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Inside CSULB
Vol 57 No. 8 : April 2005
Vol 57 No. 8 | Apr. 2005

Many Keys to 2005 Outstanding Staff Member's Success

Charleen Rice

The Lead Locksmith of CSULB sees a university of keys.

Charleen Rice, who became the first female locksmith in the CSU system when she joined Facilities Management in 1984, is in charge of rekeying and installing locks all over campus. For keeping offices snug and secure and for her commitment to CSULB, she was named recently as the University's Outstanding Staff Member for 2005.

“I was surprised and very honored to be named,” said the Hacienda Heights resident. “I'm usually behind the scenes.”

Being a locksmith affects the way she looks at the university.

“I can't walk through a door without noticing the lock,” she said. “Each building has a unique mix of hardware and locks to maintain.”  

As lead locksmith, she supervises two other locksmiths and a technician. Together, they make all the university's keys and fix all the campus locks.

“It's a huge campus with lots of locks and keys,” she explained. “Sometimes people lose their keys and the locks need to be changed. There is a new challenge every day. It is one of the things that make my job exciting. There are challenges to meet and we meet them. Recent large projects I have been involved with are keying the Fine Arts and Molecular Life Science buildings. Coming up in the near future is the new parking office building and parking structure.”

She became supervisor of the CSULB Lock Shop in 1990 where her responsibilities grew to include customer service, inventory, scheduling, ordering and specifying hardware and keys on large campus construction projects.

Rice feels she and CSULB make a good match. “I wouldn't have stayed 21 years if it weren't,” she said. A big reason is the people she works with on campus. “They are very special,” she said. “And through them, I became involved with campus events. Getting involved makes it a more interesting and fun place to work.”

When the CSULB Staff Council was restarted in 1991, Rice was elected first as a representative of Facilities Management, then as one of the “at-large” members on the Staff Executive Committee. Next was a move to treasurer, secretary and her current stint as vice chair. In 1993, she became involved with the Staff Council's Special Events committee, which plans and executes Staff Day, the Staff Summer Picnic and the Halloween Spooktacular. The committee, which she chaired for two years, also assists with the President's Breakfast, the Cherishing the Children Toy Drive and the Staff Supper Club. She has designed all the Staff Day T-shirts since 1993 as well as the meal tickets and flyers. Her commitment extends to service on the Staff Development and Awards committees.

“Involvement with commencement preparations is part of my job in Facilities Management, but on my own time, I create the large floral arrangements and CSULB seal floral display that is on the stage during the ceremonies,” she said. “I also have been involved in the last few years with our department team during the American Cancer Society's 'Relay for Life' here on campus, in honor of my older brother who died of cancer in 1987.”

CSULB is a family affair for Rice, who graduated with her mother in 1981, each with a bachelor of fine arts degree. She went on to receive a certificate in calligraphy from University College and Extension Services in 1990 and a certificate in Facilities Management from the APPA Institute in 1993.

Rice and her husband of 28 years, Gary, also a CSULB graduate, share their home with four active Siamese cats and two adopted strays in training to be Siamese. She continues to use her art training by working freelance and producing jewelry and graphic design. When she isn't locking up the university, she enjoys wine tasting, photography, beadwork, floral design and travel, not to mention caring for more than 200 hybrid tea and miniature roses in her front and back yards.   

Rice got started in the locksmith field with her first full-time job as a locksmith apprentice for a family-owned shop in downtown Long Beach. When a position opened at CSULB in 1984 for a locksmith, she applied and got the job.

“I performed many of the same duties for the university as I did in the apprentice job, along with rekeying, installing locks and maintaining the records, security and integrity of a very complex campus key system,” she said.

Rice is glad she chose CSULB because she feels a sense of community and of belonging to an extended family.

“One example of that community feeling has been my experiences working with the members of the Special Events Committee,” she said. “The members come from different departments campus-wide but come together to share ideas and work on projects for a common goal. All of the members do this work in their spare time, without complaint and without really expecting recognition, donating their time and talents for CSULB staff. That makes CSULB a special place at which to work.”

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