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Dr. Proctor leaving, but will always love NKU

Dr.+Proctor+stands+in+front+of+the+Student+Union%2C+which+is+named+after+one+of+his+dearest+friends%2C+former+NKU+President+James+Votruba.
Dr. Proctor stands in front of the Student Union, which is named after one of his dearest friends, former NKU President James Votruba.

Dr. Proctor stands in front of the Student Union, which is named after one of his dearest friends, former NKU President James Votruba.

Carrie Crotzer

Carrie Crotzer

Dr. Proctor stands in front of the Student Union, which is named after one of his dearest friends, former NKU President James Votruba.

Carrie Crotzer, Editor-in-Chief

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His classes always started the same. A jump followed by hands held in the air.

 

“Now is the time when all cell phones go off, all communication with the external world ceases and at the drop of my hands you say to me, ‘Good afternoon.’ Good afternoon.”

 

By the end of each semester there wasn’t a student who couldn’t quote how every class was started.

 

Dr. Russell Proctor will officially retire at the close of this spring semester from NKU after 25 years of teaching students to loooooovvvvveeeee NKU and just how to say Paaaaammmm (his beloved wife’s name).

 

His pronunciation and communication lessons stretch far beyond the classroom. Displayed by the hundreds of people that showed up to say farewell at his retirement party on April 22, it’s obvious that Dr. Proctor’s impact stretched far and wide.

 

He won students over in class with Smarties, but he got them to stay with his personality. He asked how lives were and when asked to tell more, it was because he genuinely wanted to know.

 

Kathy Renaker, a former student of Dr. Proctor's, presents him with the honor of all honors, a mondo Smartie. Dr. Proctor was known for giving out smarties in his classes through the years for exceptional answers.

Carrie Crotzer
Kathy Renaker, a former student of Dr. Proctor’s, presents him with the honor of all honors, a mondo Smartie. Dr. Proctor was known for giving out smarties in his classes through the years for exceptional answers.

“Dr. Proctor wasn’t just an awesome professor, he was and is a true mentor and a friend,” Kathy Renaker, a former student, said in a speech at his retirement party. “Dr. Proctor dedicated his life to his students. Our happiness became his happiness. Our sadness became his sadness. And our successes became his trophies, validating his job well done, because we could have never done any of it without him.”

 

In the beginning though, Dr. Proctor never saw himself teaching at a university like NKU.

 

Wanting to teach at a small, liberal arts college, the concrete jungle of a state university had little appeal to the young professor.

 

After interviews and touring the campus though, he was hooked, and he called Pam to tell her.

 

“I found the place I want to spend the rest of my career,” Dr. Proctor recalled telling his wife on the phone over 25 years ago. “And I knew in that moment what I know right now, I found my home. I found home.”

 

Once placed in his home, along with the Smarties, which were only received for exceptional answers or simply sharing things happening in  life, Dr. Proctor created a new standard for grading fairly: he graded not by name, but by social security number.

 

Hundreds came out on April 22 to bid farewell to Dr. Russell Proctor who is retiring after 25 years at NKU.

Carrie Crotzer
Hundreds came out on April 22 to bid farewell to Dr. Russell Proctor who is retiring after 25 years at NKU.

Confusion would pass through a class as he asked students to put the last four digits of their social security number on a test instead of their name, but it was all for the sake of making sure every student got a fair grade.

 

“He wanted to make sure that he was fair to you when nobody was looking,” his son RP Proctor said in a speech about who his dad is when no one is looking. “If you were complaining about your grade, there is no doubt that you earned every bit of it.”

 

Twenty-five years later Dr. Proctor says that most days it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, primarily due to telling the story of finding his way to NKU each semester in his interviewing class.

 

“I’m now in a college that didn’t exist, the college of informatics, in a building that didn’t exist, Griffin Hall, near colleagues that I never knew from computer science and business informatics,” he said of the things that make it clear a lot of time has passed. “The biggest thing that has happened in my field of interpersonal communication in the last 25 years has been social media, and texting, and technology and smart phones and this ability to connect with people in a  variety of ways.”

 

One of the most prideful changes in the university for Dr. Proctor comes from the way people view the NKU community now as opposed to the way they did in 1991.

 

Once seen as a leftover school that wasn’t that important, Dr. Proctor has watched those views shift into a feeling of  pride to attend NKU, to be a part of the university, to be a Norse.

 

“I don’t think that I’m responsible for it, I don’t think that any three or four people are responsible for it,” he said. “But I’d like to think that I played a small part of it and this has been an evolution, and that this is a first choice for a lot of people and is now a place of pride.”

 

As the final days of the semester approach, and Dr. Proctor’s final days as a professor at NKU come to a close, it is the students and relationships with students and fellow faculty and staff that will carry him into the next chapter of his life.

 

“I feel like I’ve said everything I want to say, I’ve taught everything I want to teach, I have taught every class I wanted to teach, there’s nothing new I want to do,” he said. “There’s nothing that I want to achieve that I haven’t, so I think that it’s a good time to leave, to go out on top, and I feel real satisfaction.”

 

Editor’s Note: I am a student of Dr. Proctor’s interviewing class. While my perfect paragraph fell short in his class, it is my hope that this article has done a great professor justice. Happy Retirement Dr. Proctor. It was a privilege to learn from you, and an honor to interview you.

Dr. Russell Proctor stands surrounded by family and friends as they cheer him on for his career at NKU. Dr. Proctor is retiring this semester after 25 years at NKU.

Carrie Crotzer
Dr. Russell Proctor stands surrounded by family and friends as they cheer him on for his career at NKU. Dr. Proctor is retiring this semester after 25 years at NKU.

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Dr. Proctor leaving, but will always love NKU