Sahlin Award For Leadership
Ken Struckmeyer, 2007-08 Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award recipient for leadership, can seemingly make anything fun — even dressing.
On the day of our meeting, he is sporting mismatched, brightly colored socks and a multicolored polka-dot tie — a primary-colors connect-the-dots.
No, it’s not an unusual day, nor were the lights out when he got dressed. In fact, his sartorial flair has become a trademark.
This verve applied to everyday routine sets Struckmeyer apart and has enhanced his ability to encourage and lead others.
Soon after his arrival at WSU in 1971, the assistant horticulture and landscape professor began establishing himself as a leader. He helped form the men’s crew team that earned a national championship; as a result, he became the first Pac-10 coach of the year in crew.
“The greatest thing (going to) UW-Madison did for me was joining the crew team,” Struckmeyer said. “I hadn’t been athletic previous to that, and it taught me about what I could and couldn’t do as a person and as an athlete.”
And, his athletic days are not over. Although not the fastest man on a basketball court, Struckmeyer participates almost daily in “noon ball” games at the PE Building.
Pounding up and down the hardwood, he gradually and methodically hones his basketball skills, and does his best to intimidate and entertain other faculty and staff — physically, in jest, and with his colorful trademark socks.
He has served five terms as WSU ombudsman and two terms as chair of the Faculty Senate. One of his many accomplishments is establishment of the Grade Appeal Board, which gives students an unbiased venue to challenge grades and formalize grievances.
“I’ve worked beside Ken for the past 20 years and can say his is a commanding and good-natured presence,” said Barry Swanson, professor of food science and human nutrition. “He is very thoughtful and genuinely concerned about the reputation and recognition of Washington State University.”
In addition to his years as men’s crew coach, Struckmeyer also mentors students, taking them on educational trips to places like Italy and Turkey.
“The students learn about themselves and about American citizenship abroad,” he said.
This desire to help students experience other cultures might again come from his own positive experiences as a UW-Wisconsin graduate student, when he was able to live in Nigeria for a year.
He worked on a new campus master plan for the University of Ife and was able to learn more about himself through his experiences with the localculture.
“I’d go back in a minute to see what’s going on there now,” he said. “It was such a unique experience.” And after all, he adds, experiences define the man.
About the awards
Sahlin awards recognize faculty who epitomize the highest levels of performance and excellence in the pursuit of WSU’s goals, including developing or revitalizing public service programs and enhancing the public’s appreciation of WSU.