Pioneer Spotlight: Lisa Kratz
Lisa Kratz, director of the Markee Pioneer Student Center, has a long history of assisting with student engagement and leadership. Before joining the University of Wisconsin-Platteville last year, she worked in similar roles across the Midwest, most recently at the University of Northern Iowa and before that at Southwest Minnesota State University. Now, she’s making sure that the MPSC and all of its events and student organizations are prepared for another academic school year.
What are some of your daily tasks and duties as director of the Markee Pioneer Student Center?
One of the things I like about a job like this is that no day is like any other. The way that I look at it, I have two sides to my job. One side is the operations, which deals with the facility, building, events, furniture, renovations and student employees. Then there is the engagement side, which is largely centered around the Pioneer Involvement Center. We provide a variety of types of support for all of our student organizations, and we directly advise several of the governance groups.
What is your favorite part about working in this position?
Everything involving the students is my favorite part. I’ve been a student union professional pretty much my entire professional life, and I’ve always been, in some capacity, working directly with student organizations and student leaders. I love that. I also love working with student employment. We find that in this student center, we have our student employees working at a very high, paraprofessional level, where we rely on them a lot. They are highly trained and develop a lot of excellent professional and leadership skills. They do a wonderful job, and helping with that leadership and professional development is another thing that I really like.
What are some of your responsibilities in regards to preparing for a new school year?
A lot of times, people think that we don’t work in the summer, but we’re definitely still busy. I just say that it’s a different kind of busy. We’re heavily involved in new student registration over the summer, and now we’re very much involved in getting the training ready for our student leaders and employees for when they come back. We’re completing renovation projects so that they’re all ready by the start of the school year as well. As a department, we also have a lot of responsibility for Welcome Weekend, so we will be at all of the events during that time. Our student employees will be there the week before, working on the finishing touches and a lot of them have been working here all summer as well. Every year we start with a big bang, Welcome Weekend, and we keep that momentum going throughout the year.
What changes or additions are occurring in the MPSC?
The major renovation for us is the Pioneer Involvement Center. I just had my one-year anniversary at UW-Platteville, and one of the first things I did when I got here was reconstitute our advisory committee for the MPSC, which had been dormant for awhile. That is our advisory group that is heavily made up of students. It’s imperative that we have the students’ voices guiding our decisions for a student center. One of the things we talked about was the PIC, and how our students were feeling about it. With their help, we acknowledged that it needed an update, so we developed the entire the project – the colors, the furniture, the additions, the location of offices, all of that. We wanted to make the space more welcoming, flexible and vibrant for the students, and the plan was very much student-driven. We planned all year and the renovation has taken place this summer. By mid-August, it should just about be completed. We added a lot of color, rearranged some things and added different technology. I think it will be a space that all students will feel welcome in.
When it comes to a new school year, what do you look forward to the most?
I always look forward to the new crop of student leaders coming in and seeing what they decide to take on. I’m also anxious to see how the students respond to the renovations. As a department, we are also going to focus on getting out and being more visible around campus, which I’m looking forward to. We want to tell the story that the Markee is not just a building or facility. It’s that, but it’s also everything that goes on here. It’s all of the people that do what they do here and all of the things that are available to students here. I’m hoping that we can branch out throughout the university and share that the MPSC is for everybody. There are a lot of special things that happen here and we want everyone to know that.
Interview conducted by Amanda Bertolozzi, Writer/Editor, Communications. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.