Employee Spotlight: Dorothy Perkins
Perkins vividly remembers where she was when she heard that
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
The long-time food service worker at the University of Houston
was chopping lettuce in the cafeteria in Oberholtzer Hall when a
manager came in the room and announced the bad news.
“I will never forget it. Everybody just started screaming and
crying,” said Perkins. “I remember it like it happened
The tragedy happened a year after Perkins started working at the
university. As the years passed, nine more presidents have
resided in the White House, tens of thousands of students have
graduated from UH and a couple of dozen new buildings have been
constructed on campus.
But one thing has remained the same: Perkins is still chopping
lettuce for salads for hungry students and staff.
Perkins, known affectionately as Miss Dorothy by students and
those who work with her, attributes a woman who had once worked
with her husband at Champion Paper in Pasadena for helping her
to get the job. After the woman took a job at UH, she told
Perkins’ husband it would be a good idea for his wife to work
“He didn’t want me to work. He wanted me to be a housewife,”
Perkins said. “She asked him, ‘Why don’t you let her come to
work?’ And that’s how I got the job.”
Her job duties have not changed all that much. Like she did when
she first came here half a century ago, she cuts up lettuce and
other fresh vegetables to be used in salads. When Moody Towers
was built in 1972, she was transferred to its dining hall, where
she has remained ever since.
Her hours have differed at times. Now, she arrives at work at 5
a.m. every weekday and immediately starts cutting cantaloupe and
pineapples and preparing the fruit bar for the breakfast rush.
After that is completed, she turns her attention to the salad
bar. She makes a variety of salads, including potato salad and pasta salad. When 1 p.m. rolls around, her work is done.
Perkins, who had seven children, once was away from UH for three
months as she recuperated from an illness. Being home for so
long, she said, was difficult because she had become so
accustomed to being at the university.
“When I did come back to work, I was so happy,” she said.
She’s worked for more managers than she can remember. Even the
company that provides the food service to the university has
changed numerous times. Now, she’s working for Aramark and
couldn’t be any happier.
“Right now, we have a fantastic staff,” she said.
She’s never seriously considered leaving UH to take another job.
“I look at it this way. Wherever you go, there’s going to be
something that you’re not really going to be pleased about, so
why jump out of the frying pan and into the fire?” she said. “I
knew that this was a job that I could depend on. It’s been good