They call him the unofficial dean. His title is desk supervisor at Gutman Library, but to many Ed School students, Bob Rogers is much more; he is a friend, a mentor, and in some cases, a father figure.
Rogers has been an employee at Gutman for more than 28 years and has befriended many students along the way. It usually starts when someone comes to the desk asking for help, but his reputation has grown so that now people ask for him specifically. "Students from all over will come and say, 'I'm looking for Bob Rogers, someone told me to look you up,'" he says. From there, he just strikes up a conversation.
No matter how the introduction is made, once it is, the relationship is permanent. "They keep it in their heads that I'm here," he says. "If someone's having a bad day, they'll come to the desk and ask what they should do. I try to give them advice and tell them not to worry about it."
Rogers' caring nature is a welcome presence for those who know him and does not go unappreciated. "Of course he's a great help in anything library-related, but Bob is there for us in every way," says doctoral student Jay Huguley, Ed.M.'04, who has known Rogers since his first year at the school. "Whether it's a friendly smile, a boost of confidence, or a caring voice, Bob is there and goes the extra mile for the students."
Students often express their gratitude by mentioning him in their dissertations, and many of them keep in touch with Rogers after graduation through e-mail, phone calls, and cards. Around the holidays, he says, he reserves a section of a wall in his home to cover with the cards and baby pictures he receives.
Rogers' friendship and support has made him a very popular figure both on and off campus. He has traveled across the country to visit former students and attend weddings and christenings. In addition to the travel opportunities, he says the number of free lunches he gets when alumni visit campus is a definite perk. "But best of all I like the friendship," he says. "It's an everlasting friendship."
Even though Rogers says he should probably be retired by now, it's the students that keep him around. "I really like working with students and interacting with them," he says. "I've always loved kids, and now I have lots of big kids."