Retirements on campus typically involve the opportunity to reminisce, celebrate with colleagues and, of course, eat cake. With most employees still working from home due to the pandemic, we are honoring our nearly 80 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh retirees from afar this summer.
Many have chosen to share (with just a bit of light editing) the accomplishments that make them most proud, what they will miss most about working for UW Oshkosh and their big (and small) plans for the future.
Just try to read through their great memories without tearing up a bit. You’re also likely to learn something new about your soon-to-be former coworkers, such as who plans to restore an old log cabin, learn a foreign language or finish writing a novel.
And, about all those travel plans … we’re hoping the virus lets up soon so you all can pack up and go!
Thanks so much to our Titan retirees for all they have contributed to student success at UWO.
Deborah Allar, assistant director of BSN@Home Options program, began work at UWO in 2007 and retired July 2.
Accomplishments: Receiving notification that the BSN@Home program was recently ranked No. 1 online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in Wisconsin and 25th in the U.S. for 2020 by RegisteredNursing.org.
Will miss: Working with students and a wonderful team that is very engaged in student accomplishments and success.
Retirement plans: Enjoy each day with my family. Reconnect with friends and relax!
Chuck Hermes, facilities director—operations and maintenance, began work at UWO in 1989 and retired July 2.
Accomplishments: The overall appearance of the campus and being part of its transformation. The new buildings, the updated landscape, the sustainability features we were able to build into our facilities. I believe I am leaving the campus in better shape than it was when I came here.
Will miss: The staff and my facilities family. The people I have come to know and respect. The University has so many good people so it will be difficult not to be a part of that family anymore.
Retirement plans: I plan on taking the camper on extended road trips, staying off the interstates and getting into the back roads of the country. Visiting small towns and small town events, meeting people. When not on the road I’ll be spending more time on the golf course, and with grandkids and family. Our children already have home projects awaiting my retirement.
Bob O’Donnell ’81, lecturer, operations and supply chain management, was hired by UW Extension in 1994, joined UWO in 2007 and retired July 2.
Accomplishment: Established and then led an annual three-week, study abroad program in Ireland for the past five years.
Will miss: The challenge and reward of helping people better understand the world around them.
Retirement plans: Restoring an old log cabin and researching Great Lakes maritime history.
James Paulson, distinguished professor of chemistry, began work at UWO in 1984 and retired July 2.
Accomplishment: Being part of a great department with wonderful colleagues and students.
Will miss: Day-to-day personal contacts with students and colleagues.
Retirement plans: Continuing research and writing, time with family and friends, reading and travel.
Liza Ruetten ’88, women’s head golf coach, began work at UWO in 2012 and retired July 2.
Accomplishments: A team that won the 2015 Conference Championship and attending the D3 NCAA National Championships in May 2016.
Will miss: My Titan family of student-athletes and co-workers.
Retirement plans: Enjoying golf with family and friends in southwest Florida!
Kathy Kaltenbach ’84, director of University Books and More, began work at UWO in 1992 and retired July 3.
Accomplishments: My focus was always centered on the success of our students and our campus community. I worked diligently in an effort to make that happen. I am proud that I never stopped fighting for their best interests. I am also incredibly proud of the phenomenal group of staff members I leave behind at the University Books & More/Corner Convenience Store.
Will miss: The people I work with. Not only those on our staff, but the many individuals across this campus that make UWO a better place because they are a part of it.
Retirement plans: I have no set plans for retirement with the exception of spoiling my first grand baby who joined our family on May 8.
Mark Wallintin, inventory control coordinator, began work at UWO in 1998 and retired July 3.
Accomplishments: Making it 22 years and not driving Kathy Kaltenbach crazy.
Will miss: Meeting and helping all the young students.
Retirement plans: Just to relax and enjoy the summer.
Carla Rabe ‘93, regional associate dean of Student Affairs for access campuses, began work with UW Colleges (UW-Fox Valley) in 1993 and retired from UWO on July 4.
Accomplishments: Creation of student affairs one-stop-shop Solution Centers, where students have the opportunity to meet with professionals who are cross-trained in all facets of student services. Students often returned years later to share their career successes with us which was so rewarding and enjoyable to hear about. Creation of campus-wide Safe Zones program where students have safe places throughout campus to talk about any issues they may be faced with while pursuing their college education.
Will miss: The personal stories that students bring with them as they pursue their University dreams and sharing in their accomplishments while on campus and during return visits and follow-up communications. Collaborative programs developed with community members has always been a valuable part of the University, and I cherish the many programs we have developed over the years. The faculty and staff friendships acquired over the years are priceless.
Retirement plans: My priority will be spending time with and providing care for family and friends. During down times, I will spend a bit of time completing 1,500-plus piece jigsaw puzzles, baking, gardening and enjoying the outdoors.
Jan Kossel ‘77, financial specialist, began work at UWO in 1997 and retired July 6.
Accomplishment: Making it to retirement!
Will miss: Seeing all the growth in all areas that the students make as each year passes!
Retirement plans: The biggest plan is pulling off a successful wedding the end of July for our middle son and his fiancee! Then I plan on babysitting more for our granddaughters who live up north on a beautiful lake. So that will include paddle boarding and kayaking with them, which I love to do! I also plan on doing more gardening and flower beds. I hope to travel more with my husband as it becomes safer to do so. In the meantime, I will be going up north to my friends’ cabins for relaxing campfires!
George A. Waller, associate professor of political science, began work at the then UW-Fox Valley in 2000 and will retire from UWO on July 15.
Accomplishments: Recognition for teaching excellence: UW Colleges Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2009-2010), UW Colleges Award for Outstanding Contributions to Political Science Education (2011).
Will miss: Daily interactions with students in and out of the classroom, as well as the collegiality and support of my UWO Fox Cities and UWO political science department colleagues. I am grateful to have known and worked with some really tremendous scholars and friends!
Retirement plans: When it is once again possible, I would love to travel (both domestic and international), read detective mysteries, cook all kinds of interesting foods, perhaps learn a foreign language, learn to play the piano and devote more time to family and friends.
Judith Waller, art professor, began work at UWO in 1993 and will retire on July 15.
Accomplishments: Dovetailing high-impact teaching practices with my personal art production was my greatest joy. My art has long been focused on the interconnections between art and science and through study abroad (Italy three times), learning communities, interdisciplinary classes, undergraduate research, and art and science exhibitions, I happily shared these experiences with my students. I wish to say how grateful I am for immense support from my campus and department for my professional activities.
Will miss: My students, my colleagues and many great friends.
Retirement plans: My art and science painting will continue and I plan to exhibit and talk about that work. I also plan to continue studying Italian language and culture, travel and enjoy spending time with my family, friends, dogs and, periodical cicadas.
Lori Worm ‘84, associate vice chancellor for finance and administration, began work at UWO as an LTE in 1984 and will retire Aug. 1.
Accomplishments: Encouraging employees and colleagues to grow and develop personally and professionally.
Will miss: Working on University initiatives that provided an opportunity to build relationships across campus.
Retirement plans: Embracing the freedom of time with friends and family.
Nancy Burnett, professor, began work in 1994 and will retire Aug. 2.
Accomplishments: I am most proud of either moving economics to the College of Business when I was chair, and changing the credit structure for business majors when I was chair of the Undergrad Committee.
Will miss: My colleagues and students will leave a big hole in my life.
Retirement plans: I will finally have time to actually write the novels I have planned, shoot more archery, bow hunt more, garden more, and read more. I am also looking forward to driving less (I had a 62-mile commute each way).
Leanne Monroe, athletic department senior administrative assistant, began work in 1998 and will retire Aug. 3.
Accomplishments: Having taught skills and made a difference in the lives of several of the students I have worked with and been able to maintain some sort of relationship beyond the years worked together at UWO. I also am proud to have been a part of the brick project at the Oshkosh Sports Complex and the organization/set up of the memory/honor bricks placed there.
Will miss: I will miss people and students I have been able to work with and get to know on a personal level and hope to keep those friendships alive through the available social media we have now.
Retirement plans: I plan to get myself back in shape again with a regular exercise routine with others that I enjoy to do and often lacked time for. I will spend as much time as I can with my granddaughters and their activities. My husband and I hope to travel and enjoy our cabin life much more now. We are planning the addition of a new puppy soon to train and love for many more years … a yellow lab of course for all who know me. Finally get back to the hobbies I have not had time for that I love—sewing, quilting, crafts, gardening, home redecorating. I like to be busy … but at my own pace now. Can’t wait to get started on it!
MaryBeth Petesch, director of the Office of Field Experiences (OFE), certifying officer, began work at UWO in 1996 and will retire Aug. 3.
Accomplishments: After 20 years in the OFE, placing thousands of College of Education and Human Services teacher candidates in classrooms with competent and willing cooperating teachers. Then endorsing them for DPI licensure. Being a small part of fulfilling their dreams of being a competent teacher.
Will miss: Camaraderie with trusted and valued colleagues, the stimulus only a university can provide, the value-added of participation in activities beyond the office walls, meaningful and impactful conversations with students.
Retirement plans: Get back into my first love of environmental education, make puppets?, drive senior citizens around on big bikes, read, explore Wisconsin, improve my German, build a house up north, reflect, enjoy the gift of time!
Susan Finkel Hoffman, director of the Children’s Learning and Care Center, began work at UWO in 2000 and will retire Aug. 14.
Accomplishments: The Accelerated Licensure Program for Early Childhood Professionals and the Wind River Tribal College Program.
Will miss: I’ve enjoyed almost every day at the University, so it’s hard to decide which part I will miss the most.
Retirement plans: Travel, volunteering, perhaps returning to teaching at some point.
Douglas Heil, professor, began work at UWO as full-time visiting instructor in 1987 and will retire Aug. 15.
Accomplishments: I’ve had a fairy tale ending with the Rosebush Professorship and the Radio-TV-Film Regents Teaching Excellence Award in my final year. The Regents award stems from RTF faculty and staff unity behind a program committed to student development. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to contribute to that kind of program.
Will miss: Above all, I will miss the roundtable writing sessions in my upper-level, script-writing courses: as close as you get to experiencing “family” outside one’s own family!
Retirement plans: My first novel, Upended, is fueled, in part, by my love of stereography, motion picture history and visual aesthetics. I am also developing a screenplay titled The Four Flames, and I will continue to write about stereography for Stereo World magazine.
Nancy Harrison, director, Student Support Services and Student Support Services STEM, began work at UWO in 2006 and will retire Aug. 19.
Accomplishments: Writing and being awarded a second Student Support Services grant in August 2015—the Student Support Services STEM grant. The grant allows us to serve an additional 120 students who are majoring in the STEM and health sciences fields.
Will miss: The amazing students I have had the privilege to work with over the past 14 years. Their perseverance, optimism and enthusiasm is truly inspiring. Also, the dedicated staff and faculty of UW Oshkosh. I have been so fortunate to be a part of a campus-wide team who put students first and strive to assure students achieve their goals and dreams.
Retirement plans: My husband and I plan to travel. We have an extensive list of places to visit for the first time and places we wish to return to. I have a “stash” of fabric waiting to be made into quilts and yarn waiting to be warped onto one of my two looms. I am excited to take classes to extend my knowledge of both. Spending more time with friends and family is also on my “to-do” list.
Janice Stark, director of development for College of Education and Human Services and College of Nursing, began work at UWO in 2005 and will retire on Aug. 20.
Accomplishments: Fundraising for the last 15 years and bringing in millions of dollars for student scholarships, making a difference in the lives of many students.
Will miss: Over the past 15 years, I have worked with so many wonderful and generous donors, faculty, staff and students. I will miss the relationships with these individuals the most.
Retirement plans: My husband and I, along with our yellow lab Gunner, will be spending more time at our cabin in the UP, visiting family and doing some traveling when COVID-19 allows. I will also have more time to do some of my hobbies of reading, cooking, gardening, hiking, kayaking in our new kayaks, and trying new wines.
Bonnie Schmidt ’88, assistant dean, director of evaluation and projects, began work at UWO in 2004 and will retire Aug. 28.
Accomplishments: Seamless and accurate evaluation data; great accreditation outcome.
Will miss: The people at the College of Nursing who work hard and are so dedicated to student success.
Retirement plans: Travel (post-COVID) and volunteer activities.
Kim Freier, budget analyst and finance manager for Online and Continue Education, began work at UWO in 1999 and will retire Aug. 28.
Accomplishments: Receiving the UWO Outstanding Performance Award.
Will miss: The camaraderie of UWO employees and bettering the lives of students all over the world through our educational offerings.
Retirement plan: My husband and I plan on spending more time with our family, traveling to every U.S. state, taking culinary lessons together and sharing our love of hostas by opening a plant shop.
Kirsten Hebert, University Services program associate, began work at UWO in 1998 and will retire on Aug. 28.
Accomplishments: Since 1998 being directly a part of the Continuing Education Office (UWO’s best kept secret) which over the years has served thousands of area communities and people from children to teenagers and professionals as well as retired folks (Learning in Retirement) with our variety of programming, such as academies, workshops, conferences and memberships. Loved it!
Will miss: The experiences and fun I’ve had and friendships I’ve made along the way.
Retirement plans: Taking craft classes, spending time with family/friends and lots of traveling.
Lynn Kriha, budget planner, began work at UWO in 1989 and will retire on Aug. 28.
Accomplishments: I am the most proud of the relationships I have developed over the years, and the reputation I have earned as a team member who can be counted on in any situation.
Donna Mauk, cashier, began work at UWO in 2008 and will retire Aug. 28.
Accomplishment: Star Award
Will miss: Working with the students and coworkers.
Retirement plans: Babysit my 4-year-old grandson and relax.
Evelyn Meuret, IT network support tech I, began work at UWO in 1985 and will retire Aug. 28.
Accomplishments: I am most proud of my contributions to the faculty and students from 1989-2018 for my work in both the Clow and Halsey technology centers. In 1989 we delivered audiovisual equipment that was requested for each class to now, providing support and training as the technology is permanently stationed in all classrooms. I served as the chief steward for WSEU Local 579 for more than 25 years. I proudly supported and assisted my brothers and sisters prior to and after Act 10. I am proud to have received a Star Award and the Outstanding Performance Award in 2004. My final accomplishment includes working at the IT Help Desk since the start of 2019. The ability to work closer with my IT colleagues, as well as providing remote assistance to the entire campus through the COVID-19 pandemic, has proved rewarding.
Will miss: The camaraderie of the campus community and all the faculty, University staff and student friendships I have developed and maintained over the years.
Retirement plans: I will continue to work part time at Eastbay for a few more years. I also hope to use this free time to enjoy gardening, sewing and spending more time with family and friends.
Laurie Krasin ‘81, director of communications for access campuses, began work for UW Colleges (UW-Fond du Lac) in 2000 and will retire from UWO on Aug. 30.
Accomplishments: I was a member of the team that envisioned, developed and launched the first Corks & Forks fundraiser on the Fond du Lac campus. This event continues to evolve and grow bigger and better each year raising much needed funds for student scholarships. Working on a university campus has been so rewarding because what we do here makes a difference
Will miss: I will miss the spirited conversations on campus, the many friendships created over the years and collaborating with colleagues from all areas of the University. I’ll especially miss seeing our students achieve their goals and celebrating their success with them.
Retirement plans: We hope to be traveling again in the near future, revisiting some favorite destinations, planning new adventures and spending time with family and friends near and far.
Miles Maguire, professor of journalism, began work at UWO in 1997 as adjunct faculty and will retire on Aug. 30.
Accomplishments: Many accomplished reporters and editors see little value in formal journalism training, believing that reporting is something that can only be learned on the job. But based on my professional background and observations of students in the classroom, I was able to come up with structured approach to teaching reporting that breaks the news gathering process down into foundational parts and provides a roadmap for covering stories with speed and authority. I was able to publish this approach as a textbook, Advanced Reporting: Essential Skills for 21st Century Journalism.
Will miss: I have been active in an organization called the International Association for Literary Journalism Studies, which holds annual conferences that draw like-minded scholars from Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. I will miss the opportunity to meet and share research with them.
Retirement plans: I am devoting myself full time to expanding the impact of the Oshkosh Examiner website, where our emphasis is on “local facts that matter.”
Rene A. Rickert, co-director of the Center for Community Development, Engagement and Training, began work at UWO in 2005 and will retire Aug. 30.
Accomplishments: One project that I am very proud of and managed for 15 years is the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) training. We provide customized online and classroom training design and delivery along with learning management services to hundreds of case managers who provide services to people receiving public assistance services. This project has renewed annually over 20 years, a true testament to the work CCDET does! Additionally, CCDET has completed many successful projects for Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS), including the Dementia Redesign Project. In addition, DHS contracted with CCDET to create a series of training courses related to dementia care for crisis responders, caregivers, healthcare providers, family and community members. CCDET developed and launched online and classroom dementia training on a variety of topics using stakeholder and subject matter experts’ input. CCDET also created an online dementia training registry, which includes a record of individuals successfully completing specific dementia courses.
Will miss: Definitely the people! Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with great staff within CCDET and across campus! I have also collaborated with numerous people within our contracting agencies. These relationships have led to long-standing business partnerships and funding for CCDET. Great people are definitely an asset to the foundational strength of an organization and future opportunities!
Retirement plans: I am looking forward to spending more time with my hobbies (quilting, gardening, baking) and doing more volunteer work. And, of course, more time with my family and friends, and did I say traveling?
Laura Zirbel, library service assistant, advanced, began work at UWO in 2010 and will retire Aug. 30.
Will miss: Daily interaction with staff, student employees and patrons.
Retirement plans: I have many hobbies, including reading, gardening, cooking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc. I hope that when COVID-19 is less of a threat, I can spend more face-to-face time with family and friends. Oh, and exercise 😉 … yeah, that too, maybe.
Randall Davidson, director of radio services/senior lecturer in radio TV film, began work at UWO in 2008 and will retire Sept. 8.
Accomplishments: I am proud of the career success of my students and the national reputation that we’ve worked to develop for WRST and the entire RTF program.
Will miss: Working with the students at the radio operation. I tell people I’ve liked 99-plus % of the students I’ve had and where else can one say that about a group of over 1,000 people?
Retirement plans: I plan to do some writing (another radio history book is in the works) and will keep involved in radio news reporting.
Share your own summer 2020 retirement plans or offer well wishes to a retiring colleague by adding your comments below.