Honoring Retirees Eirian Williams and Debbie Wu

January 6, 2023
Eirian Williams
In December, two beloved Palo Alto University (PAU) employees—Eirian Williams and Debbie Wu—retired after 25 and 20 years, respectively.

Eirian Williams

"I thought I'd be at PAU until the building fell down," said Williams, former PAU director of outreach. "It's tough to leave PAU because I love what I do. I love working with students, and I love the staff—we are like family."
Williams started at PAU in 1997 as an assistant in the financial aid office and was quickly promoted to director of financial aid after three years. In 2005, Williams took a role in the admissions office, where she was able to showcase her exceptional people skills while out in the field connecting with potential students. By 2015, she was promoted to her final role as director of outreach.
"The titles don't mean much to me. I support students; that's what I do," said Williams. "Early in my career, I went to a conference where I heard Maya Angelou say, 'Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud,' and ever since that day, that's what I have strived to do. When students had hard days, I strived to be a rainbow in their cloud."
Williams has worked tirelessly, sharing the benefits of Palo Alto University at higher education conferences and setting up appointments with potential students. Over the past 25 years, Williams persisted through financially challenging times for the University and always stepped up to do what was needed to continue to enroll students.
Williams said that the driving force that kept her at PAU for so long was the relationships she had with the students. "I don't have kids of my own, but my students are my children," said Williams. "I get to witness every stage of their career—from meeting them at recruitment events to supporting them during the program, and then I get to see their incredible work out in the world, changing lives as alumni. It’s so meaningful for me; I'm just in awe of them." 
When asked what she's planning to do next, Williams said that she plans to travel to Greece next year and move to the east coast to be near her father. She also plans to return in June to attend PAU's commencement ceremony.
"My kids are graduating in June, so I need to come back to cheer them on," said Williams. "Working at PAU was a labor of love, and I want the very best for my students. They are going to be amazing doctors, and I'm so excited to see how they contribute to the field of mental health."
Debbie Wu

Debbie Wu

"I can't believe it's been 20 years; time flies!" said Debbie Wu, who also retired in December.
Wu came to PAU in 2002 as a senior accountant and was promoted to managing the payroll as an accounting manager, and finally to her most recent role as Accounts Payroll Supervisor.
"Even though there were many ups and downs during the early years, over the course of 20 years, I've seen PAU progress into an extraordinary institution," said Wu. "It's been amazing to watch PAU grow and for us to grow with the University, as well."
Before coming to PAU, Wu worked at a for-profit institution where the financial reporting was quite different from PAU, a non-profit university. Wu enjoyed the challenge of learning new skills, such as working with donations and grants, as well as developing a new process of financial reporting for the University.
Wu's favorite part of her job, however, has been the connections with her co-workers. "There are many nice people here in so many different departments, and I've made very good friends," said Wu. "The friendships I've created among my co-workers are what I cherish the most from my time at PAU."  
Regarding the next steps for Wu, she doesn't have any big plans other than slowing down, relaxing, and spending time with her family. She wants to stay in contact with PAU since she has a lot of pride in being part of the PAU community.
"After 20 years, I feel like I've been part of so much that has happened, and I have so many memories that I will cherish after I retire," said Wu. "Since PAU is an organization involved in mental health and service to the community, I feel honored to be part of it."
Eirian Williams and Debbie Wu – we honor you both for your combined 45 years of service and for being a rainbow in all of our lives at PAU. We wish you the best of luck, and you will be missed!