WILMINGTON — Representing some 270 years of service to Wilmington College, seven faculty members and two administrative staff personnel will retire at the end of the month.
• Dr. James Boland, professor of education, whose work over 32 years also included serving as director of the Peace Resource Center and coordinating ProjectTRUST, the acclaimed anti-bullying program for middle school students;
• Dr. Douglas Burks, professor of biology, who shared his passion for biology with his students for 37 years;
• Judy Harvey, assistant professor of English, who in 27 years at WC also assisted students in honing their writing skills at the Writing Center and brought dogs to campus to help relieve students’ exam week stress.
• Dr. Esmail Hejazifar, professor of physics, who over 30 years also introduced many students to astronomy via WC’s observatories;
• Dr. James McNelis III, professor of English whose specialty literature courses over 16 years featured the study of zombies and The Lord of the Rings;
• Dr. Ron Rembert, professor of religion and philosophy who, during his 28 years at WC, illuminated the ancient philosophers’ work through his dramatic portrayal of Socrates in Aristotle’s classic The Apology;
• Dr. Douglas Woodmansee, professor of biology, who over 26 years shared his interest in parasitology with students through many research opportunities.
• Retiring staff members are Leon “Bud” Lewis, men’s soccer coach for 43 years who also was a key fixture in Student Life, and Donna Barton, assistant director of financial aid who, as student loan supervisor since 1986 assisted students and families in funding their Wilmington College education.
President Jim Reynolds shared his appreciation for their work and hope that they will remain engaged with the College. “I want to express my gratitude for all you’ve done for our students and the campus community,” he said.
A number of the soon-to-be retirees addressed their fellow faculty and staff at a reception held Thursday (Dec. 7) in their honor.
“I want to express my gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had at Wilmington College,” Rembert said, while Hejazifar spoke of the “friendly atmosphere” at WC. “I feel like you’re all my family.”
McNelis noted he will teach part-time during the spring semester with his swansong being a “Last Lecture” open to the community this spring.
Burks cited two reasons for him to be able to look back on a successful and enjoyable career at the College. “Number one is the work we do with students and number two is all the great colleagues I’ve had. This is a place where we have community.”
The other Doug in biology, Woodmansee, said that, as one who grew up on a farm 20 miles south of Wilmington, he shared a desire with his graduate adviser that he wished to teach at a small, liberal arts college 20 miles from his birthplace. The adviser dismissed that notion as a pipe dream, as that’s not how academic careers transpire. “So you could say I’ve had my dream job, working with students at a place where we have the space and inclination to do both research and teaching.”
Lewis cited the many relationships he’s enjoyed over the years with students, parents, alumni and colleagues in both athletics and student life. “If someone said 43 years ago that I’d be standing here today, I would have laughed and walked away.” Lewis had 506 soccer wins, a host of championships and 32 consecutive seasons without a losing record.
Boland said working at the College gave him the opportunity to have a “life-changing experience” in visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as meet such national figures as former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
He mentioned how the previous day, in his final class, he played the James Taylor song, “Shed A Little Light,” which includes the poignant lines: Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women living on the Earth. Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood, that we are bound together in our desire to see the world become a place in which our children can grow free and strong. We are bound together by the task that stands before us and the road that lies ahead.
Boland’s class stood up and danced, and so did he.