Behind the window of the Con office

Annette Raby, Marjorie Peerenboom, and Ellen Mitala make up the dynamic trio that work in the con office in the heart of the conservatory.
Deanna Wanner

Annette Raby, Marjorie Peerenboom, and Ellen Mitala make up the dynamic trio that work in the con office in the heart of the conservatory. (Alissa Thompson)

A majority of conservatory students have, at one time or another, shyly stepped up to the conservatory office window, and some brave souls may have even ventured through the door, but how many students actually know what goes on back there in the shadows? How many students really take the time to get to know the lovely ladies working diligently behind the window to keep the wheels of the conservatory oiled and running in tip top shape?

To give the students a chance to learn a little about these superwomen, here is a sneak peek “behind the window of the con office.”

Marjorie Peerenboom has worked at the Lawrence physical plant for 14 years and at the conservatory office for 7 years. Sadly, she is coming to the end of her Lawrence career; she will be retiring next January.

Retirement scares Peerenboom a bit and she wonders if she’ll like it, but it sounds like she’ll have some fun time to spend doing her favorite things, relaxing, and being with family. Pictures of her cottage home and grandchildren are strewn about her office.

Peerenboom has a beautiful cottage up north by Pelican Lake. She also has 10 grandchildren, with another due in April.

As for her job at Lawrence, Peerenboom says her favorite part is the students. What is her job? She signs out rooms, the Chapel, and Harper Hall. It is interesting to note that even though Peerenboom works in a place constantly surrounded by music, she doesn’t have much interest in music herself. She does say that Lawrence has wonderful performances.

Annette Raby is the other wonderful lady behind the window of the con office. Her job consists of producing programs and posters for all the conservatory events, concerts, master classes, and recitals. Raby said that last year she counted 250 programs. Quite impressive!

Raby also does instrument inventory and is involved in the paperwork for recruiting new faculty members. She has been at Lawrence since 1995. After working in the ID office, she moved over to the conservatory office in November of 2000.

Besides having an office with a window, Raby’s favorite part of her job is also the students.

“Daily contact with the students keeps you young,” she explains. It makes her remember her college experience, and she can relate with college life. She majored in visual arts with a psychology minor.

Raby doesn’t do anything musical, but she likes to dance, to sew, and drama. She also loves to travel. She was a tour guide right out of college and gave tours of the U.S. and Canada on a bus. If you’d like to catch a glimpse of her outside of the con window, you will be able to see her on the stage for Band-o-Rama.

Last but certainly not least is the familiar dean of the conservatory, Kathleen Murray. Murray has worked at Lawrence for 18 years. Fourteen of those years were spent on the faculty teaching piano. Her favorite part of being a dean is getting a chance to see the bigger picture, both in the conservatory and the college.

As Dean of the conservatory, Murray coordinates the efforts of the conservatory faculty, curriculum, and budget. She also advises students. Her interests include golf, reading, and softball. Murray also just bought a cabin up north a few weeks ago.

The conservatory office is a jolly and welcoming place, if you don’t count the gloomy Mondays after games when the sport fans of the con office go into mourning and hang a picture of a casket with the losing team’s name on the wall.

Now that the secret mysteries of the con office are revealed, students should know that they are always welcome to come and ask questions. The conservatory office has an open door policy. Yes, even students are allowed to venture into the world “behind the window of the con office.