Withem’s creativity extends beyond cooking. In 1996, he wrote, produced, and starred in “The Redemption,” directed and edited by Oscar and Emmy Award-winning film editor Carl Kress , which premiered at IU Auditorium in 2001. Withem has been an active member of the Spencer Exchange Club for nearly 40 years and is entering his tenth year on the board of directors for Spencer Main Street, Inc., for which he served as president for three years. He organized and produced VentFest, the first International Ventriloquism and Arts Festival at the Tivoli Theater in Spencer, Ind., with Tony Award-winner Jay Johnson as the feature performer.
He was also named a Hometown Hero by the Owen County Chamber of Commerce for his volunteerism and dedication to the community in 2021.
Withem earned two degrees from IU—a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the College of Arts and Sciences and an MBA in management from the Kelley School of Business—with three years of service as a Marine Lieutenant in between. He joined the IU Human Resources staff in 1989 as a job analyst and later as a technology recruiter, moving into his current position at the law school in 2009.
Q: How did you end up in your current position, and what continues to inspire you about your job?
A: The thing that drew me to the position at the Maurer School of Law was the mix of duties. What really inspires me every day are the great people who work here. This is such a positive environment because the people here continue to recruit faculty and staff with a generous and caring mindset. The people who work here are very kind—I can tell you story after story that would illustrate their great humanity. I see inspiration on every door and desk sign.
Q: What do you like most about your work?
A: My responsibilities constantly require me to move around the building and interact with so many people. When I see all those individuals who I admire and respect, I just feel better. Sometimes their needs can’t be met with the typical resources available at the school, and a trip to the woodshop after hours to fabricate a shelf or something just makes their life better. The faculty truly care about each other, the students, the staff, and they are always delighted by each other’s success and our alums. The faculty and staff are always appreciative of each other’s efforts, and it causes us to do what we can for each other.
Q: What’s something about your work at the Maurer School that you want people to know (that they probably don’t know)?
A: Part of what I need to be successful at taking care of the facilities is making other people feel appreciated for the things that they do. When the zone plumber or the electrician shows up to perform a task, I want them to know how much I appreciate their efforts to truly solve the problem. We had two mishaps this summer with flooding. The Facilities Operations team, the Building Services team, and the skilled tradespeople did a fantastic job of mitigation and restoring the facilities in the midst of their most demanding time. Their efforts were exceptional. I make certain that they know that I appreciate their best efforts in the midst of a very demanding situation. Last summer we had several technicians from facilities chasing down leaks in the roofing system for three straight days. They worked hard to eliminate every leak. I smoked them some ribs and let their supervisor know just how diligent and dedicated they were. When people know how much you really appreciate what they do, they give their best efforts.