The Long Run: Lee Goodman

University employees with more than 4 decades under their belts reflect on their careers

They arrived in the 1970s, some after serving in Vietnam, some fresh out of high school or college. More than 40 years later, they still come to work at the University of South Carolina — some after officially “retiring.”

“This is such a great place to work, people don’t want to leave,” says Caroline Agardy, vice president for Human Resources. “They’re proud to work for the University of South Carolina and dedicated to making higher education their life’s work.”

The workers who have committed their careers to the university agree. They stay because they like learning something new every day, helping young students find their way in an increasingly complicated world and interacting with co-workers who feel like family.

TIMES spoke with a few of these long-term employees to see what keeps them coming back to work on campus, long after they could have settled into that place in the mountains or that home by the sea.

A man and his toys

When Lee Goodman started working at South Carolina in 1974, the technical part of his job involved a very large, very heavy camera — and miles of cable. 

“I was a video technician,” he says. “We were hauling cameras around that weighed 100-plus pounds. Now you can do the same thing with a 3-pound camera. I used to have a studio full of technology, now it’s all inside your computer.”

Now part-time, Goodman splits duties between one of the university’s largest research projects — using sophisticated software and statistical modeling to determine when aircraft need servicing — and USC Beaufort. 

“I learn something every day,” he says. “My job allowed me to see a lot from one end of campus to the other.”

His recent work with engineering professor Abdel Bayoumi in the Center for Predictive Maintenance has been especially rewarding, particularly considering that both of his sons graduated from South Carolina with engineering degrees, one with a Ph.D.

Goodman himself graduated from the university in 1973 with a degree in biology. “Don’t ask me how I got into technology,” he says. “You know men and their electronic toys.”

While his first tenure as a full-time worker allowed him to venture into every aspect of university life, his most recent work in teleconference support has given him the opportunity to get to know President Harris Pastides. “This president has been good for this university,” he says. “His respect for both faculty and staff equally impressed me. I’m going to miss him.”

And Goodman himself might retire in two or so years, but not until he passes the torch. 

“I can’t say I’m bored,” he says. “I’m going to retire one day, but I have got to find somebody to take over what I do. It’s not easy.” 

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