Community Engagement

OU is Still Home During Retirement

When you love the job you do, you never spend a day at work

A woman smiling at a table.

Pioneer Club

icon of a calendarOctober 19

icon of a pencilBy Joan Rosen

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“When you love the job you do, you never spend a day at work.” This paraphrased quote from Barry Alvarez, longtime coach and athletic director at the University of Wisconsin, sums up the career of Rhonda Saunders at Oakland University.

For 33 years, from 1986 until 2019, Rhonda served as paralegal, office manager, Board of Trustees coordinator, Freedom of Information Act officer, presidential search assistant, and immigration liaison. She performed many of these tasks at different times, as well as some of them simultaneously. While many of us do not fully understand the intricate work that takes place in the Office of Legal Affairs, General Counsel and Secretary to the Board of Trustees, one has only to talk to Rhonda to discover how challenging all of these aforementioned tasks can be.

Rhonda is proud of her many accomplishments at OU, especially her 33-year involvement with the Women of OU Critical Difference Scholarship Committee. Working with this committee made her aware of the overwhelming need to assist students who are struggling to take care of their families, while working to achieve their degrees. Rhonda continues her involvement with this committee in her retirement.

A milestone for Rhonda occurred in 1996 when she and some colleagues established the Higher Education Legal Managers Organization (HELM) which includes paralegals, legal managers and administrators from public and private colleges and universities. HELM focuses on sharing legal common and problematic issues with its members through listserv and conferencing.

Rhonda also instituted an online system for uploading Board agendas as well as necessary materials. She trained both trustees and staff to use the system in order to streamline Board meeting preparation.

In her years at OU and now, during retirement, Rhonda has been a stalwart supporter of the University and of her colleagues. She has worked with five presidents, three legal counsels, various Board members, and countless others, many of whom remain friends to this day.

Since retiring in February 2019, Rhonda enjoys spending more time with her 4-year-old grandson, Declan, whom she claims, “knows more about IT than she ever will.” She recently became a member of the Pioneer Club Planning Committee and looks forward to connecting with Pioneer Club members through events and programs hosted by the group. She is also active in the Independence Township Senior Community Center and is a board member of the Oak Valley Estates Homeowners Association.

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