Retiring after 30 years, Asay thankful for interaction between faculty, students

Job Title: Professor, Family Science
Years at UNK: 30
Career Path: I started teaching as an adjunct instructor while working on a curriculum project for the state of Nebraska. I began as a full-time lecturer in 1991. I was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in 1999, promoted to associate professor and received tenure in 2004, and promoted to full professor in 2010. I served as the department chair from 2010-18.
Family: I’ve been married to my husband, Ted, for 45 years. We have three grown sons: Aaron, Alex and Austin. I have seven amazing grandchildren. We are definitely a UNK family. Two of my sons, Aaron and Austin, have degrees from UNK, as well as one daughter-in-law, Mallory. My other two daughters-in-law started at UNK before getting their nursing degrees at UNMC. My husband also started his degree at UNK.
Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy traveling and cooking.
Three words that describe your personality: I would describe myself as being a perfectionist and pragmatist, but I hope my colleagues and students would describe me as being caring and fair-minded.

Share something about yourself that few people know:
I grew up on a Nebraska farm. I can ride a unicycle.

What do you like most about your job?
The opportunity to prepare students to make a difference in the world.

Biggest change you’ve seen at UNK since you started?
I think it would be the increased level and quality of scholarship of the faculty. Amazing research is being conducted at UNK.

What mentor has helped you the most in your career?
The most influential person to my career was my major adviser in my Ph.D. program, Dr. John DeFrain. He opened so many doors for me at the beginning of my career and helped set me on an incredible path. He is now my co-author on several scholarly articles and a couple of books. Together we have conducted research and served as consultants on several international projects.

What is your favorite thing about UNK?
It would have to be the one-on-one interaction between faculty and students. Students probably don’t realize how unique and special that is in a university setting.

Biggest challenge you faced in your time at UNK?
Other than the continual balancing of teaching, scholarship and service, I believe that the two major general studies restructures were challenges. I served on the general studies council during both of these times. Getting universitywide approval is very difficult.

What qualities make someone successful in your position?
I believe you have to be teachable. This involves a degree of humility and openness. I can always learn new information, and I learn something new from my students every semester.

How do you measure success, in terms of your career?
Certainly, I could count my publications and awards as measures of success, but looking back, I think success is measured more by how much difference I made to those around me.

Tell me about the time in your UNK career when you worked the hardest:
As a lecturer, I recognized the need for advancement, so I made a decision to work toward my Ph.D. During this time, I was teaching four classes each semester, driving back and forth to Lincoln for classes, and I had three young children at home. I equated that time in my life to the circus act where the performer tries to keep multiple plates spinning. It definitely was a juggling act to keep all those plates from crashing to the ground!

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
I don’t have regrets. I believe that everything happens for a reason and teaches us. It’s more important to be ready to move forward.

What is your fondest memory of UNK?
The thrill I still get when I march into graduation in full regalia in front of all the students I may have influenced and their families who are so proud of them!