Apr 262004
 
Authors: Taylour Nelson

Linda Kuk knows what it’s like to be a student at CSU.

Perhaps it’s the fact that 32 years ago this May, Kuk graduated

with a bachelor’s degree in social work from CSU.

Perhaps it is because she returned to her alma mater 30 years

after graduation to accept the position of vice president for

Student Affairs, the administrative division that works most

closely with students.

When Kuk sits in on meetings with CSU President Larry Penley and

the other three university vice presidents, she speaks up about how

the issues on the table will affect students.

“That’s part of my role – to work as a student voice when

students aren’t present,” Kuk said.

Kuk also oversees an estimated 50 different units within the

university, including Housing and Dining Services, the management

at the Lory Student Center and student organizations, as well as

having an advisory relationship with the Associated Students of

CSU.

“She has really served as a partner in a lot of what we do,”

said Associated Students of CSU President Jesse Lauchner. “Whether

it be big programs or big decisions, she’s taken more of an

advisory role rather than an authoritative role, which has been

great.”

Lauchner said her decisions have always been student-centered,

with close attention to assuring students make the most of their

time at CSU.

Because Kuk supervises so many different programs and

facilities, she meets with her staff on a daily basis to discuss

each department.

“There’s so much information with decision-making and

policy-making and supervising all of those things require us to get

together with people and collaborate,” Kuk said. “And I like that;

I don’t like to do things in a vacuum.”

Kuk grew up the oldest of six children in Aurora, Ill. Aurora

was an ethnically diverse area in the ’50s, with immigrant families

and workers spread throughout the town. This atmosphere, along with

the Vietnam War-era, led Kuk to pursue a career in social work. She

moved to Fort Collins and quickly became involved in campus

life.

She was director of Student Life, a member of the student

activity board and a resident assistant at Green Hall, before it

was converted into the CSU police station.

Grant Sherwood, program chair for Student Affairs in Higher

Education at CSU, was the associate director of Housing and Dining

Services when Kuk was a resident assistant in Green Hall.

He said even during her terms as a resident assistant, she was a

strong advocate for students and students’ needs.

She graduated in 1972 and earned a master’s of social work in

1973 at CSU.

She served as the area director of Housing and Residence Life at

the University of Connecticut from 1973 to 1975 and earned a

doctorate in higher education administration in 1979 from Iowa

State University.

She worked as an area director of Housing and Residence Life at

ISU and in 1978 was hired as the assistant to the vice president

for Student Affairs.

With her degree in higher education administration, Kuk was

hired as the dean of students at Marquette University in Milwaukee,

Wis., in 1979.

Kuk held the vice president for Student Affairs position at

three different universities.

She started at the State University of New York in 1984.

In 1992, she moved to Rodchester, N.Y., to serve as vice

president for Student Affairs at the Rodchester Institute of

Technology.

In the spring of 2001, Kuk was appointed as vice president for

Student Affairs at CSU, earning her position among nearly 40

applicants. Kuk is also a faculty member in the education graduate

program at CSU. She teaches a class on higher education

administration.

Jody Donovan, assistant to the vice president for Student

Affairs, said Kuk is a great role model for her staff.

“She has really taught me the importance of not burning

bridges,” Donovan said. “There are still people here that were her

classmates or supervisors (while she attended CSU), and now she’s

their supervisor. People have welcomed her back and that’s really

impressive.”

Kuk extends her reach beyond campus to the community, where she

works with Fort Collins Mayor Ray Martinez and City Manager John

Fischbach to discuss students’ behavior in the community and how to

alleviate problems they may cause.

From Kuk’s perspective, students’ lives have changed over the

years. Today there are more societal pressures to be successful,

and more stress involved in being a college student.

“But who they are and what they want to do is sill the same,”

Kuk said.

Although she is greatly involved in her position at CSU, Kuk

tries to make time to draw and paint, she likes to travel and this

summer is planning a trip to Europe, traveling to Ireland, Scotland

and England.

She hopes to do a semester as an administrator at Semester at

Sea, a study abroad program that travels around the world by cruise

liner.

“She doesn’t just work, she shows (her staff) that we can also

have lives beyond work,” Donovan said.

In the future, Kuk plans to use the same formula that has worked

for her as an administrator for the last 20 years.

“I just hope to keep on doing what I’m doing. I’m very fortunate

to have found the right mix of opportunities,” Kuk said. “I love

being in Student Affairs and working with students.”

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