KEARNEY – Ninety percent of life is showing up and being reliable.
That is one piece of advice Bill Wozniak has for those serving on boards and committees, or thinking about getting involved in the campus community.
“There’s some truth in the myth that it’s just another damn meeting. But you don’t know when the gem is going to pop up that you can have an impact on,” says the longtime professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Wozniak, in his 37th year at UNK, was recently recognized for serving 25 years on UNK Faculty Senate, including two terms as its president (1991-92 and 2001-02) and two terms as secretary (1997-98 and 2006-07). He also received the Faculty Senate Distinguished Service Award in 2007.
“Bill has been a great role model for service to the campus. I appreciate his loyalty to the institution,” said UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen.
The following is from an interview with Wozniak reflecting on his 25 years serving Faculty Senate:
How did you first end up on Faculty Senate?
“I wasn’t asked. I actually was in the peanut gallery when Faculty Senate was part of Kearney State College. I loved the wonderful debates. … It was a marvelous time. We hadn’t moved into the University system yet, and so the senate gave the final review for new courses and new programs. Those were some of the most heated debates over time, because we were trying to grow in the ‘80s, and some of questions raised about the quality of what was being offered off campus were pretty serious.”
How is serving on Faculty Senate different today than it was when you started?
“It was harder to get elected to senate. It was reserved for more experienced, seasoned faculty. You would rarely see a first- or second-year faculty member sitting on senate. They relied on experienced faculty to make those decisions. … You see more first-year, second-year, third-year faculty on senate simply because older faculty, in my opinion, have abrogated their responsibility for leadership. … There is a degrading in the value of service among faculty. Teaching is number one. Scholarship has moved up substantially in the last few years. And service is a distant third place. … There is a very subtle kind of migration away from value of service, especially with senior faculty who are fully promoted, fully tenured.”
What did you enjoy the most about serving?
“I’m an information freak. I like to know what’s going on, on the campus. … Having some input into decision making and seeing what’s going on in all the different sections of campus. … I also like to debate. It’s fun. It’s really interesting to see a faculty member get riled up and how they can present their case.”
Why did Faculty Senate remain important for you through all the years?
“There’s potential for instructing the younger faculty on what the value of shared governance is, and pointing out when shared governance doesn’t work at institutions what the dangers are. There are a lot of very good and interesting things on campus, and I just enjoy riding the wave of information. The whole process is fun. It’s interesting to see how things happen.”
You served two terms as president? Was it easier the first or second time?
“The first time was right during the time of the transition to the University of Nebraska, so watching all of the structural changes we made, and being in the middle of it, seeing that and knowing what the changes are was important. … My second time was easier because I knew what to expect.”
How does Faculty Senate measure success?
“By looking at our influence on the decision making at Founders Hall. The satisfaction in having good, quality programs and watching our students march across the commencement stage is another factor. … One of the values of senate is we can get caught up in issues very much removed from students. But we’ll have a number of people who say ‘what’s the impact on students. Is this good for students?’ That carries the day.”
People credit you for having the best interests of students in mind. True?
“I caught myself early in my career arguing about policy. … How many departments here on campus respond to student inquiry by saying “Go talk to them,’ and send them on a wild good chase. … Rather than go there, I’ll call them. That student-centeredness is important.”
What are you most proud of when you look back over 25 years of serving Faculty Senate?
“I surprise myself that I can walk across campus and talk to so many different people. I like that. It’s an accomplishment in and of itself. I like the idea of looking for the good of the university.”
Title: Professor of psychology
Courses Taught: Experimental Psychology, General Psychology, Memory & Cognition, Sensation & Perception, Science & Skepticism, Death and Dying
Research Interests: Applied Cognitive Psychology, Environmental Psychology, Irrational Beliefs, Embodied Cognition, Storytelling as a Pedagogical Tool
Professional Memberships: Society for the Teaching of Psychology, Association for Psychological Science, Rocky Mountain Psychological Association, Sigma Xi, American Psychological Association, Nebraska Psychological Society
Recent Selected Publications:
– “Restorative Environments,” Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 2013.
– “Psychology Feud: When the Correct Answer Isn’t the Most Valued,” Journal of Instructional Research, 2012.
– “SENCER: Science Education and Running Before Walking,” Promoting Student Engagement, Volume 1: Programs, Techniques And Opportunities, 2011.
– “Techniques for Overcoming Students’ Beliefs in Pseudoscience and the Paranormal,” Teaching Psychology Around the World, 2009.