Purdue Profiles: Kim Van Meter

November 16, 2010

Kim Van Meter, Purdue Musical Organizations account clerk. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)

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Up a single stairwell at the southwest end of Elliott Hall of Music, Kim Van Meter, who has been a Purdue Musical Organizations account clerk for 17 years, does much more than deposit checks and crunch numbers.

Although Van Meter's account clerk position has nothing to do with staging the annual Purdue Christmas Show, the PMO staff of 10 works together to make every year a hit. Van Meter's job description might not include padding Santa or purchasing costumes, but she would not have it any other way.

What kinds of odd jobs have you had during preparation for the Christmas Show?

I've done so many different things I can't even remember them all. When my kids were little, they were in the Kids Choir, so I helped with that. I've sold CDs after shows and purchased costumes.

One time a former co-worker and I ironed 250 choir robes. Steaming the robes didn't work, and we wanted to save the expense of taking them to the dry cleaners, so we got out our ironing boards. We laughed about it and put a sign on our door that said, "Shirts, .50 cents."

For the last few years I’ve helped with bus parking during our annual school matinee show. We had 80 buses on campus and didn't know where to put all of them. We had buses in the Armory parking lot, in the spaces by Stewart Center; they were all over the place.

What is your favorite part of working at PMO?

My favorite part of my job is the students. Most definitely it is the students. It's really just amazing that we don't have a school of music, but all of these students from different areas come together to make a great end product. They just love to sing and perform. They are so devoted to it. They put so much time in to make something great.

The students are why I've stayed where I'm at so long. They energize me. I enjoy being with them and working with them. I could do my job anywhere, but when you combine that with the students, it's great!

Do you have any memorable moments from your 17 years at PMO?

It has to be all the traveling I've been able to do. I went on an international performance tour when Glee Club went to the U.K. We stayed outside of London and traveled to Ireland and Scotland. Glee Club got the chance to perform at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City, and I was able to join them.

What should people know about the Christmas Show that they might not already?

It's always changing and new every year! I had actually never been to it before I started working at Purdue. It really is an amazing thing for these students to put on a professional show. They don't do it for a grade or any kind of credit; they do it because they love it.

And actually, this year it will be performed one week earlier than in the past. Usually the show is the weekend before finals week, but moving it to a different weekend was a major focus of Bill Griffel, our director, when he started here. He wanted to do it a week earlier to give the students more time to relax, study for their exams and enjoy the show .

After helping with the show so much, are you still able to enjoy it?

Well, I used to think I didn't need to watch it because I've already seen it so many times during rehearsals, but I really do love sitting in the audience. I like to watch everyone else watching the show for the first time. During the set change, there is a carol scene where the audience sings along, and that's always really neat.

And how are your caroling skills?

Oh no. You don't want to hear me sing. There are only a few staff members at PMO who don't sing, and I am one of them. Although, a few years ago we did a student staff appreciation dinner, and staff provided the entertainment. We had to make up a verse to "Ring of Fire" and sing. Everyone roared when I got up there because they never thought I'd do that. I never thought I'd do that.

More information

For details about the 77th Annual Purdue Christmas Show, visit www.purdue.edu/pmo/christmas.shtml.