One CIMMS: Q&A with Tracy Reinke

Tracy Reinke.

For the month of February, the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at the University of Oklahoma is publishing a series of stories highlighting CIMMS’s past, present and future by highlighting its employees. CIMMS is diverse because of its employees — who represent a variety of entities and areas of research. One Q&A segment will be published each Monday and Thursday in February.

Tracy Reinke has worked at the university for 30 years and CIMMS for 16 years. She is the executive director of finance and operations for CIMMS managing the day to day operations of the institute. Reinke won the 2011 Jennifer L. Wise Good Stewardship Award for the university and started the OU Food Pantry Drive in the CIMMS office.

Q: Describe the path leading up to your current job.
A: I completed my Master of Business Administration from The University of Oklahoma and was looking for a job that would utilize it. I was originally hired to manage only the NOAA grants of CIMMS, but within a couple of months I was in charge of all the financial accounts. Over the 16 years I’ve worked for CIMMS, my job duties have increasingly grown more complicated to what my position currently is.

Q: What are you most proud of during your time at CIMMS or what is the most significant achievement of your career?
A: In 2012 I became the first Certified Research Administrator at OU who did not work for the Office of Research Services. In order to be certified you must pass a 250 question test on all aspects of research administration — many from areas that I do not normally deal with.

Q: What is it about your job that interests and/or engages you?
A: The variety of people that work for CIMMS and what they need. No one day is the same.

Q: Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
A: I lived in five states growing up and attended seven schools by the time I was 18. But I’ve never lived anywhere else since coming to OU.

Reinke, far right, manages the day-to-day operations at CIMMS, including quarterly award celebrations.

Q: What advice would you provide young professionals or others in your field?

A: Don’t be afraid to network with research administrators. Join one of the national organizations and attend either the annual or regional meetings. Use those contacts to help when you don’t know an answer.

Q: What is your personal philosophy?
A: Every day is a new day. Don’t let the baggage from the day before weigh you down.

Q: What is the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your life thus far?
A: Many years ago, the department I worked for was given two months notice that we were closing. Lucky for me, another department had already contacted me to work for them so I did not have to stress too much about closure, but if I did not have another job lined up, my life would definitely have been different.

Q: What advice would you give your younger self? Or what would you most like to tell your younger self?
A: Don’t let a bad supervisor ruin your day and try very hard to leave your work at the office.

Q: How do you define success? A: Success is not about how much money you have or accolades. It is measured in happiness. Are you happy doing what you do? Are you happy with who you are? If you can answer yes to those questions, then you are a success.

Tracy Reinke receiving an award.
Reinke receiving the 2011 Jennifer Wise award.

Q: Describe your typical day.

A: There is no typical day for me. One day I might be dealing with six budgets for proposals that are due in a week. The next might involve human resources issues ranging from hiring an undergraduate student to working through a discipline situation. I make sure that all employees get paid correctly and then move on to making sure a grant has been spending money correctly. The variety in the job is definitely a benefit.