Three Professors Say Their Goodbyes to the Classroom

Three longtime Bowdoin professors taught their last classes this week: Associate Professor of Education Nancy JenningsBarry N. Wish Professor of Psychology and Social Studies Barbara Held, and Associate Professor of Psychology Paul Schaffner.

On Monday afternoon, at the hour when she would otherwise have started teaching her final education class, Jennings was instead greeted with a surprise crowd of applauding faculty, staff, students, and family members assembled in Massachusetts Hall.

A Surprise Goodbye and Thank You to Retiring Prof. Nancy Jennings from Bowdoin College on Vimeo.

The students in Jennings’ class screened a 15-minute video tribute by students and alumni who expressed their gratitude for her guidance and emphasized the impact she has had on their teaching careers. The 2000 winner of the College’s Karofsky Prize for excellence in teaching, Jennings is an expert on educational policy and rural schooling. She is also a senior faculty fellow in the McKeen Center for the Common Good and has served as associate dean for academic affairs.

Two psychology professors also taught their last classes this week: the Psychology Department gathered in Kanbar Hall yesterday evening to honor the teaching careers of Held and Schaffner, who have been at Bowdoin for 35 and 37 years, respectively.

The gathering was introduced with words from the current chair of the department, Louisa Slowiazcek. “It is strange to think that when I arrived at Bowdoin in 1998 for my initial stint as chair, that Paul and Barbara had already been here for 21 years, in Paul’s case, and 19 years, in Barbara’s case,” Slowiaczek said. “As these 17 years have gone by, I have been impressed by the tremendous influence they have had on the department in terms of their teaching, research, service, and interactions with students.”

Held is a clinical, theoretical, and philosophical psychologist whose scholarship and teaching focus on personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy. Schaffner has broad expertise in human social behavior, with specialties including sociopolitical beliefs, emotional responses to work-related stimuli, and many other aspects of behavior on the individual, group, and organization-wide level.

Following Slowiaczek’s introduction, psychology professors Samuel Putnam, Richmond Thompson, and Suzanne Lovett gave their own tributes to Held and Schaffner, whom they described as deeply influential mentors and colleagues. As Lovett summarized, “we’re going to miss you both.”

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