A chapter closes for retirees

Fri, 07/01/2011 - 5:00pm
Tom Loehr and Dottie Hempfleng

Spring Hill College said goodbye to four members of the faculty and staff who have served the College for many years.  Dr. Charles Cheney, Thomas Loehr, Dr. Mark Starr and Dottie Hempfleng retired at the end of the academic year, the three faculty members receiving emeriti status upon their retirements.

Dr. Charles A. Cheney

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

Cheney served the Department of Mathematics since 1984 as a teacher, advisor and chairperson.

“I have seen many students pass through these classrooms and am gratified at the subsequent success both professionally and personally,” Cheney said.

Cheney helped students to face their fear of mathematics in the required core curriculum classes he taught. Dr. George Sims, provost, said at commencement, “Dr. Cheney taught everyone who wanted to learn with patience. As he challenged them with high standards, he also offered unfailing support and encouragement.”

Over the years, Cheney inspired students and helped them to discover their love of mathematics. His students have gone on to advanced study ready to succeed.

“I feel very blessed that I was able to be a part of such an exemplary community, but after 40 years of teaching, it is about time for me to graduate, even though I still have much to learn,” Cheney said.

Thomas J. Loehr

Professor Emeritus of Communication Arts

Since his arrival in 1975, Loehr served the Department of Communication Arts in numerous capacities, including division chairperson. As a photographer and documentary filmmaker, Loehr strives to find the beauty and dignity in the everyday world. In his work in the classroom, he challenged students to live up to their potential greatness.

“When I first drove onto the campus and down the Avenue of the Oaks in the spring of 1975 for my interview with Communication Arts Chair Bettie Hudgens and others, I felt this was a special and magical place,” Loehr said. “As I walked up the worn wooden steps and into the barracks building that housed the department, that magic was quickly tempered with a bit of harsh reality.  But despite the physical conditions of the building, I could tell from Bettie and the other faculty and the few students I met that the building did not speak for the spirit of those who inhabited it as their work place.”

During Loehr’s 36 years of teaching, he feels he has learned just as much if not more than he has taught the students. “The smallness of the classes and the community here make it possible for all of us to lean in numerous ways,” he said. 
We are a learning community, rooted in the Jesuit ideals of magis, of striving for excellence and of caring for each other and the world around us.”

With the many changes in the area of film, video and photography over the years, Loehr said his students were able to “co-instruct the production classes.” He benefitted greatly from their knowledge of computers, portable communication devices and changing software programs.

“It seems that in many if not all discipline areas, there is or should be a greater emphasis on the shared aspect of the education of young adults,” Loehr said. He believes SHC is “poised to fully engage in that process” and foresees a bright future ahead for the College.

Dr. Mark L. Starr

Associate Professor Emeritus of Philosophy

As a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy since 1990, Starr distinguished himself through the quality of colleagues he helped recruit to SHC during his time as department chairperson.

Starr met most of his students in the required core curriculum course in Introductory Logic. “Before coming to Spring Hill, I had taught for a couple of years at the University of San Diego, and a year at Rice University, and although the students at those schools were nice enough, as a rule they did not seek out friendships with their faculty the way students at Spring Hill do,” Starr said. “Our students come to our small school because of its mission and in the hope and expectation that they might be in more intimate contact with their faculty who share that mission, a circumstance not easily replicated at a larger institution.”

Starr enjoyed the interaction with students. “Certainly I can continue reflecting on such questions with Socrates and Plato, St. Augustine and Descartes, Quine, Nozick and Rawls; but there is no substitute for the joy of sharing and extending that dialogue with the students of Spring Hill College,” he said.

Starr will miss most the companionship with his colleagues, but has great hope for the future of his department. “I wish I could be there to see the new department prosper under the able leadership of Jo Forstrom. I was blessed to be a part of this community in so many ways that I am only now coming to fully appreciate.” he said. “May Spring Hill always be that ‘light upon a hilltop.’”

Dottie T. Hempfleng

Secretary, Communication Arts

Hempfleng served the students and faculty of the Department of Communication Arts since 1976.

She reflects, “When I was originally hired in 1976, the department was housed in Kenny Hall, a World War II barracks building located on Dorn Field. Quite often during the winter months we would not have plumbing, due to the pipes under our building freezing and bursting.  We would have to walk across the field (in the icy cold weather) to the Physics Building in order to have restroom facilities.” Despite the working conditions, Hempfleng says, “I would do it all over again if given the chance.”

Hempfleng has found the SHC students to be the most rewarding aspect of her time here. “I will cherish the wonderful memories they have left me,” she says. “Retirement will be bittersweet for me, but I feel certain that now is the time. “ Hempfleng plans to travel and volunteer in a local hospital.