Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Faculty emeriti honored at College's annual luncheon

By Courtney Westlake

Dr. Jeffrey Chesky retired in 2004 but continued to advise master's degree projects at UIS up until last year, challenging students to reach their full potential.

Michael Townsend continuously told his students how fortunate they were to be pursuing a career field where they would make a difference in the lives of others and engaged them in service learning.

Townsend and Chesky were both honored as faculty emeriti in the College of Education and Human Services at a celebratory luncheon on Wednesday, June 17, in the Sangamon Auditorium Lobby of the Public Affairs Center, and each took part in the unveiling of their painted portraits, which will be hung in Brookens Library.

After lunch, the two emeriti faculty participated in a question-and-answer session, during which they spoke about their experiences when first arriving at Sangamon State University and reminisced about their classes and memories of the early days of the university.

Dr. Bill Abler, professor in Human Development Counseling, also gave remarks called "Doing It by the Numbers: Painters, Portraits and Percipients," before the portraits of Townsend and Chesky were unveiled.

Townsend was a family counselor with the Child and Family Services of Sangamon County, where he specialized in doing work with kids who had been in trouble with the law, when he arrived at UIS - then Sangamon State - in 1975.

"He dedicated his life to teaching, public affairs and community service," said Larry Stonecipher, dean of the College of Education and Human Services. "His students were encouraged to engage in service learning even before we defined the phrase 'service learning'."

Throughout his career, Townsend wrote many grants requests totaling around $300,000, and founded and directed many other organizations and groups locally that encouraged change, Stonecipher said. He never pursued full professorship because he believed that only those with doctoral degrees should hold that title.

"Instead he dedicated his time and considerable talents to bridging any gaps that existed between his education in his application and benefit to the Springfield Community. As you can tell, Mike walks the walk every day," Stonecipher said.

Chesky came to UIS/SSU in 1977 with a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics to become a professor of human services and biology. During his career, he received grants from such prestigious organizations as the American Heart Association, the American Federation for Aging Research, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health.

"The volumes of master's projects he chaired are a testament to his commitment to his students," Stonecipher said. "In the classroom, Dr. Chesky was revered as a stellar teacher/scholar who made the curriculum rigorous as well as interesting. His lectures were noted to be stimulating, captivating and laced with humor."

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