Valentine’s Day shines spotlight on campus love

For Valentine’s Day, the NewsCenter turned to couples across campus who have found not just love, but the ability to enjoy and even thrive working and/or studying together.  We surveyed a few of them about what that’s like, and their heartfelt tips on UC Berkeley’s most romantic locales.

A sampling of students tell about their Valentine’s Day plans (Video produced by Roxanne Makasdjian, Media Relations)

STAFF

Susan Shaheen and Tim Lipman are co-directors, along with Dan Kammen, of the campus’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center.

Susan Shaheen and Tim Lipman

How did the two of you meet?

We met at UC Davis. We were both in the Ecology program (for our Ph.Ds), focusing on the energy and environmental aspects of transportation. We had the same major professor, Dan Sperling. We always credit him for our introduction.

What are some of the pluses – and minuses – of working at/attending the same university as your spouse/partner?

We talk about work too much outside of work – this can have its plusses and minuses. Another advantage of working together is that we can always count on each other at home (particularly with our children) and at work and can maximize our strengths (complementing one another) when collaborating. We think we’ve really improved on this over the past decade at UC Berkeley.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans?

It would be great to have sushi alone (our favorite) but that all depends on our boys (2 1/2 and 6 months). They may join us, which would be great, too, but certainly less romantic.

Are there special spots on campus that you think are especially romantic?

McLaughlin Hall, where we share an office :).  More seriously, the UC Botanical Garden is beautiful.

Kim Jarboe LaPean is the communications manager at University Health Services. Her husband, Shawn LaPean,  is the executive director of Cal Dining at UC Berkeley.

Shawn LaPean and Kim Jarboe LaPean (Photo courtesy of the Thanks to Berkeley Photo Booth Project)

How did the two of you meet?

We met and got married while working for the dining program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. No one believes that a married couple could actually like working together, but we genuinely do.

What are some of the pluses – and minuses – of working at/attending the same university as your spouse/partner?

We like to say that Cal gives us our daily dose of Vitamin S (students). Working with students in higher education is our career passion. Being able to do the work you love with the person you love is by far the best plus. And carpooling is a nice side benefit. There’s also an unspoken understanding of our shared environment that helps balance our home life. When things are good at Cal, like when we beat Stanford, it’s happiness all around at home and work. Our family bleeds blue and gold! But when there is bad news on campus, it has double the impact at home. The recent furloughs were tough because both of our family breadwinners had pay cuts at the same time. And when we are dealing with confidential issues at work, we don’t always have the same freedom to discuss things with our partner that other couples may enjoy. But the students at Cal make every minus worth it.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans?

Valentine’s Day doesn’t impact our life in any way. We are a bit anti-Valentine’s Day, and prefer to think of every day as love day. We usually save the big overtures for milestone events, like our upcoming 10-year wedding anniversary.

Are there special spots on campus that you think are especially romantic?

The little bench hidden under the trees to the right of Sather Gate is our favorite secret spot. You can experience all the activity on Sproul and soak in a bit of nature at the same time. And people rarely ever see you there so you can really hide in plain site (unless this gets published, of course, and then everyone will know where to look for us).

FACULTY

Eleanor Swift and Robert H. Cole are professors of law.

Eleanor Swift and Robert Cole

How did the two of you meet?

When Eleanor first joined the law school faculty, she stopped by Bob’s office. It was love at first sight – for him.

What are some of the pluses – and minuses – of working at/attending the same university as your spouse/partner?

The pluses are that we know and share each others’ work. The minuses are we are driven crazy by the same things.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans?

We’d like to be skiing, but will probably be babysitting for our granddaughters.

Are there special spots on campus that you think are especially romantic?

The stairs on Gayley Road between the law school and the stadium. This unromantic spot is where we ate many bag lunches during our courtship. Apparently Cupid can strike almost anywhere.

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Ernesto Munoz-Lamartine is a Ph.D. student in public policy. His wife, Soledad Martinez-Gutierrez, is a Ph.D. candidate in health services and policy analysis.

How did the two of you meet?

We met in a youth camp in Chile when we were 19-years-old. We liked each other, but Sole had a boyfriend and Ernesto eventually also met a girl in the camp who later became his girlfriend. We would bump into each other intermittently for 10 years. At 28, we finally met again at a friend’s birthday party, and we’ve been together ever since.

Ernesto Munoz-Lamartine and Soledad Martinez-Gutierrez with their children, Ernesto and Magdalena Munoz-Martinez

What are some of the pluses – and minuses – of working at/attending the same university as your spouse/partner?

The pluses are definitely the economies of scale. We help each other in various ways. We recommend classes we have taken, proofread each other’s work, have long conversations about our research topics and try to travel together to campus as much as we can. Sometimes we get together to have lunch, which is very nice, too! We don’t like to take classes together, though! We are kind of competitive, so we don’t take classes together if we can avoid it.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans this year?

We have family visiting from Chile, so we don’t have any plans right now. Our church organizes a Valentine’s Day breakfast, and we will attend that. Maybe we should pay a babysitter and go to get dinner together!

Are there special spots on campus that you think are especially romantic?

We like to go out to eat. Romantic for us means a place that’s beautiful, where we can sit, eat and just talk for hours. Having two kids makes it very difficult!