Cindi Smith, Executive Assistant to the Dean, Retires After 29 Years of Service to UCR

Executive Assistant to the Dean, Cynthia Smith, who had been working in the Dean’s Office since 1992 and at UCR since 1986, retired this June leaving many with heavy hearts as we said goodbye.  Smith, who had impacted students, staff, and faculty alike, worked extensively on communications and events for the Dean’s office. Smith had been responsible for managing the CHASS newsletter, creating and managing the CHASS website content and producing events for the college. Events Cindi had been responsible for include: Homecoming, Sweeney Arts Day, Commencement ceremonies and receptions, New Faculty Welcomes and the Rivera Conference.

As we prepared to say goodbye to Cindi, many found it difficult to express just how much her kindness and spirit has impacted them and everyone else around her.

Stephen Cullenberg, the former dean who Smith worked closely with, expresses working with her is what he misses the most. “Cindi is a remarkable person, co-worker, colleague, and friend,” he said.  “As soon as you meet Cindi it is easy to take her measure as a person.  If you ever were lucky enough to work with her on a college-wide project you knew that your project was in the best possible hands.”

Interim dean of CHASS Shaun Bowler had the following to say about Smith: “Cindi will be sorely missed. The issues we deal with can be tricky and sometimes even contentious, but Cindi is always ready with a smile or a kind word. She has been an anchor of hard work and common sense in the college office for a long time now. I think with Cindi we all feel as though we have a friend in the college office... that's a great feeling for us to have.”

Katherine Kinney, associate dean for arts and humanities, stated, “Cindi Smith is the best of CHASS. She knows that the university is people, not rules or titles. She treats everyone with respect and infectious good humor. She makes it easier for the rest of us to do the same.”

Associate dean for social sciences and director of CIS Georgia Warnke remembers sitting in Smith’s office laughing. “She will be missed!” she said.

Others reflected on how welcoming Smith was when they first arrived at UCR. Katrice Calloway,  budget and operations manager, stated, “On my first day, when I started here thirteen years ago, Cindi gave me a card to welcome me to the dean’s office, and I thought that was the best thing anyone can do for an employee.” “She has been an incredible friend--I feel like I can go to her with anything and she will stop anything and pray or give me advice. I will particularly miss our birthday lunches.”

Tracy Avery, development assistant, stated similar comments: “Cindi Smith is such an incredible friend, mentor and colleague. I am thankful that she took me under her wing and guided me with patience and kindness when I joined UCR.”

Paul Richardson, who works in arts facility management, remembers her cheeriness and involvement in staff parties, describing her as “the main force for the staff holiday party.” “She has written songs, choreographed dance routines, put together the party themes and decorated the entire hall, all to make the annual party special. She set the bar very high for all staff parties across the campus. But she does it out of the goodness in her heart. Cindi is the real deal and there aren’t many people out there that have her down to earth attitude, tethered with compassion and caring.”

Comments on Smith’s positivity continued, as Beth Reynolds, academic personnel senior analyst, stated, “Cindi has been such a wonderful and inspiring woman to me and I’ve loved working with her. She’s always been positive, encouraging and always someone i knew I could go to and get thoughtful and sound advice.”

Joseph Childers, professor of English and dean of the graduate division, stated, “I’ve known Cindi for years, and she has always been extraordinarily helpful whenever I needed to call on her expertise.” “Not only did she always go the ‘extra mile’ to be sure that whatever needed to be done, got done, she always did it with good cheer and a wonderful sense of humor.”

Tiffany Lopez, professor of theatre, film and digital production and the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair, has worked closely with Smith as a colleague and conference co-organizer. “The success of the annual Tomas Rivera Conference has everything to do with her administrative wisdom and experience,” said Lopez. “She has played a major campus leadership role, usually from behind the scenes, fostering so many people and projects on to success through her incredible wealth of knowledge about the bureaucratic operations of university and the UC system charged by her exemplary professionalism, creativity, patience, kindness, and humanity. She is the most organized person I have ever met in my life and also the most thoughtful. The level of attention to detail and organizational skills that she brings to her work is extraordinary and clearly comes from the heart. Her demonstrated belief in our individual and collective capacity for greatness is inspiring. She has showed us not only how to get it done, but how to do the work in a way that makes us better as an organization and as people. For this gift, I will be forever grateful.”

Cynthia Cardenas, assistant to the associate deans of arts, humanities, and social sciences, found it difficult to express Smith’s impact on her in a few sentences. “What Cindi has taught me about being a professional is beyond words,” she said. “What she has taught me about being a good coworker is priceless. What she has taught me about treating others with decency and respect is fulfilling.  I will always keep close to my heart the time I got to spend with her, as a co-worker, confidant, and friend.  She is one of God’s treasures, and I feel very blessed and honored to know her.”

“A colleague is someone who you can relate with on a deeper level about your job as well as becoming a trusted confidante,” said Cullenberg. “Cindi became both of these with me and became true colleague as much as any of my associate deans were.  It seems everyone wants to be your friend when you're dean, but it is only a true friend who is there for you during the difficult times, offering comfort and providing perspective.  Over the last three years Cindi and I became true friends as we comforted each other through our tragedies, big and small, and as we provided perspective to the many challenges we faced.”

Smith has also supervised and collaborated with many students over the years, leaving as profound an impact on them. “As a student who has worked with Cindi for 3 years, I can honestly say I don’t know how I will ever find a boss like her again!” said Laila Rashid, Dean’s Office student intern. “She has supported me as a mentor and I looked forward to every meeting. Cindi spoils everyone with her positivity, kindness, sincerity, dedication, and patience. I’m so grateful to have met her and she will forever be such an important and special part of my college experience.” Eli Brown, another Dean’s Office student intern stated that “Cindi is such a warm and embracing person and supervisor. She has been the most helpful and insightful boss I’ve ever had and I can’t imagine my college experience without her guidance and smiles helping me to do my best and keep going. I hope that retirement gives her the same amount of happiness that she has given out to others over the years!” Smith supervises Dean’s Office Student Administrator Yolanda Ochoa as well, who said “Cindi has been one of the most genuine and caring staff members I have encountered in my four years at UC Riverside. Having the opportunity to work for her has truly been a great opportunity. She is a great person with a great heart who has shown how much she cares about others.”

Thank you Cindi for your dedication to UCR and CHASS, your impact was great and you will be missed.

Cindi Smith and Friends

Cindi Smith (center) retires after 29 years of service to UCR.


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