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Principia College is blessed with many wonderful faculty and staff that make the campus run smoothly. A few of these employees are retiring at the end of this quarter, including the library archivist and chair of the Cultural Properties Committee, Jane Pfeifer; Registrar Mary Collins; Sara Rockabrand of the Music department; and Student Activities Director Yvonne Quinlan-Pierce.
Student Activities Director Yvonne Quinlan-Pierce came to Principia in 1983 as a non-traditional student at the same time as her son. She left in 1996 with her husband, Ken, to run their own restaurant in California. She returned in 2004 and has since had a variety of jobs, including working for Dining Services and as a Resident Counselor and the Assistant Dean of Students.
Quinlan-Pierce said, “I’m retiring from Prin, not retiring from life.” She and Ken are going to move closer to family in Portland, Oregon. She said, “I have missed being close to family.” She quickly added that the thing she will miss most from Principia is working with the students. She said the primary reason for her retirement is to really have time to study and practice Christian Science. Quinlan-Pierce said, “I’ll discover new avenues of expression.”
Jane Pfeifer, the Institutional Archivist for both the St. Louis and Elsah campuses, does not plan to move away at the end of this quarter. For many years, she has been the guardian of the permanent records that pertain to the history of Principia. She works in the Marshall Brooks Library and, as a member of the Cultural Properties Committee, Pfeifer is a wealth of knowledge about the campus art, literature, and history. In the two years following her retirement from Principia, she plans to devote her thought and time to putting together the Maybeck Correspondents. Pfeifer says that this project will involve a lot of looking at copies and paperwork, so she will be able to go on the weekends to see her husband who works at Indiana University – Purdue University of Indianapolis.
Sara Rockabrand has been the primary voice teacher at Prin for 35 years, and has served as the Director of the College Choir intermittently for the past ten years. The Rockabrands’ historic Elsah house is on the market, and they plan to move to the Santa Barbara area in California, where two of their three children live.
Rockabrand is enthusiastic about the new Choir Director, Joe Van Riper. She said, “I am sure that he will bring lots of exciting new ideas for the choir program. I have known him for many years and am thrilled that he is returning to Principia to teach. Joe will be doing some voice teaching as well.” She said that the Music Department is currently exploring several options that would bring experienced vocal artists on campus to teach two or three days a week. Rockabrand said, “I will truly miss working with the voice students here, but I know that quality voice instruction and performance preparation will always be an important part of music at Principia.”
Registrar Mary Collins has loved working at Principia for the past ten and a half years. Collins said that she and her husband will continue to live in Godfrey, Illinois. She has a son, a son-in-law, and a nephew who are all in the military. She now wants to volunteer at the VA hospital to help care for “soldiers who need that Christly touch that Christian Science provides.” Collins is also excited to spend time with her six children and eight grandchildren.
She said that the employees of the Registrar’s office have “off-the-wall humor,” which keeps the detail-oriented job lighthearted. She remarked, “The most important things to remember are to maintain your joy, share your love, and don’t take stuff personally.” Collins agreed with Quinlan-Pierce in saying that she will miss working with students the most.
As a parting message to the campus, Pfeifer said, “Follow your passion. If you love what you’re doing, it’ll be happy times. It may be frustrating in the middle, but it will be a joy as a whole.” Quinlan-Pierce said, “I used to worry that I didn’t have a career, but I can see that I’ve made valuable contributions … Don’t be afraid to follow a direction that feels intuitively right to you even thought it may not be the career path. Love employs us.”
Rockabrand advised, “All I can say is that you should always treasure your Principia experience … I’m sure that I always will. The qualities that are encouraged and supported here – honesty, commitment, industry, thoughtful interaction with others, and many more – are greatly needed in the world, and when you are true to the highest sense of yourself in expressing these qualities, you will be blessed and bless many others.”