Professors Say Goodbye

Sara Platnik

Paul Yancey

Number of years at Whitman: 35

Department: Biology

Plans for next year: Yancey will be doing an SCP phase out program, so he is not technically retiring, but instead will be working at Whitman as a thesis advisor and researcher for the next two years.

Favorite memory: “There’s a lot of [great stories]. Most recently I took two students on the Google research ship to the Marianna trench … that was really amazing, we made all kinds of news media on that. So that’s easily the most recent example, but I guess most of my favorite memories would be working with students and taking them to difference places in the world or different marine labs.”

What you’ll miss the most: “I’ll miss teaching, I’ll definitely miss that. And I go back and forth on that. I don’t know if you saw the most recent national survey, but the number one reason professors want to retire is they’re sick of grading. That’s what I’ve seen in surveys and that’s certainly true for me. I love the classroom and the students here but I’m tired of grading and all of the other things that go along with the job. I want to do other things.”

What comes next?: “There’s a pharmaceutical company that wants me to work with them in designing products based on my research, I have invitations to go work at different marine labs in different places. I’m not the kind and go out and just golf for the rest of my life, so I am going to keep active and I’m doing that formally by having thesis students for two years, and the rest I have to work out, but I plan to keep working and doing research.”


Rogers Miles

Number of years at Whitman: 26

Department: Religion

Thoughts on retirement: “I remember when I was 18, I thought professors retirement was rather sad, particularly when they dispersed their libraries because as far as I was concerned, I thought these professors could keep on going. [I wondered] What’s the matter with them? Why are they retiring now? But now that I’m here I understand it. I want some free time.”

The state of his library: Many of the books in his collection will be donated to Penrose library, where some books will be added to the library’s collection and others will be sold to fundraise for the library.

Favorite memories: “This has happened a couple of times: I teach Encounters and have taught Encounters every year since 1993, so it’s been a long time. I guess people know that I love diet coke, so I can remember in one encounters section, each student brought in a bottle of diet coke and placed it before me. It was so many cokes I couldn’t get them out of the classroom in one trip.”

“I have another memory: I had some students in one of my classes from Beta Theta Pi, and at the end of the year … they came in with a six pack of löwenbräu and a National Inquirer announcing that the Hubble telescope had seen heaven. They put it on my table and so it was the last day of class and maybe it was the last day of examination. I took my belt off because I felt like I had to respond to this in some way, and I opened the bottle of beer and I just downed it. Anyway, I soon thereafter became the faculty advisor for the Beta house.”

What comes next?: “I’m hoping to travel. I would also like to experiment with podcasts more. I’ve had a couple of classes where students do podcasts and now I’d like to do them myself. I am also the family historian, and so all of the documents and letters that my parents had were given to me after they passed, so I need to inventory them and get them into some kind of shape… I don’t know what I’ll do with them. Maybe I’ll combine my interest in podcasting with something like that.”