One of the most inviting things about the PUC environment is its close-knit group of faculty and staff members. In fact, many of this number have chosen to work at PUC in tandem with their spouses. Although they may not be in the same departments, or even on the same side of campus, these couples are deeply affected by working together at PUC.
Working in the same surroundings as one’s partner can function as an extremely effective outlet. “In sharing our day we talk about work-related issues rather frequently,” said Robin Vance, head of the department of biology. His wife, Maria Vance, is director of the Information Technology department. “We discuss strategies for dealing with situations or occasionally just vent.” However, he mentioned that it’s not always necessary to talk about the trials of the day. “Sometimes we make a conscious decision not to discuss work,” he added.
The duo of Cynthia Westerbeck and Roy Benton (or, as they are affectionately known to students, the “Bensterbecks”) has a long history of working and teaching together. The two met while teaching at Columbia Union College (now Washington Adventist University). They had offices in the same department, so the first three years of their relationship were spent sharing the same workspace! “Now we’re in separate buildings and mostly separate orbits, except for faculty meetings and Senate,” said Dr. Westerbeck, “but after hours we can’t help sharing key issues and dilemmas with each other.”
The married couples working at PUC develop a standard rhythm, and shorthand, based on their knowledge of each other and the workspace. Sometimes it’s related to their classes, as with Drs. Westerbeck and Benton: “We can’t help sharing both the joys and frustrations of teaching and of course we benefit from sharing the rhythms of the academic schedule,” said Dr. Westerbeck. “We don’t ever need to apologize for being obsessed with class prep at the beginning of a quarter, grumpy at midterms, or completely absorbed with grading during exam week.” Many of the couples also enjoy the precious free minutes spent together, as the Vances do. “Sometimes we go on short walks or eat lunch together,” said Dr. Robin Vance.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, it’s time to acknowledge the great dynamic that allows so many PUC faculty and staff members to enjoy the company of their spouses while giving time to their work. Whether it’s discussing their students, meetings, and exams, or just enjoying each other’s company, these couples add something to PUC that brings the community closer together.