Professors Marc Goldsmith and Dean Roberts, who began their careers at Mitchell College in different eras of the last century, recently retired after a combined 91 years of teaching tens of thousands of students. Their contributions are hard to measure, but the standard they set for excellence in teaching remains a constant at the college.
Goldsmith, who came to Mitchell 55 years ago in 1968, arrived in the midst of the Vietnam War. Roberts started 36 years ago, in 1987, years before the explosion of cell phones, laptop computers and smart boards. Times changed for these faculty, as Mitchell College went from a two-year to a four-year school, but their dedication to their students didn’t.
Marc Goldsmith, associate professor of communication, held myriad roles during his tenure, including dean of students, associate dean for instruction and academic programs, assistant dean for special programs and interim vice president of academic affairs/dean of the college. He also founded the college radio station (WRMC) and coached golf.
“Mitchell has always been a special place, connected to the community. It’s created memories and improved people’s lives,” he said. “I get messaged every once in a while thanking me for what I have done,” he said.
One thankful student traveled all the way from Texas to New London recently to attend a retirement party given by the college for the two professors. Dr. John Russell ’73 wanted to express his gratitude for his professor in person. The ‘B’ that Goldsmith gave Russell, who was valedictorian of his class, was the lowest grade (and only ‘B’) that he received at Mitchell.
In a thank you for the celebration, Russell wrote, “…Mr. Goldsmith is an honest grader. As a consequence of this fact, his fall semester course was the first occasion in which I had ever practiced serious self-criticism in my own writing. My writing improved thereafter, but slowly…The practice of self-criticism in English composition proved to be a lifetime benefit for me and I am indebted to Mr. Goldsmith more than anyone else for this blessing.” He added that the first ‘A’ that he received on a paper in Goldsmith’s class was regarded by him as “a particularly significant milestone in my academic career.” Russell went from Mitchell to MIT, where he earned four degrees, including a doctorate, in the fields of mathematics, aeronautics and astronautics.
Reflecting on his time at Mitchell College, Goldsmith said, “I will miss the camaraderie of the faculty and the challenge of the classroom. I will miss that the most.”
In addition to teaching exercise science and sport management, Dean Roberts committed himself to coaching two Mitchell teams—soccer for 29 years and baseball for 15 years.
“I have loved my dual role as a teacher and a coach. I spent a lot of time with the student-athletes in the classroom and on the athletic fields, and I enjoyed seeing their growth as students, from their first year to their final year. In many cases it was a complete transformation, from recruitment to graduation. As I watched students walk across the stage, I gained satisfaction that I had a positive effect on these young people.”
Parker Beard ’10, ’12 (who earned an associate and a bachelor’s degree) wrote in a thank you to Roberts: “…I was struggling to get the hang of college and I thought about quitting. You took me under your wing, you made sure I didn’t give up, you pushed me to go get help. I remember that you told me you wanted to see me on stage on Graduation Day…without your guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am in my life today!”
A self-described high school “underdog,” Roberts said he has related to many Mitchell students.
“I was not the best student and didn’t have many leadership opportunities. But there were people along the way who gave me the confidence to succeed. In turn, here I saw many students flourish in the classroom and on the playing field. They were given the opportunity to become campus and athletic leaders at Mitchell.”
Through their tireless dedication and steady commitment to student success, Marc Goldsmith and Dean Roberts have had a lasting impact on Mitchell College. They have inspired countless students to find their purpose and achieve their goals. Likewise, they have inspired the faculty who remain to continue their legacy of providing a student-centered learning environment that builds confidence and prepares students to make their mark in the world.