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School of Education celebrating retirement of Associate Dean Jeff Hamm

September 25, 2018

Ask Jeff Hamm what he’ll miss most about working on the UW-Madison campus, and the longtime administrator with the School of Education doesn’t hesitate.

“My colleagues, both at the campus level and within the School,” says Hamm, who served from 2006 to earlier this month as the School of Education’s associate dean for student academic affairs, and from 1998 to 2006 as the assistant dean/director of education academic services. “I feel very lucky to be a part of that community of advisors. My colleagues at the campus level who have my job are just an incredibly smart, talented and committed group that I was very proud to be a part of, and I’ll miss that.”

But ask Hamm ­what he’ll miss the least, what tasks he’s happy to getting away from, and he stops to ponder the question.

“Nothing,” says Hamm, who came to town in 1974 to pursue a master’s degree in political science before landing his first campus job in 1975 and spending most of the next four decades carving out a successful career at UW-Madison.

Jeff Hamm
Jeff Hamm retired from the School of Education earlier this
month and now is a graduate student with UW-Madison's
School of Social Work.
“It wasn’t all fun,” he adds after pausing to gather his thoughts. “Going to campus-level meetings, in armor, and speaking up and fighting for what was best for our students and our School wasn’t always easy work. But it’s an unbelievable gift to work here on this campus and, especially, in this School. Faculty and students are amazing. Staff are outstanding to work with. Just thinking about this … I’m going to be bawling at my retirement party.”

The School of Education is hosting a retirement celebration to honor Hamm and his career from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, in the Education Building’s Morgridge Commons area. Dean Diana Hess and Hamm will deliver remarks during a short program that begins at 4 p.m.

“Jeff has made so many contributions to the School, over so many years, that it is literally impossible to name them all,” says Hess. “His keen focus on all students and how we can provide them the strongest educational opportunities has consistently been his north star. I thank him for his hard and effective work and wish him the very best as begins his studies to become a social worker.”

Hamm’s first job on the UW-Madison campus was working as a typist as a limited term employee (LTE) before he landed a post from 1977 to 1982 as a media specialist and project coordinator with the Wisconsin Vocational Studies Center, which today is known as the Center for Education and Work within the School of Education. In that role, he coordinated and managed state and federal educational media projects that were mainly supported by grants. He produced more than 50 filmstrips, slide-tapes and videotapes, and several educational handbooks.

From 1984 to 1988 he was an administrative assistant with the Art History Department, before returning to the School of Education from 1988 to 1992 as the assistant to the chair for the Department of Kinesiology. In this role, he also served as an undergraduate academic advisor.

From there, he was named assistant director of Education Academic Services within the School of Education in 1993, a post he held until being named interim assistant dean/director of Education Academic Services from October 1997 to May 1998.

Hamm, who is credited with overhauling the work culture in Education Academic Services, was named assistant dean and director of EAS in June 1998 by then-dean Chuck Read.

“One of the things I’m most proud of to this day is people from different corners of campus always tell me what a great unit we have here and that people want to come work here,” says Hamm.

Hamm was added to former dean Julie Underwood’s leadership team as associate dean for student academic affairs in August 2006, a post he held until his retirement.  In this role, he spent the past decade-plus in the School of Education providing general oversight and holding responsibility for undergraduate student academic affairs, and student services units and activities across the School. He was charged with establishing directions, developing policies and procedures, and facilitating coordination and integration among three unites ­– Education Academic Services, Career Services, and Student Diversity Programs. He also continued in his role as director of field experiences for the School, and oversaw 20 full-time professional staff, 10-12 part-time student workers and a budget of about $1.8 million.

As a member of the dean’s leadership team, Hamm also was responsible for monitoring and analyzing undergraduate student enrollments, demographics, program applications, climate and academic performances. He also represented the School to campus-wide committees and councils related to undergraduate student academic affairs policy, advising services, equity and diversity efforts, and enrollment management.

For Hamm, his most important task was “being a good citizen of the School and the campus.”

“That means being an advocate for the School, when necessary, and representing the School well at the campus level,” he says. “If that meant being a pain in the butt or having a critical perspective, so be it. But those are really important values to me.”

Hamm is also proud of the equity, diversity and social justice work his teams undertook over the years.

While it’s obvious how important the School of Education is to Hamm, he also is very much looking forward to the next chapter in his life: studying as a graduate student with UW-Madison’s School of Social Work.

“I’ve been gearing up for this the past two years and am really excited to try something new,” Hamm says of returning to UW-Madison as a student.

Hamm is moving from the realm of education to healthcare, as he plans to center his studies on working with older adults.

“Instead of working with young college students I’m looking forward to working with senior populations,” says Hamm. “I’m interested in end-of-life issues and advanced care planning. This nation is facing a lot of very interesting challenges in health care because of our increasing life expectancy. I’m interested in thinking about how can we manage some of these health care issues while putting people first and still making it sustainable for society. I find these topics very interesting and exciting.”

Christina Klawitter started as the School’s next associate dean for student academic affairs on Sept. 24 after serving since 2011 as dean of students at Beloit College.

Asked for any words of wisdom he’d like to pass along, and Hamm said: “Your staff has to take care of the students, so take care of your staff.”

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