Quarter of SEMO art dept. retiring

Friday, December 8, 2006
Retiring Southeast Missouri State University art professors, from left, Sam Bishop, Ed Smith and Lane Fabrick posed for a photo. (Don Frazier)

When the spring semester starts in January, the face of Southeast Missouri State University's art department will change dramatically.

A quarter of the department's faculty -- three out of 12 members -- are retiring at the end of the current semester: Dr. Ed Smith, Dr. Sam Bishop and Lane Fabrick. They will be honored in an invitation-only ceremony today at the Johnson Faculty Center.

Combined, the three professors have 101 years of experience at Southeast.

"They've seen the department go through a lot of transitions over time," said department chair Patricia Reagan, who has fewer years at Southeast than any of the retiring professors. "They've seen it go from a teachers college to teaching art teachers only ... and now into a BFA art school."

Bishop has the longest tenure at Southeast of the three. He came to the campus to teach in 1968 following a teaching job in Caruthersville schools. He used to teach at an art lab school on campus but has finished his career teaching mainly introductory art appreciation and art history courses.

"I've taught 45 total years, and it's time to retire," Bishop said.

Bishop said his favorite part of the job was introducing students to art who haven't been exposed before, primarily through field trips to places like the St. Louis Art Museum.

Like Bishop, the other two professors also said the students are the aspect of teaching they'll miss the most.

In his 33 years at Southeast, Smith has been responsible for teaching sculpture and preparing students to be art educators. He helped develop curricula in both of those areas.

"I have sort of mixed emotions about this," Smith said. "I am afraid that I will miss getting up in the mornings and going to school, and I know that I will miss the students."

Bishop plans to continue teaching at the university part time, but retirement will be Smith's complete exit from teaching. He plans to spend summers in New Mexico working on his sculptures and winters in Cape Girardeau.

Fabrick, who has 30 years at Southeast, also plans to stay in the area and produce art. He was hired to help reform the university's design program and introduced a class on color theory. Fabrick said "a confluence of events" made his retirement timely.

"Like someone who's been on a Broadway play for years and years, you get a little tired of saying the same line," Fabrick said.

Like his retiring colleagues, Fabrick said he'll miss the students more than anything else, especially their creativity. "I like to work with them and see where new ideas are coming from," he said.

Temporary replacements will teach during the spring semester, but full-time hires will be in place by the time most of the art department moves to the River Campus in August, Reagan said.


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