An advocate for instructors and staff

Outstanding Staff Award winner Judy Scarborough ensures quality teaching at UC Santa Cruz by keeping human resources seamless.

Judy Scarborough
(Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Among the treasured aspects of UC Santa Cruz are the cross-disciplinary courses offered by the 10 colleges. Judy Scarborough, the academic personnel manager for the Division of Undergraduate Education, has worked behind the scenes in a role critical to the courses’ success: making sure instructors’ hiring and payroll goes smoothly.

Known for generosity with her knowledge and an eye for the details that ensure instructors get paid the right amount and on time, Scarborough is the 2018 Outstanding Staff Award recipient. Human Resources Specialist Lisa Pauken, a colleague, says Scarborough’s passion for her work is inspiring.

“Everybody gets the top level of service. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professor or a newly hired assistant,” Pauken says, adding that Scarborough wants to help make a process better, help solve a problem, and help somebody learn.

A wealth of experience

Scarborough’s fellow staff wish it were possible to mind-meld with her before she retires next month. She carries a deep well of knowledge from over two decades working at UC Santa Cruz and regularly dips into that well to solve puzzles.

Pauken says, “She sits down at the computer with you, and she says, ‘Oh, I remember a hire like that!’ and it might be from 20 years ago.”

In her previous role in the Humanities Division, Scarborough saw a need to assist the relatively small staffs in the colleges. Over several years, she organized trainings and proposed an office focused on providing ongoing support. The office was established two years ago, with Scarborough overseeing Pauken and another specialist.

“Few people have done as much to make sure instructors get paid on time and get paid the correct amount,” says Alice Folkins, college academic program coordinator for Cowell College. “I don’t know how many times she’s stopped by my office or picked up her phone to check on me.”

Culminating a career

Scarborough describes her current role as the “capstone” of a UC Santa Cruz career that began with a half-time payroll job. In addition to assisting the colleges, she enhances the quality of the teaching by helping Vice Provost of the Division of Undergraduate Education Richard Hughey approve the best instructor candidates. She notes that her job gives her opportunities to solve problems and ensure good ideas happen.

“I’ve never been bored,” she says. “I just think of it as making sure other people’s money is handled appropriately.”

In her early career, she worked in food co-ops and a cooperatively operated bakery in Minneapolis, participating in consensus decision-making with a staff of 40. One day Scarborough noticed a neighborhood bar was not utilizing its kitchen and dining area until the evening. She remembers saying, “Ok, we shouldn’t be lazy hippies. We should get up in the morning and start our own breakfast cafe.”

The cafe and bar are still operating today. Scarborough thinks it's the breakfast service that has kept the shop in business.

"Everybody eats breakfast, even if it's at noon," she says.

On weekends, Scarborough tends a garden that gives her ready access to beet greens and rhubarb. She traces gardening to her time in Minneapolis.

“I remember hearing that people who live in cities don’t have any idea how to take care of themselves,” Scarborough says. “So I started learning how to garden.”

For her retirement, Scarborough is looking forward to doing “anything I want, whenever I want.” She noted this will include an upcoming sleepover at the Monterey Bay aquarium with her 9-year-old grandson.

She also plans a trip to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos and a bike tour on the Great River Road following the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans.