Greta Crandall: A Friendly Face of Donovan’s Pub

Colgate students who have been to Donovan’s Pub tend to know Greta Crandall, who has been named “Campus Mom.” Crandall, who is originally from Cazenovia, NY, started working at Colgate in 2008 and has since become a familiar and beloved member of the Colgate community. Crandall takes her job seriously, going beyond her duties as supervisor of Donovan’s Pub. She can be found at the front of the pub conversing and joking with students, offering them advice while completing an average of 600 orders a night. 

Before Donovan’s Pub opens at 5 p.m., Crandall arrives around 3 p.m. to set up. Throughout the night, Crandall and the kitchen staff complete 22 orders every 15 minutes. After the pub closes at midnight or 1 a.m., depending on the night, she cleans up and heads home to her husband and child in Canastota, NY. Despite the often chaotic environment of Donovan’s Pub, Crandall expressed how much she loves her job. 

“I love the students. I especially enjoy getting to know the ones that don’t get out and let loose often. That, to me, is rewarding. It’s important to take a break from studying, get out and have some fun. Students come in and tell me about their days and ask for advice. It makes me feel important and special. They call me the ‘Campus Mom,’ so I feel that I’ve done my job and then some,” Crandall said.

Because Crandall loves the students, her work does not truly feel like a job. Crandall describes Donovan’s Pub as her happy place, and she thinks it’s unusual for people to feel that way about their workplaces. 

Crandall’s devotion to Colgate students does not go unnoticed. On her birthday last year, Crandall walked into work, and some students decorated the pub for her. Her face was plastered all over the walls. Crandall recalls feeling so grateful that she broke into tears. These are the kinds of moments that make her busy days fulfilling. 

“People always ask how I do it, and honestly, I don’t know. Sometimes I just feel like I would forget my head if it weren’t attached to my shoulders. But constantly being told how important I am and the impact that I’ve made on campus is very touching,” Crandall said.

Crandall makes sure that she knows every student who walks into the pub. She can therefore name at least 75% of the student body. Crandall explained how she is able to learn everyone’s name and why knowing the students personally is a critical part of her job.

“So the secret is I have [Multiple Sclerosis], and I use learning everyone’s name as a tool to keep my brain sharp. If I don’t remember someone’s name, I’ll remember something about them, like what they like to drink. It’s also a good thing for the students. I just like to be involved, it makes me feel like I’m doing something mentally stimulating for myself, and it’s great for you guys as well because it makes you feel important and good all around,” she said. 

The hardest part of Crandall’s job is when Donovan’s Pub is short-staffed and there are dozens of students waiting for their food. She hears her name being called from every direction. She says that while it can be frustrating, she knows the students and everyone is patient; eventually, she is able to help everybody. Crandall reiterated the impact of her connections with students.

“Throughout the years, [the students and I have] all grown together and gotten to know each other and our personalities. I know who I can banter with. A lot of the seniors have said that when I’m strict with them, they need that, too. You know, it just kind of brings them back to reality. A lot of them just appreciate the ‘disciplinary mom’ side of me. So it’s all just very enjoyable, even the stressful parts. I just genuinely care,” she said. 

Crandall understands the importance of her role on campus and emphasized that she hopes everyone cares about their jobs as much as she does. As she looks toward the future, Crandall hopes that her own daughter can find a similar comforting figure when she goes to college. 

“I think that it’s important that students have somebody that they can come to if they need a person to talk to whether it be in a mom kind of way or a friend. You know, even if they just need a hug,” Crandall said. “When my daughter goes off to college, I just hope that there’s somebody there that she can be close to in the same way. ”