Retiring professor discusses future plans, memories

After years of teaching, a few professors are taking a breath and retiring from Franklin College this year. A profile of four retiring professors are below. 

Before moving to higher education, professor Connie Ables-Rigsbee taught Advanced Placement high school courses for 23 years. 

Ables-Rigsbee, who has taught education at Franklin College for six years, received her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Indiana University, her master’s degree in education from Olivet Nazarene University, and her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Indiana University. 

While at Franklin, she’s taught courses on diversity, geography and education. 

“I truly believe that teachers hold a lot of power in schools K–12, and I wanted to be part of teaching teachers how they could spark hope in their own classrooms,” she said. “Teachers should encourage curiosity and never be afraid to try new things. You never know what might connect with a student that could help change a life for the better.” 

Her favorite memory at Franklin is when one of the elementary education classes got together and made a painting of all of the positive qualities that everyone in the class thought about the senior course she taught that year. 

“That artwork is hanging in my office,” she said. “It makes me smile every day.” 

She said her favorite and most rewarding part of being a professor at the college has been working with the faculty, staff and students. 

“Most students here are willing to work hard and they respect the work the professors do to make classes rigorous yet fun,” she said. “My hope is that students have found something valuable in every course I have taught.” 

She said she plans on letting things fall into place as they should next year during her early retirement. 

“I have a deep faith in God, and I know that there are wonderful things in store for me in the future,” she said. “I am going to enjoy my family, read a lot of books and take a lot of walks.” 

Although these are Steve Browder’s last few weeks as a full-time professor, he can still be found around campus for a few more semesters. 

For the next two years, he’ll split a position with biology professor Sam Rhodes, who will teach in the fall, and Browder will teach in the spring.  

Browder, who has been at the college for 39 years, earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Pacific Lutheran University and his doctorate in plant physiology from the University of Oklahoma.  

While at Franklin, he’s served as the Department Chair of Biology and the head of the natural sciences division.  

Browder said one of his favorite aspects of teaching has been seeing the growth and development of his students.  

“I see them as freshmen in cell biology and then again most of them as seniors in microbiology, and it’s amazing to see how they have grown up and developed during the past three years,” he said. “I try to keep in contact with as many of these students as possible after they have graduated, and the accomplishments of many of our alumni is inspiring.” 

Browder said his favorite memory while working at Franklin was the announcement of the new science center’s groundbreaking ceremony, which is set for May 18. 

“I’ve been working on this project for 10 years and to see it begin during my last full-time year is really special,” he said.  “I’m excited that I will get to teach in this new facility one semester in spring of 2019.” 

Browder has plans to visit Australia and New Zealand next fall, and he also plans on spending more time with his daughter and his two grandchildren who live in Virginia.  

He also wants to pursue his interests in cooking, playing guitar and learning astronomy.  

Through Sam Rhodes’ 33 years teaching biology at Franklin College, two strange — but hilarious — memories stick out. 

The first happened in his endocrine and reproductive biology class.  

“At the end of the semester, one student brought in chocolate candies that were in the shape of male and female reproductive organs,” he said. “Needless to say, it was a pretty amusing moment.” 

The second experience was in his animal physiology class.  

“A pre-vet student was dissecting a rat and passed out cold,” he said. “He actually went on to become a vet.” 

But his time at the college wasn’t all jokes.  

Rhodes, who received his master’s and doctoral degrees in physiology from Michigan State University, said he’s thankful Franklin gave him the opportunity to teach small-sized classes, which allowed him to watch students grow through 18–22 years of age.  

Additionally, Rhodes said the most rewarding part of working at Franklin for him has been the ability to work with fellow teachers who are committed to developing a rigorous curriculum. 

“It is wonderful to be a part of such a caring team,” he said. “It also is very rewarding to work one-on-one or in small groups with students who are doing research. It is fun to watch their skills and critical thinking develop.” 

Although he’ll be teaching part time for the next two years, in his down time, Rhodes plans on visiting his sons who live in in Amherst, Massachusetts and Lafayette, California.   

He also hopes to play more golf and guitar and get involved with the Democratic party. 

Professor David Chandler, who is retiring this year after teaching religion and philosophy at Franklin College for decades, says the most important part of his job is opening up a larger world to his students. 

“Many of them come from a 50-mile radius and philosophy is something new, strange, scary, irrelevant,” he said. “The life of the mind or the adventure of ideas I think is the most important thing that college can be doing.” 

But over his 35 years at the college, Chandler said he hasn’t seen the college community changing and opening up in the way he wished it would. 

“Which has been rather frustrating for me because we’re still, as I said to my students in class this morning, a racist institution,” he said. 

He said he still sees and hears of instances of hatred on campus and comes across juniors and seniors taking his courses who have never thought of white privilege or racism.  

Chandler, who received his doctorate degree from Southern Illinois University, said he has no idea what he wants to after this year.  

He plans on taking a trip out west at the end of the semester and doing a lot of reading, maybe some writing, a lot of photography, and traveling.  

“Everybody I’ve talked to the last few years that is retired gets all-of-a-sudden really serious — ‘Now, whatever you do, don’t make any commitments for at least six months,’” he said. “Sounds cool to me.”

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About Abrahm Hurt 21 Articles

Abrahm Hurt is a news writer for The Franklin. He got interested in multimedia journalism after he was on the Covenant Christian High School student newspaper for two years.

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