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Leaving a Legacy

Colleagues reflect on the many accomplishments of retiring Professor Susan Miskelly

There’s a saying, “To teach is to touch a life forever,” and for more than fifty years Bridgewater State University Professor Susan Miskelly has undoubtedly impacted the lives of many.

Appointed back in 1969, the communication studies professor and director of forensics, retires this year as the institution’s longest-serving female faculty member.

Miskelly brought decades of experience teaching in the areas of public speaking and professional communication, as well as taking part in campus-wide committees, including the forensics practicum.

“(She) has been a model of superior teaching and extraordinary commitment to our students both in the classroom and in (her) decades-long work as the director of our forensics team,” said President Frederick W. Clark Jr.

BSU colleagues also shared accolades when Miskelly’s retirement was announced.

“It has been an absolute pleasure working with Susan, her contributions to our program are truly immeasurable. Her grace, dignity and kindness are legendary on campus, she has really made a lasting impact here at BSU,” said Dr. Thomasena Shaw, associate professor and Division of Graduate and Continuing Education chair.

As a freshly minted PhD back in 2006, when pondering whether or not to move to Massachusetts from the Midwest, Professor Bjorn Ingvoldstad recalled that it was Miskelly who reached out and encouraged him to come to Bridgewater State.

“Susan was incredibly gracious in sharing information about Bridgewater and the region as we worked to get our bearings,” Ingvoldstad said.

Professor Jessica Birthisel shared a similar experience.

“When I first moved across the country to start work at BSU, she was a warm, welcoming presence who helped acclimate me, not just to campus but to the greater Bridgewater community,” Birthisel said.

Those who worked with her will attest, Miskelly is the ultimate example of a colleague dedicated to serving the university and its students. Those who know her say her presence will be missed.

“Susan has been an amazing colleague for many reasons. She brings decades of teaching experience, which is a huge asset to both our students who get to take her classes, but also to other faculty who teach in those areas and get to learn from her,” Birthisel said.

On behalf of the Bridgewater State community Clark thanked Miskelly for her years of service.

“(We) offer you our profound gratitude for all you have done to encourage and inspire generations of students and to elevate consistently our university’s national profile for academic excellence,” he said.

For those working in the BSU communication studies department, Miskelly’s absence will be particularly felt.

“It’s hard to imagine our department without her sitting there around the table with us,” Birthisel said. “She’ll be greatly missed.”

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