Faculty Q&A with Bill Pickett of Student Involvement

Pickett stops to chat with a student in the student involvement office.

By Kamrin Baker

Most likely toting around free t-shirts and fidget spinners with a smile on his face, the majority of students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha have seen him; Bill Pickett.

Pickett is the Director of the Milo Bail Student Center and Student Involvement at UNO, with his main tasks being to improve school spirit and oversee massive events like Durango Days and Homecoming. He is also the faculty advisor for the Maverick Maniacs, which is essentially a club devoted to showing Maverick pride at every possible campus event.

Pickett has worked at five other universities and has resided at UNO for 10 years in various job positions. His current title has lended him to making real and lasting connections with the students and programs at UNO, which is his favorite aspect of his career.

Aside from a very busy schedule, Pickett spends his time with his wife and two sons, who are 7 and 9 years old. If they are not at a kid’s basketball or soccer game, the Picketts are on the UNO campus, running around in every direction.

“The boys are pretty much college students,” Pickett said. “Because of the scope of my job, they are always on this campus.”

And therefore, so is he.

UNO became the 2017 Student Section of the Year during an online voting booth in the Spring Semester. Pickett led the campaign and is proud of the accomplishment to this day.

Although Pickett has a very hands-on job filled with goofy opportunities and constant exposure to student life, I figured he was still a bit tired of the same old questions about where to put this and how to stack that and RSVPs about upcoming events. So we talked about some other things instead:

KB: What is your favorite item in your office and why?

BP: My vuvuzela stadium horn. Just because I like to scare the crap out of people.

KB: I guess this question kind of plays off your last answer, but what is your favorite kind of noisemaker to use at hockey games?

BP: Besides the vuvuzela horn? Cowbell, obviously.

KB: Speaking of which, what is your favorite sport? Not necessarily UNO-related.

BP: Basketball. The Indianapolis Pacers are my favorite. I grew up there, so I follow them.

KB: I know you take long bus trips to various cities with the Mav Maniacs and other student involvement groups. What is your go-to bus movie?

BP: I leave it up to the students a lot of the time. They usually bring those stupid humor movies that are really funny. Anything Adam Sandler—-especially the older stuff he’s done. They also bring sports movies, and I like those as well.

KB: Where did you go to college and what were you like during that time in your life?

BP: I went to Ball State University for both my undergrad and masters degrees in Indiana. I was very involved in a lot of stuff. I was an RA, I did a lot of student government things, and student council-type things like what we have with Maverick Productions. I was always hopping and busy.

KB: What is your favorite place on this campus?

BP: I would have to say the Pep Bowl. It’s such an open space and we can do anything out there. I do a lot of programs on campus, and that space is so interchangeable. One day you can have a DJ, the next you can have a Frisbee tournament. It just helps our office tremendously.

KB: What is your go-to lunch in Milo Bail?

BP: I’d prrobably say the sushi. Either the California Roll or Shrimp Tempura. Or the Chicken Philly. If I have more time to wait in line for that I’ll get it, but if I’m in a hurry, I’ll grab the sushi and go.

KB: If you could build your dream student center, what would go in it that we don’t already have in MBSC?

BP: Oh, I have a lot for this one. I would say an indoor paintball/laser tag area is on the top of my list. I would add a couple food chains, too. I’d love to see a coffee/donut/ice cream situation like Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts. If we could ever get to the point of doing this, I’d love to have a Redbox in the building, too, especially for students who live on campus. I’ve worked on 5 different campuses all across the country, so I’ve seen student centers with bowling alleys, hair salons, and some really upscale things. The possibilities are endless.

KB: If you could rename Durango or pick a new mascot entirely, what would you choose and why?

BP: I’d say something along the lines of a snake and call it like “Viper” or something. Mascots, to me, should be fierce, strong and mighty, so I would envision a poisonous snake that would be like “I’ll bite you” and stuff like that. Don’t mess with us or we’ll give you poison. But, I don’t know, I like Durango. I think he suits us.