Founders' Rock is one of Angela Marciano's and Dan Les' favorite spots on campus.
She was a girl from Calistoga, Calif. He was a boy from Simi Valley. They worked together in the Rieber dining hall, studied together in the Charles E. Young Research Library, celebrated their graduations together, created a life together, raised two children together and enjoyed two of the longest careers of anyone in UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services.
During their nearly 40 years of living, learning and working on campus, Angela Marciano, director of organizational planning, performance and development, and Dan Les, director of budget management and financial planning became a sort of unofficial "super couple" of H&HS, according to their colleagues. And this month, those colleagues will wish Marciano and Les well as they leave Westwood to retire in Northern California.
"In some respects they’re the yin and the yang that have complemented our organization for so long, because Angela is the people-person and Dan is the wizard behind the curtain," said Samantha Chan, director of conferences, catering and marketing services in H&HS who has worked with the couple for nearly two decades. "It’s been an amazing ride and we couldn’t have had the housing program that we do without them."
Les’ career at UCLA actually started hours after he’d arrived in Westwood in September 1975, the start of the first basketball season that followed John Wooden’s retirement after his record 10 NCAA basketball national championships.
Rather than leisurely settle in and enjoy the fun often associated with one’s first days of college, Les, an economics major, was all business right from the start.
"I pulled up to the circle in Rieber, went upstairs, put my posters on the wall, had lunch and found a job," said Les, who landed a position in maintenance at the Rieber dining hall. "I worked my first shift before I even met my roommate."
This wouldn’t surprise his colleagues, who describe him as one of the most no-nonsense colleagues they’ve ever encountered. Over the years, Les, who graduated from UCLA in 1981, worked as a student supervisor, an assistant cook, and a food services manager before being promoted to a budget analyst in 1996 and moving into his current position in 2011. In his current role, he oversaw budgets with projected revenues of more than $250 million and controlled the University of California Housing System major maintenance fund which is projected to be more than $12 million. He also expertly directed the 10-year debt capacity modeling and was responsible for financial feasibility analysis for many significant capital projects.
Not surprising, he was attracted to Marciano, someone colleagues also identify as having a strong work ethic. The couple met while working at Rieber as undergraduates.
The more senior staff members who worked in the residence halls shaped Marciano’s entire career at UCLA.
"I remember Gracie who was our floor housekeeper," said Marciano, who was a political science major and graduated in 1980. "I remember the cooks who served us food, Johnny, Mr. Brown, Rosa. They were mentors to me. They were exceptional individuals."
Marciano, who has also worked in general management of the residence complexes and served as special projects manager with a focus on organizational and strategic planning and capital development, reflects on those individuals and the life lessons she learned and carried with her throughout her four decades on the Hill. Some of this reflection takes place during one of her daily rituals: a walk to one of our most historical campus landmarks.
"Founders' Rock is always sort of the touchstone for me, literally," she said. "I walk to Founders' Rock every morning just to clear my head and start my day."
To get there, she passes the John Wooden statue, another one of her favorite UCLA landmarks. "Whenever I walk by there I always say ‘hi’ to the Coach."
Passing through Dickson Plaza and walking by Royce Hall and the Powell Library inspires Marciano and serves as a reminder of how much the campus has changed in its nearly 100 years.
"It was very pastoral when we got here," said Les. There were just the four high rises, and lot of trees, picnic spaces and recreation spaces between the Hill and Bunche Hall," Les said. "We’ve gone from 3,200 students on the Hill to 11,000, so that brings both density and intensity."
Les and Marciano have played an integral part in the unprecedented growth and renovation of the residential community over the past decade, said Peter Angelis, assistant vice chancellor for H&HS. One of the major components of that has been the $1 billion in development and renovations on the hill, which included seven new residence halls.
"The culture of our organization is all about hospitality, taking care of students, taking care of guests and taking care of our team members and executing a mission for UCLA," Angelis said. "Dan and Angela totally have that in their personal and professional philosophies, and that is a big part of why we have that in our culture. They’re as true Bruin as you can get."
Marciano, recipient of the 2011 Service in Excellence Award from UCLA’s Administrative Management Group and Campus Human Resources, has been recognized for her role in promoting the personal and professional growth of service and professional staff working in H&HS. Among her achievements is an intensive nine-month H&HS Mentoring Program which pairs H&HS leaders with staff members to help them fulfill their personal and professional goals. She has also developed an H&HS team member focused "I’m Going to College" event that brings children of H&HS staff to campus to learn about higher education.
Education and family are also important to Marciano and Les, whose children, Alex and Jake, graduated from UCLA. In fact, Jake participated in the H&HS "I’m Going to College" day. "He told me later that that’s why he applied to UCLA," said Marciano. Both children also followed in their parents footsteps by working on campus as undergrads. Neither worked in H&HS, instead opting to give themselves a little space from the watchful eyes of Mom and Dad by accepting jobs with Associated Students at UCLA.
With just days to go until their retirements, Marciano and Les say that it’s difficult to know exactly how it will feel on May 1 once they’ve left Los Angeles, bound for their new home in Santa Rosa. "We’ve become very comfortable in our routines and in our friends and in our relationships within UCLA and our home, so it’s going to be different."
Added Les: "It’s going to be hard walking away."