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Western professors celebrated for 45 years of teaching

After 45 years of service to Western, four faculty members were honored for their commitment at the university’s Annual Employee Recognition Ceremony.

Marian Ritter, Dr. Michael Burnett, Dr. Daniel Rangel-Guerrero and Professor Farrokh Safavi have continued their dedication to students and research for 45 years.

Annika Wolters the Associated Student President spoke at the ceremony on Wednesday, April 29. Her message to the more than 200 faculty members gathered in the Performing Arts Center was a challenge. She challenged all the employees to acknowledge one of their peers who they do not know for their years of service.

“Thank you for being here, and thank you for staying here,” Wolters said.

Ritter is the head of the music library in the PAC. She arrived at Western on July 1, 1969. In her time at Western, Ritter has assisted architects in designing the music library building, and building Western’s nationally recognized music collection of about 100,000 items.

“I love serving the faculty and students,” Ritter said, “I enjoy my job very much, it’s a wonderful job.”

Dr. Burnett earned his PhD in American and English Literature from Claremont Graduate School in California in 1968. He then joined the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies in 1969 as one of its first faculty members.

Since then, he has taught all the Fairhaven core courses, literature, human ecology, sustainability and currently is teaching a course on the Samish Sea. Dr. Burnett also teaches in the honors department.

Through Fairhaven, Dr. Burnett has lead foreign study trips and taught in France and Mexico. Dr. Burnett said his greatest accomplishment in his career is working with amazing students and helping them further their careers and get excited about learning.

“We are co-learners. I think that is good for the students and certainly good for me.” Dr. Burnett said.

Dr. Rangel-Guerrero is the associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his Masters and PhD from University of Oregon.

Professor Safavi came to Western’s business department in 1969 to help develop the evolving program. He designed seven new courses in the business and administration program when he arrived.

In 45 years, Professor Safavi has only cancelled class four times.

“I am proud to keep the commitment to my students and not let them go without a professor,” Safavi said. “I am a committed person to the goal and so I stuck with this program here for so many years because I love the students and I love the community.”

Safavi was the first ever recipient of a lifetime Excellence in Teaching Award in 1976. The students voted to choose the winning professor based off the teaching excellence criteria.

The distinguished teaching award is intended to recognize an individual faculty member for their enthusiasm for learning and teaching. Their active involvement in student research projects, effective design of courses and ability to inspire students original thinking, according to the criteria of teaching excellence.

Safavi said his greatest accomplishment is to be an educator, not just a teacher, at Western.

“[An] educator is a person who is not only teaching a topic or subject but expressing interest in the total being of the individual. Developing their attitude toward life, developing all their potentials and working with them as a mentor,” Safavi said.

Eight other Western faculty members were also honored with the President’s Exceptional Efforts Award from President Shepard.

 

The recipients included Clint Burgess and George Lio for their work in academic affairs; Jeanne Gaffney, Mercia Merth and Clara Capron from Enrollment and student services; Doug Adelstein and Stan Wolf from the business and financial affairs office; and Max Bronsema for his work in university relations and community development.

 

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