February 15, 2012
Bill Filtz Retiring After More Than Three Decades of Service to VSU
VALDOSTA -- When Bill Filtz, 58, accepted a position with
Valdosta State College in October of 1979, Dr. Hugh C. Bailey had
just recently been named president and the fall semester’s
enrollment was reported to be just over 4,800 students. The campus
was small by today’s standards.
“I once knew virtually every faculty member on campus,” said Filtz, VSU’s director of business services. “Now, the campus is big enough that I cannot say that.”
During his more than three decades of service, Filtz has seen Valdosta State grow in unexpected ways -- from the establishment of a football team to millions of dollars in land purchases and new construction to the creation of new academic programs to a near tripling of student enrollment. Working behind the scenes, he will leave the campus on Wednesday, Feb. 29, confident that he has done his part to ensure VSU’s future.
A LOOK BACK
Filtz was born and raised in Irwin, Pa., a small town in Westmoreland County, home to some of the most extensive black coal deposits in the state. In fact, he said that it was coal that brought his mother’s family to the United States from Italy. His father’s family immigrated to America from Germany to work on the railroad.
Growing up, Filtz’s mother, Lea Marie Filtz, stayed at home and cared for him and his five sisters and one brother. His father, William Filtz, worked as a maintenance man in a steel mill.
Filtz believed that he would someday work as a carpenter, having spent a lot of time helping his father do various odd jobs around the house and working in the field as a teenager through a vocational program. The thought that he might someday work in business never crossed his mind.
In 1972, Filtz graduated from Greensburg Central Catholic High School and accepted a football scholarship to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He joked that the years of carpentry work had made him strong, and he played linebacker -- as opposed to running back in high school -- for the Hokies. His playing days were limited due to injuries; he broke his ankle as a freshman and then injured his knee during his junior year.
Filtz contemplated pursuing a degree in civil engineering while at Virginia Tech, but he said the Athletic Department’s academic advisor urged against it, saying it would be too much, that the program was too intense to attempt on top of football. Not wanting to risk failure and eager to maintain his scholarship -- grants for college attendance were very limited back then and his day started with 6 a.m. workouts and ended with late afternoon/early evening practices -- he decided to study business.
When Filtz graduated from Virginia Tech in 1976, he went to work with a defense contractor in Marion, Va. That job was followed by one with Florida Rock Industries in Jasper, Fla.
In October of 1979, Filtz joined the staff of Valdosta State as a buyer of everything from basic supplies to computers and more. He said that job is now done by many people, as individual campus departments have the power to purchase what they need when they need it.
A few years later, in the mid-1980s, Filtz was promoted to an upper level buyer position. In 1988, he was named purchasing manager. Two years later, in 1990, he was named director of business services. His office oversees Campus Mail Services, Central Warehouse Services, Printing and Copying Services, the Purchasing Office, and more.
“My goal is for no one to know I am here,” he said, describing his role at VSU as a behind-the-scenes one. “When that happens, it means everything is running well.”
A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE
When asked what he will miss most about working each day on the campus of VSU, Filtz answered, “The people. The people are great.” He said that he has truly enjoyed being part of team and doing what he can to make it easier for others get their jobs done. At the end of the day, he said that everyone on campus has the same mission and that is to prepare students for the future.
On Thursday, March 1, Filtz will switch hats when he joins the team at Whitehead Hardware Company, a division of Miller Hardware Company serving the industrial and contractor markets. He said the company is in the process of creating a website and getting into government bidding, two roles on the opposite end of the spectrum from what he has been doing.
“I am excited to help them grow,” he said.
VSU will host a reception honoring Filtz from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. today (Thursday, Feb. 16) in the University Center Magnolia Room.
A FEW FUN FACTS
• Bill Filtz met his wife of almost 38 years, Terri Filtz, during his senior year of high school. Their first real date was on New Year’s Eve. She wanted to go to the movies and see “Gone with the Wind.” He said he did not know a movie could last that long. Every New Year’s Eve, the couple celebrates by watching the same movie.
• Bill Filtz and his wife like to travel. On their 25th wedding anniversary, they decided to start visiting all their favorite must-see places. He said they did not want to wait until after retirement. They have been to Brazil, Switzerland, and Canada. Because they have family all across the country, they have seen most of the U.S., including the states of Idaho and Minnesota. He said their next overseas adventure will be to Italy. Other than that, they plan to visit Pennsylvania where both their mothers still live.
• Bill Filtz and his wife like to buy old houses and renovate them while they live in them. He said he grew up doing that sort of thing and enjoys the feeling of knowing that he accomplished something at the end of the day.
• Bill Filtz earned a Master of Business Administration in 1983 from Valdosta State.