From the Director - May 2014

formatted headshot for T4 180x180
Dr. Ann Johnson
Director, Faculty Development

It is proving to be a bittersweet end-of-year as we celebrate and bid farewell to 22 faculty colleagues who are retiring this year. Several of them are close friends and have been significant mentors to me over the years and it’s hard to imagine UST without them. As I talk with them and read over their recollections (17 are from the College of Arts and Sciences and featured in the latest CAS Spotlight magazine), I’m struck by how the profession has changed over the years, and what has remained constant.

We used to rely on the “banking” model of teaching, with the instructor lecturing and the student taking notes, as Sue Smith-Cunnien recollects, but now we’re more likely to use active learning strategies “to get students actively engaged with the material at hand.” Several retiring faculty members agreed that students haven’t really changed over the years – they are still “curious and excited to learn,” in Tim Scully’s words. What’s new is that they bring enhanced technology skills while also facing the distractions of social media and those ubiquitous cell phones.

Several faculty noted with gratitude the opportunities for professional growth St. Thomas provides. Through grants, travel opportunities, and faculty development programs, “St. Thomas invests in its faculty to foster their success,” as Bob Werner put it. Some faculty highlighted the opportunity to develop study-abroad courses; for Smith-Cunnien and others, these were “truly transformative” experiences.

These 22 have truly transformed UST, their students, and their colleagues. The last few weeks of the semester create the chance for all of us to express our thanks and good wishes: You will be missed, and we hope you stay in touch so that we can hear of your new adventures (see below for a list of ways retired faculty can stay engaged at UST). Many of my own hopes for our retiring group are encapsulated in a poem by Irish poet and author John O’Donohue, "For Retirement.” For all your “great and quiet achievements,” we are grateful.

How to stay engaged at UST during retirement

Do you look forward to continuing your relationships and connections at UST during retirement? Some faculty opt to teach part time in their departments but there are other ways to stay engaged. Consider these possibilities:

Faculty Development Mentoring for Success Program: Retired faculty make great mentors for junior or mid-career colleagues. The Mentoring for Success program welcomes your participation. Gain more information from the Faculty Development web site and contact Buffy Smith or Ann Johnson for more information.

Monthly lunch meetings sponsored by the office of Constituent Relations: Liz Pojar in the Office of Constituent Relations hosts a monthly lunch – every 3rd Tuesday of the month at 11:30 in the View. You’ll be receiving postcards to let you know more details.

The Selim Center for Learning in Later Years sponsors a variety of events and lectures.

Volunteering with Loaves and Fishes group: Join a group of UST faculty and staff who host dinner at a homeless shelter once a month. Contact Pat Sirek for more information ( or 962-6027).

Get to know an international student through the Friendship Family Program sponsored by the International Student Services office: This is a great way to continue supporting UST students. Learn about the program.

Advising students or mentoring adjuncts or junior faculty in your department: Why hide the wealth of knowledge you possess? Talk with your chair about options for mentoring department adjuncts or junior faculty, or continuing your student advising activities. 

Retiring minds want to know: What’s the key to a smooth retirement? Tend to your psychological portfolio as much as your financial one, researchers say. Read more about this topic at the APA Monitor. 

Blessing: For Retirement

Book cover from the book To Bless The Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O'Donohue
"Blessing: For Retirement" from TO BLESS THE SPACE BETWEEN US: A BOOK OF BLESSINGS by John O'Donohue, copyright (c) 2008 by John O'Donohue. Used by permission of Doubleday, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

This is where your life has arrived,

After all the years of effort and toil;

Look back with graciousness and thanks

On all your great and quiet achievements.


You stand on the shore of new invitation

To open your life to what is left undone;

Let your heart enjoy a different rhythm

When drawn to the wonder of other horizons.


Have the courage for a new approach to time;

Allow it to slow until you find freedom

To draw alongside the mystery you hold

And befriend your own beauty of soul.


Now is the time to enjoy your heart's desire,

To live the dreams you've waited for,

To awaken the depths beyond your work

And enter into your infinite source.

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