In 1977, Anne Callahan showed up on her first day of work at UCSC dressed as a ballerina. That might sound like a risky gambit. Fortunately it was Halloween.
"I brought my regular clothes in a bag in case I needed them,” she said. “The only thing is, I didn’t recognize anyone on my second day of work because everyone was all dressed up."
It seems fitting that Callahan, who went completely incognito on that first day of work, is now getting so much public recognition.
Currently the academic human resources manager for the Humanities Division, Callahan is this year’s recipient of the UCSC Alumni Association Outstanding Staff Award, honoring employees who go "above and beyond" to help students or colleagues, improve programs and contribute to the university’s intellectual and physical environment.
Callahan provides direct support to the dean of the humanities for several important tasks: hiring faculty, supporting them, and assessing their progress over time. She said she is “completely surprised” by the honor. “I just do my job. I do have a good attitude—I’m a ‘glass is half-full’ person. Still it was really out of the blue.”
Her day-to-day responsibilities mostly fall into the category of "cradle to grave services" for humanities faculty, she said. "I especially interact with faculty and academic appointees. We bring them here, we handle their appointments, their leaves, their reviews. We work out their retirements."
Callahan has a deep understanding of process on campus, in part because she has held a job that she enjoys for a large chunk of UCSC’s history.
"I know who to call, how to move things through quickly and respectfully. A lot of it is knowing how hard to push and when to back off. I’m also a networker. I try to hook people up to resources available both here and off campus."
Humanities Dean William Ladusaw said Callahan has a very good sense of how faculty members’ careers have developed. “Because of that experience, she is probably one of the people on campus who has the best advice on how to develop faculty potential as well as it can be developed. The way she does this is scrupulously fair, helpful, and supportive to whatever dean she is working with.”
Ladusaw also described her as having a “cheerful, sunny disposition. She’s resilient.”
But her enthusiasm combines with a scrupulous professionalism, according to colleagues who recommended her. They also described her deep knowledge of process and negotiating bureaucracies.
“Anne Callahan is the person responsible for bringing so many outstanding faculty to the Humanities Division,” said Donna Mekis, who serves on the Alumni Council, which chose Callahan for the award. Mekis is also part of the award selection committee.
"She has an extensive knowledge of the university and its regulations, is a problem-solver, and does impeccable work for the campus,” Mekis continued. “Anne is fair-minded, always demonstrates good judgment, and has an astute understanding of people.”
Callahan has connections to the area and the university that go beyond her job. A native of Salinas, she’s a lifelong local. “I’ve got a little cowgirl in me,” she said. Her daughter, Julia Rose Callahan, (Porter, ’05, literature and history) is a proud Slug, who is now working as director of marketing and publicity for Rare Bird Literature in Los Angeles.
Her husband is a local fixture, Bill “Bill the Oysterman” Callahan, well known for his briny bivalves, which he serves up as part of his catering business. He is also a science teacher at Watsonville High School.
Callahan has an A.B. in Political Science from UC Berkeley. She is so devoted to the particulars of public administration that she earned her masters degree in that field from San Jose State University while working at UCSC and attending night classes. "It took me seven years," she said.
She can often be seen on campus hiking through the open space areas with her hair flying in the wind. On weekends you will often find her revisiting a Jane Austen book, reading contemporary fiction, or losing herself in presidential biographies.
Callahan is in distinguished company as an Outstanding Staff Award winner. Previous honorees include: Michael McCawley, director of admissions (2011); Rosie Cabrera, director of the Ethnic Resource Center (2010) and Joe Weiss, technology director of the Theater Arts Department (2009).