by Pete Schulte
The conclusion of the spring semester brings a number of staff retirements for the college. Four administrators are among those set to retire. Andy Anderson, Julie Haas, Karen Davis and Lin Knudson will all be leaving the college on June 30.
1Andy Anderson, vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer
Anderson has been with the college for 35 years. Initially brought on as an adjunct professor in the English department, Anderson spent 15 years teaching high school prior to coming to the college. He eventually moved on to take positions as interim assistant dean, interim dean and interim vice president of academic affairs before accepting his permanent position over three years ago.
“I’m qualified to be interim things, apparently,” Anderson smiled. “I haven’t totally messed up whatever I’ve been doing.”
In his current position, Anderson spends time involved with nearly every aspect of the college in one way or another. He’s spent time maintaining relationships with local high schools and region universities, worked in Topeka with the Kansas Board of Regents, represented the Academic Dean’s Council and has done general work with educational and faculty affairs.
Anderson felt that while he was involved in a variety of things at the college, projects completed at the college involve dozens of people. One of the biggest challenges, however, was communicating intricate collegiate issues and satisfying all faculty members with these group decisions.
“I suppose one of the most frustrating aspects of the job is just not being able to probably satisfy all of anyone’s wishes,” Anderson said. “It’s a constant balancing and distributing of time and resource and support and keeping it all sort of moving, more or less, so that all of the parts are talking to each other and trying to make sure those relationships are there. … I think one of the most challenging parts of the job is communicating adequately about everything that’s going on, and it’s probably the most important thing, the most difficult in some ways, because most of the issues are more complex than is easily represented.”
In 35 years, Anderson has made an abundance of memories and will miss seeing his colleagues on a daily basis. While he has spent many years in administrative roles, he admitted that his best memories come from within the classroom.
“I still have papers students have written, and little notes and stuff. The best memories are really still in the classroom. The administrative stuff is really important, but my best memories are still … being able to share writing with students. That’s the most important part,” Anderson said.
As for his retirement plans, Anderson said with so much going on at the end of the semester, retirement doesn’t even seem close yet. After giving it some thought, however, he said he was primarily looking forward to spending more time with his family, visiting old friends, fishing and writing some poetry.
“Being able to sit down and not be in a hurry will be at least appealing for a while and being able to have a cup of coffee and not worry about what meeting I probably just missed,” Anderson laughed.
2Julie Haas, associate vice president, college and community relations
Haas has worked at the college for 28 years and spent the vast majority of her career in marketing communications. For her first two years at the college, she worked in publications as a writer/editor for two years and spent the following three years working as publications manager. She then spent the next 22 years in marketing communications before moving into the role of associate vice president, college and community relations.
Her primary job in her current role is providing support for President Joe Sopcich.
“When he goes out in the community, he gets a lot of requests,” Haas said. “It was hard for him to follow up. You go to a morning meeting and somebody wants something, you go to an afternoon meeting and you have an evening meeting. So he brought me over to just help him with that, so that these things wouldn’t fall through the cracks. He didn’t want people to think the college just didn’t care or was ignoring them, so that these things were at least looked into.”
Working together with colleagues on past and current projects are what Haas thought she was going to miss most about being at the college.
“It’s always the people. This is a place based on relationships, and that’s how you get things done, but that’s also how you enjoy getting things done working with people you admire and respect and care about,” Haas said.
Haas’ retirement plans involve mostly trying to determine what her retirement plan actually is. She said she’s interested in finding out what retirement has in store for her.
“You’re supposed to have a plan. I don’t really have one,” Haas laughed. “I’m still thinking about work, so it’s kind of hard to [have a plan]. I’ve also heard, you know, you can start off with a plan, but it won’t be what you really end up doing. It will not be ‘the’ plan. So you’re kidding yourself if you think you’ve got it all laid out.”
In the time before her retirement, however, Haas is focused on ensuring that whoever picks up her work after she’s moved on will be able to do so in a relatively seamless way.
“I’m trying not to leave people in the lurch. So getting things either to a point where I can pass them along … I don’t want anybody to think, ‘What is this?’ or ‘What do I do with this?’ So leave things where people can, if it’s a continuing project, pick it up, and know what to do next,” Haas said.
3Karen Davis, manager of web communications
Davis started her journey at the college in 1996. In the last 20 years, she has worked as a part-time administrative assistant at the center of business and technology, aided colleagues with computer issues at the help desk, worked with marketing communications and became manager of web communications in 2002.
In her current role, Davis and her team worked to convert the college’s website to its new format in 2014 and to maintain and update the website. Seeing the evolution of technology and the internet has been one of Davis’ favorite experiences working in web communications.
“I think back, I don’t know what year it was, but there was a point in time when the website had little stick people,” Davis laughed. “We’ve come a long way. A lot of it used to be kind of ‘Do your own thing,’ so you had different looks for every department, and it was a little hard for users who aren’t as familiar with us to actually navigate that. So the evolution over time has been kind of fun. So you’ve got to like change, and you’ve got to like puzzles with the web, so that’s what I remember.”
Davis’ post-retirement plans involve spending more time outside and less time behind a desk. She’s hoping to do something a little more active and, being a dog lover, get back to donating her time to Wayside Waifs.
“I’m looking forward to an adventure,” Davis smiled. “So for me, it’s going to be a little downtime, a little fun with family and then I’m going to find something part-time. I volunteered for Wayside Waifs and I had to give that up … because we were working so many hours, and that included working weekends, but now I get to go back and do that again. Working with animals is my next area of adventure I think.”
4Lin Knudson, dean of academic support
Knudson has spent the last 33 years at the college. After working as the director of the center for continuing health education at Wichita State University, she came to the college as the coordinator of continuing health education, initially helping the college host health workshops for health professionals. From there, she became the director of professional education, helping start programs for insurance agents, real-estate agents, lawyers, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services and massage therapy. Knudson also served as the assistant dean of continuing education and dean of continuing education prior to moving into a role as dean of evening and weekend programs in 2007. Her current role sees her working with the college’s library, video services, education technology and distance learning departments, while also working with class scheduling.
Knudson estimated there were 7,000 students attending the college when she started in 1983. She said Overland Park and the college were very different places back then.
“When I moved here, Overland Park was kind of a sleepy little town, you know? It had about 80,000 people in it, and there were cows grazing right across the street from the college, black-and-white cows over there. I always thought that was so interesting that there were cows kind of in the middle of the city,” Knudson laughed.
One of Knudson’s favorite accomplishments during her time at the college was the construction of the Capitol Federal Conference Center. The center, located in the Regnier Center, was Knudson’s idea.
“A conference center was something I always wanted when I did continuing education … because we didn’t have a true conference center or big space where we could do workshops and seminars, and so I had that in the plan and it got ultimately built, and it’s been very successful. I’m proud of that,” Knudson said.
Following her retirement, Knudson is planning on volunteering for the Shawnee Mission School District and the Adult Basic Education program at the college. However, immediately following her retirement, Knudson will be having some fun with her three grandsons.
“I’m taking my grandsons to Disneyland in June. It’s something I’ve always promised them that I would do.” Knudson laughed. “… I think I’ll have a good time. I’m probably more excited about it because just to experience it through their eyes, you know, they’ve never been before. That’s one of the things that makes grandparenting the most fun is being able to go back and do some of that stuff that you used to do with your kids.”
Partial list of retirees by July 1, 2016:
Margaret Ackelson, Lowry Anderson, John Barnes, Joni Becker, Donnie Byers, Nancy Carpenter, Susan Cordes, Carl Frailey, Steven Gerson, Kathryn Larson, Joan McCrillis, Ron Stinson, John Larry Thomas, Philip Wallack, Philip Wegman, Richard Lehmann, Clarissa Craig, Judith Runser, James Rehmer, Karyn Tuttle