According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014, U.S. workers stay in one job for an average of 4.6 years. Donna Cooper is currently the longest standing Excelsior employee, celebrating 40 years with the College on August 11. She recently sat down with Excelsior Life to share her journey.
Excelsior College: In a society where people switch jobs more frequently, what is it like to celebrate 40 years with one employer? Cooper: For me, 40 years has been an exciting journey. I know some people might think that working for one employer for 40 years might be boring. However, that is not true. The College lives up to its motto and name, “Excelsior College… Ever Upward.” For example, when I started our name was The University of the State of New York Regents External Degree programs, then Regents College, and now we are Excelsior College. At the time I started, we would only evaluate other college’s credits and now we develop and offer our own courses. I personally have worked in five different buildings, and have held seven different positions. It was never boring, always changing, and I loved the benefits….you even get snow days.
Excelsior College: What is your current job?
Cooper: Two years ago, I was approved to work 50 percent. I work in the office two days a week and half time from home. My title is VA certifying official and I work primarily with the military.
Excelsior College: What has changed in your job since you started?
Cooper: Two things come to mind. First, the College offering courses. Second, President John Ebersole, has moved the College forward. His leadership, I believe, has kept the College thriving.
Excelsior College: What has stayed the same? Cooper: Our mission never changes, to best serve our students.
Excelsior College: What is one of your favorite memories at the College?
Cooper: There are so many. But this one in particular touches my heart. When I returned to the office on May 3, 2011, after 4 months of chemo and radiation, 90 percent of the people in my building were dressed in pink to welcome me.
Excelsior College: What advice would you give to others about careers in higher education?
Cooper: Stay balanced. Yes, education, career, and work satisfaction are important. Family, friends, and self are too…time is limited.
Excelsior College: Are you doing anything special to celebrate this anniversary?
Cooper: I don’t have anything special planned. But in closing, I have been blessed to work for Excelsior for 40 years…and I thank God.