Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top ten Grove City College stories of the year. This story is number 5 based on audience interaction and institutional impact. It was originally published May 19.
Five Grove City College faculty will retire as this academic year comes to a close, including Dr. Frederic Brenner, whose 51 years in the Biology Department make him the third-longest serving professor in the College’s 144-year history.
The other retiring faculty are: Dr. Lois Johnson, professor of Education and director of Office of Global Programs; Dr. Patricia Scheffler, professor of Education; Dr. Shuhui Su, professor of Modern Language; and Dr. Patricia Tinkey ’75, professor of Spanish.
Brenner began his teaching career at Grove City College in 1969, through a personal connection with the dean of the College at the time, who was his Eagle Scout Board of Review. Over the years Brenner impacted the lives of thousands of students and earned the respect of his colleagues.
“Over his tenure at Grove City College, he shared his respect for the environment, love of everything outdoors, knowledge of wildlife biology and his prowess in the laboratory with thousands of students,” Dr. Lisa Antoszewski, chair of the Biology Department, said. “His commitment to educating Christian men and women is unmatched.”
“I have always appreciated Fred and his team player approach,” Dr. Jan Dudt, professor of Biology said. “He steps up when needed and is always engaged when a need was presented.”
“In his many years, he has taught a very extensive list of courses within the department – from genetics to geology to wildlife behavior to ecology,” Dr. Steve Jenkins, fellow professor of Biology said. “But perhaps more notable in my mind is that Fred was conducting ecological and environmental research when virtually no one else on campus was doing it.”
According to Jenkins, Brenner was the only member of the biology department who was regularly publishing research articles through the 1980s and early 1990s. He included biology majors in his research, providing undergraduate research opportunities to students like conservation biology major Lexie Arkwright ’18, who along with Brenner was honored with the Mercer County Conservation District Pioneers in Conservation award in 2018.
“Fred has been the kingpin in our ecological/environmental instruction and training of hundreds of well-placed students for over a half of a century,” Dudt said. “His shoes are big and will be a challenge to fill.”
Brenner has been recognized for his work in various scientific and community organizations. In 2016, Brenner was elected as a life member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his contributions and leadership in science. He has served as president and on the executive boards of five different scientific organizations including AAAS, published extensively in scientific journals and co-edited 14 books on a variety of environmental topics.
Additionally, Brenner earned a lifetime achievement award from the Pennsylvania Academy of Science and a Yokley Faculty Service award from Beta Beta Beta, the national biological honor society.
“Fred is active in the local community and, because of this, has built relationships between the community and Grove City College,” Antoszewski said. “While we wish Fred the best in his retirement, we will miss him greatly.”
Dr. Alva J. Calderwood, class of 1896, holds the record for longest-serving faculty member. He was a professor and later dean who worked for the College for 53 years. The school of Arts and Letters is named for him. Dr. J. Harvey Cole taught German at the College for 52 years. He retired in 2015.
Dr. Lois Johnson says she only expected to stay at the College for a few years, but she is now ending a 25-year tenure. During this time, she taught education classes and led the Stan and Karen Johnson Office of Global Programs (formerly the Office for International Education) and has “loved every minute of my time here,” Johnson said. “I love the people I work with, my colleagues and my students. They’re just nice people, I just don’t know how else to say it.”
She particularly appreciated her time with colleague Mark Reuber, who co-established the Office of Global Programs with her. She has always viewed herself as a builder: Since starting a career in education at age 20, she helped build two Christian schools, the Grove City College Early Education Center and the Office of Global Programs.
During 12 of 25 years at the college, she battled and beat four cancers and is now declared disease-free. “I know God has a mission for me, I still just don’t know what that is,” she said. In her retirement, she hopes to continue to serve as an encouragement to those who have cancer, enjoy time with her new dog and building what the Lord has planned for her next. “I never in my wildest dreams thought my year would end like this, and whatever happens in the fall, I’m coming back to visit.”
Professor of Education Dr. Patricia Scheffler arrived at the College in 2006. She encouraged the early childhood community of educators in the Grove City region and was a founding member of the Midwestern Early Childhood Institute, an organization that seeks to provide research based best practices to early care providers and teachers in the region.
According to colleague Dr. Constance Nichols ’93, chair and professor of Education, Scheffler has a “particular gift for helping our students expand their career horizons through undergraduate research opportunities.”
“We will always be grateful for her keen vision for blending service, research, and most of all her Christian example of service,” Nichols said.
Dr. Shuhui Su served in the Modern Languages department for just over a decade, beginning in 2009. “We all know the monumental effort that she has made to offer not only Chinese language courses and a minor to students, but her expertise on Chinese culture across the campus community, especially through the Chinese Club,” her colleague, Dr. Deborah Forteza, assistant professor of Spanish said.
Dr. Patricia Tinkey ’75 started at the College in 2004 and has enjoyed her 16-year tenure. As a student in the 1970s, she studied Spanish, French and German in the Modern Languages department. “Returning to teach at Grove City College was like coming home,” Tinkey said.
For 14 of her 16 years, she taught in the Education and Modern Language departments. “Mentoring students has been one of my greatest rewards,” Tinkey said. She has been teaching ever since gathering neighborhood kids to play “school” as a first grader and she does not anticipate that to be ending any time soon. “Teaching is my motivational gift, and I love using it to be a blessing to others,” she said.
Forteza said the department will miss Tinkey’s “cheerful presence and the thoughtful mentoring” but “we know that she will continue to serve Christ and others wherever she goes.”
“While I have not had a lot of time to work with these retiring faculty, in my short tenure at GCC I have already heard about the truly remarkable impact they have made on students over the years,” Dr. Peter Frank ’95, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs and professor of Economics said.
“Each of these faculty have served this college for at least a decade, and it is truly noteworthy to thank Dr. Brenner for his half a century-long commitment to Grove City College. What an amazing difference he has made in the lives of so many alumni across this country. The close connection that many of us developed with our alma mater is directly related to the legacy of this group of retirees,” Frank said.