by Lauren Schwabe
After serving at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul for 24 years and holding a variety of titles and positions, Dr. Timothy Kowalik of the communication department has decided to retire at the end of spring 2015 semester.
Dr. Kowalik first was hired at UNW in 1991 as a professor in the English and communication department before it separated into two departments. Over his years as a professor at UNW, he taught classes such as speech, composition, intercultural communications, global communications and intercultural communications. Before Dr. Kent Kaiser and Dr. Doug Trouten were hired, Dr. Kowalik also taught classes for the journalism and public relations programs, which were both fairly new additions when he was hired. He also advised the student newspaper.
“Over the years, I’ve been the person to fill the gaps,” Kowalik said. “Where there was a need, I would try to help out.”
In addition to teaching traditional undergraduate classes, Kowalik also spent three years as the director of the FOCUS program. When there were changes in the administration and more help was hired, he returned to the communication department. When UNW experienced some difficult years in the mid 90’s, it was Kowalik who provided stability as faculty president.
According to Kowalik, his time in administrative side of things helped him understand how complex running a university can be. “It takes a lot of effort [for a university to run smoothly]. I have a deep respect for those who make that happen…In my time here, I’ve seen three school presidents and many different leadership styles. I’ve learned to appreciate those behind the scenes and enjoy watching the school grow,” he said.
Watching God bless UNW in different ways and different times is something that Kowalik believes will stay with him long after he has retired. “It’s been great to be able to see God use both staff and students to advance His kingdom. That’s what it’s all about.”
In his 24 years of employment at UNW, Kowalik was given the opportunity to go on two sabbaticals. For the first, he spent time teaching at the Moscow American Christian University in Russia. For the second, he traveled to Daystar University in Kenya. Both experiences gave him an “enlarged vision of higher education.”
As his teaching at UNW comes draws to an end, Kowalik is looking forward to continuing to pursue his passions with a renewed zeal. “I don’t see it as retirement at all, it’s more like re-firement. It’s the closing of one chapter and the opening of the next,” he said. “It’s about allowing God to open new opportunities.”
Kowalik hopes continue teaching, finding new opportunities overseas or going back to serve at places he has already been, such as Daystar University. Wherever God leads him, it is clear that this is simply the next chapter, not the final, of his career in both teaching and ministry.
Kowalik’s early retirement created an open faculty line in the communication department. Trouten, whose position had been eliminated, will instead be continuing at UNW.