Parting words: Retirees share memories of UCLA’s past, hopes for the future

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“Life begins at retirement,” the quip goes. But longtime Bruins Robert Naples, Gay Macdonald and David Miller have already lived large at UCLA, putting in a combined total of 62 years filling important roles in the evolution of our campus and community. Here, they share memories, offer advice and express gratitude for their years at UCLA.

 

Robert Naples
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Life,
Dean of Students

How long have you been at UCLA?

19 years.

What accomplishments are you proudest of?

The creation of the Graduate Student Resource Center; the development of UCLA from a commuter to a residential campus; the transformation of what was once a highly legalistic student judicial system to an approach that emphasizes student development; and the creation of the Consultation and Response Team to help students in crisis and educate the campus community.

What are the biggest changes you've noticed on campus?

The transformation of the campus from commuter to residential and subsequently the involvement of residential students in the entirety of the campus.

What will you miss most when you retire?

Everything. The tremendous students and my fantastic staff come immediately to mind. Having said that, I can’t think of anything I enjoy as much as an early morning walk on this beautiful campus.

What are you looking forward to most in your retirement?

Continuing my work in the mentoring and development of future professionals in the Student Affairs Program (in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies), where I have been program co-director for the past four years.

What do you wish for UCLA in the future?

The area that concerns me the most is the lack of civility that seems to be on the increase among many of our students. While I think we do an outstanding job addressing the many complex variables that make up the UCLA community, I wish we were more successful with getting our students to recognize that they have more in common with one another than they have differences.

What advice would you offer your fellow Bruins?

Be kind and respectful to one another.

Do you have any other parting words?

Yes. I have been so truly blessed to have had such a wonderful and fulfilling professional career that has culminated in working at the greatest university in the country – UCLA!

 

Gay Macdonald
Executive Director,
UCLA Early Care and Education

How long have you been at UCLA?

23 years.

What accomplishments are you proudest of?

Expanding our services to parents and their children, including designing spaces from the ground up, has certainly been exciting. Forming supportive relationships with faculty, staff and student parents; student workers; teachers; and hundreds of young children has been a matchless experience. And the involvement of researchers, teachers and parents has developed Early Care and Education (ECE) into a demonstration early childhood program. Beginning in 1992, with a grant from NASA and leadership from the Gelman Cognitive Development Lab, ECE partnered in the creation of the Pathways to Science program and the publication of “Preschool Pathways to Science.” The book has been adopted by the National Science Teachers Association as a textbook for kindergarten teachers, and it will translated into Chinese this year. Pathways to Science is particularly fitting at this great research university, where so many parents — staff, faculty and students — are in the sciences.

What are the biggest changes you've noticed on campus?

Funding cuts and construction in-fill of campus green space, leading to the loss of campus arborists and other skilled people, along with the retirement of many employees with service records of 30 or 40 years. Fresh talent is a great thing, but conserving the gifts and the legacy of the past is also important.

What will you miss most when you retire?

Daily interaction with people in every decade of human life.

What are you looking forward to most in your retirement?

Finding new and different ways in which to serve.

What do you wish for UCLA in the future?

Fostering strong networking relationships. And continuing to strive for the “gold standard.”

What advice would you offer your fellow Bruins?

Embrace diversity as the great source of talent, creativity, innovation and intelligence that it is.

Do you have any other parting words?

Gratitude. Coming to UCLA was the greatest blessing I could have had for my career. I was advised to strive for the highest and best. I was given many opportunities for professional development. And I was allowed to find a way in the field of early education to develop talent and programs that are part of the way forward.

 

David Miller
Director of Diversity Outreach,
Office of Diversity and Faculty Development

How long have you been at UCLA?

More than 20 years. My first job was as a customer service representative in telecommunications services.

What accomplishments are you proudest of during your tenure at UCLA?

My involvement in launching successful programs such as the annual All-Staff Picnic, the Staff Assembly Breakfast with Chancellor Gene Block and Women in Leadership Luncheons hosted by Carol Block. My being selected in 2005 as the inaugural staff advisor to the UC regents by the UC president and the chair of the regents will always be a career highlight. Most recently, I have collaborated on exciting programs with the UCLA LGBT Resource Center and the UCLA Committee on Disability.

What are the biggest changes you've noticed on campus?

The negative effect of Proposition 209 on black student admissions. And the steady decrease of state budget support, which significantly challenges this and all UC campuses in almost every aspect of our mission.

What will you miss most when you retire?

The uncontrolled laughter with many campus colleagues and the rich conversations in the Green Room (my office).

What are you looking forward to most in your retirement?

A second youth.

What do you wish for UCLA in the future?

I wish that everyone who comes to UCLA — whether they are faculty, administrators, staff or students — would make every effort to improve the campus climate not only for themselves, but for all who follow.

What advice would you offer your fellow Bruins?

I would like my colleagues to be authentic and generous in work and play at UCLA. I want everyone to read the UCLA Principles of Community and to hold themselves and others accountable for living up to them. 

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  • Robert Naples

    Robert Naples

    Robert Naples, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Life and Dean of Students, retired July, 2014. But continuing to ...

    UCLA

  • David Miller

    David Miller

    David, Director of Diversity Outreach, Office of Diversity and Faculty Development. Retired June, 2014.

    UCLA

  • Gay Macdonald

    Gay Macdonald

    Gay Macdonald, Executive Director of UCLA Early Care and Education. Retired June, 2014.

    UCLA

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