Kathleen Whetzel

Portrait of Kathleen Whetzel

Bio: Kathleen Whetzel joined the University of Montana School of Journalism staff in January 2003. Prior to working at UM, she did legal secretarial work in Spokane and Missoula for more than 16 years and worked as the assistant clerk for the Arlee School District.

While working at the University, Whetzel has served on Staff Senate, the University Athletic Committee, Faculty/Staff Award Planning Committee, and the Inter Unit Benefits Committee. She currently serves as a UM Campus Wellness Champion.

Whetzel began working on her bachelor’s degree as a nontraditional student, taking one class at a time, until she decided to quit work and go to school full-time. For a couple of years while a full-time student, she worked as a student employee in the president’s office under President George Dennison. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Business Administration in 1998 and her master’s degree in public administration in last December.

Whetzel and her husband, Matt, have resided north of Arlee for more than 30 years. They have two adult sons, one daughter-in-law and a grandson. She enjoys running, bike riding, various fitness classes, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. She is looking forward to a six-day bike tour in Oregon this summer. She most

enjoys her grandson, Owen, and travels to Spokane as often as she can to visit him.

Thank you: I am honored to receive the 2017 George M. Dennison Presidential Staff Award for Distinguished Accomplishment. I am blessed to work within the campus community and especially to work within the J-School family. We are a community working together toward a common goal – providing students with the best educational experience. One person cannot do this alone, so we rely on our community, providing the added opportunity to benefit from building lasting relationships with students and co-workers.

As I was looking through my file to write about my experiences and accomplishments, I came across thank you notes from students, parents, faculty, co-workers and alumni. They had a common theme: “thank you for your time.” Giving a little bit of your time can impact others – whether it is giving a prospective student a tour, visiting with an alum, helping students with travel or scholarships, providing assistance to faculty, training new employees, or setting up adjuncts. For example, one person thanked me for bringing brightness to a very sad day; another thanked me for taking time and spending energy to help; and another thanked me for helping make education possible. UM staff should, and do, make a difference.

I want to thank those who gave me their time and supported me through the years.

Thank you to my husband, Matt, and our boys, Boyd and Jacob, who have supported me during my many years of schooling and working outside the home.

Thank you to the J-School family: Dean Larry Abramson, former deans Jerry Brown and Peggy Kuhr; J-school current and retired faculty Jule Banville, Lee Banville, Sharon Barrett, Jason Begay, Denise Dowling, Joe Eaton, Ray Ekness, Ray Fanning, Keith Graham, Bill Knowles, Henriette Lowisch, Jeremy Lurgio, Dennis Swibold, Carol Van Valkenburg, Nadia White, Clem Work; and staff Joe Brown, Cameron Bucheit, Wanda LaCroix, Peet McKinney, Alyssa Rabil and Paul Wheeler for supporting me. We are family.

This is truly a team effort, and we have a valuable team that makes my job easier. Thank you to the several units across campus that have helped me through the years, including but not limited to Business Services, Facilities Services, Financial Aid Office, Fiscal Affairs and Budget, Human Resource Services, Institutional Research, Montana Event Services, Provost’s Office, Registrar’s Office, Research Office, UM Catering, UM Foundation and UM Police.

I give a very special thank you to the J-School’s IT Director, Peet McKinney. I could not do my job without Peet’s help. When I started at the J-School, I shared an office with Peet. Therefore, I became reliant on his instant help. He has continued to provide tech support for me, which is a constant as I am not “techy.”

Another special thank you goes to former J-School Dean Jerry Brown who not only hired me, but provided me with a training/mentor team. I was privileged to have experts such as Karen Kaley, Teri Lerch, Wanda LaCroix, Bev Hawkins-Llewellyn and Ann Martin train me. Not all new employees have this opportunity. Even though I was familiar with the campus, having gone to school here for years and having worked in the president’s office as a student employee, I did not know the processes and procedures. I started in January as the financial officer and was assigned the task of reconciling general fund accounts, designated accounts and foundation accounts before June 30. Additionally, I was to prepare the annual awards banquet that April. The J-School was also in the process of an internal audit. My head was spinning. I wasn’t sure I could even figure out the various accounts let alone reconcile them in less than six months. However, with the guidance of my “training team,” I managed to reconcile the accounts and the awards banquet was a success.

As others have thanked me for my time, I thank my “training team” for their many hours of service that made such an impact on me. I was able to perform my job duties because of their effort. I want to mention a little about each as I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from them and credit them for my success.

Karen Kaley, administrative assistant with the Davidson Honors College, and former administrative assistant with the J-School, brought knowledge about the J-School and its accounts. Karen expressed great loyalty and passion for the J-School. Looking at her records, I wanted to be as good as her. Karen became my mentor in 2003, and continues to be today. Thank you, Karen, for your time, and for sharing your knowledge/expertise with me in 2003 as well as today. You are truly an inspiration.

Teri Lerch, administrative assistant at the psychology department at the time (now deceased), gave numerous hours to helping me set up filing systems as well as providing best methods on accounting procedures. Thank you, Teri, for your time and expertise.

Wanda Lacroix, administrative assistant for the radio-TV department, was and continues to be a mentor. Her loyalty and passion for the J-School continues. Thank you, Wanda, for your time and expertise.

Bev Hawkins-Llewellyn, internal auditor, was conducting an internal audit at the J-School when I was hired. She worked endlessly with Wanda and me to set up procedures for internal controls and guided us to write an office manual. In order to produce an acceptable manual, I had to research various procedures to familiarize myself with UM policies and the inner workings of financial responsibilities for my position and other positions in the J-School. Thank you, Bev, for your time and expertise.

Ann Martin was my business services representative when I was hired. Ann graciously answered my daily questions and provided guidance on accounting codes as well as accounting procedures and standards. Thank you, Ann, for your time, expertise and patience.

I believe the time and training provided me as I started my new position made me successful. I believe the time I have given to others have made them successful. I ask others to give their time to help others.

Thank you to my J-School family and to the campus community for allowing me to serve you and our students.