True to Type: Frank Ashe celebrates 45 years of VUMC printing

Forty-five years ago, Frank Ashe, manager of the VUMC Post Office and Fleet Management, answered an ad in the Tennessean newspaper for a clerk typist. After passing a typing speed test with flying colors, he was referred to the print shop by Human Resources, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“My new boss showed me this big typewriter and said, ‘can you run that?’ And I said, ‘sure.’ I didn’t find out until later that it wasn’t really a typewriter; it was actually a typesetter,” Frank said. “So I had to learn how to typeset, which was a big thing in those days. People didn’t have computers where they could set their own documents in proportional types. We typeset a lot of forms in those days. That was basically my first job — learning to typeset medical forms.”

Since then, Frank has worked in the copy center, post office, satellite delivery and fleet management. He said technology has been the biggest change in his career, and he has not only made it a point to keep up, but he has also helped usher in technological advances within VUMC printing.

“Even after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in English, I decided to take some classes at Nashville Tech in data processing because I could see that computers were coming and I wanted to know more about it,” Frank said. “Our department’s first computer was an IBM PC, and we started a database to replace our paper log of all the forms. Over time, we got more computers and better computers, and when we moved into this space in 1985, we got our first network. Then the Internet came along, and well, that made a big difference. I guess you could say I grew up with technology — although I do still have a typewriter in my office.”

Much of Frank’s job is delivering excellent customer service to people inside and outside the organization.

“I actually did have a life before Vanderbilt — amazing as that sounds,” he said. “I worked at Cracker Barrel and Hardy’s and dealt with customers in those jobs. This is kind of the same thing. You want to find out what they need and try to match that up to the best resources while remaining polite and professional at all times.”