April 20, 2018

VSU Honors Retired Faculty and Staff

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University recently honored faculty and staff who have retired or will retire during the 2017-2018 academic year.
During the annual Retired Faculty and Staff Luncheon, held on April 10, the Council on Staff Affairs and VSU Retirees Association paid tribute to 38 retiring faculty and staff members representing a combined 801 years of service to the university. The luncheon also provided an opportunity for employees who retired in past years to enjoy a visit to the campus.

“It is important to recognize these people for their time of service to our institution,” said Dr. David Boyd, professor emeritus of mathematics and computer science and vice chairman of the VSU Retiree Association. “Each has played an important part in the success of VSU.”

VSU President Richard A. Carvajal said the luncheon is one of many events that “allows us to recognize members of the VSU family for their hard work, dedication, and positive attitudes. Together, they have set a high standard for serving our students. I offer my sincere congratulations to our 2017-18 retirees and encourage them to remain connected and involved with VSU during retirement.” 

Listed are the 2017-18 retirees, a few of whom took the opportunity to share a favorite memory from their time at VSU:

  • Patricia Adams, Dining Services associate, 39 years
  • Philip Allen, vice president for external affairs, 21 years
  • Willie Bacon, senior bus operator, 30 years
  • Cecilia Barnbaum, professor of astronomy, 20 years
  • Whit Chappell, development officer, 17 years

“I was the Commandant of Cadets for the ROTC Unit here at VSU from 1996 to 2000. To commission those young men and women and see them mature over the four years was pretty special. But then after I retired from the Air Force, I was hired back to the athletics department as the director of development for athletics. Again to see those student athletes walk across that stage to receive their diploma was a proud moment. It was all about helping our student athletes and watching them grow.”

  • David Collins, electrician, 24 years
  • Joan Dear, administrative secretary, 33 years
  • Rex DeVane, director of New Media Center, 29 years
  • Marilyn Dyke, lecturer of English, 14 years
  • Iris Ellis, associate professor of adult and career education, 18 years

“Most mornings when I've parked my car, and I'm walking across the little bridge from the Oak Street Parking Lot to the Dewar College of Education and Human Services, I am reminded how blessed I am to have a career that I love — a career in which I believe I am helping people from different backgrounds reach their educational goals.  Teaching at VSU has given me a place where I can have daily victories and work with other people to help them experience theirs.”

  • Frank Flaherty, professor of physics, 33 years
  • Joella Gaiss, accounting associate, 19 years
  • Nicole Gibson, professor of educational leadership, 16 years
  • Julie Halter, assistant director for Continuing Education, 18 years
  • DeLois Hargett, student services professional, 26 years
  • Sharon Huffman, admissions specialist, 15 years
  • Linnie Kinard, programmer analyst associate, 17 years

“My favorite memory is ‘Staff Appreciation’ day here at VSU. This day was once a year and lasted most of the day. There were fun games (cake walk, apple dunking, etc.), vendors from all over town, drawings for prizes, live music, etc.”

  • Kathleen Lowney, professor of sociology, 31 years

"There are several favorite memories. One is seeing a student “get it” — some concept he or she has been struggling with, and then, suddenly, there’s that wonderful moment when he or she’s hard work pays off and they understand. As a professor, I live for those moments!
“There’s also the flash dance that Eric Nielsen (retired faculty in Dance), his Jazz III class, and my supersection Intro Soc did as a flash mob as a way to test over 100 hypotheses my students created. It didn’t go exactly as planned, but the campus loved it and my class made lemonade out of lemons! Here’s one video of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7wphBsuWqE

“Then there’s starting the VSU Cares micro grant program with my husband (also retiring), Dr. Frank Flaherty, for students who need just a bit of money in order to be retained and succeed but who have run out of financial aid. We hope the campus community keeps on contributing to this fund so that it can continue to help students into the foreseeable future.”

  • Ellice Martin, professor of middle, secondary, reading, and deaf education, 16 years
  • Susan Miller, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders, 10 years
  • Denise Montgomery, director of Interlibrary Loan and associate professor of library science, 34 years

“My favorite memory is how little time and no red tape it took to get hired in an instructor position as a librarian. I submitted my application on June 19, 1984, was contacted on June 30 about coming in for an interview on July 12, 1984, and was offered the job the same day. I started work on July 30, 1984.”

  • Helen Morgan, legal research assistant, 17 years

“My favorite memory from my time at VSU was my first day of hire!”

  • James Muzzey, assistant director of Plant Operations, 20 years
  • James Nelson, warehouse and receiving manager, 24 years
  • Connie Richards, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of English, 10 years
  • Larry Rivers, professor of history, 3 years
  • Kathy Rogers, administrative secretary for Environmental and Occupational Safety, 20 years
  • Matthew Rudisail, public safety sergeant, 12 years
  • Deborah Sharpe, university payroll assistant, 21 years
  • Trisha Taylor, administrative secretary for Student Life, 22 years

“My absolute favorite memory involves Wednesday nights and waxed floors (and socks!). In the old Union, the student radio station (V91) and the campus newspaper (The Spectator) were housed on the top floor — on the other end of a really long hallway from the Student Activities Office. The station was 24 hour, so DJs were always around, but Wednesdays were ‘paper days,’ so the reporters and editors were there, too. Occasionally, paper day occurred the day after our night custodian waxed and buffed the terrazzo floors, making them super shiny - and for socked feet, the floor was like Teflon. With a short running start, you could slide from one end of that 100-foot hallway to the other, which we did, whooping and hollering the whole way. Marvelous fun! Working in Student Life, my interactions with students, parents, faculty, and fellow staff were 98 percent positive and uplifting. I absolutely loved every minute of my 22 years, five months and five days.”

  • Gayle Taylor, assistant professor of nursing, 12 years
  • Robert Tindall, associate director of Plant Operations, 32 years
  • Calvin Walker, director of African-American studies and associate professor, 33 years

“I have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful people, such as the people in Developmental Studies, in Freshman Year Experience, and African-American Studies. While there are many, I will name two — Dr. Shirley Hardin and Mr. Derrick Carter. I want to thank all of the people who have helped the 33 years go by so fast. Sometimes it seems as if I just got here. The second favorite memory is the students that I have encountered during my career. It is truly magic when you witness a student actually get it. There is something cathartic about the classroom. Even if I did not feel good, all of that went away when I arrived in the classroom and started interacting with the students. I learned as much from my students as I tried to teach them.”

  • Rosezella Ward, associate director of Human Resources, 21 years
  • Barbara Warren, lecturer of English, 10 years
  • Teresa Williams, associate to the dean of the Graduate School, 26 years
  • David Williams, professor of history, 19 years
  • Lynn Wood, professor of chemistry, 30 years

“I have lots of memories — the ‘best’ is a hard question. I suppose it would be the midnight celebration for Valdosta State College becoming VSU. I and several other runners (and VSC cross-country runners) ran the torch through the ‘front gate’ (i.e. the arch on Patterson) by the fountain and started the ceremony by lighting the flame/fire in front of West Hall.”

The new retirees were automatically inducted into the VSU Retirees Association.
The VSU Retirees Association strives to help faculty and staff maintain their connection to the university throughout retirement by providing opportunities for them to remain involved in campus life and to serve as a resource to current faculty, staff, and students, as well as alumni.
The VSU Retirees Association’s home on campus, the Retiree Center, is located in University Center Room 4122.
On the Web: