By Becca Eis & Kassidy Hall | Echo
Originally intending to be a high school band director, Al Harrison will retire this May after 39 years as a professor.
After completing his master's degree at University of Illinois, one of his advisors encouraged him to interview for collegiate positions. When he learned about Taylor, he read through the belief system and Life Together Covenant and was immediately attracted to the school.
Throughout his time at Taylor, Harrison has significantly contributed to the development of the music department, including hiring majority of those teaching in the department today.
Some of his favorite memories involve conducting "Fiddler on the Roof," trips overseas with the Jazz Ensemble and taking the Wind Ensemble to play at the Palladium in Carmel, Indiana.
Within the local community, Harrison has directed choirs at Upland Community Church and has been involved with the Marion Philharmonic for several years.
Harrison and his wife will be going on a trip to Israel with other Taylor personnel this summer. After the trip, he is looking forward to resting, spending more time with his grandchildren and continuing to be involved in music.
Above all, Harrison has enjoyed making an impact on students over the years.
"Many administrators in arts areas tend to be full-time administrators, and I never wanted to do that," Harrison said. "I wanted to stay in the classroom. I wanted to continue to have contact with students. I wanted to get to know students. I wanted to travel with them, to tour, to do things together, to minister together, and that always brought me great joy."
Dale Keller, co-chair of the Communication Department and professor of communication, became a professor as a result of co-teaching a community college class with his wife, Kay.
After observing Keller's gifts in the classroom, his boss at the community college encouraged him to further pursue teaching at the collegiate level. No longer interested in a career in banking, Keller went on to earn his doctorate at Truman State University.
Keller came to Taylor out of a desire to end his career at a Christian school. He especially enjoys connecting what he is learning in his personal devotions to what is being covered in class.
"I think communication is a gift that God has given to us," Keller said. "I think it was a risky gift. I think the fact that the main metaphor for Jesus is the word relates specifically to communication."
Outside of campus, Keller served in various roles at Hanfield United Methodist Church in Marion, Indiana, as a Sunday school teacher, member of various committees and occasional speaker. Upon retirement, Keller and his wife will remain in Upland.
Throughout his career at Taylor, Keller reminded himself that Taylor was "special, not perfect."
"(I want) to be thankful for the time I've been able to be here, feel that it's been a blessing and certainly changed me and sometimes when I'm tired, focusing more on the things I think should be different rather than, the seven percent I'd like to see change and forgetting the 93 percent that's wonderful and that's very special," Keller said.
LeRoy Kroll, professor of chemistry, will retire this May after 39 years of service to Taylor.
After becoming a Christian while completing graduate school at Michigan State University, Kroll began his teaching career in 1975 at Baymonte Christian School in Scotts Valley, California. After teaching at Biola University for a short period of time, Kroll came to Taylor.
While at Taylor, Kroll developed courses, including inorganic and honors chemistry. Some of his favorite memories involve hosting study breaks at his house at the end of each semester.
"During our time here, Taylor has been a very good, well-balanced place where there are a broad variety of sincere Christians that are serious about their faith and have a variety of different viewpoints, and I would just hope that Taylor would continue to allow and promote that variety," Kroll said.
Beyond his responsibilities as a professor, Kroll was also heavily involved in leadership at Upland Community Church for over 20 years.
After retiring, Kroll and his wife will move to Indianapolis and hope to be involved with a church that works with refugees or immigrants.
"My parents were immigrants to America from Germany in the 1920s, so I mean I kind of understand a little bit about what the immigrant experience is like, so there are lots of ways in which we kind of connect with that," Kroll said.
After 21 years of service to Taylor, Pam Medows, professor of education and director of field experience, is retiring.
Medows attended Marion College, a Christian university in . Following graduation, she taught for several years in a K-12 classroom setting. When transitioning to teach in higher education, she wanted to be placed at a Christian university in order to give back to environments that blessed her in the past.
In addition to teaching, Medows is involved in several areas around campus.
"Some of my most significant memories were of ministering with other students through Lighthouse trips," Medows said. "As a co-sponsor for five trips, the opportunities to get to know students on a different level have impacted me greatly."
Outside of Taylor, Medows is additionally involved in her church in children's ministries. She also volunteers in local schools, from judging science fairs to teaching Earth Day programs.
Though she is retiring from full-time service, Medows will remain employed part-time to direct the Transition to Teaching online program.
"Taylor will always have a special place in my heart," Medows said. "I am deeply committed to its mission. Even when challenges have come our way as a university, the love of Christ can, and does, shine through."
Betty Messer, professor of modern languages, plans to retire in Florida after teaching Spanish at Taylor for 30 years.
Messer gained firsthand knowledge and experience with the Spanish language and cultures as several of her family members were missionaries in South America. After serving in Ecuador, her family settled in Florida, where they continued contact with Spanish cultures, particularly Cuba's.
"At Trinity College . . . I majored in sociology due to my love of culture," Messer said. "When going to graduate school, I decided to study Spanish formally with the express purpose of becoming a college professor. The Lord blessed my life because I am retiring after a wonderful career teaching Spanish at Taylor University."
Messer described her upcoming retirement in Green Cove Springs, Florida, as going home in many ways. She expressed her love for the outdoors, especially hiking, bicycling, swimming and kayaking.
Though she is looking forward to moving, Messer expressed her gratitude for having so many memories at Taylor that she will cherish.
"What an honor to have shared my faith, my knowledge of Spanish and Spanish-speaking countries, and understanding of cultures with so many individuals," Messer said. "But my students have also returned the favor, sharing who they are . . . with each other and me in class discussion, on trips overseas, as well as informally outside of the classroom."
Steve Messer's path to become a history professor began when he was in middle school.
"I was hooked on history from 8th grade on," Messer said. "I just had a wonderful history teacher in 8th grade who really made it come alive."
Messer completed his undergraduate studies at Trinity International University and then he and his wife then went on to earn their doctorates from Florida State University. After teaching for three years at Voorhees College, Messer followed his wife to Taylor, and taught part-time at Taylor, Ball State University and Anderson University until he was offered a full-time position.
Messer views his love of history as a calling from God.While at Taylor, Messer has created new courses in both women's and African-American history. He also led and designed the Civil Rights Tours for both students and faculty, which began in January of 1993.
"I try to encourage people in foundational core courses in history . . . to understand that history is not only relevant, but also kind of fascinating to study and that we are studying people like us," Messer said. "We're not studying people that are just kind of in a vacuum somewhere in the past."
Messer's favorite memories include watching his students present at the Butler Undergraduate Research conference, going on the civil rights tours and attending events with his wife as a colleague.
Messer and his wife are planning to move to a retirement community in Florida sometime this summer. He is looking forward to getting involved through volunteering, and possibly teaching some short courses and leading civil rights tours.
Bruce Pratt, associate professor of kinesiology, began his employment at Taylor-Fort Wayne in 1992.
Pratt came to Upland in the fall of 2009, where he remained until his retirement in December of 2017. Before he was a professor on campus, he first experienced the school as a student.
"What I have found in almost 50 years is that the overall purpose and intent of Taylor during my undergraduate years is still the Taylor of today, and to me that is a very good thing," Pratt said.
After graduating from Taylor in spring of 1974, Pratt taught in Blackford County, Indiana, then later at colleges in Louisiana and Texas. While in Texas, Pratt searched for jobs in the Midwest and found and accepted the position at Taylor-Fort Wayne.
Pratt taught at the Fort Wayne campus for 17 years and continued to live in Fort Wayne after taking the position in Upland. In the fall of 2010, Pratt became the kinesiology department chair and continued in the position until June of 2017.
Following his retirement in December, Pratt and his wife moved to Florida to be near family.
Bill Toll, dean of natural and applied science and professor of computer science and engineering, is retiring after 28 years at Taylor.
Toll graduated from Taylor's physics department in 1971 with no plans to be a professor, yet returned in 1990 to teach computer science because he felt called to teach at a Christian college.
"It meant so much to me when I was young, and I see the school has continued to be much the same kind of place," Toll said. "It's still serious about its Christian commitments."
In 2012, Toll became dean of natural and applied sciences after teaching computer science for 22 years. After retirement, he plans to spend more time with family, stay involved with a church project for a Guatemalan orphanage and catch up on his hobbies of woodworking, gardening and other various outside activities.
Toll says he will miss working alongside and conversing with faculty, and gives the following advice to incoming faculty members.
"It's easy to get so caught up in teaching and the mechanisms and the material, which you have to do, but don't lose sight of other stuff," Toll said. "Do get involved in the community and in church. Taylor needs to be a major part of your life obviously, but you can't make it all of your life."