COAP Employee Spotlight: Seth Miner

Western Illinois University Director of Admissions Seth Miner

“No matter how intense meetings can be or the amount of pressure that comes with working in admissions, I have never dreaded going to work. In admissions, we have an opportunity to open the doors to the future for prospective students and feed off the excitement they have in determining the next chapter in their lives.” — Western Illinois University Director of Admissions Seth Miner

One of the better feelings in life is landing a new job or reaching a career milestone in a field that you love. Seth Miner, Western Illinois University’s new director of undergraduate admissions, has accomplished both with his new post at Western.

The director of admissions at any university can be considered the “hotseat,” depending on many internal and external circumstances that impact students’ choices of where to attend college; thus, it is often considered a stressful job. According to Seth, though, sometimes, that pressure can be useful.

No matter how intense meetings can be or the amount of pressure that comes with working in admissions, I have never dreaded going to work. In admissions, we have an opportunity to open the doors to the future for prospective students and feed off the excitement they have in determining the next chapter in their lives. I also love being challenged, which is something that we face on a daily basis in admissions,” he explained.

Seth agreed to share a bit more about himself in the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Spotlight this month. More about his background and his work at Western so far, is below…

Welcome to Western Illinois University, Seth!

Q. Tell me a bit about your background: How did you wind up working at WIU?

Seth: I was one of those students who never wanted to leave college, as I thoroughly enjoyed my college experience. I began my higher education career as the carpenter for Waldorf College in Forest City, IA. I was a proud alumnus who wanted to work at Waldorf and viewed the job as a foot in the door. After six months working at Waldorf College, a position opened in admissions. I applied, was offered, and accepted the position, and it was at that point that I was hooked!

Admissions is all about building relationships with prospective students and families, promoting the great things the institution has to offer–with the intent of the student choosing to enroll. After two years in admissions, I wanted to see what it was like building those relationships with students (once they were at the institution) as a way of retaining them. I then accepted a position at Luther College in Decorah, IA, in residence life.

At Luther College, I was the area coordinator for a complex that housed 750 upper-class students. It was a great experience, but it did not take long for me to realize I missed the fast-paced life of working in admissions. It was at this time that I got back into admissions at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, IA, as the associate director of admissions there.

During my time at Upper Iowa University, I co-supervised professional staff members, managed an in-state, as well as an out-of-state, territory, and also supervised the admissions student ambassador program and student call team. Up to that point, my experience had been working at small private institutions. I began to search for opportunities at small regional public institutions, as I felt I could incorporate my private experience and practices into public institution recruitment and be successful.

The next chapter in my career was at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, MN, as the associate director of admissions and scholarship coordinator. For two years I held that position, and in it, I also supervised admissions representatives, in addition to coordinating scholarships and implementing the strategic recruitment plan of the admissions office.

My third and final year at Bemidji State University, I had the opportunity to serve as the interim director of admissions, and my additional responsibilities included coordinating community outreach programs, budget management, strategic planning, and supervising the entire admissions staff of nine professional staff members.

I found success in implementing more of a private recruitment strategy at a public institution. My career goals were to work at a larger public institution, and that is when I came across this opportunity at Western Illinois University.

What sparked my initial interest in WIU was the automatic merit-based scholarship program that WIU has. It is reminiscent of what private institutions do and what I was accustomed to in my past experience.

Another draw to WIU was the cost guarantee and no out-of-state tuition. Higher education is a competitive market, and WIU has made these decisions that will ensure that we are providing a quality education at an affordable price.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you so far?

Seth: It has been great getting to meet all the people here at WIU and in the city of Macomb in the two months that I have been at WIU. One of the things that I love about working in admissions is that there is no such thing as a typical day. I often look at my calendar the night before to determine what I have going on the next day and that often changes. I rely heavily on my staff, and make it a point to visit with the processing staff right away in the morning, as it is a busy time of the year for them.

The majority of my days are spent in meetings, as well as looking at data to identify trends that we can capitalize on in the recruitment of students.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Seth: I am a competitor and enjoy a good challenge. The biggest challenge that we face in admissions is that our livelihood is determined by the decision-making ability of a 17- to 18-year old. We can do everything right in the recruitment process, provide the students all the information he or she needs about the institution and his or her program of interest, mutually determine that WIU is a good fit and what the student is looking for, and yet, he or she can still decide to go elsewhere. There are many outside variables that beyond our immediate control.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job.

Seth: I am currently working on my doctorate degree, so my activities have been limited. However, I do have three children (Brooks, who is 10, Cameron, who is 7, and Kaitlyn, who is 1) that I enjoy taking to the park with my wife (Jennifer). Family is a big part of my life, and the move to Macomb has also brought us closer to extended family. Our two boys are at the age where they are becoming more active in extracurricular activities, such as football, soccer, basketball, and baseball and we are excited to get them involved in all the Macomb community has to offer.

Q. What is your go-to advice?

Seth: My go-to advice would have to be to challenge yourself every day and step out of your comfort zone. It is only when you step out of your comfort zone that you truly find what you are capable of and can continually raise the bar! It is something that I have lived my life by, and if I would not have stepped out of my comfort zone and made an 11-hour move, I would not have had the opportunity to meet so many great individuals here in Macomb and at Western Illinois University.

COAP Employee Spotlight: Dana Vizdal, WIU Center for International Studies

Dana Vizdal (second from left) and international students at the 2016 International Bazaar at WIU

Dana Vizdal (second from left) and international students at the 2016 International Bazaar at WIU

Traveling to and staying in a foreign country can be one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have. It can also be one of the most daunting, particularly if you’re a young college student.

Luckily, at Western Illinois University, international students have a well-developed support system that is the team of committed individuals who work in WIU’s Center for International Studies (CIS).

And although it’s not quite yet time for International Education Week (that occurs in November, and is set from Nov. 14-18 this year), it’s never too early to recognize the work that international educators do. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with a few of the staff members at the CIS. I quickly picked up on the fact that they take their jobs–working with the many international students who come to Western–very seriously.

One of those dedicated staff members is CIS Assistant Director Dana Vizdal, who once was an international student herself during a semester-long study abroad program in Europe. So with International Education Week just around the corner, and to recognize Western’s commitment to international studies for both American and international students, this month, for the the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Spotlight, we’re featuring Dana.

Below, she talks a bit about her background and what she does here for the many individuals who travel tens of thousands of miles to come and study in Macomb at WIU.

Q. How did you end up working at Western?

Dana: I actually grew up in Macomb and earned both of my degrees from WIU. I was fortunate to study abroad in Spain for a semester, which really got me interested in international affairs. I have had the opportunity to work at WIU as a student worker, a graduate assistant, a civil service employee and now as an administrator in my current position.

Dana Vizdal and Western Illinois Univeristy international students visiting the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield.

Dana Vizdal and Western Illinois University and a group of international students visiting the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Dana: There really isn’t a typical day for me. I work closely with my graduate assistants, collaborate with many offices across campus, and help students with any questions or issues. It’s important to me that the international students know there is someone advocating for them and someone they can always approach. My door is always open, and if it’s not, there is a note on my door saying when I’ll be back.

Q. What is your favorite on-the-job memory?

Dana: I love following our students on Facebook and witnessing them experience real American culture. Seeing their reactions to and pictures of their first autumn experiences or snowfall in the Midwest is priceless.

Q. What has been your most rewarding professional experience in your career at WIU so far?

Dana: One of the most rewarding experiences was learning that a student decided to attend WIU because I spoke with his sibling at a recruitment fair abroad!

Q. What are your favorite activities outside of your job?

Dana: When I’m not working, I love traveling, eating good food, and spending time with my boyfriend, family, and friends.

Q. What is your favorite quote or quotes?

Dana: I really like “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences,” by Audre Lorde, as well as “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” by Helen Keller.

•••

Follow Western’s Center for International Studies on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WIUCenterforInternationalStudies/.

It’s All About the Students… COAP Employee Spotlight: Tracy Scott

Editor’s Note: After a bit of hiatus, the Council of Administrative Personnel Employee Spotlight is back. This month features Tracy Scott, who was named the COAP Employee of the Year (EOY) in 2016 and was recognized at last week’s (along with other award-winning employees) 23rd annual Founders’ Day celebration at Western Illinois University.

Right before the semester got underway this fall, Tracy Scott, the director of Western Illinois University’s Student Development Office (SDO), posted this to his Facebook profile:

Tracy Scott Facebook Post: "Seeing returning students who see each other for the first time since last semester never gets old! Love the hugs and the squeals!"While he’s been at WIU for nearly 30 years, it’s clear he still loves what he does at Western–most of which involves working with students. In his answers below, he explains his history with one of his alma maters and demonstrates why he was nominated for and ultimately chosen as COAP EOY.

Tracy Scott: WIU COAP Employee of the Year

Tracy Scott (center), director of the Western Illinois University Student Development Office, was named the WIU 2016 Employee of the Year by the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP). He is pictured here with his two nominators, Vian Neally, assistant director of marketing at Campus Recreation, and Associate Vice President for Student Services John “JB” Biernbaum.

Q: Tell me a bit about your background: When did you start at WIU? What kinds of roles have you served in since you’ve been employed at Western?

Tracy: I first came to WIU in the fall of 1988 as a graduate student in the public communication program. I had an assistantship and primarily assisted with the Communication “Public Speaking” 241 course. For my thesis project, I worked on developing a brochure on cultural diversity to enhance the undergraduate admissions marketing plan. I also took graduate electives in WIU’s college student personnel program.

One of my favorite memories during this time was having then WIU President Ralph Wagoner co- teaching one of my courses. After receiving my master’s degree from WIU, I was hired by the Admissions Office as an admissions counselor.

Later, I was promoted to the assistant director of Admissions, where I was responsible for the reception center. After that, I was selected as the assistant director for the Student Development and Orientation Office (SDO) and then became the director of SDO in 2001. I also supervise the LGBT*QA Resource Center and serve as the Emergency Consultation team chair and co-chair of the Threat Assessment Team.

Q: On any given day, what kinds of tasks/duties do you undertake at WIU?

Tracy: One of the things I love most about my job is that every day is different. My day typically consists of assisting students in some form of crisis and helping them through that crisis. I also love the daily interaction of working with graduate students who are preparing for a career in higher education.

Q: What are some of the best parts of your job? What are some of the most challenging parts of your job?

Tracy: The best parts of my job is advocating for students and empowering students to take control of their challenges and watching them grow. Some of the most challenging parts of the job include working with situations of suicide, sexual assault, and other psychological situations that arise. It is also very challenging to work with students who have limited support.

Who We Are, What We Do: Piletic & Janisz

Tracy Scott came up with the idea of the “Who We Are, What We Do” series of posts about Western Illinois University employees. This installment featured Cindy Piletic and Michelle Janisz.

Q: Tell me about the “Who We Are, What We Do” campaign. How did this idea come about for you? Why do you think it’s important?

Tracy: I had the privilege of serving on the President’s Staff Roundtable this past year, and during one of our meetings we were discussing ways to counter all the negativity surrounding the state budget crisis. My idea was to highlight many of the positive things/people that we have in this community. I thought about how successful the ALS Facebook challenge was and thought could we do something similar where those with connections to WIU could share their stories and create interest while promoting positive stories during such a difficult time. I think it’s important because we have many, many success stories, and even in difficult times we have good things to be thankful for.

Leathernecks lapel pin

How do I stay on track to get good grades? What are my responsibilities as a student? How can I get involved on campus? These are common questions often asked by new college students, and a Western Illinois University committee, comprised of student services staff, came up with a “one stop shop,” so to speak, that provides direction and guidance to incoming students. The new site, wiu.edu/welcome, answers these questions and much more, and all new students were given a Leathernecks lapel pin, complete with the website on the pin’s card.

Q: Recently, you were part of the team who implemented a “Leatherneck Pin” and website resource project designed to support new students at Western: Tell me about how this project came about and why you think it’s important to provide resources like this for new students.

Tracy: Over the past several years, there have been several of us in student services who have come together in a collaborative effort to get important information to our students. We moved to creating one publication, the Student Planner/Handbook; however, due to the budget situation this year, we wanted to save money but still find a way to get the information out to new students. As a result of this, an online “Welcome” page was developed. As we were having discussions on how to inform students about this page, the idea of a Leatherneck Pin was mentioned. It is a way to have new students take pride in being a Leatherneck and share the message of what it means to be a Leatherneck, as well as provides a way to drive students to the Welcome page.

These things are important because we want our students to be proud to be here and to be a member of this community and we want them to have the information they need to be successful.

Q: What do you enjoy while you’re away from work?

Tracy: There are many things I like to do in my time away from work. I enjoy getting together with friends/family, having dinner, a game night or listening to live music. I also enjoy golfing with my dad and my favorite thing to do is spend time with my son, Tanner.

Q: Do you have any go-to advice for those who work with college students?

Tracy: Embrace each moment. We are very fortunate that we get to work with college students each and every day. We have the opportunity to have a positive impact on their development and in return they have a positive impact in our development, as well.

COAP Employee Spotlight: Judy Yeast

Courtney James and Judy Yeast

According to Western Illinois University alumna Courtney James (left), who worked with Judy Yeast (right) on Big Pink Volleyball (BPV), WIU’s annual breast cancer fundraising volleyball tourney, Judy had a significant impact on her while she was a graduate student working on the BPV student organization team.

“You’re going to be doing the Fallen Soldier 5K, right, Teresa?”

The voice was coming from above me just as I was about to begin an early morning workout in September. I stopped, a couple of steps up from the landing, on my way to the upper level at the Donald S. Spencer Student Recreation Center, tilted my eyes toward the ceiling and saw Judy Yeast, associate director of Western Illinois University’s Campus Recreation. She was smiling down at me over the stairwell railing.

“I don’t really have the knees anymore for running, Judy.”

“You don’t have to run in it, Teresa. You can walk in it, too,” she said. By that point, she was beaming down at me.

While I personally usually try to stay away from distance walking and running events (which aggravate my unfortunate genetically determined arthritic knee condition), a few weeks later, I found myself walking in Western’s Fallen Soldiers 5K Run/Walk.

After the event, I can honestly say I was glad I did it–and I plan to “do” the Fallen Solider 5K Run/Walk again next year, aching knees and all.

The 2015 Fallen Soldiers 5K Run/Walk at WIU

The 2015 Fallen Soldiers 5K Run/Walk at WIU. See more photos of the annual event at bit.ly/WIUFS5K.

Judy has been an integral part of such WIU philanthropic events as the Fallen Soldiers 5K, which is a fundraiser for the Fallen Soldiers’ Scholarship Fund in honor of WIU alumni Capt. Derek Dobogai and Lt. Col. Robert Baldwin, who were killed in the line of duty, as well as the annual University Housing (Thompson Hall) and Campus Recreation breast cancer fundraising Big Pink Volleyball Tournament. The single-elimination Big Pink Volleyball tourney — which began at Western in 2002 and has spread to many campuses and even private-sector companies since — has raised nearly $120,000 at WIU alone to support the breast cancer cause.

Members of the Big Pink Volleyball Committee in 2015.

It was Judy Yeast (back row, left, wearing pink scarf) who first purchased a “big pink volleyball” for use at WIU’s Student Recreation Center. In 15 years, Big Pink Volleyball at WIU has raised $118,457. Of that, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has received $56,905.28 and McDonough District Hospital has received $61,550.84. Of the 70 percent donated to MDH, 35 percent is donated to Linda’s Fund and the other 35 percent is donated to Outreach Services.

“It started because of Judy,” noted WIU alumna Joni Burch (2004), who was part of the very first group of Thompson Hall resident assistants, or the “founding mothers,” involved with Big Pink Volleyball at Western. “When it began at WIU, Judy just had bought this big pink ball for the Student Recreation Center. During our winter training as resident assistants, we were having a social event, and she came up to me and said, ‘You should think of a program to use this ball,'” Burch explained. “We were having a lot of fun playing volleyball with the big pink ball, so, based on Judy’s suggestion, that’s what we decided we would do. Our first tourney was in April that year. We decided we liked it so much, we would hold it in October, too, and make it an annual thing in October for breast cancer awareness,” Burch added.

Although I have only known her since about 2008 (the year I began working at WIU), Judy has truly been an inspiration to me personally. I have had the fortunate circumstance to work with her, as well as run into her, many times on campus over the years. Each time, I can honestly say, I have come away with a positive sentiment or feeling to take me through the rest of the day.

After her 34 years at Western, I can imagine there are many, many people — students, faculty, staff, alumni — who have come into contact with Judy who have similar stories, anecdotes that included them taking part in, or implementing, an activity or idea she suggested.

“I always try to have people see the positive side of things and to stay positive and encourage people to invest in themselves,” she told me, when I recently asked her if she would be interested in being featured as the subject of the Nov./Dec. 2015 “Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee Spotlight,” a blog post the COAP Executive Committee sponsors every month or so.

Recently, I learned Judy has decided to retire, and to honor her dedicated service to Western, there is a reception in her honor from 2-4 p.m. this Thursday (Dec. 17) at the WIU Multicultural Center.

I hope this particular spotlight Q&A post also helps to honor her and her commitment to Western. Below are her answers to some questions I posed to her about her long-held position in WIU’s Campus Recreation.

Q. How did you end up working at Western?

Judy: I did my undergraduate degree at Quincy College (now University) in physical education, grades 6-12. Then I did my student teaching, and I decided I did not want to teach high school students, so I came to Western and got a graduate assistantship in women’s intramurals, and I thought, “This is really fun.” After I graduated, I obtained a teaching position at Monmouth College in their physical education program, and a year later, the position here for the Women’s Intramurals director opened up, and I came back to Western. That’s how I got back here, and I’ve been here since 1981.

Q. What was your graduate degree in?

Judy: My master’s degree was in athletic administration (but now it’s called “sport management“). I came into Western as the director of Women’s Intramurals, and that year, WIU renamed and combined men’s and women’s intramurals into Campus Recreation, and John Colgate became the director of campus recreation. I was assistant director of Campus Recreation, then I moved up to associate director. Then, in 1994-95, when we passed the student referendum for the Student Recreation Center, I served as the interim director for Campus Recreation for a time.

That’s probably the highlight of my career here–to see the passing of the student referendum so that we could build the Student Recreation Center.

Q. What did you use for recreational sports here at WIU before the Student Recreation Center was constructed?

Judy: We had the Brophy Hall gym from 6-10 p.m., and we used Brophy’s room 235 for a fitness studio. Whenever Athletics wasn’t using Western Hall, we would get to use Western Hall from 6-10 at night. We had pools in both spaces, but we only had room 235 for our aerobics classes. We might have two or three aerobics classes per day. Now, we have 49 classes throughout the week, and we have a pool that is open during prime times for students in the Recreation Center.

Q. What does a typical day look like for you these days?

Judy: I don’t have a typical day. Like today, I started off with a blood pressure screening and bone density screening for one of the Employee Wellness Committee’s programs. I’m one of 11 people on that committee. After I get done talking with you this morning, I will go and speak to group of graduate assistants to show them how to write their annual reports for the vice president’s office. This afternoon, I’ll be doing a wrap up meeting with the members of the Big Pink Volleyball committee, and tonight, I’ll go over and visit the art department for their program from 7-9 p.m. There are no typical days in Campus Recreation. But, as you know, working with college students keeps you young. And that is the neat thing about our program and my job–that I get to work with students.

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Judy: I work with a lot of graduate students, and I love it when I see their individual “light bulbs” go on and I know they have passion that you have to have for the field of recreational sports. Watching them get their first jobs and being successful… and then watching them get those second jobs, and then seeing them move into positions they never thought they were capable of and then being able to tell people, “I got my degree here at Western Illinois University.” That is so rewarding for me.

In general, I love the fact I get to work with lots of students. With Big Pink Volleyball, I get to work with the students in Thompson Hall, because Big Pink is their capstone philanthropic project. Also, I work with students who work on Dodgeball for Diabetes, which is co-sponsored with the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH) on our WIU campus.

I have been able to work on a lot of different activities. It has been neat to see the success of the Fallen Soldier’s 5K, which began as a midnight basketball tournament in February 2012 that made $28.03. Who would have ever thought we would have endowed the Fallen Soldiers’ Scholarship Fund only a few years later?

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Judy: I think that are only 24 hours in a day. Just like everybody else, I need my down time and need to follow the wellness models. I need to work out, I need to take care of myself, I need to eat right and have a balance of work and play in my life.

Q. What do you like to do outside of your job?

Judy: We have three children, and our first grandson lives in Denver, so we enjoy traveling. I also enjoy finishing furniture and woodworking, gardening, and doing athletic type of things to stay active.

Q. Do you have a favorite quote or some go-to advice you like or you like to tell people?

Judy: “If exercise could be packed into a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.” — Robert Butler

October COAP Employee Spotlight: Joe Roselieb

Joe Roselieb and Col. Rock III

Joe Roselieb and Col. Rock III

The Western Illinois University Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) employee featured in this month’s COAP Spotlight is usually the individual at the other end of Col. Rock III “Rocky‘s” leash…

In his day job, Joe Roselieb serves as the director of residential facilities for University Housing and Dining Services (UHDS). But at night–and at Western Illinois Athletics‘ games, and in parades, and at WIU AdmissionsDiscover Western open house events, and at many, many student activities, and at alumni events–his main job is to serve as Rocky’s person.

Rocky joined the WIU family in May 2010 as a 10-week-old pup. Since then, Joe has been providing him with a loving home, teaching him tricks, making sure he’s healthy and chauffeuring him to numerous WIU and community events each year.

“It’s been a terrific experience taking care of WIU’s mascot,” Joe noted. “My day-to-day job isn’t always that glamorous, so it’s a real treat to get to be able to take Rocky around and see the positive impact around both the campus and community.”

Joe took time out his (and Rocky’s) busy schedule to provide a little bit of background about himself and he how strives for “paw”fection in his role at UHDS.

Q. Tell me a bit about your background. How did you end up working at Western Illinois University?

Joe and Rocky take a rest at the 2015 WIU Homecoming Leatherneck Football Game.

Joe and Rocky take a rest at the 2014 WIU Homecoming Leatherneck Football Game.

Joe: I’m originally from Prophetstown (IL). I came to WIU in 2003 to attend for my undergraduate degree and graduated in 2007 with my bachelor’s degree. All through college I worked in UHDS as a student worker and was offered an assistantship in housing following graduation, which I accepted and did for one year. In 2008, I had the rare opportunity to apply for an assistant director position for facilities and was selected, and I started my full-time career that July. I finished my master’s later that spring in 2009. In 2012, I was promoted to director of residential facilities.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Joe: Every day is a little different and that is what makes it exciting. Most days start at 8 a.m. or a little before and are filled with meetings, walk-throughs of facilities, and a lot of planning. In my area, looking forward is essential, so I spend a lot of time working with members of Facilities Management, University Technology, and other campus entities mapping out things for the future.

Q. What is your favorite on-the-job memory?

Joe: My favorite job memory is probably finishing up renovation Corbin and Olson after three years of planning and construction. It taught me a lot about construction, communication, and just the overall process. When you have a project that big, there is a lot to keep track of and it was a great feeling when it was all done and completed.

Rocky and His Person, Joe Roselieb, in 2010

Rocky and His Person, Joe Roselieb, in 2010

Q. What has been your most rewarding professional experience in your career so far?

Joe: My most rewarding professional experience has been being selected as the 2011 Administrator of the Year from Western’s Division of Student Services.

Q. How do you juggle Rocky’s busy appearance schedule?

Joe: It can be very difficult at times, but we try to attend as much as possible. I’m pretty selective of the events we choose to attend, and I always make sure it coincides with the mission and values of the institution. Looking back at the last five years of the live-mascot program, it has been a gratifying experience to see how far it’s come and the amount of people it has impacted.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job (e.g., hobbies, family or friend activities, etc.).

Joe: I enjoy music and sports. I try to attend at least one or two Chicago Bears’ games a year, even though this year I think I’ll save my money. I also purchased a new house last March and work on it when I can. I also became an uncle for the first time on Sept. 28… to a niece.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Joe: “Don’t let your failures define you, let them refine you.”

Aug./Sept. COAP Employee Spotlight: Pedro Bidegaray

Last June, Dr. Pedro Bidegaray brought his extensive international education expertise to Western Illinois University. As the new director of WIU’s Office of Study Abroad and Outreach, Bidegaray said the opportunity offers him the “chance to make a difference” and “to work with a group of committed professionals in the provision of international opportunities and perspectives to students at WIU.”

Pedro Bidegaray (center) during his time with Educate Tanzania.

Pedro Bidegaray (center) during his time with Educate Tanzania.

Before arriving in western Illinois, Dr. Bidegaray was based in Minnesota, in a position at Educate Tanzania (a non-governmental organization) and supported efforts to develop an academic curriculum for a new agricultural college in Karagwe, Tanzania. Prior to that (2011-14), he was the director of international programs at the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences. In that role, he was responsible for integrating an international perspective into the mission of the college, with an emphasis on internationalization of curriculum and global development. From 1995-2010, he worked for EARTH University in Costa Rica, serving as director of international academic programs from 2006-10.

As a new Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) member at Western, Dr. Bidegaray agreed to share a bit more about his background and goals for his latest pursuits in international education on this Big Blue Planet.

Q: What interested you in coming to Western Illinois University?

Dr. Bidegaray: I was born in Peru and studied anthropology. I was intrigued by the idea of working with rural communities in my country. Later, I came to the U.S. to get my Ph.D. in cultural anthropology, and after I was awarded my degree, I traveled to Costa Rica to work in a small international college. Five years ago, we (my wife and two children) decided to come back to the U.S.

Q: What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you so far?

Dr. Bidegaray: It is becoming busier day after day. Since I started at WIU, I have dedicated a significant portion of my time to visit administration and faculty, in an attempt to get to know about the institution, content of their academic programs, and their understanding of the role that international education might (should) play in WIU.

Our unit, the Office of Study Abroad and Outreach, is a unit that provides services to faculty and students. In order to achieve this goal, we need to understand what is academically meaningful and feasible, and translate that understanding into initiatives that will encourage the adoption of international perspectives into their academic programs.

To succeed, we are committed to be prompt communicating with students and faculty, trying address their concerns and finding specific solutions to challenges they might face as they look to enrich their academic experiences.

Q: What is your favorite on-the-job memory?

Dr. Bidegaray: My favorite on-the-job experience has been through my interaction with co-workers in Costa Rica. I worked for an institution at which the employees cared deeply for their students and their abilities to succeed as professionals and citizens. We were a tight group of professionals from all over the world and disciplines, forever discussing how to engage students creatively and meaningfully in the classroom or when they were in the field visiting rural areas. We were all part of a learning community committed to the ideal of the education of leaders of change. Sounds corny, but that is what we believed.

Q: What has been the most rewarding professional experience in your career so far?

Dr. Bidegaray: Regarding my most rewarding experience in my career, well, I don’t know… I have several. As a professor and as a person who has traveled extensively, I have always been moved by people’s generosity and ability to connect, irrespective of cultural differences. People have an incredible ability to surprise me with unexpected reactions of kindness and creativity.

Q: What are some of your goals for Western’s Office of Study Abroad and Outreach?

Dr. Bidegaray: I have several goals, which include: to extend the benefits of international education to most WIU students. This is something we will achieve by developing a program that not only encourages students and faculty to go abroad, but also by developing an academic program and a university culture that integrates international perspectives comprehensively. It is not necessary to travel to other countries to develop an understanding and addressing cultural differences. The world as we know it is here around us. Here on campus, we have students from close to 60 different countries. Do we know who they are? What do we know about their countries? Do we bring that experience to our classrooms?

Another goal is to work toward making WIU a preeminent professional development destination for young professionals and college students. This goal corresponds to the outreach component of our office. Our goal is to identify those jewels of knowledge, unique pieces of information, and transform them into training opportunities that can be marketed globally.

Q: Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job (e.g., hobbies, family or friend activities, etc.).

Dr. Bidegaray: I am a father of four kids. Two of them are still with us and are very much part of what we (my wife and I) do every day. We enjoy family life, and the times we spend together doing sports or enjoying a good meal.

I love doing sports, all kinds of music (indie and classical), good books, and international cuisine. My wife is a great cook, so that is an easy pick.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

It is difficult to say. I like to tell students that “they should dare to dream big.” Also, I like to paraphrase John F. Kennedy’s speech of 1961, when he tells his audience: “And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you ? ask what you can do for your country.”

I reference these words when I invite people to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

July COAP Employee Spotlight: Matt Tanney

Tanney on TourIf you were patronizing any of Macomb’s businesses this past Monday, you may have gotten a glimpse of the blur that was “Tanney on Tour.”

Yesterday, Matt Tanney, the interim director of Western Illinois Athletics, was spotted all over the fair city that is Western Illinois University’s home, as he traveled to area businesses to give a special “THANKS!” to ALL of Leatherneck Athletics’ corporate partnership sponsors.

The whirlwind tour (check out all of the photos at http://bit.ly/TanneyonTour) demonstrates Matt’s inspirational motivation.

Other achievements, too, here at WIU demonstrate his drive: Matt (who was named the interim director of Western Illinois Athletics in May 2015) was honored with WIU’s Division of Student Services “Administrative Employee of the Year” in May 2014, and a Western Illinois Athletics’ press release also notes he has presented nationally at the NCAA Regional Rules conference. Additionally, he teaches undergraduate courses here at WIU, as well as serves as a guest lecturer at several colleges. He will also teach a sports law class in the WIU graduate program this fall.

As the subject of the July installment of the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee Spotlight feature, Matt was kind enough to take some time out of his hectic schedule to answer some questions about his job here at Western. Thanks, Matt!

Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Matt: I grew up in an athletically minded family that also valued the pursuit of high academic achievement. My father had a successful career as a high school football coach, and my two younger brothers are presently in the NFL (Mitch works for the Denver Broncos, and Alex is a quarterback for the Tennessee Titans). So, athletics has always been a part of my life that’s well complemented my academic interests. I was a collegiate student athlete at the NCAA Division III level and earned my undergraduate and law degrees from Wabash College and the Robert H. McKinney School of Law, respectively.

While in law school, I worked at the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which opened some doors in the athletics industry. I worked in the athletics department at The Ohio State University after law school, and eventually the University of Dayton and the University of Oklahoma. I joined the Leathernecks in July 2012 as the associate director of WIU Athletics. I’m originally from the Bloomington-Normal area, so it’s been a pleasure to return closer to friends and family in Central Illinois.

Tanney

Western Illinois Athletics’ Interim Director Matt Tanney and Western’s mascot, Rocky.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you as the interim director of Athletics?

Matt: There’s no such thing as a “typical day” in the office, which is great. It’s a diverse, well-rounded experience. I’m constantly exploring new avenues to generate additional revenue for the department, developing strategies on financial planning and facilities initiatives, and hiring new coaches and staff. The reality is division I intercollegiate athletics is a fast-paced environment, and if you’re not nimble on the job, you’ll fail.

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Matt: I started working in college athletics because of the student-athletes. I often say that if you’re not working toward the best interests of the student-athletes, then you’re in the wrong business. The most rewarding moments of the job aren’t always the wins on the court or field–they are often the less publicized stories… for example, the student-athlete who gets accepted into his or her first choice of graduate school, or knowing that athletics provided the access and opportunity for a first-generation college student to obtain his or her degree.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Matt: The athletics department is not immune to the budgetary challenges facing the university and the state of Illinois, so I’m always striving to identify ways we can become more efficient in our financial operations.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job (e.g., hobbies, family or friend activities, etc.)

Matt: I’m blessed with an amazing wife and twin daughters, so I spend as much time with them as possible.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Matt: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” — F.Scott Fitzgerald

June COAP Employee Spotlight: Andrea Henderson

If you work at Western, chances are you have met Andrea Henderson. As director of the Western Illinois University Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, Andrea’s job requires she meet many, many employees regularly. In fact, she said that is one the best parts of her job… getting to meet and work with employees from all areas of the University.

Andrea Henderson, Director, Western Illinois University Office of Equal Opportunity and Access

Andrea Henderson, Director, Western Illinois University Office of Equal Opportunity and Access

For the June Western Illinois University Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee Spotlight, Andrea took time out of her schedule to give us a little bit of background about her career at Western and her dedication to her employer… and her alma mater.

Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Andrea: My mother worked at WIU and I attended as a student, so I knew that WIU was a great place to work. In 1988, I was hired as a secretary III ? trainee in the purchasing office. After completing my trainee program and working in the position for two more years, a vacancy for a purchasing assistant became available. I tested and was interviewed for the position and was hired. I later promoted to purchasing officer. After working in the purchasing office for nine years, I was asked to coordinate the University’s civil service trainee/learner program. I did that for about 10 months while still working half-time in the purchasing office. I was then transferred to a position that reported half-time to Human Resources and half-time to the Affirmative Action (now Equal Opportunity and Access) Office. In that position, I continued to coordinate the trainee/learner program and assisted the Affirmative Action director with employment monitoring, complaint investigation, and ADA compliance. I later promoted to equal opportunity officer. I was in that position for 10 years, and then was hired for a full time position in Human Resources as a human resource manager for classification/compensation. After being in that position for two years, the opportunity to apply for the position of director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access became available. I have been in this position since July of 2009.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Andrea: Like many administrators, I really do not have a “typical” day. My day-to-day responsibilities include monitoring the search process for faculty and administrative positions, monitoring ADA & Title IX compliance for the campus, and receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination. I never know what’s going to cross my desk on any given day. The day could start with attending regularly scheduled committee meetings and before the day ends, I might have traveled across campus to meet with facilities maintenance on location to discuss an immediate access issue, worked with the Macomb Police Department to retrieve a report (OPS sends them automatically), or participated in an impromptu meeting with administrators, legal counsel, or an employee regarding some pressing issue.

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Andrea: Through my responsibilities, I come in contact with a lot of people across campus. Western has some amazing employees and it’s my pleasure getting to meet them.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Andrea: There are a number of very challenging aspects to my job and some of them keep me up at night. I have a great deal of responsibility in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, and the decisions I make can greatly impact people. I take that very seriously, and sometimes it can be very emotionally draining.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job.

Andrea: My husband and I are very involved in our church and community. We enjoy volunteerism. We spend a lot of time doing things in the ministry, including special services and Bible study. In the community, my husband is co-founder of a summer youth group, called P.R.I.M.E., so during the spring and summer I assist with that. I am also on several community boards including the Macomb Fire and Police Commission, the Samaritan Well, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and the Housing Authority of McDonough County. In addition, we love to travel, so when we don’t already have other commitments, we’ll jump in the car and do a road trip or we’ll plan a longer get away to some place we’ve never been. Our most recent travel was a cruise to Montego Bay, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, Mexico. Before that, we took a trip up to Canada.

Q. What is your favorite quote? (Or, if you prefer… your go-to advice you give to individuals when they ask you?)

Andrea: Trust God! (favorite quote by unknown… and go-to advice!)

May COAP Employee Spotlight: Jude Kiah

Jude Kiah - 2015 WIU COAP Employee of the Year

Jude Kiah, director of the Western Illinois University Bookstore and director of Go West Transit at Western and in Macomb, was named the WIU 2015 Employee of the Year by the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP).

If you don’t know Jude Kiah from his work at Western Illinois University (he is the director of the WIU Bookstore and of Go West Transit in Macomb), you may know him from the various other venues at which he “works” frequently.

Personally, I have seen Jude officiating at many of my nephews’ basketball games in western Illinois over the years. (Jude has been the basketball chairman of the Western Central Officials Association [WCOA] for 18 years; this year, Jude officiated his third–and final–2015 Illinois High School Association [IHSA] state tournament.)

On a few occasions, I have also encountered people outside of my job here at WIU who have heard Jude speak and/or attended one his leadership training sessions. (I recall a family member, who attended one of his sessions through her job in education, asking me if I knew this “Jude Kiah guy” who works at Western? “Yes,” I answered her. To which she exclaimed, “He is a great speaker!”)

Earlier this month, Jude’s contributions to Western and his community were recognized when he was named the 2015 Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee of the Year. While the winner isn’t required to give an acceptance speech, Jude did, and I can honestly say, after many years of attending meetings in my career, it was the first meeting I’ve attended at which I’ve seen anyone cry (well, from joy anyway 😉 ).

For the press release I posted for University Relations, I asked Jude to describe how he felt about this receiving the award.

“I can remember, many, many years ago, seeing this plaque on the wall in the Union and thinking how special those people must have been to the WIU community to be so honored. I never aspired to win it (I thought it was too far out of reach to aspire to), but my peers were unrelenting in nominating me repeatedly.That my peers did that for me is deeply humbling. It literally took my breath away when I found out. I read the letter three times because I thought I read it wrong! To me, it signifies the respect of my peers, which is all one can ask for out of a career. I am honored to serve the people I work with every day at Western. It’s an especially good day to be a Leatherneck!”

In honor of Jude’s recognition (and for the May installment of the COAP Employee Spotlight), I asked him to provide me with just a bit more about what makes him (a busy, busy fellow) tick (see Q&A below).

Congrats, Jude, on an honor so very well deserved!

Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Jude: I am originally from northern New York. I moved to Florida when I was nine and graduated from Orlando Bishop Moore High School. I attended college and grad school in New York and was working in Georgia in 1995, when I had an interview for Western, twice, at a national conference in Boston. I actually had another job in New Jersey that I was waiting for final confirmation on at the time. I got a call from Western six weeks after the interviews, and they asked me to come to campus. I really didn’t want to come (I thought I already had that other job lined up), but I did, after being prodded, and I fell in love with it when I got here. I turned down the job in New Jersey and came to Illinois.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Jude: There is no typical day. I have offices on both sides of town, so I look at my schedule and see where I am needed that day. I have a list of things I need to get done, but it rarely does! I don’t think of my workday as segmented. If I am awake, I am working. (Darn Electronics!)

As time has gone on, it’s more like I spend the actual workday in meetings, answering communications, and meeting with people in my office, and then I spend the evening actually doing the work, lol… I’m usually running around at high speed most days.

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Jude: It’s really just that. It’s never the same. I love working at a place that has allowed me to be progressive and find ways to benefit our students. That has led in some interesting directions over the years, and I have done things I never, ever thought I would get involved with. I love working with our students and making a difference for them in their lives. It’s what drives me. I love being part of a campus and a community like Macomb.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Jude: Time. I just don’t have enough time in the day. There is so much to do, and not enough time to do it. I am still trying to figure out how to make more time.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job.

Jude: Officiating basketball has been a huge passion for the last 27 years. I have worked nearly 20 of those with the same person (Sam Moran), and we are best friends. We have had a really blessed career (three state finals and two state championships). We hunt and travel together, too.

My children are a lot of fun. They are very funny children, and they are a blast! Family time is important, and I try not to work until the family is in bed at 9 p.m. I stay up much later.

I run quite a bit (maybe 10-12 miles a week) in the basketball off season, too. I do a lot of public speaking–maybe 75 engagements a year. I do like fixing things and building things, too. I find that very therapeutic.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Jude: “Only the man who swims against the stream knows the strength of it.” — Woodrow Wilson

And one more that’s deeply important to me…

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” — Vince Lombardi

COAP Employee Spotlight: Kenny Wheeler

Kenny Wheeler

Kenny Wheeler, an academic advisor at the WIU-QC campus, is regularly nominated by students for the award, according to Michele Aurand, academic honors advisor for the WIU Centennial Honors College. However, for February, he was nominated by Bradley Heitz (Rock Island, IL), a senior Bachelor of Arts in General Studies (BGS) major.

“Because of Kenny’s hard work and countless hours of advising, I am on track to graduate from Western Illinois University in 2015, a goal that I once assumed was unachievable. Kenny took the time to fully understand my academic and professional goals and aligned those interests with a course schedule that reflected them.” — Bradley Heitz, Senior, Bachelor of Arts in General Studies Program

Kenny Wheeler is one of the many Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) employees at Western integral to the success of WIU students and to the University overall. In his role as an academic advisor, he is one of the front-line individuals who serves students in the all-important task of developing their course schedules (every semester that they are at WIU) so they can stay on track to graduate.

Kenny’s outstanding work was recently recognized when we was named COAA (Council of Academic Advisors) Advisor of the Month last February.

“[Kenny] is regularly nominated by students for the award, according to Michele Aurand, academic honors advisor for the WIU Centennial Honors College. However, for February, he was nominated by Bradley Heitz (Rock Island, IL),” noted the release about Kenny’s award.

Kenny agreed to be featured in the April installment of the COAP Employee Spotlight and was kind enough to answers a few questions about his work at Western and what he enjoys outside of his job.

•••

Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Kenny: I’ve been working in higher ed and student affairs for about 13 years now. I worked in admissions previously at two small private institutions, focusing on recruiting under-represented students and increasing ethnic and racial diversity on campus. I was fortunate enough to attend graduate school with two classmates (and now colleagues) here at Western that gently pulled me into the WIU family. I am now in my seventh year at WIU, and I continue to find the challenges and successes I’ve had along the way to be rewarding and motivating.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Kenny: Returning e-mails, phone calls, meeting with students, setting up appointments, and becoming involved in the evolution of the WIU-Quad Cities’ campus continues to take up much of my time from day to day. I always find it important to me to head home for lunch and get away from the office to just take a moment to breath. And if I can’t get away, I’ll usually take a couple of moments a day to get around and talk to folks so I’m not staring at my computer all day. 🙂

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Kenny: One of the best aspects of this job is helping students meet their academic and professional goals, but I also enjoy getting to know them on a personal level. It is so important in education to develop a personal connection with students, to have empathy and understanding of their experiences, and to treat them with respect no matter who they are. If I can do those things, the rest of my job seems to fall into place and students can feel comfortable meeting with me as their advisor.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Kenny: One of the more challenging aspects of my job is knowing that we can’t meet all the needs of every student, and you have to learn to be okay with that. You just have to provide as much information, resource, and opportunity that you can, and make a reasonable effort to be of as much assistance as possible.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job (e.g., hobbies, family or friend activities, etc.)

Kenny: My two favorite activities outside of my job is spending time with my family and coaching track and field. My wife and my two daughters are some of the greatest blessings God has granted me with, and coming home to see them after work is the most rewarding part of the day…especially after a tough day in the office.

I am also in my 15th year of coaching track and field at the college and high school levels, and am now in my eighth season coaching girls track and field at a large high school in Iowa. I love motivating the young individuals I coach in a sport that I participated in through college and has been a part of my life since grade school.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Kenny: I have a lot of favorite quotes that I use year to year as a coach, but the quote I really admire speaks to our strength, diversity, our uniqueness as individuals, and community:

“Be strong enough to stand alone. Be yourself enough to stand apart. But be wise enough to stand together when the time comes.” — Mark Arends