Kevin Gwinner first decided to move to Manhattan to be closer to family.
The Phoenix native and his wife had moved to North Carolina for his first job after he got his doctorate. He taught at East Carolina University in Greenville. He said he and Sherri fell in love with the small community.
In 1999, he applied, interviewed and got the job as an assistant professor of marketing in K-State’s College of Business. He has served as the dean of the college the last four years and now is marking 20 years at K-State.
Gwinner worked his way from assistant professor to associate, eventually serving as the department head for the marketing program. When the last dean stepped down, he served as interim dean for about six months, and threw his name in the hat.
Gwinner said he’s seen a lot change in his 20 years, and not just in his job title. In 2016, the school moved from Calvin Hall to a newly built facility across campus.
“There are so many nooks and crannies to congregate in, students are coming and they’re staying all day long,” he said. “It changed the culture of the college. The students, faculty and staff have come closer together because they are co-located.”
He said it has become more like a family, which is important to him.
Gwinner likes spending time with his two sons and daughter.
Bonding with his boys includes Eagle Scout projects. All three are Eagle Scouts, something that was important for him to pass on to his sons. Gwinner has served as president of the area scouts and helps with Troop 75 when he’s in town.
Kent Manuel, scoutmaster for the troop, said he likes working with Gwinner, who has served as an assistant scoutmaster.
“I know he’s a busy man, but he still comes and he still helps,” Manuel said. “He has a very patient manner with the young men. We work with them from the time they’re in fifth grade through their high school graduation, but he is always extremely patient. He is a leader without being dictatorial. He knows there’s not only one way to do something; that’s not the Boy Scout way.”
Manuel said part of Boy Scouts is succeeding through failure, which the organization sets up to be low-impact. He said a good example of Gwinner’s patience is on hikes.
“We give them a compass and a map and let the boys lead the hike,” he said. “Kevin will have a compass and map as well, but if they pick the wrong way, he’ll let them go and let them figure out what they’ve done wrong. It might take them 2 or 3 miles, but all they’ve done is lost some hours, and they learn a lot.”
Gwinner said he enjoys the “high adventure” aspect of scouts, going on week-long camping trips. In years past, he’s taken trips to Colorado and to the border lakes near Canada. He said he even enjoys it when they get eaten by mosquitos.
“Boy Scouts has such a warm place in my family,” he said. “I’m really proud of the recent changes and now it’s open for the entire family. The values are something that can be missing from the family they really need, so now they can all be involved.”
He said he wished he could dedicate a little more time to being involved with the troop sometimes. Gwinner travels around the country as part of his role as dean, talking with alumni about the college’s needs. He said that it took some getting used to, talking about money and problems with people — “There’s a nervousness there, telling your story that you hope people buy into,” he said — but he said it’s not the worst part.
“There’s less running into students,” he said. “I don’t teach anymore with all my travel and commitments, so I don’t have a the ability to schedule a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class, which is unfortunate because I enjoyed that.”
He appreciates the staff he and his predecessor have been able to assemble.
“We have a strong faculty and staff,” he said. “More than the past, it seems closer.”
Gwinner said they’ve been instrumental in launching a new major, professional selling.
“We’re now one of 20 in the country with this dedicated sales program,” he said. He also talked about his excitement for adding a master’s degree in data analytics and programming certificates to the college, because he thinks it will help people get jobs.
Gwinner said he always tries to help people and said they are the best part of his job and hobbies. He also said they’re most of the reason he stayed in Manhattan.
“It’s a great place to raise children,” Gwinner said. “There’s a sense of pride in the community. There are opportunities at K-State that aren’t in other places.”