Muhlenberg Celebrates Faculty and Staff Retirements

On June 2, Muhlenberg hosted a reception to honor employee retirements from the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years. Collectively, the 37 faculty and staff who had worked at the College for 10 years or more contributed more than 1020 years of service.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021 09:24 AM

The reception, held in the College’s Wood Dining Commons, celebrated both the 2019-2020 retirees and the faculty and staff who completed their service at the conclusion of the 2021 academic year.

“Whether it’s the students they’ve inspired, the physical beauty of the improvements they’ve made to our facilities or the work they have completed in dozens of offices around campus, [you] have all contributed to the strengthening of our College’s national reputation and have had a profound impact on the people in this community,” said President Kathleen Harring during the event. “Thank you all for the countless contributions each of you has made, every day and every night. It is your dedication and commitment to this community that makes Muhlenberg the unique and special place that it is.”

2020-2021 Faculty and Staff Retirees

Marsha Baar, Professor of Chemistry
Marsha Baar spent 40 years at Muhlenberg teaching courses in organic chemistry, among other areas of study. She has impacted the lives of several thousand undergraduate students with her holistic approach to teaching organic chemistry, focusing on not only content but also on scientific writing and electronic lab notebooks.

Marsha was the first woman to earn tenure in the natural sciences at Muhlenberg, paving the way for other woman tenure-track chemists (the department is now ~50 percent women) and other women scientists at Muhlenberg. She pioneered the use of microwave technology, employing microwave heating to enhance reactions in the organic curriculum. She has published extensively on the subject, contributing to the broader knowledge of the field. Marsha has collaborated with other faculty on projects related to pedagogical enhancement and teaching and learning. She also worked collaboratively with other Muhlenberg faculty, transforming our organic sequence into a different model, utilizing laboratory time and staff more effectively.

George Benjamin, Professor of Computer Science
George Benjamin spent 37 years on the Muhlenberg faculty. He was instrumental in starting the Computer Science Program at Muhlenberg and also taught many adult learners and continued teaching in the evening until 2004.

For many years, George edited a prominent computer science journal, which had a national distribution. He was active in the local chapter of his national organization, including hosting regional meetings at Muhlenberg, most recently in 2017. George chaired the mathematics & computer science department for eight years and served on numerous committees. He has advised and mentored countless students. A true team player, George also mentored many colleagues in the department. George likes to run. He has run the New York City Marathon many, many times. His passion for opera developed after George arrived at Muhlenberg, and he often drove to New York on a Friday to enjoy performances at the Met or the Brooklyn Academy of Music. George will be retiring to Brooklyn, to be close to family (and the opera and marathon).

Franz Birgel, Professor of German Studies and Film Studies
Franz Birgel’s 28 years at Muhlenberg began after his time in the traditional philological doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania. His scholarly work began with two feet in German literature, but over time his passion for film started entering into his scholarly pursuits. He became one of the first professors with a joint appointment in two different programs, German studies and film studies. His special interest in the Western and Quentin Tarantino–films that challenge today’s standards of political correctness—led to a series of always fully enrolled first-year seminars and courses.

Franz’s ability to take on tough issues in his inimitable way has brought students to handle discomfort and controversy in a mature, scholarly way. How did he do it? A keen sense of irony, an encyclopedic knowledge of literature and of movies in particular and a penchant for playing devil’s advocate…and frequent tobacco breaks that allowed students time to pause, to think and to bounce ideas off their professor in a less-formal way. These same skills–less, perhaps, the tobacco breaks–worked well in committee settings and in department meetings. His acerbic wit and his critique of the status quo, all will be missed.

Michael Carbone, Professor of Education
Michael Carbone’s 36 years at Muhlenberg included roles as the Issac Miles Write Professor and chair of the education department. Since coming to Muhlenberg, he has taught courses such as Foundations of Education, History and Politics of American Education, Secondary Teaching Methodologies and Technologies, and Studies in Professional Education. He taught in the First-Year Seminar Program and the Dana Scholars Program. He was instrumental in helping to fund and create the department’s professional development school project, a notable achievement for a small education department in a liberal arts college.

Michael received the Lindback Award for Teaching in 1994 and held the Donald and Ann Shire Distinguished Teaching Professorship for academic years 1996-1998. As well, he received the Paul C. Empie Teaching award in May 1991. His intellectual interests include the politics of education, policy studies, historical studies, critical multicultural studies and schools as places of work. 

Tom Cartelli, Professor of English
Retiring at the end of his 41 years at Muhlenberg, Tom Cartelli served for 14 years as chair of the English department, for 19 years as coordinator of National Endowment for the Humanities programs and as a founding member of the Film Studies Program. Cartelli has been awarded both the Shire and Lindback Prizes, and his Shakespeare classes routinely fill to overflowing.

He is active in the field of postcolonial studies and initiated courses in Caribbean writing, African literature, literature of the Indian subcontinent, contemporary world cinema, new Asian cinemas, Latin American cinema and the film cultures of North Africa & the Middle East.

Best known at Muhlenberg for this remarkable teaching career, Cartelli is internationally known as a brilliant and prolific Shakespearean. His work has helped to change the shape of Shakespeare studies. At Muhlenberg, Cartelli has been awarded the Hoffman Research Fellowship and, on three occasions, the Class of ’32 Research Professorship. Cartelli plans to continue to devote time to his long-term book-in-progress, Producing Disorder in Early Modern England, New England, and Ireland.

Curtis Dretsch, Professor of Theatre
Curtis Dretsch, with 42 years of service, is professor of theatre arts and director of design and technical theatre for the Department of Theatre & Dance. In addition to his more than 110 designs for Muhlenberg Theatre and Summer Music Theatre over the past 40 years, Curtis’s work has graced stages in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Edinburgh and London. He has designed for the Dallas Shakespeare Festival and Pennsylvania Stage Company, among others.

During the 1990s, Curtis served as dean of the College for faculty and vice president for academic affairs. He has served tirelessly on countless College committees.

In 2002, Curtis received a Lifetime Achievement Henry Award for his role in the Muhlenberg community, and in 2009, he received a Muhlenberg College Alumni Achievement Award for distinguished contributions to the College. 

Gail Eisenberg, Senior Lecturer of Business
Gail has been a lecturer in the Business Program faculty for 38 years. Most recently Gail has offered the basic marketing course, a marketing in not-for-profit course and the marketing research courses. Her marketing research courses are known for using interviewing techniques and statistical analysis in service-learning projects that have benefitted various departments within the College as well as community organizations. These service-learning contributions earned her the Alumni Association Tricorn Award and the Julian Newhart Faculty Prize. Gail’s not-for-profit marketing course sponsored a series of Ten Thousand Villages fair-trade festivals that generated the highest revenues in North America.

Recent research efforts emphasized the gender wage gap and the experience of the textile industry in the Lehigh Valley, as told by oral histories. For many years, Gail served the accounting, business, economics and finance department by coordinating the internship activity of students during the summer and academic year.

Earl Halpin, Housekeeper
Earl worked the third shift to ensure essential housekeeping needs were taken care of in Muhlenberg’s academic buildings that house the College’s science programs.

Earl always arrived to work early and stayed late. He often volunteered to help cover other areas during events, ensuring that plant operations was a visible and friendly presence at important College functions. Earl dedicated 14 years to serving Muhlenberg and will be missed by his colleagues and friends.

Sam Hamoui, Housekeeper
Sam worked the third shift in Ettinger Hall, home to Muhlenberg’s Departments of Accounting, Business, Economics and Finance; History; Languages, Literatures & Cultures and Political Science.

Sam is very kind-hearted and would always give you a smile. He is always willing to help others in their areas when needed. Sam dedicated 17 years to serving Muhlenberg.

Chris Herrick, Professor of Political Science
Christopher Herrick joined the Muhlenberg political science department 38 years ago. His research interests include comparative politics, international relations, environmental policy and foreign and national security policies.

He previously served as a researcher with a coastal resources management project and worked as a program analyst for the Office of Ocean, Resource and Scientific Policy Coordination and NOAA in the U. S. Department of Commerce.

At Muhlenberg, he founded and served as the director of the International Studies Program, served as advisor for prestigious undergraduate awards, chaired several significant faculty committees and published several books. He developed and taught courses in international relations theory, international law and organizations, American foreign policy, national security, East Asia and African politics and government. He led a Muhlenberg Integrated Learning Abroad course on sustainable development in the Pearl River Delta region of China.

His leadership roles include president of the Board of Directors of ASIA Network, a consortium of over 170 colleges that aims to strengthen the role of Asian Studies within the the liberal arts. Chris served as campus liaison to the Humpty Dumpty Institute and the Global Partnerships Forum, which engages college students in global citizenship. Chris has been instrumental in developing internship opportunities for Muhlenberg students with the United Nations.

Luba Iskold, Professor of Russian Studies
Luba Iskold arrived at Muhlenberg 26 years ago to teach alongside Arvids Ziedonis and Al Kipa, modeling her extraordinary care for her students on Ziedonis’s legendary student outreach and her prodigious scholarly output on both of her mentors.

Luba’s scholarly interests include the role of technology in second language acquisition; her dozens of articles and work with professional organizations is a reflection of her commitment to these issues and the respect she earned among her peers. She earned respect and adoration from her students, many of whom were heritage Russian speakers. She forged close relationships and would stay in contact beyond their college years. Under her watchful eye, the students in Russian studies would shine, presenting papers at conferences and heading on to graduate programs and celebrated by their professor.

Luba was central to the development of the LC Commons, a meeting place for many constituencies across campus who gather to use unparalleled digital teaching and communication resources; the department made the transition to online teaching as effectively as it did in large part because of Luba’s vision of language teaching enhanced by the latest technology.

Deborah Kipp, Associate Vice President for Advancement
Deb impressively served Muhlenberg’s advancement office for 23 years, leading and overseeing corporate, foundation & government relations; principal gifts; leadership gifts; planned giving and donor relations.

She was an active and engaged member of the department’s executive team, creating a variety of initiatives and fundraising opportunities. Through her interactions with hundreds of alumni, parents and organizations, she secured more than $60 million in gifts and grants for the College. Deb is the recipient of Muhlenberg’s Chairman’s Award and is the 2008 recipient of the Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Eastern PA Chapter, an organization for which she served as president and chair of their National Philanthropy Day events. Deb’s dedication to and passion for Muhlenberg College, where both of her sons earned their undergraduate degrees, is beyond compare and Muhlenberg is so fortunate to have been the beneficiary of her dedicated service.

Roger Loos, Technical Support Specialist
For 22 years, Roger was a key member of Muhlenberg’s desktop services team, deploying computers across campus in support of teaching and learning & business continuity.

While Roger’s career at Muhlenberg was focused on technology, many know him as an artist and lifelong learner. During his time at Muhlenberg, he pursued his passion at various symposia around the world, and his sculpture has been shown at galleries and even graced our campus. While working for the Office of Information Technology, he pursued his bachelor of arts, graduating magna cum laude in 2012.

Those who know Roger no doubt had thought-provoking conversations about music, food, animals, British TV, indie movies, history, fashion, art and so much more. While Roger has retired from Muhlenberg, he will surely be pursuing other passions and interests—and maybe seeing Radiohead soon, now that live concerts are a thing again.

Yousef Makhoul, Housekeeper
Yousef worked the third shift, providing housekeeping service to the buildings that house the College’s science programs.

He was an exceptional worker, both individually and when needed as part of a larger team. Yousef dedicated 21 years to serving Muhlenberg.

Judy Martinez, Housekeeper
Judy Martinez worked the day shift, servicing all housekeeping needs in East Hall. She was a welcome and friendly face to the students who called that residence hall home.

Judy has touched more young lives than she will ever realize. Judy dedicated 22 years to serving Muhlenberg. 

Joan Marx, Professor of Spanish
In her 37 years at the College, Joan Marx helped define Muhlenberg in many ways. She graduated from Muhlenberg with a B.A. in Spanish and returned to Muhlenberg with a Ph.D. to teach Spanish as one of the very first women professors here. She has been a fierce defender of languages at the College and has helped set the design of our language programs today. Within the Spanish program, Joan introduced new courses: Border Literature, Human Rights Literature and the CUE course exploring Jewish traditions across the Hispanic world. Years before were we discussing the decolonization of the curriculum, Joan was doing it.

As a scholar, Joan has explored the work of Latin American women writers; she has taken leadership roles in Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies and Phi Sigma Iota, the national language honors society.

Over her nearly four decades of service to the College, Joan has worked on nearly every committee and many essential projects. When Joan stands to speak at faculty meetings, the room falls quiet…everyone knows that it will be important, it will be direct, it will often be the last word in a debate. Her voice will be missed, though her advocacy has been passed on to our new leaders.

Paul Meier, Associate Professor of Biology
Paul Meier’s 28 years at Muhlenberg are best understood via a lens focused on student opportunities. In 1999, he led the revision of the biology curriculum to be more welcoming to majors and non-majors. He spearheaded the planning of the New Science Building, purposefully designed to provide students space for student-teacher interactions and engagement in research.

Paul mentored dozens of students on wide-ranging research projects on amphibians, birds and mammals. He is legendary for the amount of time he spent engaged in conversation with students at all times of day and night. He was awarded over $1.4 million in National Science Foundation grants to provide students from under-represented groups in the sciences the opportunity to attend Muhlenberg, and his mentorship, guidance and friendship helped them thrive while in attendance. His unique Applied Physiology course engaged students in problem-solving using real case studies presented by alumni doctors. He capped the Muhlenberg experience by creating and leading the annual senior hike for more than 15 years, providing students time to reflect and bid farewell. Students honored Paul with awards for outstanding professor and academic advisor.

He served Muhlenberg as chair of several college committees, as biology department chair and advisor to the Penn Dental Program. He is thankful to have been a member of the Muhlenberg community.

Linda Nemes, Administrative Assistant, Business Office
Linda provided 36 years of service to Muhlenberg. Her long tenure of service for the business office supported three vice presidents of finance. She greatly assisted with annual audits, both preparing for the process and dealing with third-party auditors. She was critical to the annual budgeting process.

Linda had a knack for knowing what needed to be done next without being told, always one step ahead! Besides her work with the Treasurer’s Office, she also chipped in whenever the Controller/Business Office needed help, including with student invoices. Linda was on top of countless projects, ensuring they were handled correctly, much of which was behind the scenes. She was a true dedicated team player that could be counted on when you needed her the most.

Stephen Nemes, Head Athletic Trainer
Steve Nemes was the head athletic trainer at Muhlenberg College for 38 years. When Nemes arrived, he was the only full-time trainer for a 14-sport varsity program. By 2020, Steve supervised a team of five athletic trainers for the Mules’ 22 varsity sports and was responsible for the care and treatment of more than 500 student-athletes each year.

Nemes was selected to the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Society Hall of Fame in 2010 and received the Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association Presidential Award in 2017 for his unselfish and dedicated efforts to advance the EATA and the athletic training profession. He touched the lives of thousands and thousands of student-athletes and served as a mentor to so many athletic trainer interns, student first-aid trainers, coaches and department staff. Steve’s thoughtful, passionate leadership served as the cornerstone of Muhlenberg’s sports medicine program for so many years and established the program as one of the Centennial Conference’s most respected.

Shelley Oliver, Lecturer of Theatre & Dance
Shelley Oliver has led Muhlenberg’s tap program for over 25 years. As a performer, Shelley has appeared with such legends as Savion Glover and Gregory Hines, toured the world as a founding member of Manhattan Tap and served as artistic director of Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers. As an educator, Shelley presented demonstrations at Lincoln Center, NYC public schools and universities nationwide. She founded the Muhlenberg Jazztap Ensemble, providing community outreach throughout the area; pioneered a math/tap program for elementary and special needs classes; and produced an educational CD series that has become a standard pedagogical tool in the tap world. She has also contributed show-stopping choreography for numerous Muhlenberg dance concerts and musical theatre productions. 

Kate Ranieri, Associate Professor of Media & Communication
Kate Ranieri has been a remarkable contributor to the Department of Media & Communication, most notably advancing the work of students interested in documentary practices, for 16 years.

Her coursework enriched students studying and making documentary work, always while keeping an eye towards the ethical work of storytelling. She collaborated with colleagues across LVAIC to host the Social Research and Social Justice Conference for many years, and worked with Susan Falciani Maldonado and Tony Dalton to develop historical practices in documentary research.

Charles Richter, Professor of Theatre
Charles Richter is the founding Theatre Program director at Muhlenberg, where he has taught and directed for the past 43 years. He is also the founding co-artistic director of the Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre, which completed its 39th season in 2019. As the program’s founding director, Charlie employed a tireless recruitment strategy to grow the Theatre Major from its infancy to one of the College’s most popular programs. He has directed more than 80 productions at Muhlenberg, most of them musicals, and he is both an expert in the history of American musical theatre and one of its great proponents.

Charlie is a former artistic director of the Pennsylvania Stage Company and a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. He has also directed for the New York City Opera Education Department, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre and Theatre Three in Dallas. He is a fellow of the Society for Values in Higher Education, a Fulbright Scholar and a Danforth Fellow.

Pearl Rosenberg, Associate Professor of Education
Pearl Rosenberg served the education department for 23 years. Her research interests include the social and psychological development of teachers; gender, race, class and culture issues in education; and the role of the arts in human development. Her writings on how pre-service teachers in primarily white teacher education programs deal with issues of race and racism have been featured in books and journals dealing with progressive pedagogy and multicultural education.

She has classical training in drawing and painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. She received a certificate from Harvard’s Project Zero Institute on the Arts in Education run by Howard Gardner and David Perkins, and has participated in workshops at the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education.

She has been a teaching artist in the Boston, Philadelphia and Allentown School Districts and has taught art on-site to a variety of populations including youth in community settings, cancer patients and environmentalists. Her research explores how children’s voices emerge through graphic, narrative and embodied play, particularly through open-ended activities like drawing, painting and sculpting.

David Rosenwasser, Professor of English
David Rosenwasser has served the Department of English at Muhlenberg for 36 years. His primary fields are rhetoric & composition, Irish literature and British fiction. He also teaches courses such as The Nature of Narrative, European Novel in Translation, Theory and Methods of English Studies and Writing Theory (a training course for Writing Center tutors).

Rosenwasser was responsible for the development of the College’s Writing Program and Writing Center. His research interests include the work of writing tutors, and he has mentored Muhlenberg students who have presented their own tutor research at national writing conferences.

Along with Professor Jill Stephen, he is the co-author of Writing Analytically, a textbook centered on how to analyze and, more generally, use writing to think. The text has become an essential part of the toolkit of writing programs at colleges and universities around the world.

He believes in discussion-based learning, and students in his classes have come to appreciate his perspective that writing is not just a means of communicating—it is also a powerful way of thinking.

Ted Schick, Professor of Philosophy
During his 41 years at Muhlenberg, Ted received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching as well as the Hoffman Research Fellowship. He played an important role in creating the First-Year Seminar Program, and he proposed, developed and for many years oversaw the Muhlenberg Scholars Program, the first honors program at the College.

In addition to his scholarship in the philosophy of science, philosophy of mind and value theory, Ted is the author of a number of influential and widely used textbooks in philosophy. His most well-known book is How to think about Weird Things, which is currently in its 8th edition. Indeed, sometimes Ted is identified in terms of this book: He is the “weird things” guy.

Ted has done much to popularize philosophy and has written about philosophical themes in Star Trek, The Matrix and Lord of the Rings. You may remember that Ted played with several other faculty in a band called the Drs. Of Rock that would perform on campus. Ted is a fount of interesting, funny and yes, weird facts and observations that invite lively conversation. His kind and friendly presence at the College will be missed.

Jill Stephen, Professor of English
Jill Stephen joined the Muhlenberg faculty 34 years ago. Her primary field is English Renaissance literature, and she has taught courses such as Renaissance Imagination, Lyric Traditions, Milton and the Age of Revolution. She is especially interested in poetry. She also writes about writing and the teaching of writing and co-directs Muhlenberg’s cross-curricular Writing Program and its peer tutoring Writing Center.

During her career, Jill has been honored with the Donald and Anne Shire Distinguished Teaching Professor Award and the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching. She was invited to be the faculty speaker at the 2021 Honors Convocation at Muhlenberg. She has co-authored the eight edition of Writing Analytically and the third edition of Writing Analytically with Readings with colleague David Rosenwasser. Jill has presented and lectured at numerous workshops and conferences nationwide.

Deborah Tamte-Horan, Registrar
Debbie Tamte-Horan retires after 16 productive years as the registrar at Muhlenberg. Debbie was a strong advocate for protecting student data and for replacing Capstone. Moreover, she was a valuable resource to faculty and staff colleagues and to the academic program at Muhlenberg as a whole. Her contributions to faculty committees, important College ceremonies and functions and to the development of the College’s catalog and curriculum will be valued for decades to come.

People from across campus knew they could reach out to Debbie with a question about policies or procedures and Debbie would have the answer on everything from FERPA, to leaves of absence, to the difference between a drop and a withdrawal. On those rare occasions when she did not have the answer, she was always willing to help think through the situation to find the best possible solution. Her passion for Muhlenberg and support for our students are hallmarks of Debbie’s time in the office. Her leadership, experience and ready smile will be missed.

Alan Tjeltveit, Professor of Psychology
Alan Tjeltveit taught courses about psychotherapy and counseling, abnormal psychology, philosophical psychology and the psychology of good and evil for 32 years. Prior to his time at Muhlenberg, he worked as a psychotherapist on psychiatric units, engaged in private practice and taught part-time at the college and university levels. People fascinate him. He finds odd and unusual behavior particularly interesting and believes the practical applications of psychology are very important. He has enjoyed teaching psychology at Muhlenberg because the students are interesting, bright, hardworking, socially-skilled and concerned about other people.

Alan’s research interests include the ethical dimensions of psychology, including values and ethics in psychotherapy; professional ethics, including how psychologists can most effectively be educated to avoid ethical violations and to achieve ethical excellence; the connections among psychology and philosophy, and especially the subfield of theoretical and philosophical psychology; a variety of the many intersections among psychology and spirituality/religion; and the psychology of love of God and love of neighbor, including caring, compassion, volunteering, service and grace.­­­­­­­