Super staffer bids UCT farewell

04 October 2004

Five-Star Staffer Yolande Ruiters.

Yolande Ruiters closes the curtain that covers the glass window of the Department of Philosophy's administration office. She puts up a big sign that says "Closed".

"If I don't do this," she explains, "we will not have a moment's peace. We need to do the interview in another office or we will be constantly interrupted."

It is at this point that her phone rings with a query, a SMS message comes through on her cell phone and a staff member delivers a package to her desk.

A multi-tasking Five-Star Staffer at her best.

Ruiters will be sorely missed when she emigrates with her family to New Zealand in November.

As philosophy's sole administrator, Ruiters is responsible for the smooth running of all aspects related to the department's 1 600 students and five academic staff.

"Although we are a small department, we have high student numbers - among the largest in the Faculty of Humanities. Yolande single-handedly manages the department, despite numerous difficulties and competing and conflicting pressures," said her nominators and colleagues Drs Jeremy Wanderer, Elisa Galgut and Bernhard Weiss.

"We are not quite sure that the department is going to manage without her guidance and direction," they added.

Ruiters, who came to work at UCT 16 years ago, says it is the university's sense of community that has kept her here.

"This community spirit is extremely strong within philosophy and it extends university-wide. I started at UCT when I was very young and I feel I have grown up here. I have gained a lot of confidence and it is wonderful to get to a point where you feel you are adding some value as a human being."

With certain systems and procedures firmly set in place, Ruiters relies on her Netscape calendar and uses her cell phone to trigger reminders of deadlines and things that need doing.

"Things get frenetic here and I do get overwhelmed at times, but then it requires that I put everything in perspective and set new priorities. This always seems to help."

And when all else fails, Ruiters can be found walking to UCT's dam where she sits and reads or visits with her sister to regain her sang-froid.

Describing herself as "South African to the core", Ruiters says she hopes to return regularly to South Africa to visit friends and family.

"I'm looking forward to expanding my horizons in New Zealand," she explained. "I'm investigating job opportunities at various universities over there but I might like to get out of admin and try something new. I enjoy crafts and thought I might like to do a writing course. I can do anything I want."

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