Ted Violett Honored with Emeritus Status for his 50 Years at Western
Sept. 23, 2009 -- Ted Violett taught at Western State College for 50 years, longer than anyone else in the history of the institution.
Last Saturday Violett was honored with emeritus status as professor of physics during his retirement reception at the Aspinall-Wilson Center on the WSC campus. The building was packed with colleagues, friends and students for the occasion.
The ceremony was marked with heartfelt reflection and good-natured humor from fellow professors and former students. Normally professors are granted emeritus status at the spring graduation ceremony, but Violett’s health condition motivated college administrators to mark the occasion over this past weekend. Last December Violett underwent surgery for a brain tumor and he is still currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Dale Orth, the chair of the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences, shared that more than 100 people had RSVP’d for the event. “That’s only one per semester of Ted’s teaching though,” he joked.
Ted’s wife, Martha Violett, who is a professor of music at WSC, reported that former students ranging from Maine to California flew in to attend the ceremony. Family members included Ted’s sons James and Keith, and his granddaughter Sylvia, who is a WSC student.
Bruce Bartleson, professor emeritus of geology at WSC, was the master of ceremonies for the event and shared that he owed part of his success at the college to Violett. He went on to explain that during his first years of teaching in the 60s, he and another professor, Tom Prather, were responsible for covering some physics material in an introductory level course. Bartleson and Prather (who is also a professor emeritus of geology) made late-night phone calls to Violett, followed by lessons between classes in Violett’s office.
Former students told stories of how Violett changed their lives as a mentor and teacher. Karl Bishop, a 1983 WSC alumnus, said that Violett made his impact on students in a quiet way. Dave Primus, 1981 alumnus, shared that, “Dr. Violett was the best professor I ever had. He was always available, excited about teaching and encouraged extracurricular activities.”
Other stories focused on Violett’s passion for outdoor pursuits, including his love for running, hiking and cross country skiing. Fellow former colleagues Rick Jagger, professor emeritus of chemistry, and John Cope, associate emeritus professor of English, told stories of Violett leading long cross country ski trips in the Gunnison Country, which did much to keep their bodies fit and minds sane during the long winter months.
Martha noted that Ted has been an avid supporter of the WSC athletics program, as well as the music department. Violett joked that he “probably invested more time into music than physics.”
Speaking at the end of the ceremony, Violett concluded, “My heart is full of gratitude. I hope that you all get as much enjoyment out of your careers that I have from my own.”
Story by: Luke Mehall, assistant director of public relations and communications