Four Long-standing LSBE Employees Retire

Ninety-five!  That’s the collective years of employment of four remarkable LSBE retirees. 

While Vickie Almquist-Minko, Sharon Cripe, John Kratz, and Jim Vileta (clockwise from top left in photo above) left at the end of 2020 with an incredible combined amount of knowledge that they had accumulated over their many years at LSBE, it’s their day-to-day friendship that we miss most. Here, we share some of their reflections as well as insight from their supervisors/colleagues.

Vickie Almquist-Minko
Title at time of retirement: Executive Office and Administrative Specialist

Advising and Academic Services  

In her 20 years at LSBE, Vickie held many positions in many different areas of the School, including the Center for Economic Development, the Dean’s Office, the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Rochester’s MBA program, and most recently Advising and Academic Services.

  • What was the best part of your job?  Working with all of the people:  students, staff, and faculty—especially assisting Tracey, my high maintenance boss!
  • What do you miss the most?  Working with all of the people: students, staff and faculty.  I miss hearing ‘VAM come here, I need you.’
  • What are your retirement plans?  I’ve been remodeling our home and constructing some things: wall planters, my own desk, a bench, and a coffee table.  I’m also waiting impatiently for summer to get here to garden and ride my horses.
  • Anything else you'd like to share? I miss everyone at LSBE. LSBE was my heart and soul.  I always went above and beyond and enjoyed working for everyone no matter how demanding or challenging.  I always love a good challenge.

“Vickie did everything!” said Tracey Bolen, director of Advising and Academic Services. “She supported the Advising, Internship, and Technology Programs. She provided support to many student record processes, did the financials/budgets for all three programs, coordinated the events (Company Days/Industry Days) sponsored by the Internship program, managed the Excel Workshops and the Microsoft Excel Certification exam process, did the DHS background checks for students placed into a Health Care internship, provided program data for all programs, managed software licenses and coordinated software purchases with Office of General Counsel, managed the technology equipment inventory, supported the loaner laptop checkout program, coordinated student employee hiring, training, and supervision in the Technology and Internship programs, did event planning for all events sponsored by the 111 Suite (and for some school wide events as well).  She also provided support to the Dean's Office for unique things, such as Building Evacuation Coordinator for the first floor, supported Beta Gamma Sigma induction process, and managed building maintenance orders.

“She was a critical cog in all the services delivered in the 111 Suite.  She always checked in to see how she could help with any event or project. She approached her responsibilities with professionalism and always completed tasks in a timely and accurate manner.  When delegated ‘special’ projects, she always accepted them with a big smile and figured out how to multi-task to complete those alongside her daily responsibilities. She was committed and dedicated to making LSBE be as efficient, effective, and successful as possible.”

Sharon  Cripe
Title at time of retirement: Assistant to the Dean

With her 20+ years as assistant to the dean, both Amy Hietapelto and Kjell Knudsen, Sharon touched many lives and quietly, behind the lines, helped LSBE run smoothly.

  • What was the best part of your job?  I had the privilege of working with two remarkable business deans in my tenure at LSBE.  While there was collaboration with the deans, there was also a lot of autonomy to perform a variety of administrative tasks on their behalf, whether it was working with campus administrators, donors, board members, the business community, faculty, staff, and students. The vastness of the duties and the fluidity that each day introduced was exciting to the position.      
  • What will you miss the most?  Of course, the people.  It is the daily interaction with faculty, staff, and students that will be missed the most. The faculty, staff, and students bring an overload of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn from each other.  LSBE is definitely like having a second family, full of good fun and caring individuals. I am honored to have worked with such great people
  • What are your retirement plans?  Currently, I plan a move this spring to be closer to my family in the surrounding area of the Twin Cities/Wisconsin.  Once settled and life returns to some normalcy, I will enjoy some travel vacations with family. I also want to explore my passion in artistic venues.

“Sharon worked for me for seven and a half years, working closely with stakeholders within the school and across campus as well as with external individuals and organizations,” said LSBE Dean Amy B. Hietapelto.

“She liaised and maintained outstanding relationships spanning years with staff at our accrediting body, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Sharon was the consummate professional in all of her interactions on behalf of LSBE. She was always an exemplary representative of LSBE. 

 “On a person note, Sharon is incredibly thoughtful. She sent gorgeous flowers to me at my previous job after I had accepted the LSBE deanship to welcome me—before I even started at UMD. I was so stunned at her and Kjell’s [Knudsen, former LSBE dean] thoughtful and totally unexpected generous gesture of welcome. 

She will be deeply missed as she was an integral part of LSBE for over twenty years.”

John Kratz
Title at time of retirement: Interim Sales Program Director

Department of Marketing

In his 25 years at LSBE, John was instrumental in growing the marketing department initiatives.

  • What was the best part of your job? LSBE's amazing faculty, staff, and students. Coaching and mentoring students. Launching student sales careers. Launching the first public university sales major in Minnesota. Working with sales program sponsors like 3M, Fastenal, and Northwestern Mutual. Leading student team experiential projects with small businesses in the region. Staying in touch with our alumni.
  • What will you miss the most? The day-to-day spontaneous hallway interactions with students, faculty, and staff at LSBE.
  • What are your retirement plans? Reading and learning. Facilitating virtual and live storytelling and listening workshops.  Hunting and fishing. Traveling around the U.S. in an Airstream or Bowlus trailer retrofitted with a podcast recording studio. Advising university sales programs.

  • Anything else you'd like to share? I'd like to stay in touch with my former students and hear their success stories. Message me on LinkedIn with your story!

“John was one of the favorite teachers in the Marketing department,” said Rajiv Vaidyanathan, Marketing Department head and professor of Marketing. “He was a true mentor to his students. He did not see his primary responsibility as teaching students content but rather helping them develop the skills that would make them successful in the workplace. 

“Whenever I would go to alumni gatherings, former students would tell me the impact John had on their lives. He continued to maintain close relationships with his students well after they graduated and continued to mentor them through their professional careers. We held a virtual roast for him in December. The video of the roast is on 

“Most recently, John was in charge of one of the fastest growing majors in the School's history—Professional Sales—which had over 100 students enrolled in less than two years. He taught sales classes and led the student club. His students had incredible success in the very first sales competitions they entered, finishing in the top tier of every competition they entered.

“The newly created scholarship fund in his name shows how much his students and colleagues hold him in high esteem." 

Jim Vileta
Title at time of retirement: Business Librarian
Kathryn A. Martin Library

While Jim spent approximately 30 years working with LSBE, he was also a UMD archivist for 18 years prior. In total, Jim had a UMD career of 42.5 years!

  • What were your key responsibilities as UMD’s business librarian?  Maintain liaison communication between the UMD library and LSBE faculty.  Facilitate the ordering of databases, books, and media to support LSBE teaching and research, provide in-classroom instruction on how to do business research.   Design and compile research guides, including our  award winning Business Research Launch Pad. Work individually with faculty and students on library-based business research.
  • What was the best part of your job?  I enjoyed working with people.   My colleagues provided great inspiration and support.   Assisting and brainstorming with LSBE faculty was a joy.  And best of all, was working with LSBE students (and my student assistant workers) over these many decades. LSBE has produced many bright, creative, hardworking graduates, and I am proud to have been associated with that.
  • What will you miss the most?  I will miss being a part of UMD and working in higher education.  I will miss my role in contributing to the building of an academic library, while promoting and providing research and learning services.  UMD is a very special place. And I will miss our engaging and optimistic students.
  • What are your retirement plans?   I hope to work on my many unfinished projects, some of which include family history, writing, travel, and personal development.
  • Anything else you'd like to share?   During my years at UMD I got to see huge changes and growth for the campus, our library, and LSBE.  We grew from 5,000 students to where we are now. LSBE grew massively in size, with a new building,  AACSB Accreditation, the internationalizing of our business curriculum, and the addition of many new business programs and areas of study.  In our library, I got to witness how the Internet of the mid-1990s totally transformed how research was done, and this allowed for astonishing improvements in our research capabilities. We were also blessed with a beautiful and highly functional new library building.  This was truly an amazing time to be at UMD and to be a part of the dynamic changes on campus, for our library, and in LSBE.

“Jim provided incredible research support to LSBE students and faculty,” LSBE Associate Dean Praveen Aggarwal.  “He curated virtual resource pages for individual LSBE courses as well as made numerous presentations in LSBE classes about library databases. He was exceptionally good at staying engaged with LSBE and anticipating the constantly evolving information and data needs of our students and faculty. He had an uncanny ability to dig out even the most obscure pieces of information in a surprisingly short amount of time.”

These four outstanding employees were invaluable assets to the School.  We miss them and their innumerable contributions to LSBE.

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