Seems Like Yesterday: Retirees

Michel Hersen, Dean of Professional Psychology. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

More than a dozen faculty and staff members retired recently. We captured a few remembrances.

Share this

Michel Hersen, dean of the School of Professional Psychology (SPP) and Randy Randolph, director of the University’s School of Physician Assistant Studies (PA), have announced they will retire at the conclusion of the current academic year.

Under Hersen, dean since 1997, the school established a national presence, significantly increased enrollment, more than tripled core faculty and added a master of arts in counseling psychology degree.

Randolph has directed the PA school since 1997. During his tenure, PA also gained a national reputation with its evidence-based curricula and numerous partnerships and “best practices” input with healthcare agencies and organizations.

Also retiring from their Pacific positions are longtime staff and faculty members including:

Charlie Arvidson, construction manager
Ellen Hastay, service learning coordinator, Humanitarian Center
Lynn Harstad, program associate, professional psychology
George Harshbarger, professor of music
Paul Kohl, professor of optometry
Chuck O’ Connor, professor of business
Lee Ann Remington, professor of optometry
Jan Shield, professor of art
Mike Steele, distinguished university professor of English
Alex Toth, associate professor/social sciences and special collections librarian
Paula Wilkes, associate professor of education/Talented and Gifted program coordinator

See additional photos and profiles in this section below. 
Note: Not everyone was available for interviewing and photography.

Alex Toth, Associate Professor/Social Sciences and Special Collections Librarian. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

Alex Toth

Riding into the Sunset

Helping people locate needed information has been Alex Toth’s passion as a librarian and archivist at Pacific University since 1977. He is retiring at the end of the academic year.

Toth, whose official title is associate professor/social sciences and special collections librarian, joined Pacific after working for a Portland architectural firm where he organized and maintained its library. However, he soon decided he wanted more people interaction and the chance to develop strategies for finding information.

“What kept me at Pacific was the opportunity to do just that,” he said. “I very much enjoyed interacting on a personal level with those using the Library's collections and services.”

Toth’s work has involved working with students, faculty, staff and community members in not only finding information­—but showing them how to figure out where to get information that is reliable, accurate and academically sound.

When he first came to the University, he worked with social sciences faculty helping to develop that section of the library’s resources. His responsibilities have expanded over the years, including overseeing government documents and special collections.

Among other things, Toth has been in charge of the University’s archives, housed mostly on the second floor of the Library on the Forest Grove campus. Items in the temperature-controlled rooms include some 10,000 photographic and slide images, student newspapers and yearbooks dating back to the 1890s, the papers of the University’s first president, Sidney H. Marsh, minutes of Board of Trustees meetings and other items relating to Pacific’s history.

Toth has recently also been involved in a joint project with the Washington County Museum which will result in a digital library of historic photographs illustrating the history and development of Washington County.

When asked what he would miss most, he said, “I will certainly miss the interaction with faculty colleagues and students,” adding, “Work in the Library is very much a collective effort. Any personal success I may have achieved is owed to successful collaboration with my colleagues.

“Once an item is identified for addition to the collection it needs to be ordered, processed, cataloged, shelved etc. before it becomes usable. All of this work requires the coordinated efforts of a number of dedicated individuals all working toward a common end—improving the library’s collections and services,” he said.

Among his more memorable moments, Toth told of “the day the HVAC compressor on the second floor of the Scott Library caught fire and I got to pull the pin on one of the library's fire extinguishers.” Another, time there was an ant invasion in the Scott Library and “an early morning encounter with one of the free-ranging raccoons that used to call our campus home.”

As for life after retirement, Toth said he is pondering volunteer activities, travel with his wife and home and yard projects. However, the librarian who often rode his BMW motorcycle to work and posted pictures of old motorcycles and riders in his office is likely thinking the most of opportunities ahead to ride.

-- Wanda Laukkanen





Charlie Arvidson, manager of new construction. (Photo by Steve Dodge)

Charlie Arvidson

Six Years, Six New Buildings

Charlie Arvidson worked only six years and five months at Pacific University, but he left a legacy of work that continues to impact future generations.

Hired in July 1, 2004 as manager of new construction by former University President Phil Creighton, Arvidson oversaw some $92 million in construction of four buildings in Forest Grove and two in Hillsboro plus the athletic complex in Lincoln Park and tennis courts on Tom Reynolds Field.

The Forest Grove buildings include Burlingham and Gilbert residence halls, Berglund Hall, which houses the School of Education, and the University Library. The two other buildings, Creighton Hall and HPC2, house College of Health Professions programs in the newly named Health and Education District in Hillsboro.

In addition, Arvidson also worked on remodeling work at Pacific’s Portland optometry clinic, The Pulse student lounge at the University Center, the first Price Hall remodel of its upper floor and the relocation of the Green Environmental Machine (GEM) from Reynolds Field. The GEM aids in recycling materials for the University.

President Creighton, who served at Eastern Oregon University as its president prior to coming to Pacific, brought Arvidson to the University after noting he had done a great job for three years at EOU on its construction projects. “I was more than happy to work for him again,” said Arvidson.

Arvidson left Pacific in the fall of 2010, not because of retirement, but, as he noted, because there is no additional new construction due soon at the University.

“I miss most the people I had the privilege of associating with while doing my work,” said Arvidson. “I miss the daily contact with people and the challenge of solving problems for them, along with the challenges of constructing multi-million dollar buildings and sports facilities.

“It’s hard to all of a sudden stop doing something you really enjoy, along with working with others who share that same enthusiasm,” he added.

Among the moments Arvidson remembers as being most memorable is receiving the University’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) award given by the United States Green Building Council for the University Library construction. “We worked long and hard for that first one,” he said. The University now has six buildings which have received LEED certification, four in Forest Grove and two in Hillsboro. Five of those are Gold Certified with the Library having a rating of “Certified.” Arvidson worked on all of those buildings as construction manager.

Even with all the construction work, said Arvidson, there were times for practical jokes on the “boss.”

“There was the time gremlins filled my office top to bottom, side to side, with boxes while I was away on vacation,” he said. However, he added,  “The culprits were identified and photographed for their records.”

-- Wanda Laukkanen

Ellen Hastey, Service Learning Coordinator Humanitarian Center. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

Ellen Hastay

Connections to Continue

Ellen Hastay has been with Pacific University for 17 years, but her time has been spent, at least in part, in countries far away.

Hastay, who is the Service Learning Coordinator, has directed the Humanitarian Center (what is now the Center for Civic Engagement) and taught Peace and Conflict studies courses. Hastay will say farewell when the academic year comes to a close.

Hastay’s most memorbable moments with Pacific took place in far away lands such as the Navajo Nation, the Amazon region of Ecuador and Peru, Ghana, Kenya and Cuba.

“Images come to mind of all-night ceremonies with hypnotic Navajo chanting, delight on students' faces when they mastered string games, eating fry bread and stew after we'd chopped wood for a Navajo elder, students' reactions to seeing the devastation from oil extraction in the Ecuadorian jungle, the meaning of community as we were enfolded in Ghanaian community-wide service projects, dances, and two-day funerals, and first-hand experience with the resourcefulness, playfulness, and challenges of life in Cuba,” said Hastay.

While Hastay plans to continue many of the community connections that she has established with her position at the Center for Civic Engagement, she will no longer be teaching.

“I will greatly miss having lively discussions and sharing insights with students in my Peace and Social Justice classes.  It is these students’ commitment to just/sustainable living that give me hope for the future!”

In addition, Hastay says that she will miss her “dear colleagues in the faculty and staff who have become cherished friends.”

-- Ashleigh Simons '12

George Harshbarger, Music Professor. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

George Harshbarger

Symphony of Memories

When music professor George Harshbarger says goodbye to teaching after this year, it will be the people that he will miss the most.

Harshbarger has taught for 34 years with 18 years at Pacific University. During his career, Harshbarger has taught a variety of grades ranging from the public school level to the university level.

“I have enjoyed wonderful students and colleagues, and have been aided by a most efficient and agreeable university staff. The pleasant interactions with the Pacific community in and out of the classroom will be impossible to replace,” said Harshbarger.

While at Pacific, Harshbarger has served as the University’s Director of Choral Activities and served as the Chair of the Arts Division.

For Harshbarger, the memories created with Pacific University’s Chamber Singers and Choral Union will stay with him long after he has retired. One memory in particular stands out for Harshbarger, however. In 1997 and 1998, the Choral Union was the first choir to perform any of Handel’s Messiah in the People’s Republic of China since the Communist Revolution in 1949.

“It’s hard to top memories like those,” said Harshbarger.

-- Ashleigh Simons '12

Jan Shield, Art Professor. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

Jan Shield

Legacy of Art

Art Professor Jan Shield has not only left his mark on Pacific, but a legacy for future generations.

Shield has seen Pacific University grow and change over the last 40 years, but will be saying goodbye, after this academic year.

With over 40 works of art displayed on the Forest Grove campus and the Health Professions campus, Shield’s work can be seen in nearly every building. Among them are a series of paintings in the basement computer labs of Marsh Hall, the art above the University Center fireplace and pieces displayed in residence halls.

“I have always felt being here is a state of giving, and that my teaching and the art works’ impact on peoples lives will continue,” said Shield. “Part of my life and work continues to have a place in the eyes and hearts of all who look with an interest in broadening their awareness.”

While at Pacific, Shield has also helped to establish the permanent collection of art, served as director of exhibits for 28 years, and worked with past Board of Trustees members, presidents and vice presidents to help create the Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center.

One of Shield’s prized accomplishments was his work with New York artist Kathrin Cawein, whom he worked with for over ten years during her numerous visits to the University to teach.

As a result of their collaboration, Cawein left her estate to the University, which increased endowed arts scholarships by over $630,000.  For her generosity, the University named the art gallery in Scott Hall after her.

For Shield, one of the most memorable moments during his time at Pacific was when he was able to assist his class in redesigning a parking lot to the north side of Marsh Hall. The parking lot would later become Trombley Square.

When he retires at the end of this school year, Shield says that he will miss his students the most.

“I will no doubt miss my students and all their desires to increase their expressive potentials most along with continual involvement with colleagues, collaboration projects, exhibits, and the day to day continuum,” said Shield.

-- Ashleigh Simons '12

Jan Shield's Boxer Tale Video

Lee Ann Remington, Optometry Professor. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

Lee Ann Remington

An Unexpected Career

If it hadn’t been for conversations with her husband’s friends, Lee Ann Remington O.D. '84 might have been a high school math teacher instead of an optometrist at Pacific for the last 25 years.  

Remington, who came to the University as a first-year optometry student in 1980, lived in Montana and had been a certified operating room technician (known as “scrub” nurse) in a hospital in Montana for 12 years. Married with two children, she said, “When the kids were in school I wanted to go back to college, thinking I would be a high school math teacher.”

However, two optometrists who golfed with her husband, Dan, persuaded her to join the optometric profession, she said. So, at age 34 she, Dan, and the two children, Tracy, who was 10 years old, and Ryan, then age 8, moved to Hillsboro and she began school. A non-traditional student when there weren’t so many around, she noted, “I didn’t attend a lot of optometry parties.” Instead, any spare time was spent with family and her children’s school events.

After graduating as a doctor of optometry in 1984, Remington noted that, "nobody in the family was ready to move back to Montana.” So, she became a teaching fellow for two years at the University and then joined the faculty as an instructor. She is now a full professor who is retiring to half-time status for the next three years. She will continue teaching classes and editing the next edition her textbook, "Clinical Anatomy of the Visual System."

The text, in use by about half of the optometry schools in the country, came about because, Remington said, the anatomy textbook she had used at Pacific as a student was out of print. She wrote numerous publishers asking if there was a substitute. Finally, she noted,  “I got a letter from one saying, ‘Why don’t you write it?’”

So, she did. Remington is now working on the third edition. Aimed at students and clinicians rather than visual scientists, the book is still valued by many former students. “It makes me feel good to hear from graduates who say the book has been very helpful,” she said.

Remington served on the University’s Board of Trustees for three years. “I really enjoyed the interaction with the people who served and was impressed with the concern they showed for the University…that was really a lovely experience.”

Among her most memorable moments at Pacific, she said, “I think commencement every year. It is so satisfying and gratifying to see how these wonderful students that I have gotten to know over four years have matured and gained so much knowledge, and we now get to call them ‘Doctor’.”

-- Wanda Laukkanen


Michel Hersen, Dean of Professional Psychology. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

Michel Hersen

The Art of Psychology

While he may be retiring Sept. 1 after 14 years as dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Pacific University, Michel Hersen plans to keep working, but not as a psychologist. A noted photographer, he will continue doing fulltime nature and wildlife photography.

“By nature, I’m a conservationist,” he said, noting that he has also been elected to the board of directors for the Richland Natural Wildlife Refuge in Washington.

Inspired by the luminosity and coloration of the Hudson School landscape painters, his award-winning photography has been featured in many publications and has been exhibited widely. A look at his work can be seen at

When Hersen came to Pacific to head the professional psychology school in July 1997, he said, “I wanted to be dean of the program and have the ability to bring the program to national recognition.”

By all measurements, his goal has been achieved. Since he was appointed dean, SPP has significantly increased its student enrollment, more than tripled the core faculty, and added a master’s degree in counseling.

In addition, a psychological service center in Hillsboro now offers mental health outpatient care to both English and Spanish-speaking patients, and a track system for the doctoral program has been established in which students can pursue an emphasis in several different areas. The school’s internship program has received accreditation by the American Psychological Association and the school’s faculty and students have also been involved in marked increases in peer-reviewed publications. An increase in grant funding has also been established on Hersen’s watch.

Hersen himself has written, co-authored or co-edited more than 150 books and published more than 220 scientific journal articles as well as being co-editor of several psychological journals. He has distinguished himself in numerous professional organizations, including receiving the distinguished Career Achievement Award from the American Board of Medical Psychotherapists and Psychodiagnosticians.

Hersen earned his academic degrees and worked for universities on the East Coast before accepting the dean’s position at Pacific. When asked if he had to make adjustments to small-town life on the West Coast, he responded with a laugh. “I think the people in the program had to adjust to me,” adding, “Transition is part of my life… this is the best place I have lived.”

Even though he’ll still be working in another occupation once he leaves his post in the fall, Hersen said, “I will miss the people, particularly my colleagues.”

-- Wanda Laukkanen

Mike Steele, English Professor and Handball Coach. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

Mike Steele

A Working Retirement

There are many things that Distinguished University Professor of English Mike Steele is passionate about. His love of handball and his interest in Holocaust studies are only a couple.

Steele, who has taught at Pacific for 36 years, will not be completely leaving the University community when he retires at the end of the year. He will continue to teach a few specialty courses as a part time professor, including English courses that focus on the Holocaust and Native American studies.

One of the highlights of during his time at Pacific, was traveling to Pacific’s sister school in Hiroshima, Japan where he taught his Peace Studies course. It was, he said, “a very sobering yet promising experience.”

In addition to teaching countless Pacific students about the Holocaust, Steele also at one time served as executive director of the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center, which partnered with Pacific University from 1994 to 2007.

Besides teaching part time, Steele will also continue coaching the handball team, which he lead to their greatest success in over 30 years in 2010, as the team finished in second place nationally over many larger schools, including perennial power Texas A&M.

One of Steele’s most memorable moments at Pacific was his wedding day in 1986. Steele married his wife, Geri, in Old College Hall. The couple’s children were in attendance and served as flower girl and ring bearers.

In addition to his wedding day, Steele says that the “horrendous” photos of his “very long, bushy, curly hair” from the 1970’s, which appeared in Pacific publications, are something that he will never forget.

Steele, who was elected the United States Handball President in 2006, said that his handball players have also created some of his most memorable moments.

-- Ashleigh Simons '12

Paula Wilkes, Associate Professor of Education. (Courtesy Photo)

Paula Wilkes

Full Circle

During her 34 years as a teacher, Education Professor Paula Wilkes has had the unique experience of watching one young boy’s transition from student to teacher.

Wilkes who taught for 25 years in public schools and spent nine with Pacific’s College of Education, retires at the end of the 2011 academic year.

One of the highlights of Wilkes’ career was when Eric Wright, one of her previous elementary school students, came to Pacific’s College of Education to become a teacher himself.

Later, Wilkes was involved in a research study that took place in a middle school classroom, taught by Wright. It was one of the highlights of her career to see “the development of a student from young boy to accomplished teacher.”

“Without a doubt, it is the relationships I will miss the most. The people I work with are my friends, and I enjoy the support and intellectual stimulation I’ve experienced while working at the Eugene campus. I will also miss the relationships I’ve developed with our teacher candidates. I am impressed by the passion they bring to our teacher training program, and I will miss knowing I was having an impact on the next generation of educators.”

-- Ashleigh Simons '12

Randy Randolph, Associate Professor and Program Director of Physician Assistant Studies. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

Randy Randolph

A Tradition of Service

Randy Randolph arrived at Pacific’s School of Physician Assistant Studies (PA) in August 1997 as the clinical coordinator for a brand new program. He is now leaving in July as the director of a program considered both innovative and dynamic and very highly regarded nationally.

“I was drawn to Pacific University because it was an opportunity to transition from a practicing clinician to an educator in a new PA program that also happened to be in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, “ he said, “I was impressed by the University leadership and the enthusiastic support for the new program by its advisors and faculty.”

In coming to Pacific, Randolph said he viewed it as a career change that was, “an opportunity to continue to learn about medicine and academia while giving back to my profession by helping to educate future physician assistants.”  Randolph was a clinically practicing physician assistant for 20 years prior to joining the faculty, working in primary care and a surgical practice in San Diego.

In addition to his task as clinical coordinator, a position he held until 2003, Randolph was appointed associate director of the PA program in 1998, then became interim director in 2004. He was appointed program director in 2005.

Among his achievements is the pioneering of a didactic phase, modified-block curriculum that has been incorporated by other physician assistant programs around the country. Early data suggests the curriculum improves national board exam scores for graduates.

Other accomplishments for Randolph include students’ commitments to practicing in areas of the world where medical services often are in short supply. More than two-thirds of the University’s PA students will participate in international rotations during the upcoming academic year, including opportunities in Central America, China and Kenya.

With retirement, Randolph said, “I will most miss my interactions with students and watching them grow personally and professionally through their course. I will miss graduation day as they celebrate their success with the family and friends and the messages they send accounting their triumphs in clinical practice.”

In addition, Randolph said he would miss the camaraderie of his fellow faculty and staff and their inspirational commitment for student success.

As for memorable moments, Randolph was quick to mention the University’s announcement of the new program director—Judy Ortiz. Randolph noted Ortiz, currently the associate program director, “has the vision and leadership skills to insure that the program, near and dear to my heart, will continue on its path to remain one of the most innovative and dynamic programs in the country while remaining true to our mission and graduating well-trained, compassionate and highly skill clinicians.”

-- Wanda Laukkanen