Emma Figlewicz Feature

Insight into the resigning Alma College faculty




As the school year wraps up, Alma College is saying goodbye to many professors and staff. Though their time on campus may be coming to an end, the impact and memory of their contributions to the college will never be forgotten.  

Many professors and staff have not made their resignation public; however, Kelly Cuccolo, Lauren Woolbright, Natashia Swalve, Will Nichols, Hyunji Lim and Julia Terhune have announced to the students and faculty about their departures.

As their chapter at Alma College closes, these professors will begin to open a new chapter of their lives in different areas all around the world.

Kelly Cuccolo plans to move closer to her family and work for a non-profit organization. Lauren Woolbright plans to move to Australia and work at Flinders University teaching Digital Media and Game Design. Natashia Swalve has taken a faculty position at Grand Valley State University. Julia Terhune plans to take a job at Michigan State University and finish her doctoral program.

“I chose to work here because of how student-centric it is, first and foremost. When I interviewed here, the faculty all knew not just the names of all of their students but also important bits about their lives. I wanted to work in a place like that,” said Professor Natashia Swalve, Associate Provost and Chair of Psychology and Sociology. 

“I really enjoy getting to work one-on-one with students to help them apply theories and concepts from psychology to their own lives, and so working at a college where I could do hands on activities and research with students was important to me,” said Kelly Cuccolo, Assistant Professor of Psychology.

As the faculty looks back upon their time at Alma, they cherish the time they got to spend with students while they watched them achieve their goals and aspirations.  

“I think the students here are really special and getting a chance to teach and advise them this year and a half has been fantastic. Getting to watch students achieve their goals has been a special thing for me,” said Julia Terhune, Instructor of Communication. 

“Hands down, I am going to miss my students the most. The hardest part about leaving is not seeing my students through their four years here,” said Swalve. “I’m hoping to find some extra commencement tickets in the future so that I can come cheer on my first years, sophomores and juniors when they graduate because that’s the most rewarding part of my job.” 

Recently, Alma has been experiencing a large number of faulty departures from the college for a multitude of reasons. This phenomenon has been occurring nationally and can be attributed to an after effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“COVID-19 hastened the number of retirement positions for our faculty. In the past three to four years, we have seen a huge number of departures. The national percentage of higher education retirement is 8% and currently, Alma College is below that margin, but we are coming closer to it than we have in the past,” said Jeff Abernathy, President of Alma College.  

The college’s close-knit community and supportive atmosphere is what attracts potential prospects to come and teach at Alma. In every department, all the professors and staff work together to make everyone feel included and cared about.

“I really enjoy my colleagues here at Alma College. All the professors and staff here are really lovely and easy to get along with. The supportive environment here at Alma will be what I miss most,” said Terhune.  

Though their time at Alma is coming to an end, every professor and staff member who is leaving the school will be remembered for their contributions and accomplishments made here at the school.  

“Setting up sophomore and junior seminars in the department to make sure students are prepared for the major, senior gift bags for those graduating and redoing first-year [seminars] to make sure our incoming students are getting the most out of their experience are some of the highlights of my time at Alma,” said Swalve.  

As many professors say goodbye to Alma, they part with valuable advice for their students. “No matter what your major, do at least one internship, practicum or research experience during your time at Alma. Try to get outside your comfort zone by traveling or doing a study away experience at one of our partner institutions,” said Lauren Woolbright, Chair of Communication and New Media Studies.

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