Editor’s Note — This is part of a Women’s History Month series featuring women who make a positive impact on the campus community through their work as office/service employees. The Women of Service series is organized by the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women. Stories will run in Nebraska Today through March 30.
Nebraska’s Kat Krutak-Bickert has played a critical role in helping the School of Global Integrative Studies land on its feet and move forward as it works to prepare Huskers for future careers in anthropology, geography and global studies.
Krutak-Bickert is the school’s first coordinator — a post she’s held since shifting from the School of Natural Resources in 2018. Her job is focused on supporting faculty, instructors and students in the school.
“From our first day together, Kat has been an immeasurable help — the kind of office support professional every office needs,” said Emira Ibrahimpasic, assistant director of global studies and an assistant professor of practice. “She not only unburdened me from many of the previous roles and duties that I didn’t have the time to keep up with, but she made sure that I knew I was supported and that she was there for me.
“Global Studies has thrived since we moved to Oldfather Hall, and that is in large part due to Kat’s help and support.”
Ibrahimpasic also credited Krutak-Bickert for a willingness to take on new tasks (including oversight of the school’s Global Café series) and her desire to help students succeed.
“The way in which Kat interacts with our students is incredible,” Ibrahimpasic said. “Every time a confused or lost students has made their way to the eighth floor of Oldfather, either looking for me or another faculty member or simply because they had a question, Kat has been an invaluable source of information for them. She interacts with every single student with kindness and empathy, making our office a welcoming, comfortable, and inclusive space for all.
“These may seem like small things, but on a large campus like this where most students can feel like they don’t belong and alone, having a friendly face who is willing to help can make a world of difference.”
Krutak-Bickert has indigenous roots as her paternal relatives are the Sičháŋǧu Oyáte people. She is a graduate student in anthropology; was part of the Omaha Language Instruction team that assisted with the 2019 publication of the textbook, “The Omaha Language and the Omaha Way: An Introduction to Omaha Language and Culture”; works part time in her community grocery store; and is a single mother.
“Kat is the person people are referring to when they talk about a ‘superwoman,’” Ibrahimpasic said.
The Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women reached out to get to know Krutak-Bickert and learn more about her dedication to students, faculty and staff at Nebraska U. Her interview follows.
Tell us more about yourself.
I began at UNL as an undergraduate in the Great Plains Studies program, earning my Bachelor of Arts degree in 2013. Currently, I am a graduate student in anthropology while also working towards a graduate certificate in museum studies. I enjoy working with faunal remains and hope to one day work with collections much like that of our beloved Morrill Hall.
My grandfather, Paul Russell Krutak, was a professor of geology here in the 1970s and early 1980s. His office used to be on the fourth floor of Morrill Hall, which now houses the amazing “Cherish Nebraska” exhibition. I am personally drawn to the Greater Prairie Chicken display as this is my favorite bird and — in my opinion — should be our state bird. My house is littered with prints and artwork of these birds. They hold a personal connection as Great Plains indigenous communities like mine used these birds as a primary food source in the 1800s and also honored them with song and dance.
What would be your dream museum job?
There are way too many natural history museums to consider for a “dream job” as they all offer a regional expertise. I love Africa and the Middle East as this is the birthplace for all human existence and civilization, so this would be my dream area to work. Plus, the cuisine in these parts of the world are my favorite.
What do you look forward to when you come to work?
Assisting the faculty, students and staff in the School of Global Integrative Studies gives me great satisfaction in my position here at the university. I look forward to engaging with our students and helping them navigate their time on campus. I truly appreciate working with faculty who embrace changing ideas and landscapes while mentoring their students and staff.
What is your favorite memory at UNL?
Pre-COVID, at the end of each fall and spring term, the School of Global Integrative Studies hosted an end-of-semester gathering. These events unite our three disciplines, where students and faculty can connect with one another in a relaxed setting outside of the classroom.
It’s an important event that lets us mark all the accomplishments earned by students in each semester. I strive to create a fun and inclusive social event where all of our students and faculty can enjoy themselves.
What is your life like outside of work?
When I am not working at UNL, I am taking classes towards my Master of Arts degree in anthropology. I volunteer as an English language tutor one day a week and work two nights at my neighborhood grocery store. I have a great affection for the outdoors and enjoy fishing, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking — really anything that allows me to be in nature.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Food, food and food! I have a passion for cooking and feeding people. I believe if I hadn’t pursued my education in anthropology, I would have attended culinary school.