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Goodbye, and thank you

Eight instructors are retiring

By Luke A. Wildman | Opinions Editor

Photograph provided by Adam Perry

Ron Benbow

Position: Professor of mathematics

Length of service: 30 years

Taylor origin story: Benbow came to Taylor after teaching for 14 years in the Marion school district. He thought he’d be here for one year, but stayed for 30!

A favorite memory at Taylor: “Moving into the new Euler Science Complex after several decades of planning and hoping for more space for math and science faculty and students. It has been a true blessing to work in that building for the last five years and to have had a small part in its design.”

Future plans: Nothing long-term, but in the next few months, he and his wife will celebrate their wedding anniversary with a cruise to Alaska. They then plan to attend their niece’s wedding in Florida.

Advice for instructors at Taylor: “Get to know your students and colleagues as much as possible, and try not to worry about being perfect. They will value honesty and transparency even when you make mistakes.”

“Dr. Benbow has served and serves the Taylor community well,” said Jason Kimball, senior. “Whether it is showing understanding with busy schedules or taking the time to answer any question asked of him, Dr. Benbow clearly cares about the students in his classroom. I hope to one day emulate his compassion to my own students.”

 

Photograph provided by Adam Perry

Ken Boyd

Position: University instructional designer. Boyd helps faculty design cutting-edge courses, and connects them to the resources they require.

Length of service: 6 years

Taylor origin story: Boyd came to Taylor in 2011 at the invitation of a former employee from his days at Asbury Theological Seminary: Jeff Groeling, the vice provost.

A favorite memory at Taylor: Chorale concerts.

Future plans: Among other pursuits, he wants to learn Spanish so he can be better equipped for upcoming mission trips to Nicaragua.

Advice for students: “Take advantage of every overseas opportunity that you can.”

“In his role of University Instructional Designer, Ken has helped many faculty refine and improve their courses,” said Jeff Groeling, vice provost. “His friendly and disarming manner made it easy to work with him. His contributions, both as a friend and a colleague, will be missed by myself and others.”

 

Photograph provided by Adam Perry

Faye Chechowich

Position: Dean of faculty development and professor of Christian educational ministries

Length of service: 28 years

Taylor origin story: During graduate school at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Chechowich took a class alongside fellow student Philip Collins, now a Taylor professor of  Christian educational ministries, who encouraged her to explore a position in Taylor’s Christian ministries program.

A favorite memory at Taylor: Going on the Civil Rights trip with Steve Messer, Professor of History, and eight other faculty members.

Future plans: She plans to visit China, the Massachusetts Berkshires, Niagara Falls and Italy. Over the coming year, she and her husband will focus on discerning where next to invest their time.

Advice for Taylor students and instructors: “Live with an awareness that we are finite creatures. We can’t say ‘yes’ to all the opportunities that present themselves.”

“Dr. Faye Chechowich has been a central figure at Taylor for a long time,” said Charlie Brainer,  associate professor of the English language teaching department. “There is much to say about her incredible contributions in teaching and leadership, but I believe that it is her heart for mentoring and discipleship that has truly set her apart. She has poured herself generously into the lives of students and faculty and we will always be gratefully indebted to her.”

 

Photograph provided by Adam Perry

Lee Erickson

Position: Professor of economics

Length of service: 38 years

Taylor origin story: Erickson came to faith in Christ while at a high-paying contract research job. After his conversion, God led him to teach at a Christian college—Taylor University.

What he’ll miss most: Worshiping with students during chapel.

Future plans: This summer, Erickson and his wife will move to Ireland, joining the staff of Operation Mobilization.

Why he loves Taylor: “The best thing about Taylor is its strong Christian commitment without having a particular denominational focus. There is a unity in Christ along with a diversity of theological perspectives within this framework that is unusual and enriching.”

“Dr. Erickson is the longest-standing business faculty in the history of the department here at Taylor University and we’re thrilled . . . and grateful for his thirty-eight years of service,” said Jody Hirschy, department chair and associate professor of business. “He’s been an asset to the institution and certainly to the department.”

 

Photograph provided by Adam Perry

Mary Muchiri

Position: Associate professor of English

Length of service: 16 years

Taylor origin story: Started at Taylor teaching Beulah Baker’s classes while Baker took students to London. When another professor resigned, Muchiri filled the position.

A favorite memory at Taylor: In 2015, the entire Reade Center community supported Muchiri when her husband fell sick in Kenya and she had to fly over to care for him: “I was completely overwhelmed by their concern and Christian love,” Muchiri said.

Future plans: Muchiri isn’t sure what’s coming next, but she trusts the Lord. She plans to visit Kenya during June and July. After that she hopes to write more, no matter what happens.

Her favorite Taylor activity: Attending chapel and participating in communal worship.

Advice for instructors at Taylor: “To a black instructor, especially a woman, I would caution that she may not find things as easy as they may look, since she will be a minority among minorities.”

“I have always deeply appreciated Mary’s kindness and humility,” said Aaron Housholder, assistant professor of English. “She was a welcoming presence when I joined the faculty ten years ago; it is hard to imagine the department without her in it. We all pray for God’s blessings on Mary and her family as she moves into the next phase of her story.”

 

Photograph provided by Adam Perry

Donald Taylor

Position: Professor of kinesiology and head men’s tennis coach

Length of service: 26 years

Taylor origin story: Networking led him to Taylor. During a period when he wanted to get into Christian higher education, a colleague of his recommended him to be the Chair of Taylor’s former health, physical education and recreation department.

A favorite memory at Taylor: “Having our daughter, Jill (’97), and our son, Justin (’04), get their degrees from Taylor are special,” Taylor said. “Justin played on the tennis team for me, and we won the Conference Championship and the Regional Championship to go to the NAIA Nationals in his freshman year—that was a great one!”

Future plans: Taylor plans to continue coaching the men’s tennis team. He’ll also spend his time adjunct teaching, reading, playing tennis, working around the house and doing other activities to which he feels God has called him.

His advice to Taylor students and instructors: Engage with the Taylor community. Take advantage of the opportunities Taylor offers. Help keep our school Christ-focused.

“Don has been a great colleague, both on the athletic side and in academics,” Jeff Marsee, associate professor of kinesiology, said. “He does everything with great enthusiasm and wants the best for his students.”

 

Photograph provided by Adam Perry

Michael Saunier

Position: Assistant professor of communication; Ilium advisor

Length of service: 9 years

Taylor origin story: Prior to coming to Taylor, Saunier worked for the Christian Missionary Alliance denomination. After Saunier felt God leading him in a different direction, he searched for jobs in Christian higher education and eventually found a position in Taylor’s Media Communication department.

A favorite memory at Taylor: “Just being able to work with the students and connect with them. Getting to know a little about them and sharing on a more personal level.”

Future plans: After he leaves Taylor, Saunier is interested in working in a bicycle shop—for years, cycling has been one of his hobbies. This summer he’ll brave several rides, including the N.I.T.E. Ride in Indianapolis, which includes around 4,000 cyclists, and other rides in Indiana, Michigan and Colorado.

His advice to Taylor students: “Actually be a disciple of (God’s) and go beyond being a comfortable Christian; a cultural Christian; a Christian in name only; a Christian because you grew up in a Christian family or you went to church. I think a lot of times we wait till after we’ve done stuff in life and (gotten) jobs. But I think if we turn that around and focus more on that now, then our paths would be a lot clearer out into the future. And I think our lives would be more rewarding, more fulfilled.”

“He’s always just so welcoming to students, and he loves further than just their academic lives, and he really cares about their personal and spiritual lives as well,” said junior Ellen Hershberger. “And so I’ve really appreciated that about Mike.”

 

Photograph provided by Adam Perry

Roger Jenkinson:

Position: Jenkinson held a wide variety of positions during his time with Taylor, including his work with athletics, history and geography, the Taylor University national alumni council (of which he was president), and many other places of service.

Length of service: 52 years—the longest term of service in Taylor University’s history!

Taylor origin story: Jenkinson first came to Taylor as a student athlete. He graduated in 1960, then returned in 1965 to teach history and geography alongside Grace Olson, namesake of Olson Hall. He returned at a time when Taylor University was struggling financially, and assisted the university in raising funds, recruiting faculty and building the Taylor we know today.

A favorite memory at Taylor: Among many memories, one of Jenkinson’s favorites was serving as a member of the House of Delegates for the United States Olympic Committee.

Future plans: Jenkinson has a few small trips planned for the future, but he also intends to enjoy summer in Upland. “Summer time is a good time at Taylor; in Upland,” Jenkinson said. “Everyone is kind of relaxed.”

Jenkinson also plans to continue research for a personal project: an Atlas on American Basketball. As a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame, as well as the recipient of the Gates-Howard Award, Jenkinson enjoys both playing and studying basketball.

His advice to Taylor instructors: “Be dedicated to teaching. We are a learning institution. Just continually do your best.”

“The third class I ever had in college was with Dr. Jenkinson,” said Joseph Mosse, junior. “I had been in first year experience and fitness for life. So far, so good. College isn’t so hard after all. Then I had my first class of physical geography and realized things weren’t going to be so easy anymore. So, yeah, Dr. Jenkinson supplied my ‘You’re not in Kansas anymore’ moment in my introduction to college life. Overall, probably not a bad thing. It was a good class, I got a B.”

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