Faculty & Staff Updates

‘Don't Go:’ A “Magical” Retirement Dinner Honors Professor Peter Nardi.

Peter Nardi

Thirty-three years ago Professor of Sociology Peter Nardi was hired by former Pitzer Dean of Faculty Al Schwartz. In a letter responding to Nardi's appointment, Dean Schwartz was on target when he said, ”I am confident that you will find Pitzer to be your kind of place.”

Associate Professor of Sociology Phil Zuckerman served as the evening's emcee and began with two words that summed up everyone's feelings toward Nardi's pending early retirement at the age of sixty: “Don't Go!”

The line-up of speakers included President Laura Skandera Trombley, current and emeriti professors, staff and previous students. Sprinkled throughout the evening's program were several magic tricks and magic humor. Nardi, referred to frequently during the evening as “The Great Nardini,” is an amateur magician.

“I was so touched by the sentiments, humor and detail that went into the evening on everyone's part. It was truly amazing,” Nardi said.

Nardi has witnessed much of Pitzer's history that has changed during four presidencies. Yet, he said, “Pitzer stills experiments and plays with new ideas. If people have creative ideas, they can find the resources and encouragement to try something innovative. This is the spirit of Pitzer that is carried on from the past into the present.”

Nardi said that everyone who has passed through the College while he has been here has been supportive and has contributed to his growth and knowledge. “The late Laud Humphreys was an inspiration during my beginning years. I admired him for his type of research and conducting gay studies before it was popular. He was a great mentor and a real character,” Nardi explained.

What has changed about the College? According to Nardi, “Pitzer has more diverse students, faculty and staff now. And that makes it a different place, and for the better. Some say the ‘old days’ were better. But that's often youthful nostalgia talking. I prefer to say it was a different place and the Pitzer of today is right for this next generation.”

“Sociology has been a popular major at Pitzer since 1975 when I started and that still rings true today. The field of sociology has expanded globally in terms of what we are studying and there is now a larger emphasis on public sociology,” Nardi said. “The new faculty should get involved in making Pitzer their place. It's their time,” he concluded.

After thirty-three years at Pitzer, Nardi reflected back on his extensive committee work, service as associate dean with a focus on the first-year experience, and as the College's first director of the Institutional Research Office. He has written four books, edited five books, authored countless articles, and reviewed numerous sociological books and articles as a member of several academic editorial boards. He served as the editor of Sociological Perspectives, the journal of the Pacific Sociological Association where he also served as president during 2005-06.

Nardi will stay involved with sociology on a national level—writing sociological articles for journals, revising textbooks that he has written, reviewing articles and books, and more. He hopes to do some work as a consultant for nonprofit organizations and assist in designing survey instruments and analyzing data. And maybe work at improving his magic skills.

What will change as a result of his retirement is the subject of his research. Nardi will focus on skepticism and urban legends. He hopes to debunk social myths in society as seen by the average person as well as by magicians. “I am a skeptic and always want and need data. I want to see evidence. This characteristic has served me well in starting the College's Institutional Research Office,” Nardi said.

Nardi offered that Pitzer has been a great place for him in terms of his career and his personal growth. Now that he is retiring, he will have more time to travel to exciting places. “I will stay connected. I spent more than half of my life here,” he said. “I am a high-energy person and believe my greatest accomplishment and most lasting impact at the College is in my capacity as a professor and the enthusiasm for learning that I passed on to my students.” “I can't disappear like a magician. I will come back and visit people and attend functions,” Nardi said. For this and his many years of dedicated service, we are all deeply grateful.

—Susan Andrews, Vice President for Marketing & Public Relations

Robin Kramer '75 Elected Chair of Pitzer's Board of Trustees

Robin Kramer

Robin Kramer, an active and effective leader in Los Angeles for three decades and a Pitzer College alumna, has been elected chair of Pitzer's Board of Trustees for a three-year term effective July 1. Kramer possesses a varied and remarkable career in the public, private, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors in addition to a strong commitment to and love of community.

Kramer joined the administration of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as chief of staff in 2005 after having served as director of his transition team upon his election. Previously as a senior director at the Broad Foundation, she held responsibility for the foundation's strategy to advance teacher unions as respected partners in advancing teacher quality and dramatic improvement in student performance in the nation's largest urban school districts. She also worked on a panoply of efforts to advance the arts in Los Angeles and increase civic engagement and leadership.

From 1998 to 2004, Kramer divided her time between service as the California Community Foundation's first senior fellow and as an independent management and organization consultant. She guided the California Community Foundationís strategic planning and was a member of its management team. Kramer served on the staff of L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan from 1993 to 1998, joining as deputy mayor for communications and community affairs. She became the mayor's chief of staff in 1995, the first woman ever to hold this position. In the '70s and '80s, she worked in L.A.'s City Hall for two council members and for the Democratic Party.

Kramer was executive director of the Coro Foundation, the sixty-five-year-old civic affairs leadership training organization from 1981 to 1985. Under her tenure, the foundation expanded its unique experiential leadership programs to Orange and Ventura Counties, senior citizens, African American women in mid-career, Latino law students and emerging leaders in the Asian/Pacific Islander community.

Kramer holds a BA in Political Studies and journalism from Pitzer College and an MA in Urban Studies from Occidental College. She was a Coro Fellow in the '70s and a Wexner Fellow a few years ago. During the past several years, Kramer served as president of the historic Temple Israel of Hollywood, vice president of the Breed Street Shul Project, and was a member of the boards of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, Arts Incorporated and Angelís Flight, the shortest railway in the United States. She is married to Dr. Neil Kramer, founding dean of faculty at New Community Jewish High School. They have three sons, Gabe, Daniel and Ben.

Vicke Selk, Vice President for Administration and Treasurer, Retires

Vicke Selk

After an extraordinary thirty-seven years at Pitzer College, Vicke Selk retired as vice president for administration and treasurer at the end of the 2007-08 academic year. In her various capacities during the years, from secretary to chief financial officer, Selk has worked with four out of the five Pitzer College presidents. Arriving in 1971, eight years after Pitzer's founding, Selkís contributions to the welfare and future of the institution have been selfless and enormous in their positive impact.

Selk's dedication to the College has been a constant through the years and she has created a multifaceted portfolio of expertise, including educating the community about the intricacies of the budget, managing the College's investments, facilitating financing for construction projects, partnering in strategic planning and mentoring presidents.

Selk's retirement was celebrated with a campus brunch on May 2. The Board of Trustees also honored her with a lunch on May 16 and 100 percent of the Board as well as Emeriti Trustees Eli Broad, Peter Gold, Patricia Hecker, Bruce Karatz Murray Pepper, and Edith Piness contributed to the Vicke Selk Endowment for Global Comparative Studies in Art, Music and the Humanities. Gifts and pledges to the endowment have reached more than $140,000. Those interested in making a gift to honor Selk may send contributions to the Office of College Advancement or make them online at www.pitzer.edu/giving.

Marlene Kirk, Director of Human Resources, Retires

Marlene Kirk

Marlene Kirk began her career at Pitzer College in the Registrar's Office from 1965 to 1968. After a short break, she returned to Pitzer and worked as a faculty secretary and then in Student Affairs where she served as housing coordinator for several years. In 1985, she accepted a position in the Treasurer's Office where she served as personnel representative and administrative assistant to the vice president/treasurer, then subsequently as director of Human Resources.

Having worked under all five presidents in multiple administrative functions, Kirk has seen the College grow and mature. In her role as director of Human Resources, she has had the opportunity to work with faculty and staff at every level of employment and in every functional area. She has provided leadership and support to her colleagues at Pitzer as well as within The Claremont University Consortium.

A retirement celebration tea for Kirk was held on May 22.