Wednesday, January 5, 2011

40 after 40: Bruce and Helen Clarke


Long-time Douglas employees Bruce and Helen Clarke have a love story that spans the history of the College itself. Bruce came to Douglas in 1971 as a student, and also began working part-time in the library. That same year Helen was hired on full-time in the library, and it wasn’t long before the pair started dating.

“I don’t know if it would be allowed today,” says Bruce, “for bosses to date their subordinates – as a student assistant I would have been her subordinate indirectly – but anyway, there weren’t any of those rules in those days.”

Bruce and Helen recall those early days as a time of great conviviality, where the handful of staff were close and banded together through thick and thin.

“There was so much adversity,” Helen says. The buildings leaked, there were rats, there were mice, it was drafty. But everyone just seemed to really pull together.”

“There was a certain camaraderie that got started,” Bruce agrees. “We were starting something new and radical: making education accessible to all. Everybody was really behind the idea.”

After graduating, Bruce took a full-time job in the library and eventually moved on to the Instructional Resource Centre, and then the Centre for Educational and Information Technology (CEIT). Meanwhile, Helen continued working in the library.


Bruce is still with CEIT, as a Media Support Technician, and Helen is still with the library, as Library Technician, Serials Acquisitions, Technical Services. Over the past four decades Bruce and Helen have watched the College evolve and the population of students and staff swell. They’ve ridden the waves of new technology that have transformed their respective departments, and are now looking at retiring in the next few years.

Helen doesn't think the transition will be easy.

“We’ve both invested a lot of time here, and I have a feeling that it’s going to be rather difficult to just walk away,” Helen says. “As much as a person might say, ‘Oh I can’t wait to be gone,’ when the reality hits, I think it might be a different story.”

Bruce – who’s also in his second term as member of the Douglas College Board – feels the same.

“I think the College is moving in a good direction. And helping move the College in that direction is something I would like to see through a little further before I retire.”

40 after 40 is a series showcasing our amazing grads and employees in celebration of our 40th anniversary. Check back every Wednesday and Friday for another inspiring story. See more about our 40th on our Anniversary page.