Great Experience

Mark Champagne
Mark Champagne

“…But it’s great experience.”

It is a mantra Mark Champagne uttered many times, to the thousands of students who worked for him during his 32 years as business manager for Associated Students of UC Davis (ASUCD). So much so it was engraved in a plaque that hung on his office wall for years before he retired in June 2011.

While the slogan motivated students to do difficult jobs, it also reflects Champagne’s love of UC Davis and prompted his donation to thank the university and promote superior customer service among student workers at ASUCD. Upon retiring, Champagne donated $25,000, which ASUCD matched, to fund customer service awards for hourly UC Davis student employees.

“My passion, my heart and soul are with the hourly employees — the cashier and the bus driver. That’s who I want to leave a legacy with,” said Champagne, a first-generation college student whose father was a truck driver. “I have a lot of passion for those working in the trenches. They’re the ones who really need the money and I wanted to do my part to help.”

As business manager of ASUCD, Champagne managed 30 different campus programs, many of which grew under his leadership to become among the largest programs of their kind in the nation — including the Bike Barn, a student-run bike repair and rental shop that does 10,000 repairs a year; the Coffee House, a campus eatery that employs more than 250 student workers and is a $4.2 million break-even operation; and Unitrans, a public transportation system operated largely with student workers that serves more than three million passengers a year.

“If I can help promote great customer service at ASUCD and reward the student who goes above and beyond, then I think I’ve left a legacy,” Champagne said. “And I’m just happy that, through my gift, the university has allowed me to do that.”