Eleanor Sandoval: Helping campus feel more like family

Eleanor Sandoval is down to her last 2 1/2 years on campus, but the months ahead will find her doing anything but coasting.

As manager of employment and outreach services, the 30-year staff member’s responsibilities include overseeing job application, staff recruitment and employment policy interpretation. She also develops outreach programs and activities that promote solid and diverse applicant pools.

And state budget impacts recently have found her taking on yet another hat – chairing a workgroup charged with strengthening existing resources and creating new ones for employees who could be affected by budget reductions.

The group has met weekly for almost three months. It is composed of representatives from campus and medical center HR units – including benefits, compensation, staff counseling, affirmative action, staff training and development, and employee/labor relations.

"We have people at the table who really care about the potential impact this could have on individuals’ lives. And we want things thought through as best as we can to make sure the effects are as painless as possible," she said.

The group recently started distributing an extensive package of resource materials for employees who could be subject to campus layoffs. The information includes benefits checklists, career-building handbooks, resume ideas and information about counseling services. "It’s one of many things to come," Sandoval said.

The workgroup also will be tracking layoff activity and developing strategies "to see the trends and how we can best position ourselves to help employees," she said. One such strategy began this week with a formal process for facilitating internal recruitments.

Several current workgroup team members also helped alleviate impacts when economic downturn affected the campus during the early 1990s. "So we know what worked and what didn’t work," Sandoval said. Last time, she said, 60 percent-plus of the employees who were laid off were rehired by the campus. "We’re going to do everything possible to repeat that effort."

Sandoval’s sentiments run deep on the subject, because her own campus relationships and experiences have been so rewarding. She smiles as she recalls her first day on the job – July 10, 1972. Coincidentally, it was also her birthday.

"The job was my birthday present. I was making $410 a month as a secretary I for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I thought this was the greatest place in the world."

Six months later she obtained a position as an applicant intake interviewer for Personnel, later renamed Human Resources. "So I thought it was even a greater place to work, because of the mobility," said Sandoval, who has long believed that change – though sometimes daunting –offers opportunities for tremendous growth.

The Woodland native made big changes in her private life when six weeks ago she moved to Arbuckle with her longtime sweetheart and fiance, David Towle. Any inconvenience caused by her new 40-minute drive into work is offset by the scenic 10-acre homestead that awaits her each evening, Sandoval said. "You can see the Butte Mountains outside my backyard; the Coastal Range is right there. And you can see the stars forever."

In another welcome change, Sandoval’s son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Sophia Gersalia – who work for the facilities department and at the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory, respectively – recently made Sandoval a grandmother. Five-month-old Brian Christopher Gersalia is "the light of my life," she said.

Retirement, Sandoval said, will likely find her and David traveling in their motorhome.

"And now that we have 10 acres," she says, "I want to learn more about the Earth and how to take care of it – at least my part of it." Pondering motorhoming, yardwork and her newest hobby, crochet, Sandoval pauses in thought. "It seems I’m doing all those ‘old lady’ things," she observes. But her playfully wry tone suggests she’s anything but ready for the rocking-chair crowd.

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Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932, abagronis@ucdavis.edu

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