College's Mom Away from Home Retiring

July 2, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. — Sue Voss has been a sort of mom away from home for hundreds of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students over the years, but she's retiring this summer.

Voss's title – student development and events director for UNL's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources – hardly captures her role in helping students navigate the challenges and opportunities of life at UNL.

Steve Waller, dean of CASNR, noted that the college has been fortunate over the last nine years to experience increased enrollment. Just as important, though, are its efforts to retain students once they arrive.

"Sue has been instrumental in helping us do that. Students can struggle with so many issues, especially in their first year or two," he said. "Adjusting to college or being away from home, needing help navigating UNL services, worries about illnesses or other things happening at home, homesickness and loneliness. Sue really cares about our students' welfare and their success, and they learn that right from the start."

"She's a friendly face, a great listener and a very wise counselor," he added.

In fact, the first few days of each semester, Voss was likely to be the first East Campus face bus-riding students saw since she sat at the main bus stop on campus, welcoming students and asking "do you know where you're going?"

Voss has worked for CASNR since 1987, moving into her current role in 2002. She coordinates the CASNR CARES (Caring Attitudes and Respect for Every Student) program. It's the first point of contact for students, faculty, staff and parents when there are questions, concerns or situations that affect a student's educational experience at CASNR.  CASNR CARES is dedicated to helping students personally and individually. Each student's situation and personality are different – and so are the solutions.

She also has taught the Dean's Scholars in Experiential Leadership program to first-year CASNR students. It gives them success skills for use in and out of the classroom.

Over the years, Voss said, she's learned some important lessons:

          – She doesn't have to have all the answers; she just needs to know the people who do. She has built relationships and contacts across UNL that she can call on to help students survive and thrive.

          – "The slightest thing you do can make or break" a student, Voss said. After the fact, she often hears from students or parents some small thing she did to help a student over a tough time.

          – Finally, "you can't save everyone."

Voss treats students as "if they were my daughter or my son," and she will miss interacting with students – "they keep you young" – but she has a toddler granddaughter to keep her busy. Her husband will retire in January.

Voss's retirement party is Friday, Aug. 1, from 2-4 p.m. in the Great Plains Room of the Nebraska East Union. Party organizers are asking former and current students and co-workers to send in photos, memories and stories about her. They're also seeking 15-second smartphone videos. Contact Sue Ellen Pegg, spegg2@unl.edu.

Memories can be directly posted at http://go.unl.edu/suevoss

Dan Moser
IANR News Service
402-472-3030
dmoser3@unl.edu


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