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University community says farewell to Jon Buse

Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2011 14:11

Jon Buse

JOHN ANDERSON/Northern Iowan

Student Body President Spencer Walrath and departing Dean of Students Jon Buse converse at a reception held in honor of his departure from UNI at the Commons ballroom on Nov. 14.

Jon Buse

JOHN ANDERSON/Northern Iowan

Jon Buse, who is stepping down from his position as UNI’s Dean of Students on Nov. 22, speaks to the attendees of a reception held in honor of his departure from UNI.

Jon Buse served in many roles during his 24 years at the University of Northern Iowa, but the faculty, staff and students of the university made it very clear Monday that he will be remembered for so much more.

"He is not just the Dean of Students. He is not just a student affairs professional. He is not just a committee chair or co-chair. For those of us who have seen his Homecoming pep rally performances, he is not winning a Grammy anytime soon," said Jan Hanish, interim vice president for administration and finance. "What Jon is is the glue that brings everything together and holds it together here at UNI."

Hanish was one of many members of the university committee who reminisced about Buse's time at the university as a student and administrator during a reception held in honor of his departure in the Commons Ballroom Monday, at which they enjoyed many of Buse's favorite foods from UNI Catering, including cayenne cheese soup, ham balls and lemon boats.

Buse will step down as Dean of Students on Nov. 22 to take the same position at Kirkwood College in Cedar Rapids, where he currently lives. Lyn Redington, Director of Residence Life, will replace Buse as interim dean on Nov. 23.

A number of factors contributed to Buse's decision to move, which will shorten his commute by about an hour and make it easier for him to support his children's efforts in school.

"…a great opportunity, something a little different, is sort of also appealing to me," said Buse, who graduated from UNI in 1991. "And it's a good school, and (there are) lots of great people there too, so it's really a combination of factors."

Buse's favorite memory as a student at UNI was the university's first appearance in the NCAA basketball tournament, in which UNI, a 14-seed, upset Missouri, a 3-seed.

"So Maurice Newby hit the game-winning shot at the end of regulation, and of course, we went nuts," he said. "Ran outside, and it was before really anybody had gotten outside yet, so it was really quiet – because it was spring break. And all of a sudden, you could hear, sort of in the next minute, this shallow roar just across campus that became this huge – people honking cars, and it was – that was my favorite memory as a student, by far."

As Dean of Students, Buse will remember students' response to the Westboro Baptist Church's scheduled protest last year.

"They were honest. They were respectful," he said. "… My experience in this job is that if you sort of let students show you the way, they'll take you (to) the right place. … We need to sort of remember that as administrators more often than we do."

During the reception, faculty, staff and students reflected on Buse's work and hijinks at the university, praising and teasing him for his respectfulness, for his support and for his humor.

"We talked about kind of these divides between administration and faculty, but you are my colleague," said Victoria DeFrancisco, a professor of communication studies who joked about being in "mourning" over Buse's departure. "You are a faculty member's administrator, so thank you so much for always putting students first."

Student Body President Spencer Walrath praised Buse for his relatability, calling him "one of the greatest people at this university."

"His job is basically to deliver bad news to people," Walrath said. "… And despite having to always deliver bad news, he is the most upbeat person I've met at this university."

"Anytime you hang out with Jon Buse, it's like you're hanging out with your buds, just because he relates to you so well," said Walrath, who has called Buse "Johnny Bravo" since he asked to be called by a nickname.

Walrath shared a few stories about Buse during the reception, highlighting the attention he gave every student.

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