Johnson’s receptionist has lifelong ties to university

Betty Ann Sykes 2
Betty Ann Sykes, Johnson’s morning receptionist


KNOXVILLE    Seated behind a desk in the Bubble, an office located directly through the front doors of the Phillips-Welshimer Building, is a woman with longtime connections to Johnson University.
Betty Ann Sykes has been Johnson’s morning receptionist for four and a half years.
“I am the main receptionist,” she said. “I only work in the morning     so I answer phones, answer questions, just be the person that people see when they first walk through the door.”

Sykes said she enjoys many things about Johnson, but she said her favorite aspect is the people.
“Oh my goodness! The people, students, I enjoy the people in the business office. I just love talking to people,” Sykes said.
While Sykes has been the receptionist for a short time, she has been a part of Johnson in one way or another for many years.
“I was born here,” she said. “My father [Floyd Clark] was a professor; at one time he was the academic dean and dean of students all together, then he was just the academic dean. So, then I just went to school here.”
She graduated from Johnson with a degree in music in 1969. She came back to Johnson in 2002 to receive her teaching degree and graduated in 2005.

She taught until her retirement and that’s when she decided she wanted a part-time job at Johnson.
Sykes said that although a lot of things have changed through the years she’s been at Johnson, many things are still the same.
“The campus looks different; a lot of different people, but the core values and all are still the same,” she said. “So I think that’s very important.”
When Sykes is not working she has many hobbies to keep her busy.
“I like to read, spend time with friends, I like to travel, and I like to be outside,” Sykes said. “I’m not really a gardener but I do have flowers in the summer and that’s kind of fun to do that.”
She said she has a love of travel that has taken her to many places, and she is looking for her next adventure.
“My son and his family live in North Carolina, on the coast of North Carolina, so I like to go there. I like to go to the mountains,” Sykes said. “I’ve been to Hawaii and I’ve been to Alaska, and I went to Austria so that was fun.”

Sykes enjoys reading in her spare time and like many people, she cannot choose one book as her favorite.
“Oh my goodness, wow! I don’t know what it would be,” Sykes said. “Put it this way, I really like historical fiction – I like historical fiction books, I always have.”
Sykes had moved to North Carolina for some time, however, she said she is thankful to be living back in East Tennessee now.
“I just think we live in the most beautiful place, you know, almost anywhere you look. I’m very thankful every day that the Lord brought me back here,” she said. “You could almost say what’s not to love, usually the weather’s very nice.

“My mother use to always say, ‘it was sunny Tennessee’. We’ve had more gray days than usual but the cold doesn’t last too long, the hot doesn’t last too long and everywhere you look there’s just something pretty to see.”

Sykes said Johnson has had a major role in her life.
“Except for Jesus Christ, [Johnson University] has probably been the biggest influence in my life,” she said. “My family life, my education, I met my husband here, and you know, most of my lifelong friends are from here. And now my work is here. So it has definitely shaped who I am.”





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