Jan Hartz won’t exactly be riding off into the sunset now that he’s leaving behind his position as Irvine campus director. But creating beautiful sunsets and other artistic touches in wood will be part of his post-Brandman life.
Hartz was the guest of honor at a beach ball/Hawaiian-themed pizza lunch put on by members of the Irvine campus staff on Monday, turned 70 on Tuesday (not that anybody would have guessed that) and by Wednesday had his office reduced to one box waiting to be moved to his car. Senior academic advisor Rebecca Warner is stepping in as interim director with a permanent replacement decision coming later this summer.
“I’m looking forward to being retired,” Hartz said. He’ll have a hip surgery to recover from first but once that’s process is complete, he plans to spend more time playing golf, traveling and working on the wood projects that he’s had a hard time fitting into his Brandman schedule.
Hartz started his career in education in the wood shop, teaching woodworking in Ventura. In the early ‘80s, when vocational-oriented classes such as woodworking began to be phased out of California schools, he thought it would be a good idea to get a master’s degree and started thinking about other career opportunities.
He spotted a flyer from Chapman University College (now Brandman University) offering a master’s cohort in Ventura: 24 teachers, four nights a week, two hours a night for a year and enrolled. “We thought that was cool,” he said.
Although he completed his master’s, his career took a slight sideways turn when he also decided to pursue training in aviation mechanics because of a personal interest. When he finished his 18-month aviation course, the administrator of that program took a look at his resume, realized he had education training and promptly hired him to do curriculum development.
“One thing led to another. I started in Denver. They sent me to Dallas to make sure the curriculums fit. I did such a good job, they decided to make me an executive director,” he said.
For that next 20 plus years, he worked as a campus or executive director at a variety of locations for several vocational colleges, including Platt College, Computer Learning Center and International Education Corp., all for-profit institutions.
“Then I found Brandman,” he said, or more accurately, found Brandman again. He spent two years as campus director in Victorville before making the move to Irvine about six months after the central administration and Irvine campus moved in together to the current building at 16355 Laguna Canyon Road in 2010.
His domain has been the first floor, with classrooms and staff of 12, plus 15 faculty members. Although enrollment has dropped slightly from its peak of 600 of a few years ago, the Irvine campus remains the largest among the multiple campuses in California and Washington.
While Hartz had to keep an eye on enrollment goals as a campus director, he said Brandman’s nonprofit, more student-centric approach came as a relief after the high-pressure enrollment tactics of for-profit institutions.
“We are more student-centered and I think that really, really makes a difference. I think we have some great instructors. Our students’ review show we’re on the right path,” said Hartz.
Hartz is sure that Brandman will stay on that path even as he heads off to spend more time with his wife Louise (who worked at both the Ontario and Irvine campuses), his three adult children and seven grandchildren.
“Of all the jobs I’ve had, this has been the best eight years. It’s a great way to go.”