Kathy Venema is to serve her last week at Heidelberg University, having been with the university in a variety of ways since 1977. She is to retire at the end of December.
Venema began her career as a resident assistant during her undergraduate work at Westminster University in Pennsylvania. She later attended Bowling Green State University, earning a master's degree in college student personnel and a doctorate
in higher education administration.
Venema worked at BGSU for three years prior to coming to Heidelberg. During her time at Heidelberg, Venema has served in positions including director of residence life; director of career planning and placement; associate dean of academic affairs; and, since 2006, associate vice president for institutional advancement and alumni relations.
In her current position, Venema has helped provide support services for alumni, worked with others to coordinate the arrangements for the university's Patricia Adams Lecture Series and helped assist in fundraising and university relations, she said.
"What I tried to do throughout my career (is) I worked to support the academic mission of the university," Venema said. "I am glad that I had the opportunity to work with the students, faculty and staff to be able to do that. I have not been isolated in one area, I have worked with a variety of people."
Venema said she has worked to help best educate students with their academic, personal and career goals.
Her relationships with alumni and colleagues are what she is going to miss most, she said.
"This is a caring community," Venema said. "It's great to see the students succeed in learning and caring about each other. Many alumni retain strong relationships since their graduation. Heidelberg gives them a strong foundation to help pursue (those relationships) and their careers."
Former student affairs student worker Colleen Barker-Williamson said she was a peer mentor with Venema at Heidelberg and as a graduate student at BGSU in the early 1980s.
"Few professionals in the field have made quite the impact that she did on me," Barker-Williamson said.
Venema said she feels blessed to have been at Heidelberg.
"I've had four careers at the same university with the variety of positions I have had," Venema said. "I have the confidence that the university will continue to do well with the new faculty and staff that are beginning here. I look forward to the future."
Venema's last day in the office will be Friday.
She said she is looking forward to traveling during January.
"I will have time to do other things and find new and different ways to be involved in the community," she said.