From copy center to finance office, Jan Beerbohm retiring after 39 years at UNK

Job Title:
Office Associate, Finance Office
Years at UNK: 39 years; Beerbohm started at Kearney State College on June 1, 1978.
Hometown: Eddyville
Hobbies/Interests: Gardening, cooking, traveling, mission work
Family: Husband, Gene, 69; Son, Ryan, 33; Daughter, Andrea, 29; Grandsons Hunter, 10, and Jaxon, 4.

Tell us about your career path at UNK:
“I came to Kearney State College in 1978. I applied for a position in the copy center, which nobody probably knows what that is anymore. It had a copier, but we also did all of the mimeographing of tests for faculty.
The building was called the Administration Building and sat west of what now is Founders Hall. Before I came here it had a theater-type auditorium on the back of it. When they tore it down, the ticket office was still in this old building,and the copy center was in part of that old ticket office. I worked in there for about three months.
Then there was a position that opened in the purchasing office. The purchasing office purchased supplies and took care of the different departments – everything went through there. Plus we had the motor pool. We were real familiar with all of the faculty at that time because they would have to come in there and get car keys to go out to teach classes off campus. We didn’t have the web at that time, of course. You really got to know those faculty.
From the purchasing office I went into the finance office. We used to have to type all of the documents for payments and such to be sent to Lincoln. We don’t do that anymore, either. The person that I went to assist as director of finance was Reinhold Ehly. From there, that’s the position I’ve always held.”

Three words that describe your personality:
“The very first thing that forms my fabric is my faith. And through that faith comes caring and a positive attitude.”

Share something about yourself that few people know:
“I served as the state president in 2013 for the Nebraska State Volunteer Firefighters Auxiliary. I’m also a certified scuba diver.”

What do you like most about your job?
“I like the one-on-one conversations. I work with kind of a difficult part of collecting bad debt. So, if a student emails me I try to reach out to them to either call me, or come in and see me. I want them to know that our doors are open and to not be afraid. If something happened in your life, it’s not the end of the world. We can try to help you out. If you ignore us, we don’t have any other option than to send you to an outside collection agency.”

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen at UNK since you started?
“Probably going from Kearney State College – where we were the largest of the state colleges – to the University of Nebraska system, where of course there was UNL and UNO.

What is the best business/work/career advice you received?
“A lady who was my supervisor, Marietta Sims, told me to always come to work on time – maybe even a little before time – and do the best of your ability. If anytime you need to offer your assistance to someone else, do that. I still live by that. It’s good advice, and she said you’d be rewarded, and I have been. She also said to get involved. I served on different committees on campus.”

What is your favorite thing about UNK?
“I think it’s the partnership and the relationship with the city of Kearney. I think the students think Kearney is a vibrant place to live and work. It’s interesting with our diverse student population. Learning about the different cultures. I grew up in a small town in Nebraska, so you don’t see all the diversity that you do here on campus. I think that’s great. And they’re willing to teach about their cultures.”

Where is your favorite place to visit on campus?
“My husband, Gene, and I are avid Loper fans, so I’d say my favorite place is sitting in the Health and Sports Center watching volleyball or basketball. We enjoy baseball and softball, too, but the times they play we’re still working. So, when I retire I’m hoping to get to more of those games during the day.”

What is the biggest challenge you faced in your time at UNK?
“Probably dealing with difficult people to come to a calm manner. You get yelled at a lot trying to resolve their problems, or trying to come to some resolution for the situation that they’re in.”

What qualities make someone successful in your position?
“I think you need to have patience and compassion. You also need to be a problem solver.”

How do you measure success, in terms of your career?
“There isn’t anything better than when a student, after you’ve gone through stuff with them, says thank you. Or a parent will say you’ve been very helpful.”

Tell me about the time in your life at UNK when you worked the hardest?
“We used to really work hard during the first week or two of semesters because we didn’t have online registrations. What that meant was we had to load up all of our computers. We had student tables in our office that we took to the student union. Students lined up and went through the registration process, registered for their classes and then came through our side in the Ponderosa Room, where we had all the paper loan checks.
We hired 26 extra people to help us. We’d do that for a whole week, but that wasn’t the only thing. Some in our office would have to come back later in the day to do the same thing for night registration. Others would pack up and go to Grand Island and do registration and fee payment over there. Those were long days.”

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
“I might take some classes. When my kids were growing up we were so busy. That would have been fun. When I retire I might do what they call senior college. I might try doing that. I like history.”

What is your fondest memory of UNK?
“Realizing that I did make a difference, or somebody was listening to me. Or when I’m out at a restaurant or on the streets of Kearney and some student comes up and says hi. I think that’s the most satisfying thing.”


Writer: David Mueller, UNK Communications, 308-390-4706,
Source: Jan Beerbohm, Finance Office, 308.865.8524,