July 26, 2011
New Union director puts experience to good use at K-State
The many restaurants, shops and entertainment options at the Kansas State University Student Union will have a new driving force when Bill Smriga steps into the role of union director Aug. 15.
Smriga was appointed to the position by Pat Bosco, vice president for student life. He comes to K-State after several years of serving as the director of the Fort Hays State University Memorial Union and the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.
"Bill's past success in leadership positions at universities and in the private sector will make for a smooth transition to K-State," Bosco said. "I look forward to him joining the K-State community and believe he will carry on the union's proud tradition of putting the needs of students first."
Smriga said his primary focus at K-State will be to serve the needs and interests of the students, as well as maintaining a high level of excellence in union programs, services and facilities.
"A union facility serves as a community center for the entire campus, so I look forward to developing partnerships with others on campus and with the community of Manhattan," he said. "I want to assess the environment, learn about the strengths we have, get feedback and develop a plan to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead."
Smriga said he believes the K-State Student Union is considered to be one of the best in the country, with great full-time and student staff.
"I look forward to working on the K-State campus and living in Manhattan, as well as to the new opportunities and challenges I will have as director," he said.
Kedric Elmore, a senior in aviation from Kansas City, Kan., and member of K-State's Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and the Black Student Union, was involved in the process of bringing Smriga aboard. He said Smriga's appointment benefits the union and the university.
"I believe that Bill Smriga will continue to take the K-State Student Union to the next level," Elmore said. "Also, his enthusiasm and motivation will help contribute toward the goal of K-State becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025."
Other students were involved in the union director selection process as well, including Hazen Short, a senior in biology pre-medicine from Manhattan who serves as the president of the Union Program Council. Short said he was impressed by Smriga's professionalism and commitment toward students.
"The amount he accomplished at Fort Hays proved his abilities as a union director, but his desire to connect with students is what resonated with me most," Short said. "Bill will bring valuable knowledge and leadership to the K-State Student Union as it continues to serve a vital role to the K-State experience."
While at Fort Hays, Smriga was responsible for overseeing the operation, finances, management and programs of the Memorial Union and Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. His successes included creating a Center for Student Involvement and establishing marketing and promotion programs that increased union traffic and resulted in the highest attendance levels ever for the Encore Performing Arts Series at the university.
Smriga has also served as the associate director of student auxiliary services at the University of Columbia; director of the student union and student activities at Valparaiso University in Indiana; the executive director of Hostelling International-Chicago, where he oversaw the successful effort to turn a 100,000 square foot building into the world's fourth largest hostel; as well as other university positions.
Smriga received a bachelor's degree in forensic studies and a master's degree in college student personnel administration from Indiana University, and a post-master's certificate of advanced studies in organization development from Loyola University.
He replaces Bernard Pitts, who leaves after a 16-year career at the union.