Campus Couples

Corey Wackel

Corey Wackel

Tim and Laurie Nichols

After working just a few miles apart at different colleges, Tim and Laurie Nichols made SDSU home 16 years ago.

“We met when I was working at Washington State University and Laurie was at the University of Idaho,” Tim said. “We were actually only about seven miles apart.”

The opportunity to move to SDSU came when Laurie received a call from the university to take over as dean of family and consumer sciences. “I wasn’t looking for the job, and I didn’t really know if I would be the one offered the job after everyone had been considered,” Laurie said. “It was just something that was dropped into my lap and I thought that taking the position would allow some movement within my career.”

Before Laurie agreed to take over the position, she thought about how the possible move would affect Tim’s position as well. “I said that I would only consider taking the position if there were a possible position for Tim as well,” Laurie said.

Laurie decided to take the position in August 1994 and Tim took a position in the college of agriculture and biological sciences that same fall.

Laurie became the provost of SDSU in June 2009 and Tim was made the dean of the honors college in 2008.

Both Laurie and Tim see many advantages in working at the same school. “We can talk about events that are going on and really understand each other,” Laurie said. “It really allows us to support one another.”

“We can relate to each other’s challenges and successes,” Tim said, “and we can be supportive on hard days and celebrate on the good days. We can always bounce ideas off of each other and brainstorm what would be the best approach to any situation.

Laurie is really smart and more experienced than I am so she always gives good advice.”

If the couple were to cite one disadvantage of working together it would be that their work always seems to come home with them.

“We walk the dogs in the morning and we begin by talking about our day, but we always seem to get pulled back to the topic of work,” Laurie said.

“We tend to bring work home,” Tim agreed. “It happens more often because we both work here. Sometimes, no matter how much you love your work, you just need a break.” The proud parents of two have been together for almost 18 years and their time at SDSU has been great.

“Having the opportunity to share a job I love with the woman I love is the best thing about working with Laurie,” Tim said.

On the topic of Valentine’s Day, Tim said that it is less of a deal than it once was, but that doesn’t stop him from celebrating the holiday.

“I’m pretty much a hopeless romantic,” Tim said. “[Valentine’s Day] is a fun excuse to show Laurie how much I love her. Maybe it’s flowers… maybe it’s just a nice dinner together with the whole family. It really is the thought that counts.”

Bob and Lisa Otterson

After working together at Southwest Minnesota State, Bob and Lisa Otterson came to SDSU together.

“Several years ago, we thought about positions where we could be together,” Bob said, “and SDSU was on the list from the early days.” The couple has been married close to 15 years and are the proud parents of three children, ages 8 to 12.

Bob serves as the executive assistant to the president, a position he’s held since the fall of 2007 and Lisa is an academic adviser and instructor in the College of General Studies.

“It’s always been a goal of ours to work together,” Lisa said. “Bob and I both see college campus life as an extension of ourselves.”

Before coming to SDSU, both Bob and Lisa spent time at a number of colleges in the United States. Bob worked at three colleges in three different states, while Lisa worked at six colleges in four different states.

After all of their hard work, the Ottersons seem to have found what fits them.

Bob is an SDSU graduate and he also served as a graduate assistant in journalism. “We chose SDSU for a number of reasons,” Bob said. “We both appreciate the comprehensive nature and we also appreciate what the school provides for Brookings in terms of performing arts, athletics, and education.”

“We have a strong connection to the campus community,” Lisa added. Working together has many advantages for the Ottersons and it provides them with some convenience. “I find that SDSU is a great environment for [not only] professional fulfillment, but also for professionals with children,” Bob said. “We both appreciate the fact that our children can stop in and say “hi’ should they ever want to.”

Although Bob’s schedule is a little more unpredictable, he does appreciate any time in the day that the two can spend together. “I just enjoy the opportunity to get together for lunch,” Bob said. “We may just end up sitting down to a sack lunch together, but it gives us the time to talk about the weekend and I really enjoy that time that I get with her.”

Nick and Kelly Wendell

Nick and Kelly Wendell met while they were both students at SDSU.

He was a freshman and she was a sophomore. “We actually met for the first time at the interview process for New Student Orientation Leaders in December 2000,” Nick said. “I still remember being introduced to her in the corner of the Gallery Lounge.”

Nick and Kelly were both hired and their involvement in similar activities allowed the two to become close.

“We became great friends,” Nick said. Kelly graduated from SDSU in May 2003 and Nick followed in December 2004.

The two married in August 2005 and worked in separate ad agencies in Sioux Falls.

“It helped us to have experiences away from SDSU,” Kelly said. “It makes us appreciate being staff members here.” Nick ended up coming back to SDSU in August 2006 as the program adviser for the university program council before becoming the assistant director for student activities in June 2008. Kelly returned to SDSU in 2007 to work in the admissions internal marketing department.

“Kelly and I both ending up in students affairs has been a bit of good luck,” Nick said. “That combined with a shared college experience meant that we were able to connect with a lot of the same professionals.”

Since they began to work at SDSU, the Wendells have found several advantages. “We definitely have a good understanding of what the other does,” Kelly said. “It’s also a little easier to coordinate our schedules. Last year we managed to find the time to eat lunch together pretty often.”

“We both love SDSU,” Nick said.”To be able to work on campus during an exciting time in the history of the university has been a really unique opportunity.”

Though the benefits far outweigh the challenges of working together, both Kelly and Nick see some disadvantages. “We tend to take work home a little too much,” Kelly said. “It’s really easy to do.”

“Our peaks times of the year are the same,” Nick said. “Our house is nuts in late summer and early fall because we are both at the table to ensure that opening weekend and the Meet State program are successful.” Both Kelly and Nick enjoy working together and it is the growth that is occurring at SDSU that is one of the best parts of the job.

“We both feel fortunate to be here,” Kelly said. “It’s an exciting time for growth and change and it is fun to be a part of that.” “Kelly and I have always enjoyed collaborating to infuse creativity into the projects and programs we are involved with,” Nick added. “It is really fun to be a part of that process and we have a lot of respect for each other’s work.”

Valentine’s Day for the couple is an exciting time.

“Valentine’s Day has taken on a new meaning in our house since 2008,” Nick said. “Our daughter was born on February 14th, so we have a great reason to celebrate, although the celebration usually includes cupcakes and balloons instead of chocolates and flowers now.”