Donna Sue Close, a 43-year staff member in the Student Affairs Division, died March 6, 2019, at 68.
Close worked in the office of the vice chancellor for student affairs, helping to coordinate office activities, including handling its business and hiring needs.
Erin Carney Strong, assistant to the vice provost and dean of students in the division, recalls Close helping to hire her in 1993.
“I always think of Donna as a role model for customer service,” Strong said. “She wanted people’s inquiries to our office to be their last stop. She was always there.” Students and parents with concerns, Strong recalled, “could count on her.”
On snowy days when others had difficulty coming into the office, “she would walk in from Greenfield, across the Greenfield Bridge, and staff the office,” Strong said. Close was “a go-to, a ready reference, a supporter for everyone in the office. And some of these are difficult situations. She kept meticulous records and had a special knowledge of who’s who. She wanted our office to support the Pitt community and do it well.”
Alice Harrison, who joined student affairs in 1990 and is now student services assistant in its career center, remembered Close’s impact: “It was always positive. If there was a need, she would do what she could to help students. She was just a very exceptional, caring, fun-loving person. She extended relationship beyond work and she made you feel special.”
Strong said Close was a mentor and friend, inside and outside the office: “Donna had a passion for learning. She completed a master’s degree while she was a staff member.” In retirement, she took as many as six classes at a time through Pitt’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Strong recalled trying to schedule a lunch with Close: “Donna would be the one who was booked. I admire her as a role model. … I definitely subscribe to her example she set.”
Predeceased by husband John McClay Close, faculty member in the School of Dental Medicine, she is survived by daughters Heather, Ashley and Christa; mother Lois; brother Gregory Pierce and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be set in the future. Gifts in Close’s name are suggested to The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation (www.cholangiocarcinoma.org).