MTSU's annual ceremony recognizing its retiring employees was a springtime celebration even more joyous than usual, perhaps because of those 57 workers' 1,205 combined years of service devoted to students and the campus community.
Instead of a staid, formal affair marked by the drone of names, the April 16 event honoring employees retiring in the 2013-14 academic year featured happy reunions with former colleagues, raucous laughter, family videos, standing ovations, thank-you presentations from students and even a "selfie" snapped with University President Sidney A. McPhee.
"This always is one of the best events of our year, because it honors the best of our family," University Provost Brad Bartel told a crowd of almost 200 current, former and retiring employees and their friends and loved ones gathered in the James Union Building for the ceremony.
"It's bittersweet, in a way, because people are leaving us, but it's also a celebration of their service to the university. … This year seems like it's even more joyous than usual, and I believe that signifies our family atmosphere here too."
McPhee noted that of the four universities where he's been employed, MTSU is the only one that celebrates its retiring employees each year.
"This is the only one that takes the time to say 'thank you,' and it's only right that we do," McPhee added. "We appreciate you, and we want the world to know it."
The president singled out a handful of retirees he called the "Hall of Famers" for their longevity of service, led by the Department of Business Communication and Entrepreneurship's Dr. Dwight Bullard with 48 years at MTSU.
"I've enjoyed it all so much," the former associate dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business smilingly told a well-wisher who stopped his table to offer congratulations.
Other "Hall of Famers" recognized were Dr. Bob Eaker of the Womack Department of Educational Leadership and a former College of Education dean, with 41 years of service to MTSU; Carolyn Verge, a Library Assistant 3 in MTSU's Instructional Media Resources Department with 38 years of service; 35-year veterans Dr. Robert Colvard of the Department of Accounting, Georgia Dennis of the University Honors College and Donna Marie Reed of the University Business Office; and Caneta S. Hankins of the Center for Historic Preservation with 34 years of service.
"While we're happy that these employees are beginning another phase of their lives, we're also a bit sad to be losing all this talent," McPhee said. "All this talent literally helped to build this university."
The complete list of MTSU retirees for the 2013-14 academic year is below.
- Mark H. Anshel, Department of Health and Human Performance;
- Ernest E. “Ernie” Austin, Department of Aerospace;
- Janice C. Benson, Office of the Senior Vice President;
- William K. “Bill” Black, James E. Walker Library;
- Peggy Jo Brandon, Phillips Bookstore;
- Dwight Bullard, Department of Business Communication and Entrepreneurship;
- Karen A. Case, College of Basic and Applied Sciences;
- James E. Chancy, Building Services;
- Bertha S. Clark, Department of Health and Human Performance;
- Robert G. Colvard, Department of Accounting;
- Carl R. Conway, University Studies;
- Terry M. Cooper, Walker Library;
- Jan G. Dayton, Department of English;
- Georgia K. Dennis, University Honors College;
- Robert E. “Bob” Eaker, Womack Department of Educational Leadership;
- S. Sue Farmer, Jones College of Business;
- Cheryl D. Floyd, Department of History (posthumous);
- Regina G. Forsythe, Walker Library;
- Ollie Garrison, Information Technology Division;
- Lewis Gray, Career Development Center;
- Caneta S. Hankins, Center for Historic Preservation;
- John Lee Harris Jr., Disabled Student Services;
- Mary J. Lavender, School of Nursing;
- Linda M. League, Nursing;
- Janice M. Leone, History;
- D. Lorne McWatters, History;
- Martha A. Millsaps, Creative and Visual Services;
- Dorothy Ann Myers, Procurement Services;
- Su Thanh Nguyen, Housing Administration;
- Karen E. Nichols, Admissions and Enrollment Services;
- Mary L. Nichols, Department of Electronic Media Communication;
- Myra K. Norman, Research Services;
- Brenda C. Parker, Department of Computer Science;
- Elizabeth Perez-Reilly, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures;
- L. Neal Pistole, Walker Library;
- Vicki L. Pitts, Phillips Bookstore;
- Donna Marie Reed, Business Office;
- James W. Reed Sr., Custodial Services;
- Lynn Rice-See, School of Music;
- James E. Rogers Jr., Housing;
- Wayne C. Rosing, Department of Biology;
- David L. Rowe, History;
- Bonnie B. Rushlow, Department of Art;
- Stephan P. “Steve” Scott, Public Safety;
- Debbie C.Simpson, Department of Elementary and Special Education;
- Robert H. Smith, Building Services;
- Robert F. Summar, Housing Administration;
- Mayo R. Taylor, Walker Library;
- Susan Turner Taylor, Jones College of Business;
- J. Douglas Timmons, Department of Economics and Finance;
- Carolyn B. Verge, Instructional Media Resources;
- Jacqueline E. “Jacqui” Wade, Department of Social Work;
- Steven L. Walker, English;
- Linda Watson, Athletics Department;
- Cathy R.Weller, Resource and Operations Management;
- Wanda Sue Williams, Financial Aid and Scholarships; and
- Rhonda J. Wimberly, Resource and Operations Management.