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Seventeen Bereans Retire from 443 Years of Service

Together, five staff and twelve faculty have given nearly four-and-a-half centuries of service to the College.

Snapshots from this year's retirement reception.

Though many of their friends and coworkers are sad to see them go, many of the retirees expressed excitement and anticipation about moving into a new time in their lives. "[I'm] excited at the chance to do something my work wouldn't allow," Suzi Kifer says, as she discusses her plans to volunteer in Lexington. Kifer, whose work in the International Center will be missed by many students, is happy for her future after retirement. "I'm looking forward to making my own schedule," she shares with a giggle.

Sandy Ferguson, who worked in Nursing, will be enjoying her second retirement. "Now that I am old enough to retire again, I am truly going to retire again, enjoy my family and all that I have."

President Larry Shinn attended to show his gratitude for the magnitude of service given from each of the to-be retirees. Whether to work or visit, Shinn expressed that BC's doors are never closed. "You’re always welcome back at our campus.”

Following are brief bios of the retirees.

Bradley Montgomery
Bradley Montgomery came to work at Berea College in 1966. He was asked to serve the College as the supervisor of the Heat Plant in the 1970’s and has done so faithfully since that time. When his co-workers were asked about Bradley and his supervisory style, they provided comments such as "great supervisor, a great boss".
The heat plant staff stated that they are like family; and that Bradley, as the head of that small family was always there when needed, whether it was something on the job or something personal. He led by example, working hard, making sure his staff had what they needed. With the responsibilities of providing heat to the entire campus, including over 100 buildings, 550 employees of the College and 1,550 residential students, it was critical that the staff in the Heat Plant family worked together as a team and teams work best when they get along well. Bradley made sure of that by creating the kind of workplace that when one person needed time off, someone was always willing to step right in and take the shift to keep things going. Bradley and his co-workers made that happen for all of us for the past 39 years.

Perhaps the strongest evidence of Bradley’s abilities is the longevity of the staff who worked with him: five of his staff members have worked at the Heat Plant for a total of 155 years and two others have worked seven and six years respectively. Bradley has the reputation of being a "big time family man" with a good sense of humor, someone you can depend on, a man with strong Christian values and an incredible work ethic. Bradley's College family has missed him since his retirement but is glad that he can enjoy his post-College life and his new endeavors after so many years of dedicated service to Berea College.

Carolyn Nicely
Carolyn Niceley began working for Berea College in the Facilities Management department in August of 1988. She was a housekeeper who had custodial duties throughout many of the public buildings on campus until 1991. It was at that time that she assumed sole responsibility for keeping the Hutchins Library in tip-top shape, including the responsibility for supervising the large student workforce for the Library. Hutchins Library has since won five labor awards for its cleanliness and overall appearance, and Carolyn was the dynamo behind those numerous awards. This was mostly due to the hard work that Carolyn put in herself, getting up at 4:00 A.M. to drive from Rockcastle County to be at the Library in order to have it clean and presentable for its many visitors and the doors opening at 8:00 A.M. Carolyn supervised the student work force of 17 students with precision, maintaining high standards and a positive work climate. She took the time to get to know each student - guiding them in their jobs as well as providing counsel for their lives. To the homesick student, she provided gentle advice and a comforting shoulder. To others, she was a friend while always maintaining her integrity as a leader. She inspired loyalty in her students through her example of team work and hard work.

One of Carolyn’s favorite hobbies is cooking, and for department events and labor meetings, her colleagues couldn’t wait to see what special dessert Carolyn would bring to the table. Carolyn Niceley has distinguished herself as part of the unique commitment of Berea College and, after eighteen years of faithful service, she is ready to retire. Her absence will be a loss to Hutchins Library, the many students who worked under her, and the many friends and co-workers from Facilities Management and across the Berea College Campus.

Sandy Ferguson
The Department of Nursing was fortunate to recruit our long-time friend and colleague, Sandy Ferguson, to Berea College in 1999 upon her retirement from the Veteran's Affairs Medical System. Sandy brought not only her knowledge and expertise, but also her warm and caring attitude for students and colleagues. We have been fortunate to have her as a teacher and advisor of our students over the past seven years. Sandy has been a very dedicated and loyal Berea College faculty member. She has served on both Departmental and College committees and has been a key member of the group who collaborated on our successful self-study. Additionally, she was instrumental in our accreditation efforts during the on campus visit by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Sandy has been a contributing author to two recent publications: Foundations of Clinical Drug Therapy and Clinical Drug Therapy: Rationales for Nursing Practice, as well as co-author of the book, Critical Care and Emergency Nursing. Sandy is retiring to play with her grandson, Chase, enjoy her home at the lake, and somehow convince her husband, Gary, that she is NOT bored without the challenge of work in a demanding profession like nursing. Having had two nursing careers from which to retire, we’re not certain that she really knows how to just rest and relax but, as a lifelong learner, we have confidence in her!

James Yount
James Yount has contributed twenty-seven years of service to the Technology and Industrial Arts Department and Berea College. During his tenure, he lived and modeled the path of a “lifelong learner.” This has been reflected in both his teaching and his personal interests. Of his many accomplishments, his ability to assist and give direction to a struggling student was probably his most noted. Jim has also provided leadership in many areas beyond the classroom. He has served as advisor and mentor to many college students, as the faculty sponsor for the Technology Club, on several College committees and in numerous capacities in professional organizations. This has been recognized in many ways including being honored by the Kentucky Applied Technology Education Association with their Achievement Award.

In addition, Jim has served the larger community by teaching workshops and courses to groups such as the Home Makers’ Club, Elderhostel and Westervelt. Berea College is definitely a better place because of Jim. He brought to his career at Berea the same dedication he had for his country during his 20+ years in the Army. Jim will always be a teacher and a student. Now, as he enters into his third career, we say, “Thank you, Jim, for being a teacher and friend to so many. You have been an excellent example of Berea College and its dedications to others.”

Suzi Kifer
Suzi Kifer joined Berea College in 1998 as the Associate Director of the International Center. With a Master’s Degree from the University of Kentucky and a B.A. in history from Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, she arrived with a wealth of knowledge and an in-depth understanding of the needs of the Study Abroad program. Her work with Berea College is a fitting capstone to an accomplished career of professional service to others, which has included various roles in higher education, work as a Community Volunteer, and experiences with the Foreign Service and Peace Corps. Suzi’s contributions to the students of Berea over the past eight years have been substantial and her work has been described as “enriching, educating and exciting…” by those with whom she interacts. She has advised countless young people about their opportunities abroad and through her hard work at least 1,141 students have been able to study abroad. Suzi has also administered various scholarship programs for Bereans, has managed the study abroad library, facilitated faculty development programs, and has represented the International Center on numerous committees and boards on campus and beyond.

Berea College has long had as a part of its mission the internationalization of the student body. Suzi has made it her mission to help students of Berea College realize the importance of study abroad, the importance of learning about our global community and the importance of understanding and appreciating the multicultural landscape in which we seek to live and learn. She has been a wonderful colleague and friend to all who know her and the good works she leaves with us will sustain our program for years to come. Suzi Kifer will be greatly missed. Her many talents and her gentle and kindly spirit have been guiding forces within the International Center.

Larry Blair
Larry Blair has spent most of his life here in Berea College, first as a student (from 1962 until 1966) and then as a faculty member (since 1971). Larry was both the William J. Hutchins Alumni Professor of Chemistry as well as the Nathaniel Southgate Shaler Memorial Chair in Chemistry. From 1997 until 1999, Larry served as Dean of the Faculty and was also was awarded the Seabury Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1983. Larry learned his chemistry under Gus Levy and Tom Beebe and brought their same enthusiasm for research when he returned. Larry was author on a number of papers describing the synthesis and use of positive halide chemicals used in the oxidation of alcohols. Larry involved undergraduates extensively in his research and many went on to receive both Ph.D. and M.D. degrees.

Larry worked diligently as a Dean of the Faculty alongside the newly created provost position to help shape the current dean/provost model in use at Berea today. Larry was involved in modernization of the chemistry program over the years, with a keen interest in gas chromatography. Finally, we cannot ignore Larry’s contribution to the arts in the Berea community. He was a regular artist showing his photography at various galleries in town as well as at the annual arts and crafts fairs held in Berea. Larry will be remembered as a man who was both an artist as well as a scientist of renown. After 35 years at Berea College, it is good for Larry to have a break, relax, and enjoy his grandchild, but he will be missed as an active participant in our educational community in so many ways (though I am sure we can still find him taking photos for years to come).

Laura Crawford
Strongly committed to the students and programs at Berea College, Laura Crawford is a native Berean who attended the College's Foundation School and earned her Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing in 1962. It was her BSN class that helped design the nursing pin that is still used today in the Pinning Ceremony on graduation day. After graduation from Berea College, Laura worked as a staff nurse in Ohio before returning to Berea to work at the Berea Hospital including serving as Director of Nursing before joining the Nursing Faculty at Berea College in 1968. She also made time to earn her Master of Nursing degree from Emory University and studied toward a doctorate in Nursing from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Among Laura's strengths are her intellectual and creative abilities to combine theory and experience with an open attitude toward learning from all the disciplines. Having taught at virtually every level of the Nursing Program, Laura was very effective in working with new nursing faculty and students to help them develop strategies to be successful. She also has been able to apply her expertise to a larger pool of students when she moved into teaching several core courses in our General Education curriculum. Laura has served as advisor and mentor to many students and faculty and was awarded the Seabury Award for excellence in teaching in 2002. In recent years, she has concentrated her study in the areas of cultural diversity and spirituality which had connections to her work in nursing and general education as well as her personal development.

In this year of celebrating the 150th anniversary of Berea College, it is very fitting to recognize that at least 50 years of this period were influenced by Laura in her roles as student and teacher, dedicated to helping our unique educational institution live up to its Great Commitments.

Lowell Taylor
Lowell Taylor came to teach for us when a faculty member took an unexpected, but temporary leave in 1993-94. No one imagined that he would teach for us for 12 years before he retired (again). Lowell, being a true gentleman, has served many roles with our students. He has been an outstanding teacher, helping students learn how to use resources wisely and plan for their financial futures. He also has served as a mentor for many, much like a father or grandfather figure, as he has modeled for them how to live a kind and giving life. He has cared deeply for his students, and they have known it. His affirming approach toward students has made him highly respected and loved. As a department member, Lowell entered the building around 6 am and opened all the windows and doors to air out the building, year round, even when the snow was blowing. He believes in the relationship between good health and fresh air.

In department meetings he proved to be a creative thinker, almost always outside the box. He helped all of us to think more broadly. Lowell has been the departmental editor for all of our reports and documents, making us look more articulate than we are. In addition, we have consumed many goodies from his talents in baking. He has fed us his homemade bread and cookies on more occasions than we can count. He also has baked for his students on exam days to give them extra energy and to soothe their anxieties. Without Lowell, our department will be less bright in the mornings, and the building will be considerably stuffier! There will be less laughter early in the day, and everyone will have fewer coupons to help lower their shopping bills. He will be missed by students, faculty, and staff.

Marlene Payne
Marlene Payne has been associated with our department since 1970. During these 36 years she has taught full-time, part-time, been an academic adviser, helped develop the child development major, and helped to establish the Child Development Laboratory. She has rescued our department over and over when we needed someone to cover sabbaticals or other faculty leaves. Even when she taught part-time, she was a full participant in the departmental work. She has remained remarkably dedicated to the department throughout the years. Marlene brought many gifts to our department and students. She has a high sense of integrity and honesty in all that she does. She has held high standards in the classroom and has often moved students along further than they realized they could go. Her dedication leads her to work on something until it is done right, regardless of how long it takes. When the building is officially unlocked for the day at 7:30 am, Marlene has already been in her office for awhile, preparing for her classes.

One of Marlene’s special gifts has been her extensive experiences around the world, having traveled to over sixty different countries. She has helped students understand and appreciate differences by using examples from her own travels. She has been the encouraging force that has resulted in dozens of our majors traveling internationally. Another of her gifts has been her ability to build harmony. In many situations she has been the peacemaker. She models to students how to find peaceful resolutions, which has proven important to all. When Marlene leaves our department, there will be less cheer and good-will. She will be missed by students, faculty, and staff.

Ros Cox
Ros Cox, Appalachian by birth, Berean by choice, graduated from Berea College in 1966 with a degree in Psychology. In 1967 he earned an M.S. in Child Development from the University of Alabama and returned home to teach in CFS at Berea College in 1970. In 1974 Ros earned his Ph.D. in Child Development from UNC at Greensboro. The Child and Family Studies Department and countless students will be ever grateful to Dr. Ros Cox. He taught with a love for both his content and his students. He demonstrated the value of labor and personal integrity; he taught that the world owes no one anything, but we owe the world much. Dr. Cox helped develop the Child Development major in 1972. His interest never waned. Ros’ leadership from 1999-2001 led the CDL from ideas on paper to a reality: a building and a mission. He also laid the groundwork for IECE teacher certification, a goal which some CFS students now pursue.

Ros’ presence in the department, a male in a mainly female department, served as a model for how and why men should work with and care for children and families. Reputation said, “Dr. Cox teaches great courses,” and that drew others in. At meetings he always offered a cool head, a view that balanced other views, and a touch of humor, sometimes wry and sometimes broad, but always a smile to lighten the work. Mornings and meetings, courses and classes seemed a bit less bright with Ros’ early 2005 retirement.

Sandy Pennington
Professor Sandra Smith Pennington (Sandy) has graciously served Berea College eighteen years. She has been an inspiration to Nursing students for her professionalism and evidence-based practice. Sandy is an excellent and caring advisor of students and is someone who has served the College well in numerous ways. She is an excellent professor of nursing and is held in high esteem by her colleagues and students. In addition to being an outstanding educator and clinician, she has served as Acting Chairperson of the Department of Nursing, as a committee member on the Faculty Affairs Council, the Strategic Planning Committee, the Faculty Appeals Committee, the Women’s Studies Steering Committee, and the Professional Growth Committee, and has served as the College’s Co-Chair of the United Way Campaign. Additionally, Sandy is past president and member-at-large of the Berea Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.

Sandy has published and presented her work at national and international conferences and is the author of the recently published textbook, Foundations of Clinical Drug Therapy. She is also the co-author of the book Critical Care and Emergency Nursing and was a contributor to Clinical Drug Therapy: Rationales for Nursing Practice. Sandy’s expertise is esteemed by many, both within and outside the Nursing profession. She has served our profession as an educational consultant, a clinical consultant, and a legal consultant. Sandy leaves Berea to assume the role of an administrator with Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions where she will facilitate doctoral education of nurses and other health professionals. A lifelong learner and exemplary educator and colleague, Sandy Pennington will be sorely missed.

Sharon Jones
Sharon Jones began working for Berea College in the Facilities Management department in March of 1983, serving as a housekeeper doing heavy-duty custodial work. During the summer months she supervised and trained Berea College students who worked alongside her. Sharon was very patient training her students, guiding and mentoring them while also supporting them to do their best. Sharon used a uniquely balanced approach with each student worker throughout her years of supervising her students. To some, she was a mother figure for her students; offering advice, suggestions, and a shoulder to lean on during times when they just needed someone to listen to them. To others, she was a friend making their labor assignment a little bit easier with a blend of structure, duty, and a touch of home.

Sharon was well-liked by all her fellow Facilities Management workers, and had friendships in other departments around Berea College campus, as well. She was always quick to smile, play a prank on folks and tell that one last new joke she had heard the day before. One of Sharon’s favorite hobbies was playing the base guitar with her family and friends in a devotional band called Homeward Bound. She travels to local area churches and Bluegrass Festivals picking and singing good-ol’ Southern gospel music. Sharon served on several committees within the Facilities Management department during her twenty-three years of service. She was always willing to take that extra step to ensure whatever task she was helping plan would get done on time, be a fun event for all and do her share of the work during the preparation process. Sharon will be missed by her good old buddies from Facilities and they all wish her a long healthy retirement.

Smith Powell
The son of Berea College graduates, Smith T. Powell, III, graduated from Berea in 1961. He went on to graduate school at The University of Michigan where he earned his M.S. in 1963 and his Ph.D. in elementary particles physics in 1970. He joined the Berea College faculty in 1970 and in 1986 he was awarded the Seabury Award for Excellence in Teaching. He served as chairman of the Physics Department for thirteen years. During his tenure at Berea, 120 students graduated with a degree in physics. He has had a great impact on many Berea students, his colleagues, and the community of Berea as whole. Additionally, he has served as a mentor to many faculty members. In addition to his work in physics, Smith T. has been active in the Core Curriculum at Berea College. He has taught Issues and Values, Religious and Historical Perspectives, and Natural Science. He has been particularly active in shaping the Natural Science course since its inception in 1984. Early in his career he saw the light and developed into our “resident astronomer”. He helped install the observatory atop the science building where he has held many open houses. In addition, he designed and built the Weatherford Planetarium, designed and helped install the Foucault Pendulum and the stained glass window in the Science Building. He has been teaching astronomy since 1972. He has been very active in bringing astronomy to the Berea community through starry night observing sessions.

Smith T. is concerned about the science education in this area. As he grew up in Lincoln County, not too far from Berea, he has visited many of the nearby schools to demonstrate physics and astronomy concepts and to encourage students to continue with their education. In addition, many have visited our campus to attend planetarium shows under his direction. Smith T. Powell, III, is a kind, generous, well-rounded educator in love with learning and with teaching. He has been a guiding light and a center of gravity for many Berea stars.

Phil Spears
Philip V. Spears has served Berea College for the past 38 years. While he has made many contributions to the College, none exceeds his contributions in the classroom. He has taught a wide range of courses in the Economics and Business Department and in the General Studies Program. Phil brings a unique style to his classroom. He doesn’t give students the “correct” answers; rather he challenges them to find the answers for themselves. He is straightforward with students, and when he offers commendation, it means a great deal to them. Over the years, Dr. Spears has challenged many students not only to enhance their professional and personal strengths, but also to strengthen their weaknesses. One of the most frequent comments of alumni is appreciation for Dr. Spears’ ability to force students to stand up for themselves, deal with unfairness, and show professionalism. They greatly appreciate his ability to prepare them to deal with difficult situations.

Through Phil’s teaching, students are stretched and challenged in many ways. What business administration major has not heard of the rigor and high expectations of Dr. Spears? Phil Spears is willing to risk being misunderstood in order to help students move toward maturity. For many years, as the teacher of the capstone course for the business administration major, Phil has helped students bridge the gap between the academic world and the business world. His students struggle, then rise to the challenge, and by the end of the term they have surprised themselves by their growth – not only in ability to analyze a case, but in their own professionalism as well. Phil’s wisdom, wit, and laughter in the hallways of the Draper Building will be missed, but we wish him much happiness in the years that lie ahead.

Terry Fields
Since the 1970’s, Terry Fields has contributed more than fifteen years of service to the Crafts program and Berea College. He first fell in love with the program as a Berea College student working in Woodcraft. A few years after graduating, he took over the direction of that department as Manager. He left to pursue other business opportunities but was compelled to return to Berea College as Director of the Crafts program. He left once again to develop businesses in the wood products industry; however, he could not stay away for long. He accepted Berea’s invitation yet again when he returned to the program in his latest leadership role. Terry is extremely well respected by his colleagues in the Crafts program, by the local artisans, the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program and the Kentucky State Tourism officials. They all say that he respects others and has high integrity and works selflessly for others and the Craft industry.

Terry is extremely modest about his many talents. In addition to being an excellent leader who encourages students and staff to come up with new ideas and stretch their creativity and abilities, he is an accomplished artisan and respected member of the arts and crafts community. We are extremely grateful to Terry for his many years of dedication to Berea College Crafts and the craft industry. As a student in the 1970’s, Terry designed and built a desk for President Weatherford. More recently, as director of the program, he oversaw the design and production of a replacement desk and cabinetry for President Shinn’s office in the newly renovated Lincoln Hall. Terry has truly made many valuable contributions in his multi-faceted career at Berea. He leaves us once again to pursue his craft and business interests, and we wish him well.

Tom Boyd
Impressed by the long history of Berea College as a force for social change in America, Dr. Tom Boyd, a native Kentuckian, joined the faculty in 1977, after studying, teaching, and working abroad for a number of years. He received his B.A. from Wabash College (1964), his Master of Social Sciences from The Institute of Social Studies in The Hague (1968), and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Cambridge University, The United Kingdom (1976). As a scholar-activist, Tom invigorated the department by starting a two-course program in applied sociology in 1979. The first course taught program evaluation and techniques of project need assessments and the second supervised students’ individual service research projects for local non-profit agencies. Later, he organized and began the new sociology capstone (1991), the independent individual research projects required of all sociology majors.

In service to the campus, Tom has also taught in Berea’s General Education Program, and has served as Chairman of Sociology Department since 1987, guiding to completion two Department Self Studies (1988 and 2002). He is widely recognized as an exemplary professor who sets high standards and was recognized for his excellence in teaching at Berea College with the Seabury Award. In addition to his dedication to teaching, Tom also is widely known for his service to Appalachia and his activism on behalf of the working class. For this he was recognized with the Elizabeth Perry Miles Service Award. For Tom, the Great Commitments, the student labor program, and an admissions policy directing students of great promise and limited economic resources to his classes are all things that he values here.

Joan Weston
Joan Weston has contributed much to the shape of the Department of Physical Education, Health, and Athletics during her twenty-six years as a member of the Department. Joan came to Berea with a background in exercise science, filling a much-needed role in the preparation of our majors. Under her guidance, the department has developed a strong science component that underpins our majors’ study of Physical Education and its application to many fields, including teaching, sports medicine, and health promotion. After our last self-study, she devised a new course, Exercise Assessment and Prescription, designed specifically for Exercise Science majors. Her own particular interest has been in the lifespan development of women, and over the years she has offered several short term courses relevant to this topic. While Joan has a specific focus in the science areas of Physical Education, she has always been willing to serve the department in many ways, keeping standards high and moving the department forward. She has also taught courses related to her field, such as Adapted Physical Education and Athletic Training.

An athlete herself, Joan played tennis, field hockey, and lacrosse. At Berea she gladly took up fencing to meet a departmental need, and taught a variety of courses including gymnastics. At Berea, she coached Tennis and Track and Field, and moved into the role of Associate Athletic Director in the1990s. Since 2001, she has served as Athletic Director, working diligently to improve our coaching staff and our competitive experiences. The Department of Physical Education, Health, and Athletics will miss Joan Weston and all she has done to make the department what it is today, and we wish her health and every happiness in the years to come.

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