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Hancock College Honors 15 Retiring Employees, Names Human Resources Department of the Year

Shirley Rorabaugh, Ron Kewish, Karen Vasquez, Marcus Engelmann, Glenn Owen, Peggy Warrick and Bahman Mesri. The eight retirees, along with seven other distinguished faculty and staff, were honored at a ceremony at Allan Hancock College’s Santa Maria Campus May 12.
Shirley Rorabaugh, Ron Kewish, Karen Vasquez, Marcus Engelmann, Glenn Owen, Peggy Warrick and Bahman Mesri. The eight retirees, along with seven other distinguished faculty and staff, were honored at a ceremony at Allan Hancock College’s Santa Maria Campus May 12. (Allan Hancock College photo)

When recent retiree Bahman Mesri started teaching mathematics at Allan Hancock College, instructors used chalkboards and typewriters. Thirty-one years later, the campus features $150 million in new state-of-the-art facilities and technology, and dozens of classes are offered online every semester.

Mesri, who served 13 years as a department chair, said he could still remember the nerves and excitement he felt before his first lecture. Decades later, Mesri said his love for working with students remains as strong as it was on day one. 

“My passion for teaching and working in an environment that gave you the opportunity to be among a young and energetic population kept me coming back every year,” said Mesri, who has taught three sections of calculus every semester for years. “It is great to converse, interact and debate with my students, as well as with my colleagues.”

For Margaret Tillery, several factors contributed to her spending nearly half of her life working at the college.

“I experience great satisfaction working with students who surprise and amaze me every day,” said Tillery, who has spent 32 of her 34 years at Hancock working as a learning disabilities specialist in the Learning Assistance Program. “I’ve also had the pleasure of working alongside talented and committed colleagues in a culture that has always made me feel welcomed and valued on campus.”

Tillery and Mesri were the most “senior” full-time Allan Hancock College retirees during the 2015-16 academic year. The two were among 15 retirees honored at a retirement and recognition event Thursday, May 12, on the college’s Santa Maria campus. 
All told, the 15 retirees worked at Hancock for a combined 358 years or an average of almost 24 years. On top of Tillery (34 years) and Mesri (31 years), two other retirees reached the 30-year mark: fine arts professor Marcus Engelmann and computer business information systems professor Peggy Warrick. Both Engelmann and Warrick are retiring after 30 years with the college.

The other retirees were Carol Burnard, who spent 19 years at the Lompoc Valley Center; Richard Carmody, who was the college’s director of business services for 11 years; Joseph Raiti and James Ramirez, who spent a completed 35 years combined with the plant services department; Noé Chávez, who taught Spanish for 27 years; Gay Courtright, who retired after 27 years in auxiliary accounting; Ron Kewish (11 years) and Karen Vasquez (28 years), who spent a combined 39 years with information technology; Shirley Rorabaugh, a 25-year member of the financial aid department; Community Education Dean Ardis Neilsen, who retired after a 29-year career; and accounting professor Glenn Owen, who spent 21 years at the college. 

“Each person dedicated their lives to ensuring student success,” said Superintendent and President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D. “They have all made positive impacts on the lives of Allan Hancock College students. While we will miss them, we wish them all the best as they begin new journeys.”

Tillery’s short-term retirement plan includes traveling, spending time with family and enjoying a life of sleeping in and starting the day without a plan. Mesri plans to travel and play in poker tournaments. 

Human resources was selected as Department of the Year. During the 2015-16 academic term, the department has managed the applications and job postings for nearly 90 positions, ranging from deans, directors, professors and lab assistants. 

Faculty and staff were also honored for their longevity with the college. They received pins for 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 years at the college.

Gina Herlihy is a publications and public affairs technician at Allan Hancock College.


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