Tish Leeth

Tish Leeth, Manager

"Most of us were able to retrieve quite a few of our personal items from our offices. The items I lost that were most sentimental were the small trinkets received from faculty [members] that I had worked with at JMU over the years - a Russian nesting doll from Dr. Elizabeth Neatrour, a foreign languages professor who passed away recently, was a particular favorite," says Leeth, the manager of the cash and investments office.

Leeth said she returned to work "the morning after the fire at 8 a.m. [and] those of us on the management team met to implement our disaster recovery plan. By mid-morning, we knew our assignments and plans for bringing all the staff back to work the next day, had donned our hardhats and were in the damaged offices retrieving both personal and business items that were in any way salvageable. Staff members from finance and administration teamed up to move and unload files, equipment and belongings to the temporary designated locations."

"It wasn't until the night of the fire that I realized how much a part of my life my work at JMU had become," says Leeth. "Even the business part of the losses were personal to everyone who worked in that building, and still to this day I find that my thoughts, reactions, plans and decisions are affected by the overwhelming experience of this fire. The other thing that stands out to me was what an incredible team effort the campus community made - whether it was a sympathetic ear, an emergency service request, an understanding campus customer, a sense of humor or an IT staff member helping to unload boxes of salvaged materials to one of our temporary locations - it was all amazing and a real example of the all together one spirit unique to James Madison University."

Once she heard about the fire, Leeth says "It was impossible to sleep anymore that night, it was virtually impossible to stay away - the need to be there and take action was overwhelming." Despite the hard work and tremendous changes her office underwent, Leeth says, "we are very much looking forward to the next move when our finance team can be back together again in one location!"

Back to Fire Response