Emeritus Faculty receive honor

By Alexandra Kukulka

When a people end their career, they usually want to be remembered for their accomplishments. For educators, the many lives they’ve touched is a continuing achievement. But being named emeritus, an honor given to a retired professor, is one of academia’s greatest distinctions.

This year, seven faculty members received the emeritus title: Dennis Brozynski and Dianne Erpenbach from the Fashion Department; Dan Dinello from the Film & Video Department; Barbara Kasten and Peter LeGrand from the Photography Department; and George Thompson from the Art & Design Department, according to an April 17 email from Steve Kauffman, director of Public Relations.

“They have distinguished themselves with their creative careers as well as their teaching,” said Louise Love, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

Seven or more years of teaching, creative work and service to the college are the three criteria faculty members need to meet in order to qualify for the distinction, Love added.

According to Columbia’s handbook, this title is given to individuals who made significant contributions to the culture of their times while at Columbia, in keeping with the college’s overall mission.

“It is quite an honor for me,” Erpenbach said. “I am full of gratitude that I am being recognized and acknowledged for the work that I did for the college.”

Erpenbach taught at Columbia for 20 years. She was president of the Columbia College Faculty Organization, which in 1997 established a tenured program for faculty members. According to her, this was a big step for the college toward recognizing the worth of its educators.

Since retiring, Erpenbach said she is focusing her time on family and traveling while remaining involved with fashion organizations and consulting.

LeGrand was also  part of the CCFO when the program was established. According to him, this was a crucial development he participated in during his 31 years at the college.

“For the faculty, what it really means is that you have the freedom to speak and the administration cannot fire you for expressing your thoughts,” he said.

Another milestone LeGrand said he remembers is introducing digital photography classes to Columbia’s curriculum. He also came up with the idea to offer one-credit workshops for students to learn specialized skills such as food and sport photography.

LeGrand is currently working on his own photography projects and jurying art festivals. He also plans to travel and teach a few workshops.

Kasten remembers Columbia’s graduation ceremonies being different from other schools’ and events like Manifest bringing the campus together to celebrate student work. She said she has also seen the college change during her 14 years at Columbia.

“[Columbia] wasn’t small when I came, but it has certainly grown,” Kasten said. “There is a camaraderie between the departments that I suppose was always there but, after a few years, you begin to see it more.”

Kasten has been working on her own photography shows and plans to travel to New York City in June and Europe in July to present her work.

Dinello said he has fond memories of his students after 33 years at Columbia. He said he remembers being recognized as the college’s 2011–2012 Distinguished Scholar and being the director of the Multimedia Program in 1996.

“That was a really gratifying experience because it was so new and brought something really fresh, original and compelling to the college,” Dinello said. “Now it’s become a successful department.”

According to him, he has been writing all  of his life and plans to continue in his time off. He also aims to learn the piano.

Several emeritus faculty members said they hope the college will continue to grow and retain its image.

“My hope is that [Columbia] sustains the professionalism and creative aspects and stays true to [its] mission,” Erpenbach said.