June marks two milestone retirements for the Department of Neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine: Tami Evans, the pre-clinical business manager for the department, is stepping down after 19 years in the department and Mellie Euler, a special project administrator, is retiring after 20 years. Their dedication and hard work have ushered in notable advances over the years, including major growth in the number of faculty members, initiatives such as the Human Connectome Project and even a department name change.
“I will forever be indebted to Tami for her financial acumen coupled with common sense advice, plus a cheerful demeanor and a fine sense of humor thrown in for good measure, as we dealt with myriad administrative and budgetary issues over the years,” said David Van Essen, PhD, Alumni Endowed Professor of Neuroscience, who was head of the department for two decades (when it was known as the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology). Van Essen added that Evans’s “skills and stabilizing influence” eased the transition in 2012 when Van Essen stepped down as chair.
“I am grateful to Tami for her guidance and support as I transitioned to WashU,” said Linda Richards, PhD, Edison Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience. “She is a wealth of information and we greatly appreciate all that she has done for the Department.”
Evans’s career at Washington University began in 1984 and her talents graced the departments of Pediatrics and Medicine before she arrived in the Department of Neuroscience in 2003. In 2010, when Evans became business manager for the department, Van Essen was awarded $40 million from the National Institutes of Health to lead the Human Connectome Project and, subsequently, Lifespan Connectome Projects in Development and Aging. Evans handled grants management for these multi-institutional brain imaging studies that spanned more than a decade.
Evans served on numerous committees, including one that selected the software and vendor for all of Washington University’s research management system. Among her many accomplishments, she introduced a grants database to the department, a major upgrade from the manual system that had been in place previously. With Ann Olendorff, coordinator of facilities and compliance for the department, Evans renovated the anatomy teaching room at the School of Medicine—preserving the century-old specimens and august ambience of the classroom while upgrading the equipment and layout for state-of-the-art instruction.
Evans said one of the favorite aspects of her career has been getting to know the faculty. “You felt like their successes are your successes because you are a part of it,” she said. She is most proud of the achievements of her colleagues, especially those she hired and supervised as their careers blossomed. “Under Tami’s guidance, I was given an opportunity to be a more vital participant in the future direction and actions of the Donor Program,” said Dan Loesche, the body donor program manager. “She allowed me to grow into my position both professionally and personally. For these things I will always be grateful.”
“It has been an absolute pleasure working with Tami,” said Kaslina Love Mosley, the department’s pre-clinical business director. “We are wishing her the best as she reclaims her time during retirement.”
“Always willing to lend a professional hand”
Mellie Euler joined the Department of Neuroscience in 2001, contributing to nearly all aspects of the business office as her positions changed over the years, including payroll, accounting and visa processing. “It felt good to get the new hires documented and get them in the door so they could pursue their research,” she said. Euler also managed billing for the Washington University Center for Cellular Imaging for six years.
“Mellie was always there to help me, the office and everyone in the department and would make new hires feel welcome when they joined the department,” said Evans. “Mellie will be missed by all and is indeed a hidden gem behind the curtain.”
Oftentimes, Euler was tasked with implementing new initiatives and had to develop procedures from scratch to ensure they ran smoothly. For instance, she oversaw the pricing needed for the Human Connectome Project “Connectome-in-a-Box” hard drive datasets sold at cost on the Human Connectome Project website, ensuring that it was a break-even operation over the course of several years. “Whatever task was before her, she did it with excellence,” said Troy Jones, coordinator of procurement and accounting. “She provided stability from day one and was a joy to work with and when called upon, gave thoughtful, knowledgeable advice.”
“Mellie Euler is definitely a hidden figure in the university who is always willing to lend a professional hand to assist in the administrative functions of the department,” said Mosley. “No matter the workload, she always knows how to make the customer feel important and heard.”
Euler said she is looking forward to spending her time hiking and doting on her five grandchildren during her retirement. “Mellie is a wonderful colleague who has worked hard to provide the best possible support for our Department members,” said Richards. “We will miss both Mellie and Tami and wish them happiness and exciting times ahead in their retirement.”