Magazine On-line [summer 2013]
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Around Campus

Kathy EgnerKathy Egner retires from education faculty after 13 years

A few years ago, Transylvania’s education faculty decided to add a course on standards-based instruction and accountability to the curriculum.

“That’s probably what all of us like the least, but we felt it was necessary in order to prepare our students,” says education professor and humanities division chair Angela Hurley. “I taught it the first semester, but my heart wasn’t in it. And then Kathy Egner said, ‘I’ll take it,’ and she’s taught it every semester—and taught it very well—in her steady, organized, manner. It’s been a great help to our program.”

That story is but one example of the collegiality that Egner, associate professor of education, displayed throughout her 13 years at Transylvania. She retired June 1—the first professor to complete a phased retirement program that reduced herteaching load to four courses for the past two years.

“I was the guinea pig for that program, and it worked very well,” says Egner. “It gave me a taste of not working as much and got my colleagues and students used to me being a little less involved on campus.”

Egner received her Ph.D. in human development and early childhood education from Arizona State University. She says Children’s Literature was her favorite class to teach, but she also loved teaching First-year Seminar. “There’s something really special about first-year students,” she says. “I love watching how they develop.”

One of the first-year students whom Egner helped along was Serenity Thé Wright ’05. “I took Schooling in American Culture—a writing intensive course—my first semester,” says Wright. “I had lived in Indonesia until my sophomore year of high school and had little experience with paper writing. Having never asked for academic help before, I swallowed my pride and went to Dr. Egner’s office to tell her I was completely lost. We sat in front of her computer as she patiently showed me how to format a college-level paper. That experience changed my future.”

Wright went on to graduate from Transylvania with a history major and secondary education minor and earn a master’s in curriculum and instruction and complete the course work for a Ph.D. in education policy and evaluation at the University of Kentucky. She teaches social studies at Woodford County (Ky.) High School.

Egner took joy in getting to know her students as individuals. “It’s not me putting concepts into their heads, but developing knowledge together with them.”

In fact, she contends that her interactions with other Transylvania faculty members and the summer seminars she attended taught her more than she learned in her doctoral program. “I could have been a student all my life,” she says. “I would have loved to major in history, then major in English, then major in something else. But working here is the next best thing. I learned and learned and rejoiced in it.”

During retirement, Egner plans to relax, practice the organ (she’s a church organist and wants to take her playing “to the next level”), and spend more time with her husband and eight-year-old grandson, who lives with them. Her reading will focus more on novels than children’s literature because she has given many of her books to her colleagues.

“When she started the phased retirement, she immediately organized her books, and as she thought she could part with them, put signs on the shelves saying that we could come in and take what we wanted,” says Hurley. “We all took advantage of that generosity.”

Wright fondly remembers those bookshelves and says her eyes filled with tears when she visited Egner last fall and found them nearly empty. “I told Dr. Egner, one day I will sit here with a student, like you did with me, and pay it forward,” says Wright. “One day, I will be just like you. It’s the only way I know how to thank you.”

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