Party celebrates 15 retirees

Cakes were just one of the edibles that lined the tables of the Great Hall Monday, May 13 during the reception to celebrate a retiring Pierce faculty and staff that collectively holds 437 years of experience.

Attendees were allowed to say their farewells not only in person but also through a personalized message with Crayola markers on the large poster boards that hung along the walls, one to represent each of the 15 retirees.

Astronomy professor Carolyn Mallory hurried over to Don Sparks’ giant memo pad to express her feelings toward a colleague she has worked with in the science department for over 10 years.

“He personifies the spirit of fearlessness and friendliness,” said Mallory. “I am just so sorry that we are going to have to do without him.”

While some of the 2013 retiring class have big plans to sleep past 8 a.m, most look forward to traveling, writing books and spending quality time with loved ones.

Faculty members like Richard Follett and Sandra Schneider agreed that sometimes it’s hard to take vacations or go anywhere since teaching consumes so much of their life, whether it’s grading papers at midnight or trying to stay true to the office hours.

“We don’t realize how much we work so a lot of times we get burned out,” said Follett, professor of English. “I just don’t want a schedule. I was 3 years old last time I didn’t have a schedule. Now I’m 65 and a half.”

Sign language professor Darlene Wittman’s spare time seemed almost non-existent since she dedicated 42 years of her life to teaching, 32 of those being spent as a full-time instructor at Pierce.

Wittman taught at colleges like California State University, Northridge and University of California, Los Angeles as a part-time employee before permanently making Pierce her home, but now she feels it’s time to explore life outside of the classroom and “move on to other things.”

“I’m an outdoors kind of person, and I spent my whole life indoors teaching or grading on a patio and having the papers fly away,” said Wittman jokingly. “This is the best place to be and I had a good run.”

Though the reception may seem bittersweet, some faculty members plan to come back as part timers in the spring of 2014 to continue with their love of spreading knowledge without the responsibilities of being a full-time teacher.

Professor of Psychology Jeffrey Cohen is retiring after 36 years just to escape the many requirements that come along with being a full-time faculty member. He just wants to teach.

“We have to do so much stuff outside of teaching that teaching has become secondary. We have to attend meetings and all sorts of stuff,” said Cohen.

With spring semester ending in a couple of weeks, the teachers were able to reminisce with each other about their careers here at Pierce and about the many students that they were fortunate enough to encounter.

“It’s the students. It will always be the students that you miss the most,” said Lyn Koller, chairperson of the Life Sciences Department.