The University of Chicago

School of Social Service Administration Magazine

Associate Dean Keith Madderom Bows Out

For nearly as long as the University of Chicago has been open, members of retiring SSA Associate Dean Keith Madderom’s family have been members of its staff.

Keith Madderom at his retirement party

His grandfather, Carl Johnsen, started working for the University in 1906 shortly after immigrating from Norway and retired after 45 years of service, largely with buildings and grounds. Madderom’s aunt Helen Johnsen retired from the University bookstore in 1976 after 45 years of service.

When Madderom retired at the end of December, he had also completed 45 years of University service, much of it at SSA, where he has helped on the day to day fiscal and physical details attendant to its expansion.

“Keith Madderom he is a paragon of loyalty and commitment and I am deeply grateful for his selfless contributions to the School and the University. It was my great privilege as dean to work with him for 16 of those 45 years,” says Jeanne Marsh, the George Herbert Jones Distinguished Service Professor at SSA.

“It has been a wonderful place to work, most of all because of the people.,” Madderom says. “I enjoy working with my colleagues across campus, other associate deans of administration and the faculty and staff at SSA.”

Madderom was born in Woodlawn Hospital and graduated from Bowen High School. After graduating with a BA in economics from North Central College in 1969, he came to the University to work at the former Industrial Relations Center, affiliated with the Graduate School of Business. In the meantime, he took evening classes at Loyola University of Chicago, where he received his MBA in 1974. In 1982, he came to SSA as business manager and in 1986, he was named Associate Dean for Administration.

“We’ve really grown since that time, largely because of the expansion of research by our faculty,” says Madderom, who has helped administer the work of the expansion. The school’s budget has nearly tripled since 1996, for instance, to $30 million. During his time, he has also overseen the preservation of the integrity of SSA’s iconic Ludwig Mies van der Rohe building, which was opened in 1965.

“One of my biggest projects came in 2008 when we had to install new windows,” recalls Madderom. Those windows had to meet the specifications set by Mies and could not be of a double pane design, for instance. Additionally, when the SSA building was repainted that year, the color had to be within the prescribed Miesian palate. “I never knew there were so many shades of black, but we got the right one,” he says.

During his time as associate dean, Madderom has come to appreciate the way the Meis building reflects the ideas of SSA. “We are right on the street, right on a street corner, where we’re easily accessible,” he says. “We host community groups and events and being part of the larger community is what SSA is about.” — William Harms