George Carlin’s advice, sense of humor influenced Bill Wozniak’s career

Job Title: Professor of psychology
Years at UNK: 42
UNK Involvement: Psychology Department chair; Half-time member of Department of Computer Science for three years; Director of general studies; Faculty Senate president (twice); Faculty senator for 25-plus years; President of UNKEA faculty union.
Family: Wife, Annette; Children, Ben, 36, and Natalie, 26; Humane Society rescue dog, Jackson.
Hobbies/Interests: Therapy dog handler; playing something similar to golf; life-long learning (Senior College of Central Nebraska board member); photography and visual arts; listening to music; enjoying nature and bird watching; reading.

Three words that describe your personality?
Loyal to a fault, deep sense of humor, moody, impulsive, inability to count to three.

Share something about yourself that few people know:
For years, I wrote a satirical newsletter called “Kearney State MacCollege,” then “UNKmart” (most recently, “Rows,” when the “Columns” newsletter was active).

Bill Wozniak's rescue dog Jackson celebrating the holidays.
Bill Wozniak’s rescue dog Jackson celebrating the holidays.

What do you like most about your job?
Seeing students succeed through their hard work and effort.

Biggest changes you’ve seen at UNK since you started?
Greater support for, and emphasis on, good researchers. I am in awe of the younger faculty and their accomplishments. I’ve also been here long enough to see new buildings rise up and the same buildings deteriorate.

Best business/work/career advice you received?
Don’t sweat the petty things, don’t pet the sweaty things.

Who gave it to you?
George Carlin, but not personally.

What mentor has helped you the most in your career?
As a professor, early on, Ken Nikels. Later on, Rick Miller. As a union member, Dale Zikmund. As a faculty senator, Mike Schuyler and Dave Anderson. I’ve learned from many others, so it is tough to name only these people. I have a list.

What is your favorite thing about UNK?
The close proximity we have to other departments. At bigger institutions, there are great distances among the disciplines – they are housed in different buildings, if not different campuses. At UNK, we can talk to experts in other disciplines.

Where is your favorite place to visit on campus?
Bruner Hall of Science when faculty and students are working in the labs; the art department when faculty and students are working in the studios; and the music department when faculty and students are rehearsing.

Biggest challenge you faced in your time at UNK?
Understanding the most recent generation of students. Every fall, I feel old just watching them – apparently fashion has not only passed me by, but lapped me several times. In class, we sometimes have to overcome our language differences. There are major cultural differences, too. Who remembers “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.?” Even younger faculty don’t remember Mr. Waverly.

What qualities make someone successful in your position?
Knowing the difference between the petty things and the important things; ignore the petty ones. Devote time and attention to the right things.

Tell me about a time in your UNK career when you worked the hardest:
Tough to answer. I’ve have always claimed that I love it so much, going to work is a blast. However, in the mid-90s, Rick Miller and I pulled many all-nighters as program co-chairs of the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association – before there was computer support for the job. That was tough.

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
Not be such a cynical smart ass when I was much younger. I wasted a lot of time as a high school and an undergraduate student. I was a near-criminal waste of my instructor’s time – a real challenge. Which increases my esteem for those instructors who had faith in me. They sure had tough hides.

What is your fondest memory of UNK?
During the transition into the university system around 1980, I gave the Faculty Senate president’s speech at the fall convocation. Someone told me that I came within a hair’s breadth of getting a standing ovation from the faculty. The same person told me that some administrators were quickly altering their speeches (supposedly crossing out the current buzzword, “collegiality,” from their speeches.) As I age and my memory changes, the standing ovation occurs and I am immediately awarded an admiralship in the Nebraska Navy by the chancellor, just before three Nebraska State Patrol officers arrest me and take me away in cuffs.