Sheila Hayden’s “to-do” list goes something like this: get individual teapots for 20 Chinese businessmen visiting GSM; supply meal tickets for 300 cheerleaders at summer cheering camp; park 25 antique cars in Aldrich Park for Orange County firefighters’ picnic.
None of it befuddles or surprises Hayden, assistant director of scheduling and conference services, who coordinates the myriad services UCI provides to groups using areas like the Student Center, Aldrich Park, outdoor plazas and residence halls. Besides event and conference management (other than for the Bren Events Center, athletics and the University Club), the office also handles the campus master calendar, marquee services, scheduling of classrooms and lecture halls, and summer conferences.
“UCI gets busier by the quarter; summer is no exception,” says Hayden. In addition to 11,000 students attending classes, about 5,800 visitors will participate in 50 conferences and events this summer. Hayden is handling 15 of those events, like the June AIDS Walk that drew 10,000 people. UCI was the start/finish and festival site for the fundraiser, which came off smoothly because Hayden had paved the way with the campus safety, parking and facilities departments to ensure a worry-free, enjoyable event.
Soon the academic year will bring its own thrills as 6,000 new students surge across campus for Welcome Week. Director of New Student Programs Jill Halvaks depends on Hayden for room-scheduling and other logistics. “Sheila has a ‘sure, why not’ attitude; going out of her way to make things happen for you.” She’s helped with hundreds of successful events – from Celebrate UCI to College of Medicine commencement. As a member of Staff Assembly, she also has planned many staff picnics, including the 2004 Safarithemed event slated for September.
Occasionally, Hayden is part of the festivities. Several years ago, she renewed her passion for the Spanish-style flamenco dance, donning a floral skirt and Spanish shawl to perform with UCI arts students at the Celebrate open house. As a youngster, Hayden honored her Mexican heritage by learning traditional Mexican folk dance and later taught the art to grade-school children in Long Beach.
According to longtime friend and former supervisor Carolyn Hunt, Hayden also is an expert in unconventional traditions, like UCI’s Halloween costume competition. “One year she was a bunch of grapes with purple balloons that needed adjusting every time she sat down. And there was Sheila’s rendition of Marge Simpson with blue, bed-pad hair standing high on her head.”
At a recent luncheon for 25-year-plus employees, Hayden realized that she measures her time at UCI not in years, or in events, but in the number of colleagues-turned- lifetime-friends she’s met along the way.