As the faculty, staff and students at UC prepare for the start of another school year, they’ll have to do so without a key staff member: Rose Espel finished her last day of work at UC on Friday, Aug. 10.
Friends and colleagues know Espel not only as a hub of information and a jack-of-all-trades, but as a genuine and caring person whose work has supported several departments across campus for decades.
Since transferring from the Department of Public Safety in 2005, Espel has served as financial administrator for the College of Allied Health Science’s Department of Analytical and Diagnostic Sciences. She’s also become a resource, support system, friend and family member to the college community.
"It’s easy to know what to say about Rose,” says Linda Graeter, PhD, associate professor of analytical and diagnostic sciences at the college. "She, very quickly, became the rock of our department, in terms of keep things running smoothly and taking care of all of us.
She’s one of those special, special people you meet only occasionally. I’ll always remember Rose as one of the most genuinely good people I’ve ever known and had the pleasure of working with.”
Espel began her time at UC in a much smaller role, as a temporary worker in the College of Medicine Dean’s Office. She began in 1978, working under now-Assistant Dean of Student Affairs IvaDean Lair.
"I did all sorts of office support work,” says Espel. "I believe my first job as a temp was to prepare and type out a student directory. I was then hired as a part-time Typist II.”
Espel stayed for four years before leaving UC to raise her three children. Just before she left, she played a guest role at the Dean’s Office Christmas party.
"I came into the room and was introduced as Mrs. Claus,” she remembers, "This was about two weeks before delivery of my third child, Monica so I was very pregnant at the time. Everyone screamed and laughed as I walked over to Santa, Dr. Walter Leavell, who was the vice dean at the time.”
It would be 15 years before she returned, this time working under another UC legend, former Police Chief Gene Ferrara.
"I loved the job in public safety. I got was able to meet all sorts of people,” says Espel. "Our office would help with the president’s parties, campus police displays and open houses—we were very active on campus.”
Espel even had the opportunity to go off campus with UC’s police, joining them at the shooting range for target practice. "I shot better than the assistant chief, Bob Rohrbach, that day,” she says. "I’ve got pictures to prove it. I did tease him a little, but I didn’t want to push it.”
In 2005, Espel transitioned to the College of Allied Health Sciences, where her oldest daughter, Theresa, hadgraduated from the Clinical Laboratory Science Program in 1999. Espel says the transition from public safety to academics was a "very new and different experience.”
"There were now faculty, students, classes and courses to deal with which meant learning new UC systems,” she says. "Every day had new and interesting tasks to complete. But I’ve always enjoyed the people I’ve worked with. The faculty and staff are a great group of people and our program has grown quite a bit over the years.”
Espel says she relied on her knowledge of the university and connections with public safety to get things done around the department: "If we needed a lock fixed or access for a new person, or we needed help with an incident that happened, I would just call or email my old friends and co-workers and things got taken care of very quickly!”
She has so many old friends on campus that medical lab sciences program manager Melanie Giusti, jokes that they couldn’t take Espel anywhere.
"We always got stopped by someone who knew Rose. She’s the type of person people remember,” says Giusti. "She truly has a caring personality. She cares about the quality of her job and the people she works with. Rose is the kind of person you want to be when you grow up.”
Though her co-workers say Espel created a second family within the department, Espel is retiring to spend more time with some new members of her family: her five grandchildren, Alex, Luke, Jaxon, Eric and Audrey.
When she’s not holding one of her grandchildren, Espel hopes to focus on sewing and crafting in her White Oak home.
"All I can say is that I’ve really enjoyed all my time at UC,” she says. "I’ve come to know so many wonderful people in all different positions throughout the university, from folks in the president’s office to the movers, delivery folks and the housekeepers. I have been very fortunate and grateful for all the jobs and wonderful people I’ve come to know throughout my years here at UC.
"However, it’s time for me to move on. At Christmas of 2012 I will have 5 grandchildren, with the oldest one being 4 years old, so I will have plenty to do to fill my time as a retiree—and I’m really looking forward to that.”