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Flo Retiring—But Will Still Be in Low
Flo in Low is a fixture on the Morningside campus.

After nearly 44 years of service to Columbia, Public Safety Department Administrator Florence Grant, or "Flo in Low" as she is affectionately known, has announced her retirement, effective Jan. 31.

During her time at Columbia, "Flo in Low" has certainly made a name for herself -- literally as well as in spirit. In announcing her retirement, Assistant Vice President for Public Safety James McShane said, "Flo retains exuberance and a love for Columbia that is unmatched anywhere on this campus. She personifies all that is special about the University." For this reason, Flo has agreed to continue her service on campus after retirement, on a volunteer basis, by serving as the public affairs liaison in the Visitors Center, where her enthusiasm and institutional knowledge will be put to good use.

Grant began her career at Columbia in 1961, when, feeling the need for a change, she left a clerical post at J.C. Penney Co. for an administrative position in the campus Controller's Office. She subsequently held jobs in several other offices, including those of the University General Counsel and Vice President for Finance, before settling into her current position in Public Safety, where she has worked for the past 27 years.

Her activities in the Columbia community have gone above and beyond the limits of her job description. George Smartt, Flo's supervisor in Public Safety until his retirement last year, noted that her "total dedication to and knowledge of the University" is surpassed by few.

"I love helping out, because I'm good at it," Flo said. "I say to the guys, 'Call me anytime -- morning, noon or night -- I don't care.'" She can also be found passing out candy to students at graduation as well as cleaning and mending the flags that fly above Low Library.

In addition, in 1978, Flo began offering notary public services to the University as a way to meet people and make friends. Over the years, that service has put her in touch with a broad population of the Columbia community. Each day, a parade of students, faculty and staff winds its way through the Office of Public Safety to have various documents notarized.

"Flo is the greatest notary public," offered University Professor and Nobel Laureate Tsung-Dao Lee. "More than that, she has brought warmth to the campus for more than 40 years. I'm delighted that she will continue to help us after her retirement. I send her my very best wishes."

Her many years on campus, coupled with formidable networking skills and a genuine desire to help, have made her a well-known and popular figure on campus. As befits such an integral and treasured member of the community, Flo was chosen to welcome President Lee C. Bollinger to Columbia at his inauguration in October 2002 on behalf of 8,000 Columbia staff members. Bollinger is the sixth president to have served Columbia during her career.

Will there be a retirement party for Flo? "I am trying very hard not to have one," she responded. "I don't like being the center of attention."

Published: Jan 19, 2005
Last modified: Jan 19, 2005

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