UCLA Spotlight


Susan Townsley, Staff Assembly

  • By Judy Lin Eftekhar
  • Published Mar 1, 2001 8:00 AM

Susan Townsley, a UCLA employee for 22 years, thrives on being involved.

She is president of Staff Assembly, a campus organization dedicated to promoting the interests and welfare of UCLA's17,000 staff members.

She serves on the California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education Planning Committee and numerous other campus committees.

And then there's Townsley's real job in the office of Claudia Mitchell-Kernan, UCLA's vice chancellor of graduate studies and dean of the Graduate Division. There, Townsley manages postdoctoral research awards along with special events such as the doctoral hooding ceremony at commencement.

Outside of UCLA, she volunteers with a string of community organizations.

"I'm just one of those people who like to be involved," she said, recalling her elementary school years in Los Angeles when she "was always class president or vice president. I liked that."

Currently, Townsley is putting together a fundraiser to add to the coffers of Staff Assembly's scholarship program. These funds enable many UCLA staff members to take career-advancing classes they otherwise couldn't afford. She also oversees the Excellence in Service Award, given to one outstanding staff member each year.

"I'm proud to say that I was a co-creator of this award," she said. "Before we proposed this in 1997, UC had distinguished teaching awards and distinguished teaching assistant awards, but now we have an award for the staff."

Since her first job at UCLA as a clerk in the School of Dentistry, she knew instinctively, she said, that "I was going to be here for a long time." Vacations with her family during those early years "revolved around where the different UCs were." Today, she regularly heads to the UC President's office in Oakland as well as other UC campuses to attend meetings of the UC regents.

Townsley also presides over the Staff Assembly's monthly meetings, which educate staff members on relevant bread-and-butter topics such as how the UC budget is funded and how to manage one's retirement investments.

She encourages other staff members to involve themselves in the larger life of UCLA, too, getting to know each other and working together toward common goals.

"Nothing is more important than that," Townsley said. "It makes the campus work better."