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In Profile: Dianne Leiker

UCOP Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs, Special Events and Protocol Dianne Leiker will retire at the end of June. Her last day in the office is June 29.

Dianne joined UCOP in 2000, and previously held a number of roles at UCSF – in the Schools of Dentistry and Medicine, as well as the Chancellor’s Immediate Office and Alumni Affairs Office – for more than 13 years. Link staff talked with Dianne about her upcoming retirement plans and her unique role at OP.

On a personal note, congratulations on your impending retirement! What are your retirement plans?

Thanks. I’m looking forward to being a total slug for six months, followed by a bit more structure – relearning bridge; volunteering more at a parental stress/child abuse hot line in San Francisco I’ve been working with since 1980; reading; knitting; cooking my way through “Fine Cooking” magazine issues; travel and finally tackling jobs around the house I’ve put off for many years.

My thanks to all you good people at OP. It’s been a pleasure to work with you.

What was your most memorable experience as assistant director of Alumni Affairs, Special Events and Protocol at UCOP?

That’s hard to say. What I found interesting was having the experience of working both “sides of the fence” of UC Day, which has been an annual (except for 2010) alumni advocacy day in Sacramento.  I handled the UCSF campus logistics for the systemwide UC Day for many years, and then became the project liaison for the event from OP. I’m sure there were campus staff members who wondered why some of my e-mails were so long. I wanted to make sure any campus “newbies” had a lot of information to assist them with what they would be doing. Knowledge is power.

How many special events have you planned in this capacity?

My estimate is around 15 per year for large events – including 10 chancellor inaugurations, two building dedications, president’s visits to China and India as well as throughout California and on the East Coast, and dinners honoring California Nobel laureates. And I handled many board meetings and ad hoc events as well.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your position?

Trying to keep a lot of balls in the air that require great attention to detail and envisioning possible problems/issues so that there’s at least one backup solution in mind. Can I mention the increased amount of paperwork?

What do you enjoy most about your work in this role?

Probably the challenges that I mentioned in my response to the last question – “juggling” a lot of balls in the air that require great attention to detail and anticipating possible problems/issues and having at least one backup solution ready for them. I also enjoy the opportunities for traveling to many venues (alas, none overseas).

How have the duties of your position evolved during your tenure?

It seems like a bell curve – initially, a very small unit in terms of personnel (and so very hands-on, day-to-day and many nights management of events and department activities), to more staff with a larger number of and more complex events, to a department of one and doing it all. My solo job in the past year and a half has brought me back into more contact with alumni who offer their time, expertise and a great desire to work on behalf of UC—and that’s in addition to what they do in their work and private lives. These are all positive reasons for continuing to come to work.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting out in Alumni Affairs, Special Events and Protocol?

In general, get involved with a complex project and then work on making it as successful as possible—it’s all in the details. Believe it or not, I would strongly encourage folks to work on a campus prior to coming to OP (if OP is their goal). Each UC campus has unique strengths that will impact the activities and goals of their alumni affairs and special events departments. Also, having experience working with students and faculty is very helpful. There’s such a diversity of activities and people on the campuses, and I believe my time at Berkeley and San Francisco definitely better prepared me for what I’ve done at OP.

An editorial comment, if I may. Acronyms seem to rule around OP (guilty) and I still remember my first couple of weeks on the job when I hadn’t a clue what all of the different acronyms used meant. If I could influence one thing it would be about acronyms—be sensitive to what others may not know when acronyms are tossed around during meetings and calls. And please don’t say “U-COP.” ”U-C-O-P” seems much less pejorative, even though the campuses may be inclined to say/believe the former.

What other positions have you held at UC?

I worked on the Berkeley campus before heading over to UCSF, where I had administrative positions in the School of Dentistry (Endodontics Department), School of Medicine (Psychiatry Department) and the Chancellor’s Immediate Office before moving to the Alumni Office.

What prompted you to join the UC community?

I’m a graduate of UC Berkeley and worked on the campus while going to school. I knew I wanted to work in the public sector and while contemplating and then rejecting the idea of graduate school I realized how much I value public higher education and so decided to stay with UC. It’s a decision I’ve never regretted – what great “products” we turn out (much more important than widgets). While on the UCSF campus my various jobs provided me with opportunities to mix with students and patients—making me very proud about how UC is working to solve problems and helping people on very basic levels.

What will you miss most about working for UC?

The opportunity to work on diverse projects that have brought me into contact with great people and experiences—Nobel laureates; staff of the Mexican and Chinese consulates; colleagues in London, Paris, Mexico, China and India as well as on all 10 UC campuses, in Sacramento, DC and here in Oakland; hearing First Lady Michelle Obama at Merced’s first commencement … to name just a few.


Comments ( 2 )

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  1. Jennifer Forsberg June 22, 2010 Reply

    Congratulations, Dianne, on a well-earned retirement!

  2. Peggy Michel June 22, 2010 Reply

    Congratulations Dianne, we will miss you at the Thursday knitting/crafting time. I’ll also miss working with you professionally!!!! Have a wonderful “slugfest”!

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