The McKendrean Magazine - Summer 2022

Retirement: A New Chapter in Life

by Haley Moody ’22

McKendree University sends fond farewells to its retiring faculty and staff, who look forward to the next chapter in life after several years of dedicated service. Three retiring faculty members and one retiring staff member received emeritus status: Dr. Timothy Richards, professor of secondary education; Dr. Duane Olson, professor of religious studies; Dr. Jackie (Kemp) Simmons ’88, professor of psychology; and Debbie Larson, assistant dean and registrar. Jackie retired last semester and returned during the retirement reception to receive her emeritus status.

McKendree also honored four more retiring faculty members, including Jeff Brasel ’81, instructor of accounting and finance; Dr. Jan Albers, MSN ’12, assistant professor of nursing; Dr. Pam Manning, associate professor of education; and Dr. Allison Fahsl, professor of education and chair of the School of Education.



Deborah (Debbie) LarsonDeborah (Debbie) Larson

Assistant Dean and Registrar, 1998-2022

Debbie Larson became a staff member at McKendree in January 1998 and became registrar in September 2004. She would like to be remembered as someone who put McKendree students first and as someone who advocated for positive change.

As she reflects on her time spent working for the University, she’s glad to have spent 24 years of her life in a place where she could make a difference in people’s lives. She is also proud that with enough creativity and hard work McKendree was able to accomplish so much. Debbie expects to miss her colleagues the most. “I was privileged to work with wonderful people who were open to new ideas and were willing to work hard to achieve goals,” she said.

In her next stage of life, Debbie looks forward to less stress. She also plans to take some art classes and wants to work hard at getting back into shape again. As for her parting words of wisdom, Debbie shares the following: “Always be open to change; it’s hard but worth it!” For her loyalty, dedication and extraordinary service to McKendree University, Debbie was granted Emerita Administrator status.



Timothy Richards, Ph.D.Timothy Richards, Ph.D.

Professor of Secondary Education, 1997-2022

Tim has always viewed his role as one where he supports his students, doing everything he can to ensure their success. “I have been fortunate to see many of my former students go on to have wonderful careers in the education profession as teachers, principals and superintendents,” he said. “I am so proud of them and how well they represent McKendree University and the School of Education.”

Tim looked forward to commencement every year because each ceremony allowed a moment for him to reflect on everything his graduating students accomplished in the education program. Besides working with students, Tim will miss his relationships with dedicated faculty whom he had the opportunity to work with on committees, projects and special events.

During retirement, Tim hopes to read history books and do research on topics he has a special interest in. He also plans to travel, play more tennis, work on his model train layout, continue his community service and spend more time with his wife and daughters.

As a parting message, Tim wants to tell McKendree students to make the most of their college years. “So many doors can open for you while you are at McKendree, and you should take advantage of the opportunities that come your way.” Tim was granted Professor Emeritus status, making him a lifetime member of the McKendree community.



Duane Olson, Ph.D.Duane Olson, Ph.D.

Professor of Religious Studies, 2002-2022

Duane Olson started teaching at McKendree in the 2000-2001 school year. He taught the Religious Studies program including majors, minors and general education classes, as well as supervised adjunct faculty. In his 22 years at the University, he taught 29 courses with different titles and content. “I’d like to be remembered as someone who was willingt o step forward and do it all,” he said. “It takes a lot of courage tok eep stepping out and doing new things. My job required it, and I loved it.”

One of the reasons Duane came to McKendree was to teach small classes with students who were interested in religious studies, and he will miss working in seminar-style classes with those students. “I was consistently pleased with the kinds of questions and inquiries the students asked, no matter their background,” he said. “We came together to analyze and discuss great works in the field.”

Having sung with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus for 18 years, Duane looks forward to continuing to sing with them for as long as his voice will allow. He recently joined the Bach Society of St. Louis, an organization he loves for its leadership and repertoire, and hopes to sing with them for some time as well. In addition to singing, he enjoys green woodworking with hand tools and plans to continue to carve bowls, spoons and other items from various kinds of wood. For his years of service to McKendree, Duane was named Professor Emeritus.