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Thursday, December 13, 2018

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Linda Lewiston served SDSU for nearly 30 years. Linda Lewiston served SDSU for nearly 30 years.

As Loyal as the Day is Long

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Linda Lewiston will retire after an impactful career at SDSU.
By Kimberly Lamke Calderon

Making a difference in students’ lives and taking on jobs that others didn’t think could be done are just some of the ways Linda Lewiston made an impact at San Diego State University over a nearly 30-year career.

Lewiston, who is retiring this fall, said she has lost count of the number of moments in her career, most of which was spent in the Division of Student Affairs, that made her time at the university outstanding.

Most of those moments, Lewiston said, were made notable because of the  exceptional professionals she had the opportunity to work with that gave of themselves to make sure students had the best college experience possible. 

“I have worked with so many amazing, astonishingly dedicated people who were and are clearly focused on how they can contribute to the university,” Lewiston said. “Working with giving and selfless people, who never made the work about them, but about what they could contribute to students, is one of the biggest reasons I stayed at the university for so long.”

Consistently Loyal and Dedicated

Lewiston began her career at KPBS, where she worked for just a couple of years before starting in the Office of Counseling and Placement in the Division of Student Affairs. Over her career, Lewiston worked her way up from a clerical assistant at KPBS to associate vice president for Student Affairs, specializing in managing the financial, human resources and facilities projects within the division.

While at KPBS, Lewiston met Bonnie Brown, who now works as a coordinator for sponsored research at the SDSU Research Foundation. Brown said working with Lewiston was easy and fun.

"She’s incredibly smart and you want to be around smart people,” Brown said. “We had a great working relationship because she is bright, astute, quick and productive — which is what you want in a co-worker.”

Brown said she remained friends with Lewiston through the years because she is the quintessential “great friend.”

“Linda is intensely loyal with a generous spirit. She’s also a very caring individual and a great listener. These are qualities you want in a friend. You want to know a person has listened intently to what you said — and with Linda you know she has. She is as loyal as the day is long.”

Concern for the well being of others was a repeated theme others mentioned when asked about Lewiston.

“Her contributions to the university have been too numerous to count,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Eric Rivera. “But perhaps more notable than all of the successful projects she has overseen, or the divisional transitions she has managed, is the care and concern Linda has shown for not only the division and her co-workers, but for students. She will be missed.”

Kathy LaMaster, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, described Lewiston as a person with an “enormous heart” who thinks of herself last and everyone else first.

“When Linda leaves we will be losing her institutional knowledge and a campus perspective that very few people have,” LaMaster said. “We will also be losing her spirit. She is really committed to the campus. If something was important and needed to be done, Linda would always say 'yes.'” 

Dedicated to students

Lewiston said her dedication and perspective is driven by her devotion to students, first and foremost.

The work that we do makes a difference,” she said. “Watching the students come in as freshmen, and seeing them develop and reach their goals, knowing that you’ve helped them is very humbling. Then, when you see them go onto exciting careers and being amazing human beings. Knowing that you helped them reach those dreams is why I stayed.”

She is reluctant to cite specific projects of which she is particularly proud, though she does remember supervising construction projects for seven departments simultaneously in one summer, as well as the construction of Student Services West and Calpulli Center. Lewiston will quietly note that she doesn’t seek the spotlight or recognition, but would instead prefer to stand behind and support the person in the spotlight.

“Linda has dedicated herself to improving Student Affairs and San Diego State University,” said James Tarbox, executive director of Career Services. “Her loyalty shows in her concern for fairness, accuracy, responsibility, and to providing well-thought-out, well-researched and quality projects.”

In retirement, Lewiston said she will most look forward to her “feet not hitting the floor between 4 and 5 a.m. each morning,” as well as having the time to reconnect with family and friends as often as possible.

Reflecting on her time at SDSU, including challenging moments when budgets were tight and things did not go as planned, Lewiston said moving forward depends on maintaining proper perspective.

“Sometimes we had to deal with circumstances that were not positive, having no choice but to work through the issues,” she said. “When faced with those situations and having them end in a positive place, where the outcome was certainly better than you anticipated, leads you to think differently, look at things differently, and move in directions you might not otherwise if not faced with those challenges.”

Farewell and thank you

A reception for Lewiston is planned for Oct. 14 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. For more information, or to RSVP for the reception, contact Claudia Martinez.