From the Mailroom to the Dean’s Office
The idea of starting in the mailroom and working your way up has become a cliche in American business, used to demonstrate the value in taking an entry-level job and leveraging it to climb the rungs of an organization. While the mailroom phenomenon is more of a metaphor in today’s evolving job economy than literal advice to start your career sorting letters, The College’s John Hutton literally did just that.
“I started as a student worker and at the beginning it was the mailroom, putting up all the mail and stuff for all the faculty and staff,” said Hutton. “It was during a time of staff and faculty downsizing, so my boss at the time, the Associate Dean of the Administration of Business, asked me if I’d picked up some tasks.”
Hutton began his career at VCU in 1990, while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in administrative services management from the university. Nearly 30 years later, he’s risen from the mailroom to an administrative position, and today works as the Graduate Program and Special Projects Coordinator for the College of Humanities and Sciences.
As the coordinator for the graduate programs in the College of Humanities and Sciences, Hutton is single-handedly responsible for reviewing the records of about 200 graduate students, about a third of the college’s graduate population, every year. He coordinates with program directors to oversee 21 different graduate programs within the college, and is responsible for processing the graduation requirements and documentation of students each semester.
“I’m pretty swamped with graduation right now. And it’s cyclical, there’s always something going on from the beginning of the semester all the way through,” Hutton said.
Hutton serves as the first contact for anyone with questions about the policies and procedures of the college’s graduate program.
“John plays this critical communication intersecting role for student, graduate program directors, the Graduate School, and our dean’s office,” said Edmund Acevedo, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for the College of Humanities and Sciences.
This spring semester alone, Hutton reviewed and processed the graduation of over 100 students.
Hutton partially attributes his expertise in overseeing the Graduate School to the business degree he earned from VCU, which he says helped prepare him to manage an office, and his decades of dedicated work at the college. But Hutton says he couldn’t have done it without the support of his coworkers in the Graduate School, and the Graduate Program Directors he works alongside.
“The staff at the Graduate School are wonderful. If it wasn’t for the comradery that I have gained with the Graduate School staff, I wouldn’t keep it together,” said Hutton.
Hutton has dedicated 20 years of his professional career to VCU, and has advanced quite literally from the mailroom to the dean’s office. His years as a student at the university, combined with decades of experience as a college administrator and government worker, have turned Hutton into the go-to guy for anyone with questions about the college’s graduate program.
“He’s running the show. He knows everything,” Acevedo said.
Written by Megan Schiffres