Saying Good-Bye to Those Who’ve Inspired Us

— Melissa K. Downes and Jeanne M. Slattery

Derek Dietz, Rebecca Greenman, Mark Skalski, Cayleigh Boniger, and Lizz Murr at the last Tobeco open mic

Derek Dietz, Rebecca Greenman, Mark Skalski, Cayleigh Boniger, and Lizz Murr at the last Tobeco open mic

One of the odd things about our job is that we invest deeply in the people around us — mentoring and supporting them, being mentored and supported, or both — and then they go away. Sometimes — as with the recent deaths of Toni Kelso, Randy Sabousky, and June Hetrick — these are painful partings. For the most part, however, the leave-takings are celebrations, even though we hate to say good-bye. Students who we know well and who have succeeded and grown are about to graduate, moving on to careers or graduate school. Staff members who have made our daily lives possible are retiring to appreciate grandchildren, work in their gardens, and travel more freely. We also say good-bye to faculty who have shone through their service — to our students, departments, university, and community — and those who have inspired and delighted us, who have modeled teaching practices that we envy and who have influenced our styles of teaching, even when we don’t copy them. These colleagues are leaving us in order to spend more time with their families and volunteer in their communities; focus on their quilting, reading, and writing; and enjoy the sunshine.


Graduating senior psychology students–and others soon to graduate–at the Undergraduate Research Council.

We know that, much as kings and queens who have invited fairy godmothers, we might forget some people in the following list, but this is our opportunity to celebrate and say good-bye to those people we know are leaving Clarion University:

  • The graduating class of 2015, with special call-outs to our graduating seniors in English and Psychology. (You know who you are!)
  • Faculty and coach retirees: Vicky Clark (Art), Jay Foster (Football), Greg Goodman (Education), Marité Rodriguez Haynes (Psychology), James Kole (Academic Enrichment), John Lovelace (Academic Enrichment), Brian Maguire (Education), Steven Piott (History), Linda Pritchett (Nursing), Ron Righter (Intercollegiate Athletics), Hallie Savage (Communication Sciences and Disorders), Kevin Stemmler (English), Wayne Swanger (Special Education), Gerald Thomas (Geography), and Tom Vilberg (Psychology)
  • Staff retirees: Larry Boorech (Plant Services), Dave Fagan (Facilities Planning), Debra Fleeger (Registrar), Jack Hubauer (Maintenance), Trish Karg (Education), Diana Kunselman (Psychology), Dave Parsons (Plant Services), Michael Reitz (Maintenance), Terry Schrecengost (Plant Services), Becky Silvis (ChMP), Susan Stephenson (Academic Enrichment), Scott Stewart (Mail and Receiving), and Deb Summerville (Mail and Receiving). If we missed anyone, please let us know.

Thank you: you have made the journey possible and a heck of a lot more fun. We wish you all success and happiness in your next adventures! We’ll be back next fall, investing deeply in the people around us, but missing the ones who are gone. Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 7.11.46 PM

Melissa K. Downes is an associate professor of English at Clarion University. She loves teaching.  She is interested in talking about how people teach and enjoys sharing how she teaches. She is an 18th century specialist, an Anglophile, a cat lover, and a poet. She can be contacted at

Jeanne M. Slattery is a professor of psychology at Clarion University. She is interested in thinking about what makes teaching and learning successful, and generally describes herself as a learner-centered teacher. She has written two books, Counseling diverse clients: Bringing context into therapy, an Empathic counseling: Meaning, context, ethics, and skill (with C. Park), and is writing Trauma, meaning, and spirituality: Research and clinical perspectives. She can be contacted at

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