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Alumni Spotlight: Kathy Kuross ’85 – “I exist because of Augsburg!”

Kathy KurossKathy Kuross and the IT Evolution

If you want to get a sense of the “electronic evolution” at Augsburg since computers wormed their way into our lives, you would be well advised to ask Kathy Kuross ’85, Senior Programmer/Analyst for IT (Information Technology). She has quite an Auggie history!

When she began her employment in Admissions in 1986, it was the beginning of a relationship with printers, computers, and IT machinery that has continued for over 33 years. Since those early days, when she did word processing for Admissions–followed by work in institutional research, programming, and analysis–she has had a front-row seat from which to observe—and experience—this electronic evolution at Augsburg.

When Arthur Met Bev

And how did Kathy’s 33-year commitment to Augsburg evolve? Kuross has said that she “owes her existence to Augsburg” since her parents met on campus. Her father, Arthur Kuross, arrived at Augsburg as a first-generation college student in the early ‘50s, after having served in World War II. On campus, a certain young secretary in the Teacher Placement Office caught his eye—Beverly Eckman. Before long, he asked her for a date, and she sought advice from Millie Nelson, then the switchboard operator. Millie (who subsequently served Augsburg for decades, most notably as College Center manager) thought the date was a good idea, granted her approval, and the following year, she was present at their wedding.

Arthur, who had emigrated from Norway as a small boy, stayed connected to Augsburg as the years unfolded, particularly through sports. Several of his college buddies would join him at football and hockey games, and Kathy relished the invitations to join her father and his friends at many of the games. Arthur became very active in the A-Club and served as its president for a number of years.

Still Connected

Kuross in her early work setting in the Science building
Kuross in her early work setting in the Science building

When Kathy accepted a position as word processor in the Admissions office in 1986, just months after having completed her Bachelor of Arts degree, she worked in the Science building—the same building in which her mother had worked 36 years earlier. Certainly, there had been changes in how office work got done over those 36 years, but those changes would likely pale by comparison with those that Kathy has observed in the 33 years since then.

Kathy began her work when there was only one printer on campus and most people were still using typewriters. At that time, she would carry all the students’ admissions folders in a metal bin from the Admissions office (then located in a house) to the basement of the Science building, where the Administrative Computing office was located.

She recalls the Registrar’s office using punch cards to process registrations and pasting labels for each term’s data onto students’ transcripts. Eventually, the campus moved on to using a mainframe computer system, with green-screen computer terminals at people’s desks. Larger reports were printed on a giant green bar printer. (Remember the wide perforated continuous-feed green-and-white sheets with holes along both margins?)

As Kuross reflects on the many changes in electronics and campus life, she notes that in 1985, the top five names of students attending Augsburg were Johnson, Anderson, Peterson, Olson, and Nelson. Today, the top five names are Vang, Johnson, Yang, Lee, and Mohamed. Kuross is proud to work at a university that has expanded its reach and willingly changes, adapts, and grows.

When she started at Augsburg, there was a room in the Christensen Center that played MTV videos all day. The name of the cafeteria was the Chin Wag, and it was located at the base of the current stairway in Christensen Center. Employees could smoke at their desks. Parking was free. At registration time, students waited in long lines in the gym.

By contrast, Kuross can now sit at her IT desk and watch thousands of registrations happen in minutes. We now have lactation rooms, foot-washing stations, and gender-neutral restrooms. Whereas faculty advisors once did all the advising, we now have the Gage Center, with a whole floor of the library designated to assist students. There is an Academic Advising office, TRIO, CLASS, StepUP, and Multi-cultural Student Services, just to name a few.

Throughout her 14-year stint in IT, plus 13 years of institutional research and earlier admissions work, Kuross has not been lured to other workplaces. When asked why, she responded that she values the quality work environment, the friendships, and the challenges, both personal and professional.

She has found particular fulfillment through her role in helping Augsburg students graduate. Over 33 years, that’s a lot of students!

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-by Cheryl Crockett ‘89