Ƶ bestows emeritus status on retired professors, staff members

For Immediate Release:
May 10, 2024

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

David and Joyce at the awards ceremony
David Gray with Staff Emerita Joyce Earhart

Two retired Ƶ professors and three retired staff members were honored with emeritus status on Wednesday afternoon. Professor emeritus status has been granted by the college since 1983, and is in recognition of a faculty member’s exceptional service and contributions to Ƶ. The college began bestowing emeritus status to staff members in 2023. To receive these honors, professors and staff must have had at least 10 years of service to the Virginia Community College System.

Retired Accounting Professor John Beavers and Nursing Professor Margie Harrison were named professors emeriti.

“You would often see Professor Beavers on campus late into the evenings, along with his trusty briefcase, teaching night courses,” said Business Management and Administration Professor Rachel Dodson as she presented him with his award.

She noted that Professor Beavers, who taught at Ƶ for 32 years, was remembered by a student who gave birth during the semester she had his class.

“Professor Beavers allowed her to bring the child to class and even held him during her final exam,” said Professor Dodson. “Upon graduation, John continued to support students by helping them locate employment opportunities in the local community.”

Upon accepting his award, Professor Beavers recounted some common themes community college professors would hear, such as students saying this was their first-ever college class, or they were the first in their family to attend college. He mentioned something else he had heard and found touching – “I have enough credits to transfer, but I want to take more classes here.”

“My mother and I are taking class together,” was another phrase Professor Beavers sometimes heard, and, he added to laughter, “You taught my grandma. Now it’s my turn.”

English Professor Jennifer Schaefer presented the professor emerita award to retired Nursing Professor Margie Harrison, who taught at Ƶ from 2003 to 2015.

“Margie helped bring organized preceptorships to the Ƶ nursing program, which had not been done before,” said Professor Schaefer. “Nursing students were placed in medical settings for a period of weeks to shadow a senior nurse and assist them as asked. Students were placed everywhere from ERs to doctor’s offices, and the practical experience gained was invaluable.”

She noted Professor Harrison hasn’t slowed down – she was named the Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS) Volunteer of the Year this year. 

Professor Harrison said she took her teaching role as seriously as she had her clinical role.

“This is a job where you have human lives in your hands,” she said. “I loved every minute of teaching.”

The retired faculty members who received the emeritus distinction all began their Ƶ careers in the 1970s.

Joyce Earhart began working in the library in the early 1970s when she was a student, and then continued part-time for many years, becoming full time in 1995. In addition to selecting materials for purchase and teaching library instruction sessions for classes, she was known as “a bulldog of a reference librarian,” said David Gray, Ƶ’s director of learning resources.

“If anyone had a question, or needed help with research in any way, Joyce was tireless in tracking down answers – whether it was for a student, a staff or faculty member, a community member, or the president of the college,” he said. “She would search for hours or days until she found an answer or a way to help. In the days before the college archives were organized, she also served an important function of being the best steward of the history of the college.”

Library issues are mysteries, which she loves to solve, said Earhart.

“Retirement is bittersweet,” she said. “I miss my family – my college family. I miss helping the students. I miss seeing all those new books and materials. This was my wonderful life, my wonderful fellow employees, my workplace, and I miss it all.”

Charlie Haines was with the college the first day it opened in 1970, overseeing buildings and grounds. Christine Barb, assistant to Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Johanna Weiss, noted that Haines tracked down desks and other needed items from John Handley High School and other community colleges around Virginia when supply chain issues meant the new college didn’t have enough.

“As construction remained ongoing, Charlie worked to ensure everyone’s safety awhile keeping contractors on task,” Barb said. “Charlie exemplified dedication. He was known to stay the night when snow was expected. It was a very rare day that the college didn’t open on time.

“It wasn’t all business with Charlie, however, he was also known for his humor and fun spirit. He and his crew even created a temporary ice-skating rink on campus that was a huge hit with many students and employees.”

Haines, who received the Distinguished Full-Time Staff Award in 1994, reminisced about the college having its office in a Middletown motel before it opened for classes. After opening, some classrooms still didn’t have windows.

“The college got off to a very humble beginning,” he said. “It was quite a trying time, but it was fun, and we had wonderful people to work with.”

Joy Legge also began working at Ƶ in 1970, before retiring in 2004. Library archivist John Owens said she started as a punch card operator and was an IT specialist when she retired.

“When there wasn’t a pressing tech need, Joy would fill in wherever needed,” he said. “You might’ve found her in financial aid, the registrar’s office, or advising, or even giving tours to new students. She fully embraced the college mission and looked to help wherever she could.

“One of Joy’s biggest contributions to Ƶ came long after her retirement, as she has been a vital part of helping the organization of the college archives. She has shared so many stories behind photos in our archives that at times I feel I know those pictured, even if I have never met them.”

Legge was unable to attend Wednesday’s ceremony, but Owens read a message from her. 

“The college has, and always will have, a special place in my heart,” he conveyed from her.

Founded in 1970, Ƶ is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Ƶ offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Ƶ also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Ƶ serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Ƶ is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Ƶ also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Ƶ may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website ().

Ƶ is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Ƶ shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Ƶ also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources,[email protected],173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Ƶ was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Ƶ going forward.