March 30, 2023

Retiring instructors appreciate small class sizes at SMSU

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By JENNY KIRK From Marshall Independent

“When traveling with students, I got to know them as people, not just students, and I’ve shared many memorable experiences with them,” McLean said. “I also enjoyed finding out about their lives through their essays and creative writing classes. Sometimes budget pressures at the University led to increasing the size of some classes to the point where it was harder to get to know the students or help them improve their writing skills.”

Mark Goodenow spent seven years at another university before coming to SMSU. He said he liked the people there, but he wanted more manageable class sizes — something he got at SMSU.

“I wanted a university and community I could really be a part of,” Goodenow said. “And I have never questioned the move I made.”

Both McLean and Goodenow are retiring after 30 years of service at SMSU. On Monday, they will join 11 other employees retiring to be honored at a reception. The university will also honor 44 other employees for years of service of 10 years, 15 years, 20 years — all the way up to 45 years.

“Every employee at SMSU is important and everyone makes a difference in the lives of our students,” SMSU President Dr. Connie Gores said. “We are very fortunate to have such dedicated employees in the Mustang Family and we will miss our colleagues and friends who are retiring. On Monday, we will celebrate and thank these special individuals who make the University such a special place.

“This year we will celebrate 44 employees who have served a total of 800 combined years of service to the University,” Gores said.

A social will be held at 4 p.m. in the upper level of the Student Center, followed by a short program starting at 4:30 p.m. “A Celebration of Southwest Stories”dinner — a celebration of SMSU’s 50th anniversary — will follow in the Conference Center Ballroom.

Here are four of the retirees:

English Professor Susan McLean

Susan McLean is retiring after serving SMSU for 30 years.

“One of the things I liked best about teaching at SMSU was the relatively small class size, without large lecture courses or teaching assistants, which allowed teachers to really get to know their students,” McLean said. “I particularly enjoyed participating in the Global Studies program, which enabled me to travel with students and other professors to the places we were studying, both in Florida and overseas in the Cayman Islands, England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and Greece.”

The average class size at SMSU is 21.

McLean said the increased use of the Internet over time has led to a decrease in some skills for many students.

“As students read books less and spend more time on the Internet, their verbal skills have decreased, so they need more help, not less,” she said. “One of the unfortunate results of all the time students spend online is that their interest in literature has also been declining, though I still see a lot of interest, among students, in becoming creative writers.”

The SMSU English Department holds a special place in her heart, though McLean said she’s grateful for the many friends she’s made “within and outside” her department over the years.

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the writers in the English Department for encouraging me to take up writing poetry again, 19 years after I had given it up,” McLean said. “The examples of Phil Dacey, Bill Holm, Howard Mohr, Leo Dangel, Dave Pichaske, Beth Weatherby, Liz Blair and others inspired me, and Phil Dacey gave me a lot of personal assistance in getting started with writing and finding places to send my poems. The current writers in the department continue that tradition of supporting and encouraging one another and their students.”

McLean said the students themselves have often inspired her.

“When I am teaching them to write poems, the poems they write are so inventive that they give me ideas for my own poems,” she said. “I will miss my friends, colleagues and students when I retire, and I will certainly miss being able to talk in class about the literature that excites me. Some former students still keep in touch with me and I hope that will continue.”

McLean is proud to be an advocate for women’s literature and women in general.

“SMSU has always had more female students than male students, but when I first arrived 30 years ago, there were few programs designed to encourage women to aim high and compete with men on an equal basis,” McLean said. “Through my participation in the Women’s Studies Committee, I have tried to offer more opportunities and role models to female students through our Women’s History Month activities and the Telling Women’s Stories contest.”

While McLean has had an impact on students for three decades, she’s appreciate of the opportunity to grow as a person and professional at SMSU as well.

“The support of the University for all kinds of creative and professional development has allowed me to grow in ways that I could not have done at most universities, in which I would have been locked into a narrow specialty within English,” she said. “I came as a scholar and literary critic of Renaissance drama and science fiction, but I turned into a poet and translator of poetry, both of which activities I find deeply rewarding (though neither one makes any money to speak of).”

McLean anticipates spending her retirement writing and translating more poetry.

“I am working on a third book of poetry and a second volume of translations of Martial’s Latin epigrams right now,” McLean said. “Support from the southwest Minnesota Arts Council (SMAC) was crucial in helping me submit my chapbook and first two books of poetry to contest that ultimately led to their publication. A grant from the McKnight Foundation and sabbaticals from the University gave me time to do my writing.”

McLean said SMSU turned out to be a “great place to be a writer,” with the inspiring Marshall Festivals at SMSU, the Cornstock events locally and the active support from the arts from SMAC, the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council and the Marshall-Lyon County Public Library.

“I look forward to moving to Iowa City and having more time to write, travel, cook and meet with friends,” McLean said about retirement plans.“Writing is the kind of hobby that one can keep for life.”

Business Law Professor Mark Goodenow

With his law degree in hand 30 years ago, Mark Goodenow was hired primarily to teach Undergraduate Law courses at SMSU. He added that because he had a Masters of Business Administration, he was also hired to teach courses in the Management program.

“I started at SMSU as a faculty member and will end my career as a faculty member,” he said. “In between, I had opportunities to be active within the University and Lyon County. The students are my greatest joy. And I love that look on the face when someone gets it.”

Goodenow said he “greatly appreciated” being able to work with faculty, staff and administration.

“As a former Faculty Association President, I worked with everyone to have a great educational experience for our students,” Goodenow said. “I then took a turn toward community service. The greatest honor was to be elected to the Lyon County Commission.”

Goodenow admits that he didn’t really know what commissioners did — until he was fully-immersed in the role.

“I was pulled into Lyon County and the communities and townships within Lyon County, but then there was also Southwest Minnesota joint action committees,” he said. “I loved it and still miss being involved.”

The business law professor said living through the state budget cycles and enrollment cycles were among the biggest challenges.

“When there is a story of tuition costs, they are not talking about state schools,” he said. “State support has dropped all over the United States. In Minnesota, state support of an individual student has dropped from two-thirds to one-third. After decades of above-average student support, Minnesota is below the national average.”

Goodenow said he’s found that the majority of SMSU students work while attending school.

“Most of the students avoid the trap of getting more student loans than they need, spending it all and then being surprised they have so much to pay back,”Goodenow said. “It may take a little longer for some students to get through their programs, but they leave with a lot less debt.”

Now retiring after 37 years in education, Goodenow said he’s both eager and “honestly a little scared about change.”

“I’m excited because I call it graduation,” he said.“Graduation or commencement is always the start of something new.”

While he’s been working to restore his Victorian house — back to what it looked like back in the early 1900s — since he purchased it in 1990, Goodenow hopes retirement will allow him to invest more time doing that.

“I have a few more restoration projects at my home,”Goodenow said. “I have really enjoyed my hobby and I have been able to share it with community members, who are great supporters.”

While he loves his Victorian house located at 6th and Lyon Streets in Marshall, Goodenow said he has plans elsewhere as well.

“I plan to be at the lake in the summer, and I love you, Minnesota, but I hope to be someplace warmer for the winter months,” he said.

Building Services Manager Laura Bottin

Laura Bottin has spent 12 years as the Building Services manager at SMSU.

“My job entails organizing the day-to-day cleaning and care of the buildings as well as most of the events that take place on campus as far as setups and tear downs,” Bottin said. “I am constantly taking the latest information from various resources on campus to provide the best service possible for the students and staff on campus along with the community or clients that are having events on our campus.”

Bottin said she also tries to share information with the rest of the physical plant staff for any services they need to provide for an event as well.

“That can be anything from having to have extra power needs to moving of equipment outdoors by our grounds crew,” she said.

Bottin said juggling the available resources and the facility needs can often be a challenge.

“One of the biggest challenges I face is having enough staffing resources to be able to get all of the work done that needs to happen to maintain a quality of cleanliness throughout the campus as well as taking care of the events that are happening all over campus,” Bottin said. “I am constantly looking at information anywhere from a week to a month ahead so I can provide a good line of communication with staff and clients to be sure it is manageable for all. Of course, there are always last minute needs that take place or unexpected problems that need our immediate attention.”

On the flip side, Bottin said there were many good things about the job she’s had at SMSU.

“I would have to say it has been everything from the wonderful staff I have and how we can make our hard work a fun experience to the students and faculty that thank us for the day-to-day jobs we do to keep the facilities looking good or the extra mile things we do to help an event go smoothly,” Bottin said. “Watching freshman students start their adventures to the time they leave at commencement and the hugs they give us for making them feel they were well taken care of while at SMSU are just a few of the things at the top of the list.”

Bottin is looking forward to the reception on Monday, though it will be bittersweet moments.

“I am looking forward to seeing people I might not see after leaving SMSU and sharing fun moments with others, too,” she said. “I will miss the people — staff, faculty and students — the most. I have made some lasting friendships at SMSU.”

Art Professor Bob Dorlac

Bob Dorlac recalls good memories during his 16-year career as an art professor at SMSU.

“I taught drawing, painting and printmaking at SMSU for 16 years,” he said. “I was treated extremely well at SMSU. It’s a great place to work — I was very lucky to have been hired.”

While he enjoyed his job, Dorlac is quick to note that it was the people who made the experience worthwhile.

“The best thing about my job were the great people — the students, colleagues and staff — at SMSU,” Dorlac said. “I will miss the students at SMSU the most.”

According to Dorlac, completing paperwork on time was the biggest challenge.

As for the future, Dorlac said he’s very much looking forward to retirement.

“I’ll have more time to make art, read, fish and play with grandchildren,” he said.

10 years

Cindy Aamlid, Associate Professor, Sociology

Michelle Beach, Professor, Education

Brett Gaul, Professor, Philosophy

Denise Gochenouer, Associate Professor, Marketing

Alma Hale, Professor, Art

Sangnyeol Jung, Associate Professor, Agribusiness Management

Maria Kingsbury, Associate Professor, Library

Jesse Nelson, Head Wrestling Coach/Assistant Professor

Michele Sterner, Associate Director/Academic Specialist:  Academic Counselor

David Volden, Campus Security Officer

Christina Westfield, Database/Programmer Analyst, Information Technology Services

Mara Wiggins, Collection Management E-Resources Librarian/Assistant Professor

15 years

Frankie Albitz, Professor, Physical Education

Jessica Bentley, Assistant Director, Residential Life

Carol Bossuyt, Accounting Supervisor, Intermediate, Business Services

Sandy Craner, Professor, Biology

Robert Dorlac, Professor, Art

BC Franson, Associate Professor, Justice Administration

Tony Greenfield, Professor, Biology

Jeff Jennings, Grounds & Roads Maintenance Supervisor

Dennis Lamb, Professor, Education

Patricia Myrvik, Assistant Athletic Trainer/Aquatics Director

Raphael Onyeaghala, Dean, Business, Education & Professional Studies

Wendy Schoolmeester, Professor, Education

Judy Wilson, Professor, English

20 years

Tim Alcorn, Director, University Conferencing & Events

Lori Baker, Professor, English

Melissa Bromen, Office Specialist, athletics; Office & Administrative Specialist, student govt.

Jay Brown, Professor, Chemistry

Corey Butler, Professor, Psychology

Faye Johnson, Customer Service Specialist Senior, Education

Kelly Loft, Director, Athletic Communications

Lon Richardson, Professor, Education

Ruthe Thompson, Professor, English

25 years

Jeffrey Kolnick, Professor, History

Bill Mulso, Vice President, Advancement; Executive Director, Foundation

Linda Nelson, Director, Academic Commons

Don Robertson, Director, International Student Services

Bob Schwoch, Electronics Technician

30 years

PooBear Gagnon, General Maintenance Worker

Susan McLean, Professor, English

35 years

Gloria Thompson, Office & Administrative Specialist Senior, Admission

40 years

Kathy Wilking, Customer Service Specialist Senior, Registration & Advising

45 years

Stu Galstad, Electronics Technician Senior


Laura Bottin, Building Services Manager – 12 years of service

Jim Carver, College Lab Assistant – 7 years of service

Robert Dorlac, Professor, Art – 16 years of service

Betsy Desy, Professor, Biology – 29 years of service

Stu Galstad, Electronics Technician Senior – 45 years of service

Mark Goodenow, Professor, Business Administration – 30 years of service

Chris Hebrank, General Maintenance Worker – 11 years of service

Kris Henspeter, Office & Administrative Specialist Senior – 29 years of service

JoAnne Hinckley, Assistant Professor, Education – 12 years of service

William Lee, Instructor, Mathematics – 1 year of service

Susan McLean, Professor, English – 30 years of service

Mary Meaden, Information Technology Specialist 3 – 34 years of service

Don Robertson, Director, International Student Services – 25 years of service

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IMAGE: Logo SMSU – Wikipedia

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