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University of Wisconsin - Madison College of Engineering
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  5. Paula King

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Paula King
Materials Science and Engineering

A t heart, Paula King is a problem solver. As a financial specialist for the Materials Science and Engineering since 2001, King provides purchasing, payroll and financial support. She thrives on identifying the crux of department challenges and finding creative solutions to address those challenges.

King took the initiative to set up a tracking system for the funds provided to new faculty. Her system accounts for the commitments and expenditures in each account, and she provides advising to faculty to help them navigate the complexities of their start-up packages. “Her successful tracking system has allowed the department to understand its past, current and future resources and to plan for effective use of department resources in an enlightened way,” says a colleague.

King also spearheaded a new procurement card system for the department that provided each research group with its own card. King was dedicated to insuring the new system worked for everyone, and she facilitated each research group’s unique spending needs by developing individual strategies for reconciling transactions. According to a colleague, “There is no question that Paula is both the brains and the brawn of a complete range of grant and financial support services for our faculty, staff and students.”

Beyond her primary responsibilities, King is the first point of contact for many faculty and students with other university bureaucratic systems. “I’ve often had her say to me, ‘I don’t know,’ but that phrase is always followed with ‘but I’ll find out,’” says one faculty member.

When the department administrator unexpectedly retired in 2004, King stepped up to assume the majority of the administrator’s duties with little warning or training. Her experience with the department and willingness to take on the additional responsibilities helped the department navigate the transition.

King’s work ethic is complemented by her compassionate character, and those who work closest with her call her “intuitive” and “unfailingly cheerful and pleasant.” She strives to make others feel comfortable, and she is a patient advisor for graduate students dealing with the business practices of a large organization, often for the first time. “Even when I’ve made a mistake and created more work for her, she always gives me a kind word and a smile,” says a faculty member.