Blue Devil of the Week: Handling the Kitchen Sink

Debra Mattice oversees course scheduling and accreditation for School of Nursing

Debra Mattice is in charge of scheduling courses each semester and is the primary point of contact with the school’s accreditation body, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Debra Mattice is the primary point of contact with the School of Nursing's accreditation body, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Name: Debra Mattice

Title: Director of Academic Support Operations, Duke University School of Nursing

Years at Duke: 22

What she does at Duke:

Mattice is in charge of scheduling the School of Nursing's courses each semester, keeping track of registration and wait lists, hiring part-time and clinical instructors and assisting the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Program Directors with teaching assignments. She is the primary point of contact with the school’s accreditation body, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and works with the academic programs to make sure the school meets accreditation standards. Mattice also has responsibilities with the school’s plans and compliance for state authorization to operate on-line and distance-based programs in states other than North Carolina.      

“Other people call this the ‘kitchen sink job’ because no two days are the same,” she said. “It’s busy, but it keeps work feeling fresh.”

What she loves about Duke:

From Duke as a whole to her department, Mattice appreciates that the Blue Devil community is always striving to be better, more inclusive and support one another.

“Most people understand you’re human and you will make mistakes and most people are very supportive of you,” she said.

Mattice has witnessed the supportive community of Duke over a wide range of occurrences, from celebrations of NCAA Championships and Noble Laureates and in tragic events such as the Duke Life Flight crash in September. 

Memorable day at work:

Every year, Mattice’s favorite day is the School of Nursing graduation ceremony at Duke University Chapel. The school graduates about 350 students in the school’s two Hooding and Recognition ceremonies each year in May and in December. 

“I’m sitting at the front looking at all the students processing in and that makes it all so worthwhile,” she said. “Seeing the culmination of all the effort people put together. ‘Doggone it we pulled it off. We did good for another year.’”

An interesting object in her office:

A toy called “Baby Alive” sitting on one of Mattice’s cabinets has given her quite a few laughs since two staff assistants gave it to her as a gag gift for Christmas three years ago. The life-sized baby doll sits turned off, but it begins to cry and make noises if the motion detection is turned on.  

“I had a meeting with somebody who had a three-year-old daughter and after showing off Baby Alive, accidentally left the motion sensor on,” Mattice said. “I went back to work, forgot about it, and it completely startled me when it started up on its own”

First ever job:

A babysitting career kept Mattice busy from 10 years old to the time she graduated college.   

“I treated it like, ‘You know what the rules are. You know what time you’re supposed to go to bed and get up. I’m not going to make you go to bed, but I’m going to make sure you go to school in the morning,’” Mattice said. “There was one instance where a girl skipped school and the principal called. I let her decide if she would tell the parents or I would. She told them.”

Best advice ever received:

“Do the very best you can,” Mattice said. “Conversely, don’t always expect everything to be perfect.”

Fun fact:

Mattice loves the name of her hometown: Bad Axe, Michigan.

“As the story goes, the reason it’s named Bad Axe is there were two waves of settlers that came through who were loggers,” she said. “When the second wave came they found a broken axe and named the town after it.”

Nominate a colleague to be the next Blue Devil of the Week.