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During 1787 Orientation most freshmen students wonder: Why do I have to wake up so early?  Where are we going now? What is a punch? Most people do not ask, who sits behind the scenes working endlessly to make Orientation week run smoothly. The Orientation Office knows how dedicated this person is, but as for the rest of us here at JMU, this lady remains anonymous. Today, I am delighted to put Mrs. Debbie Pine in the spotlight and announce that she is truly “All Together One.”  Debbie Pine is a Madison College graduate who decided to stay in Harrisonburg after graduation because of the loving, kind people. In 1989, Debbie came to work at JMU as a receptionist at the University Health Center. Then, in 1991 she accepted a full time position as secretary in the Office of Student Activities at JMU, where she maintained information for clubs and organizations and administered payroll for student assistants. Moving on up, in 1999, Debbie began working for Orientation and inspired the student motto “Orientation 99 with Debbie Pine.” In 2004, Orientation developed into its own department and Debbie’s position changed to Coordinator of Marketing and Technical operations. She is in charge of the infamous One Books, the Orientation Website, and numerous budgets. Today, she continues to work in Wilson Hall as Assistant Director of Operations.

Debbie is the face of customer service for transfer and first year students and their families and without her help thousands of students would be lost during their first week here at JMU.  As colleague Melissa Pfau puts it, “I don't think I've ever seen her give anything less than 110% at anything she does.”  Yet, Debbie Pine’s work ethics are not the only factor for nominating her as “All Together One.” Debbie has made many nicknames in the JMU community as a result of her kind, bottomless heart.  Everyone in the Orientation Office told me that Debbie is their Mom away from home in the summer, hence the nickname “Mamma Pine.” 

Kristin Gibson, Coordinator of Marketing & Development at UREC, states: “Mamma Pine is like a big hug – she makes you feel comfortable, supported and welcome. Whenever I drop by to say hi or see her at a JMU event now, the genuine look of excitement on her face makes me feel like a valued member of the community at JMU.” When I went to “tap” Debbie to let her know the great news, the smile on her face never altered. She was so shocked and excited that she hugged everyone in the room at least twice before getting back to work. While I only met Debbie on this special day, Tyler Conta, 2009 Orientation Coordinator and senior SMAD major, strongly believes that every run-in with Debbie is memorable. He states, “She is always happy to see you and genuinely wants to know how you are doing.” 

Outside of the JMU community, Debbie continues to demonstrate her love for people. She is infamous for not only hugs and smiles, but home cooking as well. When Chris Jones first came to Harrisonburg, Debbie took him in for Thanksgiving dinner, having never met him before that day. Friends also rave about Debbie’s homemade zucchini bread she brings to them. Overall Debbie is one of the people who you never forget at JMU because of their selflessness and motto to help all in any way one can.  A previous colleague of Debbie’s, states: “Debbie is a person who understands that life does not always happen the way you think it will at any given moment, and it is best to let go of the worry and  concern and lift yourself up above the fray, where people do their best work.”

It is for these reasons I am so honored to present Debbie Pine with this 2010 All Together One Award. Her dedication to the JMU students and staff enables JMU to become a better place, one smile and hug at a time.

Written by: Katie Gaab

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