Bernie Kish has had a number of careers in his life. He was an officer in the U.S. Army, director of Kansas University ticket operations and the regional coordinator for the College Football Hall of Fame. It wasn’t until 2005 that Kish started his career doing what he first set out to do when he attended college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania: teach.
“I really do love teaching,” Kish said. “I went to a teachers college with the idea I would be a teacher.”
Although his teaching career was delayed by the military and other job opportunities, Kish strongly believes in the power of caring for students and making a difference in their lives.
At KU, Kish wears multiple hats. He is the faculty mentor for the volleyball team and helps with the KU Alumni Association’s Kansas Honor Scholars program, but his main focus is the three-pronged job he does in Robinson Center as the director of facilities for the health, sport and exercise science department.
As director of facilities, he schedules who uses what rooms and when, including classrooms or facilities being rented for sports practices and tournaments. He also oversees the sport management students and their internships. Lastly, Kish is a sports management lecturer, which is one of his favorite jobs at KU because he enjoys interacting with students.
“We (educators) have such a great opportunity to shape students by showing you care about them,” Kish said.
Kish’s attitude toward students is something he thinks he developed during his time in the military.
“I look at the students as my troops,” he said.
Kish’s office door is covered with pictures and graduation announcements of former students. He tries to keep in contact with as many as possible and is interested in what they’re doing once they finish at KU. He even keeps a folder in his desk with notes he has received from students over the years.
“When a student gives you a note at the end of the semester, notes that say ‘I appreciate what you do,’ that is the most satisfying,” Kish said.
One of the students Kish still stays in contact with is 2010 graduate Jordan Scott. Scott took some classes from Kish and also worked for him in Robinson. Scott was a track and field athlete at KU and needed a job with flexible hours. When an opening for building security opened, Kish hired him. Since then, Kish hasn’t just become someone Scott works for or learns from; he is one of Scott’s supporters.
“It’s like he’s going to be your biggest fan, no matter what you say to him,” Scott said.
In 2010, Scott won the NCAA pole vaulting championship and sent a text message to tell Kish. Two years later Kish still has the message from Scott on his cellphone, and he continues to follow Scott’s athletic career. He asks Scott to let him know the results of athletic competitions and emails him to wish him luck or say congratulations.
Scott said Kish always wants to know how others are and never mentions how he is.
To Scott, Kish’s selflessness is inspirational.
“It is so cliché, but to see how he treats other people, he makes me just want to be a better person,” Scott said. “He just seems like the type of person I’d like to be when I grow up.”
— Staff intern Meagan Thomas can be reached at 832-6342.