Priscilla Alden retires January 30 after 9 ½ years as Assistant Vice Chancellor for User Support & Engagement at Information Technology Services and after 15 years overall with UNC-Chapel Hill. That’s longer than any of the ITS leadership team has held his or her current post. ITS honored her with a retirement party Wednesday at the Carolina Club.
What will she miss most about working at ITS? Before the question was even fully verbalized, Priscilla Alden instantly interjected, “The people.”
“Which I’m hoping I won’t miss entirely because hopefully there will be an opportunity to continue to see people socially,” she said.
Her favorite part of the job has been the people, too. “The people part of my job, being an advocate for people, is really what I like the most,” she said.
“I’ve met a lot of great people across the entire campus,” she said. She’s served on many committees, so she’s gotten to know people from a variety of University departments.
Alden’s UNC-Chapel Hill colleagues have sent touching notes as they’ve learned about her retirement. Alden has been astonished by the outpouring of sentiment.
“That’s been just a pleasant surprise and really amazing to me because I really had no idea that people cared that much. Or that I had any influence on anybody or any impact. I’m just sitting here doing my job.”
Alden contemplates her years at ITS with modesty. With prodding, however, she names the accomplishment at ITS in which she takes the greatest pride.
“I think that one of the things that just felt good when it happened was we decoupled the Microsoft site license from the cost of the CCI computers and then made the license available to all students. That was the one that was tricky. It sounds easy but it was not,” she said. “Students used to have to pay for the site license when they bought their computers.”
Six years ago, Alden and David Eckert, Manager of CCI, Computer Repair Center and Dispatch Service, figured out a better way – something that had long eluded others. Instead of students paying for the site license when they bought their CCI computer, students approved a student fee to cover it. The price decreased significantly.
“We accomplished something that people had been trying to accomplish for a really long time. We thought outside the box and we got it done. And the students just overwhelmingly endorsed it and got it through,” Alden said. “That was pretty big.”
It also touched the entire student population. “It had a big impact,” she added. “It all the way around benefited everybody.”
As for what she’d like to accomplish in retirement, Alden said, “I don’t’ know. Really, I don’t have any big, huge immediate plans.”
“Obviously, I’ll be spending a lot more time with my dogs,” she said. She’ll be able to participate in more dog training activities such flyball and agility. Many of those events are held during the work day.
Also, she said, “I’ve always wanted a horse. I’ve thought about getting a horse, but I’ll probably at least do some horseback riding if not getting a horse.”
She wants to travel and spend more time in the mountains. Alden lives on 10 acres in Mebane, and owns a vacation house located halfway between Boone and West Jefferson. Her house is a mile off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
There also are those chores that everyone puts off.
The decision of when
Deciding to retire did not require deep soul searching. She knew it was time.
“Financially, I decided I could retire,” Alden said. “I just decided I‘d rather spend the next five years doing a lot of fun things, doing a lot of the things I’ve always want to do.”
“I’ve put a lot of things on hold in my career,” she added.
Mostly, though, the timing of her retirement had to do with the fact that her two best friends are now retired. “One retired a year ago, the other one retired about 10 months ago. We’ve always talked about some of the fun things we’d do when we all retired,” she said. “They’ve been sort of harassing me a little, calling me from the beach and stuff like that, and asking, ‘Where are you?’”
Another reason to retire now is her confidence in ITS’ leaders and the direction that ITS is heading.
“The biggest asset any organization has is its people,” she noted.