Professor retires after 35 years, serves on search committee for her replacement

By Leah McDaniel
On February 20, 2012

After 35 years of educating at ASU, Robin Anderson will be retiring from her position as professor of Latin American history and history of medicine.

"I've got so many things I want to get done that I don't have time to do now," Anderson said.

A search committee consisting of four history professors began its search for a new professor in July and has narrowed the number of applicants for the position from 49 to three.

Those three candidates were chosen to come to campus where they met with groups of about 10 students.

The three remaining candidates are Alexander Hidalgo, Ignacio Martinez and Joseph Lenti, history professor Joseph Key said.

The search committee includes its chair, Key, along with Robin Anderson, Phyllis Pobst and Aiqun Hu. Key said the committee will make a candidate recommendation to the history department and the decision will be based on the entire department, rather than the committee alone.

Key said the major characteristics the committee is looking for in the potential candidates are teaching experience, a good record of teaching, service and committee work, student advising and research publications.

Nathan Shelby, a sophomore history major of Bryant said he hopes the new professor is energetic and excited about history.

He said encouraging students to be involved with the candidates gives students the opportunity to invest more in their education.

Anderson said the most important thing is how a potential professor interacts with the students. She said student input in the selection process is in some ways more important than the faculty input. Anderson added that the students who met with the candidates took their job very seriously and that they were responsible for some of the toughest interviewing.

The three remaining candidates have strong teaching experience and Key said they are not people who are stepping into the classroom for the first time. Anderson said any of the three candidates would do a great job because they are student-oriented and driven toward community outreach.

Anderson described being on the committee as a "weird experience" and an "intellectual exercise."

"It didn't hit me really until we brought our candidates on campus…it just hit me like a ton of bricks-this man wants my job!" Anderson said.

Aside from the "this is really happening" moment, Anderson said she has really enjoyed being part of the search committee to find her replacement. She said being on the committee has given her a chance to help set the direction for the history department for the years to come.

Anderson said giving up her courses on history of medicine is what she regrets most about retiring. She added that her real passion is history of medicine because she has always been fascinated by everything medical. She joked that she must have been a doctor in a past life.

"I just love teaching those courses," Anderson said of her history of medicine classes.

She described the history department as the most "congenial group of adults" and added that it has been a "marvelous department" to work for. She said that is one of the key reasons she has remained at ASU since 1976.

"In today's market, it constantly strikes me how unusual it is now that a person comes and stays at a job…for 35 years and retires from that job-it just doesn't happen anymore," Anderson said.

Anderson has taught close to 11,000 students and served as B.A. history advisor to about 15 students per semester.

She added that she has worked under five deans and five chairs and also served as assistant director of the Honors College for three years during the ‘90s.

While she will miss teaching, Anderson hopes to continue doing computer consulting with ASU and plans to teach some of the academic partnership classes for online degrees. She said she is not ready to completely give up teaching, but she wants to have more time for herself.

Anderson said she has big plans for her retirement. She plans to extend her stained glass business, Sunny Brook Studios, to full time and invest more time in reading, and traveling to places like China, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Alaska.

August will be one of the toughest parts of her retirement, Anderson said. It will be her first August to not start the new school year.

She said her experience at ASU has been positive and she said the history department could look forward to a healthy change.

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