TCC employee Nancy Chang was always one for the money, but never two for the show.
When the position of Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs came open in 1989, Chang, TCC Director of Finance, was the logical choice. No one knew as much about where TCC funds came from and where they were budgeted to.
She was told the job was hers for the asking, but she turned it down. It would have required her to be in the spotlight, including giving internal and external presentations, and she thought her Chinese accent might be a drawback.
“I never wanted to make speeches,” she said. “I just wanted to sit in my office and work with numbers.”
And that’s exactly what she has done at TCC since August 16, 1972 – her first day on the job.
On Oct. 14 the College marked her 50 years of service at TCC with a reception, the highlight of which was the presentation of a plaque reading “in recognition of your dedicated service, countless contributions, enduring commitment and selfless dedication to success.”
Chang’s career at TCC began with a chance meeting between two community college leaders at a conference. Her husband Francis, whom she had met while a teaching assistant at Hong Kong Baptist College, had landed a job in Florida. That’s where she earned her master’s degree and began working for Brevard College. A few years later, Francis accepted a job at what now is Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. Brevard’s president had been impressed by Chang, knew of the couple’s impending move and, encountering then TCC Chancellor Joe Rushing, advised him to talk with this talented young lady.
Rushing followed up, and Chang was interviewed by Roberson, then a vice chancellor and later TCC’s second chancellor. The first opening mentioned was as an accountant plus responsibilities as the College’s EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) officer, something in which Chang had neither expertise nor knowledge. When she demurred, Roberson removed the EEO part and offered just the accounting, which Chang said suited her just fine. Coincidentally, the EEO portfolio went to another new administrator, Erma Johnson Hadley, a TCC Northeast faculty member. Johnson Hadley later went on to become TCC’s fourth Chancellor.
Chang soon established a reputation, which only grew greater over the years, for her encyclopedic knowledge of TCC’s budget. She knew every detail and could often pull figures from memory. During one budgetary meeting, after responding to each question with an immediate answer, she was asked just where she got those figures. She responded, smiling, by reaching into the air as if pulling the numbers out of the cosmos. But she wasn’t just guessing. “Those answers might not have been exactly right,” she said, “but they were very close.”
And who was going to challenge her? Associate Vice Chancellor David Ximenez once tried. The two were looking over a list of employees and their salaries, and Ximenez thought one was missing. “I pointed and said, ‘It belongs right there,’” he recalled, “and she said, ‘No, it doesn’t’ and that was the end of the conversation.”
At the reception on Oct. 14, Ronnie Watkins, Executive Director of Finance and Administrative Services and Chang’s direct supervisor, had promised her she wouldn’t have to give a speech. He did, however, have a list of questions, one of which was how many icons were on her computer desktop when she started working at TCC.
“We didn’t have computers then,” she said. “I just remember calculators. You know, C.A. didn’t believe in computers. He would add everything up. That’s why I’m so good at it.”
She also doesn’t completely trust digital records and persists in having hard copies – hefty as they may be. “When we’re looking for something and I’m scrolling through a computer list,” Watkins said, “she’ll open her printout right to the correct page every time,”
Watkins, in presenting the plaque, said that a replica would go on a Finance Department wall along with decades of annual awards from the Government Finance Officers Association “because she was instrumental in every year winning that award.”
Watkins’ final question called for Chang to summarize her half-century of service in 20 words or less. “I would say that I feel it is a great honor to be a part of it – watching TCC grow,” she said. “I have to give credit to the staff. Without them, I wouldn’t have been here 50 years. And I’ve really enjoyed every minute of it because I see TCC as a great place to work.”