Written by: Lucas Bueno and Madison Wilcox
This semester, nine employees will retire from Southern Adventist University, according to Director for Human Resources Amy Steele. Steele said the number of retirees varies annually, depending largely on when employees reach retirement age.
One of the retiring faculty members is Sylvia Mayer, who served as an associate professor at the School of Nursing for 21 years.
In an email interview with the Accent, Mayer described her students as being the most enjoyable aspect of her job.
“There is nothing quite as rewarding as seeing the metamorphosis of a young person as they become a professional and competent nurse,” Mayer said.
Mayer’s husband, Professor Harold Mayer, is also retiring in May. He started his job in the School of Health and Kinesiology in 2004 and stated in an email interview with the Accent that his time at Southern “… has given [him] good experience in the field of metabolic efficiency.”
Harold Mayer said he will miss sharing this learning with his students.
In retirement, he looks forward to “a ministry to travel and teach metabolic efficiency to those whom I come in contact with,” he said.
Mathematics Professor Ron Johnson will also retire this May, after 16 years of service at Southern.
Johnson said he will miss working with the students and the other “terrific teachers” in the department. He also said he would miss biking the 25 miles round trip to work every day, though he plans to continue enjoying the hobby in retirement.
Chair of the Mathematics Department Kevin Brown expressed his appreciation for Johnson’s contributions to the department in a written statement to the Accent.
“Dr. Ron Johnson has been an integral part of our Math Department — a valued friend and colleague,” Brown said. “He has contributed significantly to the department through his participation. He has always been very friendly to our students, and his cheerful disposition will be missed.”
After 21 years at Southern’s School of Journalism and Communication, Professor Pamela Harris will also retire this semester.
School of Journalism and Communication Dean Rachel Williams-Smith expressed her appreciation for Harris’ contributions at Southern.
“Dr. Harris [has been] a highly creative, caring faculty member to work with over the past five years,” said Williams-Smith, who has headed the department since 2017. “I appreciate being able to turn to her for a listening ear, a caring heart and great advice from time to time when I’ve needed it. And I’m going to miss that.”
Janita Herod, office manager for the School of Religion, will also be retiring this semester.
“For the last 23 years, Janita R. Herod has been a blessing to the Southern Adventist University campus, first as office manager in the School of Journalism and Communication for 17 years, and for the last six years as office manager in the School of Religion,” School of Religion Dean Greg King said in an email to staff and faculty. “She has been a real ray of sunshine, illuminating the campus with joy and unselfish service!”
Another professor who will be retiring this semester is Ruth Williams, professor at the School of Education and Psychology. According to an email sent to Southern staff and faculty by the School of Education and Psychology Dean Tammy Overstreet, Williams has served at Southern for more than 26 years.
One of Williams’ students, senior psychology and industrial organization major Jon Pinero, described Williams’ influence on him personally.
“Growing up, I was taught to put all your heart and soul into anything that you do; however, I have never seen anyone that lives out these words more than Dr. Williams,” Pinero said. “She has a way of teaching difficult and boring topics through the lens of inspiration and intriguing insight. Furthermore, she has such a caring heart for her students that I have not seen elsewhere. From the bottom of my heart, I will forever be thankful for the contributions Dr. Williams has given to our department.”
School of Health and Kinesiology Professor and Gym-Masters Coach Richard Schwarz will retire as well. Schwarz led Gym-Masters for 22 years and hosted his final Home Show on April 9 and 10.
Other staff and faculty members retiring this semester include Circulation Manager for the McKee Library Carol Harrison and Director for Alumni Relations Evonne Crook.
Southern President Ken Shaw expressed his appreciation for the retirees in an email statement to the Accent.
“For those who have decided to retire this year, thank you for the many years you have provided Southern Adventist University and for your dedicated service and care in the mission of transforming lives for eternity!” Shaw wrote. “I wish you God’s richest blessings in the years ahead.”