The following is a Q&A with Rick Tupper, the new associate vice president for university services. The administration appointed Tupper in August. The interview took place Thursday 6, 2018.
What are the duties of your new position?
In any operation, communication is key. We were finding a lack of communication within various service entities in the university, so we wanted to bring all university services under one roof. So what I have now is Campus Safety, the Sodexo food service contract, the Barnes & Noble contract for the bookstore, scheduling contracts and logistics, risk management and facilities team, which is facilities, housekeeping, and grounds. All of that is now under one umbrella. I want to make sure each are being more efficient and effective for our students.
How did you feel about the promotion?
When Herseth Sandlin came in, one of the things I told her was she has the ability to look at Augustana through a new set of eyes and find where we can be more efficient. As a new president, you have the opportunity to look at what we have done right and what need changes. She did that this summer, and we started talking about this concept late last academic year, and she pulled the trigger on it in August.
I am not a graduate of Augie, but I am a believer in Augustana. I think we can be something bigger and better than we are right now, and I want to be a part of that. I want to see where we can take us. Augie is in the middle of a nice sized community, and I think we need to take advantage of that a little more and get people to buy into what we are. And a lot of that is facility driven. When people drive by on 33rd Street, what do they see? I want them to see something that makes them say, “I am on Augustana’s property.” We are proud of what we are, and we are proud of what we have, and we want people to see that.
Campuses have a unique feel. It is a feeling of excitement. It’s a feeling of something new, something bigger than us, and people want to be a part of that. I want people to look at us and say, “Oh, that’s place is something special.”
Is this your first position outside of law enforcement?
It is. It is really the first job I have ever held that does not just have a public safety nexus. For more than 30 years, all I have done is public safety stuff. When I was 17, I went into the military as a military policemen. Then I got into law enforcement by 21. Then I went through Sioux Fall Police Department and then graduated from the FBI National Academy. Then Augie in a public safety role.
What do you want students to know about your new position?
When we talk about university services, I want people to know that it is a complicated machine. There are so many pieces to it, but every piece of it has a role for the students. I want to know, I want to hear from them, what they need, what they want and what they see is not working right. We are a service. And if I am not providing that service, I need to know what the expectation is. I want students to look at university services as an umbrella over the entire campus. So, let us know what you would like to see and how you think we should be providing these services.