Long-time staff members say farewell to college
After years of employment at the college, Gene Zinkgraft, Mary Wagner and Robert McDilda will soon be saying goodbye to Central Oregon Community College.
Director of Construction
If you’ve seen the construction of the new buildings on campus, then you’ve seen Zinkgraf’s work.
For the last two years, Zinkgraf has been the director of construction, but he’s worked at COCC for a total of 25 years.
He was originally hired on in 1987 as COCC’s first part time human resource director, and became full time later on. For a year, Zinkgraf filled in as vice president of the college, and after that he became the director of campus services. Zinkgraf said that when he transitioned from the role of director of campus services to director of construction, it was because he knew he planned on retiring, and the director of construction job seemed like a good way to “phase out.”
“If I wanted to be remembered for anything it would be for my work as director of campus services,” said Zinkgraf.
He took pride in the fact that when students and staff went into classrooms, they were always equipped with heat, working light and everything needed to teach.
Zinkgraf has overseen the construction of several new buildings, as well as the addition of wheelchair accessibility ramps and paths. He will be retiring in September, and looks forward to doing some travelling with his wife. However, Zinkgraf said he never anticipated he would quit working, so he may eventually do some volunteering.
“I’ve really enjoyed working at the college,” said Zinkgraf. “It’s been a good 25 years.”
For several years, Wagner was a COCC student and the editor-in-chief of The Broadside. For six months she worked on a project with the college as a freelance designer, and for 20 years after that, she worked as the project manager in college relations. Wagner has a long history with the college, but at the end of spring term she will be retiring for good.
“I figured it was time,” said Wagner, adding that she’s excited to retire and spend some time meeting some personal goals.
During her time at COCC, Wagner said she has made a lot of lasting friendships—something that made her job so enjoyable. But the best part of working at the college, according to Wagner, was getting to see students make progress in their own journeys.
“What I like the most is hearing student success stories,” said Wagner. “It’s really been a dream job.”
Though she looks forward to her retirement, Wagner said she has loved her time at COCC and will always have a connection with the college.
Director of Campus Safety and Security
McDilda has been instrumental in the transformation of the Campus Public Safety and Security department, according to officer Jim Bennett. McDilda worked for COCC for eight years. In that time the department went from only two supervisors and one patrol officer to being its own functional department, on duty full time at the Bend campus and during business hours at the Redmond and Madras campuses, according to Jim Bennett interim CPSS supervisor
At the end of May, McDilda retired from his position at COCC.
“Truly it’s a loss not only for safety and security, but for the whole campus,” said Bennett about McDilda’s retirement.
Bennett describe McDilda as an inspiring person to work with, and said that he learned a lot about the department and the job while working under him.
“He has been an outstanding, leader, mentor and friend,” said Bennett.
McDilda has been responsible for managing public safety operations, enforcing rules and regulations and was instrumental in the formation of the safety manual.
“Rob has truly won the admiration and respect of his employees as well as the appreciation and respect from the college community,” said Bennett.