President Kunkel Tells Students “How I Got Here”


As the last talk of the ALIVE program’s “How I Got Here” series, President Kunkel presented on Tuesday, March 11 at the Cassandra Voss Center.

Kunkel believed that the series was a great subject for the college community.

“People sort of know people around here,” said Kunkel, “but not who they are really.”

Over the course of an hour, Kunkel had the opportunity to explain where he came from and how and why he ended up at SNC.

Telling participants that they were going to “see some things that no one at SNC has ever seen,” Kunkel had a projector screen with pictures from his past, often very humorous.  He made sure that his audience noted the fashion aspects, and said, “Those are maroon bell bottoms. It’s not a trick.”

With pictures like these as a backdrop, Kunkel told the story of the personal and professional aspects of his life. He explained the story of how he ended up as a college professor: starting to work for a daily newspaper at 16 before moving on to newspaper editing.

Though he called the world of newspapers “what I did for most of my life,” Kunkel went on to writing books and becoming the Dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Maryland before coming to SNC in the summer of 2008.

His childhood background began in Evansville, Indiana, which he considered similar to the De Pere area, with the “same kind of folks,” though he found that there are “more Germans down there than up here. More cheese up here than down there.”

Listeners got to hear different tidbits about their president, such as the fact that he wrote a play in his mid-twenties, and that if it hadn’t been for his wife, he claimed he would have gone to New York to become a playwright.

Showing a picture of him and his soon-to-be wife Deb at the Senior Prom in 1973, Kunkel told their love story. The two had known each other since they were 5, started dating when they were 15 and married at 20. Recently celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary, the couple has known each other for 52 years.

“I know,” said Kunkel. “It’s sickening. It sounds corny. It is corny.”

Kunkel talked on some of the highlights of his life as he sees it. His four children and getting to see them grow up, his first grandchild, and the perks of his job at SNC.

“I get to do some pretty cool stuff,” said Kunkel when a picture of his first pitch at a Brewer’s game came up.

“We are very happy to be here,” said Kunkel about his life at SNC.

He remarked on what he found special about SNC, how it is serious, unique and intent on its mission: “A lot of institutions talk about it. We do it. We were doing community before community was cool.”

Kunkel offered some advice on management, such as creating an atmosphere of positivity, respect and fun; one that is a collaborative collegiate environment that focuses on listening. He talked about how he feels called to lead by example and “live the mission” of SNC.

Looking back, Kunkel said he felt “very fortunate” about the journey he has been on, calling on his audience to learn from this journey and to “push yourself so you know what you can do.”

Sean Topacio, ALIVE member and a coordinator of the series, looked back to the semester of talks and said that he hopes the “How I Got Here” series helped bring our campus together and that “participants could get a better understanding of who the faculty and staff members are on a personal level.”


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