Retiring this month after 35 years, Maggie Hall, associate dean of Santa Monica College’s Emeritus College for older adults, was honored Wednesday, June 17th as “Manager of the Year.”

Hall, who has served with the special program since it was founded in 1974, was presented with the award by SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang during SMC’s 2009 “Recognition Program,” which also honors retirees and employees with longevity.

A Westchester resident, Hall started her career at SMC as a secretary to what was then the assistant dean of adult education and Emeritus College. She has cultivated the program from a handful of classes and students into a thriving model of lifelong learning with more than 170 classes and 3,000 older adult students, SMC officials said.

“As legacies go, Maggie Hall’s legacy, Emeritus College, is the gift that keeps on giving,” Tsang said.

Born and raised in South Florida, Hall taught high school art for three years before moving to California in 1971 and later joining SMC. She has taken on other duties at the college for short periods, including overseeing the SMC Foundation, scholarships and alumni association, as well as teaching art through adult education.

Hall has also been an effective fundraiser, drumming up $5 million in donations for Emeritus during her tenure, college officials note.

“To me, Emeritus College is Maggie Hall,” said SMC history professor Harvey Stromberg, who taught current events and history courses at Emeritus for more than a decade through the late 1980s. “She built the Emeritus program from Ground Zero. And she has a certain demeanor and patience in working with seniors that I’ve never seen.”

Emeritus College boasts a wide range of offerings, from business to computer training, from the arts and literature to political science and health and physical conditioning. All classes are free and, though designed for adults 55 and older, are open to all ages.

Hall received her bachelor’s degree in art education from Florida Atlantic University and a master’s in art from California Lutheran University. She also received a master’s in counseling from Loyola Marymount University.

She has been involved in many professional and community organizations, including the Community College Educators of Older Adults and Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica.