Mary Baldwin University celebrated the retirements of several faculty and staff members May 19 during a special reception in Hunt Dining Hall. Together, they comprise nearly 200 years of service to the college.
When Bill Betlej stepped onto the Mary Baldwin Campus in 1986, he arrived as a vendor, hired to help with the Mary Baldwin television and radio studio as the communication department was revitalizing the major. He had previously worked as a professional broadcaster and would soon join Mary Baldwin as an adjunct professor teaching Audio Programming. That led to full-time work in the communications department, then the computer center, and eventually the Office of Information Technology, where, as director of operations, Betlej designed and built the college’s first computer network, which still serves us today. Retired since March, Betlej said he treasures the time spent in the classroom, working with young women and seeing them “getting it, becoming more creative.” “I learned so many things from so many professionals, especially the women. I am an unabashed advocate of single-gender education.”
Jim Harrington intends on playing more music in retirement. The professor of education already performs for two local bands, Rhythm Road and WheelHouse, and has an active history in the local arts scene. Harrington is also a member of Staunton City Council and has been since 2010. His work within the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs and College of Education will leave Harrington with a satisfaction of having accomplished important work — work that has changed the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands of students over the years. “Reflecting on this is a source of much satisfaction for me as I enter retirement,” Harrington said. “I wish much success to those who will be carrying the work of the institution forward.”
What will Marlena Hobson miss most about Mary Baldwin after 30 years? The students. “They have taught me a great deal,” said the associate professor of art history. Some of her favorite memories include the time her students put on a DADA performance at the Pampered Palate restaurant on Beverley Street, and the May Term mural work with Mary Baldwin students, community participants, and Artist-in-Residence Claudia Bernardi and the School of Art of Perquin. In retirement, Hobson plans to research, write, travel, and canoe.
This year marks the second time Sara Nair James has left Mary Baldwin University. The first was on the occasion of her commencement from the institution in 1969. She returned in 1991 as an assistant professor, eventually achieving the title professor of art history. The college will lose James as faculty marshal at commencement and will miss her role on various committees formed in support of student and institutional support. “My favorite bonus from teaching, which I have loved, is organizing and leading study abroad adventures with Mary Baldwin art history students,” she said, adding that she has accepted a part-time position with the Smithsonian as an educational resource “expert” on their prestigious Smithsonian Journeys — something that she will enjoy in retirement in addition to writing, research, gardening, travel, and spending more time with her children and grandchildren.
Professor of Economics Judy Klein has long been fascinated how economics relates to timekeeping and seasonal changes, and the most spectacular physical legacy of her teaching is a large vertical sundial on the south-facing wall of the college’s library. In retirement, Klein wants to finish a book she’s been working on past couple of years, Protocols of War and the Mathematical Invasion of Policy Space 1940–1975 and also hopes to see her children who live in Austin and San Francisco.
While he will have many fond memories of Mary Baldwin in his retirement, associate professor of business Bob Klonoski will likely never forget one that stands out among others: when his advisee — Virginia Hepler, at the age of 90 — got up from her wheelchair at Commencement and walked over to receive her diploma. “I will miss working with my colleagues in the business department. A nicer crew cannot possibly be found,” he said. In retirement, Klonoski, who also spends time volunteering with various local organizations, looks forward to traveling.
May Term trips with colleagues and students, particularly to Japan and New Zealand, gave Professor of Education Jim McCrory some of the best memories in 31 years at Mary Baldwin. He will miss the frequent and satisfying contact with students, faculty, and staff, but looks forward in retirement “to visit and be visited by my wife’s and my children and six grandchildren.”
In retirement Associate Professor of Economics Jane Pietrowski plans to do a bit more reading, gardening, and “taking care of the home front,” taking with her 30-years of memories from Mary Baldwin. Working with the business office (where she once served as vice president of business and finance), physical plant, and food service staff and seeing their dedication to students and to the college are special memories she will take with her.
From business office to the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs to support services Manager of Support Services Wanda Thayer spent 38 years working in different capacities at Mary Baldwin. She said she will miss her Mary Baldwin friends, “but will always cherish the memories and feelings of being part of a really big family.” She looks forward to spending more time with her family and performing church work in retirement.
Also retiring in 2015–16 is Jan Galvin from the registrar’s office and Drema Hernandez from Baldwin Online and Adult Programs.