There are many qualities that a person can have in order to be a good leader. One of those is not just the ability to communicate, but to speak their mind.
Anyone who knows Bill Redwine knows that when it comes to words, he’s not in short supply.
“I’m not very bashful. I talk a lot, and I know that,” Redwine said. “In some ways, that’s a gift.”
What has contributed to Redwine’s success isn’t what he says, but his drive and ability to follow up those words with actions and results. He’s worked at his alma mater, Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, since 1981, and has spent the past 17 years working in the Office of Auxiliary Services. As assistant vice president of auxiliary services, a position he’s held since 2006, Redwine’s vision and determination has helped grow his office exponentially, utilizing campus resources and community partnerships to raise revenue for the institution while continually elevating the student experience at MSU.
As a long-time member of NACAS who has held a variety of leadership positions within the organization, Redwine is familiar with the goals and challenges that lie ahead. But one look at his background, colorful personality and entrepreneurial spirit reveals a trailblazer who is ready to communicate effectively while always leading by example.
Finding His Wings
Some people are said to be “born talkers,” but Redwine didn’t have much of a choice given his upbringing. A native of Sandy Hook, Kentucky, his late father was an attorney who practiced law for 50 years. When Redwine was in high school, he would hang around his dad’s office helping him out with office duties in the summer months.
His parents both attended Morehead State for two years and Bill decided to become an MSU Eagle and follow in his father’s footsteps – at least initially. He was very active in the Student Government Association and a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in government and public affairs. He returned to school briefly to do graduate-level work in the areas of higher education, business and sociology.
He met his wife, Susette, while he was a student at MSU. Susette was a full-time employee at the institution and, after deciding to forgo his original plan of attending law school, he eventually decided to join his wife on campus, taking a job as a university development officer in 1981.
“I had knowledge of Eastern Kentucky and what the institution was trying to do at the time,” Redwine said. “I was kind of in the right place at the right time.”
At the time of his hiring, MSU’s Office of Development was in its infancy. He was instrumental in getting the MSU Foundation off the ground, helping raise $200,000 in its first year.
“At that time, we thought we were in tall cotton,” he recalls.
He would later transition into coordinator of giving programs, director of development and director of alumni relations and development. By the time he left that office to take a job in the Office of Auxiliary Services in 1998, the MSU Foundation had raised over $2 million in private donations for the fiscal year, then the largest amount in the university’s history.
“I was kind of proud of that, to leave on a high note,” he said.
Redwine also was partly responsible for creating the first group of MSU Fellows, as well as organizing and publishing the university’s first-ever alumni directory. In fact, whether it was developing merchandise programs for alumni, group travel programs or credit card programs, he found countless ways to raise money for MSU. After he took a position as director of auxiliary services, he would be faced with a new set of challenges – and later a string of successes.
A Bottom Line Approach
The role of director of auxiliary services was a new position when Redwine accepted it in 1998. At the time, his responsibilities included overseeing dining services, the university bookstore and anything concerning MSU IDs, otherwise known as EagleCard.
He saw the potential for his office to do much more. Over the next several years, through a mix of reorganizations and retirements, his office took over running the campus postal services along with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. More and more student services made their way under MSU’s Office of Auxiliary Services umbrella through Redwine’s ambition and leadership, which now includes nine functional units.
Redwine said he recalls the distinct differences between his previous job as a fundraiser for the university and his new role, but found that they both had something in common.
“When I was with the alumni office, you’re always in the practice and the habit of giving things away. In auxiliary services, you have to make a shift where you sell that stuff so you can make a profit. That was kind of interesting,” he said. “I had to be entrepreneurial with the alumni office to generate donations. That’s what the auxiliary services is all about, being entrepreneurial. It’s like running a whole lot of little, small businesses.”
That auxiliary services philosophy has certainly been successful for many of the units Redwine has overseen. Bringing in document services under auxiliary services and “running it like a business” has proven to be cost-effective to MSU. Partnerships with both Lynn Imaging and Commonwealth Technology, both of Lexington, Kentucky, allows for the use of cutting-edge technology while fleet machines provide more than 75 different departments and groups with copy, network print and scanning needs.
Seven years ago, the MSU Foundation, under the direction of MSU President Wayne D. Andrews, conducted a capital fund drive to purchase the nearby Eagle Trace Golf Course to be managed by the university and the Office of Auxiliary Services. Redwine said they rebuilt sand traps, applied new blacktop to cart paths and installed drainage in the fairways. Since taking over the golf course, annual play has gone up over 200 percent, bringing in new revenue while providing a better overall experience for the students and the community members that use it.
“We have a top-notch, top-level championship golf course. That’s what we have to have. That’s what our golf team needs and that’s what our golf team deserves,” he said.
One of the auxiliary service units that’s always been an asset to MSU is the university bookstore. According to Redwine, the bookstore earned a 13 percent profit its last fiscal year, almost double the national average for campus bookstores. In addition to always capitalizing on the latest clothing trends for MSU trademarked apparel and selling other gifts and merchandise, Redwine has made staffing decisions that have been beneficial financially for the bookstore and for customers.
“We’re very lean from a staffing standpoint, but we utilize a lot of student employees,” he said. “By doing that, it helps us push profit to the bottom line and be competitive from a pricing standpoint.”
Redwine is all about finding new ways to use auxiliary services to bring in money to the institution, but he said it can’t simply be all about the numbers.
“Higher education from an academic side and higher education from a business side don’t mix very well,” he said. “That’s the fine line we have to walk to find services that are beneficial – particularly to students, but also to faculty and staff – while making auxiliary services profitable to the bottom line of the institution.”
Success Through Service
Redwine has not only had an entrepreneurial spirit in his leadership position with auxiliary services, but also an innovative one. This can be seen in everything from technological innovations to the food products MSU students get to enjoy.
The EagleCard, the MSU student ID that was previously used for a declining balance debit program for dining services, now uses contactless “tap-and-go” functionality, providing door/event access, meal plans and declining balance accounts used for dining, vending, copying and lab printers. Through various partnerships, MSU students have also been able to utilize the EagleCard off campus at more than 20 businesses within the community.
Redwine and the Office of Auxiliary Services have made a point to make dining at MSU an incredible experience. Since his tenure, the university has implemented concepts like Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell and Jump Asian as dining options for MSU students.
“The dining experience for our students today is drastically different than it was in 1998,” he said.
Soon, MSU’s dining options are about to get even better. Currently under construction is a dual-purpose parking complex and dining hall, and the university’s Adron Doran University Center (ADUC) will soon undergo a nearly $50 million renovation. Redwine said it will be a “game-changer for this campus,” with 26,000 square-feet of space, exhibition-style cooking, and several new and exciting dining concepts.
Speaking of food, a particular point of pride for Redwine is MSU’s farm to campus program. In cooperation with the university’s dining services provider, ARAMARK, MSU has utilized its 325-acre Derrickson Agricultural Complex (otherwise known as the University Farm) and its Browning Orchard. With the help of MSU agricultural sciences students and faculty, dining halls now offer locally-produced beef, fresh-water shrimp, tilapia and produce to MSU students. The University Farm also produces its own beef jerky, Sheltowee Sticks, which is sold at the university bookstore.
The program has been in place for four years and Redwine said it’s been an overwhelming success. Not only has the farm to campus program drastically increased MSU’s sustainability, but it’s also become a welcome offering for the campus community.
“I’ve seen the transition,” he said. “We are seeing more and more and more students being really appreciative of having locally-produced products.”
As an MSU alumnus, Redwine said one of the most rewarding parts of his job is knowing that his position and the services his office provides make a positive difference in students’ lives.
“I know it sounds kind of hokey, but students are why we’re here. The better we can make the student experience, the better everybody is,” he said. “I have a sense of pride because this is my institution. I did my graduate studies here. I met my wife here. Both of my kids have gone to school here. We chose to stay here because the opportunities the institution presented to us and the opportunities for us to give back to the institution.”
An Evolving Leader
Whether he was a fundraiser for MSU or in his current role as assistant vice president of auxiliary services, Redwine has always taken it upon himself to be ambitious and take action to benefit the institution and its students. But if you ask him now, he will tell you he’s not quite the same leader he was when he first started.
“I admit, in my younger days, I wanted to do it all, I needed to do it all,” he said. “The biggest thing that’s changed for me personally is I’ve learned to delegate more. Coming into an operation and growing it and having the size staff we have, I’ve been very focused on assembling a leadership team that I can rely on and count on and trust, because my time is better utilized being their champion.”
As the incoming president of NACAS, Redwine has spent his prior years with the organization moving up the leadership ranks and solidifying relationships with his colleagues. At NACAS South, he served as vice president (2004-05), president-elect (2005-06), president (2006-07) and past president (2007-08). Along the way, he served as chair of the technology committee and conference chair for NACAS South in 2009-10. As part of NACAS, he first served as the southern regional representative for three years (2011-14) before becoming vice president (2014) and president-elect (2015).
He will have guidance thanks to his strong relationship with Kathryn Le Gros, who will serve as past president, as NACAS undergoes what Redwine describes as “very transitional times” during his term in office.
“Just like an institution, we have to strengthen our business partnerships program, and we want to increase our sponsorship program,” he said. “We’ve got to come up with some additional new revenue streams to enhance those programs. That’s where I see my next 12 months going.”
In his new role, Redwine said he is confident in what he and his team are capable of accomplishing together for the organization. He wants people who have the same vision and go-getter attitude that he does, with the ability to put in the work to make NACAS even greater – and he expresses it in a way only Redwine can.
“I hope my enthusiasm and excitement will be contagious and I think it will be,” he said. “One of the things you see too often is people wanting to be associated in name only and not willing to make a commitment, to make a sacrifice to make the organization better. Success is painful sometimes. It’s like being an athlete. You don’t get to be the Heisman Trophy winner by being half-assed. You get to be the Heisman Trophy winner by sacrificing and busting your ass. That’s what I want people to do.”