Joe Botana to retire early

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Joe Botana

Brittany Beckmann, Staff Reporter

At the end of the fall 2012 semester, former Vice President for Finance and Associate Professor of Business Administration Joseph Botana, will officially retire from Lakeland College.

Botana’s dedication and involvement with Lakeland College has impacted many of its components including, but not limited to, starting the International Business Program, MBA Program (Masters of Business Program), developing economy programs, and building renovations on campus.

“Dr. Gould, [who] was head of the adult education program, hired me as an adjunct to teach International Econ in 1986,” says Botana, revealing his first years at Lakeland College. He didn’t begin his full-time career at the college until 1990.

During the 1990s, Botana became increasingly more involved with Lakeland College. “Dr. Black, who was the former president before President Gould, asked me to move over into Administration as controller of the business office, and then Dr. Gould promoted me to VP when he became president,” says Botana in relation to his involvement with the Administrative Board.

By 1997, Botana was very involved in starting online classes and BlendEd Adult Education, both of which are fundamental in Lakeland College’s education program today. “I’m very proud of the fact that Lakeland was one of the leaders in online and BlendEd education and that I was able to be involved in that from the very start,” says Botana.

Not only did Botana play an influential role in the education on campus, he also helped with the planning and financing of many building activities. General Studies Division Chair and Professor of Writing, Jeff Elzinga, has worked with Botana on the President’s Executive Counsel.

Elzinga says, “Joe was a dedicated administrator who cared deeply about the benefits of a liberal arts education and always had the best interests of our students in mind…

He made sure that funds were not spent frivolously, but when students needed something in the residence halls or in support of an academic program, Joe was often able to find the extra additional funding to make a project or event successful.”

For example, Botana was on the committee for the renovations of the Laun Center, Chase and Wehr, and the building process of Kurtz, Brotz, South Hall, and the new entrance way project. Senior Vice President for Administration, Daniel Eck has worked with Botana for over four years managing the college’s finances.

Ecks says, “Over his tenure at the college, [Botana] has impacted virtually every nook and cranny of this campus. He has taught courses at our Chinese partner universities, helping build those bridges, and even hosted international students in his home…He was not merely the CFO for the college; he was out and about, part of the daily events on campus.”

Within his near twenty-seven years of service to Lakeland College and out of all his achievements, Botana says, “My proudest achievement is some of my students, who I work with and who I know now, and have been in contact with, who have been very successful in their lives—not just professionally, but in their lives. They’ve got good families; they’re active in the community. They’re involved, informed, and responsible citizens, and, honestly, that is my proudest achievement.”

Many can attest to Botana’s gift for teaching students. Dr. Richard Wixon has taught courses with Botana on multiple occasions.

The Offenheiser Chair in History and Political Science, Dr. Wixon, says, “Joe is a great and innovative teacher. He is also very thoughtful and open minded. Not only was it a joy to work with him, nut both the students and I learned a great deal from him; I cannot imagine anyone taking his place.”

David Neese, a 2012 graduate from the MBA program, has worked with Botana on a personal level, and as a student. “Joe has taught the MBA capstone course, BA 790, for many years. It was by far the most demanding, rewarding, and insightful course I’ve taken at either a graduate or undergrad level,” Neese says.

Neese continues his reflection on Botana’s teaching methods saying,“His class sessions and assignments (a ton of papers, power-points, book reviews, and presentations) were always about the students, always about learning, always about showing us how to think more strategically to build and grow our various companies for future success.

He knew every student’s name almost from the get-go plus something of their personal interests, gave them attention and eye contact many students die for at an undergrad level, never belittled their thoughts and opinions, but gently offered alternative scenarios and always encouraged thinking.”

Chair of the Business Division Dr. J. Garland Schilcutt, Professor of Business Administration, hired Botana in 1986. Schilcutt says, “[Botana] was the first person the college has hired with his training in International Business, and the first Certified Public Accountant (CPA)… He put the college’s accounts into a better form.”

Botana had been planning on stepping down from the administrative board for a while, but had remained as VP throughout Gould’s presidency, as per the former President’s request.

The initial plan was to retire from the administrative board and to stay at Lakeland as a faculty member; however, Botanta said, “When the time came to really make the decision, I just didn’t really think it was the right thing to do.”

“I really feel the sense that God gave me the opportunities to do some pretty neat things here, and we were able to get them done. I worked with some pretty cool people…, and we left the college a better place. Now there’s a new leadership team that’s going to take it even further,” says Botana.

For the next chapter in his life, Botana has expressed his desire to become involved in overseas ministry.

As far as finding someone to take over Botana’s responsibilities, Eck says, “Our controller, a short-term financial consultant, and I will share responsibilities for managing the finances of the college for the time being.” Also, Schilcutt does not know who will be hired to fill in Botana’s position on the faculty.

Needless to say, Professor Botana’s impact on Lakeland College has virtually affected everyone on campus. To sum up his retirement in the words of Dr. Schilcutt and Dr. Wixon, “He will be sorely missed.”


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