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The instructor with the fashionable hats retires

Suzanne Schultz retires after 15 years of service at Umpqua Community College

Schultz Hat Day will be May 24 to celebrate psychology professor Suzanne Schultz’s  retirement. Students and staff are asked to wear hats to school.
Photo provided by Joyce Kelly
Schultz Hat Day will be May 24 to celebrate psychology professor Suzanne Schultz’s retirement. Students and staff are asked to wear hats to school.

Some people wear their heart on their sleeves; others wear their personality in a hat. Professor Suzanne Schultz, known on campus for wearing vintage hats almost every day, uses her wardrobe as an example of individualism. However, this nostalgic style will come to an end with Schultz’s retirement July 1.

Students and faculty will honor Schultz for her many contributions to UCC by having a campus-wide Schultz Hat Day Friday, May 24. Schultz’s department chair, Paula Usrey, is urging everyone to wear a hat to honor the psychology professor.

The idea of the celebration is to recognize students’ natural born right to be individuals as they pick out the hat that best reflects the way they feel.

Schultz enjoys dressing up because wearing different outfits is a chance to build a persona that plays into her nostalgic nature. For instance, she loves everything vintage: vintage furniture, old books, old friends and old movies.

“Nostalgia is a good word because I feel sometimes I was born way too late. I don’t like current entertainment or current manners. Pining for the past, that’s me,” Schultz said.

Schultz will soon be leaving the classroom to enjoy retirement in Florida.
Dennis Wahlman / Mainstream
Schultz will soon be leaving the classroom to enjoy retirement in Florida.

The instructor refrains from wearing anything that everyone else is wearing although she appreciates quality fabrics. “Similar to Ni Aodagain wearing scarves, different people have different signature things. Some people have tattoos; I just wear a hat,” Schultz said.

When Schultz was an undergraduate at the University of Florida, psychology was her favorite subject. She received a BA in psychology from U of F in 1968. Schultz then got married right out of college, and her husband got drafted into the military. He was stationed in Augusta, Georgia so she ended up moving there where she got a teaching job at a junior high school in spite of not having a teaching credential.

At that time, the state was integrating the school system with blacks and whites. The state resisted, taking one step at a time. “They were dragging their feet in Georgia,” Schultz said.

The first thing the state did was integrate administrators.  Finding white teachers who would teach black students was difficult, so the state was taking anyone with a college degree. Schultz was already stationed in Augusta with her husband, so she accepted the teaching job for T.W. Josie Junior High.

She then found her passion was teaching. Later, she attended Gainesville for graduate school where she went on to receive a degree in educational psychology so she could teach. Then she stayed in school and achieved a doctorate. 

In Aug. of 1980, Schultz took a full time position at Misericordia College in Pennsylvania where she taught for two years. Then she went back to Florida because her grandmother was in poor health. She couldn’t attain a teaching job, so she became a counselor at the University of Tampa where she later became the director of the counseling center.

Schultz moved to Seattle, Washington when her husband got a full time job at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and she worked in the area in a few part time teaching jobs. Schultz and her husband then moved back to Pennsylvania so she could find a full time job as her husband was getting ready to retire. Later, her husband’s sister, who lived in Roseburg, told them about the UCC job opening.

In Dec. 1998, UCC hired Schultz because she had a unique combination at the time of a doctorate coupled with extensive teaching experience.

“Everything converged at the right place and time. It has been wonderful, and I have been very happy with my stay here,” Schultz said.

One reason Schultz enjoys being here is the scenic places on campus. Her favorite place is the trail that follows the bank of the Umpqua River. She also enjoys walking at the west end where the ferns grow.

“I love the feeling that it brings being in the woods, and we have a gorgeous campus, but there is something about that spot that is centering for me,” Schultz said.

Life, however, hasn’t always been a quiet nature walk in the woods for Schultz; she has had her share of bumpy trails. She has been put on probation three times in her stay here at UCC.

The first time was the three years probation that every new instructor receives.  The second time was when she took over a class from another instructor in the middle of the school year.

Schultz’s teaching style was different from the previous instructor’s students. For instance, she gave no extra credit, and she didn’t have open book tests.

“I was stricter in a lot of ways. Students didn’t like that, so they went to the dean and complained,” Schultz said.

The dean handled the complaints in a manner that took Schultz by surprise.

“Instead of sitting me down and asking me for my side of the story, he told me ‘I am putting you on probation. If you don’t get fewer students to drop in the next month I am going to let you go before the end of the year,’” Schultz said.

“Although I risked losing my job for speaking up, the most important thing is keeping to your own integrity”

—Suzanne Schultz

The third time Schultz was put on probation involved the prior UCC president. Schultz was president of the faculty senate at the time when he asked her to help put together a committee to work on a new governance structure for the college. She accomplished what was asked of her, and they got some people together. Although things turned out at the end of the whole process, she was the only one to vote against the structure that the prior president proposed. The following day after she voted, she was put on probation.

“I have outlasted the people who put me on probation. They’re not here, but I am still here. Although I risked losing my job for speaking up, the most important thing is keeping to your own integrity,” Schultz said.

 The support of Schultz’ students has helped her through some tough times. Her emotions start showing as she recalls one time in particular that touched her heart.

“One day I walked into class on the last day of the term to find that students wrote me messages on the chalk board about the things they appreciate about me, and I started crying. As teachers we are constantly giving, but we don’t always know what students get out of it,” Schultz said.

“Schultz is passionate about students learning, comprehending and applying psychology. I really appreciate her dedication for teaching,” Jen Frazier, one of Schultz’ students, said.

After 14 years of teaching students, Schultz’s retirement will widen the scope of how she spends her time. She will be without classroom lectures and grade books. “I am going to spend more time with my dog. Also, I am going to spend more time doing physical activity. I consider myself a fitness bug. I miss intimacy, so I am going back to where my roots are with my family and friends in Florida.”