ASUC Auxiliary associate director Tom Spivey retires

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After more than 25 years of service to UC Berkeley, Tom Spivey, associate director of the ASUC Auxiliary, is retiring in search of a new adventure.

Before becoming associate director nearly six years ago, Spivey worked with Cal Dining since 1986. Before that, Spivey served in the US Coast Guard, doing everything from food service and navigation to drug trafficking surveillance and rescue swimming.

Spivey’s life story is full of adventure, and he doesn’t seem interested in slowing down at all. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Spivey was reactivated for the Coast Guard and appointed as the first sea marshal in recovery efforts. Spivey was also activated for the BP oil spill and helped coordinate the response in New Orleans.

In the midst of all this, Spivey made sure to find time for education, earning his bachelor’s in 2006 from Argosy University. He then retired from the US Coast Guard in 2011 as a Senior Chief.

For a man with such a colorful background, Spivey speaks humbly of his accomplishments at UC Berkeley. During his time working with campus food services, he played an integral role in the Unit 3 cafeteria remodel, and took great pride in witnessing student reactions to his design.

“I remember walking through, trying to come up with new ideas, and I started thinking about the Flintstones,” he said.  “I started thinking about how we could use these lights and lasers and colors to create a cool environment, and then when we started throwing all these theme dinners and I’d see students come in and have fun, that was just great.”

In his time with the ASUC Auxiliary, Spivey strove to bring the same energy and collaborative effort to the table, and the students he has worked with speak warmly of his legacy.

“Tom is a very committed, passionate, genuine individual,” said ASUC External Affairs VP Shahryar Abbasi, who worked closely with Spivey as a senator last year. “He always puts students first and understood his role at the ASUC as a role of service to the student body. His leadership will be missed. He has a very warm, collaborative personality, and I really appreciate everything that he did.”

Spivey’s self-identified greatest accomplishment for the ASUC is the passage of the Lower Sproul Initiative—an initiative that required countless hours of collaboration and planning with student leaders and senators. His ability to act as a mediator between students while not assuming authority over them is one of his more honored traits, said ASUC Undergraduate Representative Hedy Chen.

“It’s been such a pleasure to work with Tom,” said Chen. “He’s someone I’ve gotten to know on a very personal level, and he really puts a lot of effort into his job for the students and the school. He really wants to hear the opinions of the students.”

Spivey will push on in his search for growth and adventure, but will leave behind a legacy at the ASUC of caring deeply for the student population he has was responsible for representing.

When asked where he’s going now, Spivey closed his eyes, sat back in his office chair, laughed, and then finally said, “I’ve always been engaged in finding challenges in my career. Now it’s time to find the next one. It’s how you grow, how you mature.”

Contact D.J. Sellarole at [email protected].