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Allan Hancock College Bids Farewell to Nine Retirees, Names Counseling the Department of the Year

David Senior, left, Julie Kuras, Leslie Mosson and Donna Bishop were four of the nine retiring employees recognized by Allan Hancock College during a special ceremony Wednesday. The nine employees gave a combined 230 years of service to the college.
David Senior, left, Julie Kuras, Leslie Mosson and Donna Bishop were four of the nine retiring employees recognized by Allan Hancock College during a special ceremony Wednesday. The nine employees gave a combined 230 years of service to the college. (Allan Hancock College photo)

To say a lot has changed since David Senior started as a part-time fire academy instructor at Allan Hancock College in 1977 would be an understatement. The college’s interim associate dean of public safety spent his first 36 years with the academy when it was located on South Campus. The last two years were spent at the college’s state-of-the-art, $38 million Public Safety Training Complex that opened at the Lompoc Valley Center on 68 acres.

“Hancock had one of the top fire training programs in the state despite the old facility, not because of it,” Senior said. “Now, we have one of the top programs in the state because of our staff, as well as because of our facility.”

Senior, once named Firefighter of the Year by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, started his career in the fire service 42 years ago. He recalled meeting with Hancock administration when he worked for Santa Barbara County to discuss a regional training center. Decades later, he developed and designed the complex that opened in December 2013.

“I am extremely proud of our complex that is second to none. The public safety department has an incredible staff, and tremendous support from the college to help the facility meet its potential,” he added.

Senior is retiring after 38 years with the college. He served on numerous regional and national boards and committees, including the International Public Safety Leadership Advisory Board and the California Fire Technology Directors Association. He said his proudest moments during his tenure were when his nephew and two sons graduated from the college’s fire academy.

He plans to spend his retirement exploring the country with his wife and spending more time with his family, which includes 10 grandchildren. He also plans to get back into building furniture and playing music.

Senior was honored along with eight other retirees during a college-wide retirement and recognition event Wednesday at the Santa Maria campus.

This year’s nine retirees have contributed 230 years of combined service to the college. The other retirees are Geraldine Valdiviezo, library/multimedia services technician, Library/Learning Resources Center, 14 years; Rebecca Alarcio, director, Public Affairs & Publications, 30 years; Elizabeth Miller, Vice President of Administrative Services, 23 years; the late Gerhard Johnson, custodian, Plant Services, 14 years; Donna Bishop, counselor, 30 years; Julie Kuras, instructor, health services, 27 years; Leslie Mosson, faculty librarian, Library/Learning Resources Center, 19 years; Domenico Maceri, professor, Languages and Communications, 35 years.

The retirees, like Bishop, said their time at Hancock flew by quickly.

“I loved the people I worked with at Hancock. We are all here for the same thing and that’s helping our students,” said Bishop, who started working at Hancock in 1985. “I love working with our students because they are so diverse with different backgrounds, ages and stories. Honestly, I learned something new from my students every day.”

Bishop plans to immerse herself in films and the arts, as well as travel and volunteer after retiring from Hancock.

Also honored at the reception were three faculty members who achieved tenure during the 2014-15 academic year: Alexandra Bell, Health Services; Yvon Frazier, Children’s Center, early childhood studies; and Robert Mabry, machining and manufacturing technology.

The reception included recognition of the college’s department of the year, and employees’ years of service. Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers, Ph.D., named Counseling the college’s department of the year. He also recognized the Early Registration Committee as the college’s project team of the year. The 27-member committee was honored for enhancing enrollment and enabling students to register for summer and fall terms several months earlier than in previous years.

— Stefanie Aye is a public affairs coordinator for Allan Hancock College.

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