Variety abounds when it comes to the offerings available through our Personal Development program, and it should come as no surprise when one takes a look at the individual responsible. Steve Garfinkel, director of community programs, has substantial experience in many fields from the scrap metal industry, to a stint in arts in education and then yet another life in the world of development. This doesn’t even include his past board member appointments, or being an active member of the Dramatists Guild penning plays, and performing and directing throughout the year. With the spring catalogs hot off the press including our expanded daytime offerings, it seems timely to hear more from this very talented man who cooks up an intriguing menu of courses every session. Order up!
How long have you been at GSCS, and what drew you to the school to begin with?
I have been at GSCS for eight years. My start here occurred shortly before the receipt of Mel and Susie Glasscock's generous gift enabling the school's endowment, and the subsequent renaming of the school as the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.
I often tell people I believe I have the best job on campus. Having the opportunity to work collaboratively with some of the greatest minds available anywhere, across a virtually endless spectrum of areas, from religious studies to engineering, from political science to archaeology, from energy and sustainability to classical studies, etc., is incredibly stimulating for me. Working with our partners in the community also provides me with ever-new and evolving opportunities to explore topics, events, creations or exhibits I otherwise might not be exposed to or even know about, and to learn from people with vast expertise in order to help our community of lifelong learners benefit from these same opportunities is something I find incredibly rewarding.
How has your program area changed over time?
Over time the program has seen the expansion of our lifelong learning opportunities for retirement communities, developed many new partnerships with cultural, scientific, educational and other organizations throughout the Houston community, and created several new types of programs, such as those that take our participants out into the city. We have long served as Rice's gateway to the community by attracting participants onto the campus for our courses, and it has been fun to create some that work the other way, taking participants out into the city, such as our “Sacred Spaces of Houston” and “Exploring Houston's Treasures” series.
What is your fondest memory working here thus far?
If I may, I'd offer two. One was the recent tour of our new Anderson-Clarke Center at the “Topping Out” ceremony for the building. The other would be one of our regular participants’ comment that he looked so much forward to our courses that receiving the catalog at the start of each session “is like Christmas morning!”
What do you enjoy the most about GSCS?
While Rice itself continues to be rated extremely high among “best places to work” in Houston, I believe that applies in geometrically increasing proportion to working at GSCS. The palpably kind, supportive and stimulating atmosphere at the school makes it a continual joy to be involved in. In addition, the people connected internally with GSCS, from the staff to our advisory board to our students and participants, all make the school – and my job – much more than just “something to do,” but also a culture and mission that make it a pleasure and inspiration to get up and come to every day.
Bonus: Our spring 2014 personal development classes are open for registration now. See our online catalog for a complete listing of courses and to register.