Retiring professors inspire community, students

Dr. Hollabaugh reading his plaque given to her by Prof. Oxford on behalf of the university at the retirement reception for Dr. Hoffman & Dr. Hollabaugh in the 2nd floor atrium of Prothro-Yeager Hall on April 18. Photo by Kayla White.

Linda Hollabaugh reads the plaque given to her by Jeffrey Oxford on behalf of the university at the retirement reception for her and Tom Hoffman April 18. Photo by Kayla White.

The retirement commencement for Tom Hoffman, English associate professor, and Linda Hollabaugh, foreign languages associate professor, was held in the second floor atrium of Prothro-Yeager Hall on April 18 from 2:30-4 p.m. The event celebrated the 48 years Hoffman has served at the school, and the 27 years Hollabaugh has taught.

Amid a crowd and refreshments, Hoffman and Hollabaugh commemorated their years at the school. Those who knew the professors also knew the extent of their teaching capabilities and secretary of foreign languages, Emilie Allsup, and chair and professor Jeffrey Oxford, voiced their opinions on the professors and their years of service.

“I know Linda Hollabaugh better,” said Allsup,“and he’s going to be hard to replace, it’s going to be really hard to find someone. She’s a wonderful, ethical professor who is  thorough, and capable.”

Allsup, along with secretary of English, Pam Marshall, were in charge of setting up the retirement commencement in the atrium with refreshments. During the event, the professors were awarded a plaque and watch from Human Resources. To Allsup, the plaque is especially essential as part of the professor’s retirement.

“It’s real important to give them closure,” Allsup said. “We hope to give them a fulfilling feeling when they leave.”

Hollabaugh, who first came to the school in 1989, has been critical to the school’s growing foreign language programs, specifically the Spanish majors, honor society, and clubs.

“When Hollabaugh arrived, the department Spanish major was in decline. With some work, she revitalized the Spanish foreign language programs. She was the director of the study abroad program from 1995 to 1999,” Oxford said. “She’s been very active in campus life, and she won’t easily be replaced.”

Hollabaugh herself, though she’s ready to retire and visit her children and grandchildren, as well as pursue music again after a five-year break, said she is going to miss the campus.

“The campus has been like family to me, and it’s been a wonderful 27 years,” Hollabaugh said. “I’m going to miss the stimulating conversations.”

Hollabaugh will retire at the end of the semester and will continue to live in Wichita Falls.

“It was great to see everybody at the reception,” Hollabaugh said. “Now I’m ready to do whatever I want to do, whenever I want to.”

Dr. Hoffman reading his plaque given to him on behalf of the university at the retirement reception for Dr. Hoffman & Dr. Hollabaugh in the 2nd floor atrium of Prothro-Yeager Hall on April 18. Photo by Kayla White.

Dr. Hoffman reading his plaque given to him on behalf of the university at the retirement reception for Dr. Hoffman & Dr. Hollabaugh in the 2nd floor atrium of Prothro-Yeager Hall on April 18. Photo by Kayla White.

After his official retirement Aug. 31, Hoffman may retire to North Carolina, where a daughter and grandchildren reside.

“I plan to be active in the community of Wichita Falls after retirement,” Hoffman said. “I won’t know until September if I’m moving to North Carolina, so until then, I’m going to continue to be active with Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Backdoor Theatre, and Wichita Falls Theatre.”

Betty Carroll, English instructor, was a student of Hoffman’s some 25 years ago and spoke highly of his involvement with the school, in addition to his other interests.

“He’s the epitome of what a true teacher is,” Carroll said. “I try and bring a piece of him into the classroom every day. There isn’t a teacher nearby that he hasn’t touched, and people have called me asking for just one more opportunity to be in his classroom.”

Hoffman began working at the school in 1968, after searching for a teaching job across the state. He first taught American drama and dramatic literature, but soon, his classes began to broaden, and more and more students came to his classes.

“We thought we would be here two years, and then here we are 48 years later,” Hoffman said. “I love this school, and I especially love the caliber of students. I got the feeling that the school offers variety to those who want a good schooling experience.”

Hoffman’s participation in campus life is impressive; he served as adviser to the literary and visual arts magazine, Voices, for over 25 years, he was a Board of Directors member for six years, and the President of the Texas Association of College Teachers from 1997 to 1999.

A class with Hoffman proved to be interesting, as he often literally brought characters to life by dressing up in costumes and proceeding to teach class. As his retirement nears, however, Hoffman shows some reluctance to leave.

“I love what I’m doing,” he said, “you can’t stop a teacher from being a teacher.”