Retirees Reflect On Their Long Careers

Photo of RetireeThe McKendree community said goodbye to two prominent longtime members this spring.

Dr. Patrick Folk, professor of history, retired after a prolific 37-year teaching career. Pat arrived on campus in 1978 after earning a Ph.D. in history from the University of Toledo. In recognition of his scholarly expertise, he was named the Samuel Hedding Deneen and Charles Samuel Deneen Memorial Professor of Early American History at the time of his hire. He received the William Norman Grandy faculty award and in 1985 and the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006. In 2007-2008 he was the Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American History and Culture at Ege University in Izmir, Turkey.

He was McKendree’s historian, whose haunted Halloween tours of campus and its ghost stories are legendary. Students appreciated not only his vast knowledge of history, but also the captivating way he shared it, as his booming voice that rang out in Carnegie Hall, he brought historical events to life.

As a scholar, Pat gave numerous presentations and published several articles and book chapters on such topics as the Civil War and historical events in St. Clair County. A particularly significant contribution to the institution was his authorship of a thorough summary of the first 100 years of McKendree College history.

“I am amazed when I see the change in ‘Old McKendree’ since 1978,” he said. “It just isn’t the same place, although sometimes I miss the excitement of watching basketball in the ‘Muckerdome’.”

Pat always gave his time generously to help his students succeed. “I always wanted to get students to raise their sights, to aspire to higher goals than they thought themselves able to achieve,” he said. “I think I will most miss the daily interaction with students. You know, being around 18 to 21-year-olds keeps you young. Now I’ll have to deal with being over 70 and NOT having my daily infusion of adrenaline from youthful enthusiasm.

“I will NOT miss grading and faculty meetings!” he added. Pat served on nearly every faculty committee, taught dozens of courses, advised thousands of students, and saw countless changes throughout his tenure.

Now he looks forward to “more sleep, less stress, more time to read books and articles NOT linked to courses I have to teach, and maybe some writing. I will also watch lots of TV, and if we can afford it, travel to see some of the places I’ve talked about in classes for 50 years.”

His parting advice is something he has always told his students: “Find something you love to do, something you’d do for free if you were rich, and then figure out what degree you need to get the world to pay you to do it! That is my recipe for a happy life.”

Photo of Tom PawlowTom Pawlow leaves an impressive legacy after 24 years as associate dean of the University’s Scott Air Force Base program.

McKendree was Tom’s second career. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1965 and concluded his service in 1991, retiring from military service as a colonel. He earned four Air Force commendation medals, three Meritorious Service medals, and the Legion of Merit medal twice.

Under his supervision, the Center at Scott Air Force Base has generated up to $2.4 million annually and expanded its programs in business, computer science, education, and online learning and teaching. He also initiated the Presidential Coin for those in leadership at the base.

Tom taught human resource management and other management courses at the Lebanon campus and Scott Air Force Base for over 20 years, receiving the Associate Faculty Award in 2013. He will continue to teach a class at the Lebanon campus this fall. He is particularly gratified when former students tell him, “If you didn’t work with me, I never would have finished my degree.”

Tom reflected on his life and career. “I have three things to be thankful for: my faith, family and friends over the last 50 years. When I look back, McKendree was small. There were not a lot of majors, not a lot of staff. Dr. Dennis came with a dream and a vision for this. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of that.”

He offered some words of wisdom shortly before his departure. “I always think outside the box. Change is inevitable. You need to receive it well. Treat others how you would like to be treated, including the students. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you do, you can always make a difference for McKendree. And don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

“Don’t worry about yesterday because it’s passed. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. Concentrate on what you can do today.”

A loyal St. Louis Cardinals fan and baseball card collector, Tom now has more time for competitive ice dancing, playing the piano and accordion, gardening, and planning his award winning Christmas light displays. He also hopes to play some golf, bowl, and hit some of the local bike trails with his wife Mary Lou.