By Lori Bredemeyer, Copy Editor
At the end of the semester, 37 faculty and staff members will retire; some will stay at the university as senior faculty members, others have made plans to find other jobs or enjoy time at home.
More employees than usual are retiring because the university offered 109 employees an early retirement plan in hopes of helping to reduce a projected budget shortfall.
Most of the retirees have worked for the university 10 to 20 years, and two professors from the Department of Exercise Science and Health have been employed for more than 40 years: Dr. Joyce Curtis and Dr. Curt Dickson.
Dickson was originally hired to teach swimming after he received his master’s degree from the university in 1967. He now works with students in the Human Performance Lab in the Gibson Health and P.E. Center.
He said he and his wife, Bobbie, had not thought he would retire this year.
“We thought one or two years; we weren’t sure,” he said. “It’s kind of a leap of faith. The university made an offer, so it seemed like an intelligent move on our part.”
Although the Dicksons had discussed his retirement, he said they made a quick decision when the university offered the package.
“We talk and work out pretty much most things together,” he said, “so it wasn’t that it was something that we hadn’t discussed, but it came up very quickly. But we rarely second-guess each other on our decisions. We don’t really spend a lot of time looking back; we just commit ourselves and go.”
Dickson will teach a class next fall as a senior faculty member; he said he has not made any other definite plans for his retirement.
“I told my wife that I would just love to be her adviser and help her really get her work organized,” he said, “to which she said she was going to find me a part-time job. We’re just going to take it as it goes.”
Marisue Meyer, who works in admissions and is a 30-year employee, began working as chief of word processing, a system used by the department chairs and the President’s Office. She said she also has not decided what she will do after this semester.
“I want to do something new and exciting,” Meyer said. “But I enjoy this-I’ve been here for 30 years, if I didn’t [enjoy it] I wouldn’t have stayed that long. It’s been a mission because of the people you work with and the students you work with through the years.”
She said although she will miss her colleagues and the students, the retirement is also a celebration.
“It’s kind of a new beginning,” she said, “but then every day is.”
Dr. Paul Schulze, professor of physics and 33-year employee, said he is getting nervous as the end of the semester draws closer.
“As you get closer to it, you get a little antsy,” he said, “especially in a situation like this where you thought you might be working several more years. It’s one of those shaky things, putting your name there on the dotted line, so there’s a little apprehension.”
Although he will teach as a senior faculty member in the fall, Schulze said it is hard to think about losing stability after working for the university for three decades.
“I think part of it is just a feeling you have that you belong to an organization like ACU and are contributing something to it,” he said. “When you’ve worked at a position for 33 years and then all of a sudden you give it up, you’re losing a lot.”
A 29-year employee, Linda Bragg, senior central files clerk, said in an e-mail she also has felt a sense of loss.
“I had thought I would like to achieve 30 years of employment with Abilene Christian,” she said, “but developments within my family, coupled with the ACU retirement package offer, triggered me to retire.
“I shall miss my coworkers and working at ACU,” Bragg said, “but I am looking forward to other things.”