Anyone who expected Chancellor Block’s wife to fill only a ceremonial role, smiling alongside her husband, doesn't know Carol Block. After a year and a half at UCLA, Mrs. Block has become a familiar presence not only to faculty, staff and students, but also to the larger Los Angeles community.
Of course, she does readily carry out her official duties, such as welcoming visitors — including UCLA supporters, elected officials, diplomats and community leaders — to the Chancellor’s Residence and campus events. But she also does much more.
When she first arrived here in the summer of 2007, her very first "assignment" was to meet more than 5,000 people at the annual All-Staff Picnic. She seemed to delight not only in meeting, but dancing with the many staff members who crowded onto the plaza during the spirited disc jockey-led dance session that has become the picnic's hallmark event. "She asked if we knew the Electric Slide," recalled Deputy Assistant Chancellor Dave Miller. "Within minutes, she was in the dance line next to facilities workers having a great time, as was everyone around her."
Since then, Mrs. Block has embraced the entire campus by initiating new programs and opportunities for faculty and staff. In addition to inviting staff to the Chancellor’s Residence to enjoy recitals by music students, she also puts on a leadership luncheon twice a year for women faculty and staff. At these events, featured speakers give talks on leadership and motivation. Then invitees discuss the topics over lunch.
"Those gatherings have been a highlight of my career at UCLA," said Susan Corley, assistant dean of students at UCLA Anderson. Attending the events has enhanced her professional experience, Corley said, and enabled her to share ideas and develop new relationships across the campus.
In January, in collaboration with Staff Assembly and UCLA Athletics, Mrs. Block hosted a pre-game tailgate party in the Morgan Center pressroom and invited staff members and their guests to attend. Those who were quick to RSVP joined Mrs. Block for brunch, cheered on a victorious UCLA women’s basketball team and took home souvenir T-shirts.
UCLA Athletics Director Dan Guerrero said he was pleased to see so many rooting for the women's team and having so much fun during the game. "The coaches and student-athletes really appreciated the outpouring of support."
Every month, Mrs. Block makes the time to spend at least a few hours at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where she's a volunteer in patient relations.
Along with her campus activities, Mrs. Block remains true to her belief in civic engagement to enrich the quality of life around us. She sometimes dons a carpenter’s tool belt to help build houses for the Habitat for Humanity organization and sorts donated canned food at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank alongside UCLA staff members and administrators eager to give back to the community.
"UCLA is an incredible institution," said Mrs. Block, "and I am impressed with the warmth and support of the faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the university. It has been a lot of fun, as well as inspirational, to share in campus activities and community outreach."
Adapted from a story in UCLA Today