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Working at CSU

Professor retires after 42 years

April 30, 2009

Transitional retirement can be an odd experience for faculty. As art Professor John Kutzik notes, "You're here, but you're also half-way out the door." Kutzik will finally be all the way out the door when he retires this semester after 42 years of teaching at Colorado State.


Kutzik, who has been on transitional retirement for four years, has a lot of good memories and very few regrets about his long teaching career in the Department of Art.

"I’ve enjoyed almost everything I’ve done here, especially working with students, who can be very, very creative,” Kutzik says. “It’s a pleasure to watch students grow so much in their abilities over the course of their academic careers. Students these days seem to know a heck of a lot more than when I first started teaching – they’re much more world-wise and savvy about media and technology.”

Kutzik teaches foundations painting and sculpture, and by his reckoning, he’s taught some 5,000 students over the years. “Studio classes keep me moving,” Kutzik says, adding that teaching enriches his own creativity in painting and sculpture.
(At right: Dance I: Tango, Kutzik’s wood sculpture in walnut, a work-in-progress)

A new era

As a long-time member of the art community, Kutzik was thrilled about opening ceremonies in early April for the University Art Museum, a centerpiece of the new University Center for the Arts on Remington Street.

“It’s a marvelous facility that changes the tenor of the arts in the whole area,” he says. “I’m really happy this project has happened.” Kutzik remembers how music, theater, and dance had been housed all over campus until the UCA opened. Now, all the artistic disciplines are under one roof for the first time.

Through the decades

Kutzik began his career in 1967, when William E. Morgan was nearing the end of his 20-year tenure as CSU president. Since then, Kutzik has seen eight presidents (including acting and interim presidents) serve the University. He’s also seen six chairs serve the Department of Art and assorted curricula changes in the department.

“Art grew out of home economics, which was an important concentration some decades ago,” he says. “At one time, art courses included interior design, which is now in the College of Applied Human Sciences.”

Kutzik also witnessed convulsive events on campus such as the burning of Old Main in 1970. “I was at a party in Old Town (Fort Collins) when somebody said, ‘Something’s burning.’ We saw these huge, billowing clouds of smoke and thought the whole campus was on fire.” However, the fire was contained to Old Main, which was destroyed. In the aftermath of the fire, Kutzik remembers students being “quiet and sad.”

Back home

Recent news about the Red River flooding along the North Dakota and Minnesota border brought back memories for Kutzik. Growing up in Montevideo, Minn., he remembers helping to sandbag in the 1950s to keep the overflowing Minnesota River from destroying homes and businesses.

“It was bad news,” he says. “Main Street was right by the river, and we lived through an awful lot of flooding back then.”

All in the family

Kutzik’s wife, Jennifer Kutzik, is an information technology technician at CSU Libraries. She’s been an employee on campus since 1973, and she’s recently started thinking about transitional retirement of her own. As soon as full retirement becomes a reality for the Kutziks, they plan to do more traveling when they’re not at home tending to their garden.

John Kutzik also is active in the Colorado Coalition of Artists, a non-profit artist cooperative that provides a common meeting ground where artistic products are worked on, displayed, and sold.

The opening of John Kutzik’s retrospective art show and his retirement reception will be from 5-7 p.m. May 1 in the Directions Gallery of the Visual Arts Building on campus.
Professor Kutzik’s art exhibit will run through the end of May.

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Celebrate CSU Milestones!

Celebrate CSU Milestones! will honor employees celebrating retirement and recognize those who have reached 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45 years of service to Colorado State University.

The event, sponsored by CSU Events, runs Friday, May 8, in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom. For more information, call (970) 491-4601.

- Story and photos by Paul Miller -