Franklin College retirees reflect on long, storied careers

It’s been a long career and storied life for one of Franklin College’s newest retirees.

Hank Nuwer, professor emeritus at the college, is one of nine faculty and staff members who retired this year. Prior to teaching journalism, Nuwer was a journalist himself, covering some of the landmark events of the 1960s for the Putnam County Courier in New York.

“In the late ‘60s I was with the Putnam County Courier; the stories were amazing,” Nuwer said. “I covered Woodstock, the (Apollo 11) astronauts’ parade in New York City (and) I covered the Washington Peace March. During the ‘60s, I was really interested in journalism.”

Nuwer’s teaching career started at Clemson University in 1982, a career path he went down because of his mentor at Buffalo State College, who had interviewed Ernest Hemmingway, Robert Frost and Eamon de Valera, Ireland’s president from 1959 to 1973.

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“My mentor, Fraser Drew really steered me toward college teaching and writing at the same time,” Nuwer said. “He was 98 years old and had a book published by Buffalo State, a collection of our letters for 40 years, called ‘One, Long, WILD Conversation.’ He interviewed Hemmingway in Cuba, Robert Frost, President of Ireland de Valera; he would bring notes to class.”

It was at Ball State University where Nuwer made one of his greatest marks in the teaching profession, he said.

“I spent four years at Ball State and I’m in the Ball State Journalism Hall of Fame,” said Nuwer, who was inducted in 2010. “We won national awards for our publication, both the Pacemaker Award and the Gold Circle Columbia Scholastic Press Association Award. Three years we had Pacemakers, and one year we tied the University of Texas and Vanderbilt (University) for the best publication in the country. We had a $4,000 budget for the year.”

The Pacemaker Award is the top award given to college publications.

When Nuwer left Franklin College in June, he had worked there for 18 years, teaching both journalism and sports communication. During that time, he wrote dozens of literary works, including plays, books and essays, several of which are focused on hazing, a subject he has written about since 1978, after a student at one of the colleges he attended died in a hazing incident, Nuwer said.

“When I was a grad student in 1972 at (the University of) Nevada, Reno, they had a death at the school during an initiation of football players and athletes,” Nuwer said. “I saw some of the actual initiations. I saw a student unconscious and they walked him to save his life.”

Nuwer’s work on hazing earned him Franklin College’s Scholar of the Year award twice. What he will remember most about his time at the college, however, is the students.

“The students themselves, at Franklin College or Ball State, are unforgettable,” Newer said. “Franklin College has a lot of outstanding scholars and teachers. For a small school, it’s pretty loaded.”

Nuwer plans to teach journalism part-time at Ball State University.

Stories all over the place

As the senior director of development and planned giving at Franklin College, Tom Armor worked with people who went to Franklin College decades ago, but still felt a connection to the school.

It was his second of two stints at the college, the first being from 1981 to 1996, when Armor handled student internships and career counseling as the career planning and placement director. Toward the end of that decade and a half, he worked in fundraising at the college, later leaving scholastic life for a job in investment. In 2010, he came back to the college, serving as the senior director of development until his retirement earlier this year.

In his position, he reached out to alumni to see if they were interested in financial donations to the college.

“I worked with a lot of people in the college and I knew folks,” Armor said. “It was a challenge, but I fell in love with the job immediately. It’s the relationships you build with people who love the college. It’s learning their stories, why they’re so passionate about the college and willing to support it. I never felt I was asking for money; I was just sharing stories of the college with them and they were sharing their experiences of the college with me.”

One of his favorite stories came from an alumnus who went to Franklin College in the 1950s. The student was running low on money, so the Franklin College president at the time, Harold Richardson, introduced him to an elderly woman who let him stay in a house on Jefferson Street, Armor said.

“He became a hospital administrator of a small rural hospital in Georgia that serves underserved communities, and the cancer center has his name on it,” Armor said. “It’s all because the president introduced him to this little old lady. It’s all about payback for him.”

Another alumnus chose Franklin College by throwing college catalogues up a staircase. Franklin College’s was the one that landed highest up the staircase.

“He got serious, he went to med school, became a radiologist and is one of our major donors now,” Armor said. “Until he got to Franklin College, he didn’t know what he wanted to do.”

Armor is most grateful for those stories and making connections with people through his job, he said.

“You just meet some really neat people,” Armor said. “The stories are all over the place. It’s amazing how many people at Franklin College came from nothing. College was their opportunity and they are forever grateful.”

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The following people retired from Franklin College this year:

Tom Armor, Senior Director of Development and Planned Giving, Office of Development and Alumni Engagement

Wendy (Shuler) Hagn, Director of Church Relations and Strategic Partnerships, Office of Admissions

Kelli Jones, Associate Registrar, Academic Records Office

Julie Leeth, Administrative Assistant, Office of the Provost and Dean of the College

Christina Lucas, Associate Director, Office of Financial Aid

Vicki Mast, Technology Integration Facilitator, Information Technology Services

Ray Begovich, Professor of Public Relations

Ralph Guentzel, Professor of History

Hank Nuwer, Professor of Journalism