Zimmerman opts for retirement, reflects on time at Gannon

Doug Zimmerman, Gannon University’s director of student living, has announced that he will not be returning next year to the office he has held for 17 out of his total 22 years at Gannon.

Zimmerman initially was a women’s basketball head coach for five years before he moved into the student living department in 1996. He said he anticipated the move from coaching basketball to an office position in student living to be easier than it turned out to be.

“This job in particular is not a 9-to-5 job; it’s basically a 24/7,” Zimmerman said. “At least if you’re coaching you go home and you’re not getting the phone calls and that type of thing from 9 at night until 7 in the morning.”

Zimmerman said his job has not only grown taxing over the years as he has gotten older, but he said he feels the students and parents he regularly communicates with have worsened as time has passed. He said that some students carry a sense of “entitlement,” and whenever he gets a phone call from parents they are generally centered on incidents regarding their children.

“I might have two or three phone calls a day to return to parents,” Zimmerman said. “And parents aren’t calling me to say, ‘Hey you’re doing a great job.’”

Despite the fact that most of Zimmerman’s direct communications with students are by nature conflicts, he said that these issues stem from a marginal amount of the student body.

“This is the job where you’re like the sheriff, so you’re probably not going to make people happy a lot of the time,” Zimmerman said. “I think it’s been a good ride. I’m guessing that I’ve probably done a decent job or else I wouldn’t have done it as long.”

A replacement director of student living has not yet been chosen.

Senior international business major Zach Braun said he wishes Zimmerman the best.

“At the same time, I look forward to the positive changes coming to the student living office in the form of new administrators,” Braun said.

While Zimmerman has spent 39 years working at the college level – with 22 at Gannon – he said the university had a “family atmosphere” that was not as apparent at his previous employments, among them Penn State-Behrend and Slippery Rock University.

“This is probably the place that is most like a family,” Zimmerman said. “If there is a problem, you get a lot of support or comfort.”

Zimmerman said the sheer amount of work has taken its toll on him during the past 17 years.

“Really, this has been a job, instead of 17 years, it’s been 34 because you’re going around the clock,” Zimmerman said. “There haven’t been any vacations I’ve ever been on where I’ve not had to answer emails or phone calls.

“It’s kind of like dragging a weight around all the time, and I’m not a spring chicken anymore; that weight’s a little bit heavier.”



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