From Spaceship-Making to Helping Create Gameday’s Best Tailgate, Soon-to-Retire Tim Gloeckler Leaves a Legacy of Flair, Kindness, and Service at the Wisconsin Union
Over the course of his time in the Wisconsin Union team, Tim Gloeckler has helped build a spaceship to make a Badger Bash tailgate experience special, coached a bowling team, and helped make the Union’s spaces safe – to name a few of his endless contributions.
After 38 years at the Union, Tim is embarking on the adventure of retirement.
His Wisconsin Union employment story, like so many Union team members, began in part due to a love of the Union’s spaces at Memorial Union and Union South.
“I always loved the Union as a student,” Tim said. “I loved working with students. I saw the job and thought maybe this would be nice to do for a while.”
“A while” turned into 38 years. He began as an assistant operations manager at Union South. There, he managed a space with pool tables, bowling, and other games; the Wisconsin Union Hotel; and the building management team. He is ending his career as the director of auxiliaries and operations.
So how did “a while” become more than three decades?
“I felt good about what I was doing and had great respect for the people I worked with,” Tim said.
Throughout his years, Tim has earned a reputation of always rising to any challenge. In the most difficult of times, Tim can still smile and brainstorm a list of solution ideas so long it could circle the Union’s more than 40,000-square-foot outdoor space, the Memorial Union Terrace, multiple times.
“This is no secret to anyone who has ever worked with Tim; he is a super-duper, ‘can do,’ ‘get it done’ kind of guy,” Wisconsin Union Deputy Director Susan Dibbell said. “You can count on Tim to get the job done and get it done with flair.”
That flair has meant putting then-UW Marching Band Director Mike Leckrone in a Pokémon Poké Ball costume for a Badger Bash entrance, crafting the Badger Bash event structure that endures today, creating a log-rolling opportunity for Bucky at Badger Bash, and supporting countless other experiences for a lifetime at the Wisconsin Union.
“His contributions are endless,” Susan said. “We often come up with an idea or concept, and Tim is the one who executes it. He has developed and created so many programs that are now embedded in who we are.”
One of those contributions and among the accomplishments of which Tim is most proud: creating the first design of the mini Terrace chairs that are sold today in Badger Markets at Memorial Union and Union South and online and making it possible for them to be made cost-effectively in Wisconsin. (Don’t know what Terrace chairs are? Check out the history of the chairs with a trademarked design that have become synonymous with summers in Madison here.)
He approached Wisco Industries, which makes the Union’s regular-sized Terrace furniture, about possible high-volume production of the mini version of the Terrace chairs. The Wisco Industries team had concerns about the welding needed for production and how that time would impact the chairs’ prices and the ability to produce the chairs at a high enough volume. But Tim had an idea for a design that mean no welding and a feasible price point for the Union and its customers.
Determined to find a local manufacturing solution and to have that production support jobs with living wages at Wisco, Tim began the mini chair design with a prototype he made by cutting and bending paper into a mini Terrace chair. The key? The legs were bent into shape rather than created through welding the metal joints. When he brought the prototype to Wisco, the team agreed that it would be simple to cut out the chair shape and to create a mold press to bend the chairs’ legs. Those chairs now sell by the hundreds annually and help support Wisconsin Union student leadership opportunities and events.
After almost four decades of public service, he is hanging up his Wisconsin Union hat and name tag, ready for the next chapter of his story. His departure leaves the Wisconsin Union a bit quieter without his boisterous laugh, a bit less funny without his dry-wit humor, and, admittedly, less fun.
While the team will miss Tim as a person and professional, he will never be forgotten, and his legacy is in the Union’s spaces, programs and protocols. His influence also lives on in the hundreds of team members he has positively impacted and mentored throughout his years. He leads with compassion, kindness, fairness and a person-first approach to work. He lives the lessons he teaches: that there is always a way, that respect and kindness are possible and important in every situation, to prepare for every scenario, and to not forget to have fun.
“Tim is the type of person who puts everyone else first,” Assistant Director for Facilities Management Paul Broadhead said. “He wants everyone to have a great experience and never shies away from doing the heavy lifting to make this happen. He supports everyone from the sideline and creates the framework for others to find success.”
Tim proves what the Wisconsin Union team has long known: no matter how beautiful, a place is just a place; people, from those behind the scenes to the people who visit it, are what makes places truly special.
Tim looks forward to visiting the Union’s spaces as a guest, and the Wisconsin Union team cannot wait to welcome him back as a patron to the experiences for a lifetime he helped create.
Paul recently wrote this about Tim, which so many Union team members would echo: “Thank you, Tim, for a career of service and support of the Wisconsin Union and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Your willingness to take on any request in support of your team members places you in a class by yourself. You can feel assured that you are leaving a lasting legacy that leaves the Wisconsin Union better for you having been part of it.”