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Vicki Guyer's Retirement After 27 Years at Burgmann

On 30 May, Burgmann College said farewell to our beloved Manager of Residential Services, Vicki Guyer, who retired after 27 years of dedicated service.

At the farewell morning tea, Principal Sally Renouf gave a moving speech about Vicki’s contribution to the College.

“Vicki Guyer has been an integral part of our Burgmann family, and it is with a mix of joy, gratitude, and sadness that we celebrate her retirement,” Sally said. “Over the past three decades, she has exemplified the true spirit of dedication, professionalism, and passion. She has been an invaluable asset to our community, and her absence will undoubtedly be deeply felt. Her leadership has fostered an environment of collaboration and camaraderie that will be greatly missed.”

Vicki moved to the ACT from Jenolan in 1994, and 12 months later applied for the job as ‘Accounts Clerk’ at Burgmann. After her interview, then Principal Dr Lewis Rushbrook phoned Ian, Vicki’s husband, to ask him if he could offer Vicki the job. Such were the early 90s.

Sally suggested it was a miracle Vicki got the job at all, “given that the resume she submitted was accidentally the very rough first draft and not the polished version she’d finalised—but Lewis thankfully had a sense of humour and offered her the role anyway.”  

For those who are used to Burgmann’s friendliness, warmth and collegial atmosphere, it will be a surprise to hear that our staff community hasn’t always had the level of warmth and egalitarianism that we enjoy today. When Vicki first joined the team in March 1996, an assistant declared that she ‘wasn’t going to teach Vicki anything, because she wasn’t paid for that’. The departments were separate and not encouraged to interact, the residents had to address the Principal as ‘Dr Rushbrook’, and Vicki was expected to handle all residential support where possible.

Luckily, Vicki is who she is—warm, kind and someone who gets things done—and she took it upon herself to shift the culture. For one thing, she ensured that staff morning teas, where all departments gather together for their morning break, became a fixture of the College. She also managed to move the staff into the Dining Hall for lunch (previously, they were eating in the AR Room), so that they were eating as a team and with our residents. And, when during a Christmas in July event two chefs had a fight and left, Vicki ended up serving food that night.

Sally shared that, “one time, Vicki (along with Steve and Marg and a few others) helped Housekeeping turn over the College in a day, cleaning an entire floor—she apparently could not walk the next day.” Yet another time, Vicki led the staff in painting the undergraduate rooms, as there weren’t enough staff or resources to get the job done.

Over the years Vicki was with Burgmann, her role grew and changed, from Senior Manager to Operations Manager and, finally, Manager of Residential Services.

Burgmann has always been a hive of creativity and fun, some occasions more inappropriate than others. As Sally relayed, “Mark the Mopper, one of the maintenance team members at the time, participated in jelly wrestling at BurgDay—Vicki remembers all the jelly leftover on the grass after the party and how it would go off. Residents would exhaust themselves on the waterslide which was filled with detergent; there was a boxing ring and the Brick Race always happened, with residents diving into Sullies creek.”

Mark the Mopper would also fill the ponds that used to be outside the front of Reception with food dye on Open Day, giving Burgmann the reputation campus-wide of being ‘the place with all the coloured ponds’.

Another memorable chapter was when Vicki and Marg accompanied an interhall resident choir, the Daley Road Singers, to the USA one year and South Africa another—trips that Vicki and Marg successfully fundraised for.

At Vicki’s farewell at the resident lunch, two of those choir singers Madeline Anderson and Grant Roberts serenaded Vicki with a beautiful rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’.

Vicki has played a key role in helping those facing financial hardship or needing academic support, going to great lengths to help students keep their accounts. “Vicki appreciated that it’s not always black and white,” Sally said. “It’s not a transactional relationship, but rather you are supporting people with complex situations and diverse experiences.”

While words can’t sum up what Vicki means to the Burgmann community, Sally’s parting speech to Vicki came close.

“Vicki, you have been a mentor, a confidant, and a friend to so many of us. Your willingness to lend an ear, offer guidance, and provide unwavering support, both in professional and personal matters, has left an everlasting impact on our lives. 

As you embark on this new chapter in your life, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your unwavering dedication, your tireless efforts, and the incredible legacy you leave behind.  

You have been an exemplary role model, demonstrating the true meaning of professionalism, integrity, and perseverance. Your contributions to Burgmann have been immeasurable, and we are a stronger organization and community because of you.  

On behalf of the entire Burgmann family, I extend our heartfelt thanks and warmest wishes for a happy and fulfilling retirement. May this be just the beginning of a new chapter filled with endless happiness, good health, and wonderful adventures.  

Farewell, Vicki, and thank you for 27 incredible years.”

You can read Vicki's farewell speech here.

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Vicki Guyer and BRA President Oliver Byrne
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Vicki Guyer cutting her farewell cake with Principal Sally Renouf
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The now infamous 'cheesecake'
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