Transforming Lives

May 10, 2024

By Laura J. Cole ’04 ’08MLS

Bev Buckley, Sharon Carnahan, Bruce Stephenson, Gloria Cook, Tom Cook, Kathryn Norsworthy, Scott Hewit, and Susan Libby.
Clockwise from top left: Bev Buckley, Sharon Carnahan, Bruce Stephenson, Gloria Cook, Tom Cook, Kathryn Norsworthy, Scott Hewit, and Susan Libby.Photo by Scott Cook.

We’re celebrating seven faculty members and one head coach who retire this year after nearly 250 years of combined service to Rollins, where they’ve had a profound impact on their students, the community, and their areas of expertise.

A bigger purpose. A capacity for wonder. A sense of service.

These are the lasting legacies that seven faculty members and one coach who are retiring this year have passed down to generations of Rollins students—but are also the ethos they live by. Some have already retired; others will do so this month. But none show any signs of slowing down as they embark on the next adventures in their meaningful lives.

We recently caught up with these passionate, long-serving educators to reflect on their favorite memories, what they’ll miss most, how they want to be remembered, and their nearly 250 combined years of service to Rollins and its community.

Rollins’ head women's tennis coach Bev Buckley and student-athletes
Photo by Scott Cook.

Bev Buckley ’75

Head women’s tennis coach

Few people approach life with Bev Buckley’s decisiveness. After going undefeated in tennis in high school, she knew she wanted to play tennis both in college and professionally. And before she even graduated from Rollins, where she was twice named an Outstanding College Athlete of America, she knew she wanted to return one day and coach at her alma mater.

“I told my coach, Ms. Mack, to call me when she was ready to retire because coming back to coach at Rollins was my dream,” says Buckley, who has held that position since 1986. “From the moment I first picked up a racket at age 12, my life has been about tennis. I couldn’t have written a better script.”

That script includes spending five years on the women’s professional tour, where she played at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the French Open, among others. It includes 530 wins as Rollins’ head coach, 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances beginning in 1993, 21 All-Americans, and leading 57 scholar athletes (those with a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher) to success both on and off the court.

Her legacy will continue at Rollins as her former player Tasi Purcell Batista ’07 steps into the role as head coach.

What’s your favorite Rollins memory? “When Stacey Moss Mager ’05 won the NCAA Division II National Singles Championship in California. I think she was seeded eighth, and she came through the entire thing. She was actually the last player ever to win a Division II singles NCAA championship, as it is only a team event now. My favorite off-court memory is when I experienced Fox Day for the first time. When I attended Rollins in the early ’70s, the president at the time declined the tradition.”

What will you miss most about Rollins? “The relationships that I formed—not only with the people at the College who I worked with but especially with my players.”

How do you want Rollins to remember you? “I want Rollins to remember me as a dedicated, hardworking coach who always put my players’ academics first and that I also treated my team as people first and players second. I learned that from my coach, Ms. Mack, and I have always thought it was one of the most important parts of coaching.”

Sharon Carnahan in the Hume House Child Development & Student Research Center
Photo by Scott Cook.

Sharon Carnahan

Professor of psychology

For nearly 35 years, the name Sharon Carnahan has been synonymous with childhood development at Rollins. During her tenure, she has led the Hume House Child Development & Student Research Center from a part-time play group to a full-time model of early childhood education and laboratory for psychology students.

Her love of babies began while studying the cognitive development of 6-month-olds as a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But it was a community engagement course she was asked to teach her first year at Rollins in 1990 that she says led to her “love affair with field studies as a way to engage students.”

That includes having students work with young children at Hume House, as well as, for example, visiting a synagogue in her Psychology of Religion course, studying families in Costa Rica, and spending the night with migrant farmworker families in Apopka.

“Learners build their own knowledge rather than passively receive it,” she says, “I am proud of our graduates, and of the letters I get from them years later—school and clinical psychologists, counselors, therapists, CEOs, lawyers, and parents—about how these experiences have affected their lives.”

What’s your favorite Rollins memory? “So many! One was when we dedicated our new Hume House facility. Another was in 1995 while leading a community engagement course in Apopka where students were working with migrant farmworker families and I learned that much of good teaching is to connect students with experiences, then get out of the way. It transformed my pedagogy.”

What will you miss most about Rollins? “I will miss the wild exuberance of learning alongside my students, the opportunity to pursue interesting new courses, and the learned conversations with my colleagues. And Fox Day.”

How do you want Rollins to remember you? “As someone who worked hard at my profession and was persistent in the pursuit of my dreams.”

Gloria Cook
Photo by Scott Cook.

Gloria Cook

Professor of music

Music drew Gloria Cook to Rollins 26 years ago. She had heard of the College’s music program through its association with the renowned Bach Festival Society of Winter Park and wanted to be part of a place that invites world-famous artists to perform and offers master classes. An accomplished pianist herself, Cook has played with the Springfield Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Charleston Symphony, among others.

It was at Rollins though, while twice chairing the curriculum committee, that she discovered the importance of “teaching my students beyond the 88 keys.” For Cook, that means teaching discipline combined with an understanding of the world, including its people, cultures, and languages.

“Only by becoming global citizens and responsible leaders and having lots of preparation and discipline can students successfully communicate the universal language called music on stage,” she says.

That philosophy earned Cook Rollins’ prestigious Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award, which recognizes a commitment to outstanding teaching.

What’s your favorite Rollins memory? “I was so fortunate to have Fred and Joanne Rogers as my mentors. Fred loved to visit my classes, and one time, during an early morning class, he played and played past the class time but none of the students left the room.”

What will you miss most about Rollins? “I will miss my colleagues and the students, and all the times we spent making music together.”

How do you want Rollins to remember you? “As somebody who made the Rollins campus more beautiful with her piano students. After all, every day is a ‘beautiful day in this neighborhood.’”

Philosophy professor Tom Cook engages students in class discussion.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Tom Cook

Professor of philosophy

The primary lesson Tom Cook hoped students would take away from his courses is the same one he modeled: “Be skeptical, be critical, be curious,” he says. “Don’t lose the capacity for wonder.”

In classes on early modern philosophy, biomedical ethics, and even Malcolm X, he could be found walking around the classroom barefoot, delighted by the conversation and challenging students to consider how they could know anything with “abso-damn-lute certainty.”

That line of inquiry began for him while studying humanities at Johns Hopkins University, led him to study at Albert-Ludwigs Universitat in Germany, and then to pursue a PhD in philosophy at Vanderbilt before joining Rollins in 1982.

During his tenure at Rollins, Cook served as director of the Master of Liberal Studies program, president of Arts & Sciences faculty, and head of the Hamilton Holt School’s humanities major. In addition to receiving all of the College’s top awards for teaching, including the Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award, he was named National Professor of the Year in 2007 by the American Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs.

A lifelong proponent for the value of a liberal arts education, he maintains that “studying art or philosophy or history opens one’s eyes to the remarkable human creativity manifest in the culture around us.”

What’s your favorite Rollins memory? “The service learning courses I taught that included month-long trips with students to Guatemala, Honduras, Ghana, and the Dominican Republic.”

What will you miss most about Rollins? “The students. The campus. The colleagues.”

How do you want Rollins to remember you? “As a dedicated teacher and lifelong learner.”

Scott Hewit teaching schoolchildren in Rwanda on a field study through Rollins.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Scott Hewit

Associate professor of education

Despite changes in pedagogy, politics, and technology, one thing has remained constant for Scott Hewit: Students should always be at the center of teaching. That truth led him from teaching at a large state university to Rollins in 1994.

“Being at a small liberal arts college gave me an opportunity to be a teacher in the way that I wanted my students to be teachers,” he says. “I got to know my students on a whole different level. I got to take a more personalized approach and develop activities and classes that I never would have been able to in a large lecture hall.”

Hewit’s approach has produced three decades of passionate educators who have gone on to become Teachers of the Year and Fulbright Students, and make a difference in the lives of elementary and secondary students across the state—and around the globe.

“I always tried to drive home with students that, above all else, you need to know who your students are,” says Hewit, who received the Cornell Distinguished Service and Teaching awards as well as the McKean Grant while at Rollins. “You need to care about your students. You’re not teaching math or biology or the third grade. You’re teaching warm-blooded, heart-racing kids and you can change their lives.”

What’s your favorite Rollins memory? “Working with the people in Rwanda to improve educational outcomes. The program has spanned 14 years, included lots of Rollins students, and involved being in a village that taught me more than I could have dreamed of. I’m thrilled it will continue.”

What will you miss most about Rollins? “I’ll miss the perseverance, the determination, and the passion that my students showed to become incredible teachers. And the luxury of learning from my students.”

How do you want Rollins to remember you? “As someone who listened, treated others with respect, kept an open mind, and cared deeply about students.”

Susan Libby
Photo by Scott Cook.

Susan Libby

Professor of art history

It’s not surprising that Susan Libby loves creativity. Her scholarship focuses on 18th- and 19th-century French art.

But it’s the creativity she finds in the classroom—both how students approach assignments and how she designs courses—that Libby loves most. Since joining Rollins in 1998, she has developed more than two dozen new courses, many of them interdisciplinary and team-taught, on topics ranging from culture wars and rebel artists to one she’ll teach in the Master of Liberal Studies program next fall called Queens, Mistresses, and Prostitutes in Art.

“There’s a difference between telling people what to read or write and actually engaging them,” she says.

For an exhibition she co-curated at the Rollins Museum of Art in 2017 called The Black Figure in the European Imaginary, for example, students in the art history museum practicum course participated in the selection and installation of the works, wrote the wall texts, and gave tours.

But often, it was allowing students to pursue their own ideas. One of her most memorable experiences was back in the early 2000s when two students in her course on women and art asked to create an installation rather than write a research paper. Reluctant at first, Libby acquiesced, but the final installation—Barbie dolls hanging in the Harland’s Haven gazebo to highlight the media’s tyranny over women’s bodies—created more of an uproar than any of them anticipated.

The installation was supposed to include hanging cards with quotes about women’s bodies, but a mishap in printing delayed the two appearing in tandem. Students thought it was an attack on women. The media sensationalized the message. But the experience taught both her and the students a lot about artistic intent versus audience interpretation and gave her admiration for her students’ creativity and determination.

“It was way more impactful than any of us ever thought it was going to be,” she says.

What’s your favorite Rollins memory? “Watching my students graduate every year and realizing how much I’m going to miss them.”

What will you miss most about Rollins? “All the people who I’ve gotten to know. My department, my students, my colleagues, and the staff for facilitating my work.”

How do you want Rollins to remember you? “I would like to be remembered as a person of integrity, a good colleague, and someone who stood up for what’s right and never backed down from a challenge.”

Kathryn Norsworthy
Photo by Scott Cook.

Kathryn Norsworthy

Professor of counseling

When Kathryn Norsworthy joined Rollins in 1992, it was the first time she’d ever set foot on a liberal arts campus.

“I had always gone to state schools and had worked in the Boston University overseas program before Rollins,” she says. “When I first got here, I realized the possibilities for me to be creative and to pursue new directions in my research, teaching, and service. I don’t think I would have been able to do all the things I have—my international work, my activism—anywhere else.”

For over two decades, Norsworthy has been deeply committed to projects across Central Florida as well as South and Southeast Asia focused on LGBTQ+ civil rights, violence against women, migrant and refugee rights, and peacebuilding, among others. For her work, she has received numerous awards, including the International Humanitarian Award, the Social Justice Award, and the Outstanding International Psychologist Award—all from the American Psychological Association.

She is equally proud of the work she has done in collaboration with her colleagues over the years to grow Rollins’ graduate counseling program to what it is today and to have won major awards from the College for teaching, diversity, and service. Her service work, research approach, and pedagogy have all informed and strengthened each other—and benefited three decades worth of graduate and undergraduate students alike who have learned mindfulness, the benefits of centering participants, and community engagement.

What’s your favorite Rollins memory? “Any time we as a faculty got on board collectively around a social justice issue and really spoke up about it. One in particular was in the old Galloway Room during a faculty meeting when we were working on ways to increase the representation of faculty and staff of color, and the entire faculty loudly repeated a mantra with me that we had developed about our commitment to doing so.”

What will you miss most about Rollins? “My beloved colleagues, my beloved students, beautiful days like today when the sky is blue and you walk across campus and see people you’ve haven’t seen in a while and get to catch up. That real sense of community has been so meaningful for me.”

How do you want Rollins to remember you? “As someone who was really committed to social justice and who brought an ethic of love and care to all my relationships.”

Bruce Stephenson

Bruce Stephenson

Professor of environmental studies

Few would consider how an IRS audit could transform one’s teaching—and the environment. But such was the unusual turn of events for Bruce Stephenson when he was asked to share with the IRS his students’ work in the Genius Preserve. The protected area has a conservation easement that allows for a significant tax exemption for the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation as long as the property is used for educational purposes.

“Sharing my students’ work with the IRS was life-changing,” says Stephenson, who joined Rollins in 1988. “The detailed reports met government requirements, and the foundation funded the Genius Preserve restoration for the next 20 years, which has gone on to inform scores of students.”

That decades-long work resulted in Stephenson receiving the 1,000 Friends of Florida Better Community Award for bringing lasting change to the community by leading the ecological restoration of the Genius Preserve.

In addition to encouraging preservation, Stephenson has introduced nearly three decades of students to urban planning, a passion that has led to books on John Nolen and the city of Portland, Oregon, as well as major awards in his field, including the John Nolen Medal for the practice of urbanism, John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize in landscape architecture, and the Addison Mizner Medal for Pedagogy.

What’s your favorite Rollins memory? “Working with students to plan and implement sustainability projects such as the Ramble (Central Park’s native garden) and the Genius Preserve’s landscape restoration. Mixing labor, ecological understanding, and aesthetic ideals, students create natural works of art that instill them with a sense of purpose and confidence.”

What will you miss most about Rollins? “Working with students to create beautiful works of art and live noble lives.”

How do you want Rollins to remember you? “I was a principal in preparing the Winter Park Central Park Master Plan in 2002. Over the last 20 years, Rollins students have worked on implementing the plan for the Ramble and city officials are set to complete it this fall. Fifty years from now when 51 pine trees tower over the park at over 100 feet, I hope I’m remembered.”

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