Eight employees set to retire as 2018 draws to a close

Beulah Alexander’s Brock University employment story is unconventional.

The graduate administrative assistant for the Faculty of Mathematics and Science started her 31-year career at the University through a government-funded program for unemployed female secretaries, many of whom had removed themselves from the workforce to care for their children.

“By this time, I had two children, Haven and Leolah, and thought it would be a great opportunity to improve my skills,” said Alexander (BA ’02, MEd ’06), who is one of eight Brock University employees retiring at the end of this month. “Plus, I wanted to evaluate the electric typewriters being used so that I could purchase one.”

Born in Monsterrat, West Indies, Alexander and her husband Lionel moved to St. Catharines from Sandy Lake, Ont. in the spring of 1986 to continue their post-secondary education. Lionel was accepted to Brock’s Master of Education program and she to a Bachelor of Arts.

Lionel began his full-time studies that fall, but it wasn’t until two years later in September 1988 that Alexander began her own part-time course work for the BA.

In January 1987, while Lionel was working on his MEd, the co-op program Alexander was involved with assigned her to work in Brock’s Teacher Education section of the Admissions Office — a role she remained in for 12 years.

“Those were the days when the Pre-Service Teacher Education program would receive 7,000 to 8,000 applications per year when there were only 300 placements available,” she said.

In addition to scoring the experience profiles for the pre-service program, Alexander was responsible for the admission and registration processes for the Adult Education program as well as the additional qualification (AQ) courses for teachers updating their certification. This often meant travelling across Niagara and Southern Ontario to settle registration problems.

She was once subpoenaed to court to testify about an error in a student’s record.

“When a teacher completes an AQ course, the University sends the Ministry of Education a recommendation to update their qualification record,” she said. “I was subpoenaed because a student’s record was updated at the Ministry when it should not have been. They thought Brock recommended it, but we did not.”

In 1999, Alexander moved to the Faculty of Education’s Office of the Dean and then, in 2002, took on a role in the Department of Biological Sciences. In 2010, her role changed to include the entire Faculty of Mathematics and Science.

“I find joy in solving problems for the individuals I serve,” she said. “People often come to my office in need of direction or problem-solving. They ask me to pray with them. I’m going to miss that.”

She said she’ll also miss singing in the Brock women’s choir, working out at The Zone and participating in ‘salad Mondays’ with her colleagues.

Although Alexander officially retires Monday, Dec. 31, she will be back in the new year to help out until her replacement is hired and trained.

Once her work at Brock is complete, Alexander plans to visit her ailing mother in St. Lucia and begin courses in online marketing.

Additional employees retiring this month:

John Culp, Audio-Visual Technician, Client Services

  • Length of service: 27 years
  • Last day at Brock: Friday, Dec. 21
  • Plans for retirement: Road and mountain biking; kayaking; cross-country skiing; playing his bass, rhythm and electric guitars; learning how to play his other instruments, such as a mandolin, five-string banjo, violin, harmonica and keyboard; reading through his collection of books on classics, history and religion; and continuing to study the Italian and French languages.
  • What he’ll miss: The atmosphere and the many smiling faces of the people he served daily.

Lorraine Dahse, Custodian, Facilities Management

  • Length of service: 14 years
  • Last day at Brock: Wednesday, Dec. 19
  • Plans for retirement: Cleaning and organizing her house and finding part-time work to keep busy.
  • What she’ll miss: Her fellow workers, including those she took breaks with or knitted with at lunch.

Joyce Engel, Chair and Associate Professor, Nursing

  • Length of service: Nine years
  • Last day at Brock: Friday, Dec. 21
  • Plans for retirement: Enjoying her grandchildren, painting walls and pictures, spending time with her husband Stan, and continuing to write and research.
  • What she’ll miss: Teaching and working with students who remind her of the energy and enthusiasm with which she first came to Nursing; being able to research, write, teach, develop curriculum, participate in committees and engage in leadership; and above all else, the amazing people at Brock — students, colleagues, leaders and administrators.

Cynthia Leavitt, Library Assistant, Collection Services

  • Length of service: 35 years
  • Last day at Brock: Friday, Nov. 30

Debbie Jane Shepherd, Admissions Officer, Registrar’s Office

  • Length of service: 31 years
  • Last day at Brock: Friday, Dec. 21

James Weatherson, Custodian, Facilities Management

  • Length of service: 25 years
  • Last day at Brock: Friday, Dec. 14
  • Plans for retirement: Golfing, painting and plastering.
  • What he’ll miss: All of the friendly employees and students at Brock.

Barbara Whittard, Innovative Systems Co-ordinator, Library Systems

  • Length of service: 43 years
  • Last day at Brock: Friday, Dec. 7
  • Plans for retirement: Travelling to Hawaii in April and going on a river cruise in the Rhine River in October; hiking the Bruce Trail with friends; and volunteering with a senior home where a family member lives.

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