For many graduates, former professors such as Jim Van Speybroeck '60, PhD, are the most enduring link to their collegiate past.
Van Speybroeck, a professor emeritus in business, is among a growing group of retired faculty and staff members who are eager to maintain their own links to St. Ambrose.
Always Ambrosians, a year-old organization consisting of 35 SAU retirees, plans to more actively work to keep the school's history alive in the 2013-14 academic year.
Working with Margaret Babbitt from the Advancement and Alumni Relations office, Always Ambrosians will begin enlisting the memories of former campus icons such as Michael Kennedy '60, theatre professor emeritus, Ed Henkhaus '64, SAU's longtime vice president for finance, and Richard Geiger, a professor emeritus in history. The plan is to capture in detail the history of growth and change that occurred while those retirees were here—and, in many cases, occurred because they were here.
"We will videotape people who have been here so many years and ask, ‘What about the St. Ambrose story?'" said Van Speybroeck, who taught at St. Ambrose from 1963 until his retirement in 2011. "There are a lot of people who have done innovative things on this campus. We want to find those people and document their history."
For the retirees, Always Ambrosians provides an opportunity to maintain a connection that always was about much more than work. "It's different than retiring from the typical 9 to 5 job," Van Speybroeck said. "There is such a personal connection."
Because that connection leads back to former students, Van Speybroeck said Always Ambrosian members will plan to be present at more alumni events this coming year. According to Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, the president of St. Ambrose, that is among many ways this group can serve the university.
"Our retired staff and faculty are a treasured part of St. Ambrose University," Sr. Lescinski said. "They truly are and always will be Ambrosians."