Linfield retirees bid farewell

With 132 years of service between them, Ken Ericksen, Dave Hansen, Donna Routh and Barbara May have shaped countless Linfield students. Here, they share memories from the past and plans for their future retirements.

Ken Ericksen

Professor of English, at Linfield since 1965

Most memorable moment: Could this be the most horrible moment? During one of my first years of teaching, a young woman in the front row was so visibly bored with what I was saying that she turned around, looked at the clock, saw we had 20 minutes left, and said in the most pained voice I have ever heard, “Can’t we go!” I let them go immediately. Then I went home and considered suicide or at least leaving the teaching profession.

Favorite campus hangout: Years ago it was the coffee shop where many of us faculty had lunch together. For all sorts of reasons, those get togethers have disappeared so I suppose the Fred Meyer Lounge is now the favorite hangout. Many of us over the years have longed for a faculty lounge. We had a room on the second floor of Riley that was called a faculty lounge but it didn’t work out very well. We didn’t use it and we lost it.

Favorite course: I want to say all my courses, but, of course, the one that is the richest and longest running is my Shakespeare course. I have been teaching it now for four decades and it has always remained fresh–for me anyway.

Changes in students: Cultural changes as well as the electronic revolution have made changes in our students. The students who have a natural interest in and talent for reading and writing are just as good as they have ever been. Those who do not have a natural interest have been shortchanged by a society which does not emphasize the importance of writing or at least of grammar, sentence structure, spelling and punctuation. I was quite surprised and disappointed when three quarters of the way through my career when I was teaching a freshman course in the “Robinson,” half my class could not read ROBINSON CRUSOE because the sentence structure was too complex. I read it in seventh grade with no problem. Fortunately it was only half the class that couldn’t do it.

Learned from students and colleagues: There has been constant stimulation from my colleagues both within and outside the English Department. One of the great joys of Linfield is that we get to know people outside our department and receive great richness from them as well as from the colleagues within the department. This is the advantage of having a small faculty.

Students also stimulate me. This semester I am directing an honors thesis with a senior student who has written a stunning thesis on the works of Ayn Rand. I would never have paid any serious attention to Rand had it not been for this student; the riches of this study have been surprisingly great.

Will miss: I will miss greatly having a captive audience to perform in front of. Teaching for me is incredibly fulfilling and more enjoyable every year I am at it. I will also miss my colleagues. Social and intellectual relationships with them have been invaluable.

Won’t miss: I won’t miss grading papers — this is the hard work of teaching. Actually I probably will miss this — I have a love/hate relationship with grading. Also I won’t miss faculty political battles, particularly those which go over the same issues we have dealt with over and over in the past. On the other hand, maybe I will miss this. I have grown over the years to sort of enjoy faculty politics. I like the theatre of it.

Biggest surprise: When I was on a dean search committee, the Linfield Women’s Caucus blackballed my favorite candidate because they said he was sexist. I was absolutely flabbergasted by this. I suppose things worked out for the best, but this candidate still ranks in my mind as the most exciting person I have ever interviewed.

Best thing about Linfield: The freedom to teach a variety of courses and to choose the courses that I want to teach. This has been very true of working in the English Department. Also Linfield’s January Term travel program has been an unmitigated delight as have been the summer trips with alumni to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Retirement plans: Much travel and I do not know what else. I hope that I will be able to maintain some kind of touch with Linfield and its people but that I will not seem embarrassingly needy of this.

Dave Hansen

Dean of students, at Linfield since 1969

Most memorable moment: As dean, I have had a long relationship with a regional professional association for student affairs practitioners. They invited me to make a presentation at the conference. It was a ruse to get me there for a ‘Dave Hansen” salute night. I am seldom surprised, but was then.

Favorite campus hangout: The bench on the plaza outside Riley Student Center that allows one to watch the campus over a rhododendron bush.

Favorite course: I love introducing students to economics in Principles; I love the debates we can generate in intermediate macro theory; and enjoyed taking students to Japan in Japanese Management techniques. It is impossible to identify a single favorite.

Changes in students: Changes?

Learned from students and colleagues: There are very few “bad” young people. But even the best ones sometimes make unfortunate decisions.

Will miss: I will miss having to get up early in the morning and will miss being called in the middle of the night. But I won’t “miss” either of them.

Won’t  miss: Lots of meetings.

Biggest surprise: I am stunned how many people say that I had some positive influence on them.

Best thing about Linfield: The people. The commitment to student development. The community spirit.

Retirement plans: I am in a transition year in which my role will change. I will still be here next year in a part time role. My family hasn’t told me what my retirement plans are yet.

Donna Routh

Associate professor of nursing, at Linfield since 1985

Most memorable moments: Some of the most enjoyable and satisfying times occur when I am in the clinical area, and see our very competent graduates mentoring today’s students.

Favorite campus hangout: The coffee shops on 23rd Ave.

Favorite course: Electives I developed or co-developed: Adult Critical Care Nursing and Clinical Ethics.

Changes in students: We have much more of a mixture of students than when I began at Linfield — many second degree students, wide variety of backgrounds, ages and interests. Makes teaching more challenging and more fun.

Learned from students and colleagues: Where to start! I constantly learn, from students and faculty and clinical colleagues.

Will miss: Friendships, collegial relationships with other faculty members, interactions with students.

Won’t miss: Meetings

Best thing about Linfield: The relationships I have formed, and the ability to do a variety of things and still remain engaged as a nursing professional.

Retirement plans: More time with family, especially my granddaughter. Some traveling. Will continue as nursing’s representative to the Oregon State POLST task force, and on the Oregon Nurse’s Assn. Task force on Ethics and Human Rights. We plan to move closer to other family members.

Barbara May

Professor of nursing, at Linfield since 1989

Most memorable moment: The honor of receiving the Samuel H. Graff Award, and the opportunity to be a co-investigator on the HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant, which over the six years since its start, has brought our campus diversity to a critical mass — I just love it when I review the annual evaluations and see comments from student respondents like, “…when I walk across campus I see people here that look like me…” Further, the ongoing work I did with students will always stand out for me as memorable moments.

Favorite course: Family violence, an elective I developed to better prepare future nurses for the complex dynamics they will encounter when working with families.

Changes in students: When I first started in my faculty position at Linfield, the students were primarily traditional college-age students and our nursing program was four years in length. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with students over a longer period. However, in order to meet the market shifts and the nursing shortage, the nursing program transitioned to a more accelerated program. This attracted second degree and older-than-average students into the nursing profession. I was concerned that they would be missing “the full Linfield experience” but my concerns were laid to rest when I came to know these new cohorts and how they enriched the campus life. While they were here a shorter period of time, they fully immersed in the experience taking advantage of all Linfield has to offer including becoming campus and national organization leaders and bringing membership in these organizations to all time highs. I am very proud of the nursing students we graduate and I continue to receive unsolicited comments from our metro area work settings that Linfield nursing grads are well prepared.

Learned from students and colleagues: I’ve learned the value of collaboration and teamwork by the entire campus community in contributing to a successful nursing program. The relationships I’ve built over the years are priceless to me and I will always treasure them.

Will miss: Daily connections with students as I’m out and about on the Portland Campus. Sometimes the informal visits with them in the hallways and walkways are the most lasting and meaningful moments.

Won’t miss: All the committee work, meetings and course coordinator administrative responsibilities!

Biggest surprise: As the time draws nearer to my retirement, I am surprised by the bittersweet feelings I have in leaving Linfield as a full-time faculty member.

Best thing about Linfield: The commitment to the students and the student learning process.

Retirement plans: Becoming a pianist. It has been a lifelong goal of mine and until now I have not had the time I felt I would need to do it justice. I just invested in a baby grand piano and I am looking for piano teachers now- suggestions anybody?!