John and Maryanne Ward retire after 16 years at Centre
RELEASED: May 25, 2006
Our years here (Maryanne's and mine), 16 in all, comprise over a quarter of our lives. Centre has shaped us all, profoundly, and our ups and downs here may be some kind of indication of what is to follow. Centre has given us skills and talents we didn't have when we arrived. A true liberal arts education helps us understand and respond to a subtle call and accept a job for which we were not explicitly trained. Or we may be called just to dive in and do the obvious task with some gratitude for its obviousness. Centre's best traditions, old and new, challenge us to be good servants as we go forward from this place, to hear the call when it comes and to know how to answer 'Speak; for thy servant heareth,' as Samuel did.
DANVILLE, KY—With these words, at the conclusion of a warmly received baccalaureate address to the Class of 2006, John Ward, vice president for academic affairs, dean of the College, and professor of English, bade Centre College farewell. He and his wife, Maryanne, also a professor of English, are retiring to their home in Pittston, Maine, on the Kennebec River. They leave behind an impressive record of accomplishment and many fond memories.
"I'm going to miss singing in professor Hall's (Stodghill Professor of Music Barbara Hall's) choirs," he told the Cento, Centre's student newspaper, in February. "I'm going to miss teaching freshmen and sophomores about English lyric poetry. Probably more than anything I'm going to miss delivering the opening speech at the Faculty/Staff Conference."
At a symposium honoring Ward's retirement in March, John Churchill, national secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa society, said: "For years, Dr. Ward has been dean among the deans in The Associated Colleges of the South, and his influence has reached far beyond this campus."
"John Ward has had a remarkable run as the College's chief academic officer," said Centre president John A. Roush. "He would have made an outstanding college president. It is Centre's very good fortune that he continued as vice president for academic affairs. When the institution's next history is written, John Ward's name will be called often as one of the key players in enriching and elevating the College's academic program and progress."
Maryanne Ward, who was academic dean at Kenyon before coming to Centre says that for her retirement couldn't come at a better time. "We're ready to move on. I don't ever want to get bored with my teaching and I'm not. I think I'm going out happily, at the right moment."
At the year-end potluck picnic May 10, held indoors in Sutcliffe Hall on account of inclement weather, faculty colleagues said thanks and farewell to the Wards. Through the diligence of Linda Warren, executive secretary, we are able to share some of their words.
Over the past 16 years you have been our colleagues and our mentors, our partners and our leaders, our host and hostess, our confidantes, our friends.
The many roles you have filled make you the classic utility infielders of college life except, unlike utility infielders, you've been ALL-STARS at every position you've filled.
It saddens us all that you will no longer fill most of those roles, but we're grateful that you will remain our friends.
Good luck and Godspeed in the Frozen North.
Maryanne did a lot of teaching for the English program, and I won't try to characterize it here except to say that she brought some salutary Queens sass to the college, and she would say things that would make people ask, 'Hey—I didn't know we could say stuff like that!'
John Ward is widely known as dean, but people probably aren't as well aware of what a good teacher he's been. He regularly taught a survey of 18th-century literature. The 18th-century is not a period that students expect to appreciate very much, but over the years I read a lot of John's student evaluations, and they give a good impression of what he could do. These are genuine comments, drawn from my old division chair notes:
"He can talk in sentences that never seem to stop, but somehow, you always understand just what he's saying."
"He actually seems to find this literature funny, and when he talks about it, you see that it is."
"He talks about sex all the time."
To honor the request for brevity, here are three short descriptions for each of you
We salute you as excellent role models!
To Maryanne (not the one in the Harry Belafonte song that sits idly by the seashore sifting sand):
This one's no idler or sifter.
To John, whose French accent is only a tiny part of his winsome savoir faire:
A consummate host, he, a table.
Cowan professor of English
- end -
Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422
Public Information Coordinator: Telephone 859-238-5714