Jane Van Dyk got a jump-start on her retirement by beginning some things she wants to continue in her new life.
In June, Van Dyk, 70, will retire from her job as associate vice president and Services for Academic Success director after 23 years at Rocky Mountain College.
The Butte native got her bachelor’s degree at the University of Montana and then worked for the CIA for three years. Although she had wanted to join the agency’s junior officer training program, that path, at least right out of college, was closed to her because she was a woman.
She worked as a clerk-typist in Washington D.C. and Berlin, where she met her husband Tom Van Dyk, a West Point graduate serving in the U.S. Army.
She would go on to complete a doctorate degree in higher education administration at the University of Wisconsin.
Fresh out of her doctoral program, she became director of the institutional research office at Eastern Montana College, now Montana State University Billings.
She came to Rocky in 1990.
SAS is a federally funded TRIO program helping low-income students with disabilities and students who are the first in their families to attend college.
About 250 students – a quarter of all Rocky students – benefit from SAS.
Students may receive tutoring; academic and career counseling; scholarships; stipends for faculty-led trips; and cultural enrichment such as tickets to local events.
Van Dyk is proud that the SAS program helped hundreds of students reach their dream of a college education.
“Without this program, some might not have made it,” she said.
While director, she brought in $6 million in federal and foundation grants and individual donations.
Although she has some regrets leaving a job she enjoys, she’s looking forward to the next chapter in her life.
“I’m not a stay-at-home person,” she said.
Continuing a lifelong passion for music is among the things she wants to do.
A pianist, she also plays the French horn with the Billings Community Band.
A few years ago she appeared on stage in a non-singing role in Rimrock Opera’s “La Boheme.” She had so much fun she wondered what it would be like to sing.
A little over a year ago, she began taking voice lessons from MSU Billings assistant professor Doug Nagel, who “teased out a passing voice,” Van Dyk said.
She now has sung in the chorus of two Rimrock operas, “The Crucible” and “Aida,” and wants to do more.
Trips to visit her two grown sons and two grandsons also are on her to-do list.
She would consider returning to Rocky on a short-term contract to write grants.
“We’ll see what happens,” she said.