If you’ve never received an email from Ms. Judi Pinckney, you’re in the minority. Within the Public Affairs, and the Religion and Philosophy departments, Pinckney is a household name. Pinckney’s title is secretary of the two departments, but she does a little of everything. “It’s never the same,” explains Pinckney, “I basically just keeping the faculty and the building going.”
Before opening her own travel agency, Pinckney studied Psychology at Roanoke College, class of 1981. However, the year before graduation, Pinckney knew she wasn’t interested in Psychology—she wanted to travel the world. In 1986, after some time working for a travel agency, Pinckney opened her own. Pinckney ran her travel agency for nearly two decades, with Roanoke as one of her most notable clients. Pinckney planned some of the first May terms and aided with the Fowler Program.
Pinckney doesn’t just plan trips for others. This past year, she traveled to Quebec City, Canada, and the Galapagos in Ecuador, yet Roanoke keeps calling her back. “I just like my history with the place. I’ve been involved for so many years.”
It is the people who persuade her to return after her travels. “Some I get to know really well; some I only know by name. I don’t like that I don’t get to know everybody.”
Pinckney lived in Roanoke most of her life, watching the college grow and enter into the Roanoke valley community. “When I went to high school [in Roanoke],” Pinckney reflects, “I pretty much didn’t know the college was here. It didn’t have a presence, and the students were from far away. Roanoke has grown so much over the years and become part of the valley. It’s been a good, controlled growth. When I went here, there wasn’t a computer on campus. We would line up in front of Alumni Gym. You’d collect a card and turn it into a box, and that’s how you registered for classes. Now, there’s an app.”
Yet some things stay the same. “Many people who were here when I was a student, are still here. People come, and they stay for a long time. I’m still friends with professors that I had here.” Which is what invited Pinckney back to campus.
In 2002, Pinckney answered a call from a friend, and prior chairmen, asking her to fill in. “The department secretary was leaving,” she elaborated. “He phoned saying ‘we just need someone to come in for two or three weeks, until the end of the semester,” and I’m still here. It’s not perfect, no place is, but it’s pretty amazing.”