You Never Retire from Being Great

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

Students, staff and faculty:

Lois Weldon, an administrative associate senior in the Bureau of Child Research, is preparing to retire after 41 years at KU. Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Special Education Michael Wehmeyer, right, joins her at the Staff Retirement Luncheon.  Every year thousands of University of Kansas graduates walk down the Hill and embark on the next stage of their lives. It’s a fitting celebration for people who set goals, worked hard, and accomplished something big.

Similarly, more than 150 retiring KU employees will also make a transition of their own this year. They also set goals, worked hard, and accomplished something transformational. The grand fanfare of Commencement and end-of-year graduation and recognition ceremonies can overshadow the more modest celebrations that we use to honor our retirees. And that’s unfortunate because our senior faculty and staff have done so much for KU.

After many years of service, these individuals have reached a point where they can take a break from work. But retirement is an especially bittersweet milestone. Our retiring faculty and staff have become our friends, confidants, and mentors. In addition to the talent and ideas they contribute every day, they are often keepers of institutional knowledge and departmental histories that let all of us put an exclamation point on KU’s progress. This year’s retirees include individuals who also have contributed to KU’s advancement through service in leadership roles, like former Vice Provost for Faculty Development Mary Lee Hummert, past Associate Dean in the College Jim Mielke and former Dean of Graduate Studies Michael Roberts.

Collectively, this year’s retirees have offered more than 4,000 years of service to our students, colleagues and the State of Kansas. Whether a retiree has been with us for 10 years or 50 years, they all have reasons to be proud of their careers. Sometimes the pride is a result of what was accomplished, other times the pride stems from the team or the students they worked with. I want to share with you a handful of stories of individuals across campus who are retiring or who’ve announced phased retirement:

  • Barbara Barnett, Lee Young professor of journalism, William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications
  • Pam Bray, associate director, Campus Operations
  • David Henry, associate professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy
  • Marion Paulette, landscape architect, Facilities Planning and Development
  • John Peck, Connell teaching professor, School of Law
  • Deb Teeter, executive director, Office of Institutional Research and Planning

During their careers each of these individuals made unique contributions that helped KU be something more.

They and their fellow retirees are inspiration for those of us who will remain here for the foreseeable future. They show us just how much is possible. I only wish I could offer more stories, because there are so many to share. Please join me in thanking all our faculty retirees and staff retirees who have helped shape KU into the world-class institution we are today.


Carl Lejuez

Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

Follow me on Twitter at @KUProvostCarl and the Provost Office at @KUProvost. Join the office on Facebook at /KUprovostoffice/. Join the office on Instagram at /KUprovost/.