Beloved director retires after 32 years
Published: Sunday, January 31, 2010
Updated: Monday, February 14, 2011 19:02
If you have passed by the office of Carl Aylman, director of Student Life, within the past three weeks, you were likely greeted with a smile, a bit of clutter and white Staples boxes holding the remnants of his past 32-year tenure at the school.
To club officers, Aylman was a friendly face, with whom they have had the pleasure of working, but to every student, for the past two and half years, he was the man behind the weekly list of reminders and upcoming events that awaited students in their Baruchmail inboxes.
However, starting this semester, students will no longer receive such emails, at least none that end with "Carl E. Aylman, Director of Student Life, Adj. Asst. Prof. of Law."
Aylman is retiring from his position as student life director, marking the end of a significant chapter in his life, which started in 1978 when he arrived to Baruch as an aviator glasses-wearing 27-year-old ready to hit the ground running — in style.
Before his arrival, he studied psychology at City College and completed graduate studies in student/personnel administration at Columbia. He then served as a counselor at City for a year, an assistant to student activities at Bronx Community College for four years, and an operations manager.
His first position at Baruch was assistant director to student activities under Ruth Frisz, but later that year, when Frisz moved on to Queens College, Aylman was appointed as the acting director of student activities.
Under his direction, campus culture improved from when there were roughly 36 to 40 clubs. Now there are about 100. All the while, his duties continuously evolved.
He worked with student publications, WBMB radio station and the undergraduate and graduate student governments, and helped plan elections, street fairs, commencement and 28 leadership weekends.
"My job description is kind of lengthy and it basically involves [...] enabling people who work here to have all the resources that I can possible muster together so that they can do the jobs they were retained to do to the best of their abilities," said Aylman.
Aylman has been a proud promoter and planner of several events he has helped bring to Baruch, including annual blood drives, Baruch's participation in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks at Central Park, and Relay for Life.
His work with the American Cancer Society grew out of a deeply personal situation. His wife Ann is a 16-year breast cancer survivor.
The first year after her recovery, they participated in the walk as a "cathartic" way of her dealing with the illness. He later brought it to Baruch and since then it's become a tradition.
A family man — Aylman is father to 32-year-old daughter Abby and grandfather to 4-month-old grandson Galvin — his role often extended to his professional life as he has become a "pseudo-parent" to many students.
His predecessor Frisz was correct when she was quoted in a 1978 Ticker article as saying, "With Carl here, now there will always be somebody here that students can consult."
His consultations went beyond club-related issues and extended to matters of the heart such as issues concerning relationships and declaring majors. Being a "sounding board" for students has been one of the most rewarding aspects of his job, Aylman said.
"A colleague of mine years ago[...] said something to me: It's really important that at the end of the day, you can look in the mirror and say I made a difference to somebody today," said Aylman, "And I usually measure my good and bad days based on that standard."
Faculty also sought his professional guidance.
"He was the key ‘go-to' person in my division and most certainly throughout the college as a result of his knowledge of Baruch, its operations, and its history," Dr. Ben Corpus, vice president for Student affairs and enrollment management, said of Aylman in an email.
In addition to his fulfilling his role as director of student life, he had an interest in business law, which he has been teaching for 22 years now, and did photography as a hobby.
Those who worked with him know he stresses the importance of laughter. Shadia Sachedina, associate director of the office of Student Life, attested to this.
"‘In a job like this,' he has often told me, ‘a good sense of humor is extremely important. You just can't take yourself that seriously,'" Sachedina said in an e-mail.
Aylman's chipper personality is revealed through his knack for comedy, the assortment of funny outfits he's worn during street fairs and blood drives and his willingness to get pied for Relay for Life.
He has been awarded for almost every capacity in which he's served the college but the ones he holds dear to his heart include the President's Excellence in Teaching Award, 2001; Relay Hero Award from the Relay for Life Planning Committee, 2008; the President's Service Excellence Award, 2008; and the Baruch Alumni Association Faculty Service Award, 2010.
These awards, which once lined his walls, have made their way out his office to make room for his successor: Shadia Sachedina, now interim director.
His staff is saddened to see him leave. "Carl's departure is going to leave a yawning hole in the Office of Student Life," Sachedina said in an e-mail.
However, Aylman is optimistic about the role he is allowing others to have. "I've created a door slot for new people to come in and look at things with a fresh set of eyes."
He is also looking forward to the extra free time he will have to have dinner with his wife more often, play with his grandson and use his cameras to capture fond memories to come.