Archive for Sunday, April 11, 2010

Director’s life reveals passion for continuing ed

April 11, 2010


One of Fred Pawlicki’s friends called him a “polymath,” which is just a fancy way of saying he’s a pretty smart guy who’s done a lot of different things.

These days, the longtime KU administrative pinch hitter is in charge of KU’s Continuing Education program. Pawlicki is fond of saying that the work-force development and adult education program is KU’s best-kept secret.

He may be right. When then-Provost David Shulenburger approached him about taking on the role of Continuing Education executive director, Pawlicki didn’t even realize the job was open.

As he had done twice before with open KU vacancies, he volunteered to take on the job on an interim basis. The next KU provost, Richard Lariviere, named Pawlicki the permanent executive director in 2007. He’s also served as the interim leader of the Lied Center from 2000 to 2001 and as interim director of the Spencer Museum of Art from 2004 to 2005.

His KU career began when he was hired as the first director of operations for the Lied Center in 1992. Dave Hiebert, a retired Lawrence physician, served on advisory boards for both the Lied Center and the Spencer Museum during Pawlicki’s time there.

He said Pawlicki’s skills as a manager and a leader provided a steady hand through leadership transitions that weren’t always easy. His wide experience in a range of areas helped endear him to the staff there.

“He has a ready smile and he has a talent to make people feel good about themselves,” Hiebert said. “That’s rare. I wish I had it.”

Pawlicki’s office is in a building that used to house a travel agency, at 1515 St. Andrews Drive.

On a brief tour of the facility, he proudly shows off the various departments of his agency, calling many of the 60 employees in the building by their first names.

There’s David, who oversees the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute — a “fabulous program,” Pawlicki said, that lets senior citizens take courses on a wide variety of topics. On this day, there’s a small group learning about Judy Garland. Another group is joining them from a community college in Hutchinson, participating via video feed.

There’s Jean, who deals with distance education. Gina’s in a meeting but waves through the glass anyway. There’s Soma, who works on an aerospace engineering training program for working engineers that takes her and her team across the globe. And so on, down to the building’s lowest floor, where Glenn oversees the fire and rescue training for firefighters statewide, and where Joanna watches over the 1.5 million pieces of mail the operation sends out annually.

Overseeing all of them — and a police officer training academy in Hutchinson to boot — is Fred, a man who, it’s safe to say, hasn’t followed a traditional academic path.

The 64-year-old Pawlicki is a veteran of Vietnam, where he served as a Navy Seabee. The name comes from the shortened version of the Navy’s Construction Battalions (CBs) that build roads, bridges and various other construction projects.

From there, he became a union carpenter and eventually took a job as Topeka’s Kansas Expocentre’s director of operations.

Pawlicki still retains a love of the arts from his previous work. He’s a wildlife and outdoor photographer and a quilter, and the walls of his office are decorated with framed landscape photos.

When a waterfall display quit functioning in the Continuing Education building, Pawlicki decided to coordinate with KU’s School of the Arts to have an annual contest that will open up the space to an art student every year.

Pawlicki and his wife, Cathie, have no children, but, he’s quick to point out, they own one very loved Chihuahua.

“That’s Bertie over there,” he said, pointing to a framed picture of a small black dog on the wall, before turning to another picture. “And that’s Bertie over there.”

There is a third picture, too.

Pawlicki said that the sum of his life experiences — the business sense, the entrepreneurial spirit, his love for the arts — have combined to be a “really good fit” for his position.

“He’s showed me,” Hiebert said, “that he was really a good man for all seasons.”


Steve Bunch 3 years, 12 months ago

Well, the know-nothings have had their day. Before Pawlicki took the reins, his predecessor was failing to meet the provost's directive of becoming self-supporting. Under Pawlicki, in three years time the unit has become self supporting and has returned more than one million dollars of general use funding to the provost's office. In addition, the bonds on the building, which CE purchased in the late '90s were paid off early. Counting all CE locations, there are about 150 employees, not 60. There is programming for the whole spectrum: fire and law enforcement, attorneys, engineers, architects, physicians, nurses, senior citizens, school children. Regarding the fountains, the one in front had a worn out pump and an underground leak that was wasting thousands of gallons of water and would have cost tens of thousands to replace. The indoor water feature was reportedly a source of mildew and other irritants to some of the staff. If people don't like Pawlicki as a person, fine, but he has turned CE around from five disastrous years under its previous leadership.


gojotobo 4 years ago

After complaining publicly about this story, someone just gave me an update. According to the Kansas City Star's public salary database, Fred Pawlicki's salary is $151,000.07.

Anyone else think this is a waste of money? Seems KU should have a better leader for $150,000.


4chewnut 4 years ago

The point is that Fred himself has done nothing to benefit what was once one of the most engaged and creative CE units in the country. Passion? Really? For his art, his dog and his paycheck, maybe.


crestway 4 years ago

I have had several Continuing Ed courses through the Osher program, and I have enjoyed every one of them. I am enrolled in 3 of them now. I find nothing to critisise about the Department.


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lawrencebuilder 4 years ago

I was talking with friends today and found out KU Continuing Education is a place for firefighters and police. It's a training facility. Yeah, I agree, that's great to have a training place like that in town. Now I can tell the cops where to go to learn how to use their radar detectors! Haha. But seriously, it's great KU has Continuing Education where the focus is training for blue-collar careers that are the heartbeat of this community.


2cool4school82 4 years ago

I have several friends who worked for Continuing Education. Based on all of their comments, Fred Pawlicki is not competent as a director and the second worst director Continuing Education has ever had! The financials and other measurements speak for themselves to support this, but here are some highlights:

Water features: -The building's interior waterfall didn't “quit functioning.” It was turned off by Fred several years ago. -There has never been an art contest and no student has ever been allowed to use the area for art. -Fred also had the beautiful fountain in the front of the building turned off and backfilled with natural grass.

Leadership: -Fred regularly harasses the staff of all departments. -Fred's yelling, fist slamming, and other adolescent activity isn't appropriate for a director. -Fred frequently yells at people to do things, but offers no guidance or leadership. -Fred appears to yell because he doesn't know what to do or how to handle the situation. -Fred frequently shows panic.

Business: -Fred has lost sight of the mission of Continuing Education and, as others on here are seeing in this article, he is about self promotion. -Fred wastes cash by entering into exclusive contract agreements for services that cost 10x as much as the industry average. -Fred continuously over spends on marketing campaigns and always considers them successful even though there is no program in place to measure the results. -Fred's incompetent business skills with budget development and management have led to consistent erosion of Continuing Education's short-term assets.

These are things I've learned over the years from my friends. None of my friends would be unprofessional enough to post these things or talk about them in public and have no personal issues with Fred. I'm posting these comments so readers don't accidentally get the idea Fred Pawlicki is a competent leader.


oneeye_wilbur 4 years ago

the "abandoned travel agency" has more history and ties to the community, why didn't the J/W world interview one of the city commissioners whose late father worked with continuiing education and thus compare Continuing Ed then and now.

KU continues to create jobs for those yet retired or almost to be, and thus taking a job away from someone who wants to work fulltime and support a family . whatever!

Everyone is a polymath! One thing for certain is, I am glad I never had to see the doctor interviewed as, who would want to go to a doctor that doesn't smile or make people feel good about themselves. I would rather stay sick and die than see that doctor!


none2 4 years ago

It does seem as though the comments are rather harsh.

But in all fairness, the last thing I think about with KU is continuing education. It is next to impossible to get any classes after hours or weekends unless you want to commute to the Edwards campus. It is too bad that KU cannot make its continuing education more like JCCC. That is a fine institution for continuing education. The last time that was brought up, there were a lot of nay sayers who think that some how research and continuing education must be mutually exclusive. I don't buy it.

I'm sure that this guy is doing the best of his abilities given that KU probably directs him not to do too much. It has been this way forever, so I seriously doubt asking former employees would be worth interviewing. The status of KU Continuing Education is as it has always been: inadequate. I bet if the KU administration had infinite money, they would simply move all of KU to the Kansas City area.


Multidisciplinary 4 years ago

(imagines his wife thought to check this mid morning before he did, saw the first two comments, went outside and took the limb cutter the incoming cable line so she escaped him reading this until he goes to work on Monday) ;)


CreatureComforts 4 years ago

Wow, a lot of harsh comments for a guy that runs a department. I agree that if he has been there for so long, I hope he knows ALL of the employees by name, but maybe that's just a goof by the writer? Perhaps maybe he KNOWS all of their names, but just doesn't need to CALL them by their names every time he sees them? I dunno...

Sure, it may not be front page worthy, but what's the need for all the criticism? The guy is just doing his seems to be a department that trains people for the real world? That's greatly missing at KU (and most major universities), so that's a good thing.


Luxor 4 years ago

I know that Continuing Education has lost some talented and respected staff


Kookamooka 4 years ago

Wow. Sounds like there is more of a story underneath the story. Hmmmmm. It also makes me wonder what the significance of this story is at this time? Could he be gearing up to run for an office?


lawrencebuilder 4 years ago

What is Continuing Education? And why is it in an abandoned travel agency building? Sounds creepy.


Luxor 4 years ago

The reporter should have talked to some of the people who have worked for him.


4chewnut 4 years ago

What a PR piece for Fred. He has done nothing other than learn the first names of his employees. He takes his dog to work with him while they work. Notice the reporter didn't talk to them. And the job wasn't open. Previous Dean was fired and ran off a lot of good staff.


Kookamooka 4 years ago

I love this article. Packed with surprises about this interesting and able man. A navy seabee AND a quilter. Excellent.


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