As a student at Eastern Kentucky University, Ben Jager said, he immersed himself in campus life. Being part of student government, a fraternity, the honor’s program and playing intramural sports, Jager said, he made the most of his time on campus.
Jager, associate director of Student Activities and Involvement at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, now works on creating a diverse campus environment while balancing a full home life.
Jager recently became engaged, so much of his free time is occupied with planning his January wedding, he said. Additionally, he said, that owning a home and two dogs makes for a busy life.
But it’s not all housekeeping and planning for Jager. He said he also enjoys watching Cincinnati Reds baseball and brewing his own beer.
“It’s pretty easy,” Jager said about brewing beer, adding that the hobby is a good, inexpensive alternative to buying a $4 beer at the bar, and it makes for a unusual treat to bring to a party.
Jager’s varied life extends to campus where he oversees numerous student organizations, helping negotiate student program issues and assessing programs to ensure they are accomplishing their goals, he explained.
Bill Pickett, senior director for Student Involvement, said Jager’s more serious personality compliments Pickett’s own “crazy, spontaneous” personality. He said Jager is analytical and measures the pros and cons, making him the perfect candidate for negotiating and assessing student programs.
Martha Spangler, Student Activities coordinator, added: “He forges his own path. He is very low key and modest.”
Jager said he is proud of his involvement in initiating TEDxUNO, a locally organized version of the TED global community that furthers ideas and connections through a variety of topics.
“I can’t take credit for the idea,” Jager said. It was the idea of Daniel Shipp, vice chancellor of the university’s idea, but Jager said he executed it. He said TEDxUNO was a perfect fit for the university, and it’s an ideal event for a community the size of Omaha.
Omaha was never on Jager’s radar prior to interviewing for the job, he said. In fact, he said, Nebraska was on a list of places he never wanted to live.
“Turns out Omaha is a pretty awesome place to be,” Jager said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better place to become a grownup.”
Spangler recalled a Student Affairs’ project for which employees were asked to pick one word that described them, and to write it down on a piece of cardboard. Jager came out wearing his word around his neck, and it read “Trill,” she said. “What the heck is Trill?” Spangler asked, and Jager responded, “true and real.”
“That’s pretty much just Ben,” she said. “He truly cares about the student experience.”