Bidding adieu to Berkeley

BERKELEY —

With tenures that often stretch into decades, many Berkeley staff, by the time retire, have seen and withstood many institutional changes. The NewsCenter asked a few soon-to-be retirees about their campus experiences, plans for the future, and advice for Cal colleagues. Photos (except Lisa Harrington) are by Wendy Edelstein/NewsCenter.

Imani Abalos

Imani Abalos, Library Manager

First job at Cal? Clerk

Years at Cal? 41

Proudest accomplishment?
Receiving my first Berkeley Staff Assembly Excellence in Management Award from Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien. This award was very special because my staff and immediate colleagues nominated me.

Words to live by?
Over the years, I have been animated by the poem “I, Too, Sing America” by Langston Hughes.

What will you miss about working here?
Never-ending opportunities to engage and discover.

Advice?
Be nimble.

Retirement plans?
Travels afar are on my immediate agenda. I’m undecided how, but I do plan to engage in activities meaningful to others.

Nancy Chu

Nancy Chu, assistant Vice Provost, Campus Climate and Compliance Office, Academic Affairs

First job at Cal? Program coordinator in what was then the Women’s Resource Center

Years at Cal? 22

Proudest accomplishment?
I created the campus’s first coordinated system for handling Title IX harassment/discrimination complaints across departments to provide support and advocacy for students, staff, and faculty who have had experiences of sexual harassment, stalking, or assault.

Words to live by?
Do the work that matters to you, and keep breathing.

Favorite campus activity?
Being in the midst of students’ energy and spirits.

What will you miss about working at Cal?
The wonderful daily exchanges with all my colleagues.

Advice?
Take care of your spirit and don’t be afraid of taking risks for something you believe in.

Retirement plans?
To keep my promise to myself and my family to do everything I want to do and not to do anything I don’t want to!

Hank Field

Hank Field, Construction Specialist, Environment, Health & Safety

First job at Cal? Environmental health and safety associate technologist

Years at Cal? 22

Proudest accomplishment?
Working on a team that produced a hazardous-waste recharge-and-tracking system.

Favorite quote?
“Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it.” — Braveheart

Favorite campus activity?
Taking in the Sproul scene.

What will you miss about working at Cal?
My amazing co-workers.

Retirement plans?
Being there for my son when he is not in school. Volunteering to do musical-instrument repair at a local music-based school. Starting a new career in violin-making.

Meg Fink

Meg Fink, Assistant Director, Financial Aid and Scholarships Office

First job at Cal? Work-study position, Office of Institutional Research

Years at Cal? 40

Proudest accomplishment?
Receiving a B.A. in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Words to live by?
Never say never!

Favorite campus activity?
Attending women’s basketball games and associated events.

What will you miss about working here?
My co-workers here in FASO and in departments across the campus.

Advice?
Enjoy your job. Cal is a great place; take advantage of all that it offers.

Retirement plans?
Live life to the fullest.

Lisa Harrington

Lisa Harrington, Director, Communications and Events, Graduate Division

First job at Cal? Assistant editor, California Monthly

Years at Cal? 30

Proudest accomplishment?
Writing a proposal that resulted in the renaming of student apartments at Durant and College avenues for Berkeley alumna Ida Louise Jackson. The dedication ceremony drew friends and admirers of the late Dr. Jackson from around the country and was truly moving and unforgettable.

Favorite quote?
“Dig the well before you are thirsty.” — Chinese proverb

Favorite campus activity?
Lunch Poems, hiking to the UC Botanical Garden, attending J-School and Human Rights Center events, exploring paths and bridges along Strawberry Creek, reading under the redwoods.

What will you miss about working at Cal?
Everything. For a writer, the campus is a gold mine. For a mother, it’s been a wonderland to share with my girls. From any angle, it’s a magical place to build a career — and the opportunity to work with talented people at all levels, to ride UC’s waves together, is the best part.

Advice?
Hang in there, and, as much as you can, take advantage of working in such a lively, brainy place. Get out of your office and go to the free concerts at noon, visit the museums, take a class.

Retirement plans?
I’m directing an oral history project and also have plans to travel next month to the Mediterranean.

Lena Holstein

Lena Holstein, Academic Human-Relations analyst, College of Engineering, Office of the Associate Dean for Research

First job at Cal? Principal clerk, Office of Research Services

Years at Cal? 30

Proudest accomplishment?
During my long career, I was part of various campus committees that led to positive changes in policy and practice. And, making my father proud (he retired from Berkeley in 1979 after a 31-year career).

Favorite quote?
“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

Favorite campus activity?
Walking around this beautiful campus with its peaceful creeks, trees, fountains, lawns, and historic buildings. Also, feeding the squirrels healthy snacks like nuts and grapes (from a safe distance).

What will you miss about working at Cal?
My colleagues, the campus, my office, and being a part of this great institution.

Advice?
In good times as well as difficult times, your experience here becomes what you expect it will be. Choose wisely, stay positive, and make the most of your time here.

Retirement plans?
Sleeping in, getting reacquainted with my natural rhythms, travel, exercise, spending quality time with family and friends, and kicking back in my garden with a good book (I might even write one).

Chi Man Ku

Chi Man Ku, Senior Superintendent, Utilities Operations, Physical Plant – Campus Services

First job at Cal? Stationary engineer, PPCS

Years at Cal? 22

Proudest accomplishment?
Reigniting the preventive maintenance program and helping to establish the dig notification procedures.

Favorite campus activity?
Staff Appreciation Day, when I can meet and socialize with everyone that I don’t get to see during normal hours.

What will you miss about working at Cal?
Co-workers, students, and Telegraph Avenue!

Advice?
The university has lots of opportunities. Don’t give up hope!

Retirement plans?
I will take some extended trips and then study to be an enrolled agent. That is, I’ll be working as a tax professional representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service.

Patricia Maughan

Patricia Maughan, User Research Coordinator, Doe-Moffitt Instructional Services

First job at Cal? Head librarian, Kresge Engineering Library

Years at Cal? 28

Proudest accomplishment?
Serving as project manager for the Mellon Library/Faculty Fellowship for Undergraduate Research.

Words to live by?
No ego, no expectations, no resentments.

Favorite campus activity?
Taking that first sip of my latté each day from the FSM Café.

What will you miss about working here?
Most of all, the students. They are what make Cal a unique workplace.

Advice?
Insofar as you can, do the work that you think is important and that adds value, try to improve someone else’s experience of the campus each day, and take pride in your contributions.

Retirement plans?
Traveling in June to Greece to participate in the Hellenic Academic Libraries’ Institute on Undergraduate Research and, later in the fall, journeying to the Taklamakan Desert and its oases. Look that one up in your world atlases!

Barbara Pottgen

Barbara Pottgen, Manager, Ergonomics@Work, University Health Services

First job at Cal? Principal clerk, electrical engineering and computer sciences

Years at Cal? 22

Proudest accomplishment?
Starting and building Berkeley’s ergonomics program for faculty and staff, which has put ergonomics on the map for the campus and significantly reduced work-related injuries.

Favorite quote?
“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.” — Dalai Lama

Favorite campus activity?
It’s a toss-up between walking through a campus that is as beautiful as a park and going to classes at Recreational Sports.

What will you miss about working at Cal?
The wonderful, wonderful people.

Advice?
The period ahead promises to be a challenging one. Have the courage to speak truth to power as wisely as you can so that all members of the campus community — including staff — are part of the conversation on the future of the university.

Retirement plans?
Unstructured playtime for a while . . . a little traveling . . . then we’ll see.

Lenore Ralston

Lenore Ralston, Principal Analyst, Office of Planning and Analysis

First job at Cal? Lab helper, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology

Years at Cal? 20-plus

Proudest accomplishment?
Working with the Class Schedule and Instructional Record Quality Control Group to create shared knowledge across central-campus offices and provide system improvements with quality-assurance oversight.

Words to live by?
Always try to do the right thing. And even if you miss the mark, continue to try — trying counts.

Favorite campus activity?
Noon concerts.

What will you miss about working here?
Working with colleagues in the academic units.

Advice?
Always be kind; keep your own counsel; the big picture rests on details and is informed by history; one’s integrity is rooted in self-respect and respect toward others.

Retirement plans?
I hope to travel, pursue photography and singing, have more time to spend with loved ones, and see where my accumulated experience might be of further use.

Kathleen Satz

Kathleen Phillips Satz, Director, Strategic Planning and Communications, Vice Chancellor-Administration

First job at Cal? Senior writer, Graduate Division. First job at UC: Senior writer, UC Cooperative Extension.

Years at Cal? 23

Favorite campus activity?
Walking through the beautiful campus.

Favorite accomplishment?
Developing the Communicating at Berkeley Toolkit.

What will you miss about working here?
The culture of learning and discovery.

Advice?
Never stop trying to make Cal better.

Retirement plans?
Let’s see what happens next.

Emily Sexton

Emily Sexton, Assistant Vice Chancellor-Administration

First job at Cal? Administrative assistant

Years at Cal? 36

Proudest accomplishment?
Successfully working as chief of staff to eight different vice chancellors. That represents multiple priorities, eras, and changes, which is why it has felt like eight different — and fascinating — jobs.

Words to live by?
Are you exercising the muscle of wonder? Is this synapse firing in your head every single day?

What will you miss about working here?
The people. The beauty of this campus.

Advice?
Never take your current job description as a boundary to what you can accomplish. Volunteer for assignments that scare you and get excited by change.

Retirement plans?
Don’t know (and I like it that way), but they will involve art, travel, and people. Right now I’m somewhere between Burning Man and the Pushkar Camel Fair…

Mike Smith

Mike Smith, Chief Campus Counsel and Assistant General Counsel

First job at Cal? Assistant to the vice chancellor-Administration for legal affairs

Years at Cal? 36

Proudest accomplishment?
Maintaining most of the values I had as an activist student (I was arrested during the Free Speech Movement) while implementing the mission and interests of the university.

Words to live by?
Please refill my prescriptions.

Favorite quote?
“Age and treachery will always take the field against mere youth and skill.”

Favorite campus activity?
Guest lecturing in classes; watching the Cal tennis matches.

What will you miss about working here?
The collegiality and commitment of the staff; the energy and enthusiasm of the students; the beauty of the campus.

Advice?
Don’t take anyone’s advice.

Retirement plans?
Travel, revive old friendships, some consulting, volunteering at an animal shelter.

Deborah Sommer

Deborah Sommer, City Planning and Landscape Architecture Librarian, Environmental Design Library

First job at Cal? While a grad student in library school, I worked at the now-defunct Institute of Library Research, editing printouts that resulted in the first Melvyl online catalog.

Years at Cal? 30-plus

Proudest accomplishment?
Supporting students’ development as lifelong learners (bet they didn’t know that’s what I was doing!). And all the collaborative and organizational work in the Library over the years.

Favorite campus activity?
Cal Performances. Witnessing political demonstrations up close. Food talk.

What will you miss about working here?
The stimulation and creativity of our campus community.

Advice?
Work with an open heart and a sense of humor, especially in these hard times.

Retirement plans?
Besides cooking, gardening, and travel, discovering where my curiosity may take me.

Olga Tapia

Olga Tapia, Assistant Director, Financial Aid and Scholarships Office

First job at Cal? I taught study skills at the Student Learning Center.

Years at Cal? Almost 23

Proudest accomplishment?
Helping thousands of students finance their education. Giving money to deserving families is a great feeling.

Favorite quote?
“Stupid, stupid, stupid.” I know this isn’t a very lofty or inspiring quote, but when something inexplicably stupid happens, it just makes me feel better to say those three words!

Favorite campus activity?
Going out to lunch with my girlfriends.

What will you miss about working here?
My work family. Most of the people I work with really care about each other. When someone has a family crisis, everyone here pulls together to help.

Advice?
Stay focused, think of new things to make your office run better. If you keep yourself occupied with new ideas you will never be bored.

Retirement plans?
I might start a travel-related website. I will do more artwork, and visit my daughter in Austin more often. I might move there in the future.

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