Published: Jan. 26, 2021

CU Boulder Staff Council is excited to honor Linda Frueh Wellmann, who as of this year has served at CU Boulder for 50 years. Below is a short autobiography presented by Linda that highlights her time at CU and some of the wonderful memories she’s collected, as well as a note from CU Nobel Prize Laureate, Professor Carl Wieman.

I grew up on a farm in Iowa, the last of nine children. I went to Catholic school through eighth grade, and then transferred to public high school. After high school, I worked for a bank in Des Moines Iowa for over three years before moving to Colorado with my best friend. That was April 1, 1970 and we arrived in Boulder, Colorado to find the city under 30 inches of snow and immediately got our U-Hall stuck (April Fool on us). It was students from the University of Colorado who dug our truck out of the snow. We finally settled in Longmont and started looking for a job. It took a couple of months, but I was finally accepted to the University of Colorado Purchasing Department and started June 1, 1970. I was receptionist, and then moved on to keeping track of the Purchase Requests. I worked for Purchasing until November of 1978 when I moved to the Physics Department as their “Undergraduate Secretary”. I retired at the end of January 2003 from the University. Before I left, Professor Carl Wieman asked me to come and work for his new PhET (Physics Education Technology) project. At first, I said no. However, he kept in touch and after ten months, I accepted. I started back as a permanent part time retired employee, working my 110 days a year, in December 2003 for JILA and PhET.

LInda at her Birthday

I was there for about two years when I moved back to the Physics Department office.

In one way I miss the personal interaction with the students we used to have and now also because of COVID. We went from adding and dropping students into/out of classes using punch cards (now I really am showing my age) with long lines, to everything being entered online. I understand that this is progress, but I miss the interaction. So now, during the first week of classes, I stand out in the hall greeting and directing students to their classrooms.

I am a big CU Buff fan. I was born on Feb. 29th. Attached is a picture of “Chip” and I on my 18th birthday.

I am grateful to the University of Colorado who gave a farm girl with only at High School education a chance to work and learn.  

Purchasing and the Department of Physics have given me many years of working enjoyment plus many, many awesome friends and colleagues. I have watched the Department of Physics grow into a world acclaimed teaching and research institution (we have four Nobel Prize winners) and I am humbled and proud to be associated with it.

Statement from Carl Wieman, Nobel Laureate 

“Linda has been a wonderful asset to the physics department. We have been lucky to have her for these many years. She has always been friendly, pleasant, helpful, and incredibly competent in dealing with all the faculty and students, no matter how outrageous their demands. When she first retired, I remember thinking what a waste it was to have such a good and talented person just sitting around retired. I was delighted to be able to lure her back, to the benefit of my project and the entire department.”

Carl Wieman
DRC Chair in Engineering
Professor of Physics and Graduate School of Education Stanford University
2020 Yidan Prize for Education Research
2001 Nobel Prize in Physics