Faculty recognition program shines light on St. Cloud State’s storied past

in News/SCSU News by

Every spring St. Cloud State University hosts a Retirement and Years of Service Recognition Program to show appreciation for faculty and staff. Those who spent more than 10 years at the university were recognized for their service, and those retiring were thanked for their many years this past Tuesday in the Atwood Ballroom.

This year the list of retirees totaled 31 names, but only if you include Stephen Frank, who will officially retire in the fall after 38 years at SCSU teaching political science, as well as starting and organizing the nationally recognized SCSU Spring Survey.

“What I’ll remember most is previous students of mine coming to my retirement party to thank me, as well as the many colleagues who have been contacting me to share memories,” said Frank.

His words were echoed by many of the other attendees, including Teresa Weihs, who helped organize the ceremony for her fourth consecutive year. Weihs is a training and development specialist at SCSU and feels the event is about making sure people feel appreciated for their work.

“The biggest challenge is making sure we are recognizing people and making them feel appreciated. We always receive positive feedback afterwards and try to improve this program from that feedback,” said Weihs.

The ceremony, which began with coffee and desserts, stayed lighthearted throughout. This was largely due to Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Ashish K. Vaidya. Dr. Vaidya began by commenting on the front-row tables, all of which were empty and reflected the classrooms many of the professors being honored teach in.

Dr. Vaidya also talked about previous milestones and changes that have occurred at the university over the last 50 years, which marked the longest service time being honored on Tuesday of psychology professor Gerald Mertens.

The most notable visitors to the school include musical legend Louis Armstrong the year Mertens was hired and Rose Parks in 1981 to speak to students and staff. Herb Brooks, head coach of the 1980 gold medal winning U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey team, was hired to coach the Huskies hockey team 30 years ago, and ten years prior to that hiring the university officially changed its name from St. Cloud State College to St. Cloud State University.

Along with the many noteworthy visitors SCSU has hosted over the years, the university has also seen structural changes including the construction of Holes Hall in 1965, a residential hall on campus that was demolished just earlier this semester.

This year the task was to recognize 177 current faculty and staff members, who combine for over 3,000 years of service, as well as the 31 retirees who may not be gone for all that long.

“Having everybody together at once is the best part, it’s really one big reunion with past employees even coming back to visit,” said the Director of Human Resources Holly Shoenherr.

With the intention of showing appreciation, the 2016 Retirement and Years of Service Recognition Program applauded many individuals for their work, as well as provided a glimpse into the changes that occurred at SCSU during the work life of those employees being honored.