Associate vice president was devoted to education

Devan C. Tasa, News Editor Ω

In front of the podium at Wes Koczka's memorial in the Grand Hall on March 15 were pictures and flowers celebrating his life. - PHOTO BY DEVAN C. TASA

In front of the podium at Wes Koczka’s memorial in the Grand Hall on March 15 were pictures and flowers celebrating his life. – PHOTO BY DEVAN C. TASA

A TRU associate vice president was remembered at a memorial service March 15 for his passion for education and interacting with different cultures.

Approximately 200 people gathered in the Grand Hall to remember Wesley Koczka, the university’s international associate vice president and CEO of global operations, who died suddenly while in Germany during the March 9 weekend.

“He thought education was important to develop character in individuals,” said his son Kim Koczka, who added that his father thought education also made people more dedicated, patient and accepting of others.

Wesley Koczka himself had four degrees. He attended the University of Saskatchewan and Brigham Young University in Utah.

When Koczka joined TRU on May 1, 2010, Mike Henniger, TRU World’s director of international marketing, thought Koczka, with his tall figure and immaculate suits, would be a scary boss that would be hard to work for. That wasn’t the case.

“It was anything but,” he said. “The three years working with him were the best three years of my professional life.”

Koczka became known as a kind and supportive boss, buying Timbits for the TRU World staff every Friday and encouraging Baihua Chadwick, TRU World’s managing director of global operations, to get a doctorate.

Under his watch, TRU expanded its international connections. Now TRU World brings in 1,570 students from more than 80 countries and has 1,600 students enrolled in partner universities overseas.

Alan Shaver, TRU’s president, travelled extensively with Koczka. He said there were two types of travelling companions

“One is the one you just can’t wait to get away from,” he said. “The other you just can’t wait to get on the road again with.”

For Shaver, Koczka was the latter.

Shaver encouraged the staff at the memorial to continue Koczka’s work in expanding TRU’s international profile.

“It’s really important that we remember Wes and his idealism about internationalization,” he said.