25 years of service

by Connie Bagshaw
Staff writer

Record number serve campus 25 years

UBC's 25 Year Club welcomes a record number of new members this year -- 51 staff who have served the university for a quarter-century.

President David Strangway will host an annual dinner on May 8 honouring the 1997 inductees.

The new members are:

Doug Napier

DougOn June 5, 1972, Doug Napier started a three-week job in UBC's Plant Operations. On May 8, he'll celebrate 25 years of service to the university.

"As a trades person, the sheer magnitude of the campus has kept the job interesting and challenging all these years," Napier offers as an explanation for why he stayed.

"Every system in every building is unique. The work is always different. The camaraderie and sense of family that exists within the department is also important. Most of the people I worked with 25 years ago are still at UBC.

"Chuck Rooney, the director of Plant Operations, originally hired me for that three-week contract. He'll be one of this year's inductees into the 25 Year Club himself."

A certified underwater pipe fitter, Napier's special areas of interest include the design of fluid systems, steam distribution and maintenance planning.

Many people on campus know Napier for his prolific volunteer activities. Renowned for organizing events within his department to raise funds for the United Way, Napier went on to co-chair UBC's United Way campaign in 1993. The previous year he was seconded to the charity for three months where he developed campaigns for 13 municipalities throughout the Lower Mainland.

He's also found time to serve as a staff-elected member of the Board of Governors, on the university's Health and Safety Committee and for nearly two decades working on behalf of Local 116 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees as a delegate and executive member, including secretary-treasurer.

When he's not on campus, Napier is likely to be found at Trout Lake, coaching minor league sports, at home indulging his interest in cooking, or at the ice rink, providing encouragement to his son Graham who is an Olympic speed skating hopeful.

Promoted to area supervisor in 1993, Napier is about to undergo another change, this time to facilities management.

"I have been fortunate to have the same diversity in my work as a supervisor that I experienced as a trades person," Napier says. "The lifelong learning process has certainly been enhanced for me."

Beverley Gropen

BeverleyA career aptitude test taken at UBC's Women's Resource Centre in 1979 indicated that Beverley Gropen was suited to working in a creative field, perhaps editing, writing or instructional design.

Already employed on campus as secretary to the head of the Mathematics Dept., Gropen took the plunge when she successfully bid for a job as a course designer with what was then called Continuing Education.

"Distance education was an area that was quite marginal in the university's activities 15 or 20 years ago which allowed me to learn and grow with the job," Gropen recalls.

But times have changed, and so has the field of developing distance education curriculum that meets the diverse needs of an increasing number of students across the province.

"Distance education is a very dynamic area at UBC today," she says. "We have a much larger department and the range of courses we develop has expanded widely."

One of Gropen's biggest challenges is dealing with multiple projects at the same time. Each year, she and other members of the design team have, on average, six major projects in the works, either creating new courses or completely revising existing ones. In addition, there are six to eight courses which require minor alterations. Some courses take anywhere from one year to 18 months to produce, although this is changing with Internet delivery, she says.

Staying current with the proliferation of multimedia tools now used in her field is another hurdle she has to jump on a regular basis, Gropen says.

But according to her supervisor, Beth Hawkes, Gropen has made the transition from using traditional media such as print and video to the new technologies with what Hawkes describes as grace and keen interest.

"Beverley has shifted to the computer age and all its implications for course design with remarkable enthusiasm," Hawkes says. "She is one of the most focused, organized and productive persons I have ever worked with."

A UBC history graduate, Gropen credits her 25-year longevity on campus to the interesting, challenging and stimulating nature of her work.

"I work with teams of people who are dedicated and energetic, including course authors from the academic departments who are always new, which leaves little room for boredom or repetition in my job."

A distance education course on English romantic poetry which Gropen helped develop last year stands out in her mind as a favorite. Also interested in travel, music, golf, bridge and spending time with her family, she laughs heartily at the suggestion that she may prefer to spend another quarter-century at UBC.

"I'm perfectly happy here, but work is just part of the rich tapestry of life."

Junji Shinada

JunjiFor Junji Shinada, silence is not only golden, it's part of the job.

As sole caretaker of the Nitobe Garden, Shinada begins his day at 7 a.m. to ensure that noisy work like mowing the lawn is finished by the time visitors start arriving three hours later.

It's a routine he has repeated every morning for the past eight years since transferring to the garden from Plant Operations where he also used his horticulture skills to help maintain the beauty of UBC's grounds.

"People come here for the quiet and to relax," Shinada says, ever smiling. "They like me to be part of the scenery. It is better that I go somewhere else to relax on my breaks, usually to a coffee shop."

Despite going about his work as noiselessly as possible, Shinada still attracts lots of attention from among the 30,000 people who visit Nitobe annually.

"Many people, especially Americans, have questions about how to maintain a Japanese garden in our climate. They tell me that Nitobe is their main reason for visiting the campus."

Although Shinada has met visiting prime ministers and princes in the course of his work, his most cherished encounters are with people just interested in gardening. It's their love of Nitobe that he loves most about his job.

Horticulture is a profession Shinada says he fell into without much forethought. He studied landscaping at the Tokyo Metropolitan Horticultural School primarily to avoid following in his father's footsteps -- working in the offices of a large company.

After graduation, his sense of adventure took him to Brazil where he maintained peach and guava orchards and did landscaping for private clients before returning to Japan four years later.

Immigrating to Vancouver in 1968, he studied English before looking for full-time career opportunities. He still remembers landing two job interviews on the same day in 1972, one with UBC and another in Victoria. This year he celebrates his 25th anniversary working on campus.

Although he has a garden at home, Shinada says he doesn't have the time or much inclination to look after it. Insisting that he prefers to spend his leisure time reading, Shinada says that if he went home to garden he would never rest.

So what does he like to read? Gardening books.