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Stanford Report, May 31, 2000

Longtime trusted worker pays first visit to campus


Teofilo Soza-Reynoso has worked for Stanford for more than 25 years, but he paid his first visit to the university this quarter.

Reynoso hadn't come calling sooner because he is the house manager of Stanford House in Oxford, England, one of nine sites for the Stanford Overseas Studies Program. There, his duties range from general maintenance for the multi-storied row of six houses that compose the center to technical support.

"I do plumbing, I do gardening, I paint. Not the art kind -- I paint the walls," Reynoso says. When the loos overflow or cursors freeze, Reynoso is the man to see.

Computers are new territory for the house manager, points out Geoffrey Tyack, director of the Oxford center. "Over the last couple of year's Teo's responsibilities have widened to include computer care, and I have been especially impressed by the enthusiastic way in which he has taken on this important task." Tyack adds, "Providing technical support in a country that barely recognizes Apple computers is quite a challenge."

But then taking the easy way isn't Reynoso's style. The Bolivian native was an economics major when he dropped out of college during a period of political unrest and left his homeland for a new beginning in Great Britain, where a friend helped him get situated.

Reynoso began his Stanford career as a domestic worker in the dining room of Cliveden House, the former site of Stanford's overseas program in England. As a child of a military man and a homemaker mother, Reynoso's upbringing was modest. Cliveden House was hardly that.

The former home of the Astor family, the Cliveden mansion is set in the middle of vast gardens and overlooks the Thames River.

It was from the shotgun position of a convertible sports car that Reynoso, freshly arrived from Bolivia, got his first look at the posh and "muy hermosa" 400-acre estate that would be his home for six years. Cliveden House, now a luxury hotel, has a long entrance "like Palm Drive."

Early on Reynoso "distinguished himself for his hard work, his conscientiousness and his complete reliability -- qualities that have always made him one of our most valued staff members," says Irene Kennedy, associate director of the Stanford Overseas Studies Program. He was among a handful of staff members who stayed with the program in England when it relocated to Oxford.

He met his wife, Ana Rosa Vitorieca, a native of northern Spain, while taking English classes in England. They are parents of two boys.

While visiting Stanford earlier this month, Reynoso attended the seventh annual service awards celebration of the School of Humanities and Sciences. He was among staff recognized for their years of service. Outfitted in a conservatively striped woolen suit and shiny leather shoes, Reynoso was more formally dressed than his American colleagues. But then he lives in a traditional society where there are "not many casual people."

Reynoso's Oxford form of transportation -- a bicycle -- was also his primary method of tooling about campus. He stayed at the Cardinal Hotel for a week and acted the tourist with a camera his constant companion.

Another one of his stops was the office of Alan Cummings, manager of zones/zones management for Facilities Operations, who gave him a tour of Bonair Siding units and the university's sprawling grounds.

"Stanford is so big, it's like a small city," Reynoso says. In contrast, Oxford is "very tight" and boisterous. He spreads his arms wide, remarking, "Everything here is so ample."

That observation extends to California highways, which are roomier than the narrow motorways of England. And, he notes, "Obviously you drive on the wrong side of the road." SR