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After 17 years of working for the athletic department, Claudia Gillette, aide to the athletic director, will retire Dec. 23. Madeleine Jepsen | Collegian
After 17 years of working for the athletic department, Claudia Gillette, aide to the athletic director, will retire Dec. 23. Madeleine Jepsen | Collegian

After 17 years of service to Hillsdale College’s athletic department, Aide to the Athletic Director Claudia Gillette is retiring Dec. 23 to spend more time with her children and grandchildren.

Gillette primarily helps with the athletic department’s budgeting and expenses, and her successor will be responsible for finances and ensuring NCAA compliance. And although she leaves behind the work, it’s the relationships she’s built that will leave with her. she said.

“My favorite aspect of the job is the people I work with,” Gillette said. “Every day, when you come in, it’s a happy place to be.”

Gillette was first hired as a staff assistant and returned to her background in finances and accounting for the athletic department, after her three children moved out of the house.

“I’m really proud to work for Hillsdale College,” Gillette said. “It’s so different from other colleges, and the kind of students that we have here are just pretty remarkable. It’s been fun for me to watch our coaches — they mentor the kids, they care about them so much. It’s just really special to watch.”

As a part of her work, Gillette frequently interacts with coaches, both in passing while at the office and as a part of her work with the budget.

“All the coaches come by her office all the time to chat with her,” said junior Summer Burkholder, one of the athletic department’s student workers. “There’s such a community between the secretaries and all the coaches.”

Her coworkers said she will be missed.

“She’s great to work with,” said Anita Gordon, aide to the athletic director. “We have a great group here, and I like to say that we just pray for the right people that are supposed to be here.”

Gillette said it’s the community at the college that she will always treasure. She saw it in special action two years ago, after the unexpected death of her husband in a car accident.

“This college was unbelievable in the way they just surrounded my family, and every day, there was food, and they were there for us,” Gillette said. “I felt their prayers just lifting me up, as I went through that. They were incredible.”

In addition to the community, Gillette said she has enjoyed watching the campus grow over the last decade and a half. In addition to the construction of Lane and Kendall halls, Gillette saw the construction of the Biermann Athletic Center and the renovations in the Roche Sports Complex firsthand. She said it is exciting to see how the campus improvements have brought more people and events to the college.

In retirement, Gillette said she plans to spend more time with her three children and her two young grandchildren, but she said she will miss the friendships she has formed in her years working for the college.

“I’m really looking forward to retiring, but I’m also going to miss the people that I work with so much,” she said. “I’ve become really close friends with so many of them. It’s a very special place.”

Nonetheless, Gillette said she plans to remain active in the Hillsdale College community, whether by attending sports games or cheering on the Chargers from afar.

“We always say, ‘Once a Charger, always a Charger,’” Gillette said. “I’ll always be watching what’s going on with the teams and rooting them on, no matter where I’m at.”