April 12, 2016
16-115

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Whitney N. Yarber, Communications Specialist

VSU Honors 2015-2016 Retirees

Valdosta State University recently recognized faculty and staff who have or will retire during the 2015-2016 academic year. The annual Retired Faculty and Staff Luncheon was sponsored by the Council on Staff Affairs and VSU Retirees Association (VSURA) and paid tribute to 35 faculty and staff members with a combined 692 years of service to the university.

VALDOSTA – Valdosta State University recently recognized faculty and staff who have or will retire during the 2015-2016 academic year.

The annual Retired Faculty and Staff Luncheon was sponsored by the Council on Staff Affairs and VSU Retirees Association (VSURA) and paid tribute to 35 faculty and staff members with a combined 692 years of service to the university.

“The whole mission of the Council on Staff Affairs (COSA) is to advocate for the staff and employees on the VSU campus through increased social recognition, employee development, and open forums,” said Keith Warburg, COSA chairman and associate director of Creative Services. “We seek to engage with every member of the university community while they are employees, and we continue to foster and support those relationships with each of the retirees after their retirement from the university.”

“COSA and VSURA are committed to co-hosting this annual event because, among other reasons, we are truly grateful for the contributions each of these individuals have made while here and we want them to know that they are appreciated,” said Dr. Fred Ware, chairman of the VSU Retirees Association and professor emeritus of management.

During the luncheon, the new retirees were automatically inducted into the VSU Retirees Association. This group meets monthly during the academic year and 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.  

“We were pleased to see such a great turnout at the luncheon and think it is indicative of the wonderfully active community of retirees from our institution,” said Michael Holt, vice president and president-elect of the VSU Faculty Senate, as well as reference librarian and assistant professor in Odum Library. “Seeing such an amazing group of people who have laid the foundations of a strong tradition of excellent teaching and shared governance at this university is inspiring to us, as are their continued contributions to our community.”

Current Retirees as of April 1, 2016, a few of whom took the opportunity to share a favorite memory from their time at VSU

  • Sarah Bartholomew, associate professor in the Department of Political Science, 22 years
  • David Bechler, professor emeritus in the Department of Biology, 20 years

“Joining the Department of Biology at Valdosta State University allowed me to expand my research programs significantly.Work on the fishes of Georgia is underrepresented in South Georgia. As such, I was able to develop research programs looking at fish assemblages from the Aucilla River in Thomasville to the western edge of the Okefenokee Swamp and the Suwanee River basin.

“Moving to Valdosta State University also allowed me to work with Dr. John Elder, professor, and Dr. Brian Ring, associate professor, both in the Department of Biology, and develop a colony of the unusual mangrove killifish, the world’s only self-fertilizing hermaphroditic vertebrate. Through our efforts, Valdosta State University has now developed one of the largest colonies in the world and has worked with some of the leading researchers from around the world on various research projects.

“Another great benefit of moving to Valdosta State University was the opportunity to bring in enthusiastic undergraduates and graduate students equally interested in becoming involved in such projects.

“Finally, Valdosta was an excellent place for my daughter and son to attend middle school and high school. They both did well in the Valdosta City School System, gained HOPE Scholarships, and eventually went on to complete advanced graduate degrees and locate excellent jobs.”

  • Adolphus Butler, landscape and grounds supervisor for the Grounds Department, 32 years
  • Josie Butler, bus driver for the Department of Parking and Transportation, 20 years
  • Michael Griffin, head of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, 28 years

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my 28 years at VSU and, specifically, having the opportunity to play a small part in training so many high quality teacher candidates through our programs. Further, it has been a privilege to work with so many wonderful colleagues in the department, college, and university as a whole, many of whom I now call friends.”

  • Larry Hilgert, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling, 32 years
  • George Langford, professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, 16 years

“Watching my daughter walk the stage with honors.”

  • J. David Morris, professor in the Department of Music, 30 years

“Opening night of the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra’s first season.”

  • Linda Murray, admissions specialist in the Office of Admissions, 20 years
  • Eric Nielsen, professor and coordinator of the Theatre and Dance Program, 30 years

“There are too many good memories to list. International exchanges, studies abroad with Georgia students, Peach State Summer Theatre, and performances with the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra are just a few that come to mind.”

  • James Reffel, professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling and director of the Center for Gifted Studies, 17 years
  • Betty Rowland, admissions specialist for the Graduate School, 10 years
  • Margie Thompson, university accounting assistant in the Office of Financial Services, 21 years
  • Sue Ellen Warren, assistant director in the Office of Admissions, 10 years
  • Mary S. Willis, professor in the Department of Adult and Career Education, 27 years
  • Valarie Bayman, senior secretary in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education, 10 years
  • Michael Capece, professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, 19 years
  • Alice Carter, assistant in the Office of Financial Aid, 13 years
  • Elsie Crane, payroll assistant for Housing and Residence Life, 11 years
  • Willie Carter, custodial foreman for Building Services, 25 years
  • Mary Dallman, associate professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education, 17 years
  • Ellen Friedrich, director of French Studies in France and professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, 12 years

“When I questioned that I could have no memory that stood out, the one image that came to mind was of a student traveling with me on a Spanish language and culture study abroad program. While we were in the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, other students came to tell me that the student in question was crying and that I should check on her, so of course I did. The student explained that she was just so moved, seeing the works of El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya — works she had seen for years in books — that she couldn’t help crying. That incident brought home to me the importance of what I do and did — teach Romance languages, literatures, and cultures.”

  • Mary Gooding, director of marketing, 10 years
  • Shirley Hardin, director of the African American Studies Program and professor in the Department of English, 39 years

"Meeting Dr. Maya Angelou in February 1992 changed my life. She made me understand the real significance of the fundamental truth that, 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.' In addition, she shared with me an important mantra that I wholeheartedly embrace today — 'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'"

  • Russell Mast, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, 26 years

“I do have several great memories during my 26-plus years at Valdosta State University. They include watching our students run onto the field when the football team won its first national title in 2004. I also remember the opening of the Student Recreation Center in 2002, which happened because over 5,000 students signed a petition to assess themselves a fee for this important campus facility. I also remember the front lawn being packed with students, faculty, staff, and community members for the Centennial Celebration and when Valdosta State College became Valdosta State University.”

  • David McGriff, custodian for Building Services, 18 years
  • John Miller, locksmith for the Key and Lock Shop, 30 years
  • Karen Morris, lecturer in the Department of English, 14 years
  • Patricia Raynor, administrative secretary for Housing and Residence Life, 15 years
  • Jeanne Royal, director of the Office of Internal Audit, 10 years
  • Debra Ryals, senior administrative secretary in the Office of the President, 20 years
  • Blanche Thomas, coordinator of the Copy Center in the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services, 13 years
  • Rebecca Tracey, senior administrative assistant for the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration, 16 years
  • Freda Wade, assistant in the Office of Human Resources and Employee Development, 12 years
  • Oscar Wynne, director of logistics and distribution for the Office of Finance and Administration, 27 years

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities.

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goal:

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.

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