A Fond Gator Farewell
UHD’s Director of University Business Services Mary Torres Retires After 30 Years of Service
For three decades, Mary Torres (’98) has walked the halls of UHD. From Human Resources to Budget to Auxiliary Services, through seven UHD Presidents and multiple building projects, Mary has seen it all. Before she bids UHD a final farewell as an employee (she’ll always be an alum!), we asked her to share memories and wisdom from her long tenure at UHD, and to give us a sneak peak into her future plans.
Can you tell us a bit of your history with UHD as an employee and as a student?
I became an employee and a student at the same time. I began my undergraduate studies in business administration at UHD in September 1990, and I simultaneously began working as a work-study student in the Human Resources (HR) Office. In 1992, I became a full-time employee as an Office Assistant in HR. Once I started working full time, I switched to taking evening classes for my degree.
In 1997, I transferred to the Budget Office as a Budget Technician, and in that role, I gained vast knowledge of how the University budgeting system worked. I continued with my studies and was one of the first students to take courses in the newly constructed Academic Building!
I earned my BBA in December 1998, and I wanted to continue my studies by pursuing my MBA, but UHD didn’t have an MBA program at that time. I waited almost 10 years before enrolling at Texas Woman’s University to work on my MBA, which I earned in 2008.
In 2005, I had moved to the Office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance as a Business Manager. I oversaw the administrative, financial, and human resource processing for the division, then in 2008, I inherited auxiliary service operations and my titled changed to Division Business Administrator II. In 2011, with the retirement of then Chief of Police Richard Boyle, Parking & Transportation Services was moved under my auxiliary “umbrella” of responsibility as well as the shipping, receiving, and mailroom functions.
That’s a lot of change—how did you manage all the transitions?
I was fortunate to have extremely knowledgeable managers of each unit working for me who were seasoned by years of experience. I learned from them.
Why is now the right time to retire?
Reaching my “Rule of 80” with Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) means I’m eligible for full retirement. It’s important to me to be fully retired so that I can spend more time with my retired husband and with my father, who is 86 years young. I lost my mother last year, and I want to spend quality time with my father while I can. I didn’t get that opportunity with my mom before she passed, and I don’t want to miss the opportunity with my father.
What will you miss most about UHD?
I will truly miss the people. I will miss those who mentored me along the way in my professional development—Dr. Geneva Hagedorn and Stormy Castleberry in my early years. David Bradley and Kim Ngo, who showed confidence in my ability to learn more about university budgets when they hired me as a Budget Technician. I developed so many friendships over the years—Oscar DeLaCruz, Anthony Samudio, Lupe Gongora, Maria Cadena, Kevin Dorsey, Stefany Records, Debra Shouldice, Vanessa Turner, Debora Evans, Elvira Rodriguez. The list goes on!
I will also miss the many faculty members from my student years who made me feel they cared about me as a person and not just a name on their roster list. A couple even looked for me in my office if I skipped a class! That personal touch is one of the things that makes UHD so special.
What legacy are you most proud of leaving for current and future generations of students, faculty, and staff?
I can’t say I helped build an academic building or was directly responsible for increasing student enrollment. But I have spent my entire adult life here at UHD—I grew up with UHD as my family, so my sense of working together was a way of life. I was invested in UHD, not just here “doing my job.” I hope the people I’m leaving behind will remember and follow my sense of working together as a team and providing quality customer service to the best of our ability, whether the customer is a student, faculty member, member of another department, or campus visitor.
What is one bit of advice for the next Director of University Business Services?
I would tell the person who takes over this role that, although the University community rarely notices Auxiliary Operations when everything is working efficiently, you should always feel confident that what you do is critical to support the University we all love. Auxiliary Services provides amenities and services that enable UHD students, faculty, staff, and visitors to continue with their daily efforts in making UHD a great place to study, learn, and work. Be proud of what you and your team do—you are essential!
Any big plans for retirement?
My first plan of action will be to not set my alarm. I plan to sleep until about 9 a.m.—but I’m sure that will only last about a week! I want to travel. I have always wanted to see Greece, and I also want to return to Playa de Carmen on the Riviera Maya strip of the Caribbean shoreline where I can lounge on the beach with a margarita!
If you have had the good fortune to work with Mary Torres, email her your thanks and farewells at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by her office at One Main Building, Suite N910, before Sept. 30.
The University Relations Communications Team would like to be the first to wish Mary a long, happy, healthy retirement, and to thank her for her many years of dedication and service to helping build UHD into the changemaking university it is today.