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Retiree Reflections

8:53:17 AM CDT - Friday, September 22, 2006

Eileen Calcote, administrative specialist, registrar’s office
Although the on-campus, college-life feel drew Eileen Calcote to apply at Wichita State in 1989, it was the rewarding experience of working with great faculty and students in the registrar’s office that kept Calcote at WSU for more than 16 years. Her respect for her co-workers and her commitment to the students has made for a fulfilling career at Wichita State.

After various teaching positions around Kansas and a job working for CKG Real Estate Co., Calcote found her place at Wichita State. Knowing how much Calcote appreciated a university campus, her church friends who worked at WSU encouraged her to apply. 

“I love the college atmosphere, and I always wanted to work on a university campus,” said Calcote.
After five years as an office assistant in the registrar’s office, Calcote spent the remaining 11 years of her WSU career as an assistant to the registrar. In that position, she helped students easily transfer to WSU by creating guides, a task that she feels was her biggest accomplishment in her career.   

“I’ve always felt my job of helping students transfer easily was very important. Working with the students and the community colleges has been very rewarding,” Calcote said.

However, she doesn’t limit her experience at WSU to her pride in working with students.  She also expressed the importance of her fellow co-workers.

“I just think we’ve got an excellent registrar’s office. There’s a really great staff, including my supervisor Bill Wynne.  He’s a great leader and example for the office. It was great to work with such a professional staff,” she said.

Calcote expressed her sympathy for her former co-workers in their challenge of switching to the new Banner computer software. After watching the progress of technology in her years of striving to better serve students, she can relate to the frustrations of the new age.

“Everything I know about computers I learned at WSU. I’m actually relieved I retired just in time to avoid the new Banner system,” Calcote said with a laugh.

Between traveling with her husband, Vic, in their motor home, spending time with their two daughters and six grandchildren and keeping up with her big garden, Calcote guaranteed that she and her husband will still be seen around WSU.

“My husband and I have had season tickets to Shocker basketball for the past 10 years, and we plan to continue following them faithfully,” she assured.

W. Robert Carper, professor, chemistry
W. Robert “Bob” Carper’s nearly 40 years of research has had a recurring theme: pioneering. He was among the first researchers to work in a variety of areas from how to identify explosives, how to remove pollutants from soil, and how certain enzymes work in our bodies to his latest project involving new ionic liquid lubricants.

His research record led to another pioneering experience: being handpicked in 2000 to be part of the first group of visiting professors to Germany through the Deutsche Forschungsgeminschaft, which is similar to the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The program allowed Carper and his wife, Mary Ann, to spend the year in Germany practically expense free and provided the lifetime benefit of being able to visit for 90 days at any time in a furnished apartment provided by the RWTH University of Aachen. The 40,000-student university is the equivalent of the United States’ MIT.

Carper, who won WSU’s 1999 Excellence in Research Award, called that German program experience “once-in-a-lifetime.” The Carpers took full advantage of being able to travel easily throughout Europe during their year’s stay. “It was like getting 20 years of travel in one year,” he said. The couple returned to Aachen, a spa city on the border by the Netherlands and Belgium, last spring.

Although he’ll technically be retired, Carper’s impact on WSU chemistry students and in research will continue. This fall, he’ll teach a senior lab in physical chemistry in his field of expertise, molecular modeling using NMR spectrometry. (Spectrometers operate on the same principle as an MRI machine.) Having taught nearly every physical chemistry class at one time or another, he said this kind of lab is one he thoroughly enjoys. Carper also will continue his research on the ionic liquid lubricants for the Air Force’s Office of Scientific Research.

But he’ll also find time to play golf, a passion since his preteen years, and build model railroads. “My grandkids like that,” remarked Carper, about the latter hobby. A season ticket-holder, he also plans to continue cheering on the Shocker men’s basketball team “if my heart can hold out,” he joked, referring to some of last-season’s down-to-the-wire games.

Joyce Cavarozzi, associate professor, School of Performing Arts
Since the last day of her last theater class on the campus she’s called home for 40 years, Joyce Cavarozzi has:
-- celebrated a birthday in California with family;
-- participated in the Boston Theatre Marathon founded by former student Kate Snodgrass;
-- traveled to Ireland with Snodgrass, whose play “The Glider” was in an international festival;
-- gone on to England for her annual Stratford-upon-Avon theater tour.

“It’s been a busy and fun time,” said Cavarozzi, caught between trips but packing nonetheless for Taos, N.M., before heading to the creative arts festival at Abiquiu’s Ghost Ranch where she was to direct with Snodgrass and Hal Davis, another former student with a thriving musical theater career.

 Then she’ll head farther west for playtime with granddaughters.

Cavarozzi planned to return to Wichita at the end of August to work with Center for the Arts, directing and acting in “The Women” and then begin rehearsals for City Repertory Theatre’s production of “The Trip to Bountiful.” This is one she won’t be directing; she has the lead role.

 Continuing to work is why she doesn’t think she will miss seeing college students every day.

“I’ll miss seeing the freshmen come in and grow,” she admitted, but she feels blessed to have close ties with graduates working both locally and globally.

One of Cavarozzi’s favorite university memories is when she directed “Antigone” in 1996. She was determined to do the Greek tragedy at dawn. An enthusiastic cast called in friends and family to have at least some semblance of audience for the early-morning performance.

“We had a call for theater people at 5 a.m. in Wilner Auditorium,” she said, “and had coffee and donuts for the 20 people we expected.”

Instead, more than 200 streamed onto Wilner’s front lawn with chairs, blankets and coolers.

The surprise crowd, and watching Antigone come through the doors of Wilner out into the sun, still thrills her, as does the memory of a weekend theater festival pulled together by former director of theater Bela Kiralyfalvi with faculty from participating colleges.

“That kind of interchange, seeing each other, and each other’s work, builds such a sense of community when people are doing things together.”

Susan Cherches, director, Center for Management Development
For Susan Cherches, retirement means “new house, new life, new stuff.” She moved to the greater Phoenix area in January, while her new home was being built. She doesn’t have a lot of unpacking to do after moving into the home in June since she sold all her furnishings and housewares in an estate sale before leaving Wichita.

While she had made a number of moves in her life with her husband, Wichita’s longtime city manager Chris Cherches who died in August 2004, one place she settled into was WSU’s Clinton Hall.

“I never left WSU from the time I stepped on campus. I stayed in Clinton Hall for 17 years,” said Cherches, who came to WSU to finish her MBA degree. After she earned her degree, she stayed on as an adjunct faculty member in management. She became director of WSU’s Center for Management Development in February 1993.

“With the help of a wonderful staff,” Cherches said, “I think we took the CMD to a new level.”

Under her nearly 13-year leadership, the center grew substantially, winning two international awards for programming and promotions and becoming a model for business training programs at similar academic institutions. Besides offering public programming, the CMD conducts numerous on-site training and consultations for companies.

One factor Cherches is proud of about her tenure at the CMD is that students and faculty in the W. Frank Barton School of Business reaped the rewards of the CMD’s success. “The CMD contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars for scholarships, technology enhancements and faculty development,” she noted.

In her “new life,” Cherches intends to reap the rewards of retirement. She’s taken up golf again, a sport she last played while in junior high, and is playing bridge again, too. She’s also continuing travels to exotic, faraway places, something she and her late husband had done. Last year she visited India and Egypt, and this past August, after a jaunt through the Midwest to visit family and friends and work at a CMD conference, she was scheduled to travel to Morocco.

O. Gaylene Davis, assistant director and nurse practitioner, Student Health Services

It’s not surprising that as a health care professional in Student Health Services, Gaylene Davis enjoyed the students.

But for all of the help and insight she and her colleagues were able to provide, Davis is quick to admit that there are no magic pills to cure every ailment. She said, “The most difficult and challenging thing was helping the students understand we thought of them first. Many times they thought we had a medication to cure everything.”

 Among the things Davis appreciated were students who would come and say “thank you” for the help she was able to provide. She also said it was a joy to help young students their first time away from home.

She also appreciated the staff in Student Health Services since “we all worked as a team. I also enjoyed working with the athletic department. They appreciated the extra effort we put into keeping the athletes healthy.”

Davis found working on different committees and networking with others at WSU to be valuable in her job and for her love for Wichita State.

During her career at WSU, Davis served as president of the Central College Health Association and chair of the regional conference.

“With this position I was able to network with people all over the campus, Wichita and the regional schools in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska,” said Davis. “I also met many of the national association leaders in the American College Health Association.” During one ACHA meeting, she lobbied for health issues in Washington, D.C.

In retirement, Davis’ plans include travel, golf and spending time with her family.

Looking back on her experiences in Student Health, Davis said, “I would like to thank all my colleagues for a great 10 and a half years at WSU.”

Norma Ewing, lead cashier, University Bookstore
When daughters Kimberly and Debbie were in school, Norma Ewing was looking for something to do during the day and her sister-in-law Oleta Ewing told her about a part-time opportunity in the WSU Bookstore as a cashier. She started working just part-time, helping at “rush” times during the semester such as registration, book buyback and filling in for vacations whenever needed.

“Things have really changed since I started working there, said Ewing. Before the remodels we had basic cash registers and we had to stamp prices in the front of the textbooks with charcoal. If the textbooks did not sell, the charcoal prices were erased out of the book and sent back to the publisher.

On a credit card sale, cashiers had to leave their register to access the one telephone line to get credit card approval. I had a different appreciation for a cashiers after becoming a cashier.”

Remodels and technology upgrades were not the only things happening at the bookstore. Ewing recalls two incidents that involve a robbery and a foot chase.

The robbery occurred when the service desk was at the south end of the store. Someone came in the back door near the dock area and hit Margaret Moffit and grabbed the cash bag she was carrying. Fortunately, Moffit was not seriously injured but the thief could not have been pleased with his bounty. The stolen cash bag contained some bus passes and little cash.

Ewing was involved in a foot chase while working with Deena Ingram. The pair witnessed two young men run out of the store without paying for some books. Ewing jumped over the counter and she and Ingram ran out to the parking lot to catch the thieves. At the sidewalk near the parking lot, Ewing yelled, “Boys bring those books back.” The thieves willingly came back in and returned the books. The WSU students, were scolded, released and no charges were filed.

“I really enjoyed working with and being around the students, she said. I also appreciated the family atmosphere of the bookstore.”

Including the years she worked part time, Ewing has been working at WSU about 24 years and made many friends.  Ewing and her retired WSU Bookstore friends, Joyce Tammany, Jean Gillette, Donna Tharp, Marilee Bennett and Norma McHugh, get together once a month for dinner.

Retirement will not really slow things down for Ewing. She takes care of 7-month-old granddaughter Makenzie three days a week. The Ewings have men’s basketball season tickets and they will be rooting for the Shockers. Granddaughter Makenzie already has a Shocker jacket and Grandma is planning on getting her a cheerleader outfit.

She is taking sewing lessons to learn to use her new embroidery machine at Singer Sewing Center. Makenzie has been reaping the benefits, getting new dresses and bibs. Of course, one of the bibs says “I love Grandma.”

Gary Greenberg, professor, psychology
It was a close relationship that brought Brooklyn, N.Y., native Gary Greenberg to WSU, and it was another relationship that played a role in his departure.

In the early 1960s, a close friend and co-worker from the Social Security Administration, with whom Greenberg had gone to college at Brooklyn College, talked him into going to graduate school at the University of Wichita. Greenberg left WSU to move to Chicago with his wife, whom he met online and married five years ago.

While he’s retired from WSU, he has no intention of retiring fully from the psychology profession. “My idea of retirement is to keep doing as much as I can as a professional.”

Since moving to his wife’s hometown, he’s been giving lectures at DePaul and the University of Chicago and is an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University. He’s active in three professional psychology associations, and is working on an introductory psychology textbook with former student Ty Partridge, now a faculty member at Wayne State. Greenberg is also still advising two WSU students, one in the doctoral program and another in the honors program.

He also finds time for his lifelong hobby, collecting stamps, and is a member of the Chicago Philatelic Association.

Greenberg perhaps is best remembered at WSU for taking on tough assignments, some that even caused fellow faculty members to stop speaking to him.

He helped form the Faculty Senate when he took over as president in 1985 of the University Senate, which included faculty, administrators and staff. At the request of President Eugene Hughes, he chaired an ad-hoc committee in 1997 that made some controversial recommendations on governance and academic issues, including cutting University College, some degree programs and administrative positions, and chastised the university for relying heavily on instructors and adjuncts.

“Somebody had to do these kinds of things, and I never objected to doing the difficult or controversial things,” said Greenberg, his Brooklyn accent still evident.

He recalled often “butting heads” with administrators because of his active membership in the American Association of University Professors.

The only president he did get along with was his racquetball buddy Warren Armstrong, said Greenberg, recalling that Armstrong would unlock the Heskett Center around 6:30 a.m. three times a week so the two could play.

The two developed such a close friendship that Greenberg was among the few people Armstrong told about his decision to step down as WSU president in 1992 before publicly announcing it.

But Greenberg, who considered longtime WSU professor N.H. Pronko his mentor, also made his mark in the field of comparative psychology. He helped develop the T.C. Schneirla Conference, named for a well-known American animal behavior scientist, that was hosted by WSU for several years, he was the initial research curator for the Sedgwick County Zoo when it opened, and he authored a book “Principles of Comparative Psychology.”

Elaine Hanna, senior field engineer, Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center
Elaine Hanna has retired, sort of, from her position as senior field engineer with Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center at WSU to take a position as field consultant with MAMTC. Call it a working retirement.

Hanna’s career at WSU certainly took the scenic route. She started working for the Center for Technology Application as a quality coordinator in September 1990. But in November she was activated for Desert Storm before returning to the center in June 1991.

She transitioned to MAMTC as a field engineer, then to the regional director of the Wichita office before “retiring” in April 2006.

Hanna’s job was to consult with small and mid-sized companies to identify ways to improve their competitiveness in the global environment.

“Most of the work I personally do is work with training on leadership issues from the CEO to the line manager, and also help companies with their strategic planning issues and executive coaching,” she said.

One highlight of her career was becoming a National Malcolm Baldrige Examiner so she could bring this information back to the university. “I would like to see the university seriously look at the education criteria of the Baldrige and use criteria to guide continuous improvement for students and staff,” said Hanna.

She also enjoyed working with the College of Health Professions on its journey with the Baldrige Criteria.

“I think they are doing an excellent job of working with the criteria to make things better for the students and staff, she said. I enjoyed working with the National Institute for Aviation Research, as they are always looking into the future for business and specifically aviation.”

Acknowledging that she found it challenging to work in the midst of university politics, Hanna said, “I enjoyed the people I met and worked with during my years at WSU the most.”

Jerry Harney, technology support consultant, industrial and manufacturing engineering
Jerry Harney, like most retirees, plans to travel in his retirement years. And like many, he plans to fly to various destinations. What makes him different from the average retiree is that he will be the pilot.

Shortly before retiring, Harney purchased a small airplane, a Cessna 182. He already has flown the plane a number of times to Amarillo, Texas, to visit his children, and to Albuquerque, N.M.

Starting in 1974, Harney worked for three and half years as an instrument maker in the College of Engineering, making adaptive devices for people with cerebral palsy and helping students with engineering projects.

After being away from WSU, Harney returned in 1994 as a microcomputer support technician in industrial and manufacturing engineering. In that position he helped to keep the network running and the computers working in the College of Engineering labs.

He found working with students to be the most rewarding aspect of his job.

“We had a lot of international students, and I got to learn about different cultures and different ways of looking at things,” he said. “It was always rewarding to help them accomplish what they needed to do for their professors. On more than one occasion I would get a letter (from a former student assistant) saying they wouldn’t have gotten the job without the practical experience of working on the computers.”

Harney also appreciated the friendship of faculty Don Malzahn, Gamal Weheba and Janet Twomey.

He concluded his nearly 16 years of service at WSU in January 2006. And while he’ll spend some time flying to various destinations, he also will spend some time volunteering with Home of Hope, helping people with learning disabilities in Vinita, Okla.; volunteering with Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice; and supporting cultural organizations like Music Theater of Wichita and Chamber Music at the Barn.

Janice Holtsclaw, senior locks system specialist, Physical Plant
Several women have worked in WSU maintenance shops for three or fewer years, but Janice Holtsclaw is the only woman who has retired from the skilled trades at Physical Plant. In the early 1970s, women were just beginning to work in non-traditional jobs.

“When I started working in this trade, it was necessary to prove my sincerity and determination over and over again,” she said.

Holtsclaw began working in the locksmith trade when she was hired part time at the Sears Key Shop.

Later she worked at Holder’s Locksmith Co. in Tulsa, Okla. as an inventory clerk, but the job did not keep her busy all the time.

“I started looking over the shoulders of the other employees and asking them about their job skills. They eventually started taking my questions seriously.”

Holtsclaw also worked for Central Key and Safe in Wichita, and by the time she applied for the lock systems specialist position at WSU in 1979, she had about six years experience.

With each locksmith shop came more learning opportunities, and that trend continued at WSU with the electronic card reader system. Holtsclaw said her biggest challenge as a WSU locksmith was learning about programming, installation and repair of this new type of computer locking mechanism but she stepped up to the challenge.

Holtsclaw is service oriented and involved on campus. She was an active member of the Council of University Women for 27 years, serving as vice president for two terms. She actively participated in planning the annual CUW scholarship fund-raiser for more than 20 years. She served the Classified Senate for two terms and was the organizer and coordinator of the Physical Plant Christmas dinner for 20 years.

Holtsclaw will join her husband in retirement. She met husband Richard, a plumber and pipefitter, in 1987 and the couple married in 1993. He retired in 2002, and the Holtsclaws plan to work as a hostess/driver team for tour bus trips. She also plans to spend more time in Christian service with senior adults, international students, and preschool children.

“The freedom to work both indoors and outdoors was very appealing to me,” she said. On beautiful spring and fall days, I could always find some outside building doors that needed repairs. I also had the privilege of working in all buildings and meeting people in every department.”

Gerald “Skip” Loper Jr., associate vice president for research and director, Office of Research Administration
It was his first job in academia and, as it turned out, it was his last. Gerald “Skip” Loper concluded his 42-year career at Wichita State in mid-June. He joined the university when Wichita State became a state university in 1964.

You name it and he’s probably done it during his tenure at WSU. In addition to serving as associate vice president for research and director of research administration the last 11 years, Loper has done a little of everything, including teaching, research and administration.

“I think I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done,” said Loper. “I’ve spent most of my time as an administrator. I guess it’s pretty clear that I like to do that and feel it’s a worthy task because you get a chance to help a lot of faculty and students as well through what you do.”

Loper is proud of the growth in research grants, but he’s quick to share success with others. And there’s been success aplenty. During fiscal year 2005, WSU garnered $41.1 million in funding from external agencies. That compares to $13.4 million in FY 1995 when Loper moved into his present position. He said, “I’m extremely proud of the faculty. They’ve worked really hard to do that.”

Fred Sudermann hired Loper for his most recent position at WSU, and he put Loper’s career in perspective. “He has encouraged faculty and supported the expansion of the university’s research infrastructure, which has led to the large growth in sponsored research activity,” Sudermann said. “I am proud of Skip and his accomplishments which relate directly to WSU’s emergence as a research university.”

When asked why he’s retiring now, Loper laughed and said, “I’m getting old. I’m at a time in my life when I want to do something different.”

His plans include traveling, relaxing and cooking, the latter of which Loper said scares his wife, Joyce. In an effort to nurture his cooking interest, he and his wife attended a cooking class this summer.

When traveling, he enjoys trying different food, and Joyce said that she’s not surprised that he would like to try some new recipes.

While she isn’t afraid of his cooking, she says it will be some time before he’s ready for a prime-time appearance on the Food Network. “He could boil water when we got married,” she said. “When I got home one time, he burned the soup.”

Linda Martin, administrative specialist, Division of Continuing Education
Linda Martin’s schedule since retiring in November from her 27-year careeer at WSU has remained full, almost as full as the schedule she worked while in the Division of Continuing Education, she helped organize as many as 50 conferences a year.

“I’ve had a fairly busy calendar. I don’t know when I had time to work,” she joked recently from her Andover home.

As part of the conferences office, Martin handled registrations and helped work conferences on-site, ensuring that people knew who they were (with name badges) and where they were going (through workshop schedules). Sometimes working on-site included travel, Martin recalled, with some conferences having been held in Dallas, Kansas City and even a cruise ship in the Bahamas.

While her retirement calendar hasn’t included travel, it has included time for activities Martin thoroughly enjoys. And time for K.C., her 3-year-old West Highland white terrier who is named in honor of Martin’s favorite football team, the Kansas City Chiefs.

“He’s a doll,” said Martin, “and he just loves having me at home, and I love being with him, too.”
Martin has become more active in her church, Woodridge Christian Church, participating in regular monthly functions with various groups from the church. (She admits to being a clockwatcher during Sunday services when the Chiefs are playing on television.)

She’s also indulging in a few noncredit classes offered by her former division. Last spring,she and a friend took the class “Learning to Hit the Golf Ball.” An HGTV follower, Martin plans to take an interior design class through the division next fall. She’s already tried her hand in interior design, making her newly roofed deck into an outdoor room.

Valene “Val” Noland, administrative specialist, Central Services
When Valene Noland finished school, she began looking for her first job and got it at WSU as a secretary in the nursing department. After 32 years and various positions in various departments Noland retired from Central Services. She attributes the work environment and the people on campus for her 32 years at WSU.

Working in Central Services, Noland made sure departments had the supplies they needed by ordering regular stock items and coordinating the special orders. She worked in Central Services about 10 years and knows all areas of the department.

Some of her best memories of WSU include her friends and coworkers.

“I do miss my friends,” Noland said.

Noland will see her friends when she comes back to assist the department by covering vacationing staff or lending a hand with big projects. Friend and co-worker Beverly Klag said, “She is great to work with because she is a good team player, pitching in to help out.”

Since retiring in March, Noland says she has been keeping busy. She visits her parents in Salina regularly. She recently organized two garage sales, one for herself and one for her parents. Noland has extensive garage sale experience. Before retirement Noland and Klag would go to garage sales on Thursday and Friday over the lunch hour looking for “treasure.” Klag said Noland is an excellent bargain shopper and has a knack for turning someone else’s “trash” into treasure.

Noland’s husband, Bill, is also retired so she hopes to do some traveling. She would really like to go to Washington, D.C., and visit the Smithsonian Museums and down to Orlando, Fla. to visit her sister-in-law and Disney World.

Noland is a homebody who prefers relaxing at home with cats Miss Kitty and Miss Daisy who are like members of the family. She and her husband take pride in their yard and really like gardening. You can often find them relaxing in their own personal Garden of Eden that includes fruit trees and flowers.

Dixie Petersen, instructor/clinical supervisor, curriculum and instruction
Dixie Petersen is already moving from nurturing students to cultivating plants in her husband’s part-time business in exotic ferns.

“I haven’t been able to help him because I’ve been so busy,” said Petersen.

The Petersens sell about 150 varieties of exotic ferns locally in farmers markets and in Dallas, New Orleans and Miami.

That she has been too busy for the business is evident in her record. After 27 years of K-12 classroom experience, she came to WSU full-time in 1989 committed to helping teachers and prospective teachers. With her expertise in reading curriculum, she has become a leader in the Kansas reading community, serving on standards committees, reading councils and as a ready resource for print and broadcast media stories.

Her proudest accomplishments on campus are winning the WSU teaching award and the College of Education teaching award the same year (1995), “kind of a double pat on the back from my colleagues,” she said.

But the real high points for Petersen have always revolved around working with the students when they are working with children. She also loves dealing with issues in literature, and much of her research and publications work reflects that passion.

“I do love to tell teachers about books,” she said. “My last class (this summer) was kind of sad, but I got to tell them books to use in the fall.”

Her favorite books and authors are always changing because of what’s new and coming out, she said. The test of good literature, though, is simple.

“The reader has to relate to the characters and to the plot of story,” she said. “Age-appropriate is something that teachers really have to look at carefully. Teachers cannot go with what publishers recommend; they have to read it themselves and consider the maturity of their individual students.”

Besides the fern business, Petersen plans to enjoy grandchildren. She has one grandson starting school this fall in Denver.

“I send him a book about once a week,” she said.

Maurice Pfannestiel, associate professor, economics
While he might not be getting a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI, just getting to see the Pope with several thousand other people during his trip this summer to Italy would be the highlight of that 10-day trip, predicted Maurice Pfannestiel, just a few days before he and his wife left with a group of local Catholics to travel to Venice, Florence, the Vatican and Rome.

Enjoying such a personal highlight for Pfannestiel comes on heels of retiring from a 30-year teaching career that he enjoyed as a professional.

“I enjoyed teaching economic principles to freshmen and sophomores,” said Pfannestiel. “It was a challenge to introduce economic ideas and thinking to students who were getting their first exposure to economics.”

What made his career particularly satisfying was the comaraderie he shared with fellow economics faculty and knowing he helped prepare many of WSU’s economics graduates who went on to earn doctorates and become career economists, Pfannestiel said.

Besides relishing this trip to Italy, Pfannestiel, a Hays native, said he plans to catch up on reading history books – he particularly likes World War II histories – and biographies, such as the recent one he picked up on Joe DiMaggio. He’ll also be tuning in to catch Shocker basketball and baseball games when he can’t watch the WSU games in person.

W. Robert “Bob” Powell, assistant controller, controller’s office
Joining the Wichita State controller’s office was a big transition for Robert “Bob” Powell back in 1981.
He came to WSU after working in the controller’s office at Friends University, an upgrade from 600 to 14,000 students. However, Powell quickly adapted and began settling into a position that would suit him for the next 24 years.

“I gained a lot of experience from working with such a large organization,” Powell said about his career at WSU.

“It started out as just a job, but then it grew into something really personal. I grew to like the people and appreciate the challenge my job presented to me.”

Since the beginning of his career, Powell has believed greatly in facing challenges head-on.

“The biggest challenge our office ever faced was when we lost Jim Decker,” said Powell.
Decker, the respected controller and the man who offered Powell his job, was killed in 1997 in a tractor accident.

“We were 45 days away from closing a year, and our office had to pull together and say, ‘We’re going to make it,’” remembered Powell.

After coming together as a more cohesive team, Powell and his co-workers overcame the enormous challenge.

Powell managed various financial roles at WSU, such as supervising the athletic department’s financial expenditures and assisting The Sunflower, the student newspaper, with fiscal matters.

Powell was key in working with student government to provide money for upgrading computers for The Sunflower.

Since retiring, Powell has enjoyed completing small repair jobs around the house and spending time with his wife, Joyce. However, Powell said that he would be back in the controller’s office part-time this fall. He expressed some worry about working with the newly developed Banner system, but it’s clear that Powell will be able to roll with whatever punches life provides during his retirement.

“The biggest challenge is accepting the challenge of change,” Powell said.

Judy Sawyer, associate professor, curriculum and instruction
This summer, Judy Sawyer had a full but happy house and looks forward to more of the same now that she is retired. Her grown children were home for a long visit, along with the four grandchildren and one-to-come that they have produced between them.

“That will make five grandchildren under the age of 3,” said Sawyer of the growing family that she and her husband, who is also retiring, are planning to visit more often as they schedule travel time. Three of the grandchildren live in Idaho, so those trips will be a lot of fun, she said.

The pair won’t be totally free, however. Sawyer, a speech-language pathologist since 1969 who came to WSU in 1990 to teach, hopes to do some private practice, specifically in the area of tongue thrust, which can be a problem in speech patterns, depending on the severity, and for dental professionals.

“Believe it or not, on the general caseload most dentists estimate that about half of their patients have some sort of tongue thrust,” she said.

Her plan is to market her services directly to dentists: “We’re just going to see where it goes. I have hopes that I can work in dentists’ office, versus having the practice in my home.”

She’ll also continue her organizational work; this year she is president-elect for the Kansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association and will remain active in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She has been somewhat of a political activist in her fields of elementary education and communication sciences and disorders, serving on the Haysville school board for eight years and lobbying the Kansas Legislature for school districts and her associations on education and communication issues.

Sawyer, however, dispelled with a laugh any notion that she is related, even by marriage, to local politician Tom Sawyer, who has gained local notoriety both as a former legislator and for his highly recognizable name.

Philip Schneider, professor, English 
For 39 years, Philip Schneider “did his thing” and now it’s time to move on, he said. “His thing” was helping develop aspiring short fiction writers, like himself, who’d come to study in WSU’s creative writing program. Schneider, who started at WSU in 1967, was instrumental in the program’s growth after its founding in 1973 as one of the fewer than two dozen creative writing programs in the nation.

According to a departmental newsletter, Schneider had “a reputation among fiction students as being a close reader and careful editor with the result being that many of those story collections and novels he directed went on to be honored for their distinguished writing.”

“It was always worth it to bring him my stories, although I knew it would be a roller coaster ride,” said former student Mary Seitz about Schneider’s practice of sitting down with a student for what could be lengthy editing sessions. “I remember on one occasion he took the pages of my story and threw them around his office to impress me with his dissatisfaction.”

“A writing professor should be a close editor,” said Schneider, who modeled his practice after similar experiences he’d had as an undergraduate at the State University of New York at Oneonta and later in the MFA program at the University of Iowa. “A close editor is the person who attempts to make what is there better – not to change the style but to make what is better reveal itself.”

During his time at WSU, Schneider was also a fervent proponent of the academy and of the viewpoint that an education is more than a service. “I always thought that people became educated because they wanted to be. Now students come for a degree as an avenue for a job,” he said. “There’s an outside force that sees the university as a training facility.”

While he’s leaving behind teaching and those editing sessions, Schneider doesn’t intend to deviate much from the other things he’s done before retirement: tinkering on vehicles, building birdhouses, reading history books and articles on cutting-edge technology, interacting with the six cats at his house and his wife, Kat, who is also a writer. And, of course, writing.

Willa Shelton, senior administrative assistant, health professions dean’s office 
Willa Shelton’s early experience with WSU was as a student and working as a student assistant for now retired professor Dwight Murphey in finance, real estate and decision sciences.

Shelton came to work in WSU in 1991 after five years with the Kansas Department of Corrections where she worked as a records clerk. Her responsibility included records for inmates and parolees including transfers and furloughs.

Shelton has held various positions at WSU over the past 15 years including the School of Nursing; the department of finance, real estate and decisions sciences; National Institute for Aviation Research, a stint in academic affairs working for Peter Zoller, and the anthropology department before retiring from the College of Health Professions Dean’s Office.

“When I started working at WSU in the School of Nursing, the computers had green screens and white text. We did not have Internet and even the telephones were different. They have the cool digital phones now.”

As a WSU employee, she was very active in Classified Senate for about nine years and made several trips to Topeka to present to the legislature on agenda items such as pay scale and step increases. Since retiring in May, Shelton has been working on her “personal environment.”

“I did some dejunking by cleaning out stuff for a garage sale. I am taking the summer off and may look for a part-time job in the fall when the boys are back in school,” Shelton said.

Shelton adopted her grandsons. Jarez is 6 and Jaquez is 10. She likes to sew and will be making new curtains and bedding for her grandsons and curtains for the kitchen.

Diane Tangeman, administrative assistant, administration and finance
Even though she loved her job and work environment, four and a half years of commuting, high gas prices and a need to have her family beneath one roof was enough motivation for Diane Tangeman to take early retirement.

Diane and Dennis Tangeman have moved their residence around Kansas seven times in 30 years, living in the Wichita area twice, from Abilene to Lacrosse, Valley Center, Salina, Topeka, Wichita and back to Topeka. Dennis retired from the Kansas Highway Patrol, but later returned to work. An opportunity came up with the Kansas Turnpike Authority in the Topeka area that would put the Tangemans closer to their children and grandchildren who live in the Kansas City area.

When Diane Tangeman transferred from Topeka to Wichita 13 years ago, she was working for the Kansas Department of Human Resources. She looked for opportunities with state employers and applied at WSU. She accepted a job with the physical education department with then-department chair Susan Kovar.

“I loved the contact with students in the physical education department,” said Tangeman. “I have formed friendships with former student assistants that I supervised. We keep in contact and try to get together for lunch at least once a year.”

When an opening came up in the Office of Administration and Finance, a good friend, Judy Turner, encouraged Tangeman to apply. She applied, loved it and stayed for seven years, commuting more than half of that time back and forth to Topeka to see her family.

“I enjoyed working on the second floor (of Morrison Hall). Although we maintained a professional office, it was a fun atmosphere. (Vice President) Roger (Lowe) is such a gentleman and I enjoyed working for him.”

Tangeman is not worried about things to do in retirement. Her son Dean, her daughter Denise, and grandsons Ryan and Luke live in the Kansas City area.

“I am going to work on the house. Everything that I packed up from my house in Wichita is in the basement at my Topeka house. I will probably go through everything and have a garage sale.”

“I really enjoyed the WSU work environment,” she said. “If I did go back to work, it would be part-time. WSU is one of the best places to work. I would recommend it to anyone.”

John “Bill” Thomson, chair and professor, School of Music
Although he’s already hooked on having free time on his hands, Bill Thomson is returning to his professional roots with those same hands as a freelance pianist.

This time, though, he won’t be working in Las Vegas or scratching out a living. He plans to take life easy, enjoy home projects and grandchildren, read books he’s not required to read and take only gigs he really wants.

Thomson played piano in Vegas casinos and hotels in the early 1970s.

“The Las Vegas experience was literally the professional world of making your own living,” he said. “You can share that with students.”

A freelancer has to be ready to pick up material fast, he would tell his WSU students. For bookings before cell phones, you made sure your phone bill was paid and your answering machine had good batteries, he said.

“In those days you could walk into a casino in a hotel and have yourself paged,” said Thomson, laughing. “That was some of cheapest advertising you could get – ‘Oh, Bill Thomson, I’ve heard of him’ – because they’d page for about 10 minutes.”

Thomson brought that background when he came to teach at his alma mater in 1976. He has been happy with the opportunities he’s had at WSU, including working with talented faculty who, like him, put students first. He also is happy that the school is still well-balanced between teacher education and music performance. And he’s glad to be in Wichita, a city he grew to think of as home even during his undergraduate and graduate work at WSU in the 1960s.

One thing has made him even happier: the new emphasis placed on jazz studies in music performance.

“Of the musicians we train, most will be teachers -- and then performers,” he said. Students walk in knowing that, he said, even though most are highly interested in performing as a career. Jazz studies as ancillary training gives them so many more skills, he said.

His best classroom memories are those moments in music theory when a student would suddenly grasp a difficult lesson on harmony principles. “On a good day I’d see their eyes light up; that’s the most rewarding.”

Besides living easy and playing solo gigs, Thomson will also continue to jump at the chance to play with the Hillside Blues, the faculty jazz combo he has played with since its beginnings 15 years ago.

Marilyn Turner, associate professor, psychology
With Marilyn Turner’s retirement, it might be appropriate to offer a twist to a popular saying: “Thanks for the memory lab.”

Turner, who focused on memory and aging research, started WSU’s Cognitive Research Laboratory, commonly called the memory lab, which is housed in the department of psychology. It’s where one can take a battery of tests to measure one’s spatial, verbal, short-term and long-term memory. People ages 20 through 94 have been tested in the lab, with many returning for repeat visits, often to gain assurance that their memory hadn’t been declining.

“The most important thing was that people could compare their memory with themselves,” said Turner, whose field of expertise has done little to comfort her as she deals with her 90-year-old mother’s Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s helped me with the knowledge part of what happens, but it doesn’t help in any other way,” said Turner.

It’s been through a personal passion that she’s found a way to deal with it: music. A member of the Wichita Chorus of Sweet Adelines and one of its quartets, Turner has spent many Sunday afternoons at the Douglass nursing home, where her mother resides, playing piano and singing for her mother and other residents. “What are you going to say when you can’t carry on a conversation?”

Her involvement with the Sweet Adelines is fulfilling something she always intended to do: get back into music. The chorus has been feverishly practicing for its major show in August and an international competion in Las Vegas in October. As a member of a Sweet Adelines quartet, Turner has been singing for school events, someone’s centennial birthday party and before productions at the Kechi Playhouse.

Having grown up in Iowa, Turner said, she was glad to return to the Midwest to teach at WSU in 1987, after having earned three degrees at East Coast universities and having moved around the world because of her husband’s Navy career. She also was eager to be part of the new human factors program that was starting at WSU at that time.

The following honorees were either unavailable or their names were received too late to be interviewed:
Larry Dutton
Bobbie Harris
Theodore Hogan
Michael Long
Jo Ann Pappas
David Strange
Jone Weigand
Catherine Yeotis



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