Lizzie Duke, Reporter
On Nov. 24, 1981, 34 years ago, Pierce College Puyallup District Outreach Manager Ruth Schindler began working at Pierce College.
“I love it just as much today as I did the first day I walked in here,” Schindler said.
She started working in the Bethel School District, but was introduced to Donna Dawson, who has been at Pierce a year and a half longer than Schindler, through a woman she worked with. Schindler began working six weeks on and six weeks off at Pierce, then after a year and a half she was hired full time.
“This is my family,” Schindler said. “I started here when I was 20 years old, newly married. Now I’ve been here 34 years, my son is 38 and I have a grandbaby.”
When she began, Schindler never thought Pierce would become this large. She never even thought she’d have a computer of her own. In the first few years, employees at the college didn’t have computers. Instead, they had a six line switchboard phone system. All calls came through Schindler’s desk, and she had to transfer them directly.
At that time Pierce College Puyallup was called Fort Steilacoom Community College Eastern Extension, and was on the corner of 94th Ave. and 112th street. The building is now Gateway Realty, and all night classes were held at Puyallup High School. Tuition was $15.10 per credit, which is now roughly $112 per credit for a Washington state resident.
When the Puyallup campus moved to its current location, the only building was the Gaspard Administration Building and all the activities were in the atrium, the area where information and financial aid are now. The Brouillet Library Science was the next building built, and following the College Center and later the Arts and Allied Health Building. The CTR became the student
hub right away, Schindler said.
Schindler has many stories from the days when there were less people at the school and she knew everyone by face.
One day, Bret Burkholder, currently faculty counselor/advisor in the Student Success Division, purposely drove his motorized scooter into the building, singing the tune ‘Get Your Motor Running.’ He drove it into the administration office, past the desk of Pauline Molund, the dean at the time. Molund began hyperventilating.
“Burkholder then handed the scooter off to Steve Wall (another employee at the time) who ran it into the curb side, shearing off the oil casing, which ended up being a costly repair in our motorcycle technology program,” Schindler said. “Oil spewed everywhere.”
Schindler said that now, most of the good stories come out of the quarterly faculty barbecues. She said it’s harder to see everyone now because there are so many people at Pierce.
“I try to make it a point to get around to people and get to know them,” Schindler said. “And the joke has always been that I’m so shy. I’m not shy at all.”
When Schindler began working at Pierce, senior citizen classes were offered, and her job was to register the seniors in person for their classes.
Back then, the college offered ballroom dancing, wood carving, creative writing, oil painting and motorcycle repair classes. The motorcycle repair class came in handy after the scooter incident.
Pierce has changed in many ways, but Schindler said she’s just as happy here now as she was the day she began.
“When you quit laughing and having a good time at work, it’s time to leave and I’m not there yet,” Schindler said.
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