Long-time Ban Righ Centre director retires
As Barbara Schlafer, Artsci’96, prepared to step down as Ban Righ Centre director, she pondered the logistics of institutional knowledge transfer. “I’m a bit stunned at the process of trying to figure out how to pass on 30-plus years of information,” she said as she surveyed the pile of boxes and half-empty shelves in her office at 32 Bader Lane.
After a rewarding career helping mature women students navigate university studies, Schlafer had mixed emotions about retiring at the end of December from “the most rewarding job at Queen’s.” She said she will miss the people the most. “I can’t express how grateful I feel that I fell into this place for all my working years,” she says. “There are so few careers where you can work at something you believe in and can make a difference doing it". This is an amazing place. The highlight is the relationships with the students who are determined, courageous, smart and successful against the odds.”
Schlafer’s relationship with the Ban Righ Centre began shortly after she moved to Kingston in the mid-1970s. When she arrived at the door of the Centre with her two-year-old son in tow, then-Director Helen Mathers welcomed her with open arms. They talked for three hours over tea. Schlafer was intrigued with the work the Ban Righ Centre was doing to support mature women who were starting or returning to university. After volunteering, then being invited to join the Centre part-time, Schlafer become director in 1999. In addition to her successful efforts to boost the Centre’s bursary program, she made great efforts to sustain its operating budget. She made lifelong friends along the way, including former employees Saley Laughton and Janet Troughton.”Both reduced their time to allow me to join the staff,” says Schlaffer.
Finances continue to be a challenge “V-P (Advancement) Tom Harris [Sc’75] and Senior Development Officer Faye Ransom have been incredibly helpful in finding support for the Centre,” Schlaffer said. Although the minimum amount to endow a bursary is $50,000 over five years, one supporting operations is only $10,000.
Schlafer filled several pages of notes for her successor Carole Morrison, who comes to the job from the Faculty of Education. On Schlaffer’s retirement “to-do” list are tending to family and friends, including her two grandchildren who live in in Kingston and her mother who lives in North Carolina. So is lending support to various local groups involved in sustainability and issues of equity.