When Roger Dell, professor emeritus of mathematics, retired in 2002 after 28 years of teaching, he did not set down his chalk forever.
Dell has returned to campus four times to teach Linfield math classes. He taught two classes this year and has noticed an ever-widening generation gap over the years.
“So much is different, like music for example,” he said. “They’ve never heard of Bo Diddley and I’ve never heard of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s hard to make contact outside of mathematics, but I just keep trying best I can.”
Dell married Beth Howard in 2004 and the two enjoy time together – they volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, attend First Baptist Church in McMinnville and work out with the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program at the Willamette Valley Medical Center. Though neither have had heart issues, they value their health and appreciate being able to exercise under the care of nurses. Travel has included trips to Florida, Texas, New Mexico and California, with a trip to Washington, D.C. on the horizon. Dell can also be found chopping wood for his wood stove.
Dell came to Linfield in 1974 after teaching at Deep Springs College and the University of California at Los Angeles, where he received his doctorate. He led classes with enthusiasm and excitement, often playing music for his students, according to Stephen Bricher ‘93, professor of math and Dell’s former student. His renaissance approach to education epitomized a liberal arts professor.
Today, Dell has taken a slower pace but still enjoys the occasional return to the classroom.
“There’s an energy when you’re around young people, an input that boosts you a little,” he said. “Linfield has always had pleasant students. I came to Linfield during a time of turmoil for college age students with the Vietnam War and draft. Even then, Linfield students were calmer and more serious.”
Linfield’s physical attributes have changed dramatically since Dell first arrived. The number of students on the McMinnville Campus has doubled from around 850 in 1974 when Linfield’s future appeared bleak.
“It was touch and go for the college,” he said. “They’d had deficit spending for the last few years before I arrived. We really clamped down, everyone took a cut in pay and we balanced the budget that first year. It’s been balanced ever since.”
Students were guided by faculty who were “kind, gentle people and good role models.” A daily 10 a.m. coffee break for the entire science division solidified their friendships and he has remained close with colleagues including Bob Jones and Elmer Fricke, until his death in 2007. “It was an enjoyable place to be every day,” he said. “Except for grading tests, I don’t have any negative memories.”
Contact Dell at firstname.lastname@example.org