Lessons from the Hill

 

Last June, five members of the Denison community retired from faculty and administrative positions. In addition, Perry Robinson, longtime director of admissions, left his post for life in Wisconsin closer to his family. The average time spent at the College among them all was three decades. We asked them what lessons each was taking away from the College.

“My sense is that the employees of the College feel good about being a part of Denison, because we’re a part of something important and valued. Over the years I was especially struck by two characteristics of the College. The first is that Denison students see opportunities, not barriers. They go into the world of work as achievers, acting with a sense of confidence that anything is possible. The second is that the loyalty, love, and support for the College expressed by alumni is heartfelt. And it is almost always described in terms of life-changing relationships that formed at Denison between students and between students and faculty.”
Seth Patton, vice president emeritus for finance and management

“I learned as much from my students as they learned from me. The same goes for my colleagues, a wonderful community of teachers, scholars, and professionals, with whom I was happy and proud to work. From each class, meeting, or interaction, I carried away something to ponder, something to do. Each new semester brought renewed excitement and hope; each graduation brought sweet-sad satisfaction. I learned the meaning of seasons and the gifts of each. I miss Denison, but will carry these lessons into the next season of my life.”
Susan Paun de García, professor emerita of modern languages, former associate provost

“In my early years at Denison, a student I advised throughout her matriculation drowned during senior week. Her promise was lost with her death. I learned that nothing in life is for sure. We can live only in hope.”
Dennis Read, associate professor emeritus, English

“The question is what—in a sentence or two—are some ‘lessons learned’ in my 30-year career at Denison; an impossible assignment. Instead, how about a word of advice to someone beginning a career at Denison: Prepare to be amazed. Amazed by the wonderful (and occasionally awful) things your students do and by the wonderful (and occasionally awful) things your colleagues on the faculty and in the administration do, or at any rate, suggest.”
Ross LaRoe, associate professor emeritus, economics and philosophy, politics & economics

“For years I had a framed black-and-white photo of a young Woody Hayes ’35 on my office bookshelves. It was taken when he was Denison’s head football coach and under it, I had inserted one of my favorite quotes attributed to him, “You win with people!” He was right then and he is right today. The best lesson I learned (or perhaps it was just confirmed) was to surround yourself with talented and dedicated colleagues and you will win! I was blessed and quite lucky to work with such a team of professionals in admissions. The same was true of the presidents for whom I worked, my senior staff colleagues, board members, faculty, staff, and alumni and parent volunteers.
Perry Robinson, former director of admissions

“I’ve learned to listen as carefully and thoughtfully as possible to both colleagues and students.”
Mary Tuominen, professor emerita of sociology/anthropology

Published May 2016