Karl Engelbach

Karl Engelbach was a UC Davis student.

If I had one superpower it would be to see into the future. 

Student Assistant to the Chancellor Shehzad Lokhandwalla interviewed Associate Chancellor Karl Engelbach to find out more about his role on campus.

What are your roles and responsibilities as associate chancellor?

I serve as Chancellor Katehi's chief of staff, supervising the team in our office that helps move forward her initiatives and priorities for the university. I also work to make sure that concerns and priorities brought to our office from students, faculty and staff are addressed in a timely and effective manner. In addition, the chancellor's office receives a lot of inquiries from various campus units, as well as from outside agencies, groups and constituents off-campus and I help make sure those are addressed and resolved in the most effective way possible.

How do you spend your free time?

There's not a lot of free time in this job. I’m less busy during the weekends, but even then I'll be checking e-mail, answering questions and following up on work I couldn't get to during the week. I love to eat, and that is shown from my waist size (laughs). I also love to travel, here in California and abroad. I love to read for enjoyment, but unfortunately I don't get much time to do that these days. 

What is your favorite kind of food?

I'd have to say Italian. Pizza, pasta, spaghetti. Any kind of pasta or Italian food are my favorites. 

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

If I had one superpower it would be to see into the future. If you could do that, you would be able to help resolve a lot of challenges and potential conflicts that exist today before they occur or at the very least get you off track on what you're working to accomplish. But if people could see into the future like that it might change the course of history in ways that would cause other problems. Maybe I’ve just been watching too many movies. (laughs)

What is your guilty pleasure?

Fast food, I have to admit. Often, I don’t have much time for a regular meal and sometimes fast food just tastes good.

Who is your role model?

I don’t know if I have one single role model. I’ve been fortunate to work with and observe many truly accomplished people throughout my career. When I was an undergraduate at UC Davis, I also worked full time. I learned a lot in the classroom, but like so many of our students, I look back on things now and realize I probably learned just as much in my work outside of class. I was fortunate to have great mentors who were supportive and inspiring.

The one person I would like to mention is J.B. Hefferlin. He was editor of all publications for the California Postsecondary Education Commission where I worked for 20 years. He really spent the time to invest in my professional and academic development. I learned how to write from him, how to present information, how to put forward your most effective argument, how to epresent my perspective on an issue in a way that was effective. Just how to be a well-prepared professional. He passed away some 20 years ago, so he was never fully aware of how much of an impact he had in my professional development, but I will always be grateful for what I learned from him. Along with my parents, of course, who I also owe a lot to.

What would you like to change about our campus?

Rather than address the question that way, I'd like to consider: what would I like to preserve about our campus? As our campus continues to grow, at times we risk losing some of the warm, personal touches that have always made UC Davis such a special and inviting place. I'd want to make sure that no matter how much we grow or change, we find ways to make sure we are still that friendly campus where individual and personal relationships that exist in the UC Davis community are kept intact. I think we continue that for the most part, but we have to always think about ways to make sure that part of our character doesn't get swept up in any of the change or growth the campus is experiencing. I want to make sure we continue to be a strong and tightly knit community where we care for one another. It's always been one of the things that set UC Davis apart from some other universities.

If you could give students one piece of advice to succeed in college, what would it be?

As I’ve shared with you earlier, I worked full time as undergraduate so, I’ll be honest, I feel like I missed out on what I could have learned or some of the experiences I could have had as an undergraduate. You don’t get to repeat your undergraduate experience. I know a lot of our students work today as well, but the one piece of advice I would give to students is that while they are undergraduates they should explore their interests and passions as much as possible.

Once you graduate and get out into the larger world, you tend to take on more and more responsibilities and you don’t have the time or freedom to explore your intellectual or cultural curiosities as much as you do when you're in college. Of course, you always have to balance those things with your academic and coursework. But if you are passionate about something, whether it is in the arts, humanities, sports, you name it, I think it's really important to do everything you can to seize the opportunity to pursue those interests and not get so consumed by your studies that you have no time for anything else that would bring you a lot of satisfaction and personal fulfillment.