Carol Stanley serves as advocate for staff, community members

Carol Stanley began honing her communication skills early in her UCI career.

In 1975, she worked as a campus operator. The job was hectic at times, even on the then-tiny campus. Aside from fielding a variety of unusual calls, she kept her cool through more than one telephoned bomb threat — “for some reason, it seemed to be the thing to do at the time,” she says. “Fortunately, they were never serious.”

Stanley’s communications experience later served her well in her work with students, faculty and staff. She went on to become an academic counselor and ultimately, the director of undergraduate counseling for social ecology. She is also known as a dedicated advocate for and mentor to staff and community members.

Since 1982, she has supervised a staff of six: four academic counselors and two administrators, along with several student peer advisors. Known for her high energy level, she cheerfully describes a typical day as “crazed.” Her work scenarios range from writing letters of recommendation to assisting a faculty or staff member with Academic Senate policies and procedures.

Stanley conducts weekly “think tank-style” meetings, encouraging her staff to contribute ideas and suggestions. Her team also participates in a yearly retreat. “We created a mission statement, and on good days we remember it,” she jokes.

“I’m interested in keeping up a level of excitement, and maintaining motivation. Everyone has different strengths, and we all complement one another. I’m always open to new ways of doing things,” she says.

Current projects include enhancing her department’s electronic communication with students. With Stanley’s encouragement, one staff member taught himself the computer skills necessary to set up an interactive web site. The office was able to cut down on its paper usage by 90 percent, and students can now access undergraduate information and petition forms 24 hours a day.

Stanley is also known for advocating flexibility in the workplace. “I have Carol to thank for understanding and supporting my job as a single parent,” says Jean Martinez, academic counselor in social ecology. “There are two other women in the office who have small children as well. Flexible work schedules have allowed us to be with our children when they need us, and still finish the jobs we’re paid to do.”

Stanley, who describes her baby grandson as “the light of her life,” is no stranger to the needs of a family. In 1982, she merged families when she married second husband Wendell Stanley, UCI professor emeritus in molecular biology and biochemistry. Between the two of them, they had five preteen and teen children in attendance at their nuptials.

Where might two UCI people have a wedding reception? On campus, of course.

“We held it at the Lumber Mill, an eatery by what’s now the Biological Sciences II building,” she recalls. “Everyone celebrated on this huge wooden deck, which was a lunch hangout during the week. It was great.”

With her youngest child now in her 20s, Stanley has more time to direct her considerable energies into the community. A member of the Academic and Professional Women of UCI, she has participated in an outreach organization called Working Wardrobes for the past two years.

Through the organization, she conducts self-esteem workshops and helps assemble work wardrobes — comprised of high quality donated clothing — for women in shelters who are seeking employment.

“This outreach effort gives these women the tools to become contributing members of the workforce. It’s been extremely enlightening and rewarding for me — watching their metamorphosis last year was incredible.”

Her efforts in the community and on campus were recently recognized by A&PW: She garnered the Pacesetter Award, the organization’s highest honor, for being an exemplary mentor and role model to women.

Stanley also has another long-standing outlet for her abundant energy: black and white photography. She taught herself the basics years ago and now displays and sells her photographs in several galleries.

“I am inspired by nostalgic settings,” she notes. Her office features an arresting array of photographs she has taken: chalked hopscotch squares, an antique snow-adorned gas pump. Her work, part of a display called “Photo Synthesis,” is currently showcased at the Santora Arts Building in Santa Ana and also at the Pinecrest Fine Arts Gallery in the Sierras.

Her voice also takes on a nostalgic tone when she talks about her fondness for the UCI campus, an entity that has become an old friend.

“If I ever need help or have a problem, I can pick up the phone and call any number of people here who know me well — I don’t have to explain myself or give them the whole back story.

“Those of us who have been here forever-and-a-day have a really special bond.”

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