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 Montpelier Magazine


You call these professors retiring?
Twenty-one veteran faculty members say goodbye to JMU

DURING A SPECIAL RECEPTION on James Madison Day 2003, JMU President Linwood H. Rose honored 21 faculty members who retired this summer.

"Each of your careers is filled with the countless acts of dedication to teaching and learning that often go uncelebrated," said Rose. "It is the small scenes that pass between teacher and student that accumulate over the course of a career that have the greatest effect. For this devotion to students, we can do no more than thank you. Each of your careers is also filled with the distinction and achievement that has built the reputation of JMU to its exceptional state today. For this professionalism, we are proud to have been your colleagues."



Nicholas Bankson
Helped develop JMU's first Ph.D. programs
Speech pathology professor
Head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

"The most memorable aspect of working at JMU for over nine years has been the challenges and humor of working with colleagues and students," says speech pathology professor Nicholas Bankson. "I have also thoroughly enjoyed the physical beauty of the JMU campus and the modesty of an outstanding community of administrators, faculty, staff and students."

Bankson was instrumental in the development of the Ph.D. programs in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the national ranking of the programs by U.S. News & World Report. He has also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

After retirement, Bankson plans to continue his professional involvement through consulting with universities interested in developing their CSD programs and through accreditation activities of his professional organization. He will also serve as chair of Boston's Fisher College Board of Trustees. On a personal level, Bankson hopes to spend more time with his three children and their families and work on his golf game when he moves to the Naples, Fla., Wilderness Country Club Community.

Linda Bradley, education professor
Enhanced Mid-Valley Consortium for Teacher Ed

Linda Bradley, director of the Education Support Center, has contributed her time and talents in JMU's education program for the last seven years. In addition to teaching, Bradley has worked hard to enhance the operation of the Mid-Valley Consortium for Teacher Education. This program has trained more than 700 clinical faculty members who mentor JMU student teachers. She has regularly served on accreditation teams for the Virginia Department of Education and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. While serving on the NCATE, Bradley has been a nationally recognized trainer and consultant for various colleges and universities.

In 1999, Bradley received the Distinguished Service Award from the Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa for her professional contributions to leadership, practice, research, scholarship and service. Bradley's colleagues in higher education and P-12 presented her with the award, making it a "particularly meaningful experience."

Bradley has thoroughly enjoyed her time at JMU and working with the dedicated, talented team in the Education Support Center. After retirement, she plans to continue her national accreditation work, consulting practices, gardening, reading, traveling and visiting her two sons in Santa Fe and Chicago.

Bruce Busching
Wrote New Approaches to Power in Grassroots Coalition Building
Sociology professor

Bruce C. Busching, professor of sociology, earned his bachelor's and doctoral degrees from Stanford University.

During his tenure at JMU, Busching taught courses in Critical Theory, Politics, Social Stratification and Social Movements. His research focused on U. S. politics, critical theory and methodology. His recent publications include the chapter, "New Approaches to Power in Grassroots Coalition Building," with R. Gingerich, published in Studies in Feminist Power (University of South Carolina Press, 1999).

Bushing also served as faculty adviser for JMU's chapter of the independent Young Socialist League. YSL-JMU is a feminist, anti-racist, democratic, socialist organization whose projects have ranged from prison reform to its "Stamp Out the Hate Day."


Maynard "Butch" Filter
Earned full national accreditation for speech pathology and audiology
Speech pathology professor

Speech pathology professor Maynard Filter's 26-year career has enhanced the recognition and services of the communication sciences and disorders programs offered at JMU.

Under his direction, the speech pathology and audiology programs earned full national accreditation. He also helped the communication sciences and disorders graduate program gain national recognition. Filter guided JMU's annual Scottish Rite Language Disorders Summer Clinic, a program designed to provide speech-language services to 25 children each summer. Not only did the Scottish Rite program assist children, but it also helped established fellowships that fund three graduate students every year.

Filter's fondest JMU memory is "Phonetics at 8 o'clock," he says. "What a good time. To make allophones and phonemes rhyme, what a great way to start the day. This, I will miss."


Rex Fuller
Helped establish the Conflict and Mediation Studies
Communication studies professor

Communications studies professor Rex Fuller looks forward to sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, teaching part time and spending time with his grandchildren during his retirement. Fuller has contributed to many developing programs at JMU and recognizes "the impact of his mentors on his success as a JMU faculty member."

Fuller participated in the establishment of the Conflict and Mediation Studies Program, which teaches positive principled conflict management skills. He also had the opportunity to teach the Freshman Seminar, which he singles out as "the most important activity that influenced his teaching."

During the development of the General Education Program, Fuller served as a Cluster One coordinator, which allowed him to contribute to the university and its students for many years. In 1986, Fuller was awarded the Distinguished Communicator Award by the Virginia Speech Communication Association. A variety of mentors throughout his career helped Fuller understand the power of vision, scholarly integrity and the value of making a commitment and never giving up. W. Clement Stone's quotation, "whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve" has guided Fuller throughout his career as a faculty member at JMU.

Frank Gerome
Kept a wary eye on propaganda and technology
History professor

Frank Gerome has spent the last 35 years helping his students reach a deeper understanding of history and culture. His wife assisted him in making the decision to teach at the college level, he says, and she has played an important role as a partner throughout his life and career.

A particularly fond JMU memory was his "collaboration with several colleagues to preserve the physics major," says Gerome, who also emphasized to his students the role of propaganda as technology improves to convey information.

A quote by Andre Malraux in the April 27, 1968, issue of The Saturday Review of Literatureserves as Gerome's motto. "If I can say to myself on dying that there are thousands of young people who, thanks to my work, have seen the opening of a window by which they can escape the rigors of technocracy, the aggressiveness of advertising, the need to always make more money for leisure activities which are, for the most part, violent or vulgar - if I can say that, I will die happy. I assure you."

Gerome says, "Harrisonburg and Madison College were very different places when we arrived in the summer of 1968. Like all changes in history there are trade-offs, but I have no plans to relocate."


Ann Marie Leonard
Established the Young Children's Program
Early childhood education professor

In her 29 years at JMU, Leonard has not only brought many great programs to the education program, but has received personal accomplishments and recognitions that continue to contribute to the success of JMU's early childhood education program.

One of her greatest contributions to the university came after the closing of the Anthony-Seeger Campus School in 1982. Leonard established a laboratory preschool classroom for 3- and 4-year-old children called the Young Children's Program. Leonard was the first coordinator of YCP and was responsible for all the policies and procedures of its operation. The YCP has continually operated since 1982, and more than 800 children have benefited from the program.

Leonard also found her role as a faculty member important to the success and professional preparation of thousands of teachers for young children. She always set high standards for student performance, which helped build the positive reputation the JMU education program has gained. Leonard also served on the committee that helped develop the Madison Scholar Program, which honors and recognizes distinguished scholars among the JMU faculty.

Last year, Leonard was awarded the College of Education's Outstanding Service Award. In addition to serving as the president of the Virginia Association for Early Childhood Education, she also served on the association's board of directors for more than 20 years. She has also served as a member of the National Association for Early Childhood Education's professional development panel. Along with two other professors, Leonard was selected to create the standards for the Early Childhood Teacher Preparatory Program.

Leonard's motto comes from Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." To Leonard, this quote signifies the high expectations she has had for her students. Upon retirement, Leonard plans to consult, contribute to the Farmer's Market, garden, relax and write.

Terry Lepera
Helped create the computer science program
Mathematics professor

"Whatever affects JMU affects me, because I feel that I have in a small way woven myself, or been woven into, the fabric of the university," says 35-year veteran faculty member Terry Lepera.

Lepera, a mathematics professor, feels that his entire family is in a way a part of JMU. Even though neither of his children attended the university, their first words were "Mommy," "Daddy," "doggie" and "Burwuth," for Burruss Hall. Lepera's late wife earned her M.A. degree at JMU, was an officer of the JMU Women's Club and an adviser to the Delta Gamma sorority. Over the years, Lepera has contributed a great deal to the JMU community and the mathematics department while making "both JMU and Harrisonburg a home for my family."

Lepera says, "Along with my wonderful colleagues in the department, college and university, I have changed constantly. Many things now taught even in general education courses were only seen in graduate school or not at all when I first came here."

The professor helped develop the college's curriculum and chaired the department's Curriculum and Instruction Committee for 20 years. He was also the college's nominee for university Teacher of the Year. He helped create the computer science program and has fond memories of all of his students, who he calls "crazy, lazy, brilliant, hardworking and, though they probably would not want this classification, basically sweet students."

In retirement, Lepera says he will "spend time with his first grandchild, improve his woodworking skills, take up bowling again and hopefully volunteer at his church or elsewhere."


Challace McMillin
Helped establish football and track
First football coach, kinesiology professor

Kinesiology professor Challace McMillin is a student's dream come true because of his philosophy on the profession. I "truly believe that teaching enables one to make a difference in the lives of people," he says. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to experience my passion to teach and coach young people every day."

During his tenure at JMU, McMillin helped establish the football and track programs, developed the coaching minor and created the folio that resulted in national accreditation of the program. He says, "I've made it a priority to provide students with the best learning experience possible. I challenged them to be creative thinkers, problem solvers and to make application of their knowledge."

After retirement McMillin plans to teach part time at JMU while spending his free time fishing, gardening and visiting his children and grandchildren. McMillin's many accomplishments at JMU include receiving the James Madison Distinguished Faculty Award from the Alumni Association in 1999, being selected as Virginia College Coach of the Year on two occasions, and earning the American Football Coaches' Association Regional Kodak Coach of the Year. McMillin was inducted into the JMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994.

The academics support center of the future Athletics Performing Center is named in his honor.

Gordon Miller
Developed library's reference desk and instruction services
Professor and information services librarian

If you've ever received help with research or finding a book in the maze of Carrier Library, you have Gordon Miller to thank for the help that you received. For over 12 years, Miller has been the information services librarian at JMU, providing help for students and faculty members while also writing and serving on committees for his other passion, genealogy.

Miller is responsible for initiating and developing the library's reference desk and instruction services and daily assists students and faculty members with research needs. He says that his "greatest satisfaction has been to work closely with many faculty members and students. The verbal and written appreciation expressed by many that I have worked with will be a lasting memory."

Through the auspices of Friends of Carrier Library, Miller has developed and presented genealogy workshops, and in 1989, he published Rockingham: An Annotated Bibliography of a Virginia County. After retirement, he plans to update the bibliography, complete his own family's genealogy, work part time, volunteer and improve his German reading skills.

Miller's genealogy work also includes service on the Genealogy Committee of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, which honored him with their Meritorious Citation in 1989.

A firm believer since his high school graduation in the saying "nothing is gained without work," Miller hopes that in his time at JMU he has "treated those I have worked with as I would want them to treat me."

Cameron Nickels
Wrote New England Humor: From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War
English professor

English professor Cameron Nickels is well known for his sense of humor, from the anecdotes he shares in English and American studies classes to his ever-present grin. In fact, he feels that one of his most significant contributions to the university is his humor in addition to his "conviction that the faculty knows best when it comes to education" and his "hope that the term 'good administrator' is not an oxymoron."

Nickels' humor extends beyond the classroom. For years he has edited the academic journal on American humor, To Wit. In 1993 he published New England Humor: From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, and after he retires, he will work on another book about Civil War humor while spending more time playing music and traveling to France.

He is proud to be the first male elected to an office in the Faculty Women's Caucus, and his fondest memory from his career at JMU happened during a question-and-answer period at a faculty committee meeting called "The Freshman Seminar." He asked the moderator what the administration would do to implement the program, and the moderator responded, "Whatever it takes."

Inspired by the saying, "even if it works out that you didn't know what was best for you, you still knew better than anyone else did at the time," Nickels has learned through his teaching experiences that "somehow I did everything I thought one was supposed to do to be at the top of the profession, and yet I found ultimately that it all didn't mean that anymore."

Richard Roberds
Directed ISAT for its first eight years
Integrated science and technology professor

You can literally call integrated science and technology professor Richard Roberds a "top gun" in the JMU faculty. Before joining the JMU faculty, Roberds was a full colonel in the United States Air Force, which he served for 23 years as a fighter pilot and research and development manager. He is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War and was part of a top-secret task force that provided air support to the Cambodian government against communist forces.

He has also served as a dean, associate dean, department head and faculty member at Clemson University, University of Tennessee at Martin and the University of Tennessee Space Institute. At JMU, Roberds was a founding member of the College of Integrated Science and Technology and served as the director of the Integrated Science and Technology program for its first eight years.

Roberds calls his time at JMU "the most enjoyable 10 years of my 47 years of professional employment. JMU sets the standard for all U.S. universities with its effectiveness in undergraduate education, the exceptional quality of its programs, but, most important, its sincere concern for the students. And that's not to mention the beauty of its campus."

He remembers when he first arrived 10 years ago, the entire eastern campus was farmland, and he was invited to participate in building the "new college" - the College of Integrated Science and Technology. He helped build and develop the curriculum of an innovative science program, hire new faculty members, participate in designing the new buildings and direct the program for eight years."

During the building of CISAT and the ISAT programs, Roberds found his inner strength by recalling a story from the Bible in which Zerubbabel has been asked to reconstruct the temple at Jerusalem after it had been destroyed: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord Almighty. And they will bring forth the capstone with shouts of grace, grace to it."

Roberds plans to teach part time at JMU, since "in the midst of the hard work and often extreme busyness, I was able to gain tremendous joy from being at JMU and working with its administration, faculty and staff."

Bijan Saadatmand
Known as Uncle Bijan to all international students
Psychology professor and International Student/Faculty Programs director

Psychology professor Bijan Saadatmand has directed the International Student/Faculty Programs since 1972. "Providing assistance to the entire university's need in connection to the international population at JMU was one of my greatest joys," says Saadatmand. 

Saadatmand also coordinated JMU's International Graduate School Admission program and the Special (short-term) International Student Admission program through the Continuing Education Program.

The professor says, "I deeply cherish a very close relationship with most of our international students and above of all, I enjoy being referred to as 'Uncle Bijan.' I also enjoy meeting my international students' parents to reassure them that I will look after their childrens' well being like [they are] my own family."

Born in Iran, Saadatmand came to America as an international transfer student in August 1960.  In retirement, he hopes to spend more time on his hobbies, including flower gardening, music, dance, carpentry and lecturing on the psychodynamics of international affairs.

John Taylor
Taught in ISAT's energy sector
Integrated science and technology professor

A professor of integrated science and technology, John "Jack" Taylor III earned his Ph.D. in physics from Arizona State University.

Prior to joining the JMU faculty, Taylor's career included 13 years with Dominion Virginia Power as power station manager, district manager and environmental manager. He also worked for the Arizona Public Service Company for five years. His specializations include competition in the electric utility industry, energy policy and environment.

Taylor was a member of JMU's Industrial Affiliates Program and taught in the energy sector of the program. "The mission of the energy sector is to provide JMU students with a broad set of skills and knowledge pertaining to energy and the role of energy in society," says Taylor.

Richard Travis
Made training videos for U.S. Public Health Service
Professor of health sciences

"My first interview took place in the first McDonald's in Harrisonburg, which everyone was extremely excited about at the time," says Richard Travis, health sciences professor. 

In his 28 years at JMU, Travis has had the opportunity to get to know the "wonderful, competent faculty members who are fun to work with," he says. "I am thankful for having been able to share this time with them."

One of the accomplishments Travis is most proud of is that as Faculty Senate speaker, he recommended that "the NCAA basketball playoff funds given to the faculty by the president be used to establish a computer lottery for faculty members." The program is still in place today.

Travis has also chaired the University Faculty Assistance Advisory Committee and the College of Integrated Science and Technology Faculty Development Committee, where he has provided faculty members with many research, teaching and development activities.

Travis served as photographer and scriptwriter for three food service and sanitation training videos for the U.S. Public Health Service. These presentations ended up being used throughout the United States for training food service personnel. He also served the environmental sanitation consultant at Grand Teton and Glacier National Parks.

In retirement Travis plans to teach part time at JMU and to continue his missionary work, based on his belief that "our Creator has put us here for a purpose to respond to the opportunities that His still small voice presents."

Travis hopes that his students remember him "as a professor who was demanding, but one that truly cared that they developed intellectually, emotionally and with a sense of wonder of this world and our responsibility to be socially responsible and good stewards of its resources." He also thanks his students for teaching him "not to judge a book by its cover," because he has learned that first impressions may not be accurate in displaying a wonderful personality.

He also earned the College of Integrated Science and Technology Distinguished Service Award for 2003. This award recognizes outstanding professionally related service at the university, local, regional and national levels.

"I am very honored with this award because of the high standards set by previous awardees," says Travis. "I enjoy the variety of responsibilities that teaching offers."

"Teaching is both challenging and exciting," says Travis. "The challenge and excitement lies within the academic material, decisions on choreography of presentation and the fun of student interaction. It's hard to cite a favorite subject as teaching is like a symphony in that all parts blend together. I hope my students remember me as a professor who was demanding, but one who truly cared that they developed intellectually and emotionally. It is particularly gratifying to help students either by personal mentoring or by structure of assignments and feedback come to a more mature appreciation of their abilities or sophistication of academic endeavor."

Travis's advice to new graduates: "Two things: don't be afraid to ask your future supervisor clarifying questions about an assignment. And, to be a true professional requires doing what is morally right."  

Joel Vedelli
Coordinated recreation studies and then sports management
Kinesiology professor

When Joel Vedelli first came to JMU, "the School of Kinesiology and Recreation Studies only had 25 students and was called the department of physical and health education."

Twenty-nine years later, it has grown to an enrollment of more than 200 students. "Being a part of this school and being able to teach and work with people like Marilyn Crawford, Rosie Pummel, Pat Bruce, Lee Morrison and many, many others has been an honor and privilege," says Vedelli.

During the 1980s, Vedelli served as the undergraduate program coordinator for the school, and from 1990 to 2003 he was the sports management coordinator. He also helped charter JMU's chapter of Phi Epsilon Kappa, the international professional fraternity for kinesiology.

The professor serves as president of the Virginia Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. He has also received the association's Honor Award. In 1996 he received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics at Eastern Kentucky University for his professional service at the state, regional and national levels.

After he retires, Vedelli plans to relax by fishing on the Chesapeake Bay and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He also hopes to teach part time, travel and spend time with his children and grandson.


Charles Ziegenfus
Named 2001-02 Distinguished Teacher in Science and Mathematics
Mathematics professor

Mathematics professor Charles Ziegenfus says, "It has been a wonderful experience to be associated with so many fine people of the JMU community." His fondest memory is teaching three of his daughters in mathematics classes and attending all of their graduation ceremonies.

Ziegenfus has based his "very rewarding, fulfilling and meaningful" 42-year teaching career on something that two of his "most memorable and stimulating" undergraduate professors, Johannes Ott and Marlyn Rader, told him. While encouraging him to consider teaching mathematics, Ott said, "When you look back 20 years from now, you will want to say that you have had 20 years of teaching experience and not that you have been teaching for 20 years with one year of experience."

For 11 years, Ziegenfus chaired the University Honors Day program, and was named the 2001-02 Distinguished Teacher of the Year in the College of Science and Mathematics. In 1989, the American Association of Higher Education recognized Ziegenfus for his extraordinary teaching.

He credits his success to his mathematics philosophy, which is "take those with negative attitudes about mathematics and change these attitudes to neutral or positive ones. For those that are indifferent, open the door and make them feel part of the world of mathematics. Finally, for those that love mathematics, continue and foster this abiding interest in mathematics to its maximum."

Ziegenfus also integrated his love of birds into his teaching. He is proud of "creating an interest and passion for birds and their behavior for many students," including a graduate who recently received her doctorate in ornithology. After retiring, he hopes to travel and spend more time doing field research on the dark-eyed junco and the white-throated sparrow.

Celena Mack ('03), Allison Mall ('04), Ashley Walkley ('03), Michelle Hite ('88)


Unavailable for interviews, but also retiring were:

Clinton Bennett, professor of communication sciences and disorders
Gary Crowther, professor of chemistry
Phillip Emmert, professor of communication studies
Caroline Marshall, professor of history


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