A message from a former Yale colleague

December 16, 2021

In reflecting on the expansive Yale career of John H. Bollier, colleagues from across the department have shared their sentiments. In this interview, George Zdru, former director of university planning (who retired in 2018), describes John’s imprint on him and the greater University, among other things.

What is the first project you worked on with John? What year was it?

John hired me in 1999 as a planner at the School of Medicine. My first project was renovating a floor in the Sterling Hall of Medicine (SHM 3) for the Department of Pharmacology. Wow, I can’t believe I remember that detail!

At the time, I had no experience with renovating laboratories, but I suppose I conducted myself in a certain way so that my client felt my guidance was credible, and the renovation was successful. After that, we went on to renovate about 95 percent of the floors at the School of Medicine; it was a busy time and we accomplished a lot of work in that first decade.

How did John impact your career at Yale?

Throughout my nearly 20-year career at Yale, John was responsible for promoting me a total of five times! Before I retired in 2018, I was the director of university planning. I was responsible for the planning for all three Yale campuses—by then, Yale had acquired West Campus. Clearly, he had a significant impact on my career, and I am very grateful.

What have you missed most about working with John?

Overall, I miss many of my Facilities colleagues, including John. Whenever I see him at someone’s retirement fête, we end up chatting for a long time about this and that. I enjoyed working for him, and I miss our interactions.

What is the most rewarding project you’ve worked on with John?

The last two major planning projects I worked on before I retired were my favorites—the Hall of Graduate Studies transformation into the Humanities Quadrangle and the planning of the Yale Science Building (YSB).

As part of the project, we worked closely with the Provost’s Office and sixteen different humanities departments to put them together under one roof. Prior to this undertaking, they were spread across the campus. For the YSB building, we collaborated with many science departments to house them in one building.These two projects were probably the most complex of my career and the most rewarding, and John was there throughout the process, giving excellent guidance.