Michaela Cosgrove has been working since she was 14, the last 33 years at Keuka College.
“I’ve stayed because there are students to teach, and teaching is what I love,” said Cosgrove, who retired at the end of the 2012-13 academic year and was granted professor emerita status by the Board of Trustees. “But I wanted to retire before the job got stale and I didn’t look forward to coming to work anymore. I wanted to go when I was still happy and happy with the way things are.
“I am extremely impressed with the new faculty coming in,” she said. “They are in tune with the students, they know their stuff, and are professionals. I like that a lot. Keuka College is a unique place to be and I know it will continue to flourish.”
The College is in that position thanks in part to Cosgrove, named Professor of the Year in 2004.
“Her students consistently praise her for her deep love of literature and language studies, and her passion for her teaching. Described as an outstanding teacher and mentor by her colleagues and students, she has made a profound and lasting impact on the College,” said Anne Weed, vice president for academic affairs.
That lasting impact has been felt across campus as Cosgrove has served in a number of roles throughout her tenure.
“In her distinguished career at Keuka, which has spanned three decades, she has served as an exceptional teacher of Spanish, director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program, assistant academic dean, dean of students, registrar, and as chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts,” said Weed.
And while Cosgrove enjoyed her administrative duties, teaching has her heart.
“I had the opportunity to teach in graduate school, jumped at the chance to do so, and I found that I loved it,” said Cosgrove. “I was able to continue teaching one course a semester while serving as dean of students and really enjoyed it. I learned a lot as an administrator, but teaching is my passion and was glad to do it full-time.”
She has taught Spanish language, literature and culture; Latin America; U.S.-Latino literature; Spanish for professional purposes; and introductory linguistics, among others.
Outside the classroom, Cosgrove must be credited for heightening student interest in international Field Periods.
“I remember fondly the intensity and pleasure of leading so many group Field Periods to Mexico,” said Cosgrove, who is pleased with the College’s global approach to education. “I am most happy about the international connection the students have now, and am hopeful that our state-based students will take the opportunity to travel and learn the languages and culture of others. It’s good to see students whose first language is not English come into the classroom and interact with the traditional students.”
And while Cosgrove may be leaving teaching behind, she will have many opportunities to speak Spanish.
“My daughter lives in Spain and we’ve been to visit every year,” Cosgrove said. “Last summer, we travelled throughout the country by car as our son-in-law and my husband biked. We saw many little towns I’d love to go back to and explore.”
She also plans several visits to see her son and daughter-in-law, both Keuka graduates, who now live in Arizona. Other plans include yoga, traveling during the semester, and looking for possible volunteer opportunities, such as conflict mediation, something she has done in the past.
“I will do some writing as well,” she said. “I like to write essays, but whether anyone will read them is something different. A long time ago, I was on staff of the Corning Leader covering such events as the Cohocton school board meetings. I might go back to that because I like the writing it involves. I really just want to see what happens.”
Editor’s Note: When it comes to commencement, the address given by the invited guest typically garners the most attention. For example, Esther Yoder’s ’60 talk at Keuka’s 105th commencement was covered on online and in the area print media. However, there were some other noteworthy moments from May 26 and we’ll take a look at some of them here.
“Everyone has a duty to repair the world,” said Sophia Veffer, who delivered the baccalaureate address. “We share our humanity and we all want to live in a peaceful world.”
Veffer, past president of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo Board of Directors and current executive board member, said the main reason she gives lectures at schools and colleges is to spread the message not to be a bystander.
Citing the Holocaust and present-day genocides as examples, Veffer said bystanders are the most dangerous group because “they enable the perpetrators to commit their crimes by being silent. They make an amoral decision to tolerate the injustices in their society. “
Veffer urged the Class of 2013 and others who attended the service to “be vocal when you witness injustice and discrimination.
“Don’t say, ‘I, alone, cannot change the world.’ One person can make a difference, for example, Rosa Parks, who did not want to give up her seat on the bus and ignited the Civil Rights Movement. Even if nobody will listen to you, it makes you a better person that you tried to repair the world. It gives you self respect because you tried to make this global world a more peaceful world to live for yourself and other people. Each one of you can make a difference in your own way. Be a caregiver and be a caring and involved citizen and repair the world. What you do matters.”
In the past, said Veffer, one’s immediate neighborhood was very narrowly defined; it included their school, church, block around their home, playground, etc. That has changed.
“You are the generation that lives in a global society, where your neighbors may live in Rwanda or Turkey,” explained Veffer. “And you live in a very diverse world. You have to adjust to different life styles, different customs, different religions, etc. Your whole world is your neighborhood and as good neighbors, you have to stay connected and care for the welfare of each human being. You have to be participating and caring global citizens because what happens in one part of the world can affect us.”
Baccalaureate also featured On Love, the class poem written and read by Erica Ruscio; The Prayer, a song performed by Amanda Burlingame and Chelsea Sherwood; an Unity, an interpretive dance performed by Ashlee Eilers, Johnathon Pugh, and Elizabeth Vinette.
Professor of the Year
President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera described Professor of Psychology Mike Rogoff as “a dedicated educator who exhibits great enthusiasm for learning and a passion for helping students to be successful. His commitment to students has been evident over the years in his innovative teaching and in the individual assistance he provides to his students.”
Students routinely describe Rogoff, who came to Keuka in 1971, as “amazing,” “well-prepared,” “fantastic,” “challenging,” “genuine,” and “a great person.”
“In four decades of student-centered teaching, he has truly exemplified Keuka’s emphasis on the individual student,” said the president. “His particular attention to the well-being of first-year students deserves commendation. Over the past decade and more, he has made significant contributions to our retention efforts through his research analyzing student study habits. This work has been of enormous benefit to the College, to his colleagues on the faculty, and most especially to students, as he compiled, interpreted, and shared with colleagues the data he collected.”
In addition to his work in the classroom, Rogoff served as chair of the Division of Basic and Applied Social Sciences for many years.
“In this role, he managed a division of independent-minded colleagues in a persistent and often admirably tireless manner,” said the president. “In untold ways, he performed the day-to-day administrative work that kept a centrally-important division running.”
Most recently, his work on the ad hoc Curriculum Task Force “testifies to his continuing commitment to enhancing students’ educational experiences at Keuka,” added Díaz-Herrera.
Retiring Faculty Members
Vice President for Academic Affairs Anne Weed recognized:
Michaela Cosgrove, professor emerita of Spanish, who will be the focus of an upcoming feature story on Keuka College Today.
A sundial reflecting Keuka’s global impact is located in front of Dahlstrom Student Center.