Retiring Faculty Share Thoughts on Their Time at Catawba
May 9, 2009
Two retiring members of Catawba College's faculty were recognized at commencement exercises held in Keppel Auditorium on May 9th. Dr. Andrew A. Vance, Jr., a professor of modern foreign languages and business law, and Dr. Patricia Whitley, professor of physical education and recreation, both retired from the College after a combined 88 years of service, effective May 31st. The Catawba College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to elect Drs. Vance and Whitley to the rank of professor emeritus at its May 16th meeting.
Drs. Vance and Whitley were also recognized by their colleagues at Catawba at the annual end-of-the-year faculty/staff luncheon held May 6th in the Cannon Student Center on campus. At the event, each of them was honored with a special song written especially to mark their retirement and each received the traditional Catawba College retirement gift, a rocking chair bearing the Catawba seal.
Dr. Andrew A. Vance, Jr.
Professor of Modern Foreign Languages and Business Law
Dr. Vance retired with 43 years of service to Catawba. He earned his undergraduate degree at Davidson College and his master's degree and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.
Before joining the Catawba faculty in the 1966-1967 academic year as a professor of French, he held teaching positions in France, at LSU, and at Arkansas College, now Lyon College. Between 1973 and 1976, he took leave of absence from Catawba to earn his law degree from Wake Forest University.
During his tenure at Catawba, Dr. Vance received the Phi Epsilon Award and the Teacher of the Year Award. He was honored in the 1987-1988 academic year as the recipient of the Swink Prize for Outstanding Classroom Teaching, and in 2000, he was named the Weaver Endowed Professor of Humanities. At Catawba's Awards Convocation in April, he received the Trustee Award for Outstanding Contribution to the College and the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. He has served as Catawba's faculty advisor for Phi Sigma Iota, the modern foreign language honor society.
Married to wife Frances, Dr. Vance and she are parents of two adult daughters, Sara and Caroline, and make their home in Salisbury. In retirement, he hopes to travel some to visit daughter Caroline in San Francisco and daughter Sara in Lyon, France, "so I can walk the Roman ruins."
When interviewed about his tenure at Catawba, Dr. Vance called himself "very lucky or very blessed, depending on your philosophical orientation," and said, "I have not had any real disasters in my life and looking back, I've enjoyed some parts of it more than others." He expressed gratitude to Catawba for allowing him the three-year leave of absence to pursue his law degree in the early 70s and noted that the college's greatest attribute was "its small student to faculty ratio."
He recalled with fondness his mentor and colleague, the late Dr. Johnny Young, a fellow modern foreign languages professor at Catawba, "who really looked after me when I first came, who cushioned my path almost scandalously."
He noted that late College President Dr. Martin Shotzberger "had a lot of ambition for the college," wanting to increase its enrollment and the number of faculty with terminal degrees. He credited late College President Dr. Stephen Wurster with taking on as his mission "the improvement in the way the campus looked."
His advice to others: "Try to remember that everyone has to find and follow his own path."
Dr. Patricia Whitley
Professor of Physical Education and Recreation
Dr. Whitley, who was the senior faculty member at Catawba, retired after 45 years of service.
She earned her undergraduate degree from Lenoir Rhyne College, her master's degree from Appalachian State University, and her doctorate in education from UNC-Greensboro. Prior to joining Catawba's faculty, she worked as a graduate assistant instructor at Appalachian.
Her coaching experience at Catawba is extensive and includes field hockey, volleyball, tennis, softball, basketball and serving as an advisor for cheerleading. She has been honored at Catawba by being inducted into its Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and with the establishment in 1999 of the Patricia R. Whitley Award and in 2001, the Pat Whitley Endowed Scholarship. She was honored at Catawba as the recipient of the Swink Prize for Outstanding Classroom Teaching during the 1984-85 academic year, in 2000, as the recipient of the Paul Fisher Service Award, and with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 2002.
Active in community service and a tireless advocate on behalf of special needs populations, she was honored in 1990 with the Rowan Civitan Club's annual Award for Volunteer Service. In 1996, she accepted on behalf of the College's Physical Education Department the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Association for Retarded Citizens, earned partly due to her advocacy and leadership.
When interviewed about her tenure at Catawba, Dr. Whitley recalled her arrival at age 21 when the only female sport was field hockey. "Because I liked sports, I started other sports because of the girls," she explained. While there was no funding for female sports, Dr. Whitley and her female athletes made the best of the situation in which they found themselves. Without uniforms, they wore t-shirts and shorts and used athletic tape to put numbers on. She drove her '66 Ford Galaxy filled with players to games and other players drove their cars as well. The Women's Athletic Association was a club on campus and "they did a lot of fundraisers" like making stools, selling Pepsis at intramural games, and ironing the clothing of the male students.
"I was always positive when I was teaching, but not always positive when I was coaching because I was fighting inequity."
While she taught and coached, she also honed her passion for community service, particularly for the special needs population and the elderly. "I've always felt that every teacher should know about them so that they could make a difference," she explained.
She recalled a college community that was close-knit and faculty meetings held at night "where there was time to socialize and get to know each other afterwards." And, if she could, she explained that "I'd like to be back at Catawba coaching and teaching in the late 60s and early 70s."
Her advice to those who come after her: "Be loyal to who you work for and be positive."
In retirement, she plans to be active in Rowan County's Citizens Police Academy and the Crime Stoppers Board and to devote plenty of quality time to her 99-year-old mother. This fall will find her teaching only one class at Catawba, the 7:45 a.m. Elementary Physical Education and Health Methods class, required for elementary education majors.
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