CSU Service 1969 to 2000
Administrative Professional, College of Health and Human Sciences
I was born and raised in Northeastern Colorado, specifically Phillips County. My parents and most of my extended family were from the Haxtun area, but we moved to Holyoke when I was four. It was there that I attended kindergarten through 12th grade and made lifelong friends and memories. It was a wonderful place to call home. With my two younger sisters, Adele and Cheryl, we walked to the swimming pool every day during the summer months and my hair would turn green from all of the chlorine. I still have many close friends from my school days. During high school, my social life involved sporting events as a Pep Club member and eventually a cheerleader, driving up and down Main Street every Friday and Saturday night, and working at the Dairy King! I also did lots of babysitting and housecleaning. There was an occasional movie at The Peerless Theatre, which was restored several years ago with the help of the CSU Department of Construction Management.
Upon graduation, I had aspirations of becoming an English teacher. I was inspired by my grandmother who, as a young woman, boarded a train in Minneapolis to become a teacher near Haxtun. She was very brave and adventuresome for that time. A young man was designated to pick her up at the train and he was to become my grandfather! My dream job now would be to travel for a food or travel magazine and write about my discoveries.
My sister, Adele, is a CSU graduate and still lives in Fort Collins. Adele is the caretaker of our mother, Angie, age 85, and I am very grateful to her for the loving care she gives daily to our Mom. My father passed away in 2005, but he remains one of my favorite people to this day, and I miss him dearly.
I met my husband, Bob, on a blind date (however; I knew who he was, so I often joke that “he was the only one truly blind.”) It was Bob’s CSU roommate, also from Holyoke, who set up our date. In 1966, we married and moved that very same day to Fort Collins, where Bob was a student at CSU. We will celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary on June 10th of this year. .
My life experience away from home was fairly limited when I moved to Fort Collins, especially when marrying at age 17. We bought a mobile home and lived amongst other CSU students in north Fort Collins—many who are still good friends. I still remember my excitement that Fort Collins had a Mexican restaurant—we have been eating at the El Burrito since 1966!
Bob and I have two children, Kristin and Jason, who both graduated from CSU. Kristin stages homes for real estate sales and her husband, Rick, is a realtor at RE/MAX Alliance. Jason is a corporate employee attorney for Level 3 in Broomfield. Grandson Jordan lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Caitlin, where he is a hitting coach for a city college baseball team and owns his own baseball training company. My granddaughter, Peyton, is a senior majoring in Apparel Design at CSU. Our youngest grandchild, Jacobb, is 8 years old and lives in Denver.
CSU Work History
At 19, I was balancing an undergraduate degree in English, being a full-time CSU staff member, and a new mother. My advisor convinced me to make a career of working at CSU since few English teaching jobs in Fort Collins became available and the pool of applicants was large. I still believe it was good advice, since I had a very satisfying career at CSU.
My first position in the college was as a temporary typist for the associate dean of Home Economics, where I was quickly hired on a permanent basis in the Department of Textiles and Clothing, now the Department of Design and Merchandising. In this role, I worked directly for five faculty members, who were housed in the Home Economics Annex, now known as the Occupational Therapy Building. I loved to sew and had received the Outstanding Home Economics Student Award in High School, so being around textiles and fashion was a joy for me. Having my granddaughter, Peyton, enrolled in Apparel Design makes my connection to the Department even more special. I am grateful that I still have contact with faculty members Pat Wilson and Merry Jo Dallas and for my dear friend and fellow staff member, Kathy Ahlbrandt.
In 1973, I was recruited to work as an assistant to Margaret Hazaleus, assistant dean of Home Economics. I remember Mrs. Hazaleus as an advocate for women in the workplace and as someone who was always appreciative of my skills and loyalty. She was very insistent and supportive that I continue to promote within the College. After Margaret’s retirement, the remainder of my career was spent as assistant to Kevin Oltjenbruns, who became the new assistant dean of the College, and my responsibilities continued to grow. I served under many deans over the years including Helen McHugh, Ellie Gilfoyle, and Nancy Hartley. I am very appreciative to each of them for their part in my career.
When asked what were the things I enjoyed most about my various job duties many make the list! I loved working with my work-study students during much of my career. As a young professional, I was close in age to many of the students I was supervising, which I found to be the perfect age to teach and understand them as young people. I also enjoyed my role in planning college events including commencement, scholarship awards events, the Mary Scott Lecture Series, and Homecoming celebrations. The most impactful event was commencement. As one of the two largest colleges on campus, it was quite an ordeal, equal to planning a wedding! I also worked closely with the College’s scholarship recipients, meeting each one individually as they signed the agreement to accept their award. I appreciated the caliber of scholarship recipients each year and enjoyed seeing how appreciative they were of their awards, regardless of the scholarship amount. Administering the scholarship program was my favorite responsibility because I was able to make a special connection with donors, faculty, and students throughout the process.
In 1990, I received two awards from the University: the CSU Outstanding Achievement for Excellence in Individual Job Skills Award and the College of Applied Human Sciences Superior Service Award. I am very proud of the awards and found it validating to know that my decision to make a career at CSU had been a good one. I am still very appreciative of the faculty and my peers for believing that my contributions were worthy of recognition. I was also selected to participate in the Institute for Women and Leadership Mentoring Circle in 1998-99.
On July 28, 1997, Fort Collins and Colorado State University were hit with a devastating flash flood. After helping my parents, whose house had extensive water damage, Bob and I tried to get back to our home at about midnight, but could not get across the train tracks at Prospect because of the train derailment. I suggested we make our way back around to check on my office in the Gibbons Building—it took an hour to make the trip that under normal circumstances would have taken ten minutes.
I climbed up on the train track to see my file cabinets floating and could hear students using row boats on the Oval. The sound of the water forcing its way through the tunnel under the tracks was amazing, which is what I believe caused so much damage to the first floors of the buildings—pure force making its way through doors and windows much like a tornado with water. I called the dean of the College of Applied Human Sciences, Nancy Hartley, to tell her what I was witnessing and Nancy in turn started the telephone chain of emergency calls.
The College lost almost everything in the flood. A few days later, the emergency teams gave faculty and staff the opportunity to retrieve what they could from their offices. The dean’s office staff and I suited up in plastic and were told we had 45 minutes inside the building. After 20 minutes, we were told to leave because the contamination level was so high. Bob was able to use a crowbar to get two drawers of scholarship files out. I later laid each page out on a concrete floor to dry before they were sent away for freeze drying. The few scholarship files that I recovered were the only tangible thing I saved from my office. Everything else was in my head. Unbelievably, the College never missed a beat during the next school year with every event taking place as usual (commencement, scholarship-awards ceremony, Homecoming, etc.). By calling many of the department secretaries, my team and I were able to pull together written materials from past years so we could continue to plan these events. It was very satisfying for me to be able to hold those important events after such a loss. I could have retired that year, but stayed another year to help put things back together after such devastation.
Toward the end of my career at CSU, I worked more directly with the development directors and Dean Nancy Hartley. I enjoyed traveling with the director of development, especially when we went to Bowl games to host alumni events—great fun!
I continue to be impressed by CSU’s growth. Even in 1969, I thought the campus was huge, as I came from such a small northeastern Colorado town. I remember hearing that CSU enrollment would cap at 20,000 students, then to 24,000, and so on. Today, CSU is home to more than 30,000 students, which I think is a credit to the successful programs and leadership at the University. I am proud to have been a part of that growth.
What is Janell doing today?
After retiring in 2000, I began my second career, joining my husband as a residential realtor with RE/MAX Alliance. Much of my success as a realtor comes from the skills I learned while working at CSU – juggling deadlines, prioritizing tasks, embracing new ideas, working with all kinds of people and personalities – which has given me the confidence to succeed in a very demanding career.
While working on the commencement committee with Dick Beadmore from the Department of Construction Management in the 1990s, I mentioned my love for older homes. Dick was involved in the structural stabilization of historic buildings, and he connected me with the Poudre Landmarks Foundation, Inc. I quickly joined the local non-profit board and shortly after became the chair of the Fort Collins Historic Homes Tour, eventually becoming President of the Foundation. I continue to be very actively involved, as I am now responsible for finding homes for the annual tour. I am also becoming more involved with the Fort Collins Museum of Arts and the Masks fundraiser.
In my limited free time, my first priority is to spend as much time as possible with my children and grandchildren. I also enjoy reading, fiber arts, golf, cooking, traveling, decorating, antiquing, and art galleries. Bob and I have been CSU Ram boosters for more years than we can remember and attend football and basketball games faithfully.