Leaving a Legacy of ServiceBy Lori Putnam
Photo: Maria Tauber rang the Navy Bell at the 2012 Commencement ceremony.
When Maria Tauber joined what was then California State University Northridge’s Ventura campus in 1997, she was hired as a part-time employee. Two weeks later she was asked to manage campus operations and admissions. By 2002, Tauber would be part of a small, but dedicated, group of administrators and staff sharing a vision for a new university in the Ventura area.
“In the early years,” recalled Tauber, “it would not be unusual to find Stephen Lefevre, Dan Wakelee, George Morten, or myself unpacking desk chairs, or any and all those things you need in a classroom. Whatever it took, we did as a team”. Tauber, who is retiring this year as Director of Academic Personnel, feels fortunate to have been part of the CI story from the beginning.
“Imagine the opportunity to build a university from the ground up,” she said. “That is what is so amazing. I’ve absolutely enjoyed all 15 years – every minute of the time I spent here.”
“I see her not just as a colleague, but as a real friend,” said Associate Provost Renny Christopher of Tauber.
Photo: Dr. George Morten, center, celebrates retirement with President Richard Rush and Vice President for Student Affairs Wm. Gregory Sawyer.
Tauber is one of a number of CI administrators and staff marking significant milestones in their service to the University. Tauber’s longstanding colleague and now Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. George Morten is also preparing to leave CI administration after more than a decade of service.
Looking back, Morten shares Tauber’s sense of possibility and excitement in helping to build a new university.
“The campus afforded us the opportunity to put together ideas that hadn’t been done in other places,” he observed. “We had that herculean energy that comes with creating new things.”
In his many roles on campus, including serving as Dean of Student Life, Morten helped shape the unique culture that is the CI Way. “What really makes it work are the shared values and beliefs that were established in the early days of the campus,” he said. “We had a belief in building and sustaining a supportive learning environment, in working together as a community across traditional boundaries, and in continuous improvement in all that we do.” According to Morten, they carried that attitude and practice with them as new people arrived on campus.
Photo: Juana Anguiano, Melissa Silva, Gina Farrar, Jane Sweetland (center), Colleen Forest, Rachel Danielson, Kristen Hronek
Retiring Associate Vice President of Enrollment Jane Sweetland remembers that sense of community when she first joined CI in 2002. By way of example, she recounted her initial grassroots recruitment efforts which included sending an email to faculty and staff requesting their help in posting CI flyers in local businesses. “The fact that I could send one email, and have faculty and staff from every area respond, speaks to our collegial and collaborative environment,” said Sweetland.
Although she began her CI career in what was then Career, Health, Academic and Counseling & Psychological Services, Sweetland transitioned to University communications and eventually was named Special Assistant to the President. In that role, Sweetland had a truly unique perspective in observing the growth of CI. “We were always thinking about how we could build a student-centered University to meet the needs of the 21st century,” said Sweetland.
She now retires after a decade with the University, of which eight years were spent in Student Affairs. When asked what makes CI unique, Sweetland echoes her colleagues’ observations of collegial, collaborative, and inclusive. However she adds another important adjective. “A word that shouldn’t be left out is integrity. I think the CI Way means walking the talk and being who you say you are. It means being engaged in the community both local and global in a way that reflects the values of a heterogeneous, inclusive democracy.”
New opportunities await for Tauber, Morten, and Sweetland. Tauber will be traveling with her father who is now in his 90s, while Morten plans to continue teaching. Sweetland will be undertaking a different career in writing. However their ties to CI remain strong, sustained by treasured memories and enduring friendships.
CSU Channel Islands salutes the following current employees who have provided ten or more years of exemplary service and dedication to CI.
Maria Rosario Cuevas
Chanda Cunningham Spence
Cecilia de Soto-Teunis
Nancy Covarrubias Gill
Martin Hernandez Tapia
Maria Elena Ramirez
Richard R. Rush
Wm. Gregory Sawyer