Today@Sam Article

SHSU Vet Handles 'Pressing Matters' As Copy Center Operator

April 12, 2016
SHSU Media Contact: Chelsea Keller

Janis Lawrence and Sammy
In the meticulousness with which copy center operator Janis Lawrence approaches her work, she and her team of students check and approve each, individual diploma for quality and accuracy before graduates receive their coveted documents in the mail. —Photos by Brian Blalock

A student’s diploma is more than just a piece of paper; it represents the hard work, dedication, time, and money they have put into their education.

Without Janis Lawrence, copy center operator at Sam Houston State University’s press, SHSU graduates would not have that hard-earned piece of paper to hang up.

Lawrence has worked at SHSU for 33 years and in that time has developed a love for the work she does.  That love is reflected in the products she produces, particularly graduates’ diplomas.

Once the list of graduates is complete and spell checked, the Registrar’s Office sends the list down to Lawrence. After the diplomas have been printed, Lawrence and her student workers get to work checking and double-checking the quality of the paper and ensuring that each, individual document is blemish free.  

“The diplomas are read twice, first by our student workers and then by me,” Lawrence said. “For me, it’s my personal work ethic. I could send the diplomas back after printing without taking a second look, but I feel like it’s important for me to double-check them.

“A graduate’s diploma is going on their wall; it is a representation of what their time, money and hard work was spent on, so I think that it’s important that it looks as perfect as possible,” she said.

Lawrence doesn’t just spend time perfecting student diplomas. As the copy center operator, she is responsible for printing any flyers, brochures, event programs, and lab manuals that you see on campus.

“I really have my finger on the pulse of so much that is going on at SHSU that maybe other people don’t realize it. I print budgets, conference materials and, well, pretty much anything. You name it, I’ve probably touched it,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said she gives 110 percent to her job, even though she is pulled in countless directions. Why?

“My philosophy is this: a person in a department brings me a project, if I get that job printed and it looks good, that person’s efforts look good. This in turn makes their department look good, which makes their college look good, and all of that makes Sam Houston State University look good,” Lawrence said.

Janis Lawrence“If I can make all of them collectively look good, then that makes all of us at the Sam Houston Press looks good,” she said. “That’s because it is a group effort environment here. We are a team, it takes all of is to pull it off.”

Getting her start working in the press office started when she graduated high school. Wanting to pursue a degree in English but not having the money for college led her to the University of Houston.

“I started working in the press at the University of Houston. It was a very good job for someone who was coming right out of high school,” Lawrence said. “I had every intention of saving up money and attending Sam Houston to get a degree in English.”

Somewhere along the way, marriage and kids came, and Lawrence was sent down a different path. She moved to Huntsville in 1980 and has been here ever since, joining the ranks of several family members who have worked for SHSU and received their degrees here.

“You know, it’s not a glamorous job, but it has been a good and fun job. It is challenging at times, getting pulled in so many directions all day, but I have been very fortunate to work at Sam Houston,” Lawrence said.

After 33 years, things are bound to change in the way materials are printed. Lawrence has watched as SHSU went from print to digital and adapted to how designs and technologies have continuously changed over the years.

“I remember when the press got its very first computer; our bookkeeping was no longer kept handwritten after that. Now we have transitioned to almost everything being computerized or digital; we won’t have traditional printing presses much longer, either,” Lawrence said.

Having computers has taken away much of the “physical, hand-to-paper” work out of getting pieces prepared and into a print format for Lawrence and her co-workers.

“We still do a lot of work, even if it is computerized we are definitely still creating and designing the projects,” Lawrence said. “Computers have just taken out much of the tedious leg work.”

In the time that Lawrence has worked at SHSU, more than the technology has advanced.

“When I started working here, there were at most 13,000 students, but look at what the university has become; we have exploded to a bustling campus with over 20,000 students,” Lawrence said.

After living somewhere for a while, the little quirks and oddities of a town become some of your favorite parts of living there, she said.

“One thing I love about Sam Houston and Huntsville is here, we are this continually growing university and yet we have chickens in the parking lots. To me that says no matter how much we grow, we are always going to have a close, small, intimate feel,” Lawrence said. “Huntsville and Sam Houston will always be home in my heart.”

- END -

This page maintained by SHSU's Communications Office:

Associate Director, Communications: Emily Binetti

Communications Manager: Vacant
Telephone: 936.294.1837

Communications Writer: Campbell Atkins
Telephone: 936.294.2638

Thomason Building: Suite 102

Please send comments, corrections, news tips to