Gitta Killough

Gitta Killough

Administrative Assistant Intermediate, International Institute

Author: Jean McKee
Photographer: Photo courtesy of Emily Liu Photography:

Gitta Killough, Administrative Assistant in the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia (WCEE) in the International Institute, received high praise in her nomination letter for her “extraordinary efforts” in taking on additional responsibilities due to the unexpected departure of a colleague.  Marysia Ostafin, Gitta’s nominator and Program Manager for WCEE, commended Gitta’s willingness to learn new processes and duties with “good humor and considerable effort…accomplishing all the tasks that came her way to perfection.”

While Gitta is honored to receive the LSA Spotlight Award for these efforts, and for generally being “an excellent employee and mentor to all,” she is quick to say that she believes her award mirrors the people with and for whom she works.  She truly enjoys her colleagues and believes that their leadership allows her team to “rise to the top.”  When asked about the five months she took on so much extra work, she said the intensity of it all actually hit her later, after WCEE had hired someone to take on those duties full-time.  In the moment, though, she said she plunged ahead and “learned by doing,” knowing the work had to be completed somehow.  Her determination to fulfill her new responsibilities was supported by her colleagues, who she credits for their cooperation and a part of her success.

Gitta began her career in the world of public relations in Germany, eventually moving to New York to work for a large international publishing house, and later teaching German language and culture at the German School in Washington, D.C. and the Rudolf Steiner High School in Ann Arbor.  She transitioned to higher education four years ago, working in student affairs in the Psychology Department in LS&A.  Gitta says she enjoyed the student-oriented environment but when she had the opportunity to return to a position that focused on international programming and working with distinguished visitors from across the globe, she jumped at the chance.  She says in some ways, this position has allowed her to feel like a student again, learning new things and meeting new people associated with WCEE.  She thrives on the energy these visitors bring to the University, and on the opportunity to follow current affairs and scholarship featured in WCEE programs.

Indeed, Gitta is most looking forward to the long list of distinguished visitors coming to the WCEE and its partner centers this academic year, such as the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko.  The WCEE celebrates its fifth anniversary and the fortieth anniversary of the Polish studies program, and supports community events such as the International Film Festival, Cinetopia.  Gitta plays a key role in coordinating the administrative details and says it’s important to maintain an “I can” attitude while working on these challenging programs.  Even though she does plenty of things outside of work, like gardening, teaching German, running, and spending time with her two children, she also attends many Weiser Center events out of genuine interest.  “It’s very rewarding to be part of the international University community,” she says.

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