From ice cream scooper to associate dean, Kooistra served CALS for most of five decades

Frank Kooistra, who began his career in the college scooping ice cream and ended nearly half a century later as an associate dean, retired at the end of June. He served under 9 deans, acting and permanent. That doesn’t count Dean Froker, who was in charge during Kooistra’s ice cream days.

In case you’re wondering about his retirement party—it’s over. It was held in 1993.

Kooistra first came to the college in 1969 as a student in the Farm and Industry Short Course after earning a scholarship to the program from his Walworth Co. high school. “I hadn’t been here long when I said ‘Wow, maybe I should get a four-year degree,’” he recalls. So he enrolled with a major in food science and got a job in the dairy plant, both making and serving its famous product.

Graduation was followed by a stint in the military, as a field artillery officer stationed in Europe. Shortly returning to civilian life, he learned of an opening the college’s research division.

“I interviewed and was hired on the spot,” he recalls. “In those days there were no PVLs. We didn’t have open hiring.”

Kooistra started on St. Patrick’s day, 1969, working in grants management. At the same time, he took advantage of G.I. bill benefits to earn a masters degree in accounting. After finishing that in 1974, he was promoted to the position of assistant director of the research division. In 1981 he was promoted again to become associate dean for administration—a job he would hold for much of the next 30 years.

“In 1991 I took a leave to go to the Gambia Agricultural Research and Diversification Project.I came back in 1992 when the project ended, then went back again and stayed until 1995, when there was a military coup,” he says.

He came back to campus to work in the college’s international programs office. When his old job in the dean’s office opened up following a retirement, Kooistra returned to 140 Ag Hall and remained there until he retired this summer.

“What I liked the most was working with department chairs and faculty members over the years. I got to touch every component of the college. I valued providing faculty and department staff with a service attitude. We always tried to find a way to get it done. That was the fun part.,” he recalls.

Kooistra is now working on a project with CALS professors Ian Coxhead and Randy Fortenberry, in the agricultural and applied economics department, teaching accounting to students of Hanoi Agricultural University. He went to Hanoi last spring to teach the first part of the class and will return to teach the second part in September.

He hopes to follow that with more international work. He has also started up his own enterprise, offering bookkeeping ad accounting services for small firms. And also, he says, “maybe I’ll get to play a little more golf.”

As to the retirement party: “I’ve already had two. I had a small one when I went the Gambia the first time. The second time, when I didn’t think I was coming back, they held a big one for me in Union South. That was the one big party everyone should get. So now I’m going to fade away quietly.”