Longtime faculty members offer reflections on retirement

As he prepared to retire from the Grove City College faculty, Dr. Kevin S. Seybold got to thinking about something Abraham Lincoln said as he left his political hometown of  Springfield, Ill.: “Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man.”

For Seybold, until recently professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, it was 36 years. He came to campus fresh out of graduate school. “I appreciated the nonsectarian Christian atmosphere at Grove City College, the opportunity to pursue my professional interests, and the making of many lifelong friendships,” he said.

He and wife Virginia “Ginny” Seybold, who recently served as an adjunct in the College’s nursing program, are moving to be closer to their son and his family. Hearing from the psychology alumni and his colleagues as he neared his last day at work in the classroom was “the best retirement gift,” he said.

“I will miss this community, the academics, the athletic events, the plays and musicals, the guest lectures, and the other aspects of college life that make being a college professor such a wonderful job. Lincoln never made it back to Springfield alive. I trust that will not be my fate, and that I will return to Grove City many times to see students, faculty, and friends.”

Seybold is the longest-serving professor to retire this year. He is joined by five other professors with decades of service to Grove City College students.

“The collective contribution of these six retiring faculty to the College will be sorely missed,” Peter Frank, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said. “Grove City College students learned, for decades, how to be thoughtful Christian leaders in the classrooms of these outstanding educators.”

Dr. John H. Stephens, professor of Education and former department chair, joined the faculty in 1994. He said he’ll miss “the wonderful students that I had the honor of teaching for 28 years,” which included his granddaughter – one of seven Grover grandchildren – in his favorite class, Curriculum and Instruction. The class was a crucible for Education majors. “It was exciting to watch the juniors and seniors growing professionally into successful teachers,” he said.

Stephens ranks lunches at Hicks with his grandchildren when they were students among his best campus experiences but said every day in the classroom was a good one. “I never looked at my teaching at Grove City College as a job. I always woke up early in the morning looking forward to going to the College to serve the students and enjoy being part of a superb institution,” Stephens said.

Dr. Phyllis P. Genareo, until recently professor of Education and director of Special Education, joined the faculty in 1995. After precisely “26.5 years” in the classroom, she said, “every day of teaching is a joy.” Genareo was hard-pressed to choose a favorite class to teach but said Educational Psychology’s exercise in which students act up while a class member attempts to teach was a favorite experience. “Students have fun ‘misbehaving’ and they become better prepared to deal with behavior problems when they actually go out to teach,” she said.

“I am always blessed when students show that they have learned to better recognize an individual’s needs both in the classroom and in life and that, most importantly, they say they have also learned skills and have the passion to meet those needs as a teacher and as a Christian in today’s world,” Genareo said.

Dr. C. Mark Archibald, professor of Mechanical Engineering is retiring after 25 years. An expert in human powered vehicle research, he literally wrote the book on the subject in 2016. Reflecting on his time in the classroom, Archibald noted lectures he thought were successes, only to realize his students were lost, and others he thought were duds but students really responded to. “But sometimes it all clicked, and the students and I were all on the same page, little lightbulbs popping over students’ heads, and we all knew that real learning was taking place. Those days were the best.”

He said he enjoyed watching students grow, learn and mature and the collegiality of the faculty. His favorite class was Computer-Aided Manufacturing, hands-on course in which he could give each student the individual attention they needed. In retirement, he wants to become “more adept at building bicycles, beautiful and functional objects and writing good poetry.”

Dr. Blair T. Allison, who taught Control Systems and other classes for 22 years as professor of Mechanical Engineering, said his previous experience informed his teaching. “I worked in this area for years in industry prior to coming to the College. It is a fascinating area of study that covers topics like cruise control in your car and the flight control systems of aircraft. This course brings together many aspects of engineering and finds application in numerous industries, he said. 

He said it is has been a “blessing” to get to know students well but he’s looking forward to time with family, national park visits and a chance to improve his woodworking skills. His last word on retirement: “I won’t miss the grading!!!”

Associate Professor of Visual Arts Kathy J. Rhoades taught “almost all of the art courses at one time or another” over her 19 years at the College. “One of my favorite experiences, which happened every semester, was to see students who thought that they had no artistic ability be surprised by what they could produce by the end of the semester,” she said. “This was especially true in Ceramics.  Once all the work was glazed and fired students were impressed by their own work and excited to take it home and use it.”

Rhoades said meeting students from all over the world and staying in touch with them as they move forward in their lives is a career highlight. “I hope it was as good an experience for them as it was for me and I feel blessed to have had this great experience.

Another long-term instructor retiring this year is music instructor George W. Churm, who worked with generations of students in a 43-year career teaching guitar and string methods. Though part-time, his tenure was the longest in the Department of Music, Chair Jeffrey M. Tedford ’00 said, noting that it was longer than the man who hired him – and served 38 years on the faculty himself -- Dr. Edwin P. Arnold, longtime band director and chair of the Music Department.

Longtime faculty members offer reflections on retirement

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