Since the mere age of 12, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus Robert Keller ’69, has dedicated his business career to J. J. Keller and Associates Inc. He first began by cleaning floors in the downtown Neenah offices, eventually climbing the corporate ladder to his current post as chairman of the foundation.
The UW Oshkosh College of Business recently named Keller its executive in residence as part of a program that integrates a regional senior executive into the life of the college to help current students gain an understanding of business outside of the classroom.
A reception was held in October in the College of Business library to welcome Keller into the program. He expressed his genuine enthusiasm toward this valuable opportunity that benefits current business students.
“With 50 years of business experience and a focus on business planning, marketing and leadership development, I felt that I could help faculty and students,” Keller said. “The faculty has been very receptive and open to those from the business world.”
As the executive in residence, Keller will assist with classes and student organizations; participate in college programs, centers and initiatives; mentor students and faculty; and share professional experiences in and outside of the classroom.
“I will be a resource and do guest speaking, consultation and mentoring,” Keller added.
He believes that his positive experience at UWO as well as his expertise with leadership development, business planning and executive management will give him a strong base to help students.
Keller graduated from UWO in 1969 with a degree in economics. He received the UWO Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004.
In 1988, he became the president and chief executive officer of J. J. Keller. During his term, the firm grew from approximately $10 million to $200 million in sales revenue. The corporation is a privately held company that helps businesses with the complex and constantly evolving regulations that affect their operations; it currently employs about 1,200 associates.
“J.J. Keller is very supportive of UWO and hires many grads,” Keller said. “It has a very active intern program.”
Keller said he feels a strong connection to the UWO campus community, especially with his family’s legacy at the institution. The University renamed its football field J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium in 2005, in recognition of a $1 million gift to the Oshkosh Sports Complex from the founders of J. J. Keller and Associates Inc. In addition, both of Keller’s children are UWO graduates.
Keller said his experience at UWO helped him to succeed and obtain many of his accomplishments. He said he is thrilled to be a part of a program that leads students in the same direction.
“My motivation is to give back to the school that I graduated from and help as a resource in many ways,” Keller said. “Students need exposure to the business world in order to succeed.”