Working with students kept him young at heart!
by Laurie Krasin
After a career spanning 41 years in higher education, Tom Clausen, UW-Fond du Lac director of information technology, retired in October 2013.
Clausen spent 39 of those years on the UW-Fond du Lac campus, arriving in 1974. Since then, the number of students enrolled at the university doubled and several generations of students walked through the hallways on campus.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from UW-Oshkosh and a master’s degree from UW-Stout, Clausen began his career at UW-Fond du Lac as a media specialist dealing with 16 mm film, filmstrips and slide projectors, now abandoned in the digital world.
He’s held several positions since then - student activities coordinator, public information manager and finally, director of information technology.
He points to the changes in job duties over the years as a positive in his career and one of the reasons he stayed with the university for so long.
“It was like getting a new job, a new outlook each time,” he said. “Why go to a different place?”
Along the way, Clausen was part of the group who presented the annual Madrigal Dinner, a scholarship fundraiser at UW-Fond du Lac which ran for 15 years.
It was a signature event in the Fond du Lac community with 150 people attending each of the four nights the dinner was presented.
“We picked a king and queen from the community,” said Clausen. “It seemed like everybody and anybody was there.”
Clausen worked closely with Jack Heil, retired UW-Fond du Lac physics professor, on the annual Quiz Bowl which ran from 1989 to 2000. With Heil working on the quiz questions and Clausen handling the tech, the two brought students from six area high schools to the campus to compete for scholarships sponsored by local banks.
His involvement in student organizations has been wide ranging and includes being an advisor for the newspaper, helping students run a campus radio station in the 1980s and most recently acting as advisor to CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ).
Serving as a UW-Fond du Lac golf coach for almost as many years as he has been a part of the campus, he recalls teaching a student how to improve his putting on the carpet in the hallway outside his office. “The student shaved 18 strokes off his average and we won the conference tournament,” said Clausen, who was named Coach of the Year for golf in the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference (WCC) that year and every other year Fond du Lac won the event.
He also supported conference athletics by serving as UW-Fond du Lac’s faculty athletic representative for 38 years in the UW Colleges.
As the number of computers on campus grew from just one to the more than 350 currently part of the campus network, Clausen grew in his position as well, deciding to take computer classes and update his skills. “I realized that AV (audio visual) was a dying profession and if I didn’t learn computers, I would be out.”
When the Internet and file sharing came to campus in 1989, there was one shared drive for storage.
“You could look at everyone else’s papers. So, if you needed one right before class...,” Clausen recalled with a smile.
In 2004, the campus added wireless capability and the job evolved again to supporting laptops and mobile devices.
Clausen has the unique distinction of having worked with all five UW-Fond du Lac campus deans – Bill Henken, Bradley Gottfried, Judy Goldsmith, Daniel Blankenship and John Short.
“During Tom’s long and distinguished career at UW -Fond du Lac, he has demonstrated exceptional dedication, willingness to take on new and varied assignments, and a relentless commitment to our students and to the mission of UW Colleges and UW-Fond du Lac,” said John Short, UW-Fond du Lac dean and CEO.
New era for campus
The campus renovation in 2000 brought a renewed sense of community to the students, faculty and staff. “That was an exciting time,” Clausen said. “It brought so much energy to the campus.”
The best thing about working at UW-Fond du Lac according to Clausen, is working with young people. “Being around 18- to 20-yearolds kept me young,” he said.
In the community, Clausen has been a 39-year member of the Fond du Lac Evening Lions Club, most recently serving as president and chairing a “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive.
After retirement, Tom looks forward to spending time with his wife, Betty, and enjoying time on his boat, golfing, skiing and “freedom.”