Constance Rodgers, the longest serving employee at USC, will step down from her position and retire July 31 after serving the University community for 56 years.
“My experience working with Connie has been one of just admiration,” said Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Carol Rush. “I really admire the way she handles very complicated and difficult situations. She’s able to keep the school’s secrets safe and the dean’s work private, but [makes] everybody feel super welcome.”
Rodgers began working during a period of growth at USC, and the executive assistant to the dean at the Price School of Public Policy has seen the school transform from just a handful of buildings to the institution it is today. Price named April 29 “Connie Rodgers Day,” in celebration of Rodgers and her wish to prepare students for careers in public policy with a focus on human relationships.
“When I first started here at USC on April 15, 1963 there were very few buildings on campus,” Rodgers said. “Nothing in [McCarthy] Quad was there.”
At a staff recognition ceremony held in April, Price School Dean Jack Knott said Rodgers has made a lasting impact at the University because she takes the time to foster relationships with students.
“Often I’ve had experiences where distinguished alumni will contact the dean’s office … I assume they’re coming to visit me, [but] they’re coming to see Connie because they remember her and she remembers them,” Knott said.
Interim President Wanda Austin officially recognized Connie Rodgers as an honorary Price dean during the celebration.
“She is a shining example of the very best our Trojan staff has to offer,” Austin said.
Rodgers first worked as a receptionist and secretary for the School of Public Administration at the International Public Administration Center, which served international students. She then became a secretary at the Von KleinSmid Center.
“One day, the director of the School of Public Administration at the time, Kim Nelson, needed someone to work for him, and [former dean] Ross Clayton told him I was available,” Rodgers said.
Throughout her years as the dean’s assistant, Rodgers worked to expand the School of Public Administration as it became the School of Public Policy and Development and later the Price School when the departments merged in 1999.
Afterward, Rodgers became the gatekeeper for the dean’s office, managing the official and private schedules of the head of the Price School.
“My claim to fame was that you had to see me if you wanted to meet with the dean,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers was “inherited” by seven deans because she gained a positive reputation at the Price School.
Knott said Rodgers has a knack for organization, managing to maintain her relationships with USC community members and address their concerns while keeping up with her hectic schedule.
“She’s a very important liaison between the dean and the rest of the school and the dean and the rest of the University because she’s somebody who helps build those relationships,” Knott said. “I think she’s been successful for many of those reasons.”
As she steps away from her daily routine at Price, Rodgers said she wants to continue nurturing the friendships she has made at USC.
Price professor David Sloane said Rodgers makes everyone — administrators, staff and students — feel at home at USC through her kindness and generosity.
“She just knows everybody who does anything,” Sloane said. “She knows all the people that clean the building, she knows all the people that do the parking, she knows all the people who teach, she knows all the deans.”
During her retirement, Rodgers hopes to travel to Paris with her granddaughter, which Price helped her fund. At Rodgers’ recognition ceremony in April, Price representatives also gave her guidebooks, French language books and a “Parisian hat.” In the future, Rodgers plans to volunteer at an infant care facility and become more involved with her church.
“My most meaningful part of this experience at USC has been the relationships that I was able to garner,” Rodgers said. “I try to be nice to everyone. It’s nice to be important, but it’s nice to be nice.