Staff members recognized for long service and retirement
The 27th annual Service Recognition Banquet Nov. 8 will honor long-service and retiring support-staff employees from the UI’s Urbana-Champaign campus. The event begins at 6 p.m. with dinner and the program in Illini Rooms A, B and C. The banquet will honor 167 employees who retired between Sept. 1, 2003, and Aug. 31, 2004. In addition, employees will be honored for service completed during that time. Those to be honored include 128 employees who completed 25 years, 25 who completed 30 years, four who completed 35 years, and three who completed 40 years of service with the university. A Web site for the Staff Service Recognition Program is available through the Personnel Services Office home page at www.pso.uiuc.edu/service. Retirees and service honorees are listed alphabetically by name, department or number of years served. For more information about this year’s program, call 333-3101.
Grider enjoys spending more time with family By Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor 217-244-1072; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharing a good book Retiree Rita Grider reads a book from the Harry Potter series, a gift from one of her sons, at her Champaign home. To her right sits Nova, the family's miniature schnauzer. Grider, who was an administrative aide in the College of Law, retired in May after a 30-year career with the university.
Photo by Kwame Ross
According to retiree Rita Grider, “Thirty years go by really, really fast.” Grider began her career with the UI in September 1974 as a clerk/stenographer III and concluded it in May as an administrative aide in the College of Law. “When I started at the UI, there were no fax machines, computers, multi-line phones or even minicassettes. The technology revolution truly changed how we do our jobs.” When Grider enrolled as an undergraduate at Eastern Illinois University in 1970, her aspiration was to become a teacher, just like several of her family members. However, life intervened, her plans changed, and Grider left college just a year shy of a bachelor’s degree three years later and joined the university’s clerical staff. Grider found the environment at the College of Law stimulating and worked her way up through the ranks to clerical positions of increasing responsibility and then to coordinator of special events at the college, but “it haunted me for nearly 20 years that I hadn’t completed my degree requirements,” Grider said. “I found some doors of opportunity closed to me because I didn’t have a college degree. And I knew at some point I’d be telling my children about the importance of having an education, and I didn’t want to have a double standard by not reaching my own educational goals.” With the encouragement of her husband, Danny, the support of the college and the assistance of the employee tuition waiver, Grider resumed her undergraduate studies in 1992 and earned a bachelor of arts degree in general studies through EIU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1993. While returning to college at the age of 40 with the added responsibilities of a full-time job and three young children “wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, it really made a difference in my life,” Grider said. So when Grider was promoted to director of personnel, she felt a special connection with the civil-service staff workers who were struggling to support families and advance in their careers. One of Grider’s initial priorities in her new job was to review and reclassify 24 of the 36 civil-service clerical positions in the college. As a result, 23 of those positions were reclassified and promoted within a two-year period. Grider also addressed problems with inequities in the administration of policies and procedures by writing the college’s first policies and procedures manual. And Grider encouraged other employees to better themselves by taking advantage of opportunities for further education and training. “I consider it one of my greatest accomplishments – working with that group of people to help with their personal and professional growth,” Grider said. “They will be here long after many of the faculty members and administrators have come and gone. I will always look back with a tremendous amount of appreciation for being given the opportunity to help people reach their dreams and learn how to balance jobs and home-front issues, to help people see how far they can grow. Often, these are people who can’t see it for themselves. People remember that connection, they carry it forward and make that connection with others.” While Grider said she looked forward to retiring, one of the biggest challenges she has faced has been moving forward without seeing the faculty and staff members who were an integral part of her daily life for so many years. Grider said that retirement is giving her the opportunity to spend more time with her children – Jeff, a senior in speech communication at UI, and Christina and David, a senior and a sophomore respectively at Centennial High School – and to make “long overdue” trips to visit relatives in Kansas City, Mo., and Denver. In addition to home-maintenance tasks such as cleaning and organizing, Grider said she is “desperately trying to get through the last Harry Potter book,” part of a set she received as a gift from David. Although officially retired, Grider returned to campus Oct. 4 as an academic hourly employee in the Office of Business and Financial Services, where she is working on academic professional and civil service positions and assisting with electronic transmissions of appointments. However, Grider has not given up on her initial aspiration of teaching and is considering working as a substitute teacher. “I would like to get into the classroom somehow,” Grider said. But Grider, a self-described “Mickey Mouse freak,” has another, more puckish aspiration: to work at the “happiest place on earth”—Walt Disney World. “I used to tell people I was going to retire because I wanted to direct people to Cinderella’s Castle,” Grider said. “I’d love to work on Main Street USA selling Mickey Mouse figurines.”
Kammin doesn’t miss BSW ‘night life,’ plans travel By Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor 217-244-1072; email@example.com
Scaring up some fun Retirement has given John Kammin more time for activities such as baking Halloween cookies for his four grandchildren in his home in Ogden. After a 25-year career with UI, Kammin retired in October 2003 as a building service worker foreman.
Photo by Kwame Ross
Building service worker foreman John Kammin was looking forward to retirement. A year before his Oct. 1, 2003, retirement date, Kammin bought a camper and was eager to do some traveling once he left the full-time work force, perhaps going west to California to see the redwood forests and the Grand Canyon or east to see Massachusetts and Connecticut. But Kammin’s travel plans were curtailed this summer after his wife, Pam, broke her foot and found it difficult to get in and out of the camper. So most of Kammin’s camping this past year has been with the Cub Scout troops he leads, and the trips have been closer to home, destinations such as Camp Robert Drake near Oakwood, Ill., and Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. Kammin became involved with scouting several years ago when his grandsons were scouts. “Now they’re no longer in it, and I can’t find someone else to take over and I hate to see the program just die,” Kammin said. “I think it’s a good program; it teaches kids good values. We have quite a few boys in it from the area. They all have a good time, but it takes up a lot of my time.” Kammin served as a program director for one of the scout day camps for several years. This past year, he took over as round table commissioner, which involves monthly meetings with all the pack leaders in the local district, where they share information about running their packs and activities for their scouts. In addition to being Cubmaster for the Homer pack, Kammin also leads the Webeloes and the Tiger Cubs. Along with scout meetings two or three times each week, Kammin has been busy organizing the packs’ annual popcorn sale. A trailer loaded with popcorn has taken up residence next to the camper in Kammin’s driveway on a quiet cul-de-sac in Homer. In addition to scouting activities, while working the 11 p.m. – 7 a.m. “deep night” shift at UI, Kammin also served as a bus driver for the Homer Schools for about 10 years and as a volunteer fireman for several years. As do many people in middle age, Kammin has become the primary source of assistance and emotional support for an aging parent. His 88-year-old mother suffered a stroke in 2003 and now resides in an Urbana nursing home. Mother and son speak to each other several times a day by phone. Kammin also redecorated and put a new roof on his house and has been helping a nephew remodel his home, where they are converting a garage into a bedroom and utility room. With all of those responsibilities and a couple of weeks on jury duty recently, Kammin said the past year has gone by quickly. “I always kind of hoped that I’d retire early enough that I’d have some life left after the fact,” Kammin said. Kammin joined Facilities & Services in 1979 after working for several years in a managerial position with McDonald’s and as a BSW for the Homer schools following his graduation from Unity High School, Tolono. During his UI career, Kammin received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Staff Award and a departmental Employee of the Month award. Working at the UI has been a family legacy in the Kammin family: His mother was a Housing Division staff member for 18 years; an older brother retired from F&S (previously Operation and Maintenance) about a decade ago; and a younger brother will be retiring from F&S soon. A nephew and son-in-law also work at the Urbana campus. After 25 years on the “deep night” shift, Kammin was looking forward to retirement. “I’ve enjoyed it,” Kammin said. “It’s nice being able to sleep nights, and there’s no pressure to get up and go anywhere in the morning. I can do it at my own pace. I’d like to do more camping and stuff, but the only camping I’ve done this summer is with the Cub Scouts, and instead of taking my nice camper, I had to sleep in a tent.”
Poole misses UI colleagues, but ‘busier than ever’ during retirement By Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor 217-244-1072; firstname.lastname@example.org
Labor of love Retiree Jean Poole crochets an afghan in her Champaign home. "I'm busier now than I was when I was working," said Poole, who retired from her position as an administrative secretary in the Business Office of the Foreign Language Building on April 1. In May, Poole fulfilled a lifelong dream by taking a three-week trip to Europe; she hopes to visit China during summer 2005.
Photo by Kwame Ross
When Jean Poole graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1971, the job market for teachers had dried up. Several months later, she accepted what she thought would be a stopgap clerical job at the UI’s Urbana campus. “When I started had no idea I would stay forever,” Poole said. “I remember sitting there on Nov. 1, 1971, thinking I’ll stay here a couple of years until a teaching job opens up, then I’ll take my retirement and I’ll have a nest egg to start with.” Thirty-three years later, Poole retired from the UI. During her lengthy career at the university, Poole worked in a number of clerical positions around campus, including the colleges of Business, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine; the Fire Service Institute; and the Small Homes Council before landing her final job as administrative secretary to three department heads: East-Asian Languages and Cultures, French and German. And when the possibility of retirement first began looming, Poole was apprehensive, she said, wondering how she would ever fill the time. However, after her mother and brother died within four months of one another in 2001, Poole began viewing retirement in a different light. “My brother was the age I am now, 56, when he died,” Poole said. “And I began to think ‘there’s a whole world out there that I haven’t been a part of.’ I want to be able to do some of those things, like travel, while I’m still young enough to enjoy myself.” For years, Poole had attended the travelogues presented by faculty and staff members on campus, vicariously fulfilling her wanderlust through the photographs and stories of others. In May 2004, after retiring on April 1, Poole fulfilled a lifelong dream by taking a trip to Europe. After visiting a friend in London for a week, she joined a tour group that visited Florence, Paris, Rome, Venice and Switzerland during the next two weeks. Poole and her friend attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Great Britain, where they saw Queen Elizabeth II, but one of the highlights for Poole was viewing the Lion of Lucerne, the sculpted lion at Lucerne, Switzerland, that poignantly commemorates the Swiss guards who died defending Louis XVI in the attack on the Tuileries in 1792. “I had wanted to see it ever since I read about it as a kid,” Poole said. Poole’s travel itinerary for 2004 includes trips to Toledo and Seattle to visit friends, and during summer 2005 she hopes to visit China, having been invited by a faculty member to help him chaperone a group of students. “I’ve just been having a real good time since retiring,” Poole said. “I’m traveling more than I thought I would. I miss the people, though. I loved working with the students. They keep you young. It was good to help people, such as helping a student get registered. I ended up becoming the mom for the whole department. They came to me with their problems and everything else and I loved it. When school started this fall, it nearly broke my heart because it’s the first school year in 33 years that I haven’t been a part of.” Poole still keeps in touch with some of the students. In addition to traveling and filling photograph albums with pictures of the places she has visited, Poole has been busy with home-maintenance chores, such as painting and redecorating her Champaign home. She also belongs to an informal gourmet cooking club among women in her neighborhood who regularly dine together. “I’m busier now than I was when I was working,” Poole said.
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