There was a time, about a year before I graduated, when I was feeling overwhelmed by an issue, and I was walking past President Rogalski’s office. He had said in various assemblies that he had an open-door policy and wanted students to stop by any time to talk with him. I decided to try it out, although I was pretty certain there wasn’t anything he could do to assist me with my situation. His assistant was not at her desk, so I knocked on his door, which was standing wide open. Seeing that he was in the middle of some paperwork, I turned to leave, but President Rogalski said to come on in, that he was available.
He moved to a small conference table in his office and asked me to have a seat. I shared what was troubling me, and while he was not able to provide a solution, his kindness in making time for me and offering a listening ear really made an impression on me. He demonstrated how to care for people. His position could have made him inaccessible to students, but he never allowed that to be the case.
After talking with him, I went away feeling more calm and hopeful. He had suggested taking time to reflect in the grotto outside his office, which he showed me through the door facing that way. It was just starting to come to life with the warmth of spring, and sitting there was the perfect follow-up to our conversation.
I will always remember President Rogalski as a very approachable leader who emphasized giving back to the community and making a contribution to the world with one’s life. He will be greatly missed.
Kristi Busetto ’00, Bettendorf
Well, Ed, after 40 years, it’s time to smell the roses. I, too, spent 40 years as a pilot with TWA and retirement is good. I also enjoyed our alumni social events in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I still live. I hope we can meet again in the future.
Thomas Vogel ’52, Daly City, Calif.
To President Rogalski—I’ve had the privilege of teaching at St. Ambrose for 14 of your 20 years as president, and it is amazing to have seen the expansion that has taken place under your leadership. Far more impressive to me, however, is the grace, kindness and sincerity that you exhibit every day of your life. I’ve told many people that I don’t think you have an enemy on the face of this earth—and no one has ever disagreed with me. Given the number of constituencies who are vying for your attention, the number of difficult decisions that must be made in your role as president, and the public eye following so many of your decisions, this is an incredible statement!
In addition to your work ethic and undying commitment to St. Ambrose University, God has blessed you with a genuineness that attracts others to you. I like you as a president, I respect you as a leader, but I love you as a good person—the Lord gave all of us a wonderful gift when he created you.
You have much to be proud of that goes far beyond anything to do with the business aspects of St. Ambrose. You have prepared the university to continue to excel, but a wonderful part of St. Ambrose won’t ever be the same—and that makes me appreciate even more the opportunity I had to teach under your leadership.
To Bobbi—Of course the best things I love about each of you is directly related to what you have done for each other and what you are together. The concept of the Ambrose family is so easy to embrace because it is modeled by you with your own family. While I only see you on occasion, you have been woven into the everyday fabric of this university for the past 40 years. I’ve also had the pleasure of knowing your sons and see many of the same desirable qualities in them. You bring out the best in a family, a university and a community.
John P. Byrne
Interim Dean and Professor, College of Business
Ed—It has been very exciting to watch the development of your vision for St. Ambrose University. Through your guidance and leadership, St. Ambrose has become a leader among institutes of learning. Thank you for your dedication and commitment toward your faculty, staff and students.
Beth E. Fox, Davenport
I was a freshman at St. Ambrose in 1968, which was Ed’s first year at St. Ambrose. I remember sitting around the dorm talking about some of the more social aspects of college life. Several of those discussions involved wondering, with a fairly new dean of students on board, just how far could we push the rules, such as drinking in the dorm. Well, we decided we’d test that rule. I remember opting out a few times but clearly I violated the campus rule.
During one of our drinking sessions, someone had the brilliant idea of trying to get back some of the money that the milk machine on the second floor of East Hall had “eaten” from virtually every resident on that floor. While it was true that this milk machine had malfunctioned, taking the matter into our own hands was clearly the wrong thing to do. But we were like lemmings and followed that guy anyway. That turned out to be the last straw. About a week later, Ed called four of us into his office and told us we may get expelled for the drinking transgressions and damage we did to the milk machine. He told us we were to go in front of the upperclassmen-led Student Judiciary Board, who would recommend to Ed what they believed our fate should be.
If that weren’t bad enough, Ed told us he was notifying our parents, who would certainly not be happy about our behavior. I was on an academic scholarship (the Davenport Deanery Scholarship) and was receiving workstudy money from St. Ambrose for my job in the snack bar. As the day of our hearing approached, all I could think about was how everything would be going away—my goal of a college education… an accounting degree… working for a big-time CPA firm in Chicago. These were my dreams as a college freshman, yet for a couple of drinks on campus and following the leader to the milk machine, all were about to disappear.
The Student Judiciary Board heard our case and thankfully did not recommend expulsion—unless there was another transgression. They recommended we return the money we took from the milk machine and be placed on probation. But Ed still had to endorse that ruling. Suddenly this new dean of students held my fate in his hands. When he upheld the board’s decision, I was so thankful and appreciative I vowed to myself never to get into trouble again.
About a week later I asked to have a face-to-face meeting with Ed. I remember apologizing to him for what I had done and, like the vow I made to myself, I vowed to Ed that I would be a model citizen from that day forward. Then I said something that could be considered a fairly bold step: I said I was going to use this experience as a positive. I felt I’d learned so much from this experience that, despite my record, by the time I became a junior I would be a good candidate for a future resident advisor, which was another goal of mine, since the position came with free room and board. It also meant I would no longer have to work in the dreaded snack bar. I remember Ed looking at me somewhat incredulously but to his credit he did not discourage me in attempting to achieve this goal.
I did become a model citizen. And I never said anything more to Ed about the matter until late in my sophomore year when it was time to submit my application to be an RA for the following year. In my application, I had to describe why I was qualified. I referenced the experience in my freshman year, and how indeed I had benefited and grown from it, thereby making me a qualified candidate for RA. The rest, as the saying goes, is history: Ed granted me the RA job.
I don’t know if Ed remembers all of this. But I obviously have never forgotten it, nor his faith in me and how he so astutely recognized that I had really learned from my past indiscretions.
So as Ed leaves St. Ambrose, I want to wish him and Bobbi happiness and all the best during their retirement years. I am so proud to say that I know Ed and I once again want to thank him for his faith in me over 35 years ago.
Jerry Frett ’72, Westmont, Ill.
Ed—St. Ambrose has been lucky to have had you as its president for so many years. Your leadership has made the school a great success and a very important asset to the entire Quad Cities and surrounding area. You are leaving a great legacy that will mean a lot to young folks for many years in the future.
Lloyd G. Schermer ’85 (h), Aspen, Colo.
Ed Rogalski was my Child Psychology class teacher, years before he became president of SAU. What I remember most about him is his kindness and smile. Every time my life partner and I come home for homecoming, he always gives both of us a warm embrace and makes us feel like close friends. I wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement!
Val Coleman ’82, New York, N.Y.
As parents of a sophomore St. Ambrose student, we feel that God specifically chose St. Ambrose University for our daughter. Along with St. Ambrose being an excellent academic institution, she is inspired by all the good and holy people who surround her on a daily basis. One of those people we met early on was President Rogalski. Upon seeing him, we never would have guessed his significant role at the university. He was so humble, so warm, such a servant-leader. Every time we attend a campus event, he is just as welcoming. It’s as though he is welcoming you to his home. We thank you, President Rogalski, for being such a down-to-earth leader who makes every person you meet feel significant. We pray that God blesses you with many more wonderful dreams, goals, and accomplishments.
Sue and Gary DeGregorio, Sleepy Hollow, Ill.
I met Ed about the first day he was on campus. What I immediately noticed were his butch haircut and big smile. He still has the smile. I knew at the time he would be a good friend. Shortly after, I met Bobbi and found her to be a most gracious person, though she couldn’t have been more than 25. She’s still as gracious.
St. Ambrose is where they started their family, and we all watched the boys grow up. All except the youngest worked in the maintenance department during my tenure there. They’re good kids. They inherited from their father his firm handshake and big smile.
I’ve had the pleasure of going on a few golfing vacations with Ed. I don’t want to pick on him, but if he has an area in need of improvement, it would be his golf game. Although he’s not as bad a golfer as I am. Close, though.
On a serious note, I wish Ed and Bobbi the best in years to come. I can’t begin to count the times he’s supported me and my family, both personally and professionally. When my brother Pat was sick about a year ago, Ed stepped up to keep Pat on at St. Ambrose, and I know he appreciated it. We all do.
John Morrissey ’58, Davenport
SAU Director of Maintenance (retired)
I attribute St. Ambrose’s recent history of outstanding growth to Ed Rogalski’s leadership. Just look at the campus—it’s one of the most attractive in the Midwest. That’s due to Ed. Both he and Bobbi believe in St. Ambrose, and I consider him a visionary for the university.
He’s also pragmatic. He has provided the Quad Cities with what it needed at the time, such as master’s programs in business and healthcare. That’s impressive.
During the time I served on the university board of directors, what I noticed about Ed was how he surrounded himself with very qualified people, as all strong leaders do. He’s always been open to the perspective of faculty and the student body, so they’d bring their best to the team, too.
Leaders are also measured by how they handle challenges. For 20 years, Ed has managed those troubled waters well. When you’re in such a position, you’re subject to constant criticism, but there was little of that with Ed in charge.
I’ve always admired Ed. In all sincerity I can say that St. Ambrose wouldn’t be where it is today without him.
John L. "Jack" Bush ’94, Bettendorf
Ed and Bobbi—I’ve been thinking of you lately and keeping you both in thought and prayer. I’m sure these days are bittersweet—with your time as president ebbing away—while on the other hand you should be heartened by the immense number of good things that you have accomplished for
James T. Barry, President
Mount Marty College, Yankton, S.D.
Ed and Bobbi Rogalski are two of the most caring people about St. Ambrose. To walk across campus with Ed is an adventure. He’s constantly stopping to chitchat with people. He has such a natural way, no pretense.
Here’s a story about Ed: I was working in Philadelphia, and Ed traveled there to ask me to serve on the university’s board. I told him I couldn’t consider such commitments until after I retired. Well, the day my retirement was announced, who should appear in my office in New Jersey but Ed Rogalski, holding me to my promise.
In all I served 10 years on the board, and Mary and I have come to consider both Ed and Bobbi good friends. We’ve always enjoyed their company, and St. Ambrose will miss him.
Jim ’56, ’94 (h), and Mary Hagen, Wilmington, N.C.
Ed—Congratulations on your retirement, and congratulations on a job well done. We hope you and Bobbi enjoy your retirement as much as Rosanne and I enjoy ours. It is a great time of life.
Harold and Rosanne Krubsack, Davenport, Iowa
When I first came to St. Ambrose as a student, I didn’t think getting to know the president of the university was even possible. Then, as I took on more leadership roles in my junior year, I actually met Ed and Bobbi, and before I knew it, I didn’t just know them but became friends with them, and that I never expected to happen.
When I got the chance to come back to St. Ambrose as alumni director, I was pretty excited because I got to travel with the Rogalskis. When you travel with them for alumni events, you do everything together—drive or fly together, eat meals together. It was a special time for me, because it was so easy to be with Ed and Bobbi. We all laughed at the same things. Ed and I had names of affection for each other—I always called him the Big Ragu, and he called me the Little Ragu. The humor was the best.
What I remember most, though, is walking into an event with Ed and Bobbi, and the entire chemistry in the room would change. It happened every time—that and every alum there having a story about how the Rogalskis personally impacted their lives.
So as Ed and Bobbi retire, I wish the happiness they’ve shared with others coming back to them all over again. I know of few people who commit themselves to a cause as Ed and Bobbi have to Ambrose, and they deserve the best in their retirement.
Laura “Divot” Ekizian ’92, ’97 MBA, Davenport
Ed—You have been a great president for St. Ambrose—I think the best ever to have served there.
John J. Kamerick ’43, Sarasota, Fla.
President Emeritus, University of Northern Iowa
Ed was the Dean of Students during my years as a student there. Fortunately, I was never called to his office during my student years.
But I will always remember Ed as that person who believed in a young 1975 alum to start a full-time gift-planning program for then-SAC in 1986. My story is just one of many young people who worked with Ed and, as a result, had their careers reach for the stars.
The campus has literally been transformed since those humble days in the mid-1980s. Today I hardly recognize the campus, and I have not been gone that long. It was great watching Ed take charge of the newly renamed SAU in 1987. There was so much optimism and promise for the future of SAU in those days, and he delivered. He grew, as did his family, the university, and my respect for him and Bobbi.
Because Ed believed in me, I have been able to move onto the world’s top universities and have had the honor to work with the best people in the world from St. Ambrose to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to the University of Texas at Austin. I have worked with people who have changed the world, from Nobel Laureates to Pulitzer Prize winners to everyday people who simply do their best for their family and society every day.
Thank you, Ed, for everything. Our world is better today because of your service.
Ed and Bobbi Rogalski are very dear to me. As a student I babysat and potty-trained their third son while Ed was getting his doctorate. As an employee I worked for Ed, and as new mother I waddled down the hall with Bobbi, she with her fourth and fifth boys, mine with my first and second kids.
Gretchen (Grooss) Breyller Hegeman PhD ’79, Winthrop, Me.
It was my junior year when Ed and Bobbie Rogalski joined the St. Ambrose family. In the fall of 1968, I believe Ed’s first role was Dean of Men, a job that required many talents combined with the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job. President Menke could not have selected a better person; Ed demonstrated all that and more.
Ed brought energy and common sense to his new position at the campus and began to build a most loyal following among the students and alumni over the years. He was patient with the usual campus pranks and highjinks that are inspired by temporary lapses in correct reasoning. As any young student will attest, things happen so quickly, there is little time to prudently assess the consequences of our choices. Ed always found a way to enlighten, yet have the punishment fit the “crime.” I even found myself on his “secret probation” at one time due to such a lapse.
Over the years, Ed and Bobbie have allowed former students to grow into their lifelong friends who cherish the memories and answer the call to St. Ambrose University.
St. Ambrose was blessed when Ed and Bobbie joined the family. Like tending a vineyard, they have nurtured and loved, cared for and grown the university into the mellow, fine vintage it is today. We all owe them our respect, thanks and best wishes for continued success in the future.
Maggie and Rich Bostedo
Class of 1970
Dr. Rogalski, I am so honored to have been a part of your tenure. I cherish my years at SAU and have special memories of your family during my years as a Queen Bee. Your generosity knows no bounds. You will be sorely missed after your retirement. You will never be forgotten.
Many happy thoughts and prayers for the Rogalski's as they step down from a position that was a perfect fit in every way!
Cindy Born '92
San Diego, CA
From Iraq, I would like to thank President Ed and Bobbi Rogalski for 40 years of dedication to St. Ambrose University.
Lt. Steven McCauley ’97
United States Navy