Retiree Spotlight: Thank you, Michael Dalecki

Michael Dalecki, a professor in social science and sustainability and renewable energy, will be retiring from UW-Platteville after 29 years at the university.

Dalecki had first experienced UW-Platteville as a student, earning two BS degrees in sociology and political science.

Attending Texas Christian University, he earned his master’s degree in applied social research, and continued to Pennsylvania State University for a PhD in rural sociology.

Before returning to his alma mater of UW-Platteville as a faculty member in 1991, he taught at University of Missouri and East Carolina University.

Between the three universities, Dalecki has accumulated over 35 years of teaching.

Throughout these years, he has served as a coach for our Sportsmen’s Club, advisor for the Fencing Club, and as an advisor for the Phi Sigma fraternity.

How did you become interested in the field in which you taught?

“I wanted to better understand how the world worked. What better field than sociology?”

How did you become interested in teaching?

“I tried it, found out that I enjoyed it. I like seeing the light bulb come on over a student’s head and know that I threw the switch.”

What are some fond memories, if you would be willing to share, of your time as a college instructor?

“Some of the memories involve students I couldn’t seem to push hard enough. Whatever I threw their way, they mastered it. Some of the memories involve students who began a course with a failing grade and, after consultation with me and some serious commitment on their part, turned it all around. If I had a business, these are the kinds of people I’d look to hire.”

Do you have advice to share with students?

“Stop thinking of yourself as the customer [at the university]. You’re not. You’re the product. Our real customers are those who hire you. Your job is to make yourself the best product possible so when you graduate, someone will want to ‘buy’ you.

You pay a lot of money to go to college. Are you getting value for your money? Is the ‘product’ getting better and better?”

Do you have any final words for the university?

“Challenge our students, don’t coddle them. One learns how to deal with challenges by… dealing with them. Hold our students to high standards. Yes, help students who need it, but resist the urge to solve their problems for them. Do not, ever, take away the opportunity for students to own their mistakes, deal with adversity and develop the kind of resilience that makes them valuable, contributing members of society.”

Dalecki will be retiring entirely but will be pursuing a private pilot’s license in the meantime.

“It’s deliciously complicated and I appreciate challenges like that. After that, I will find something else that presents the same sort of demands.”