Spring 2003 Magazine Archive & SearchMuhlenberg Home


       Reflections on
geraniums, gender
  & generations
at the ’Berg



My own courses in zoology, ecology, field study in the Everglades, and marine biology at the Bermuda Biological Station were filled with a terrific group of men and women who have gone on to impressive careers. Team-teaching adventures with my contemporaries, Bob Milligan and Dave Stehly, in a course on environmental issues were most satisfying. We even had the TMI incident timed with our class sessions! With Dan Wilson, and, for a longer span, Charles Bednar, I was continually rewarded in our efforts to engage a wide array of students in a multidisciplinary examination of environmental themes. My closest friend among the faculty, Walter Loy, continues to amaze me, even to this day, with his canny ability to do so many things so well, often simultaneously. He did so as acting dean, professor, department head, college statistician, committee member, choir member, parent, husband and good friend to all!

My recollections of student episodes will not include names. I’ll let you and, perhaps, them guess. Two of my most enthusiastic students accompanied me to the Everglades, engaged in lengthy research projects and now are both distinguished professors (at U. of Rhode Island and East Stroudsburg U.). In my first ecology class was a student consumed by bird study. He was the first that I sent to Cornell (site of my doctoral studies, as well as that of Trainer and Shankweiler). He just retired from Rutgers U. after a fine teaching and research career. Others in subsequent years headed to graduate studies and are now professors and researchers at U. of Washington, Auburn, Penn State, Shippensburg, Campbell U., Lynchburg College, Wingate U., and U. of the Sciences, Hawk Mountain, National Park Service and other equally impressive sites.

John Trainer said that I would really feel “old” when I encountered the child of a former student in my class. That did happen (hint – does the name “Keck” ring a bell?) for the first time in the early ’90s and several times since.

I was always delighted to find my students engaged in sports, choir, theater and other activities. I recall one quiet football player who never said a word but aced my first lab exam – now an MD; three of the four flute players at one candlelight service, all students in my zoology course; one of the best trumpet players, now a brilliant researcher in Boston; the best student organist that Charles McClain claims he had and now an MD; the quarterback from my old high school, a good science student who went on to a distinguished military career. What delightful memories and doubly so as my wife and two daughters often accompanied me to the events and sensed my pride in the extra-curricular activities of my students.

Dr. Carl Oplinger, professor of biology, will retire from full-time teaching at Muhlenberg at the close of the Spring 2003 semester.

But what of the next 40 or 50 years at dear old Muhlenberg? I remain even more convinced that a liberal arts college is the most exciting, challenging and rewarding experience for many young people.

As is evident from the recent additions to my department, I believe that Muhlenberg will continue to attract quality teacher-scholars who want to participate fully in the experience of their students. There is a proven track record of quality graduates achieving the highest levels of success in employment and in graduate and professional schools who started their pursuit at a liberal arts college. From my student days to the present I see a caring college, with a strong sense of community, dedicated teacher-scholars, high academic standards, a carefully reviewed curriculum, a meaningful connection with the Lutheran Church, and a commitment of faculty, staff, employees at all levels, striving to accomplish our mission.

Thanks and good fortune to Muhlenberg. (Now, that’s more than 900 words but who’s counting?)


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