Employee of the Month - July 2022

Colleen Ryan - Academic Affairs Facility Specialist, Academic Resources and Strategic Planning

Awarded Thursday, July 7, 2022 via Zoom Virtual celebration. Colleen was joined by President Jane Close Conoley, Provost and Senior Vice President Karyn Scissum Gunn, and numerous Division of Academic Affairs and campus colleagues.

Colleen Ryan is a long-term CSULB employee of 23 years and serves as the Academic Affairs Facility Specialist in the department of Academic Resources and Strategic Planning. Colleen’s role allows her to work with employees across campus who have praised her deep understanding of University procedures, dedication, innovative mindset, and humor.

Colleen’s dedication to The Beach is inspired by her family who has a long history on campus. Her mother and aunt previously worked for CSULB for 34 years each. When Colleen retires, she anticipates her family will have a combined century of service to CSULB.

Colleen’s involvement with the campus includes much more than her work as an employee. As she was growing up, she attended the Banjo Fiddle Concerts on lower campus, long before the Pyramid, the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, and the College of Business were built. She has experienced the campus from the perspective of a student, earning her teaching credential here at CSULB. She is also a parent of a recent Beach graduate and a neighbor to the campus. Colleen shared, “I love the Beach, love higher education, and the constant life expansion of being around learning.”

Dhushy Sathianathan, the Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Colleen’s manager, shared his appreciation for Colleen’s work at the University, saying, “She has an impressive ability to handle numerous large projects simultaneously. She has a depth of understanding of University policy, practice, and history. Colleen has a remarkable experience in construction practices and facilities management.

“Colleen’s commitment and efficiency interplay with her ability to effectively organize, provide direction and follow projects to successful completion. Colleen is well-respected throughout the university, especially by the Beach Building Services staff, college staff, and the leadership team.

“Colleen not only works hard and shows a deep commitment to the Beach, but she is passionate about the values we bring to the workplace. She believes in making the Beach the best place to work, study, and learn. We are fortunate to have Colleen lead in this capacity.”

Colleen’s work with Beach Building Services (BBS) has encouraged many BBS employees to speak up to celebrate her contributions to The Beach. Mark Zakhour, the Associate Vice President of BBS, said “Colleen is an irreplaceable member of the CSULB team, and is true example of an employee who thinks outside of the box and provides no end of innovative ideas. She is a master problem solver, and has never backed down from a task, no matter how intimidating or complex the task may be. She has a unique ability to not only solve complex analytical and space issues, but she has deep understanding of how any decision will affect the departments’ operations and how the proposed decision will be perceived or interpreted by the end user. She has created a bridge between the Academic Affairs and Beach Building Services groups, allowing us both to improve our processes and continue to forward the mission of the campus, all while ensuring everyone’s perspectives have been considered and addressed.

“I always trust Colleen’s opinion and gut instinct, and I often find myself looking to her for advice. Colleen truly makes a difference everyday here at The Beach and we are a better organization for having her. Let’s also not forget her wit and sense of humor that always turns even the most stressful of situations into an opportunity for laughter and comradery.”

George Alfaro, the Director of Environmental Health and Safety, said, “I really enjoy working with Colleen, she has the ability to effectively communicate to different groups of individuals at their own level, from the President to technicians and BBS facilities workers. She genuinely cares about the campus community and that is reflective on her work ethic and decision process, as she is always striving for what’s best for the campus long term. Her pleasant smile is always her welcome greeting no matter what the subject is, and her Beach Family values set an example for everyone to follow.”

Michael Gardner, the Director of Campus Planning and Sustainability, added, “Colleen is capable of so much – she always rises to the occasion. And she can keep a sense of humor about it all, which is what makes her so great to work with.”

“Colleen is a key partner for Design & Construction Services,” shared Martin Grant, the Program Manager of Capital Construction in BBS. “Colleen helps us navigate and coordinate relationships with colleges and departments during development, design, and construction of new buildings and renovations. She has great tact and diplomacy, all combined with a ‘get it done’ attitude. Colleen has a true passion for her job and our staff often comment that ‘they don’t know how they would get the projects done without Colleen’s help.’ Thank you for all your help over the years Colleen, it’s truly appreciated.”

Colleen’s coordination with the Division of Student Affairs is appreciated by Jeff Klaus, the Associate Vice President of Student Engagement. “Colleen is a brilliant, dedicated, and phenomenal colleague who can understand large scale needs of departments and divisions while incorporating the interests of faculty, staff, administrators, and students. She’s able to do this because Colleen is a great listener and genuinely cares about people and this university. Whenever Colleen’s name comes up in a meeting or conversation, it’s always followed with how great she is and/or how Colleen helped us with a certain project. The reality is she has positively impacted almost every aspect of this campus. We’re lucky to have her at CSULB. She embodies the OneBeach spirit!”

Over the years, Colleen has also worked with the Division of IT (DOIT) on many projects and committees. Janet Foster, the Associate Vice President of Information Technology Services, described Colleen as “exceedingly professional and helpful.” Janet recounted her experiences working with Colleen, saying, “Her advocacy on behalf the customers she represents, her professionalism with those she works with, and her dedication to her work is second to none. Colleen is active on many committees, including the campus Space Planning Committee, where I also participate. Colleen is always knowledgeable, helpful, and a strong advocate for her customers on space planning and space utilization that will further the academic mission of the university. She often offers innovative ideas on how to provide the most effective use of campus space. Colleen has been an excellent partner to DOIT in many space renovations over the years across the campus. In particular, she often helps to ensure that DOIT is included in those projects up front to ensure our services are included in planning."

Colleen’s work in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic has been celebrated by Martin Brenner, the Instructional Technology Specialist in the Music department. “In addition to their regular duties as facilities specialist, Colleen Ryan has taken on an extremely demanding and challenging role as ensuring compliance and public safety with respect to prevention of the spread of COVID as well as compliance CSU, CDC and appropriate health authority's mandates. These measures are very fluid and require continual intervention and updates. Colleen is very communicative, professional, and always helpful and a tireless worker. Colleen applies wholistic knowledge and wisdom to her recommendations and solution.”

In Colleen’s spare time, she enjoys volunteering and supporting The Arthritis Foundation due to her oldest child’s arthritic condition. She also loves to cook for families at Ronald McDonald House.