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Early retirements take toll
The lure of early retirements is hitting the University hard. Among faculty and administrators alone, 56 long-serving employees have opted to leave effective June 1, leaving big shoes to fill next fall.
Dozens of other employees also have given notice to the Department of Human Resources that they will retire.
The list of retirees reads like a who's who of the Storrs campus, including Carol Wiggins, Ann Huckenbeck, Harry Johnson, Bernard Magubane and George Cole.
For many, the timing was right to move on.
"It was time to retire," said Cole, a professor of political science and its department head. "I think everybody will know when they are ready, but more than that I had made a commitment to myself years ago that I would retire early. It's increasingly difficult as you get older to communicate effectively with 18-year-olds. The slang is different and the jokes are different."
In retirement, he plans to travel with his wife and revise textbooks.
"I wanted to retire going out on top," said Cole, who joined UConn in 1969. "I have seen too many people stay on too long and they become less effective as educators."
Magubane, a professor of anthropology, is heading back home to South Africa after 27 years at the University. He came to the United States in 1961 to better campaign for an end to apartheid.
"I think one of the most important things I will miss about teaching is coming into contact with different generations of students, most of whom have never been taught by a black person or let alone an African with an accent like mine," Magubane said.
Home to North
She's moving this week to Raleigh, N.C., to return to her native state. On July 1, she will join Peace College as vice president for marketing and enrollment. "I could not see myself not working," she said.
Peace College is a small private college for women, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church that recently started to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees.
She said her departure is bittersweet. "It's very sad to leave here because I love it," Huckenbeck said. She has served 26 years as a UConn employee. Before that she was a student, earning bachelor's and doctoral degrees.
Another retiree, Joan Hall, a professor of English, was the first woman to be hired in a tenure-track position in her department.
"On a personal level, I am looking forward to becoming a different person," she said. "Instead of being someone who plans every minute and is often as most faculty living one or two semesters into the future, I am going to become a person who lives in the moment.
"I found myself saying to my husband this morning, 'In what order shall I plan not to do things today?'"
She said she has seen growth in the number of women teaching at the University during the last 30 years.
"I've seen the University become a much more hospitable place for women faculty," she said.
Herbert Getter, a professor of psychology, is wrapping up 33 years service. He and his wife still plan to stay in the area.
"The University has enriched our lives," he said. "I hope it's going to continue to do so." He plans to continue some professional activity, do some private consulting, research and some writing and teaching.
"My colleagues, former students - a lot of them are friends - are the best," he said. "I never want to lose contact with them."
Philip Rosenberg, professor and head of the pharmacy department, has mixed feelings about retirement.
"I feel like I have done a lot here, but you never accomplish everything you wanted," he said.
During his career here, he saw the toxicology program expand, he established the International Society of Toxicology and edited the society's journal, Toxicon, for more than 25 years.
He said he will likely move to New Jersey to be closer to his children, and pursue religious studies.
Thomas Giolas, dean of the graduate school and vice provost for research and economic development, said he has no immediate plans in retirement.
"Deciding to come to the University of Connecticut was the best professional decision I ever made," he said. "The University gave me an opportunity to do whatever I wanted in my career without moving: teaching, research, administration."
Wiggins, the vice president for student affairs, is grateful for all the support she has received for her retirement.
"People have been so extraordinarily generous in all they have said and done," she said. "It is incredible to me to receive so many thanks and compliments for doing what I have loved to all these years. It'll be different. I've never been retired before."
Wiggins came to UConn in 1963 as a graduate student. She plans to rest during retirement, but eventually work a few days a week with students at another institution.
"I'm going to try to see if I can live a summer unscheduled," she said.
Her best memory of UConn? The students.
"I've been quoted again and again saying that our students are our bottom line," Wiggins said. "I really believe that. They're the reason we exist as a university."
The following faculty and
administrators plan to retire June 1: