Retiring again? Well, not quite

Well, I guess I’m racing toward my second retirement. Today I will teach my last class at Kent State. And while I still have final projects and papers to grade, my second career — as a teacher — is coming to an end.

It’s been a great experience. When I left BFGoodrich now nearly a decade ago, I figured my career was pretty much over. Yeah, I could find a job or start a business — but I wasn’t sure that I would ever have the opportunity to experience again something that I was really enthusiastic about.

It’s nice to be wrong. I know this sounds like bull — but I’ve enjoyed just about every minute of the last five years teaching at Kent State. I’ve had the opportunity to be associated with a great group of students — motivated to succeed, hard working and likable. I’ve been part of what by any measure is one of the top public relations programs in the country — thanks to the skills, experience and regard for students demonstrated by Bill Sledzik, Michele Ewing and Jeanette Drake. And I’ve had the chance to stay connected to the “real world” of public relations by working with a group of talented professionals in Kent State’s University Communications and Marketing organization.

I’m proud of what I have been able to do in the classroom and with Flash Communications, our student-run public relations firm. But two things top the (short) list.

Every student who worked with me at Flash Communications went on to a professional position in public relations or marketing communications immediately following graduation. That’s a credit to them — and to the overall strength of the public relations major at Kent State.

And many of my former students still keep in contact, via e-mail, phone calls and visits at Homecoming and other events. I now consider them friends — and professional associates. I never experienced that type of personal satisfaction during 30 years in corporate public relations.

So why retire?

Well, I know most don’t believe this but teaching is hard work. I’ve mentioned this previously. Many of my former business associates tell me that they would like to teach after they retire. Good luck. And God bless them. You don’t retire into full-time teaching. Trust me. And actually the amount of work and effort that I put into this doesn’t bother me. But I’ve reached the point where I want some more flexibility, particularly on the weekends. Most teachers spend at least some part of the weekends — and most nights — grading papers or preparing for classes.

Also, I have the opportunity to work for a nonpartisan public-policy organization in Washington that I really believe in, Corporate Voices for Working Families. It’s time for me to get off the sidelines and into the game — seeing if I can’t in some small way contribute by at least highlighting and advancing possible solutions offered by very expert and thoughtful people to some of the major problems facing this nation.

For instance, on average a teenager drops out of high school every 26 seconds in this country. That’s a crisis — and a national shame. And we better start taking this seriously. In fact, I believe that this and other related issues represent a much more serious threat to our nation and to our way of life than global warming, etc. But I digress.

Here’s a link to the blog I started for Corporate Voices. So I’ll be blogging there — and here. Like I said when I started this blog, I can’t let Bill Sledzik have all the fun.

So from the standpoint of teaching, I’ll adopt and paraphrase the view of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and say: “Old PR people never die. They just fade away.”

I’ll fade away from teaching — but don’t expect me to retire.

If Joan Benoit Samuelson can finish the Olympic marathon trials at age 50 in less than 2:50 — I still have a few more things that I want to accomplish. Maybe another marathon is one of them. We’ll see.

And just one more thought on this idea of retiring from teaching at Kent State. To those of you who I know from Kent who are reading this: thank you. You gave me the most rewarding experience of my career.

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10 responses to “Retiring again? Well, not quite

  1. Jennifer Kramer

    Best of luck, Rob, as you start work for a very worthy organization! Kent State and your students will miss you.

  2. Shelley Prisco

    It seems that most rewards come from the teaching end of public relations than the corporate or agency world. Were there any rewards at all in these settings?

    I’m going into the physical therapy field after my December graduation. I want to use my magazine journalism and public relations knowledge that I acquired at Kent JMC to educate audiences about physical therapy. Hopefully, I’ll find another cause along the way, too. I hope to get many rewards from this 🙂

    Good luck on your new journey. You’ll be using your skills to help make the world a better place with Corporate Voices. This world needs it…desperately!

  3. Shelley,

    Thanks for your comment — and best wishes to you.

    I had a great career in corporate public relations. It was challenging, exciting and rewarding in many ways including financial. I took pride in trying to do things “the right way.” And when even difficult situations turned out well — it was rewarding.

    But teaching, at least for me, has just been more rewarding than I even imagined. And the associations I have had with students in the classroom and on the job have made this an unforgettable experience.

  4. You are so right, Rob. This full-time teaching thing is hard work. How else to you explain it taking me over 48 hours to post this comment.

    To say we’ll miss you is an understatement. Your wisdom and experience have made PRKent a far better program, and our graduates far better prepared as professionals. I feel for the person who replaces you. Kinda like following Wooden at UCLA or Chuck Noll in the ‘Burgh. But someone will take on that task, and they will build on what you have done here.

    I’ve been drafting my post to salute your 2nd retirement and 3rd career, Rob. But it’ll have to wait until I finish grading 14 projects, 13 in-depth stories, 78 blog posts and 7 best-practices case studies. Then there’s those pesky podcasts.

    I should be ready to publish that salute before your send-off party on Friday! Good luck my friend. It’s been an honor to have you as part of this wonderful program we call PRKent.

  5. Bill,

    Thanks. The pleasure — really — has been all mine. There is nothing that I would have rather done during the past five years than be associated with PRKent. I’ll always consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity.

  6. Renee Lindemann

    Rob, congratulations! And thank you for all the help and support you gave me while at Kent. I wish I could come to town for the Ray’s celebration!

  7. So I’m a little late in commenting, but congrats on retirement! I’m glad I got to be a part of Flash while you were there. Enjoy the night at Ray’s; wish I could make it back to join you all.

  8. Beth and Renee,

    We had a great time at Ray’s last night. You will have to come next time we all get together. Getting to know both of you in class and at Flash Communications will always remain very special to me.

  9. Hi Rob! It’s been many years since I was one of your students. I just had this notion today to check in on some of my former favorite teachers and found your awesome blog! Congratulations on your new venture. I’d love to be in touch.

    Sincerely,
    Christine Schultz Grenat

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