Life after Berkeley
The campus's newest staff retirees talk with us about the next chapter in their lives
| 11 June 2009
BERKELEY — In May, Berkeley sends its graduates into the world;
five weeks later, a different campus rite of passage occurs when staffers of a certain age retire. Each year, June 30 is the day many eligible staff members elect to retire, closing out the fiscal year — and their Cal careers — with a flourish. The Berkeleyan sought out some of this year's soon-to-be-retirees — call them "the other graduating class of 2009" — to get the lowdown on their plans, highlights of their time at Cal, and advice for those who
follow in their footsteps.
First job at Cal? Administrative coordinator, Office of Contracts and Grants
Last job at Cal? Director of individual giving, Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive
Years at Cal: 8
Quote: "If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative. — Woody Allen
Joseph Daniel Fiedler photo
First job at Cal? UC Mail Services
Last job at Cal? Same
Years at Cal: 38
Why are you retiring now? To start a new landscape-design business.
Words to live by: You have to be here eight hours — might as well enjoy it.
Favorite campus activity? Ping pong during lunchtime (we have a table in the storeroom).
First job at Cal? Budget assistant, Graduate School of Education
Last job at Cal? Lab mommy, Department of Physics
Years at Cal: 15
Retirement plans? Kayaking on the Russian River and giving back to my new community.
Favorite campus activity? Checking out music to sight-read with my string quartet or other chamber-music groups.
What will you miss about working at Cal? The park-like setting, the 10-minute bike commute, the wonderful group of students and faculty I interface with, and Jeff Davis's Campanile concerts.
First job at Cal? Receptionist, Graduate School of Education
Last job at Cal? Secretary to the Dean, Graduate School of Education
Years at Cal: 42 (some half-time)
Retirement plans? Gardening, playing bridge, going to campus lectures.
Quote: Retiring is like dying. You have to do it, so you might as well do it gracefully.
Favorite campus spot: Morrison Library
Favorite campus activity? Campus lectures (Hitchcock, Faculty Research) and monthly astronomy lectures.
Ann Weissman, M.D.
First job at Cal? Primary-care physician, Student Health Service
Last job at Cal? Associate medical director, Tang Center
Years at Cal: 28
Retirement plans? First, a trip to Italy and my son's wedding. Later: Getting involved in healthcare reform as a volunteer.
Quote: "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." — Dalai Lama
Proudest accomplishment at Berkeley: Getting an Excellence in Management Award, for which my staff nominated me.
Favorite spot on campus: The fire trails — great for walking at lunchtime when I worked at the old Cowell Hospital.
Courtesy of University Health Service
Gloria Jean Burkhalter
Age: Old enough to remember when candy bars were only 25 cents!
First job at Cal? Office clerk, College of Engineering
Last job at Cal? Director, Student Life Advising Services/Educational Opportunity Program
Years at Cal: If you consider my undergraduate years as a student, I've been at Cal for 41 years.
Retirement plans? Exercise, bowl, travel, hang out with my daughters (one of which is a dog), and be actively involved in GOALS (Graduates Organized to Assure Learning and Success). GOALS is a nonprofit organization that was created to mentor — and financially support — low-income, first-generation college and underrepresented students.
Words to live by: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Proudest accomplishment at Berkeley: Contri-buting to the development and implementation of Summer Bridge, a transitional program for students coming from high school to Cal.
Favorite spot on campus: My office, where the walls are covered with pictures that speak to my love for and commitment to diversity and excellence!
Who or what will you miss about working at Cal? Our beautiful students and my incredibly outstanding SLAS/EOP family!
Advice? Always put your best foot forward, remain committed to your dreams, and give back to your community.
First job at Cal? Principal clerk, Office of International Education. My starting salary was $666/month in 1974.
Last job at Cal? Administrative director, Study Abroad Office
Years at Cal: Almost 35
Retirement plans? Sleeping until I wake up naturally or until my cat Jasper sits on my head; traveling, doing good works, and playing music, singing, and writing songs again, which fed my creative spirit before I got a "real job." Hopefully, all these years as a bureaucrat haven't killed the muse.
Words to live by: Practice random acts of vegetarianism.
Proudest accomplishment at Berkeley: Building reltionships with thousands of Education Abroad Program alumni and helping to establish the Weisinger Fund, a huge gift from our beloved former director, Kenneth Weisinger, who died far too soon in 2003.
Favorite campus activity? Attending free noon concerts in Hertz Hall, being amazed by the quality of student musicianship, then shopping for recordings of the music I just heard and liked a lot.
What will you miss about working at Cal? The daily camaraderie with other campus managers and systemwide UC Study Abroad colleagues.
Advice? Know your stuff and take care of your people.
First job at Cal? Assistant personnel analyst, Personnel Office
Last job at Cal? Director and Ombudsperson, Staff Ombuds Office
Years at Cal: 36
Retirement plans? Teaching poetry and spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union; getting in shape; travel (hope to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain); studying Italian and French; music lessons; making a dent in my "to read" pile; volunteering in the Berkeley public schools — and figuring out how to make time for all of these activities!
Proudest accomplishment at Berkeley: Helping people to hear each other.
Favorite campus activity? Lunch Poems in Morrison Library.
Advice? Help the Home of Free Speech to also become the Home of Empathic Listening!
First job at Cal? Receptionist, Academic Personnel Office, where I was classified as Senior Typist Clerk and paid $536 a month
Last job at Cal? Assistant vice provost, Academic Personnel
Years at Cal: 34
Why are you retiring now? It is not because of the budget. I have been in this position for 15 ½ years and feel it is a time for "redirection" in my life. In addition,
I believe the Academic Personnel Office will benefit from a change in leadership — someone with new ideas and lots of energy.
Proudest accomplishment at Berkeley: When I took on this job, the office was very insular. I have partnered with numerous campus offices over the years and have made Academic Personnel an integral part of the decision-making processes on campus.
Advice? Never make the same mistake twice. Utilize your resources and ask a lot of questions so that you understand the policies and what is expected of you. Maintain your integrity.
First job at Cal? Typing book orders, Library Acquisition Department
Last job at Cal? Helping students learn how to do research, Doe/Moffitt Libraries Instructional Services
Years at Cal: 37
Why are you retiring now? It's time to leave before I start scaring the students.
Retirement plans? Making jam, growing vegetables, being as eccentric as I wanna be.
Words to live by: "Spawn till you die." — Ray Troll, Alaskan artist and amateur paleontologist
Proudest accomplishment at Berkeley: Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award, 2005, a group award for revitalizing UC Berkeley's participation in the AIDS Walk.
Favorite campus activity? Swimming in Hearst Pool surrounded by caryatids and marble.
What will you miss about working at Cal? Instant access to a world-class research library, and watching students discover the joy of research.
First job at Cal? Principal clerk,
Last job at Cal? Equipment manager, Business Services/Property Management
Years at Cal: 36
Why are you retiring now? It is time.
Retirement plans? Traveling with my husband to Japan, South Korea, Ireland, and Chile; volunteering at my grandchildren's school and St. Anthony Foundation; and enjoying carefree days in Tahoe.
Favorite campus activity? Enjoying Cal Day with my grandchildren and watching their excitement as they explore and learn about science with their Grandpa Max.
Advice? Do your best. It will make a difference.
First job at Cal? A temporary appointment with University Extension in 1970
Last job at Cal? Director, Human Resources, College of Environmental Design Dean's Office
Years at Cal: 26
Why are you retiring now? I can now realize my long-time goal of retirement with a great State of California benefit and pension plan.
Proudest accomplishment at Berkeley: Developing sea legs! Berkeley is a battleship as well as a flagship and you can't make it through to retirement without developing a sense of balance to navigate your way through the constant sea of change in its business practices.
Advice? Be patient with yourself and others; the journey is very short.
Sisters Pauline and Mary Laverty
First job at Cal? Clerk, selling football tickets at the Athletic Ticket Office
Last job at Cal? Manager, Staff Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance
Years at Cal: 34
Quote: "To the extent that your work takes into account the needs of the world, it will be meaningful; to the extent that through it you can express your unique talents, it will be joyful."— Laurence G. Boldt
Proudest accomplishment: Creating the first institutionalized student and staff diversity programs on campus and growing a network of dedicated — and awesome — staff-diversity facilitators.
Advice? Take a little time every day to reflect on what you are grateful for; find your passion and grow it; meet with your colleagues often for support; and think of what footprint you want to leave behind. And as a wise colleague has said: "Conflict is an opportunity for growth!"
First job at Cal? As a Cal student in the late '60s, working in the Space Sciences Laboratory library
First university job after graduation: Book editor, Continuing Education of the Bar
Last job at Cal? Director, Community Relations, Office of the Chancellor
Years at Cal: 20+
Retirement plans? Living my life (emphasis on the first-person-possessive pronoun).
Proudest accomplishment at Berkeley: Developing the Chancellor's Community Partnership Fund. It has funded some great projects in Berkeley and brought local residents and neighborhoods together with university partners in the spirit of collaboration and public service.
Favorite campus activity? I love the bustle of Sproul Plaza, especially the student performances.
Who or what will you miss? The people who work here — smart, multi-talented, and committed.
Advice? Don't worry about figuring out the "campus culture" — you probably never will. Just do what you think is right, do your best, and be proud to serve Cal.
First job at Cal? Administrative assistant, systemwide Affirmative Action Office
Last job at Cal? Chief administrative officer, School of Optometry
Years at Cal: 30
Retirement plans? My first stop will be a jazz concert in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, in early July. After that, whenever given the opportunity to sit it out or dance, you can bet I'll choose to dance!
Proudest accomplishment at Berkeley: As a woman of color, a proud Puerto Rican, I'm glad that my hard work and the opportunities provided me at UC Berkeley have gotten me this far in a staff position.
Favorite spot on campus: A bench near the creek in a very woodsy area near Stephens Hall where I had a very inspiring conversation with my first department chair, Ling Chi Wang. I will always treasure the guidance that he gave me that day in that beautiful setting.
First job at Cal? Senior building maintenance worker, Housing
Last job at Cal? Trades painter, Residential and Student Service Programs
Years at Cal: 25
Retirement plans? I plan to play a lot of mandolin and fiddle, and to build a violin. I'll be traveling to central Louisiana, Cajun country, in August.
Words to live by: Don't let your dreams turn into tomorrow's regrets.
What will you miss about working at Cal? Being here for 25 years, I met people who became very special to me.
Age: Let's just say that I'm old enough to retire and receive Social Security.
First job at Cal? In 1982 I was hired as a temporary employee and assigned to a custodial "SWAT" team. We were taught how to sweep, dust, mop, wash walls, use buffers to strip and wax floors, shampoo carpets, change lights, plus other types of tasks that the regular custodians didn't have a chance to do. I've worked in every type of building on campus as a custodian.
Last job at Cal: Operations Manager, Physical Plant-Campus Services/Custodial Services.
Years at Cal: 27
Proudest accomplishment at Berkeley: Receiving the Berkeley Staff Assembly Excellence in Management Award.
Advice? When I was a custodian years ago, a supervisor told me, "If you take care of your job, your job will take care of you." I've never forgotten that because it turned out to be very true for me. I hope that others will apply this wisdom to themselves.
Rosa DeLima Johnson
First job at Cal? Assistant, Department of Chicano Studies
Last job at Cal? Manager, Department of Ethnic Studies
Years at Cal: 24 ½
Retirement plans? To go on a lifetime honeymoon with my husband.
Words to live by: "It is the little things well done that make up a truly good life." — Theodore Roosevelt
Favorite campus activity? Working with the staff organization ALIANZA since its inception.
Advice? Stay stress-free and retire early, if you can.
Shu (Susie) Huang
First job at Cal? AA in the Commissary, Housing and Dining Services
Last job at Cal? Director, Financial and Administrative Services
Years at Cal: 22
Retirement plans? I plan to pursue my interests in traveling, photography, drumming, and volunteering with the Humane Society and Habitat for Humanity.
Proudest accomplishment: Receiving the Berkeley Staff Assembly Excellence in Management Award in 2007.
Favorite campus activity? Playing on a football team with the School of Public Health's graduates.
Advice? Take care of your physical health and develop good relationships with your peers. Be
kind to your environment and feed your mind
with good reading.
Pondering retirement? The Berkeley Retirement Center offers Pre-Retirement Planning, a six-week course for campus faculty and staff preparing for life's next chapter. For information, visit thecenter.berkeley.edu or call 642-5461.
Photos by Wendy Edelstein unless otherwise noted.