Around Campus

Parting words: UCLA's newest retirees reflect on the past, embrace the future

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Summer will be with us for many weeks to come, but for UCLA faculty and staff who recently retired, this is the beginning of an endless summer. Here, some make their farewells with fond memories and heartfelt advice for their fellow Bruins. 
   

Edmond J. Keller, professor of political science

Age: 70
 
Years at UCLA: 23
 
First job on campus: Associate professor of political science
 
Biggest changes you've noticed on campus: The expansion of campus facilities over the past two decades and the decline in the diversity of graduate and undergraduate student populations.
 
What will you miss most? I will most miss the ebbs and flows of departmental life, from student-faculty interactions to day-to-day interactions with my colleagues. I have a special place in my heart for both the African studies and Afro-American studies programs — I will miss helping them grow and thrive as they have during my tenure on the faculty.
 
Accomplishments you’re proudest of: While I served as director of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center from 1992 to 2001, we built upon that institution’s rich tradition as the center of Africanist research and outreach on campus. Also, I am proud of the development of the Globalization-Research Center Africa, which promoted faculty and student research in Africa as well as outreach to L.A. schools and the community at large.
 
What are you looking forward to doing the most? I expect to continue teaching and doing research, continuing to grow intellectually and making my Africa expertise available to all who seek it. Also, I will continue to do a lot of travel, not only to Africa, but to other parts of the world.
 
Advice for your fellow Bruins: The world is now in your hands. Make it the best world that you can.
 

Donald McCallum, professor of Japanese art history

Age: 74
 
Years at UCLA: 44
 
First job on campus: Assistant professor

Biggest changes you've noticed on campus: If you have been here as long as I have, the changes are incredible, particularly all of the building as well as the larger student body, faculty and staff. Clearly, UCLA has become an increasingly distinguished institution, and I have been very pleased by the development of my own department. There is also a very significant negative change: an increasingly difficult financial situation. Declining state support has caused lots of problems, and the cost of tuition has skyrocketed. When I started at Berkeley in 1957, tuition was about $100 a year.

What will you miss most? Although I intend to remain active on campus as long as possible, I suppose ultimately I will particularly miss the interaction with students, staff and faculty colleagues.

Accomplishments you’re proudest of: I have been incredibly fortunate in having an extraordinary group of graduate students over the years, most of whom have positions in major universities both in the U.S. and abroad.

What are you looking forward to doing the most? I will be recalled for two years and teach one course a year; I look forward to this as it will allow me to continue to have contact with our bright, young undergraduates. I intend to continue my research and publishing, hopefully finishing up projects that I didn’t have time to complete when I was full-time. My wife and I will have more time to travel, and we are also looking forward to spending more time with our grandchildren.
 
Advice for your fellow Bruins: Keep working, despite the obstacles, to maintain UCLA’s superb reputation.
 

Carol Felixson, director of education/outreach, UCLA Stunt Ranch Santa Monica Mountains Reserve; docent coordinator, Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden; administrative and outreach officer, UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science

Age: 66
 
Years at UCLA: 18
 
First job on campus: Project manager for UCLA Stunt Ranch

Biggest changes you've noticed on campus: Construction always, students’ fashions have become much more casual, and increases in parking fees.
 
What will you miss most? My colleagues/friends, the beauty of the campus, the excitement of being affiliated with such a grand university, and the easy access to the reserve and garden.

Accomplishments you’re proudest of: Helping to establish and maintain the public education program for the botanical garden; helping to produce the annual lectures for the La Kretz center; establishing relationships with agencies, organizations and legislators for our work in the Santa Monica Mountains; getting the Stunt Ranch Research and Education Center rebuilt; and helping to produce the MEDECOS international conference on the five Mediterranean regions of the world.
 
What are you looking forward to doing the most? Spending more time with my husband, family and friends. Taking ukulele lessons and learning to ride my Razor scooter. Devoting more time to movies, galleries and museums and other activities. I also will be serving on the board of directors of my synagogue in Venice and volunteering for events at UCLA’s botanical garden, Stunt Ranch and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Advice for your fellow Bruins: Enjoy being affiliated with UCLA in whatever capacity. Walk the campus as often as you can. Visit the garden. And be a proud Bruin!
 

S. Scott Bartchy, professor of the history of religion

Age: 76
 
Years at UCLA: 32
 
First job on campus: Visiting associate professor (while continuing to teach at the University of Tuebingen in Germany) 
 
Biggest changes you’ve noticed on campus: I have been most impressed by the increasing interest among undergraduate students in understanding the roles that various religions play in shaping culture, politics and society. At the same time, I have observed with some dismay the increasing disinclination of so many students to think critically.
 
What will you miss most? Daily interactions with my stimulating colleagues and my intellectually turned-on students, including lunches in the Faculty Center where I have learned so much.
 
Accomplishments you’re proudest of: Co-founding the Center for the Study of Religion and serving as director for 14 years; building up the undergraduate interdepartmental program in the study of religion; serving on more than 40 doctoral committees in several departments and mentoring 12 of my own students to the completion of their Ph.D.s.
 
What are you looking forward to doing the most? I look forward to completing my book, "Call No Man Father: How Paul of Tarsus Followed Jesus of Nazareth in Challenging Patriarchy and Creating a New Society of Siblings." Wearing another hat, I’m looking forward to recording, with one of the country's leading music producers, the second CD with the Scott Bartchy Quartet this fall, playing straight-ahead jazz and Latin jazz. Back on campus, I have been recalled to teach one course a year for the next three years, and I’m truly looking forward to it. I love to teach, so I would not need to be paid to teach — only to grade.
 
Advice for your fellow Bruins: Remain flexible and innovative in your teaching methods, care deeply about your students as struggling human beings (as we all are) and continue to insist on the highest academic standards in the midst of a culture that still nurtures forces of anti-intellectualism and suspicion about the value of education for the public good, including ongoing reduction in funding our public universities.
 

Susan Pfeiffer, CAO and CFO, departments of political science and Afro-American studies

Age: 58
 
Years at UCLA: 32 (plus two years at UC Santa Barbara)
 
First job on campus: Supervisor of student loans, Murphy Hall
 
Biggest changes you've noticed on campus: All the new buildings — the way it’s branched out now, becoming bigger and better. I’ve also noticed how UCLA has improved in its academic rankings over the years, and also the medical center’s performance rankings.
 
What will you miss most? The camaraderie between the staff and the faculty. I’m going miss the staff and faculty that I’ve worked with all these years.

Accomplishments you’re proudest of:  Starting out as an AA III supervisor and working my way up to chief financial officer over the years — although my husband (Jim Pfeiffer, below) jokes that my biggest accomplishment was meeting him: I was walking in Murphy Hall, not watching where I was going, as usual. He was on the floor fixing a water fountain, I tripped over his feet and that’s when our relationship started. We’ve been married 20 years.

What are you looking forward to doing the most? Not going to work or dealing with the traffic on the 405. We’ll be enjoying time with our family and friends, riding our Harleys through the hill country of Austin, Texas, and going out on the lakes with our boat.

Advice for your fellow Bruins: Stay at UCLA — you can’t beat the benefits and retirement plan — and work your way up the ladder.

Jim Pfeiffer, plumber, Facilities Management

Age:  61
 
Years at UCLA: 28
 
First job on campus: Plumber. I was the one who worked on the “putty wagon,” responding to emergency calls.
 
Biggest changes you've noticed on campus: The growing number of buildings and people. The facilities have grown so much compared to when I started there.

What will you miss most? Just like Susan said, I'll miss the camaraderie. I worked with a really good group of people in facilities. I’m hoping to keep in contact with them.

Accomplishments you’re proudest of:  Having good relationships with people. And staying at UCLA till I retired.

What are you looking forward to doing the most? Not dealing with L.A. traffic. Being with my family, riding my Harley and just enjoying retirement life after all the years we’ve worked.

Advice for your fellow Bruins: Stay with the job. It’s a great job and a great place to work. Just hang in there, and before you know it you’ll be in the same place as us — retired!
 
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