Masrsha Bergman, the almost legendary administrator of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, retired after 35 years. Rutgers will miss its adviser, friend — and heart of J/MS
By Tae Kim—
Who knew that a woman who hated school as a young girl would end up working for Rutgers University for more than three decades and would become the glue that holds the Department of Journalism and Media Studies together?
After 35 years, Marsha Bergman is hanging up her many hats – adviser to J/MS majors, professional assistant to professors, lunch buddy to School of Communication and Information staff, liaison to New Jersey media executives who support the work of the department, and information clearinghouse for
She retires this summer, and many are saying how difficult it will be to get along without her.
“Marsha Bergman is the heart and soul of the Department of J/MS for over three decades,” said J/MS Professor and Undergraduate Chairman Steve Miller, who added that he is fortunate to call Bergman a friend in addition to colleague.
“She is the person who has kept this ship running straight and strong for all these years. I really don’t have words to adequately sum up what she means not only to the department, not only to the school but to me. This place is going to be a lesser place without her.”
Over the three decades, Bergman has served six chairs of the department, and most of them depended on her for just about everything.
“It is easy to speak of Marsha in the superlative,” stated J/MS Professor Ronald Miskoff. “She was the face of the department and a support for everyone who did not understand how the system worked. She belongs to a unique breed, one that puts the individual ahead of the system. Most of all, she is a real friend.”
Bergman, who started as a secretary and rose to become undergraduate adviser for the School of Communication and Information, built strong relationships with everyone around her, especially students and faculty members.
People who have met and known Bergman do not consider her just an adviser or colleague. They consider her a dependable friend who actually cares about their personal problems.
“Marsha is absolutely wonderful,” emphasized J/MS Professor Barbara Reed. “She always has a way of keeping everybody together, and it is really remarkable. People lean on her and ask her for all kinds of things, and she does it with a smile. I can’t imagine walking into this place knowing that she is not going to be here.”
Thousands of majors came to Bergman over the years for advice about courses, ways to cut through the university’s famous bureaucracy, and even solutions to personal problems. She also certifies students for graduation, goes over applications from those who want to be J/MS majors, works with scholarships, and is involved in all the important things that need to be done in order for the department to run smoothly.
“I love working with the students,” said Bergman, as usual with a smile on her face. “They are always a challenge, and new things are always coming up. I get a huge thrill every time I see one of my students’ names in the newspaper, on a magazine, on television. I always call them ‘my kids.’”
Bergman believes listening to students and trying to figure out what their concerns are by showing compassion are the most important skills of an undergraduate adviser.
“The thought that maybe I did a little bit to help them succeed in their goals, makes me feel good!” said Bergman.
It also makes her feel good that the advising skills she developed over the years translate so well to her life outside school.
When asked about retirement, Bergman said she has mixed emotions. She is happy that she will no longer have to wake up early in the morning to go to work; sad because she will miss everyone terribly. Overall, she described her retirement as “bittersweet.”
Bergman, plans to travel, volunteer and spend some time with her son’s family in Arizona. She has one grandson there and two who live close by her Monroe Township home. They’re the light of her life. The legacy that she leaves will carry on, no doubt, in the majors who are coming up.
“Just be yourself,” Bergman advised, “and don’t try to make believe that you are something different from what you really are. Follow your dreams and just try to enjoy life. Don’t take things too seriously.”