John Winkelmann: The (Res)Life of the Party

John Winkelmann in a bygone era: still looking fine. IMAGE COURTESTY OF THE ROUND TABLE ARCHIVES

By Bethany Kosmicki

We all know him as the associate dean of residential life, as the man you see when your weekend shenanigans go too far, and the person with whom you work out your housing issues. But do we really know that much about him? What was his life was like before coming to Beloit. What are his hobbies and interests? What does he eat for breakfast? John Winkelmann graciously welcomed an interview and I sat down with him to find out who the man behind the Res. Life mask really is.

Winkelmann grew up not far from here in Peru, Il. He’s the oldest of four siblings, all of whom he still lives close to. As a kid, he played a lot of sports, and used being tall for his age as an advantage in basketball and tennis. In high school, he went to a Catholic boarding school (as a local commuter) run by Benedictines. He also played trombone in the band and spent a lot of time outdoors.

Winkelmann went to the community college where his dad taught, and later switched to Loyola University in Chicago. He was an RA (of a 350 all male dorm with “not the best reputation on campus”) and biology pre-med major originally. He said if he had been at Beloit, he would have been a “science person living in the science center.”

He later took a year off to explore what he wanted to do, finally deciding on teaching, so he earned his degree and taught for a year in a Chicago public school. Afterwards, he continued on to get his masters, first in guidance and counseling, then shifted to college student personnel. When asked about how he got his position at the college, he told me associate dean of Res Life is “never really on the job list when you look at jobs for your life,” but was nevertheless enthusiastic to work with students.

So I got the general background, but I wanted to know who John Winkelmann is today.  I asked him what we would see if he had been a college student here at Beloit today. He told me “there’s an element of science geek there, absolutely”, but he also likes to go and hang out, meet new people, be involved with campus life, and has always asked a lot of questions. When I inquired about his own party antics, he told me, “I liked to have a good time, I occasionally got to meet the dean, had my chance in the chair… I liked to mess around, we had interesting conversations.”

I proceeded to ask questions about his general interests and preferences. Here’s what I found out: John Winkelmann likes jazz, Tom Waits, Mary Chapin Carpenter (especially “Do You Feel Lucky” during room assignments) and aside from disliking “country-country,” has a pretty eclectic music taste. Winkelmann prefers Midwestern food, “cooked on a grill” and often has a Beloit Bagel for breakfast (which apparently “originally came on a muffin”). He likes to cook, using recipes as a guide to tinker in the kitchen. I asked him about his beer and wine taste. If it’s wine, lately he’s enjoyed reds like Pinot Noirs. When it comes to beer, it’s “got to be some kind of local, micro-brew”. Otherwise, a gin and tonic is his go-to cocktail. What else you might ask?

Winkelmann also likes gardening, home improvement projects, being outside, photography, and has been reading a lot of mysteries lately like David Baldacci.

I finally asked Winkelmann what he likes about Beloit and what are struggles he faces in his position. He told me “it’s all about the people.” He loves the student life, the way we question everything, and the great faculty co-workers he has. He said having enough time to get everything done can be difficult, as well as staying connected with students because “this job sometimes pulls (him) away from students.”



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