Ask anyone at Case Western Reserve University what their favorite thing about the institution is, and almost all will say—without hesitation—it’s the people.
Among those who make the university such a special place to be are those who choose to dedicate significant portions of their lives to the institution. This includes staff members who spend decades on campus helping to advance CWRU’s mission.
Earlier this summer, we put a call out to those who were retiring after 25+ years of service to Case Western Reserve. Three individuals from across campus responded and shared their experiences with us.
Director, Scientific Instrument Repair Center Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
In the 1980s, William M. Frank saw the need for a biomedical equipment repair, calibration and consultation service in the Department of Pharmacology and Biochemistry at the School of Medicine—and he stepped up to make it happen. Frank converted a graduate student lounge to set the groundwork for what would become the Scientific Instrument Repair Center (SIRC).
Over the years, his repair operations grew to become a resource offered to researchers in laboratories across campus. And for 35 years, Frank has operated the center autonomously, earning recognition and accolades along the way.
In 1995, he won the President’s Award for Distinguished Service after 39 individuals submitted letters of recommendation in a bound book and more than 300 others lent their signatures to a petition in Frank’s name. More than 20 years later, Frank contributed to energy-use reduction in laboratories through the operation of specialized efficient freezers, and received the 2018 staff Sustainability Champion Award for his efforts.
His commitment to research operations was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic as well, when he came to campus every day as essential personnel, ensuring that laboratory services went uninterrupted. He also played a critical role in vaccination efforts by completing emergency services to the ultra-low-temperature freezers in which the vaccines were stored.
Frank, a Vietnam veteran who served in the South Pacific from 1974 to 1978 as a U.S. Navy propulsion engineer, retired in early July after 39 years on the university’s staff.
Director of research administration Case School of Engineering
When Deborah Hamzah first began working at Case School of Engineering in July 1978, typewriters and adding machines were among her office essentials. To communicate, her colleagues relied on phones or typed and mailed memos. Research proposals were completed by hand and financial reports were delivered once a month.
In the 45 years to follow, technological advances rapidly changed the landscape of the engineering school’s offices, and Hamzah is proud to have kept up with them over her career. Over that time, she filled roles as a technical secretary, department assistant for various units and an administrative assistant, all at Case School of Engineering. She will retire in August as the director of research administration.
In her latest role, she reviews proposal submissions from principal investigators in engineering, and works on post-award and budgetary issues. But most important to Hamzah has been the impact she makes on a daily basis in her interactions with those at the engineering school.
And their appreciation for her is evident, too. Hamzah’s first and only birthday party came at the age of 65, thrown by her colleagues at Case School of Engineering.
“That really touched my heart,” she said.
Department assistant, Department of Economics Weatherhead School of Management
When Teresa Kabat retired in June after 25 years at Case Western Reserve University, it represented a full-circle moment. Kabat first came to the university to work at Weatherhead School of Management in 1998, but after a short while, moved to what is now University Technology. She returned to Weaterhead in 2007, building strong relationships among her peers.
Since then, she’s been a mainstay in the Department of Economics, serving as the behind-the-scenes operator who ensures everything runs smoothly. That includes budgeting, processing reimbursements, sorting bills and scheduling departmental meetings.