Meet Silvia Bichler
Silvia Bichler, who has worked at De Anza for 10 years, moved to the United States from Germany in February 2001. She started out as the division administrative assistant, or DIVA as she calls it, for the Distance Learning Division at De Anza. When that position was eliminated due to budget cuts in March 2005, Bichler found a new home in the Creative Arts Division Office as its DIVA.
“I like the group of creative people I work with and the challenging and diverse job of a Creative Arts Division admin,” Bichler says. With the implementation of Banner, Bichler says the campus DIVAs have even more hats to wear.
“We have become counselors, purchasing agents, human resources specialists, payroll assistants, tech trainers, schedulers, building monitors, web designers, theater event coordinators, budgeters and personal assistants,” she says. “In order to not lose the focus on our students but also master this incredible change and extension of our jobs, we meet once a week for lunch to work together on Banner challenges and assist each other in solving problems.”
Bichler says having that network bridges the information gap that sometimes arises when division assistants are unable to attend meetings scheduled during times when they can’t close their offices. “Most of us can’t leave our offices for extended periods of time because we must keep public office hours. I consider my new DIVA network my most positive job experience in 2011,” Bichler says.
Ilan Glasman, instructor in the Choral Program, says Bichler leads an organized division whose population of faculty and students are extremely diverse artists with unique needs. “She is part office manage, part budget expert, part operations genius, part event organizer, part diplomat, part caterer, part fire extinguisher, part babysitter, part psychologist, part rabbi and part cultural affairs minister,” Glasman says. “Oh, yes, and she does it all with a smile!”
Bichler’s first encounter with De Anza was a frustrating attempt to enroll in a creative writing class in March 2001. Had she not met then-President Martha Kanter, who guided her to the right contact person, she would have left campus discouraged. Instead, she won a writing competition in that class and went on to take screenwriting classes. “When I applied for the job of division admin at Distance Learning, I made the promise that I would never, ever give a student the runaround if I got that job,” Bichler says. “Now, after 10 years, I can proudly say that I have never given a student the runaround. I consider this my greatest achievement.”
Being a De Anza student and immigrant herself and speaking six languages helps Bichler establish an immediate connection to most students. “I like when their faces light up because they feel heard and helped and understood.”