After 41 years at Kansas State, Director of Academic Student Services Kathleen Greene announced her retirement. Greene’s career spanned many departments and positions, from teaching to advising to working as a counselor in the athletics department. However, she found her calling working with students while directing three of K-State’s TRIO programs: Educational Supportive Services, the McNair Scholars Program and Student Support Services at K-State Salina.
“It is hard to put into words her impact,” Stephanie Bannister, assistant vice provost for student success, said. “I mean, 41 years of service, countless successful grant competitions, but more than that, she’s just a gentle giant of goodness. Generations of students have been impacted by her willingness to meet them where they are, be open, serve as a connection and a referral to colleagues across campus. She’s just incredibly well-known and well respected.”
TRIO Educational Supportive Services is a federally-funded program that provides support for students who are first-generation, income limited or have a documented disability.
“They didn’t have TRIO programs while I was in college,” Greene said. “I struggled. We had a support group, so we tutored each other. We would meet in study groups, that’s the form of tutoring we had.”
Raised in Queens, New York, Greene attended Ottawa University after midwest colleges visited her high school looking for students. As a first-generation student herself, Greene said she always liked helping people find their voice.
“I found my calling in working with students who have challenges, whether it be their socio-economic challenges, to help them with their education,” Greene said. “I just like being a part of helping people succeed. Especially with [my] first-gen background and limited income, that had a lot to do with it.”
Bannister said Greene demonstrated great commitment to students through her dedication to grant-writing.
“I think it’s important to know that those grants technically can not be written during work time,” Bannister said. “The staff who write those grants go above and beyond outside of work to secure that funding. It’s just a federal regulation that you cannot use the grant funds to actually secure additional funds.”
Greene’s grantsmanship garnered more than $20 million for K-State, according to K-State Today.
“If you think about McNair scholars and their mission — I mean, she is the one who brought that program here,” Bannister said. “She is the reason we have a program that is designed to encourage students to go on to pursue graduate school. While undergraduate and institutional research is a huge priority now, it was Kathy Greene 27 years ago who laid this really amazing foundation.”
Greene’s hard work has earned her a long list of accolades, including induction into the MO-KANE-NE Hall of Fame, the Commerce Bank Presidential Faculty/Staff Award for Distinguished Services to Minority Students and the university’s first Inclusive Excellence honoree, yet she said she is most proud of her impact on students.
“I’m proud of seeing my students succeed,” Greene said. “Some of them go on to have a really good life. Some of them got their PhDs. Some of them are executive directors.”
Greene said she plans to spend time with her family, travel and visit museums during retirement.
“I feel I’m blessed because I’ve had such a fulfilling career,” Greene said. “If I was in another career, I would have retired about ten years ago. I’ve been blessed, I’m happy, I’m looking forward to a fulfilling retirement.”
Bannister said she will miss Greene’s warm and inviting presence.
“It’s hard when you’re planting seeds to fully know what that yield is going to be, but I can say with 100 percent confidence, she has had generational impact that reaches far beyond Kansas State University,” Bannister said. “We’re excited for her, but we will miss her spirit.”
The Greene TRIO Excellence fund has been established in Greene’s honor to continue to support students and grow the foundation Greene built in ways that a grant can’t financially support.
“Sometimes you just do the work, you’re getting paid, it’s what you’re supposed to do,” Green said. “And then people come and thank me — that’s gratifying.”