For 30 years Louise Scott walked the halls and grounds of what she refers to “as one of God’s most special places on Earth.” It is due to this resounding affection for Upper Iowa University and its students that it will be to no one’s surprise if the longtime staff member is still witnessed walking across the Fayette campus long after her recent retirement as dean of student development.
“I don’t believe there is anywhere else in the world where you can find a more beautiful, highly respected university,” said Scott shortly before she retired on Dec. 31, 2015. “You will certainly not be able to find one in a rural environment that provides such a diverse domestic and international cultural experience for students as we do here at Upper Iowa University.”
While reminiscing about the campus changes she has witnessed, Scott stressed her great admiration for administrators, board members, alumni and other friends of the University who have guided the institution over the past 30 years.
Gazing out her office window in the Student Center, which overlooks the east side of campus, she noted, “Sometimes we (faculty and staff) may have all followed behind kicking and screaming, but seeing how the landscape of this university has evolved over the years is incredible. As an example, I will never forget watching as they tore up the parking lot and turned it into Grace Meyer Square, and now it is such a beautiful place.”
Additional projects that Scott recalls enhancing the campus experience were transforming the Garbee Hall bowling alley into office spaces, as well as construction of the Andres Center for Business and Education, the Liberal Arts building, Student Center and South Village.
“I believe developing our various outlying centers has also been a huge benefit to the entire University. Watching each of the centers evolve into what they are today and the University’s involvement with online curriculum as early as it did were all wise decisions,” she added. “Another positive decision was moving up to NCAA Division II athletics. Not only did our student body’s academic profile shoot up, but I believe we have attracted even more highly qualified faculty.”
Becoming a part of the Peacock family
A London, Ky., native, Scott received an associate’s degree from Sue Bennett Junior College before earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Union College in Barbourville, Ky., and later a master’s in higher education from University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Following her postgraduate studies, Scott promised herself that she would find employment at a small, private university. Strongly believing in greater value to an education obtained from a smaller academic institution, she conducted a very narrow job search and decided Upper Iowa fit her employment requirements.
“Obviously, staff and faculty are able to provide a more personable experience to students at a smaller university like Upper Iowa,” Scott said of her decision to move to the cornfields of Iowa. “At the same time, as a professional educator, you get to witness the individual growth of students during their time here.”
After being offered and accepting the position as UIU’s associate dean of students, Scott was introduced to the Fayette campus by a longtime friend of the University, the late Braulic “Cabby” Caballero ’56. In more than 40 years with UIU, Caballero, who died in June 2015, was the vice president of student services when Scott arrived in 1985.
“Anyone who knew Cabby would easily understand when I say that working with him was such a pleasure. He was not only a good administrator, but more importantly he was a great friend and mentor,” said Scott. “I’m so appreciative of all the wonderful people who were so gracious in first welcoming me to campus. I am extremely lucky to have been surrounded by so many remarkable colleagues over the years.”
When first hired, Scott worked with four additional staff members in the Office of Student Development (OSD). She would serve in this role and later as director of career development for five years before assuming her duties as dean of student development. Today, the OSD has grown to over a dozen staff members.
While expressing her appreciation for Caballero and the entire OSD staff, Scott noted that among the countless other UIU co-workers who befriended her over the past three decades are Becky Wadian ’72, Mary White, Dr. James Janecke, Kent McElvania, and the late Mike McCready and Lew Churbuck ‘67.
“There is no way for me to name all those who have touched my life, but the entire Peacock family should be so proud to see how many employees have remained loyal to the University and the entire community over the years,” she added.
Scott said she feels blessed to have had the opportunity to interact and get to know a large number of students and their respective cultures. She is also grateful that the administration allows OSD to be creative in building programs and services that best meet the needs of the entire student body.
While administering discipline was one of her least favorite duties, she admitted it occasionally provided some of the more rewarding responses.
“Handing down discipline is not something you want to do, but it is something that you sometimes need to do. It meant so much to me when a graduate would later seek me out or call to thank me for the discipline I may have laid out and how it helped them grow as an individual,” she explained. “To see some of these students later become bank administrators or travel around the world makes it all worthwhile. You’re as proud of them as any parent would be.”
Noting that a number of students and staff questioned whether she can go about a normal day without showing up on campus, Scott acknowledged she will most likely return to the University to volunteer, play a game of Ping-Pong®, attend an event, or simply hang out.
“How does a person learn to let go of something that they’ve been a part of for 30 years?” she asked. “Nobody can just walk away after putting that much time into something they love.”
Remarking that when it comes to cold weather she is “still a Southern girl at heart,” Scott said she looks forward to spending more time with family and in a warmer climate. In addition to continuing to help at both Rainbow Land Preschool & Daycare and Maple Crest Manor & Assisted Living in Fayette, she would also like to become involved with the ministry.
Needless to say, the beloved and respected UIU retiree has already blocked out portions of a few days on her calendar for a visit or two to campus, her own special place on earth.