Long-serving employees are seen by some as mentors, advisors and stabilizing influences in their departments. 

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As Fred Weiner walks to Hudson Hall every morning, he’s reminded that he’s the last of the “old timers” in Counseling and Psychological Services.

In fact, Weiner, director of the Counseling and Psychological Services, has been at OU almost as long as all 17 of the other employees in his department combined.

On average, OU employees spend less than 12 years at the university, though about 18 percent of employees have worked more than two decades at OU, according to data provided by the university.

“I do think it speaks to something unique about the institution,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for Student Affairs.

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Weiner has worked in Counseling and Psychological Services for “a gazillion years” — more than 47 — making him OU’s longest-serving employee.

Weiner says his commitment to working at OU hasn’t wavered since he started on July 1, 1967, because of Athens’ college environment, the job and his colleagues.

“You would think in 47 years there would be people that you hate, that would really bug the hell out of you, but I have just been that lucky that everybody that I’ve worked with I’ve pretty much liked,” Weiner said.

Shortly after Weiner came to Athens, so did Drew McDaniel, the director of Media Arts and Studies, who came from California to pursue a doctoral degree.

“I told my mother when I left to get my Ph.D., I would be back in a couple of years,” he said.

But more than 44 years later, he’s still here.

“Where would I go to get a better deal? It would be only a small number of universities that would offer me more,” McDaniel said.

For McDaniel, it was the flexibility within the school, which he said has allowed him to visit about 40 countries, that has kept him here.

“I always had a desire to work and travel overseas, but I never imagined that Ohio University would afford me that possibility,” he said. “It wasn’t part of the deal I was offered in the beginning.”

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Media Arts and Studies employees have been at OU for an average of more than 16 years, longer than most departments, which enhances institutional knowledge and experience, McDaniel said.

In the Avionics Engineering Center, years of employment means knowing why things are done the way they are, which is “invaluable,” said Mike DiBenedetto, director of the center.

“Knowing why we do what we do is really what we bring to a lot of the projects we do with our sponsors,” he said.

The 16 employees in the department of Avionics Research have worked at OU for an average of more than 20 years — longer than all but two other departments in the university.

As to why employees choose to stay at OU, “There’s just a variety of always new and interesting problems to solve, so I think that kind of keeps things fresh,” DiBenedetto said.

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Retirement and pension benefits increase the longer an employee stays at OU, Greg Fialko, senior human resources director, said in an email.

Other employees, such as Helen Kasler, administrative associate for the School of Music, have staggered their time at OU.

Kasler got her start at OU in 1961, before any other current employee, working in student financial aid. Kasler temporarily left OU, but came back to clock a total of about 34 years at the university.

In her current position, she said she has worked with 15 different directors, about five associate directors and numerous faculty members.

“It’s been hard to see people go,” she said. “With the faculty, I always think we can’t replace them and then we get these new young faculty, and they are just amazing.”

Long-serving employees often serve as mentors, advisors and stabilizing influences in their departments, Weiner said.

“I don’t really go to work,” he said. “I go to hang out with my best friends.”

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@ohitchcock

oh271711@ohio.edu

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