Luker enjoyed work with first-generation students; Retiring after 10 years at UNK

Job Title: Director, Academic Success
Years at UNK: 10
Family: Wife, Patti, and two grown sons
Hobbies/Interests: Poetry
Three words that describe your personality: A recent UNK professional development event allowed me to identify my character strengths as the following: humor, curiosity and creativity.

Share something about yourself that few people know:
I was a first-generation student who needed a lot of student loans as well as work-study to be able to pay for college. I was also a student with a learning disability.

What do you like most about your job?
I have enjoyed the opportunity to develop resources for first-generation students, students from low-income backgrounds and students with disabilities.

Biggest change you’ve seen at UNK since you started?
The amount of building commitment on campus.

What mentor has helped you the most in your career?
Mary Daake (former director of Academic Advising and Career Services) always had the best insights into navigating UNK.

What is your favorite thing about UNK?
So much. I appreciate how the university is a huge resource to the greater Kearney community in so many ways.

Where is your favorite place to visit on campus?
Gardens by Thomas Hall on nice days; the art galleries in Fine Arts if the weather is bad.

What qualities make someone successful in your position?
Everyone at UNK has developed an incredible toolbox of skill sets. Like others, I find myself always needing to multitask using a huge number of resources. A small university means we all need to be experts in a large number of areas.

How do you measure success, in terms of your career?
Success for me is being able to impact the work of supporting first-generation, low-income and students with disabilities.

Tell me about the time in your UNK career when you worked the hardest:
Probably today. The work is always the hardest in the moment.

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
Maybe I would have finished my doctorate at UC Berkeley rather than running off to Paris to teach Shakespeare and poetry. But then again …

What is your fondest memory of UNK?
Hearing the calls of the first sandhill cranes each February.