Dean of libraries to take position in local chapter
By Sara Tirrito
One of Baylor’s own will soon take on the role of campaign chair for United Way of Waco-McLennan County.
Pattie Orr, vice president for information technology and dean of university libraries, who has been a board member with United Way for two years, was chosen for the position. She will officially take on the position Feb. 8 while continuing her work at Baylor.
“It’s going to be a fun role, and I think it’s a great honor for someone from Baylor to be able to hold that position,” Orr said. “The campaign for United Way is so important to our local community — we need to support all of these agencies. I think Baylor’s always been very supportive of United Way.”
Orr said she is driven to support the organization by a desire to give back to her community.
“My mother was disabled and so we certainly benefited from United Way agencies that offered services for my own family. I’m really thankful for that and have always felt that with the blessings that I’ve been given, financially and my own good health, that I need to give back to the community,” Orr said. “That’s why I enjoy helping United Way. I enjoy doing this personally, but I also think it’s very important to Baylor to connect with our community. To be able to represent Baylor in this role helps the community understand that Baylor cares, too. My work will represent all of us, including the students, and will show the community that Baylor does care about the needs that they have.”
As campaign chair, Orr will be a part of United Way’s executive committee and will also go out into the community to speak with businesses and schools to encourage them in their campaigns to support United Way.
Orr said she has also seen substantial student involvement in efforts to support the organization.
“We talk about this a lot as an employee campaign, and for businesses that’s definitely what it is. Of course for Baylor and the other schools in the area, including McLennan Community College and TSTC, students also are interested in United Way,” Orr said. “I think we’ve had a great partnership with students here at Baylor, and they have certainly raised funds for United Way. Many of our students volunteer in some of these agencies as well. We refer to United Way as an employee campaign, but it’s really an all of Baylor community campaign.”
Keith Richardson, fundraising campaign coordinator for United Way in Waco-McLennan County, said Orr has been instrumental in helping plan events and find venues for the organization since becoming a member of United Way’s board.
“Right away she started getting her hands dirty and getting involved with us and doing her part to get as much of Baylor’s support behind United Way as possible,” Richardson said.
Although Orr is not yet familiar with some of the agencies she will be encouraging businesses to help support, Richardson said she has already expressed a desire to visit them and learn about them.
“She just really wants to go that extra mile in everything she does,” Richardson said.
Orr said her work with United Way is important to her because the organization works to make sure aid is distributed fairly and that those who need assistance in the community can get it.
“I think it’s part of our calling as Christians to serve the poor and help those in need. United Way gives us a way to help several different agencies in our community. United Way oversight can help make sure that the donations are distributed in an equitable way — I’ve always thought that was very important,” Orr said. “I feel very blessed to have my job here at Baylor, and it seems like it’s my responsibility to be sure that those in my community that have needs can get help. Supporting United Way so others can be served by these agencies is a very good way to do that.”
Orr’s goals as campaign chair include helping businesses and organizations to understand United Way’s work.
“My primary goal will be to reach out to the businesses and organizations to help them better understand the role that United Way is playing in our community. I want them to understand the valuable way that our agencies are serving those with needs,” Orr said. “I hope to at least maintain, and if possible increase, the amount of funding that comes to the campaign in this coming year. Because the economy is so difficult, it’s more than ever going to be very, very important that those who count on us will be able to count on the funding in this difficult year.”
Carl Flynn, director of communications and marketing for university libraries and ITS, who has worked with Orr for two and a half years at Baylor, said she brings energy and focus to her work at the university and he expects to see that carry over into her work with United Way.
“Her focus is on maintaining and improving libraries and IT,” Flynn said. “She brings a lot of energy to both of those tasks, so those are her two strengths I think in this regard, and I see her bringing the same energy and focus to the community efforts as well. That’s just what she does well.”
Flynn said working with Orr is exciting because she constantly works toward new ideas and improvements.
“It’s always an adventure because Pattie is someone who is always thinking about the next great idea, and her possibility horizon is always open and so her mind is simultaneously engaged with the things that are going on and the possibilities or potentialities of what those things could be and new ideas of how we can extend,” Flynn said. “So her involvements span that whole range, so that makes it very adventurous because you never know which way things are going to go.”