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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Gearing up to move on after 24 years at the UA

Kevin Brost
Kevin Brost / Arizona Daily WIldcat Carla Nunn, the retiring Program Director for Native American Affairs and Inclusiveness for the past 24 years, explains her career accomplishments in her office in the Administration Building on the University of Arizona campus no October 6, 2011.

After serving the UA and six presidents’ administrations for the past 24 years, Carla Nunn is retiring.

Nunn, the previous regents affairs program director and current Native American Affairs and Campus Inclusiveness program director, will leave her position today.

Nunn began her career at UA in 1987 in the astronomy department, working as an assistant to Peter Strittmatter in Steward Observatory before moving to the contracting office where she helped coordinate regents materials for meetings.

Nunn was later recruited to establish the Office of Regents Affairs under the direction of former UA President Henry Koffler. There, she coordinated items to be submitted to the Arizona Board of Regents for approval and logistics for board meetings. She also provided staff support to the Council of Presidents.

Additionally, Nunn was a key player in the establishment of the P-20 Education Council of Southern Arizona during the administration of former UA President Manuel T. Pacheco. The council meets four times a year to discuss important issues in the education system, and Nunn has been responsible for coordinating meeting agendas.

“I have been involved in the highest level decision making at this university for a long time,” Nunn said. “It has taught me to have a real respect for the Office of the President because it’s ordinary people who have these huge jobs, and they have to really be confident in their decision making because no matter what decision they make, someone is not happy.”

Having been with the university for almost a quarter century, no one is as surprised about the duration of Nunn’s tenure as Nunn herself.

“On my first day at the university, I would have never imagined that I would be here for that long,” she said.

Nunn is convinced that the combination of challenges and change is what made her stay.

“There were always additional assignments like the P-20 council, and helping with presidential searches … it just was a lot of variety, it was challenging, and I enjoyed it.”

Nunn said the best part about her time at the university has been the colleagues she worked with, and knowing that students were benefitting from her work.

“Even though I didn’t have a lot of interaction with the students, that’s what we’re here for,” Nunn said. “It was always nice to come out and see young people, walking around, bright-eyed, with their futures ahead of them. It’s very inspiring, and it’s a beautiful place to work.”

Many of the people who have worked with Nunn said the feeling is mutual.

Linda Stapleton, executive assistant to the president, worked closely with Nunn for a number of years.

“She was very dedicated to her work,” Stapleton said. “She cultivated really good work relationships, and respected everyone’s contributions.”

Stapleton also said she admired Nunn’s tendency to never take herself too seriously, and that she served as a role model for dedication, thoroughness and accuracy.

Former UA President Robert Shelton said that Nunn was always on point, providing him with essential materials for regents meetings. He said she was a very reliable and professional person to have on his team with an excellent sense of priorities and a passion for the university.

Shelton added that the UA is losing someone with “good people-to-people experience.”

Peter Likins, who was UA president from 1997 to 2006, said he remembers Nunn’s hard work and dedication.

“She took responsibility for projects that were directly the president’s responsibility,” Likins said. “She went way above and beyond the call of duty, doing not only everything I asked of her, but a great deal more than I asked of her. I was always impressed with her intellect, her humor and her integrity. She really was a very powerful asset in the president’s office all during my nine years there.”

Edith Auslander served as vice president, as well as senior assistant to Shelton from 2003 to 2008, and worked extensively with Nunn. Auslander said she remembers Nunn’s work with the regents, and her ability to establish good work relationships.

“She was always very helpful working with the board and coordinating activities,” Auslander said. “I found her to be quite an extraordinary people person.”

Auslander also commented on how well Nunn represented the university.

“It made us proud to have her out there as a representative working with people to make decisions that affect all the universities.”

Ombuds Program Director Claudia D’Albini worked with Nunn for the past 15 years, and said she admires Nunn’s optimism.

“She’s one of the most thoughtful and inclusive people I’ve ever worked with,” D’Albini said. “She always sees another perspective, and focuses on positives instead of negatives.”

D’Albini and Nunn also worked together to develop the Ask Me project, which distributes information early in the fall semester to help incoming students navigate the UA’s systems and processes. D’Albini said the project’s success relied largely on Nunn’s participation.

“The program continues today, and I think that’s a huge testament to Carla,” she said.

With Nunn’s departure, the university will have to find someone else to fill the position. While many have said that Nunn’s professionalism and dedication are unmatchable, several people also have said they believe the university will find someone suitable to take the spot.

“That kind of experience is always hard to replace, but I’m sure the university will find someone just as great as Carla,” Shelton said.

The lasting qualities that will stay with most of Nunn’s colleagues are not professional, but personal.

“Things go on,” D’Albini said. “But I’ll miss that special touch.”

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