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A fond farewell to Dr. Susan Wilbur

“Always try to make a decision that is in the best interest of students.”

Dr. Susan Wilbur, UC’s director of undergraduate admissions, is known for following that guiding principle. It’s one of the many reasons she has the respect and admiration of colleagues throughout the university.

“She has made such an incredible difference to the entire UC system,” said Judy Sakaki, vice president for Student Affairs, during a Jan. 11 reception to honor Wilbur for her 31 years of university service and to wish her well when she retires at the end of the month.

“Her list of accomplishments would fill the entire hour,” Sakaki said. “She was just recognized at a UC event for her legacy of pioneering and transformative efforts that will continue to transform UC for years to come.”

Provost Lawrence Pitts, one of many speakers offering testimonials, noted that Wilbur had such a large and positive impact on undergraduate admissions, that high school guidance counselors “think Sue is UC.”

Don Daves-Rougeaux, associate director for undergraduate admissions, agreed, and told the crowd that he often got a warmer reception at events once people learned that he was Sue’s colleague.

“In many respects, Sue is the face of UC up and down the state,” he said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve introduced myself at a meeting and said, ‘I’m with Sue’ and suddenly there’s a great deal of validity to my presence.”

President Mark Yudof spoke of coming in as a new president two years ago and needing to quickly get up to speed on efforts to reform UC’s eligibility guidelines.

“Sue was unbelievably capable and gracious in educating a rookie president,” Yudof said. “She was competent, articulate and professional, and she played a key role in a fabulous new online admissions process. I know I speak for everyone else here when I say we’re really going to miss you.”

Wilbur received several parting gifts, including two paintings by Student Affairs colleague Liz Tamayo. In a short, emotional ‘thank you’ to her gathered friends and co-workers, Wilbur struck an inspirational tone.

Noting that she was the first person in her family to go to college, she said “this job has allowed me to advance values that mean a lot to me personally: access, advancing opportunities for student engagement and personal growth, and diversity in all its forms.

“These are challenging, difficult times, but UC is our most valuable, social, political, and economic resource. The University of California is worth fighting for. Your work has the potential to make a profound difference in people’s lives.”

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