23, No. 8, Oct. 16, 2003
Krueger spends retirement remodeling
her home, cheering Illini
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
(217) 244-1072; firstname.lastname@example.org
by Bill Wiegand
Krueger relaxes with her Irish setter McCauley and
German shepherd Deacon outside her Champaign home.
Krueger, who retired from university administration
and human resources last December, bought the home
because it offered plenty of yard space for the dogs
to run and was close to Assembly Hall. An avid Illini
basketball fan also is an accomplished cook and cookbook
collector. Krueger is renovating the home to create
a professionally equipped kitchen where she can entertain
family and friends.
Karen Krueger, who
spent much of her 35-year career with the university devising new ways
of doing things, is busy culminating a special project of her own. Since
retiring last December as deputy director to the associate vice president
for administration and human resources, Krueger has been remodeling
the Champaign home that she bought three years ago.
Krueger’s objective has been to create the kitchen of her dreams:
an epicurean’s delight with a subzero refrigerator, a built-in
steamer, and custom cabinetry with shelving for her vast cookbook collection,
which Krueger estimates at several hundred volumes.
A gregarious person who enjoys entertaining and taste-testing recipes
for international dishes, Krueger wanted an ample kitchen where guests
could linger and offer helping hands as she whipped up the cuisine du
Krueger shares the home with her sister Melanie, who is a chief clerk
in the University Library, and their mother. But transforming the house
into her dream home has been a challenging project, fraught with delays
caused by slow-moving contractors and suppliers. The range hood that
was ordered more than a year ago only recently arrived.
When the Kruegers moved into the home in February, the sinks were not
working and new flooring was being installed. The furniture that could
not be stuffed into the garage stayed on the truck for three weeks while
the flooring was completed.
And less than two weeks before their February move, Krueger had broken
her left wrist, undergone surgery on it and was under doctor’s
orders not to do any lifting afterward.
“But I discovered I could balance boxes on the cast to move them,”
Since buying the property, Krueger has been busy both indoors –
tearing down walls and removing a sun room to enlarge the kitchen, remodeling
the master bath – and outdoors – digging a foundation and
taming the riotous shrubbery and trees on their acre-and-a-half lot.
The overgrowth was so thick, in fact, that during her trimming and excavation
Krueger discovered a window in the house that she had not known existed.
Besides having plenty of yard space for her German shepherd Deacon and
Irish setter McCauley to romp, another selling point for the new home
in Krueger’s eyes was its proximity to Assembly Hall. An avid
Illini basketball fan, Krueger’s vacation destinations –
Georgia, Hawaii, Ohio, Texas, Washington – are often determined
by the NCAA basketball tournaments or the Illini’s Bowl games.
Krueger had planned to do post-retirement traveling, but other than
a trip to visit a brother in Alabama she has been staying pretty close
to home so far. The broken wrist scuttled their plans to visit a niece
in Austin, Texas, but in addition to that, Krueger and her sister have
a fundamental difference of opinion on the optimal time for vacationing.
“She wants to go someplace warm, and for me it has to be non-basketball
season,” Krueger said. “In the winter, I have trouble spending
time someplace warm during the Big Ten basketball season.”
When time allows, Krueger wants to take leisurely driving tours of autumnal
New England and the Grand Tetons and resume playing bridge and fishing.
A voracious reader, Krueger has “hundreds and hundreds of books”
that she has purchased over the years, some of which she wants to re-read,
but nevertheless is “always looking for a new one.”
“When I was young, the doctor told my mother that if there was
nothing around to read, I’d probably read the telephone book.
I really like to read!” Krueger said, and added that her interests
run the gamut of genres from mysteries to computing guides and, not
surprisingly, magazines on home design and remodeling. Her favorite
authors include science-fiction writer Anne McAffrey and romanticist
However, renovations to their current and previous residences have occupied
much of Krueger’s time prior to her retirement and since.
“I had originally thought, ‘Good, once I retire I’ll
have this extra time to do it.’ Now I wonder how did I have time
to work?” Krueger said with a laugh.
Describing herself as a person who likes to solve puzzles, Krueger said
she enjoyed her job because it presented an array of challenges such
as devising new methods of compiling information or implementing policies.
Her responsibilities also comprised salary administration and contract
implementation for civil-service employees as well as legislative reviews
and other special projects.
Of the many projects Krueger worked on during her career at Illinois,
however, she is proudest of the Civil Service step plan that was developed
“We had a mandate from the legislature that we had to do a step
plan or we wouldn’t get the same salary budget as the state,”
Krueger said. “From the time we were told to do it, we managed
to develop the operating system, developed and wrote the policy and
rules, wrote a conversion program so that people could be placed on
steps and put together an audiovisual to give presentations to everyone
around campus – all within a 10-month timeframe and had our budget
cut at the last minute. Considering all that, I think we did a pretty
“The step plan always comes to mind when remembering my years
here because although it was not the largest major project I worked
on involving coordination of all the campuses in the UI system, it’s
the only one that was fully implemented,” Krueger said.
An alumnus, Krueger earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and
history, and during her career at Illinois also earned an executive
MBA. Before she joined the UI’s workforce in December 1967, Krueger
worked for three years as a wage and hour investigator for the U.S.
Dept. of Labor.