Saying Goodbye to the Wilson Retirees

Throughout the 127 years of Warren Wilson College, there have been many well-liked and respected staff and faculty members. A number of them have announced retirement this year, including Marty O’Keefe, Phil Otterness, Art Shuster, Mei Mah, David Mycoff, and Cathy Kramer. Below are their responses to some questions about their time at Warren Wilson and their future plans. 

 

Photo of Phil Otterness (you may not recognize him as he usually wears his glasses.)

Phil Otterness

Phil Otterness, history and political science professor, plans on going to Europe and finish the research book he has been writing about peasant opportunists from Switzerland and the German southwest who made their way across the Atlantic in 1710 and helped found New Bern, North Carolina. 

When asked what he will miss most about Warren Wilson, Otterness wrote, “the students, my great staff and faculty colleagues, a paycheck.” 

 

Marty O’Keefe

Marty O’Keefe, former Chair of the Outdoor Leadership (ODL) Department and teacher of 26 years, has thoroughly enjoyed, and is inspired by, the colleagues and students she gets to work with at Warren Wilson. After teaching at Unity College with Ed Raiola, O’Keefe came to Warren Wilson in 1995 to help Raiola build the ODL Department.

“In addition to leading the ODL Department as chair for eight years, Marty was a long-time advocate for equity on campus,” wrote Jill Overholt, current chair of the Outdoor Leadership Department. “Many may not realize the trailblazing path she forged years ago meeting by meeting, conversation by conversation, e-mail by e-mail to advocate for equal access to benefits for all. Indeed, Marty’s persistence and bull-dog determination to that end feels rooted in her sense of fairness for all.” 

“It is just plain fun to work with students as their passions ignite,” wrote O’Keefe. “We create an environment where we learn together and assist each other in doing our best work. We are all striving to make a difference in the world — and help each other understand the myriad of ways that is possible for each of us. Thus — making more “good” trouble in the world! It’s a fun adventure to be on together here at Wilson.” 

 

Cathy Kramer

Cathy Kramer, Vice President for Applied Learning, will very much miss being on the beautiful Warren Wilson campus regularly and looking out her office window in the log cabin at the farm and mountains. 

“I will miss the amazing colleagues and students that have been part of my life here,” wrote Kramer. “I have spent these 16 years in the company of some of the most interesting, wise, dedicated, kind, challenging and engaging people I have ever met and this community will always mean a lot to me.” 

“Retiring in a pandemic is a little challenging in terms of planning, but first I plan to reconnect with family and friends I have not seen in over a year and then hope to expand my travels to a tour of national parks,” wrote Kramer, when asked about her retirement. “I will also look for ways to be engaged in the broader community in meaningful ways when I am at home and I may also pick up my guitar again and really learn to play!”

 

Art Shuster

Art Shuster, Director of Counseling since 1999, will miss driving in from the Shell station during his morning commute and coming over the hill, having the WWC Farm and Swannanoa Valley and Craggy Mountains open up as you top the hill, and is grateful for that every single time. 

Prior to working at WWC, Art was notified by past Dean of Students, Louise Solomon, that WWC was thinking of starting a mountain bike team at the College. Solomon had known that Shuster had been a professional mountain bike racer, and suggested that he become a counselor at the college and start a bike team. It turned out to be an offer he could not refuse. 

Meanwhile, prior to saying yes to the offer, he decided to check with John “Lightening” Griffith, a past supervisor of Electric Crew. Shuster had worked on the Electric Crew during his junior and senior years at WWC. He asked Griffith what he thought about working for WWC, and he wrote it was “the best thing I’ve ever been a part of,” and went on to describe the dynamics of working with WWC students. 

“I’ve never thought I’d be working in any one position for 22 years, but that’s what happened!” wrote Shuster. “My next steps are to take a long road trip out to Hood River, Oregon, to visit my brother and his family, then to shift over to doing part-time counseling work, and working with the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association with their trail maintenance crew.”

 

Mei Mah

Mei Mah, Catalog Librarian, often introduces herself to visitors as a proud alumna of WWC. As an undergraduate, she worked mainly on the Library Crew, with occasional gigs with Heavy Duty, Conference, and Dining Crews. Mah’s majors were English and Economics/Business. When Mah arrived at Warren Wilson College as an international student, she could not have imagined that she would earn two graduate degrees and serve as a member of the staff/faculty for 35 years. Mei Mah plans to travel in her retirement. 

“I will miss the students with their ideals and earnestness as well as my staff and faculty colleagues with their kindness and intellect,” wrote Mah. 

 

David Mycoff

Please see Resident Thespian Retires to read about Mycoff. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Echo Team and the Warren Wilson College community will miss all of the staff and faculty retirees. We wish them all the best in their new journey, post Warren Wilson College.