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STANFORD -- When Patricia L. Devaney finished her master's degree in counseling at the School of Education in 1967, she took a university staff job as a stop-gap measure. "I thought, I'll just work at Stanford for a while until I decide what to do next," she said. On April 30, after 26 years at Stanford as aide to six deans of research, she plans to take time off to make that decision.
Devaney, 49, will take early retirement from her position as associate dean of research. She started in the personnel department as the university's first compensation analyst, and later became assistant to the then-vice provost for research, William Massy. Taking on increasing responsibilities, she worked with Massy's successors Gerald Lieberman; acting dean Alan Cox; Robert Street; Robert Byer and the current dean of research, Charles Kruger.
"She has provided outstanding service to the community of research and scholarship at Stanford . . . in times of changing expectations and considerable stress, in a way that has contributed significantly to Stanford's growth in stature as a research university," Kruger said recently.
Devaney said she learned many principles that guided her in the job from former dean and provost Jerry Lieberman. "He is very, very wise," she said. "He taught me that the administration was here to serve the faculty, and the faculty is the heart of the university," she said.
She said one of the most interesting issues she dealt with was in the early 1980s, when the Defense Department attempted to apply export controls on university research. The issue was resolved, and research was not subjected to controls, after universities and the government worked together in a true partnership, she said - in contrast to the current serious loss of trust on both sides.
Devaney joked that she will be retiring before her father, who is in his third career at the University of Nebraska at the age of 79. Her mother is scheduled for heart surgery at Stanford late in spring, and Devaney and her family plan to take the summer to help in her mother's recovery. Then, she said, she will decide about a new career in business or public service.
Her decision was partly formed after a close friend, former Stanford staff member Pamela Hanitchak, died in October of breast cancer at the age of 45. "Pam's death moved me," Devaney said. "It reminded me how short life can be. When it comes time for me to die, I don't want to look back at my life and say the only thing I had done was to be a bureaucrat at a university."
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