If you don’t know Jude Kiah from his work at Western Illinois University (he is the director of the WIU Bookstore and of Go West Transit in Macomb), you may know him from the various other venues at which he “works” frequently.
Personally, I have seen Jude officiating at many of my nephews’ basketball games in western Illinois over the years. (Jude has been the basketball chairman of the Western Central Officials Association [WCOA] for 18 years; this year, Jude officiated his third—and final—2015 Illinois High School Association [IHSA] state tournament.)
On a few occasions, I have also encountered people outside of my job here at WIU who have heard Jude speak and/or attended one his leadership training sessions. (I recall a family member, who attended one of his sessions through her job in education, asking me if I knew this “Jude Kiah guy” who works at Western? “Yes,” I answered her. To which she exclaimed, “He is a great speaker!”)
Earlier this month, Jude’s contributions to Western and his community were recognized when he was named the 2015 Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee of the Year. While the winner isn’t required to give an acceptance speech, Jude did, and I can honestly say, after many years of attending meetings in my career, it was the first meeting I’ve attended at which I’ve seen anyone cry (well, from joy anyway 😉 ).
For the press release I posted for University Relations, I asked Jude to describe how he felt about this receiving the award.
“I can remember, many, many years ago, seeing this plaque on the wall in the Union and thinking how special those people must have been to the WIU community to be so honored. I never aspired to win it (I thought it was too far out of reach to aspire to), but my peers were unrelenting in nominating me repeatedly.That my peers did that for me is deeply humbling. It literally took my breath away when I found out. I read the letter three times because I thought I read it wrong! To me, it signifies the respect of my peers, which is all one can ask for out of a career. I am honored to serve the people I work with every day at Western. It’s an especially good day to be a Leatherneck!”
In honor of Jude’s recognition (and for the May installment of the COAP Employee Spotlight), I asked him to provide me with just a bit more about what makes him (a busy, busy fellow) tick (see Q&A below).
Congrats, Jude, on an honor so very well deserved!
Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?
Jude: I am originally from northern New York. I moved to Florida when I was nine and graduated from Orlando Bishop Moore High School. I attended college and grad school in New York and was working in Georgia in 1995, when I had an interview for Western, twice, at a national conference in Boston. I actually had another job in New Jersey that I was waiting for final confirmation on at the time. I got a call from Western six weeks after the interviews, and they asked me to come to campus. I really didn’t want to come (I thought I already had that other job lined up), but I did, after being prodded, and I fell in love with it when I got here. I turned down the job in New Jersey and came to Illinois.
Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?
Jude: There is no typical day. I have offices on both sides of town, so I look at my schedule and see where I am needed that day. I have a list of things I need to get done, but it rarely does! I don’t think of my workday as segmented. If I am awake, I am working. (Darn Electronics!)
As time has gone on, it’s more like I spend the actual workday in meetings, answering communications, and meeting with people in my office, and then I spend the evening actually doing the work, lol… I’m usually running around at high speed most days.
Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?
Jude: It’s really just that. It’s never the same. I love working at a place that has allowed me to be progressive and find ways to benefit our students. That has led in some interesting directions over the years, and I have done things I never, ever thought I would get involved with. I love working with our students and making a difference for them in their lives. It’s what drives me. I love being part of a campus and a community like Macomb.
Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?
Jude: Time. I just don’t have enough time in the day. There is so much to do, and not enough time to do it. I am still trying to figure out how to make more time.
Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job.
Jude: Officiating basketball has been a huge passion for the last 27 years. I have worked nearly 20 of those with the same person (Sam Moran), and we are best friends. We have had a really blessed career (three state finals and two state championships). We hunt and travel together, too.
My children are a lot of fun. They are very funny children, and they are a blast! Family time is important, and I try not to work until the family is in bed at 9 p.m. I stay up much later.
I run quite a bit (maybe 10-12 miles a week) in the basketball off season, too. I do a lot of public speaking—maybe 75 engagements a year. I do like fixing things and building things, too. I find that very therapeutic.
Q. What is your favorite quote?
Jude: “Only the man who swims against the stream knows the strength of it.” — Woodrow Wilson
And one more that’s deeply important to me…
“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” — Vince Lombardi