KEITH KOWALKA NAMED C.F. MCELHINNEY RECIPIENT
It’s at the heart of the University of Houston campus and provides a host of services and entertainment options to thousands each day. Overseeing this massive facility and its operations is not an easy task, but UC and Associated Facilities’ Executive Director Keith T. Kowalka looks forward to meeting each day’s challenge the way he greets every student…with a smile.
Kowalka, the recipient of the 2009 C.F. McElhinney Distinguished Service Award, is known for his friendly attitude, strong support of students and service-minded management philosophy.
“He is enthusiastic in his duties and love for UH,” said a colleague. “He is a student advocate and encourages student participation in all aspects of the UC’s management.”
For 11 years, Kowalka’s energies have been devoted to the UC and Associated Facilities. Prior to arriving at the university, he managed student union facilities and campus activities at the University of Toledo and Eastern Michigan University.
“I like the diversity of this job,” he said. “It’s multi-faceted. It’s fun and student-oriented, but it also involves business and facilities management. Most of all, it’s service-driven. All aspects of this job are appealing, but I truly love working with the people here.”
Kowalka is certainly a “people person.” His outgoing nature has endeared him to both co-workers and the campus community. It has also fueled his tireless contributions to annual back-to-school events such as Cat’s Back and Cougar First Impressions.
When he arrived at UH, he was not sure how long he would stay. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Kowalka once thought he would return to his home state. Fortunately, the university and city influenced his decision to remain a valued member of the UH family.
Kowalka, ultimately, hopes to see the UC grow into a facility that will serve even more students in more effective ways. Just as UH is poised to become a Tier-One university, Kowalka believes the UC is ready to become a stronger student union.
“It’s exciting to see all of the changes that are happening at UH and in Houston,” Kowalka said. “The university is the place to be right now. As the university is focused on top-tier status, I am equally focused on providing top-tier service to students. Growing the UC can do that, and I am optimistic that it will happen.”
As the C.F. McElhinney Award recipient, Kowalka will receive a plaque and a check for $2,500.