Goodbye and goodluck banner

Highlander Farewells

Find out more about recently retired colleagues

June 25, 2024
Author: UCR News
June 25, 2024

Highlander Farewells is a recurring feature spotlighting faculty and staff members who recently retired or are retiring soon.

Find out more about the contributions of UCR colleagues with 25 years or more of service in the short profiles that follow. Retirees with less than 25 years or who did not provide profile information are listed below. The list includes employees who filed for retirement in June 2024 and provided information to the UCR Retirement Center. 

We extend our gratitude to all our colleagues for their service and wish them well in their next chapter!

Carl Cranor, a distinguished professor of philosophy and distinguished teaching professor, is retiring in July after 53 years of service. During his tenure at UCR, he has chaired five UCR departments, published 10 books, written about 100 peer-reviewed articles, and conducted extensive research on toxicological, occupational, and environmental issues in the law. Through his research on risks, science, and laws regarding toxic substances, Cranor has advocated for protecting public health. He has served on scientific advisory panels and advised in court decisions and regulatory policies.



Steven Axelrod, a distinguished professor of English, is retiring in July after 51 years of service. Axelrod specialized in American literature and is the author of books including “Robert Lowell: Life and Art” and “Sylvia Plath: The Wound and the Cure of Words.”Axelrod won the UCR Distinguished Teaching Award in 1989, served as department chair from 1992 to 1996, was the first holder of the McCauley Chair in Teaching Excellence in 1999-2002, and served on the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.





Eilene Montoya, an executive administrator in the dean’s office at the Bourns College of Engineering, or BCOE, is retiring in July after 40 years of service. Montoya began her University of California career in 1985 at UC San Diego during her senior year of college, first at the health center and then the UCSD Medical Center. She joined UCR in 1994, working in the statistics department. She joined BCOE in 1996 in its first year as department manager in computer science. In 2000, she transferred to the dean’s office.




Lisa Wilson, director of gift administration in University Advancement, is retiring in July after 36 years of service. She’s been with gift administration her entire career at UCR, starting as a senior clerk and working her way up. She oversees gift processing, recording, and reporting on gifts to the university and the UCR Foundation. Wilson is a proud UCR alum and parent of a UCR alum.





Jocelyn Millar, a distinguished professor of entomology, retired in June after 35 years of service. Millar studied insect chemical ecology and natural products chemistry, looking at how insects use chemical signals and communicate with pheromones. The research group gathered information about their environments and identified, synthesized, and field tested hundreds of “infochemicals” from moths, beetles, ants, wasps and other insects. They developed practical applications for many of the chemicals, allowing for detection, monitoring, and management of native and invasive insect species.




David Pion-Berlin, a distinguished professor of political science, is retiring in July after 33 years of service. He is widely known as a specialist on Latin America and his research and writing on civil-military relations, security, and human rights. He is the author or editor of 10 books and over 80 articles and chapters. He has been a Fulbright Scholar and received the 2019 Alfred Stepan Lifetime Achievement Award in Defense, Public Security and Democracy by the Latin American Studies Association. He was a mentor to dozens of undergraduate students and principal dissertation advisor to 26 doctoral students. He received the Graduate Dissertation Advising/Mentoring Award in 2015-2016.  



Cheryl Gerry, assistant dean and chief financial and administrative officer in the Graduate Division, is retiring in July after 30 years of service. She joined UCR in 1994 in a part-time, temporary position in the Department of Entomology where she met her husband Alex, a graduate student at the time and now a faculty member. Gerry worked in various College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences departments for 15 years and as a financial and administrative officer at the Bourns College of Engineering for 11 years. She has worked in her current position in the Graduate Division for the last five years.




Deborah Wong, a professor of music and interim chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies for the past academic year, retired in June after 28 years of service. An ethnomusicologist, Wong is the author of “Louder and Faster: Pain, Joy, and the Body Politic in Asian American Taiko,” “Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music,” and “Sounding the Center: History and Aesthetics in Thai Buddhist Ritual.” She also was editor of Nobuko Miyamoto's memoir, “Not Yo' Butterfly: My Long Song of Relocation, Race, Love, and Revolution” and a co-editor for the Wesleyan University Press music/culture series. She serves on the board of Great Leap, a non-profit arts organization in Los Angeles, and hosts Gold Mountain, a weekly radio show on KUCR. She was a member of the Taiko Center of Los Angeles for many years and still dances bonodori every summer in Southern California Obon gatherings.

Denise Stadelbacher, card services coordinator in Campus Business Services, retired in June after 27 years of service. While at the Office of Cultural Events, she helped launch a performing art series with 200 events featuring world artists, chamber ensembles, dance companies, and authors. Her highlights include working with Maya Angelou, Dianne Reeves, Philip Glass, Alexander String Quartet, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lines Ballet, Los Lobos, Companie Jant-Bi, David Sedaris, Culture Clash, the Eroica Trio, and Bobby McFerrin.  She also produced the Music by the Tower summer concert series. At the card office, she serviced and supported 123,000 identification cards and created the R’Card photo contest. She was also known on campus as the person who would accept and rehome sick, wounded, and abandoned animals. Facilities workers and others would deliver to her injured birds, or displaced baby possums and racoons, and she kept them in a box under her desk.


Gloria Gallego, an administrative assistant to the Office of the Campus Veterinarian, is retiring in July after 26 years of service. Gallego joined UCR as an office receptionist in 1998 and moved up the ranks to become assistant to the vice chancellor of Research and Economic Development. She later became assistant to the campus veterinarian.


Also retiring:

Piotr Gorecki, a professor of history, is retiring in July after 35 years of service.

Kevin Browne, an information manager with the University of California Natural Reserve System, is retiring in July after 24 years of service.

Luz Maria Velasco de Landeros, a lecturer in Hispanic Studies, is retiring in July after 11 years of service.