“It’ll really be different”: Sue Kovacs to retire at the end of the semester
Published: Friday, November 18, 2011 - 11:18pm
URBANA—Many Uni students were shocked and saddened today when they checked their e-mails and found waiting for them an announcement of Assistant Director Sue Kovacs’s retirement. The former Uni parent and long-time administrator will officially leave the school on Dec. 31.
“I started hearing rumblings about [the potential of her retiring] earlier in the week,” said Uni Director Jeff Walkington, who issued the retirement announcement. “You know, I know she’s talked about possibly retiring for a long time, so I felt as though I just needed to flat out ask her. Even though, you know, it’s personal business, I just wanted to; I was curious. So, I asked her to come in and she told me yesterday afternoon.”
Although Walkington did not share any reasons for the sudden retirement in his e-mail, Kovacs said it was connected to the new administrative structure implemented by the Director earlier this year.
“My job has changed significantly,” she said, “and I no longer felt that I was needed.”
The new structure added three new Assistant Directors to the school specializing in various departments such as admissions and student life, so Kovacs was part of a considerably larger administrative team.
“We tried to do some things that would take some load off of her, so she could continue to do all of those things that she does.” said Walkington. “[...] I think that what we did was setting us up for great success, so all I can say is I am very disappointed Ms. Kovacs is leaving [...].”
Many students and faculty members share in this disappointment.
“[I am] absolutely devastated,” said senior Annie Rong. “And that’s not an understatement. She has defined my Uni experience.”
“It’s going to be hard,” agreed librarian Frances Harris.
The suddenness of the announcements complicates things because, as of now, Walkington has not determined a potential replacement.
“We are lucky that we have another certified principal in the building,” he said. “[Counselor] Mr. [Karl] Radnitzer is a certified principal.”
However, he later said that “it is much too early [...] to talk about succession” and that he thinks "we need a school-wide, community-wide discussion of what kind of structure we want.”
Regardless of who will succeed her, Kovacs’s duties will end with the calendar year.
“[I will be out by] December 31st—so, the end of finals—unless he [Walkington] allows me go home with pay for the month of December,” she said. “That doesn’t look like that’s going to be, so it looks like I will be here sitting in my office. [...] We’ll see.”
“She could really retire Dec. 1st if she wanted to, but I at least begged her to stay until the 31st,” Walkington said. “So, that’s the best we can do unfortunately.”
Somehow, however, Uni will find a way to continue on.
“Something will rush in and things will get taken care of, but it’ll be different,” said Harris. “It’ll really be different.”
As for Kovacs’s own future, she says she is “going to be doing some traveling.” However, she seemed to lack enthusiasm.
“Would I rather be here?” she said. “Yes.”