University Communications

The Newsletter for Marshall University        August 3, 2011

Profile: Libby Nickell

Bring on Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Snow White and the rest of the merry band, because if all goes well, the Nickell family plans to head south soon. And this fun-loving family has visited the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World so often they won’t be at all surprised if their favorite characters address them by name.

Libby Nickell freely admits she gets her Disney addiction from her mother, who celebrates everything Disney in her home. “My mom is the ultimate collector; she has anything Disney you can imagine. Her whole house is a tribute to the characters; she’s a Disney fanatic,” she says, laughing. “I’ve been there 30 times so far and we would have gone again last December except both my parents were in the hospital at that time.” They’re both doing better now so it’s hoped the trip will be back on track soon.

Actually her playful interest in the whimsical cartoon characters is a lighter side of the office administrator in the Marshall med school who daily deals with sober and serious facts and figures. She’s very organized and that’s the way she likes it. Now she’s wrapping up almost 31 years of service at Marshall, all of them spent in the medical school. Starting as an accounting clerk, today she’s the school’s personal services “go-to” person. “Personal services entails monitoring of salaries, increments and financial arrangements,” she explains. “I keep track of changes, keep spreadsheets and I also work with the Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Administration. This is the perfect place for me as I’ve always liked working with numbers and figures.”

She came to Marshall well prepared for her duties. A native of Kenova, she graduated from the Huntington School of Business with training in data processing, accounting and secretarial subjects. It was very different back then, she says. The machines she trained on were huge and clunky, behemoths compared to the swift, sleek versions she uses today. But her skills came in handy, landing her a job at a law office, then later at a car dealership, where she spent eight years taking care of their bookkeeping.

The Nickell family is a close-knit one with her parents, Charles and Eleanor Nickell, still living in Kenova and her three sisters and their families all residing in the Tri-state area. Her parents host regular weekend events at their home which are attended by the entire clan. Nickell and her best friend, Cindy Warren, who also works at the School of Medicine as the Assistant Dean for Admissions, make an annual Labor Day jaunt to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where one of the joys of the trip is to “hit the really big sales,” the inveterate bargain hunter says.

And the thrill of the chase is what Nickell loves about auctions. She attends one in Kenova weekly. You never know what treasure you’re going to uncover and for pennies on the dollar, she says with the true bargain hunter’s fervor. She’s a master at stalking and claiming those unanticipated gems. If she can’t use it, she’ll know someone who can, she reasons. She ticks off some recent finds, a $169 chandelier bought by her aunt for $25, and for herself, $60 worth of luggage and a tent canopy both purchased for $20 each. Then too, she’s always on the lookout for butterfly-themed items to add to her ever-growing collection. She’s got them in all media--jewelry, ceramics, glass, copper, metal, wood--you name it, she’s probably got it, but there’s always room for one more. “I’m really easy to buy for, just give me something with butterflies,” she says cheerfully.

“I guess I just love to shop!” she readily admits. Her mother shares her shopping gene, so the two eagerly look forward to the weekly outings Libby arranges for them.

When the weather puts a damper on hitting the sales, Nickell turns to many of the crafts she’s mastered over the years. She’s made wreaths and dabbled in ceramics, for instance. An inveterate needleworker, she likes to crochet and usually has several projects going at once. She’s made afghans to give for gifts, baby clothes of all types, and any number of other apparel items. Crocheting isn’t a snap for her either, because since she’s left-handed she has to transpose patterns, which are invariably made for righties. That’s a family trait she shares with all of her sisters and her mother.

But the fanciful world of Disney is never far from her heart. “We really are hoping to get to Disney World now that my parents are better,” she says. Nickell is particularly looking forward to taking her great-niece, Haley, who at six will be making a return trip. Obviously she’s already on track to uphold this particular family tradition.

Looking back over her 30-plus years at Marshall, Nickell feels it was fortuitous that from the beginning she found the right niche and stayed with it. “I’ve watched as the school has grown and progressed. There have been a lot of changes of course, and there’s a lot less paperwork now and more technology. People have come and gone and my job has changed and greatly expanded over the years. From the beginning I liked what I was doing, working with figures. I’m a numbers kind of person. I’m lucky that it has been a very good fit.”

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