The 48 staff members retiring from UCSB this Friday will take with them nearly 1,000 years of combined work experience on campus.
Last year, as the UC budget down-spiraled, the system offered its employees the Voluntary Separation Option, which gave staff the opportunity to retire early on Oct. 30 for a slightly boosted severance package. Under the policy, management and senior professionals will receive one month’s pay for each full year of service at the UC up to a maximum of 6 months’ pay, while professional and support staff will receive up to a maximum of 16 weeks weeks’ pay. The VSO also stipulates that participating staff members cannot be rehired for the next three years and their positions cannot be filled for another 18 months.
According to Tricia Hiemstra, benefits and compensation manager for UCSB’s Human Resources Dept., the staff who picked the VSO have worked for the university for anywhere from four years to 39 years, although the median value was 24 years.
Dean of Students Yonie Harris said the loss of so many experienced staff from UCSB could impose a heavy strain on the university’s remaining staff and affect the efficiency of nearly all campus operations.
“Important namesakes on campus will no longer be with us,” Harris said. “This is like removing columns from a building. These people are pillars on campus.”
Carolyn Buford is one of three employees leaving the Office of Student Life this Friday. Buford has not only been working at UCSB for the last 25 years, but also attended the university as a student in her heyday. Buford said she is worried that the shortage of employees will cause a reduction in office hours for certain services.
“Hard decisions will have to be made as to what will no longer be done,” Buford said. “I think the strain on OSL to serve the variety of students’ needs that it does will be tremendous.”
Although the department is losing 80 years of institutional experience with its retirees, Buford said she is confident that the remaining staff members will overcome this barrier.
“I also know how resilient the folks in Student Affairs and OSL are, and have no doubt that they will find creative solutions,” Buford said. “It will be, however, a rough transition — especially over the next two years as the state budget continues to fall short.”
Richard Jenkins, after 30 years at the university, is another member of the OSL family who is retiring in a few days.
“Your profession is not what brings home your pay,” Jenkins said. “Your profession is what you were put on earth to do with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”
After 15 years as associate director of operations and student-parent liaison, Candace Stevenson is also leaving OSL. Stevenson said she has always valued the department’s mission to ensure the well being of the student body, which is critical to students’ ability to succeed in their academic studies.
“I’m honored to have been part of the team,” Stevenson said. “My time at UCSB has been an amazing, exciting, challenging and rewarding experience, and the people I’ve worked with or assisted have enriched my life tremendously.”
Stevenson also said her days at UCSB were meaningful and fulfilling because she had the opportunity to help students in distress.
“In problem solving these situations, I developed a large network of people on campus who were always willing to assist me,” Stevenson said. “I will miss these people and their genuine concern for students.”
Danson Kiplagat is another staff member who will retire Friday. Kiplagat, who has worked in Campus Learning Assistance Services for the last 40 years, said she will miss watching students grow and develop their academic talents.
“I will miss working with students,” Kiplagat said. “Their vitality, enthusiasm, idealism and aspirations … have been to me the source of inspiration and regeneration.”