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SMC loses official, two professors

Mandi Stirone | Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A top Saint Mary’s official and two professors will leave the College at the end of the semester.

Chief Information Officer Keith Fowlkes and communication and performance studies Department Chair John Pauley will finish their service at the College this term. In addition, communications professor Ann Plamondon, who has been at Saint Mary’s since 1981, will retire after fall semester next year, Pauley said.

Fowlkes, who has been at Saint Mary’s for more than five years, completed his last day at the College Monday and will become the vice chancellor of Information Technology and chief information officer at the University of Virginia at Wise, he said. The job’s appeal grew, he said, with its added proximity to his family in Tennessee.

Faculty and staff members held a banquet yesterday to send Fowlkes, his wife and their two children off amid good luck wishes and farewell hugs.

Fowlkes said he will miss Saint Mary’s, especially the many friends he made during his five-year stint at the College.

“I hope I’ve helped Saint Mary’s to be a better place,” he said. “It’s been an honor for me to serve the college community at Saint Mary’s. I wish the College so much success in the future. My thoughts and prayers will be with you in the coming years. Thank you guys for being friends and colleagues.”

The department of communication and performance studies must also deal with the loss of its chair, Pauley, who will take a job at Eastern University as the department head of communication studies.

Pauley said he wasn’t looking for a new job, but that a friend approached him with the offer. While initially he had no intention of taking the job, he said a conversation with members of his church caused a change of heart.

“I really felt that I needed to be open to that possibility, so I went, and I was open and really felt that this was where God was leading me. So the rest, as they say, is history,” he said.

While he is looking forward to his new job, he said he intends to stay in contact with the Saint Mary’s women that befriended him during his 16-year tenure at the College.

“I hope that the relationships that we have formed will transcend the fact that I’m no longer on faculty,” Pauley said.

The administration was still searching for a permanent replacement Monday, he said, but it will appoint a temporary replacement for him in the interim.

The College’s third loss, Plamondon, originally planned to retire at the end of this semester, but when she heard that Pauley was retiring, she decided to stay and teach one more semester, Pauley said.

With the loss of two of its best-known professors, Pauley said, the department would be “in trouble” if it didn’t find suitable replacements in the near future, as the demand for communication courses and the size of the classrooms has increased.

Students in the communication and performance studies major expressed their sadness at losing Pauley, and many wish him well, including junior Natalie Grasso.

“Dr. Pauley has had a huge impact on my academic experience at Saint Mary’s,” she said. “Though I was disappointed to hear of his departure from the College, I wish him all the best. Eastern University is lucky to have such a talented professor and honorable man coming its way.”

Sarah Barnes, a sophomore communication studies major, also expressed how much she would miss Pauley.

“After my freshman year, I actually transferred to Notre Dame, but after a semester there and after many discussions with Dr. Pauley, I decided to transfer back to Saint Mary’s,” Barnes said. “He was a huge factor influencing me to come back to SMC. I am very sad that he is leaving, but I trust that he is making a decision that is in his and his family’s best interest. I also trust that Saint Mary’s will do the best possible job in the attempt to find a replacement for Dr. Pauley, although that person will have very big shoes to fill.”