Takes on New Post, New Challenges
29, 1999 -- People can change. Just ask Dolly Prenzel.
in the midst of a lot of changes, not the least of which is a career
shift from serving as the University's chief contracting officer
to a redefined post as director of community relations. She officially
began her new duties Jan. 1, and planned to move into her new office
in Booker House Jan. 27.
felt the need for another challenge," Prenzel said recently from
her half-packed, soon-to-be-former office in Carruthers Hall. "Thirty-two
years in the same field is a long time."
52, has been involved in purchasing for her entire professional
life, first at Vanderbilt University in her native Nashville, then
coming to U.Va. 18 years ago as director of purchasing. She was
elevated to chief contracting officer in 1991.
one career does not mean Prenzel has been one-dimensional, however.
She may be better known outside University financial circles for
heading up the Combined Virginia Campaign (CVC), which benefits
local United Way agencies. Under her leadership, the campaign has
experienced huge growth, and she serves on both the local United
Way board and on the state advisory committee for the campaign.
new post grew, indirectly, from her involvement with the CVC and
the United Way.
of her first moves upon arriving in Charlottesville was to volunteer
with the Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC), an interest that
grows from her family -- a younger brother is retarded. She served
as a United Way "loaned executive" in the early 1990s, and earlier
participated in the first class of the Leadership Charlottesville
learned a whole lot about the needs of the community," she said.
University's community relations efforts were formerly handled by
Elva Holland, who also headed the governmental relations unit. When
Holland resigned to open a private law practice, she recommended
the two functions be split. Nancy Nicoletto Rivers now handles governmental
relations; Prenzel will report to Louise Dudley, director of University
Dolly in this new position gives us someone who can be available
full-time to think about and address community issues," Dudley said.
"It's more than just a piece of someone's job.
contacts Dolly has made in the community over the years, particularly
from her involvement in the Combined Virginia Campaign and her relationships
with local businesses she's worked with as head of purchasing, gives
her the beginning of a good network. She will be able to build on
those relationships and others to expand the University's outreach
to the community."
already has a list of 26 initiatives she would like to launch in
her new post. "That's a little bit overwhelming, I think," she said.
she hopes to encourage student, faculty and staff volunteerism in
the community and continue the University's efforts at improving
relations with surrounding neighborhoods.
also has a strong interest in working with minority groups in the
community, an interest that was heightened this fall by two experiences:
working with a student intern and reading a book.
intern, Arlette Jackson, a fourth-year African-American student
who is a niece of NAACP Legal Defense Fund director and U.Va.'s
1998 Distinguished Alumna Elaine Jones, engaged Prenzel in a series
of informal -- and sometimes heated -- discussions about the state
of race relations that challenged some of her assumptions.
learned a lot," Prenzel said.
also read David Halberstam's recent book, The Children, which examines
the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in Nashville at the time she
was growing up (and when Halberstam was writing for the Nashville
altered me in a way I could not explain. It really has affected
my life," Prenzel said.
has long been active in the Women's Movement. She was a founding
member of the Women Faculty and Professional Association; is an
active member of FOCUS, a community women's center; co-chaired the
U.Va. President's Committee on Women's Concerns for two years; and
was the first female president in the 70-year history of the National
Association of Educational Buyers, receiving its highest award for
lifetime achievement in 1992.
describes the transition to her new duties as "wrenching," but said
she is eager to get down to business. "It's very exciting."
Prenzel can be reached at 924-1321 or via e-mail at email@example.com.