New administrators and staff are hired, and the old retire. Residence and lecture halls are built or torn down. But for the past 38 years, Dean of Students Dick McKaig has been a fixture at IU.
On an idle Wednesday, I walked into McKaig’s office with a recorder, notepad and pen. As he ushered me in, I said, “Your office looks different. Have you always been here?”
“No,” he said, laughing. “I was in Bryan Hall but then moved here.”
My eyes wandered along his endless collection of mugs, Arbutus yearbooks and assortment of random gifts. I spotted a plastic crown sitting out of place among his collections.
“Is that a Burger King crown?” I asked.
“That was a different kind of gift,” he said.
I sat down with McKaig to ask questions the Indiana Daily Student had probably never asked him before. I wanted to see the side of McKaig that most students don’t get to see.
Ids What was your first impression of IU?
McKaig How pretty it was. I was interviewing down here, although I think I was on this campus in high school because I went to Boys State. That was kind of one of those distant memories, and I never even put those two together. So when I was on campus interviewing, I was walking in the area behind Woodburn, the bridges and the stream there, the mighty Jordan. I was just struck with how pretty it was.
IDS What are you always going to remember about IU?
McKaig The students that I’ve worked with. Certainly, there are a lot of events that will come to mind, but they almost always circulate around students.
IDS How many different awards have you won?
McKaig I don’t know. People have been very kind. I say it’s a tribute to being old. When you get old, people give you things.
IDS What’s your favorite place in town to eat pizza?
McKaig Probably Pizza Express. The Heavy Veggie.
IDS Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?
IDS Do you like The Beatles? If you could be a Beatle, which Beatle would you be?
McKaig I do. Oh jeez, I don’t know, Paul did pretty well for himself. I suppose I should say Paul. Although I do like the drums too, so maybe I should be Ringo. Yeah, I think maybe I should be Ringo.
IDS What’s your favorite movie?
McKaig There’s just a bunch. I love “French Kiss.” Kevin Kline I think is just a delightful actor. I like most of his movies. I like “The Way We Were” with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford.
IDS Have you ever met Kevin Kline?
IDS Favorite pastime?
McKaig For 38 years, Indiana University has been my pastime. So I’d say probably now my anticipation is it’s travel and/or reading. But as my wife says, I’m pretty good at lazy. And that’s not a bad pastime either.
IDS Facebook or Twitter?
McKaig I don’t have a Twitter account. It’s an indication of I’m getting old. Without students to get me Twittering, I’ll end up being just a Facebook person.
IDS Root beer or real beer?
McKaig Really root beer. That doesn’t mean I don’t drink beer, because I do. But one of my favorite childhood memories is I had an aunt and uncle that owned an A&W root beer stand. And because they owned it, you could go there, you could go behind the scenes. And you could get your own root beer and root beer floats. Beer is an acquired taste. Bourbon is better.
IDS Cats or dogs?
McKaig Dogs. Beagles.
IDS What’s your favorite dorm on campus?
McKaig I’ve stayed in all of them, I think. I don’t know that I have my favorite. They all have their different kinds of personalities. Collins is a wonderful and unique community, and yet there’s a craziness about McNutt that makes it kind of attractive. Wright Quad is where one of my daughters lived. I’ve done lots of programs over in Wright Quad. ... I had another daughter who stayed in Ashton. So I guess it has a charm. I wouldn’t put it high on my charm list. Among those would be my favorite.
IDS What was your wedding song?
McKaig Tony Bennett. “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” It was a song we danced to on our first date, and so it has always been.
IDS How did you meet your wife, and how did you propose?
McKaig I met her because we worked together in the residence hall. She, as I pointed out, had the lofty position of soup dipper. I was merely a bus boy and dishwasher, and occasionally as a bus boy had the ability to carry soup to the soup dipper. So she and I became acquainted. She actually asked me to a dance, a sorority pledge dance, which she claims was done mostly as a joke because she knew I’d say no. But I said yes.
The business about proposal because she would say I never really did or I proposed on the second date, and it was a year or two later when we decided to get married. That’s probably a debatable question. It was certainly nothing elaborate.
IDS Favorite season?
McKaig Probably the spring – the blooming plants and trees in this area. I’m colorblind, so the fall colors, which rely on a lot of reds and oranges, those colors tend not to show up on my spectrum.
IDS Yoga or Pilates?
McKaig The living room couch.
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