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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Elizabeth Eichelberger

By Nancy Templeman

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 27 - April 6, 1995

It is typical of Lisa Eichelburger's dedication to her job that on the day she received her letter from president Paul Torgersen congratulating her for receiving a President's Award, she felt guilty for not returning to work after class to complete her filing.

According to her boss Peter Kipp, the director of hotel and operating services for the Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center, that may have been one of the only times that Eichelburger let any part of the job get ahead of her. He says she is always there when needed. "We call her Miss Donaldson Brown," he says. "She is willing to step in and help wherever she can. She has even helped make beds when housekeeping was short-handed."

Commitment to her job is the reason Eichelburger was in class that day. "I thought I'd take some business classes to see if I could be of more help on the finance side here at the Donaldson Brown," she said. Eichelburger received a B.A. in English from Virginia Tech in 1991, but wants to continue to learn all she can.

Eichelburger began working at Donaldson Brown when she was an undergraduate. She started as a waitress in the restaurant and was promoted to wait captain. After graduation, she continued in the restaurant as the student coordinator, scheduling students working there as part of their hospitality and tourism labs. On the night of the 1992 flood that destroyed the restaurant and the rest of the first floor of the hotel, Eichelburger held the wage position of food supervisor in the restaurant. "She really worked that night," says Kipp. "She worked with (university Executive Vice President) Minnis Ridenour and the Virginia Tech police to help the members of the Old Guard get their belongings from their guest rooms."

With the restaurant closed, Eichelburger and the other wage employees were out of a job, except for their unpaid work trying to salvage what they could and help keep some of the other operations going.

Everything was stripped out of the restaurant area and they set up the hotel and conference center operations there. Serendipitously at that point, Kipp's secretary took another position on campus, and he asked Eichelburger if she would be willing to take the job. In that position, Eichelburger not only does the usual secretarial chores, but also works with the academic program. Because Kipp's appointment is 50-percent teaching in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Eichelburger coordinates 300 labs each semester for the students in Kipp's lodging-management course. She also schedules campus visits for recruiters, and helps them set up internships for students.