The James E. Foy Information Desk has plenty of experience in handling the unexpected. For this twenty- four hour call in service, answering questions ranging from all different types of topics has become almost second nature to most of its employees.
Founded in the 1950’s by Dean Foy, well before the invention of Internet search engines, the James E. Foy Information Desk was created mainly to act as an information hotline for the students of Auburn University.
With popularity not only rising in the local arena, 344-844-4244 has recently gathered a lot of national attention. In 2007, Oprah Winfrey featured the number in her magazine “O, The Oprah Magazine” as one of the top five useful phone numbers everyone should remember. In that same year, Matt Lauer of NBC’s “The Today Show” called the information desk live on air to see if his question could be put to the test.
Jacy Dowling, a senior building supervisor at the Foy Information Desk, says that more and more people from across the nation are calling in and utilizing this free service.
“While we do get a lot of calls from Auburn students, the majority of the calls are now from across the nation,” said Dowling. “Some of the most frequent calls come from NY, PA, AL, LA, MS and randomly people from OH.”
With the recent events of the poisoning of Toomer’s Trees, the operators at the desk are getting many calls dealing with this issue. “Lately, a lot of calls have been centered around the Toomer’s Oaks and what the University’s plans are to save the trees,” said Dowling.
The employees, who work at the James E Foy Information desk, are not required to stay on the phone with someone who does not have a serious question. Prank calls and people calling just to have a laugh are experiences that come along with the job. A key principle that is stressed when new operators are trained is customer service.
“We attempt to answer every question in a way that is polite and respectful,” says Dowling.
Located on the second floor of the student center, the James E. Foy Information Desk currently has six supervisors and over thirty employees on staff that alternate shifts throughout the day and night.
“We try to give the callers answers to their questions as fast as possible,” said Dowling. “To find these answers our staff mostly uses Google and Wikipedia, but for the really obscure trivia questions we use our own database of answers.”
Dowling said one of the most ridiculous calls she had ever received was from a person who called just recently.
“This individual wanted to know when Egypt declared independence from the US,” said Dowling. “ I guess that goes to show you coming to work for us means never experiencing an ordinary day.”
Willing to answer any question respectfully and to the best of their ability, the James E. Foy Information Desk continues to be one of the most prominent services on Auburn’s campus. All you need to do now is pick up your phone and see for yourself.