Professors Retire After Many Years of Dedication
By Alisha George, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus
Professor of German Joachim Scholz and his wife, chair of the education department Rachel Scholz, director of the Writing Center Gerry Fisher, and professor of music Amzie Parcell and his wife lecturer in music Elizabeth Parcell are all retiring from Washington College this year.
Dr. Joachim Scholz taught the German program and the humanities program for 18 years and served as Provost and Dean of WC under three presidents, Trout, Toll and Tipson, for 12 years. Under his leadership, six new majors and several minors were introduced and he hired almost 50 percent of the new faculty on campus.
“I am very proud of the fact that we brought such outstanding junior colleagues to campus,” Scholz said.
Scholz said he and his wife decided it was time for a change and they will be moving to New Mexico in the next few months. He said they have been living in Chestertown for 30 years.
“I decided to retire because I am getting older and because it is time for younger colleagues to have a chance to enter the field of teaching,” Scholz said.
Scholz said he is proud of the Fulbright scholarship winners who come from the German department and that he was involved in the rapid growth of the student body in the 1990s. He said the student body went from about 880 students to almost 1,400 10 years later.
Scholz said he hopes he will now have plenty of time to read, which is his favorite hobby, and hike the mountains of northern New Mexico. He said he will miss teaching students, the library, OIT, and the intellectual stimulation that colleagues provide. He said throughout his 30 years at WC, teachers have continued to be absolutely committed to the students, which he thinks is an important constant.
When asked what he has liked the most about his time here, he said that everything one does here has a visible impact. “At larger institutions, it is increasingly difficult to know exactly what difference your contribution can make and has made. I hope Washington College will stay small enough so that everyone, students, teachers and staff will continue to have that sense that their commitment and their devotion to education actually have a visible impact,” Scholz said.
Executive Secretary to the Provost and Dean Maria Hynson said Scholz hired her in 2002 to replace long-time Secretary to the Provost, Madeline Howell.
“He accomplished much in his time as the Provost, and as my boss, he taught me much about the college, its rich culture, history and academic life, but most importantly, how to be a lifelong student,” Hynson said. “It is his consistency of character that marked his tenure as Provost and Dean, and it his passion for teaching that defines him. He will be missed on campus, but he leaves behind a legacy of excellent teaching, rigorous academic standards, and constancy.”
Professor of German James Martin said, “As a junior faculty member, I couldn’t have asked for a better senior colleague. Joachim’s legacy will be his insistence on rigor and high standards from all those around him including his students, faculty, and staff at Washington College.”
His wife Professor Rachel Scholz will also be sorely missed after working at WC for 25 years.
“She’s been a great advisor. She’s helped guide us along the way to becoming good teachers. She’s very helpful and knowledgeable in the education certification process and is always there if we have any questions,” senior Tim Danos said.
After 27 years, Fisher said choosing to leave the college has been a difficult decision.
“It’s been such an important part of my life for so long. But throughout this past academic year a whole constellation of events pushed me in that direction,” Fisher said.
Fisher said she’s proud of creating the internship course, which first began in 1997. She also helped develop a grammar course, which she has continued to teach by herself for the past few years.
“I’m so proud of how the Writing Center has grown and adapted to the curriculum over the years and the part it’s played in building a culture of writing on this campus. I’m particularly proud of our internship program and the wonderful peer consultants who emerge from that course,” Fisher said.
Fisher said she’s going to miss the wonderful friendships she’s made among faculty and staff and the students with whom she has both taught and worked.
Though the size and look of WC has changed, Fisher said one thing that hasn’t changed during her time here are the students.
“The students who come to WC are people you want to know, people you’d like. Some might be better prepared for the academic challenge than others. But overwhelmingly they come to WC eager to embrace college life, to learn, to take advantage of all Washington College has to offer–small classes, personal attention, internships, study abroad programs, new friendships and experience,” Fisher said.
Fisher said she hopes to read, write, and travel more during her retirement.
“I hope to do volunteer work. Maybe I’ll work part-time. Who knows? I’ll make it up as I go along. It will be an adventure,” Fisher said.
Assistant Director of the Writing Center John Boyd, who has worked with Fisher for 12 years, said she’s not only a colleague but a mentor and friend to him.
“In the time Gerry has been at the college, the Writing Center has transformed from a small office in the basement of William Smith to a full-fledged Center that serves students and faculty across the curriculum. Many of the changes that occurred along the way are due to Gerry’s professional vision and leadership,” Boyd said.
Boyd said he is always impressed by the generosity of spirit Fisher brings to her work.
“Whether she’s meeting with a student working on a senior thesis, mentoring one of our peer writing consultants, or talking with a faculty member about teaching writing, she is open minded, empathetic, and fully engaged with the other person’s concerns. It’s no surprise that students seek her out and return to meet with her, semester after semester, throughout their college careers. In those moments–the one-to-one interactions that characterize Gerry’s work–students make some of their greatest strides as writers and thinkers,” Boyd said.
Senior tutor Laura Walter said, “Gerry does more than advise us as writers, she supports us as students. She is such an important part of the Writing Center, and it will be hard to imagine the place without her.”
Parcell said after 32 years of teaching at Washington College, he felt it was time for a change.
“I want to experience and do new things. While I’ve enjoyed my time at the College, life is short and there are other things to do and experience,” Parcell said.
Parcell said during his time here, he has had the opportunity to develop many of the period courses that are currently taught at the College like Medieval and Renaissance Music, Baroque Music, Music of the Classical Period and Romantic Music. He said he began an Early Music Consort, which is an ensemble that performs music from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the early Baroque, a Jazz Band, the String Ensemble, and the Renaissance Christmas Dinner. The last of these was founded in 1982, with the assistance of Kathleen Mills, professor emeritus. He said he is also proud that he had some small part in the development of the facilities that the music department has in the new Gibson Center for the Performing Arts, especially the rehearsal room and the recital hall.
Parcell said he feels fortunate for having the opportunity to teach a variety of classes and work with so many intelligent and talented students.
Parcell and his wife, Elizabeth, who has also taught at WC for many years, plan to travel and spend more time with their grandchildren.
“I also want to try my hand at making early musical instruments—recorders, small harpsichords, etc. I also want to have more time to play my bassoon, to continue my study of the lute, to transcribe a number of microfilms of eighteenth-century music that I have, and in general to lead a less stressful life,” Parcell said.
Parcell said he will miss his colleagues as well as his students.
“[The music department faculty] have had such a good working relationship that we have become almost like a family. Many music departments are very acrimonious—everyone out for their own glory. This has never been the case at Washington College. I will also miss the numerous intelligent, enthusiastic, and talented students that I have had the privilege to work with over the years,” Parcell said.
Department of Music chair Garry Clarke said the Parcells have been wonderful colleagues and have done many great things for the department.
“[Dr. Amzie Parcells’] knowledge of music history is formidable. He is a respected scholar, whose work has been published in a number of places, including the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Mrs. Parcell, in addition to teaching piano, has taught flute. She directed the string ensemble at one point, and she, too, has coached a number of music ensembles. She has also accompanied many voice students over the years,” Clarke said.