When Life Throws You a Curve Ball

by Lauren McLain

Elsa Corral is the gate keeper to the president’s office and has served 6 presidents – starting with Dr. Robert Witt and currently with Dr. Jennifer Cowley. Her official title is Executive Associate to the President and manages the president’s calendar of events and meetings along with other duties. She makes sure that the president is where she’s supposed to be at any given time on any given day. This coordination is hard work since everyone wants to have their time with the president. But this was not her first role at UTA. Elsa joined the university in 1988 as a housing leasing agent with Eric Leidlein, who recently retired after a long career at UTA. And before that, she worked 5 years at UT Austin. Throughout her career, Elsa has been blessed to work with great colleagues which developed into great relationships beyond campus.

Asking Elsa who was her favorite president to work for is like asking which one of your kids is your favorite. When pressed further, she said that she would have to kill you if she told you. Elsa did say that each president has the same goal of furthering the university beyond the previous. And that all 6 presidents treated her with respect leading to good relationships on and off campus.

The Mavericks Speakers Series established by James Spaniolo, former UTA president, is a beloved tradition for Elsa. She gets to meet famous speakers when they meet with the president beforehand. Elsa recounts two memorable guest speakers – Forest Whitaker, a movie actor, and Cal Ripken, Jr., a baseball player. What stood out about Forest Whitaker is that he is a very quiet and soft-spoken person which seems to contradict what he does for a living. As for Cal Ripken, Jr., Elsa loves baseball so naturally she is partial to him. She is also a dedicated Texas Rangers fan and has attended numerous baseball games at the two old Ballparks and now Globe Life Field. Elsa has even attended one of the Texas Rangers Awards dinners where fans can meet the players up close.

When Elsa was asked whom she would like to have a meal with, she mentions Hugh Jackman. Why? Because he’s hot! And entertaining. He is very talented on stage beyond the screen. Hugh Jackman started out first in theater and television. The man can act, sing, dance and produce so apparently, Wolverine has a soft personality.

Now that we know what Elsa does at UTA, let’s learn more about her personal side. She has two grandsons. The oldest attends UTA studying biology and the youngest is still in high school and he is a very good baseball player. Guess what – Elsa is his biggest fan and attends his games to cheer him on.

You may be surprised to know that Elsa was mentioned in a National Enquirer article that featured Eddie McGee, who won the first season of the Big Brother show. Eddie was on the Movin’ Mavs wheelchair basketball team. He supported Elsa when she was hospitalized with Leukemia 24 years ago. You may also be surprised to know that Elsa gets nervous with public speaking despite the many university functions which she attends. When the Arlington Memorial Hospital opened its new Oncology unit, the hospital asked Elsa to deliver a speech because she was a former patient. To avoid disaster, she had to enlist help from a former UTA speech writer for President Spaniolo.

Elsa believes that you should enjoy life and do what makes you happy – to live without regrets. After surviving cancer, there’s nothing she can’t overcome. Batter up! Here’s to many more years of remission.