to help someone in need. "She's always been a resource I've had, and I'm so glad she's gotten to help others like she's helped me. She's my best friend," he went on to say.