Enjoys Serving USC for 38 Years
From singer to teacher to editor, Terry Gilley, advertising assistant for Student Publications in the Division of Student Affairs, has had some interesting jobs. His 38 years working at USC, however, have been the most rewarding.
“I really feel like I have had the best of work situations here,” said Gilley, who got his first job at USC in University Publications in 1971.
Gilley first came to USC as an undergraduate after studying piano for a year and a half at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. After earning his bachelor’s degree in communication from USC in 1968, he returned to his hometown of St. Louis, Mo., to teach elementary school in a small suburb on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.
“The school was in a desperately poor area, and I made quite a scene when I pulled up to the building in my new blue Porsche 912,” said Gilley. “The pay was so low, it was basically charity work, but I grew to love it.”
After nearly two years, Gilley returned to Los Angeles to pursue a master’s degree in communication, but quit to try his hand working as a musician, singing in small clubs all over the city. “I did a jazz motif,” Gilley said. “I sang standards, but with my own spin.”
A friend approached him with an idea to start a creative services business, and they launched EdiTech, a writing and editing company that they ran together for 14 years until his friend moved to San Francisco to attend culinary school.
“I have had a charmed life,” said Gilley. “I have been able to do a lot of different things and somehow survive.”
It was in the early stages of EdiTech that Gilley started working for USC in a little bungalow behind Heritage Hall as a “rookie copy editor and proofreader.” He worked for University Publications for the next 32 years until he retired in 2003.
Longtime friend and colleague Mona Cravens, director of Student Publications, lured him out of retirement in 2006 with an open position as an advertising assistant.
“She said, ‘We could really use you, and it will be busy, but it won’t be stressful,’ ” he said. “So it has turned out to be a really good fit.”
In Student Publications, Gilley manages the front office, handles the morning mail distribution of the Daily Trojan, sends out tearsheets and posts payments.
“I like it because I do have contact with students, and that is the really fun part,” said Gilley. “There is never a dull moment.”
According to Cravens, Gilley “embodies the Trojan Family spirit.”
“He is one of the kindest souls on the face of the earth, and we are so fortunate to have him on the front line in Student Publications,” said Cravens. “Every caller and visitor to our office is the beneficiary of his friendly and helpful greeting. He makes a special effort to engage in a meaningful conversation with everyone, including our advertisers, our students and especially first-time visitors to the university.”
Throughout his time here — which has spanned the tenure of five USC presidents — it has been the people who have made the university a place where he has wanted to stay.
“I truly appreciate the familiarity and friendships with colleagues that span a lifetime and make working at USC seem like coming home each day,” said Gilley.
It was the same community of USC colleagues and friends that rallied to his side when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in January.
“The most extraordinary thing that has happened to me since I have been at USC was the unbelievable response of people in Student Affairs,” said Gilley, who credits the support of his family and friends for his return to work just nine weeks later. “I think people just decided: you are going to come back to work, you are going to be here, you are going to get through this. It really made a big difference, and here I am.”