Five Questions with John Loeffelholz
John Loeffelholz is the academic department supervisor for UW–Madison’s Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education.
In this role, he is responsible for overseeing most non-instructional aspects of the department. In other words, Loeffelholz takes care of many of the behind-the-scenes tasks that few think about on a daily basis — but that are instrumental in allowing others within the department to succeed.
Among his range of duties, Loeffelholz manages the payroll and budget for the department. He helps interpret federal and state laws and regulations, and university policies. He assists faculty with different components of their research grants and helps schedule the various classes taught by those within the department — a task that must be done nearly a year in advance.
“John’s vast knowledge regarding rules and regulations, and the budgetary process of the university, as well as his immense social network within the School of Education, provides solid fiscal management and direction to the department,” says Professor Fong Chan, chair of the department. “He proactively anticipates problems and potential crises, and his penchant for problem-solving and creative solutions is remarkable.”
To learn more about Loeffelholz and his work, “The disAbility Advocate” sat down with him for a short interview. Following is an edited transcript:
1) How long have you been on the UW–Madison campus?
LOEFFELHOLZ: I’ve been at the university for a little over 15 years and with the department for about three. Most recently, I had a similar role with the School of Human Ecology. The opportunity to work within the School of Education and to work within a department that has a stronger research component were two things that drew me to my current position.
2) What are some of the changes you’ve seen on the UW–Madison campus over the past 15 years?
LOEFFELHOLZ: One key change is how the campus has moved to be more inclusive in terms of how it treats university staff and how it includes staff in shared governance. I was part of the search committee last year to hire the new School of Education dean (Diana Hess). It was a wonderful opportunity. When people are part of the process and part of the decision-making on campus, they are more engaged.
3) Why is this department consistently ranked among the best in the nation? What makes this place so special?
LOEFFELHOLZ: Certainly, the reputation of UW–Madison overall is significant. You can travel the world and mention this university and you’ll hear the respect people have for UW–Madison. And then this department, specifically, is and has been home to some really famous professors. People will come through here and ask kind of quietly, “Have you met (Emeritus Professor) Lou Brown?” And I’m like, “Yes, and he is really super interesting.” So that’s sort of fun.
4) What do you enjoy the most about your job?
LOEFFELHOLZ: The faculty and staff really work well together. But I do enjoy the students. This is going to sound vain but it’s great when I see a student months or years after they graduate and they thank me deeply and profoundly for all the assistance I provided. That’s very rewarding.
5) What do you do for fun, outside of work?
: I’m a fiber artist. I spin and weave and knit. In particular, I restore old sock knitting machines from the turn of the (19th) century. I know it sounds super nerdy and it’s very unusual, but I’m one of the foremost experts in the country on these cast-iron, antique machines.