Remembrances of Mary Ann Mason

Mary Ann Mason receiving the Berkeley Citation from Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, 2007

I remember dramatically the first time that I met Mary Ann. Shortly after I had arrived at Berkeley as the new Chancellor, there was a dinner arranged for me to meet the deans and other members of the hierarchy. I basically was making the rounds and when I came to Mary Ann I immediately thought to myself what a deeply thoughtful, intelligent person she was and how engaged she was in issues of central importance to universities like Berkeley. How lucky Berkeley was to have Mary Ann as Dean of the Graduate School where she could impact directly issues of women and family in the academic community.

Mary Ann played a national leadership role in opening doors for women in academia and for making clear the importance of family life in academic careers. Her work was always based on solid, well researched, factual information but it was also deeply human. I was pleased to award Mary Ann the campus's highest honor — the Berkeley Citation — at the end of her tenure as Dean. I am so sad that we have lost her at such a young age.
Robert J. Birgeneau
Chancellor Emeritus (2004-2013) and Distinguished Professor in Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Public Policy

Mary Ann made an immense contribution to the School of Social Welfare, the Graduate Division, the University — and indeed higher education in general. Using her standing as Berkeley's Graduate Dean, she attracted national attention for vigorously promoting the rights of women faculty at the nation's universities. On the campus, she managed the Graduate Division with exceptional proficiency. She also launched several initiatives benefiting graduate students including a faculty funded matched awards and fellowship program to which I and several colleagues contributed. At the School, she was a valued colleague, a popular teacher and accomplished scholar whose books on family law and child welfare were well received. Many of us at the School will remember her personal qualities — she was open and friendly, always helpful and a delight to be with. We will miss her.
James Midgley
Dean Emeritus of the School of Social Welfare (1997-2006) and Professor of the Graduate School

I was saddened to hear of the death of my colleague, Mary Ann Mason. Mary Ann joined the School of Social Work only a year before I did, but by the time I arrived she already had established herself as a respected scholar and highly-admired teacher of child welfare policy, women's rights, and the history of the American family. She was unique in her ability to apply legal and historical analysis to social policies affecting the well-being of children and their families. She also was a skilled collaborator and convener, assembling colleagues from fields as diverse as psychology, sociology, history, law, public policy, and social welfare to examine critical contemporary issues facing families.

Some of her greatest contributions occurred after she took leave from the School of Social Welfare to take on the responsibilities of being Dean of the Graduate Division. There, she developed a program of research documenting some of the inequities experienced by student parents, by students of color, and by women in academia more generally. Her research, leadership, and advocacy resulted in more family-friendly campus policies for students as well as faculty, as well as greater national and international attention to the barriers faced by women in academia. I have always admired Mary Ann's commitment to reducing the barriers that undermine academic success of women and persons of color, whether on campus or nationally, as well as her ability to utilize a wide array of scholarly tools to achieve more equitable social policies on behalf of women and their families. I will miss her.
Andrew Scharlach
Kleiner Professor of Aging, Emeritus, School of Social Welfare

Mary Ann Mason will be missed by many, many people. Those of us who had the privilege to know her, to work with her and to be counted among her friends, know that she inspired many by her focus on doing good. She shrewdly made use of the tools available to her – to gather evidence, to formulate policy ideas, and to advocate. Mary Ann was a change-maker, and the world is a better place for the changes that she made. To interact with Mary Ann on a daily basis was to be swept up in her boundless energy and to enjoy her robust laughter.
Andrew J. Szeri
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate Division (2007-2014)

There is a reason why many in our culture have called for women to lead organizations, states, and nations. Those reasons were clearly demonstrated by Mary Ann Mason when she served as Dean of the Graduate Division. Dean Mason was both a people-person and a principle-person, amazingly combining the skills of a psychologist, CEO, friend, and decision maker. Mary Ann was keenly aware of the role of personalities in effectively organizing her leadership teams, and apportioned tasks to those teams according to their potential for success.

Whether hosting events in her home or elsewhere, Mary Ann was the epitome of grace, always listening and never played favorites. That graciousness proved to be very effective when, in a different context, she stood at the podium and challenged the male-centric audience on success for women in the academy. Her challenge was also her life: Mary Ann was a parent and never shirked the importance of parenting in the lives of faculty, staff, and students. The result has changed lives across the UC system with her advocacy for a generational change in UC policy (active service modified duties).

Mary Ann had an "academic" philosophy towards administrative leadership. She would work with us (me and the other Associate Deans, Joe Duggan and Carlos Fernandez-Pello, at the time) to build a shared philosophy for our purviews, give us the autonomy to develop new ideas, then support the authority to act on them. She would not waiver in her support of those actions, including taking PhD applications online, revamping the entire department review process, funding GSIs and faculty to research effective teaching, and supporting data-driven policies at UCOP.

At one point Dean Mason called her leadership staff together with a challenge: create fellowships for every PhD student on the Berkeley campus. Dean Mason finessed that calculation, persuaded campus leadership of its worth and possibility, and acted on it with her first step: the dissertation year fellowship. While the dream of fellowships for all was not realized, several generations of PhD students benefited from the dissertation year fellowship, including my daughter.
In the fifteen years since I was an Associate Dean in the Graduate Division, I have measured every campus dean and administrator by the benchmark of Mary Ann Mason. So far few have lived up to that standard.
Jeffrey A. Reimer
Associate Dean of the Graduate Division (2000-2005); Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering

Mary Ann was an extraordinary combination of brains, charm and kindness. I discovered these in great quantity over the 25 years that we knew each other, in the many ways that our lives intersected as teachers in a new course on the History of Childhood we devised together, in composing one major book together and in cooperating on three others. We attended conferences together that we cosponsored in France, Chile, and the United States. Each of us thought of the other when such an opportunity presented itself. We were the first pair to speak at the Women's Faculty Club seminar on "Academic Lives," because our cooperation was such an important example to the campus community. We loved to travel together and we sometimes took our daughters with us to expose them to the international world of ideas and experience.

Her presentations were always consummate demonstrations of all three qualities. She was a dazzling lecturer and her treatment of students was always deeply sympathetic and genuine. She drew deeply on her own experience and her wide-ranging knowledge in the law, social welfare and history. She was someone who always had a new idea to contribute, a new angle to investigate and a new way to communicate to a readership that grew over time to include an audience concerned with laws about children, reproduction (including new technologies), women, and about the life course. She was a superb writer whose audiences were as varied as her multidimensional knowledge. Mary Ann worked with her head and with her heart.

It is such a cliché, but one that is necessary in the case of Mary Ann Mason — she is irreplaceable as a colleague, a friend, and a presence in the life of the Berkeley community.
Paula Fass
Margaret Byrne Professor of History, Emerita

In the late 1980s, I encouraged Mary Ann to apply for the position in law and social welfare that had just opened on our faculty. She was in her mid-40s and director of a paralegal program at Saint Mary's College — a relatively late start from an unusual launch for an academic post at UC Berkeley. The competition for this position was stiff. Mary Ann sealed the appointment with a brilliant presentation to the faculty, which drew on material from her recent book The Equality Trap, a classic originally published by Simon and Schuster in 1988, republished by Transaction 2002 and again by Routledge 2017). This was the first of thirteen books including Mothers on the Fast Track (Oxford UP), co-authored with her daughter Eve, (a Berkeley Ph.D.) Babies of Technology (Yale UP) coauthored with her son Tom (J.D.), and a work of fiction that carried the usual disclaimer "Any resemblance to persons living or dead is unintentional", to which her friends quipped  "right." And she had many friends from all walks of life. Mary Ann and her husband Paul (a renowned psychologist, named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world) were a power couple, whose gatherings with friends resembled the salons of times past — laughter, companionship, lively conversation and good wine.

Smiling and lighthearted, Mary Ann exuded a charismatic magnetism that attracted those around her and enlivened our faculty meetings. But beneath the warm loving gentle manner, infused with charm and wit, dwelt a daring woman of firm resolve. And that resolve served our graduate students and the university well when as the first woman Dean of the Graduate Division she was instrumental in increasing financial aid for students and led a ground-breaking effort to strengthen women's rights in the academic world. Mary Ann's contributions are a magnificent bequest to our community and an inspiration to those who follow.
Neil Gilbert
Chernin Professor, School of Social Welfare

When I joined the faculty, I was one of a very small minority of female faculty. Mary Ann graciously took me under her wing, in part because we shared some interests relating to the study of children and families, but also because she knew how much mentorship and support was necessary for newcomer-women navigating this large institution. I was always grateful that she helped me understand the academy at the same time that she encouraged a balanced life.
In the mid-1990s, Mary Ann (and Steve Sugarman from the Law School) started a faculty discussion group that met monthly. I think she called it the "Family Forum." The Family Forum brought together faculty from across the Berkeley campus to discuss research relating to children and families. She strongly encouraged guests to raise provocative topics and to question conventional wisdom. The discussions during these lunch-time gatherings were always respectful and always thought-provoking. I was so honored when she invited me to join; the gatherings always sparked my thinking in new and different ways.

Later, she initiated a faculty "book group," including most of the same folks from the Faculty Forum, along with faculty from UC Hastings, UC Davis, and Stanford. We met twice per semester and always read a new book relating to children, families, or social policy. The book group continues today. We recently celebrated our 25th-year anniversary. At each gathering, we briefly take the temperature of all members — did you love the book? Hate it? Just manage it? (I can only remember one gathering where everyone's views about the book were the same.) Then the discussion begins and — as always — it is respectful and thought-provoking.

These gatherings — all initiated by Mary Ann — made the university feel smaller and more welcoming. They helped me find an intellectual circle with somewhat-similar interests. They gave me a community to grow up with. They provided a small, alternative family. Mary Ann, as mother of the Family Forum, and of the family book group, was both the inspiration and the glue.
Jill Duerr Berrick, PhD
Zellerbach Family Foundation Professor, School of Social Welfare

I first met Mary Ann in 2000 shortly after she had been appointed the Dean of the Graduate Division. I was struck by her friendliness and seriousness. Within a half hour of our first meeting, the Do Babies Matter project was born, emerging from a combination of her lived experience and our access to rich databases that would allow us to conduct careful analysis of gender by family effects in academia.

Through the years, her enthusiasm, persistence, and brilliance at communicating pushed us forward and ensured that our work would not be lost to the dustbin of academia but would rather make a meaningful difference in promoting equity and access within the Ivory Tower and beyond. Like many others, I owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude.
Marc Goulden
Director of Data Initiatives, Office of the Vice Provost for the Faculty

Mary Ann was on my dissertation committee, and I later worked with her for about seven years on career-family research. When we successfully improved the family responsive policies for faculty in the UC system many many institutions around the country followed suit. One of my proudest career moments is when then-Chancellor Birgeneau represented us at the White House for a televised discussion on changes to family responsive policies at the federal granting agencies, based in large part on our research (this particular report). Mary Ann was a relentless advocate for women in academia and making the academic pipeline work for everyone.
Karie Frasch, PhD
Director, Office for Faculty Equity & Welfare

Mary Ann Mason's work was absolutely foundational in making UC Berkeley (and the whole UC system) a more family-friendly institution, one that didn't punish women for child-bearing and child-rearing. I can't think of another faculty member whose research so directly benefited so many members of the university community, including faculty, students, and staff. I was honored to serve on the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Work & Family during the final years of Dr. Mason's long involvement with that group, and to witness the fruition of her campaign to pass state legislation to protect the rights of pregnant and parenting graduate students. Her leadership, persistence, and rigor will be dearly missed.
Michele Rabkin
Director, Berkeley Connect

Mary Ann was a central part of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Work and Family and the drive for better dependent care at Berkeley for many years. She was a rare example of how you can combine brilliant academic research, in her landmark analyses of the effects of becoming a parent on academic careers - and devoted and effective advocacy. She was unfailingly smart, calm, charming, funny - and utterly tenacious - and we will miss her terribly.

Alison Gopnik
Professor of Psychology and Affiliate Professor of Philosophy

I owe my later professional opportunities to Mary Ann and will always appreciate her for that. We knew each other from my position at UCB while she was Dean of the Graduate Division when I ran into her at a work-life conference at which she and Mark Goulden were presenting their Do Babies Matter research. I had not known Mary Ann was involved with work-life issues until I saw her name on the conference program. She invited me to join her and others for lunch after the presentation; I subsequently learned that she was always so encouraging and welcoming to many.

Then she invited me to work with the team on the Sloan-funded UC Faculty Family Friendly Edge project. I was co-chair of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Dependent Care and head of work-life programs for the campus and so was able to offer my experience to the team. We were able to pull together a meeting of provosts from the UC campuses and another meeting of the vice provosts of diversity from the so-called "9 presidents" group, leading to improvements in academic family policies at many colleges and universities.

Partly due to my work with Mary Ann, I was hired by Columbia University as an Associate Provost to start a work/life office for faculty and staff there.

I learned much from working with Mary Ann and observing her work with others, including her political savvy, strategic sense, warmth and humor. I was lucky enough to see her a few times since I left Berkeley when she spoke at Columbia and at a meeting in D.C.

Mary Ann's work shifted the entire conversation about academic women parents, discrimination against them, and identification of their needs in order to stay competitive in academia. In important ways, her work informs the issues of today's Covid environment - the challenges facing employed women caregivers and parents. Her contributions to the research on women, parents, children, and families will live on!
Carol A. Hoffman
Associate Provost and Director, Work/Life, Columbia University, 2007-2017; Co-Project Manager, UC Faculty Family Friendly Edge, 2003-2007; Manager, Work/Life Office, 1996-2007; Manager, CARE Services for Faculty and Staff, 1987-1996

I remember when I met Dean Mary Ann Mason, who at the time was the first woman dean of the Graduate Division. I remember being very nervous and very intimidated; she was the dean after all! Not quite sure what to expect, I was struck by her warmth and down-to-earth demeanor. I appreciated how she showed me a different way of being a woman leader. I remember her for being such an advocate for graduate students and student parents, family-friendly policies, and career-life balance.
Christine (cici) Ambrosio
Director of Women's Resources, Gender Equity Resource Center

Mary Ann was an incredibly supportive mentor to me when I arrived at Berkeley. Her work was vital to ensuring more equitable work environments for women and setting the bar for family responsive policies not only at UC but then by other universities that followed Berkeley's lead.
Catherine Albiston
Jackson H. Ralston Professor of Law
Faculty Director, Center for the Study of Law and Society

Mary Ann was a model of collegiality which contributed to her success in all the roles in higher education she so ably assumed. She was always calm, always interested in what others were doing, always warm and welcoming, always ready to help and learn. She had a sparkling personality and intelligence which was contagious. We published an edited book together — Debating Children's Lives — in 1993.

Mary Ann was an indefatigable advocate for children and families as shown in her many important publications and in donations to scholarships for students. She will be sorely missed by many.

Eileen Gambrill
Professor of the Graduate School, School of Social Welfare

I never worked directly with Mary Ann Mason. But in terms of her legacy, I attended her book talk in 2013 in which she shared her work as one of the few scholars to ask "do babies matter?" for the careers of academic parents, and read the text cover to cover.

I experienced such cathartic relief reading her research, which gave voice and heft to a gendered phenomenon that so many mothers have experienced. I feel like a personal beneficiary of her scholarship and efforts to build more equitable academic institutions. I hold tremendous gratitude for her leadership on the Berkeley campus, in the US system, and for academic mamas around the globe.

With the emergence of the novel coronavirus, the closures of childcare centers and K-12 schools, and the initial evidence of impact on the careers of mothers, the lens and frames of her inquiry have a particular salience, and a clear potential to guide us through the challenges that lie ahead.
Valerie B. Shapiro, PhD
Associate Professor in Social Welfare & Public Health

I most remember Mary Ann as a good friend. During her tenure at the School we both commiserated with each other on the trials and tribulations of having teenage daughters. So it is with heartfelt feelings that I find that both daughters turned out so well and are successfully engaged in academic pursuits.
Steven P. Segal
Professor of the Graduate School, School of Social Welfare

Of all the graduate courses I took while at Cal, Dr. Mason's courses stand out as the most enriching. She had such an impressive knowledge of complex family law and a keen ability to translate how the law plays out in the lives of families and social workers who aim to assist them.

I looked forward to every one of her lectures. In addition to being a top notch scholar, she was kind, compassionate, funny, and humble. She has left Cal a better place and has left a rich legacy of inspiring all who knew her. I consider myself fortunate to have been among them.
Julie Carroll
MSW '99

On behalf of the UCB Emeriti Association, the president praises Mary Ann Mason for her six years of loyal service on the Association's Executive Board.
Amy Block Joy
Professor Emerita; President, UC Berkeley Emeriti Association (UCBEA)

I was fortunate to work with Mary Ann for six years during the time I was the Cal Provost and she was Dean of the Graduate Division. Mary Ann's long and exceptionally productive career has been well described by other writers in their tributes. Her personal commitment to women and families, and in particular her advocacy of family friendly policies in academia, stand out as lasting, impactful contributions.

I'll most remember Mary Ann the person. She combined a fierce and purposeful dedication to principles and causes she believed in with a wonderful personal style filled with grace, charm, and good humor. She could persuade the staunchest opponent with a reasoned argument accompanied by a twinkle in the eye and a dose of wry humor. During our years of working together, we faced the usual flow of challenges that university administrators encounter, and she invariably met them with her typical determination and resolute positivity. In the following years my wife Judy and I got to see Mary Ann and Paul occasionally, and they remained valued friends. She met the challenges of getting older with the same grit and good humor we had come to know.

We've lost a very special person. She was one of those special people you feel fortunate to have had a chance to associate with. She will be long remembered by all who know her.
Paul R. Gray
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, 2000-2006; Professor of Electrical Engineering, Emeritus

I knew Mary Ann when she was Dean of the Graduate Division and our offices were on the same floor of Sproul Hall. Besides her considerable academic accomplishments and her ground-breaking work in family law and policies, Mary Ann had significant impact as a champion of work-life balance. She always advocated for the university to become more family-friendly for faculty, staff and students. She was a consummate professional with many admirable traits including her warmth, generosity of spirit, wisdom, and keen sense of humor. Mary Ann will be deeply missed.
Barbara Gross Davis
Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (2001-2008)

I was very sad to learn about the passing of Dean Mary Ann Mason, who broke so many barriers for women in academia. What a tragic coincidence that pancreatic cancer ended the life of another super-star Dean at UCB. I had the privilege and honor of serving as Executive Assistant to Engineering Dean Richard Newton, who passed away within 30 days of diagnosis.

Like Dean Newton, Dean Mason lit up any room she entered and she took time to thank rank and file workers, nor just those with academic titles. Dean Mason's contributions leave a lasting legacy, particularly for women leadership at UC Berkeley and for future women leaders throughout academia.
William Oman
Executive Assistant to the Dean of Engineering, 2004-2010

Mary Ann was a superb Board member for International House, always contributing thoughtfully and creatively. She was a champion with our Board and staff on the Gateway Fellowship initiative which enabled the development of a broad array of significant endowments at International House for first-year PhD graduate students covering a year of residence, meals, activities and a stipend at I House while being matched with tuition for their first year of studies. It has truly been a UC Berkeley "Gateway" for countless entering graduate students since 2005.

Mary Ann left magnificent legacies for these students at I House and in their academic departments on campus. We were blessed and extremely privileged to work with her.

Joe Lurie
Executive Director, International House, 1988-2007

I consider myself incredibly lucky and privileged to have known Mary Ann Mason and to have served as an Associate Dean in the Graduate Division under her leadership. She was, and still is, a role model on how to combine an outstanding academic career with effective administrative roles. I remember meeting Mary Ann for the first time when I was serving on the Graduate Council where she would report about graduate affairs. I was immediately impressed by her personal and professional qualities. She was always very well prepared and efficient, while being friendly and accessible and impeccably elegant.

In 2003 I was asked by Mary Ann to serve as acting Associate Dean while Joe Duggan was on sabbatical. I remember sitting in her office for the first time and feeling somewhat overwhelmed, thinking that I could never meet her standards. After serving as the acting capacity for a semester, she appointed me as a second Associate Dean which I considered a privilege and an honor. This gave me the opportunity to observe and learn how Mary Ann conducted her Dean’s duties.  I saw how she approached her decision-making with professionalism and compassion. In the occasional problems that appeared between students and faculty or administrators, she took great care to ensure and enforce fairness. In our collective weekly meetings, I observed her deep perceptions of the University’s needs to improve graduate education and the well-being of the graduate student population. 

It was in this period that Mary Ann was adamant in promoting equity for graduate student parents at UC Berkeley and within the UC system. Her efforts in this area were extremely effective and made important  impacts on the affairs of the University. It was instructive also to see her concern for her staff’s well-being and camaraderie. Periodically she would organize Graduate Division get-togethers, particularly end-of-year holiday parties and end of the academic year picnics, which were wonderful to attend. 

I also observed the respect that her colleagues had for her academic and administrative competence and leadership, both on the campus, UC-wide, and at sister universities. Personally, I enjoyed very much working with her and learning from her how to run efficiently an administrative unit of a university. My service under her leadership at the Graduate Division was a period of my academic career that I value very much. I admired her intellect and professionalism but in particular it was her friendship that I valued most. It is difficult for me to think that we don’t have Mary Ann any more with us, although she will always be in my heart.

Carlos Fernandez-Pello
Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus; Associate Dean of the Graduate Division, 2003-2013

I was head of The Social Welfare Library for many years before my retirement in 2004. It was always a pleasure to see Mary Ann coming into our library asking one of us to talk to her class about how to take advantage of our resources.

We all who knew her warm smile and positive personality are sad for the loss of her.
Lora L. Graham.
Former Head, Social Welfare Library

During her first year as Dean, Mary Ann chaired a consortium of peers of nine major research universities, known variously as the Dwarves/Ivy Plus group, that met annually to discuss common problems and share wisdom. As she was the only woman in the group for a long time, she joked that she was Snow White with the Dwarves.

Mary Ann was the kindest person (and I worked with many deans in my time). She was always thoughtful and generous (not a common trait!) and always let others (e.g., Chancellor's Cabinet members) know that the data she presented was assembled by her staff. She always acknowledged us. (When I attended meetings with her and listened to other high-level participants, they acted as if they had done the analyses.)

Putting our heads together, we found ways to create funds for stipends and fellowships for qualifying doctoral students. Mary Ann brought on to her staff development professionals to pursue fellowship fund raising.

And yes, she brought fun!
Judi Sui
Assistant Dean, Institutional Research and Planning, Graduate Division (1972-2011)

Mary Ann was a force for good and made the Berkeley campus a magical place to be. Working with her in the Graduate Division was nothing short of exhilarating. As our Dean, she brought out the best in everyone and had boundless energy to tackle a myriad of issues. Her magnetic personality and genuine compassion were inspiring. I will always remember Mary Ann holding hands with Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters from around the country during the dedication of the Ida Louise Jackson House, graduate student housing that she made possible. And I will never forget Mary Ann as she welcomed new graduate students in the fall, seeing them smile as she gave them their first assignment: to watch the sunset from the steps of the Campanile, their first step, she told them, on discovering the magic of Berkeley.

Lisa Harrington
Director of Graduate Communications & Events, 1993-2008

Mary Ann Mason had a knack for asking questions in a curious tone that invited honest reflection, then listening with careful attention that encouraged candor. I remember a particular occasion when she asked such a question and listened to a rather long reply, then with just the teensiest raise of the eyebrow, lilt in her voice, and trace of a smile, said, "Oh, that is a long time," which conveyed both that she understood completely and that nothing more need be said. It was a style that allowed her to get to the heart of the matter quickly and to cover a lot of territory in a short time.

I think of Mary Ann as a fierce lady — fierce in her determination to help others, most notably women in academia, but also students, faculty colleagues and staff. She was generous of spirit, taking on big challenges yet mindful of those around her. She endeavored to be kind and took keen notice of kindness in others. Mary Ann was elegant in dress and décor, with an artist's eye and a love of people and of life that could light up a room.

"Tell me one good thing," she would say as an icebreaker.

"Always share good news right away," she said frequently. (Sometimes bad news can wait but never good news.)

She once mused that, "Perhaps this idea of happiness that is associated with California, the Golden State, living the good life, is a problem — people feeling inadequate because they're not happy enough. People in the Midwest don't expect to be happy all the time." And yet she was one of the most determinedly positive people I've ever known.

I will miss knowing that Mary Ann is out there, smiling and plotting her next contribution to setting the historical record straight and fight for the rights of all. I will miss her keen mind and her fashion sense. I will miss her smile and her laugh.

Stephanie Smith
Executive Assistant to the Dean of the Graduate Division, 2000-2002); CAO, Graduate Division, 2003-2006; Executive Assistant to the Dean of the College of Engineering

I worked for and with Mary Ann daily for six years; afterwards, we remained friends to the end. Some personal anecdotes to illustrate her extraordinary qualities:

1. Genuineness Just months after I landed in the Graduate Division's Dean's Office as an administrative assistant, Mary Ann asked her departing EA to nominate a successor. I was intimidated, feeling too new to the campus. Mary Ann began our 'interview' by asking in the friendliest way: "Tell me about yourself." We found our first commonality in having grown up in modest circumstances in the Midwest - and went on to compare our very different trajectories. She took my professional qualifications as a given; she was more interested in whether we'd be sympatico. We were.

2. Integrity Early in her deanship, missteps by a few staff resulted in two costly administrative snafus. Although blameless, Mary Ann shouldered full responsibility and mobilized Herculean efforts to remedy the crises. Rather than jettison those staff, she protected their jobs, and they continued to provide valuable service to the campus for many years. I never knew Mary Ann's leadership or competency to be questioned by her peers.

3. Courage For many years, Mary Ann was the sole woman — or one of very few women — "in the room" — as a member of Chancellor's Cabinets, as a leader in an array of venues on the Berkeley campus, UC system, and consortia of higher education and government. She carried herself with unflappable dignity and winning warmth, never shrank under scrutiny or bias, and offered an exemplary role model for other women.

4. Fun Mary Ann always strove to build teamwork and went out of her way to provide opportunities for her associate deans and staff across the Division to mix and mingle in various settings. She treated everyone with equal interest and respect, making her beloved to so many. No one present will forget the winter holiday staff appreciation lunches, with Mary Ann leading the associate deans in dancing and singing in silly costumes, enjoying everyone's laughter and merriment.

5. Mischief Mary Ann supervised the care for her mother at an assisted living facility. Staff insisted that she be on a phone call with them and her mom for a matter that Mary Ann felt required her simple oral assent. To attend a campus meeting occurring at the same time, she asked me to impersonate her on the call! I did my best to imitate her persona; the staff didn't recognize the difference, but her mother asked why I sounded different. "Just a frog in the throat," I said. Mary Ann and I had many a giggle about that.

6. Unique Fame After her daughter and husband became close to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mary Ann liked to tell the tale of finally getting to meet him. With a joyous glint in his eye, HHDL greeted her and said, "So this is The Woman!"

7. Passion In 2008 Mary Ann and Paul joined my Election Night gathering with a few other friends. The victory of Barack Obama elated us. Mary Ann and I stood on our front porch and whooped and hollered until we were hoarse. She looked back on that occasion with great joy, mentioning it often as we came to our current moment. We had hoped to celebrate the election results together this coming November. I hope we will, in spirit.

8. Grace Mary Ann did not wish to bother me, or many others, about her illness. In our phone chats in recent months, she always emphasized this: "I've had a very good life, a wonderful life. I feel very fortunate."
That is how she would wish us to remember her.
Sharon Page-Medrich
Senior Executive Assistant to the Deans of the Graduate Division and Senior Writer/Editor (2001-2018)

All are invited to contribute remembrances to this assembly; please send to Tributes will be added as they are received.