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Catawba's Dr. Steve Coggin Retires After 34 Years of Service

May 11, 2019

Category: Academics, Biology, Events, Faculty

co-coggin.pngDr. Steve Coggin, a professor of Biology and director of the Center for International Studies who is retiring July 31, was recognized during Catawba College's Graduation Exercise on May 11.

Coggin joined the faculty at Catawba College in 1985, and has held several positions since that time, including Department Chair, Dean, Director of Institutional Research, and Associate Provost, but he says he has always thought of himself as a professor. And the role of professor, he notes, has changed over time, and so has he. He has adopted, and sometimes adopted then discarded new philosophies, ideas, approaches and techniques, keeping, he says, "what works and letting the rest go."

Students too have changed, Coggin shares, and now "screens seem to rule all aspects of our students' existence – these are part of the educational landscape – these are realities that must be accepted and even leveraged to promote student learning."

Coggin thinks of his achievements in terms of helping students, staff and faculty accomplish their goals. He says that he "derives a great deal of pleasure hearing from former students and sharing in their joys and sorrows."


His colleagues describe him as curious, dedicated, thorough, an outstanding scientist and scholar who cares about his students and his peers, and most importantly, he cares about creatures great and small – especially birds. In fact, one of Dr. Coggin's goals in retirement is to see 10% of all the birds in the world, continuing to travel as he pursues this longtime passion as a birdwatcher and chronicler.

Coggin and wife Diane arrived in Salisbury at Catawba in the summer of 1985. He had just completed his Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Georgia at Athens. Prior to his arrival in North Carolina, this West Palm Beach, Florida native had attended Broward Community College for one year before transferring to Florida State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree.

Known for taking a complex idea and making it concrete for his students, Coggin was awarded the Swink Prize for Outstanding Classroom Teaching in the 1996-1997 academic year. He received the Trustee Award for Outstanding Contribution to the College in the 2017-2018 academic

Even before he was named Director of the Center for International Studies, Coggin traveled with his students to such places as the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, Belize, and Jamaica.

He cites some of Catawba's most memorable achievements during his tenure as the strengthening of faculty with superior education and experience, and the establishment of a conservation easement that protects the 189-acre Stanback Ecological Preserve.

Coggin's parting words for students: "Remember us. Keep in touch. Let us know how you are doing." His advice for new faculty who will come after him, "Students first ... and maintain a balance in your life."

What he wants his colleagues to remember about him is that "Strategy was his strength, and not disaster."


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