By Amanda Harrison ’12
This time, Neil Siebenhar means it.
After taking an early retirement package from The Timken Company some 10 years ago, Siebenhar joined the Keuka College faculty.
Now the associate professor of management and chair of the Division of Business and Management is retiring again, and this time he won’t return to the corporate world or academia.
“It’s one thing when you take early retirement and work some more,” said Siebenhar, “but it’s another when you say ‘I’m done.’”
Siebenhar and his wife will head south to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
“We have three children—all in North Carolina—and eight grandchildren,” said Siebenhar, adding that No. 8 arrived less than a week ago. “We just don’t see enough of them. We agreed that I’d work 5 to 10 years and I will have worked nine.”
The Siebenhars bought a house in St. James Plantation, “a huge planned community that offers a very active lifestyle. It’s got golf courses, pools, health clubs, and restaurants. You see people out walking, hiking, and biking. Unlike some ‘quiet’ areas, people are outside and active, and that’s what we wanted.”
But best of all, their children are only 3 to 4 hours away in Charlotte and Pinehurst.
During his 30-year tenure with Timken, a leading global manufacturer of highly engineered bearings, alloy steels, and related components and assemblies, Siebenhar lived in France, Brazil and England for a total of eight years and that experience helped him to put down his teaching roots at Keuka College.
“People with the right business experience can be very good instructors,” said Siebenhar. “I looked at Elmira College and Ithaca College, but Keuka was the obvious choice because it had an international focus and I also like the experiential component. It was a much better fit for me and my background.”
Siebenhar said he was fortunate to have strong teaching mentors at Keuka, “especially [Professor of Management] Ann Tuttle and [Vice President for the Center for Professional Studies and International Programs Dr.] Gary Smith.
In addition to his teaching duties and administrative responsibilities as division chair, Siebenhar served as adviser of the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team, which garnered a good deal of regional and national attention for the College through its success in regional and national competitions.
“Getting to know the students outside of the classroom has been great and I will really miss that,” he said. “We’ve taken 15 or 16 trips to [regional and national] competitions. I never had a problem. They’ve had fun and worked hard—it’s just a great group of kids.”
Although he will live in North Carolina, Siebenhar plans to keep tabs on Keuka College—especially the “international expansion. I really believe, and I’ve told President Díaz-Herrera and everybody who will listen, that the days of experiential learning being our core advantage are gone. While it’s still important to have that component, you need another differentiator and I believe that is our international relationships.
“I envision Keuka as the small college with the big international footprint,” he added. “That’s what makes us different from other small, liberal arts colleges.”
Given his strong business acumen and teaching experience, could Siebenhar be tempted to come out of retirement, even on an occasional basis?
“Maybe there is something I can do… but it’s a question of whether it fits my schedule or whether or not my wife agrees,” quips Siebenhar. “She wants our children and grandchildren to have more of our time.”