Tribute to retiring faculty

News | 05.02.2012

For more than 171 years, educators at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College have enhanced the lives of students across the world. Renowned for its superior academics, SMWC professors are known for their student-centered approach and challenging coursework. The College acknowledged the dedicated service of eight retiring SMWC educators with a reception on Monday, April 30, 2012.

“Their collective years of service is impressive, but the value of their impact on The Woods is priceless,” said Janet Clark, Ph.D., SMWC vice president for academic affairs. “Students, coworkers and alums all have cherished memories about each of these retirees.”

Mary Lou Dolan, CSJ, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Earth Literacy Master’s Degree Program, 15 years of service

Dolan, who garners great respect among her peers in sustainability, often presents at the White Violet Center, is on the steering committee of Our Green Valley Alliance for Sustainability and a member of the Terre Foods Cooperative Market. Whether on campus or studying at a distance, she has always been warm and supportive of students. “What I am most pleased about is the large number of creative and energetic Earth Literacy folks who continue to care for Earth in such diverse and effective ways,” Dolan said.

Patricia Jancosek, MFA, Associate Professor, Department of Text and Image, 17 years

Jancosek, often seen as a mother-figure to students, encourages students to think with their heads and their hearts. She received the 2012 Sister Mary Joseph Pomeroy Award for Faculty Excellence for Teaching, second place in the 2012 D2L Exemplary Course Award Woods Online 8-week category and honorable mention for the 2001 Innovative Online Course Development Award. She has written her own textbook, shown work in national exhibits and was the director of the Wabash Valley Art Spaces.

Sandra Chappell, Associate Professor, Education Department, 22 years

Chappell, an innovative educator and world-traveler, has enhanced the lives of countless children in Indiana though her own work, as well as the influence she has had on SMWC education majors. Her work with Head Start and Indiana T.E.A.C.H. has given childcare providers access to SMWC programs and scholarships that educate exemplary teachers for our most vulnerable citizens, our children. She served as president for the Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children and received the Alumni Faculty Leadership award in 2012.

Jane Curley, Associate Professor, Education Department, 22 years

Curley, an esteemed 1967 graduate of SMWC, is known for her creativity, grace and leadership. While operating as the program coordinator for the K-6 elementary education program, Curley has served consistently as SMWC’s liaison for state and professional elementary education and reading association initiatives. She will long be remembered for her commitment to the community through her involvement with literacy and reading initiatives that best serve the needs of all children and their families.

Thomas Swopes, MFA, Associate Professor, Department of Text and Image, 25 years

Swopes, a renowned local artist and recipient of the Indiana Arts Commission Fellowship, challenges his students to think beyond their artistic comfort zones. He has exhibited works at the Sheldon Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute, Ind.; the Bicentennial Art Center and Museum, Paris, Ill.; the Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, Ind.; and the Cornwell de Mattos Gallery, Louisville, Ky., among many others. He played a pivotal role in the development and early success of the College’s equine program.

Brenda Carlyle, Associate Professor, Department of Business and Leadership, 29 years

Carlyle, a quiet leader with stellar student evaluations, received the Sr. Mary Joseph Pomeroy Faculty Excellence award twice: once for teaching, service, and scholarship and the second for service. Many of her students credit her for being one of the few people who can make an 8 a.m. accounting class fun. She served on three accreditations self-study committees, helped develop the 8-week Woods Online program and the virtual internship program.

Robert Watts, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Department of Languages and Literature, 33 years

Watts, an educator dedicated to student development, enthusiastically supported the College’s push to provide online educational opportunities. He pioneered the use of alternative format courses in the distance program.  He has been the mainstay in the philosophy program, served as theology and philosophy chairperson for many years and served as president of the faculty assembly. His students consider him an open-minded and knowledgeable faculty member, who values creativity and challenging ideas.

Ellen Cunningham, SP, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Sciences and Mathematics, 38 years

Cunningham, a 1961 alumni of The Woods, is not only an unparalleled faculty member at The Woods, but is also a cherished member of the Sisters of Providence community. She is a supportive mentor both in and out of the classroom and played a key role in creating an online mathematics major, one of the first of its kind. Her sense of humor, integrity and insistence on excellence make her a distinguished Woods woman. She received the Alumni Faculty Leadership and Service award in 1999 and has been an inspiration to her students since she began teaching at SMWC in 1974.

“While they will no longer be a daily presence on our campus, the leadership and merit they brought to their programs will continue to inspire students for years to come,” Clark said. “We are very thankful for their service and wish them a well-deserved retirement.”