Monday, May 18, 2015

Prof. Rich Gossweiler appreciation: 'How do you measure the lump in a student's throat?'

When Cory MacLauchlin began teaching at Germanna Community College, Prof. Rich Gossweiler told him his goal should be simple:
“‘How do you measure the lump in a student's throat?” Gossweiler asked him. “If we don’t make the students feel something, then we miss the point.”
“To me, that’s his legacy,” said MacLauchlin.
Judy Napier and Margaret Gossweiler
at celebration of Prof.Rich Gossweiler's life
 Gossweiler passed away on April 10 after 45 years of teaching in the Virginia Community College system, most of them at Germanna.
He had retired from teaching full time, but couldn’t stay away from GCC , its students and faculty and continued to teach part time.
He was at GCC’s Locust Grove Campus that day when he began to feel ill and went outside to rest on a bench. He collapsed moments later.  Germanna nursing professors who had come to love Gossweiler worked heroically to keep him alive till an ambulance arrived. He passed away that evening, with family --and Germanna faculty and staff  who considered him family-- at his side. He was 74.
“Rich Gossweiler was not only a great teacher of students, but someone who played a critical role in mentoring faculty and staff,” Germanna President David A. Sam said at a celebration of his life at GCC’s Daniel Technology Center in Culpeper on May 6.
.At a retirement event, Gossweiler  had urged faculty members to continue to “challenge the students … make them go further than they expected.”
Gossweiler also asked them to remember that “students are your friends."
Prof. Rich Gossweiler and Prof. Don Frank
at retirement event
“When we go through town, we always run into our students. The wonderful thing about community colleges is you see the results—you see [former] students. You make friends,” he said.
Many are passionate about teaching.  Gossweiler’s feelings went beyond that. He couldn’t contain the joy the profession brought him--and it was infectious.
“When he wasn’t smiling, he was roaring with laughter,” Sam said.
“He helped instill in me the passion I have today,” said Dr. Patti Lisk, dean of nursing at Germanna.
At the celebration of the late professor's life, a former student said, “As long as he taught, there’s a piece of Rich Gossweiler in every one of us.”
In a sense, we were all Rich Gossweiler’s students.
He left so many of us with lumps in our throats.

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