LAWRENCE — Jane Tuttle has influenced the lives of countless students and parents in her 25 years working in Student Affairs at the University of Kansas. Tuttle, who currently serves as the associate vice provost for student affairs, is retiring from KU. She will complete her last day of work Dec. 17 and officially retire on Dec. 31.
“I got a really lovely handwritten note from a graduate when he heard I was retiring,” Tuttle said. “I had no idea I had such a positive impact on this young man. It made me teary-eyed when I read it, and it still makes me a little teary-eyed when I think about it.”
Tuttle, who was named one of the KU Women of Distinction in 2012, leaves big shoes to fill in the Office of Student Affairs, where she spent the last 25 years.
“You can train someone to do your job duties, but you can’t teach the history and compassion,” said Karen Bailey, assistant comptroller in Student Accounts and Receivables. “KU is losing a great mentor for our students and a great colleague.”
Jane began her KU career as the resident director in Ellsworth Hall in 1979 and has welcomed some of her former resident assistants back to campus when they brought their children to begin college. Since coming back to KU in 1996, Tuttle has seen the university expand student support from a one-person job to an entire department and adopt a compassionate withdrawal policy for undergraduate students, which is something Tuttle always thought was necessary. With a chuckle, she explained some of her ideas were just before their time.
In her current role that she’s held since 2015, Tuttle serves as a resource for faculty, students and community members. She provides leadership and administrative support for the division of Student Affairs, which is committed to supporting and serving all members of the KU community.
It all started when Tuttle was lured back to work and said yes to a job offer as the assistant dean of students – a position she held from 1996-2004 – on a limited-term, part-time basis. Tuttle spent several years before that as a stay-at-home mom with her two sons.
“I could still do my mom thing, which was really important to me,” Tuttle said. “And the job was doing student conduct, which I knew how to do. The rest is history.”
Tuttle then served as the assistant to the vice provost for student success from 2005-2008. She was directly responsible for coordinating the parent services program, and she managed the university’s nonacademic misconduct program. She then served as assistant vice provost for Student Success from 2008 to 2011 and provided first-line communication with students, parents, faculty, staff and other stakeholders. She kept similar responsibilities in her next position – assistant vice provost for student affairs – a position she held until she moved into her final role at KU as associate vice provost for Student Affairs in 2015.
Over the last 25 years, Tuttle had the chance to build connections with thousands of KU students and parents. Tough conversations are commonplace in her line of work, but she maintains that being honest and compassionate is the key to maintaining relationships when faced with those tough conversations.
“Jane truly cares about her students,” Bailey said. “Even if those conversations are difficult, she approaches each one with care and compassion and provides guidance. That doesn’t mean the students always get what they want, but at least someone listened and cared.”
Tuttle’s mind goes first to students when reflecting on her time as a Jayhawk. Hawk Week, she said, is fun, even if it means working every day, and move-in day is a “joyous occasion” where students and parents are filled with hope.
Tuttle, who received a doctorate in higher education administration from KU, has also been involved in policy work in her time at the university. She remembers a time nearly 20 years ago when the Kansas Board of Regents decided to survey graduates with questions to measure indicators of success post-graduation.
“That was before you could send somebody an email and have them fill out a quick form,” Tuttle said.
The project eventually became Tuttle’s to take on. And she believes that’s because others thought it couldn’t be done.
“I went around and talked to every dean or their assistant and asked how we could make it work,” Tuttle said. “Long story short, we made it work, and it’s still institutionalized. My philosophy was, ‘I don’t care how much work it causes in the back if it gets done.’ Nobody needs to be its champion anymore because it just works.”
Now, after years of hard work, Tuttle finally has time to relax and will join her husband, Herb Tuttle, in retirement. He is a recently retired KU faculty member who led the Engineering Management and Project Management programs for many years. She has no immediate retirement plans besides enjoying more time with her family and more frequent trips to Texas to watch her granddaughter’s dance recitals.
But memories of her KU family will not fade anytime soon.
“I will miss the people,” Tuttle said. “It’s been a truly wonderful experience. This is a research institution that cares about undergraduate students. You don’t find that everywhere.”