Emeriti Faculty Gifted Lounge in Eckles Library

September 25, 2012

Last week, Provost Steven Lerman helped open a new lounge for George Washington’s emeriti faculty in Eckles Library on the Mount Vernon Campus.

The lounge is part of an enhanced effort by the Society of the Emeriti to retain ties with retired faculty. SOTE, part of the Faculty Life Cycle Initiative in the Office of Graduate Studies and Academic Affairs, provides emeriti faculty with ways to stay involved with the university. Its initiatives include monthly luncheons featuring university speakers on the Mount Vernon Campus; the SOTE Legacy Project, a website featuring emeriti faculty; and a new mentoring project, which will match SOTE members with undergraduate researchers in the University Honors Program.

Leading the effort is Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Dianne Martin, who said the society recognizes the value of maintaining connections between the university and its emeriti faculty.

“It is beneficial for the emeriti faculty who have given decades of their life in service to the university to feel that the university recognizes their contribution and realizes that they still have much to offer students and faculty,” said Dr. Martin, professor emerita of computer science. “It is certainly beneficial to the university to keep this connection alive since there are still many ways that emeriti faculty can continue to stay involved. This year we had a number of them help as mentors for the Clinton Global University Initiative, and it was a great experience for them and the students.”

At the opening ceremony for the new SOTE lounge, Dr. Lerman said the space is a symbol of how George Washington values the continued engagement of retired faculty.

“Having this particular facility here is fantastic,” said Dr. Lerman. “The library, after all, is in some sense the intellectual hub and home of academia; it’s where our original roots are as academics, and having a place for people to meet, socialize and work is very much part of our vision for keeping the entire community of faculty bound to the university in positive ways, even after they retire.”

The ceremony followed a luncheon lecture by Thomas Mallon, acclaimed author and director of creative writing at George Washington. Dr. Mallon was one of the authors selected to participate at the 2012 National Book Festival held on the National Mall last weekend.

When he arrived on campus more than 30 years ago, SOTE President George Bozzini, associate professor emeritus of English, said he had no plans to stay involved with the university after he retired.

“But when I got to retirement age, I had developed so many wonderful friendships and had developed such a feeling for campus—this was my community and it has remained so,” he said. “SOTE strengthens our ties, as we get older and do other things and travel, this is a nice place to come home to.”

Dr. Bozzini said the lounge and the Mount Vernon Campus will provide SOTE members with “a place to seek refuge.” He also praised the luncheon series and the new mentoring initiative, stressing that many faculty members still want to teach even after they retire.

“It makes us feel wanted, needed and young again,” he said.