| By Jim Carnett |
(Jim was an Orange Coast College student in the early 1960s. Now in his 37th year as Director of Community Relations, he is editor of Coast-to-Coast. This is a regular column that focuses on OCC’s history and distinctive characteristics and characters.)
They’re more than colleagues; more than friends; more, even, than sisters.
They share the same office – and some say the same brain. They’re Orange Coast College (as-close-as-you-can-be-without-actually-being) siblings, and biological sciences professors, Ann Harmer and Sharon Daniel.
Ann Harmer and Sharon Daniel
“We complement each other in everything we do,” Ann says. When you look up “yin and yang” in the dictionary, theirs’ is likely to be the photo next to the definition. “Sharon’s the brains, I’m the brawn.”
Purveyor of brute force, Ann, it must be noted, weighs all of 110 pounds!
“She forgives me for my lacks,” Sharon chirps.
“I do all of her typing,” Ann boasts.
They have a total of 63 years of service to OCC and its students, and they’re completely interchangeable. Ann answers to “Sharon,” and Sharon to “Ann.” They’re used to being mistaken for one another…though, actually, they look nothing alike.
“There’s an easy way to differentiate between us,” Ann offers, ever the enabler. “I have short curly hair and the short name…Ann. Sharon has the long straight hair in a ponytail, and the longer name.”
Works for me!
Sharon, who is 59, has been on campus for 34 years. Ann, 63, has been here 29. Ann will retire on Jan 25, 2008, but will remain on campus part-time for the spring semester to manage OCC’s Plastination Lab, and teach an advanced sectional anatomy class.
“I won’t retire for a couple of years,” Sharon says. “It makes for a good transition. If we were both to leave at the same time havoc would be wreaked upon the Biology Department. I’ll be able to help train new people.”
They definitely plan to retain their near-lifelong relationship after they’ve both hung up their white lab coats.
“We live five minutes from each other and five minutes from the college…we’re triangulated with OCC,” Ann quips. “Our husbands don’t always understand our friendship, but they put up with us.”
“We work together, go on vacations together, cook together, and go to weddings and funerals together,” Daniel adds. “My parents have adopted Ann, she’s part of the family. My sister treats her like her sister.”
“We’re as close as sisters,” Ann confirms. “We don’t just come to campus, teach our classes and go home…that’s never been us. We get involved…and most of the stuff that we get involved in we get involved in together.”
Both have exhibited career-long passions for their work, their students, their colleagues and Orange Coast College.
“I would do this for free,” Ann admits, not seeming to regret the fervent proclamation even a dozen seconds or so after it has escaped her lips. “I love it here.”
“It seems that all the years I’ve been here I always arrive on campus with the same feeling,” Sharon confides. “I come to campus and see those eucalyptus trees and the palms…and I take a deep cleansing breath. Whew! It’s good to be home!”
The duo has collaborated on dozens of projects during the last three decades, and they’ve often taught one another’s classes. They even finish one another’s sentences.
“Ann went out with a medical problem for a couple of months a few years back, and I taught all of her classes and mine,” Sharon says. “I was carrying two full loads at the same time. Each day I had the course assistant point me in the right direction. I did it because that’s what you do for a friend, and we’re here for each other.”
Ann did the same thing for Sharon when her stepdaughter was tragically killed a number of years ago.
“I took her classes,” Ann says, “with never a second thought about it.”
Sharon and Ann have been an OCC duo since 1978. They’ve been referred to by various designations over the years, some of which cannot be repeated in this space.
OCC president, Dr. Robert B. Moore, who hired them both, called them “The Steamrollers” because of their tenacity and enthusiasm…and their propensity for getting their way. They possess an uncanny ability to be able to get authorities to say “yes,” and then they seem to accomplish things at warp-speed. They don’t mess around.
They’ve also been called the “Body Babes” and “The Bodacious Bio-Body Babes.”
“I wish I could say that’s because of our incredible figures,” Ann says, “but, alas, it has something to do with our anatomy and physiology classes, the Plastination Lab and the cadavers that we use in our program.”
Most frequently, they’re called “The Dynamic Duo.”
They go together like pizza and beer, Siegfried and Roy, and Peanut Butter and scrambled egg sandwiches (my grandfather, an executive chef, taught me to love artery-clogging PB & scrambles on wheat bread…you oughta try it!).
Sharon joined OCC’s staff first, a 25-year-old freshly-minted M.S. out of grad school. The year was 1973. Ann came along five years later. They’re both OCC professors of biological sciences. They both wear lab coats while at work; both have free ranging and occasionally quirky senses of humor; and both are products of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Both are also winners of the college’s prestigious Faculty Member of the Year Award: Ann won it twice, in 1995-96 and again this year (2007-08); and Sharon in 2002-03. In fact, The Duo has appropriated 17 percent of all OCC Faculty Member of the Year Awards to this point in time.
They were students together at Cal Poly.
“Sharon got out earlier than I because I was on the 10-year plan,” Ann jokes. “I think I changed my major six times. Oh, and I also partied a lot.”
Don’t let the “slacker” wisecracks fool you. Ann and Sharon are made of significant, serious stuff.
“I talked her into coming to Coast,” Sharon adds with pride.
A native of Wichita, Kan., Ann attended the University of Kansas for two years as a pharmacy major. She ended up earning a B.A. degree in art history, anthropology and American civilization at Wichita State University. She’s used that art history degree at OCC, but more about that later
Ann worked as a professional quarter horse trainer and show-person during her high school and college years, and showed horses throughout the Midwest. Several years after graduating from Wichita State she returned to school and earned a B.S. degree in zoology and an M.S. in biology from Cal Poly Pomona.
Her father was a family physician in Kansas for 50 years.
Ann joined OCC’s faculty in 1978.
Sharon, a Southern California native, graduated from Bishop Amat Memorial High School in La Puente. She earned her B.S. degree in zoology from Cal Poly Pomona in 1970 and her M.S. in biology in 1973. Her academic emphasis was cellular anatomy and physiology. She graduated summa cum laude. In 1999, she was honored by the university as a “Distinguished Alumna.”
Whereas Ann had her horses, Sharon had art. Daniel worked as a scientific illustrator while a Cal Poly student. Her art appears in encyclopedias, scientific journals and textbooks.
Sharon joined OCC’s faculty in the fall of ‘73.
“I finished my M.S. and wanted to go on for my doctorate, but decided that I needed to earn some money first,” Sharon said. “I was a research person who wanted to get involved in serious research, but I’d enjoyed being a Cal Poly teaching assistant so I figured I would teach for three to five years to get on my feet financially, then move into research.”
She applied for biology positions at a number of community colleges, and began interviewing.
“I was invited to interview at OCC and, by that time, I’d been offered positions at five other community colleges. But there was something different about Orange Coast College. I walked on this campus and I could feel it right away. I loved the atmosphere.”
Sharon was actually an hour-and-a-half late to her OCC job interview. She’d driven down from Pomona and had been waylaid by a freeway accident.
“We, of course, had no cell phones in those days, and I was a nervous wreck when I walked into the Administration Building…90 minutes late for my interview. I’d spent my last dime on the new suit that I was wearing, and I’d sweated through everything. Dr. (Bob) Moore’s secretary, Kay Stanberry, calmed me down and assured me that everything was fine.”
Sharon interviewed with Moore and biology professor Frank Visco, in Moore’s office. Vice president of instruction, Dr. Jack Scott, and Math and Sciences Division dean, Gary James, were supposed to be in the interview as well but, because it started late, were drawn away by other commitments.
“The interview went well,” Daniel says. “After it was over, Frank walked me across campus to take a look at the science labs. When we’d reached the clock tower building he looked at me and said, ‘Do you always dress like that?’”
“I’m sure Dr. Bob and Frank were smitten with Sharon,” Ann interjects with a mischievous smile. “She was 25 years old and drop-dead gorgeous.”
“Years later, Dr. Bob told me that he didn’t care what I wore to that interview, he would have hired me anyway,” Sharon laughs.
Sharon liked the “feel” of OCC’s campus.
“People on campus seemed genuinely happy. They seemed to like each other. It was different than the other community colleges I’d visited.”
The day following the interview Sharon had to make a somewhat awkward phone call to Moore.
“I didn’t want to press him, but I told him that I had five other job offers and, if it didn’t look like I’d be getting the Coast position, I needed to accept one of them. Dr. Bob paused for a moment and said, ‘The job’s yours.’”
Five years later Ann had a similar experience.
“I’d known Sharon at Cal Poly, but I didn’t know her well so we weren’t close friends. But, after Sharon graduated and went to Coast we became good friends. She was married to my advisor. They often hosted dinners for grad students…and we always attended because we were perpetually hungry. Sharon and I got along famously. Our personalities blended perfectly.”
“A position opened at OCC for an instructional associate in agriculture and biology and I encouraged Ann to apply,” Sharon piped in. “I told her, ‘If we can get you here, we can get you teaching. There are things coming up.’”
“It looked good to me,” Ann says. “I was living in a cute little bungalow in a rough Pomona neighborhood. My salary as a TA was $297 a month. I’d sit on my front porch watching sunsets and bullets would whiz by my head. I was in need of a job and was looking to relocate.”
Ann interviewed for the position and the college wanted her, but sometimes OCC’s bureaucratic gears grind slowly.
“I was offered a research position at the City of Hope…and it was a good job. They really wanted me. I called Sharon and said, ‘I’ve got to make a decision.’”
Ann was told to report to work at Coast the FOLLOWING day.
“It was a Friday in September and was 112 degrees in Pomona. It took me two-and-a-half hours get to Coast. I thought I’d be here at 8 a.m., but didn’t arrive until 9. It was hot and smoggy all the way down the freeway but, at Dyer Road on the 55, I hit a thermocline, and the temperature dropped 20 degrees. Ahhhh! THE OCEAN! I got to Coast and felt that I must surely be in heaven. What a great place to work! I thought the old Santa Army Air Base buildings were cool.
“Sharon was gone so she left me a list of things to do in the lab. I had to unload 20 new dead cats and put them in the lockers. As I finished up with that task the cadaver refrigerator suddenly went haywire and began draining all over the floor.
“I thought, ‘What was I thinking? Can I still sign up for the City of Hope?’”
When Sharon arrived at OCC she was 25 and looked 19. She had big brown eyes, a dazzling smile and long black hair almost to her waist. She looked like an OCC coed. During her first semester on campus she taught several general human anatomy sections and a class that looked at the biology of drugs.
“I was replacing a person who’d left the college on less-than-positive terms. He left me nothing. Nothing! I’d had no orientation session, and no materials to work with. Here I am a zoologist and I’m teaching human anatomy and physiology. I managed to stay just one step ahead of the posse.
“I knew my material, but sometimes I had to stay up until three or four in the morning before I knew it.”
“The way she looked, her only chance for survival was to be tough…a real hard-nose,” Ann laughs.
“Yeah, I had lots of Vietnam vets in my class who’d been combat medics,” Sharon says. “They knew their stuff…they knew about medicine and drugs. They would test me, and then I’d have to snap back at them. I did that for survival. I learned to be firm but fair. I also made sure that I was accessible to my students.”
While Ann worked as instructional associate she was responsible for taking care of the (live) critters in OCC’s Animal Room.
“People on campus must have thought me batty,” she laughs. “My favorite animal was our chuckwalla – a desert lizard. He was so sweet, and I used to walk around campus picking dandelions for him. He loved them. I received lots of strange stares. I became OCC’s Dandelion Lady.”
When Ann came aboard she rented an apartment directly behind OCC’s Agriculture Department, in Harbor Greens.
“I could step out on my balcony and look down on the cow pasture. Every morning I’d come out and take a deep breath and it felt like home. As an old country girl, I loved that aroma. I kept an eye on the cows and I’d tell Monty McKibban (agriculture professor) when I thought one was ailing or pregnant.”
Monty and Ann became fast friends.
“I used to get the most delicious steaks in the world from Monty, he ran the Meat Lab on campus. The ironic thing is that that old Meat Lab is now our Hoag Multimedia Lab. We purposely left the ‘Meat Lab’ sign on the door in Monty’s memory.”
Ann served as an instructional associate for two years. That second year she also became a part-time anatomy instructor. In 1980 she was promoted to full-time instructor of biology.
Ann is director of OCC’s Plastination Lab, the first such facility of its type on a college campus in the nation. The lab, established more than a dozen years ago, is the largest in the country. Ann and Sharon are working on a grant right now to secure a full body plastination chamber for the lab.
Plastination is the process of permanently preserving specimens by dehydrating them and injecting them with silicone. The process creates a durable, dry, lightweight, life-like specimen free of formaldehyde, odors and toxins.
“There are only a couple of other community colleges today that have plastination labs,” Ann says, “and several universities. We’re the largest. What distinguishes us is that we do contract work.”
OCC’s Plastination Lab has done 86 plastination projects for the California Science Center in Los Angeles; brain sections for California State University, Long Beach; and lungs for Hoag Hospital.
“We’ve also done three baby dolphins for our Marine Science Department, and we’re not aware of any other successfully-plastinated dolphins in the country,” Ann says. “Dennis Kelly of the Marine Science Department told us in 1994 that it would be extremely useful if we could plastinate dolphin specimens for use in our marine science labs. We were finally able to do three of them in a single semester, in 2004.”
Ann annually conducts dozens of tours of the college’s cadaver lab. She offers tours and lectures to junior high, high school and college students, and professors from around the world, as well as to many interest groups.
Sharon is founder of OCC’s chapter of the Association of Women in Science (AWIS) and the Orange Coast chapter of Graduate Women in Science (GWIS). She also founded the college’s Anatomy and Physiology Honors Program, a program designed for talented students who are preparing to seek careers in the medical profession.
Daniel has been honored for her innovative teaching methods.
Sharon is active with a number of community organizations that encourage the entry of women into scientific fields. She is author of two books, several periodicals and numerous audiovisual and multi-media programs.
Harmer is a member of the International Society for Plastination; the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society; Sigma Xi, the national research honor society; and Phi Delta Kappa, the national honor society. She’s also co-founder of the South Coast chapter of the Association for Women in Science. For more than 20 years she served as venerated master of ceremonies for OCC’s Honors Night Awards Ceremony.
(Left to right) Lance Gilbertson, Sharon Daniel, Ann Harmer, and Gene Farrell
Both delivered special lectures to the OCC community when they received their Faculty Member of the Year Awards.
Before delivering her speech in 1996, Ann told the audience that she was honored to be named OCC’s Faculty Member of the Year.
“I feel a bit like the characters in the movie, ‘Wayne’s World’: ‘I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.’ Of course, as I stand up here I also feel like Sally Field receiving her Oscar: ‘You like me, you really, really like me.’”
Ann will deliver her second Faculty Member of the Year lecture next April. She’ll also be the graduation speaker at OCC’s 60th commencement next May.
Seven years after Ann’s Faculty Member of the year lecture, Sharon was slightly more circumspect and somewhat less ebullient, though no less appreciative.
“I was hired at Orange Coast College in 1973 at the age of 25,” she said. “Never, at that time, could I have ever imagined that 30 years later I would still be here at Coast. I’ve been here longer than I’d been alive at the time that I was first hired. This has been a wonderful adventure!”
She was touched by the honor.
“Winning this award is exhilarating, humbling and addictive,” she said. “It is a gift to have been able to receive this honor in the company of the people that I love and respect the most.”
Ann’s breezy but highly informative 30-minute 1996 Faculty Member of the Year lecture was titled, “Your Brain, Use it or Lose it.” She began by giving the audience factual information about the human brain.
“The brain weighs three pounds and contains about a hundred billion cells,” she said. “Only 15 percent of those are functional cells, however. They’re located in the cerebral cortex. From conception to the age of two-and-a-half, the brain manufactures an average of 48,000 cells an hour. After that, no more brain cells are created. It’s over.
“One hopes that after the production of brain cells ceases, the cells begin making better connection with one another. Without that, learning can’t take place.”
Ann said the human brain, at any one time, utilizes about 20 percent of an individual’s entire caloric intake.
“You burn calories when you think,” she said. “That’s why college students who are studying for finals are so hungry all the time. It’s not psychological, it’s physiological.”
In addition to losing brain cells after the age of 30, the human brain, as it ages, experiences the deterioration of certain critical components in its nerve cells.
“Can we prevent that loss? Yes, to some extent we can,” she told the audience. “It’s called brain aerobics, and it works.
“The worst thing you can do is to veg out in front of your television set. If that’s all you end up doing, your nerve cells will deteriorate more rapidly. You need to do anything you can to keep your brain active and alert. Use it or lose it.”
She suggested a variety of brain exercises.
“Crossword puzzles are great. So are card games and scrabble. Force your mind to think. Putting together one of those frustrating puzzles that has about a million pieces seems painfully boring, but it’s a good activity for the brain.”
She also suggested changing your routine.
“Wear your watch on the other arm for a change. Force yourself to break routine or habits. That makes the brain work harder. Put your car keys in a different place. That’ll force you to stop and think. Park in a different location in the parking lot.”
Sharon delivered her lecture, titled “Anatomy as Art,” in 2003.
She defined anatomy as the science of the structures of the body. The art world has always been fascinated with the human body, Daniel said, beginning with early cave paintings in Europe, Asia and the Americas that emphasized the human form.
Daniel has long been interested in the disparate disciplines of anatomy and art, which, as it turns out, aren’t so disparate after all.
“The first anatomists were shamans, medicine men and cannibals,” Daniel told the audience. “In 500 BC, the first medial schools were established by the Greeks in Italy and Africa. Aristotle was the father of anatomy, and Plato divided the body and soul into separate entities.”
Renaissance artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and many others elevated the beauty of the human body. The goal of each artist was to present a perfect representation of the human form.
Da Vinci, in order to better understand the human body, Daniel said, actually resorted to human anatomic dissection. He hired grave robbers to provide him with corpses, and he worked in a cellar by candlelight doing his dissecting.
Ann and Sharon have completed numerous big-ticket projects together during their OCC tenure. They’ve co-written nearly a dozen grants (Ann, of course, is always responsible for the typing!).
“When we work on a project together, it gets done…” Ann promises.
“…In short order…we’re very determined,” Sharon adds, finishing the sentence.
“No egos,” Ann says. “Any harebrained scheme that we come up with – we always get our ducks lined up in a row. The college has strongly supported us over the years. That’s what makes OCC so special. Possibilities are allowed to flourish here.”
“Jim McIlwain and Leon Skeie designed the Fitness Complex in the 1990s on the back of a napkin at a Las Vegas convention,” Sharon said. “Ten years later the building became a reality on campus. That’s the Orange Coast College way!”
“As we both approach retirement,” Ann adds, “we don’t want that Coast entrepreneurial spirit to be lost or die. That’s what makes this place great!”
Ann and Sharon wrote the first NSF grant ever received by the college. They cobbled two other grants together and – with the three grants as a single unit – built the Hoag Multimedia Lab on campus. The lab introduced computer graphics into human anatomy. Not surprisingly, Ann and Sharon’s early background in art came in handy with that project.
“I love illustration,” Sharon says. “I went to the Art Center College of Design before I enrolled at Cal Poly. I love to draw, but I would have starved to death as an illustrator. I’m good…but I’m also slow and meticulous.”
Sharon started a teaching assistants program at Coast in the mid-1970s.
“When I first came here I was surprised that the college didn’t use TAs on campus in any context, so I initiated a program in the Biology Department’s labs,” she says. “I started using selected honors students – and I twisted a few arms and was able to go through the back door to get the program off the ground. We awarded our TAs college credits, and they did a fantastic job. It’s been a win-win situation. We can do things in class that otherwise would be impossible.
“It worked so well that within a few years the college was also using teaching assistants in the Chemistry, Marine Science and Ornamental Horticulture programs as well.”
Sharon – the zoologist and biological sciences professor – started OCC’s Computer Graphics (now called Digital Media Arts and Design) Program in 1981 when she teamed up with OCC art professor, Donna Westerman. Orange Coast was the first college in the nation to develop a computer graphics program.
“It was a multi-discipline effort,” Sharon says. “Donna and I worked with Ann Harmer (art history/biological sciences), Karen Mortillaro (art), Wayne Tennant (art) and Sandy Savage (math).”
The first class to be developed in the sequence was “Introduction to Computer Graphics.”
“We had 180 students in the first class…and ONE computer,” Sharon recalls with a laugh. “Ann taught art history and color theory in the class. I taught theory, concept design and storyboarding. Sandy taught programming.”
Today, OCC’s Digital Media Arts and Design Program is one of the most comprehensive in the nation, offering 19 different classes ranging from “Graphic Design,” to “Illustration and Computer Graphics,” to “Digital Video Compositing” to “3D Computer Graphics Animation.”
Sharon was involved in computer graphics on campus for a decade, and Ann remained engaged for five years.
“Computer graphics was so exciting for us,” Sharon says. “Now it’s an entire department on campus.”
In the 1990s OCC’s resident biologists/artists/babes – Ann and Sharon – put together a lecture program titled “Anatomy as Art.” The lecture focused on how, over the centuries, the histories of anatomy and art have run on parallel tracks and sometimes even merged. Artists in Florence in the 1600s exhumed buried bodies and created exact wax anatomical replicas.
“We presented the lecture to many groups including OCC’s Friends of the Library and the college’s chapter of Phi Delta Kappa,” Ann said. “We took it out on the road and went to Philadelphia and presented it at the convention of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society.”
In 2003, Ann and Sharon brought Dr. Dean Edell, physician and syndicated radio talk-show host, to campus for a two-day Visiting Scholar in Residency Program. His presentation covered many important health issues.
“We’re proud of that one,” Sharon says. “It was a great service to our campus and community.”
For five years, Ann and Sharon served as co-chairs – or “demichairs,” as Ann likes to phrase it – of the Biology Department. For decades they shared the unofficial title of “Social Director” for the Math and Sciences Division.
“We organized the potlucks and restaurant visits,” Ann says. “All of us in the division are very close, I feel like these people are my brothers and sisters. There are always lots of hugs and kisses when we gather. I’m overjoyed to see that our new hires in biology are establishing that same kind of relationship and rapport in carrying on the legacy.”
Ann and Sharon’s former students frequently return to campus to chat and discuss their latest activities and achievements.
“Current students always complain that we’re working them too hard, and that we’re demanding too much of them,” Sharon laughs. “But, when those same students come back to see us a few years later they invariably say, ‘We were so well prepared when we left Coast. Don’t give into student whining. Don’t change the way you do anything.’
“In addition to learning about human anatomy, when our students leave us they’ve learned a great deal about self-discovery, time management and meeting deadlines. Unfortunately, young people today, for the most part, don’t think deadlines are real. In our program they learn that they are.”
Many former students return to OCC’s campus with a new appreciation for the place.
“They tell us that only now do they realize what a great educational institution Orange Coast College is,” Sharon says. “Some even say, ‘I want your job!’ I advise them to wait for a couple of years.”
Sharon says there’s not a hospital within a two-hour radius of OCC’s campus that doesn’t employ a former Orange Coast College anatomy student. Her past students work as physical therapists, nurses, physicians, occupational therapists and researchers. Many also teach.
How are Ann and Sharon coping with their impending split? Ann retires in January, and Sharon will stay for two more years – “but no more than that,” she’s quick to point out.
“Yesterday a course assistant in the Science Lecture Halls stopped us on campus and said, ‘Oh, no! They’re breaking up the Dynamic Duo,’” Ann said.
“When Ann goes, I’m going to curl up in a fetal position and whimper,” Sharon promises. “I’m going to call her everyday and make her do my work.”
“It’s going to be different, but it’s time for me to go,” Ann reflects. “There’s a general changing of the guard taking place on campus. Lots of veterans are leaving. My dad was a doctor for 50 years and when he finally retired my mom was too ill to travel. I’ve had a couple of health scares in recent years, and I want to go while I can still enjoy life.”
Ann and Sharon have been scuba diving together for 20 years and plan to continue that well into retirement. They also plan to get bikes and ride the bike trail together, walk the beach together, garden together, cook together, and travel to exotic locales all over the planet.
“I won’t be far behind Ann on the retirement calendar,” Sharon promises. “I’ll be there before you know it.”
Ann has a recurring rocking chair fantasy.
“We’re both on the porch, decked out in purple, rocking away and talking. We’re each sipping a glass of wine, and both watching the sunset. It’ll be glorious.”
“We’ve made a deal,” Sharon adds seriously. “We’re going to take care of each other.”
The world would be a far better place were more deals like that struck.
“We like being together,” Ann says. “Some say we’re joined at the hip. Maybe we are, but we plan always to be there for one another.”
Ann Harmer and Sharon Daniel are two Orange Coast College treasures. They’re also irreplaceable!
WE GET LETTERS…
I really enjoyed the great article that you wrote about Bob Dees (“OCC’s Ninth President – Bob Dees – Feels Privileged to Occupy Dream Job at the College He Loves,” Orange Slices, Dec. 6).
I would like to tell you how wonderful Bob was to me when I became ill and had to use oxygen to survive. I had a rare lung disease, and I knew that the only way that I could live much longer was a lung transplant.
I shared my illness with Bob, who was dean of Literature and Languages, and he treated me with kindness and sincerity. He became my confidante, and he tried very hard to help me with teaching assignments that would help me to work on campus as long as I could. He was an administrator who truly helped me, and I will always appreciate his sensitivity and kindness during a dark period in my life. Bob was not only a great administrator, but he also became a terrific friend.
OCC is fortunate to have Bob Dees as president. He is an intellectual and truly cares about the people who work with him side by side.
(AKA Geraldine Cahill-Pickart)
Professor of English (1971-95)