Campus celebrates staff’s staying power

“Fresh, exciting, innovative” is how the manager of ASUC’s Student Affairs office, Janice Crowder, describes her UC Berkeley job. That may sound like the enthusiasm of a rookie, yet it’s anything but. She’s been reporting to work on campus for more than four decades.

George Breslauer

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer: "I'm a nester; I settle in and enjoy it." (Cathy Cockrell/NewsCenter photos)

Crowder was among hundreds at the 11th annual Service Awards Luncheon for Staff Employees, held Friday in Pauley Ballroom, where kudos and “thank yous” were the order of the day.

“More than anyone else, you are the individuals that make this place work day to day,” ASUC President Vishalli Loomba told those assembled. That work “does not go unnoticed by students,” she said.

Recalling a recent incident in which the taps in University House went dry after a copper thief tampered with the city water line, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau noted that it was Mary Rose Czajka, a plumber with Physical Plant-Campus Services, who “got the water working” in his campus home within a few hours.

The annual luncheon, organized by Human Resources, celebrates staff who have worked for the campus at least 10 years, in five-year increments. This year’s invitees included 347 with 10 service years, 99 with 25 and four with 40, as well as a total of 350 with 15, 20, 30 or 35 — for a combined total of 12,585 service years.

Besides Crowder, the long-timers marking 40 years at UC included Sandra Ellison, administrative analyst in Planning & Analysis; Patricia Murphy, assistant director of the Institute for Business Innovation at the Haas School; and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer. 

Janice Crowder

Janice Crowder of ASUC Auxiliary: "I love working for the students."

“I’m a nester — I settle in and enjoy it. It’s been a wondrous life,” said Breslauer, who joked that he began his career at Berkeley, teaching Soviet politics, in 1971 at age 7. “You are the nesters who are the besters,” he told luncheon attendees.

Crowder, for her part, has held nearly a dozen positions and served several senior campus administrators during her four decades on campus, which began with a manuscript-typing project during Richard Nixon’s first term in the White House.

Now with eight grandkids and four stepgrandkids, she has commuted to campus from Sacramento for the past nine years: up at 2:50 a.m., arriving at Eshleman Hall by 6 a.m., back home by 6:30 p.m.

In the hours in-between, she advises and assists an ever-changing cast of student leaders (hence her job’s sense of freshness, she says) and keeps the office running smoothly.

“She’s the best boss! Supportive, resourceful, efficient, loyal,” volunteered ASUC Auxiliary’s Millicent Morris-Chaney, as Crowder — after accepting kudos from well-wishers — prepared to return to work.

“There’s one thing I’m going to brag about,” replied Crowder. “I have a good eye for identifying superstars.”