17 Years, 17 Questions with Mark Guthier, Wisconsin Union Director
Wisconsin Union Director Mark Guthier celebrates 17 years of making the Union a place to learn, grow and have experiences of a lifetime.
Coming to Wisconsin from Indiana’s Memorial Union, this Hoosier-turned-Badger, is only the third person to hold the director position at the Union.
I sat down with Mark to find out a little more about our director – and to get the scoop on which is the best Babcock Ice Cream flavor!
To learn about the best advice Mark has ever received, where he sees the Union’s future, or his favorite Union food, keep reading.
- What is one thing you think the Union has done exceptionally well in the past 17 years?
I would say the Union has done well in maintaining the mission of being a student-led union, staying true to the student voice, and in recognizing the importance of who we are and what we do.
- What is your favorite Babcock Ice Cream flavor?
My favorite flavor would have to be Union Utopia! It’s vanilla ice cream with peanut butter, caramel and fudge.
Note: To purchase your very own dish or cone of Babcock Ice Cream, visit one of the Union’s Daily Scoops: union.wisc.edu/dine/find-food-and-drink/?Name=daily+scoop&action_doFoodAndDrinkFilter=Filter.
- If you weren’t the Union director, what would you be doing professionally?
I graduated with a law degree, so if I weren’t director of the Union I would be using my law degree as an attorney with a focus on representing small businesses.
- What’s the coolest thing you’ve worked on recently?
Recently, I have been working on the new Tong Family Marina project, and I am excited to see it all come together.
Note: For information about how the Tong Family Marina will transform the Memorial Union lakefront, you are welcome to visit: union.wisc.edu/assets/Uploads/PierProject.pdf.
- What event do you look forward to the most each year?
Each year, I look forward to the Wisconsin Union Directorate retreat, during which our student leaders gather to plan and discuss goals for the year. It’s a weekend filled with hope and excitement.
- What do you think is the biggest strength of the Wisconsin Union team?
Our team takes the mission of the Union to heart. It becomes a part of them, and so I would say our biggest strength is believing in and holding true to what we are all about here at the Union.
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My mentor in Indiana would remind me of the three P’s: patience, persistence and perspective. Whenever I am in the middle of a making a tough decision, I remind myself of those three words.
- What in the Union do you wish you did more of or visited more often?
So much happens here, and I wish I did all of it more. I wish I took more time go to Union South to bowl at Sett Recreation or watch a movie at the Marquee, or even just sitting on the Memorial Union Terrace – I just wish I did more of everything.
- How did your professional journey lead you here?
I was a program advisor and program director at Indiana’s Memorial Union for 11 years. During my time there, the Wisconsin Union was often referred to as the college union to watch, being one of the first in the country. It just so happened when I was looking for a career change, the director position was open, and, if a position at the Wisconsin Union was open, I was applying.
- What is your favorite Union menu item– if you had to choose one?
Right now, the Cranberry Harvest panini from Carte in Memorial Union would have to be my favorite.
- Have you ever been excited to see someone who performed or visited the Union?
Yo-Yo Ma performed the debut concert at the reopening of the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall in 2014. I was excited to hear him play and it was the Theater’s 75-year anniversary, which made the moment even more special.
- If you were leading a tour and could only show visitors one place in Union South or Memorial Union, what space would you show them?
I would show them Memorial Hall, the original entrance of the Memorial Union, because of the history and all the stories you can share regarding the Union’s foundation and growth from that vantage point.
- What do you and your family like doing at the Union?
When my children are in the area, we like to sit on the Memorial Union Terrace and catch up. My family grew up on the Terrace. We like to go out there and find our paver and take time to enjoy it whenever we can.
Note: To learn about purchasing a Terrace paver inscribed with your custom message, visit: terracepaver.org.
- What role do you hope to play in the Union’s future?
Throughout my time here, I have always started every major initiative by listening. I hope to continue to listen, remove obstacles for students and staff, and find resources they need to be successful.
- When you began, was there a particular goal you had in mind that has been accomplished?
When I started 17 years ago, I first looked at the spaces students were provided to deliver their programs, and they didn’t live up to the reputation Wisconsin had. So we set out to renovate and restore the building to provide better opportunities for their events, which I am happy to say is now true of both Union South and Memorial Union.
- In the past 17 years, what have you seen change at the Wisconsin Union?
Students are more service-minded and outcome-based than in past years. Their interests have changed in the programs they want to see and the footprint they leave want to leave behind.
- What would you like to say to current and future Wisconsin Union Directorate student leaders?
When you first get your start at the Union, put your stake in the ground for what you want to accomplish, and put all your energy into it. Find one thing you can be known for and passionate about, and make sure we know you were here.
On behalf of the Union team, congratulations, Mark, on your 17 years with the Union! Thank you for helping make the Wisconsin Union a place so many call home.
To learn more about the Wisconsin Union, including membership benefits, student leadership opportunities and upcoming events, visit: union.wisc.edu.