Staff Spotlight: J. Wayne Tukes
December 18, 2012
By Stephanie Ewing (MA '12)
J. Wayne Tukes, PhD., is a multi-faceted artist who enjoys playing jazz trumpet and creating art, but as a college advisor, Tukes has spent the past three decades creating plans to help students reach their educational goals.
“I enjoy the education process inside and outside the classroom,” said Tukes. It’s very rewarding “seeing students finish, make their way in the world, and sometimes even come back.”
Tukes, who earned graduate degrees in counseling psychology from Roosevelt University and Logos Graduate School, has worked as a college advisor for Columbia College Chicago since 1979. He said his role as an advisor has changed as the college has grown.
“When I first began this journey, the college had only two buildings” and fewer than 4,000 students said Tukes. The college advising team consisted of one director and one full-time advisor—Tukes.
Now, the college educates more than 11,000 students, and Tukes is part of a staff of about 17 college advisors.
“It’s been fascinating, watching the dynamic growth of the students, the institution, and the neighborhood,” said Tukes. “Columbia grew the South Loop. At the time I started, it was a very different urban scene.”
Tukes’ roots extend deeply not only into Columbia College Chicago, but also into the city itself, especially the South side. Growing up in Bronzeville and living in Chicago during the Civil Rights movement helped shape Tukes’ path to becoming a counselor.
“The early ‘70s was a time of social upheaval that really heightened my interest in working with people,” said Tukes. Being immersed in the city’s changes deepened his desire to learn more about human nature and the way people worked together, he said.
Through the course of his studies, Tukes attended a community-education program at the University of Chicago in toney Hyde Park and also worked at the Bobby E. Wright Mental Health Center in the less affluent Garfield Park. The difference between these neighborhoods was striking, he said.
“It was really formative, meeting a lot of folks from across the city, and getting exposed to the different residences and cultures and ways of life,” said Tukes.
Though Tukes spent some time as a corporate headhunter, his love of learning and art inspired him to look for a position in higher education. Diverse, artistic Columbia College Chicago was a perfect fit for him.
Tukes advises his students that the arts can be a practical, career-oriented course of study: “The world today rewards being creative, being innovative.”
In 2009, after noticing how financial constraints were preventing his students from finishing their degrees and beginning their careers, Tukes and a small group of colleagues started the Faculty and Staff Scholarship Initiative.
Helping students make the most their education and start fulfilling careers—whether by planning a student’s course of study or organizing a scholarship fundraiser— makes, for Tukes, “not only the goal, but the journey there rewarding.”