Keeping up with Kubeja

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 at 6:49 PM
Keeping up with Kubeja by Hannah McDonald
Photo: Hannah McDonald

On her last day before leaving Edinboro University and beginning retirement, Judy Kubeja, senior executive assistant to the provost, talked about her time in higher education and her future plans. Sitting behind her desk on Halloween, her office full of boxes packed from nearly three decades at the university, she reflected, “In the beginning...”

Kubeja is originally from Pittsburgh and went to Ohio for college where she met her husband, an Erie native. Moving to the area with him — who she has been married to for over 44 years now — she worked at Gannon University for 18 years. At Gannon, she held a number of positions, including assistant to the president. 

“Then the president left, so I needed to leave,” Kubeja said, laughing. “So, I came here. And I’ve had the same position the whole time, the whole 27 years.

At Gannon I had several; I had worked for deans and then I was the assistant registrar.... There are a lot of people here, actually, who worked at Gannon when I did.” 

Coming to Edinboro was Kubeja’s first experience with a public institution and with unions, having worked at Gannon and attended a private university herself. Reflecting on the differences she has witnessed working for both types of universities through her career, Kubeja said: “It’s funny; they’re different and they’re not different because it’s like that saying, ‘What goes around, comes around.’ If you wait long enough, the same thing will cycle again. And that certainly happens in higher education.”

“Not so much anymore,” though, she said. “The paradigm...has shifted with online ed. and the decrease in students of college-age. Just the whole panorama of what’s going on in the country and all of that stuff. It’s kind of like all bets are off now, but previously things in higher ed., you’d see them again and again.” 

Kubeja went on to elaborate, stating that things can happen much more quickly at private universities “because you don’t have to answer to a state government or to a union.” This can be witnessed at Mercyhurst where Kubeja stated they are “reinventing themselves by the day.” 

But the changes that private universities undergo are still present at public universities, just at a slower rate, she said. “Under their skins their institutions are the, same pretty much, whether they’re public or private. But on the surface, it looks different and sometimes it acts differently,” she said. “It was funny, when I came here, something would happen, or something would be created...and it would be like, ‘Oh yeah. I’ve been there.’”

Outside of her university life, Kubeja and her husband have raised four St. Bernards and have a passion for traveling. She took the time to describe some of the trips she has taken — to Africa, Europe and Antarctica. 

“We were kind of enthralled with penguins,” Kubeja said. Through their travels, she and her husband have seen 14 of the 18 species of penguins.

Traveling is still on their horizons, post-retirement, but, “My husband has no interest in anything that doesn’t have a penguin in it, so I don’t think I’ll ever get him to go back to Europe,” Kubeja said. 

The Kubejas live in Girard, “which has been a hike, whether I was going to Gannon or here.” Looking forward to not needing to commute a rather long distance in the snow each day, Kubeja and her husband are planning a trip to Florida this winter to decide whether that is the next place for them. 

Hannah McDonald can be reached at

Tags: news, judy kubeja

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