Yesterday afternoon, members of the University of Michigan community gathered to honor the life of Faith Vlcek, a program administrator in the Ford School of Public Policy who was killed in a car accident on her way to work early last Tuesday.

A memorial service was held at the Manchester United Methodist Church, as friends and colleagues paid their respects to Vlcek, who worked at the Ford’s School International Policy Center.

Colleagues remember Vlcek for her kind spirit, helping hand and the great impact she had on the lives of those who knew her during the 10 years she spent working at the University.

“She was the heart and soul of every place I worked,” said Jan Svejnar, director of the International Policy Center.

Vlcek first came to the University to work at the William Davidson Institute as an executive assistant. In 2004, she moved to the Faculty Support group at the Ross School of Business. She later joined the Ford School in 2007.

While Vlcek’s main responsibilities were to make travel and event arrangements, Svejnar said she always went well beyond what was asked.

“Professors would visit from all over the world,” Svejnar said, “and more than just making their travel arrangements, she would take care of them.”

“She did whatever was needed,” said Alan Deardorff, associate dean of the Ford School.

Deardorff said Vlcek will be remembered as a truly warm person who cared about others.

“We depended on her not just as a secretary, but as a human being,” he said. “She had a greater understanding of the world.”

Deardorff, who attended the visitation before the service yesterday, said there were a lot people present to pay their respects.

“She clearly had a huge number of friends and relatives,” he said. “There were a lot of people that cared for her.”

Deardorff said the most memorable thing about Vlcek was the joy she took in learning everything she could about everyone in her life.

“I loved talking to her about my life and hers,” Deardorff said. “Often she would tell me about her kids and grandkids.”

Marysia Ostafin, program manager for the Center for Russian & East European Studies, worked with Vlcek for 10 years. She said it was wonderful to work with Vlcek because she pushed others to work well together.

“It is hard to imagine our work without her,” Ostafin said. “Her wry humor and understanding will be much missed.”

Thomas Ivacko, administrator and program manager for the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy, worked with Vlcek as well. As a colleague, he said she was always looking to lend a helping hand, often going beyond her job responsibilities.

“She was an extraordinarily thoughtful and caring person,” Ivacko said. “She always had a smile on her face and she was extremely easy to talk to.”

Vlcek lived in Tecumseh, Michigan with her daughter. She liked to spend her free time cheering on the Manchester High School wrestling team, which is coached by her son.

Susan Collins, dean of the Ford School, attended the memorial service. She said there was an outpouring of support for Vlcek’s family and friends.

“Faith was a vibrant, benevolent member of the Ford School community who we will miss greatly,” Collins said. “The Ford School is really in mourning of having lost her so suddenly.”

Vlcek is survived by her children, Elizabeth Malcolm and Steven Vlcek.

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