By Alex Perez / Delta Staff Writer
Anyone who wants to become a teacher or professor has a reason and a purpose to do so. Some do it to make a difference in the lives of students.
Others do it for the love of the subject, and then there’s Susan Dittmer. A person who has dedicated three and a half decades of her life at Missouri Valley College to bring the best out every student in any way, shape or form Valley has numerous faculty members that have served at the college for more than 10 years, but for Dittmer, the year 2019, is the year she says it’s time to call it quits.
“My analogy is like a mother with empty nest syndrome, wondering what is going to be my next chapter and if this something I want to close,” Dittmer said.”And so I get that empty nest syndrome kinda feeling inside of me. I am however excited, I really am and hope to spend more time with my family.”
Dittmer teaches speech communication and has seen dramatic change of culture, starting with the demographics.
“Out of a group 25 students that I had for a public speaking class, I had five different countries representing other than the United States,” Dittmer said. “That was a shocking, interesting and a wonderful experience that I got to see.”
Missouri Valley is known for its international culture, having 47 countries represented by the student body. Having different cultures in the same classroom at once can be a little challenging to some teachers, but for Dittmer it was just a experience she just seemed well prepared for.
“For me, I have always studied intercultural communication. I’ve looked at the differences in the communication styles even though I was never conftly directed with it,” Dittmer said.”I did some researched to see how I can make a public speaking class with all these nations to be comfortable and come together.”
According to the CreditDonkey.com, 75 percent of the people struggle with speaking in a public speaking class, and Dittmer’s goal, was to make sure everyone had some type of visual by added a language barrier.
“I felt like all the students were able to reach the goal and to understand what I was understanding,” Dittmer said. “And they saw it. They were able to understand once we put some of the written words behind it so they can hear on how we were speaking. It was a great lesson and great tool for all of us.”
Dittmer has taught 12 other courses of Communications, such as Intercultural, Nonverbal, Interpersonal Communication, Presentational Speaking, Argumentation & Debate, and Oral Interpretation.
In 2010, she was honored with John McCallum Outstanding teaching Award & through the MVC Student Government Association as one of the most influential professors on campus.
For 15 years, she was also a member of the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri.
Dittmer’s connection with MissourI Valley College goes back to 70s, when she first attended college. She attended Valley from 1971-1975.
As a student, Dittmer was highly involved with school activities. She was a member of the cheer team for a year, including all four years in the dram club, alpha SI & Delta Zeta sorority.
Dittmer says she remembers Missouri Valley darkest day, as she recalls the day the colleges chapel bursting into flames.
“I remember that day like it was yesterday, it was winter February 28, 1973, I was in the third floor in mac and I can remember seeing flickering lights. I got up and the first thing I saw was the around shattered glass on fire. I went out to the center of the grass area and just watch it burn. Everyone saw it burn, students, faculties, and even people throughout the town. Everyone stayed up all night to watch it burn. I don’t even think everyone went to sleep that night. It was just a sad moment for everyone.”
William Fuller, Associate Professor of Business, also attended Valley in the 1970s and considers Dittmer a friend and colleague.
“We hang out a lot together there was a group of us that were in theatre and Susan was always very involved in that been very goal oriented,” William Fuller said.” I mean she knew where she wanted to go and how she was going to get there, and at the same time she was very sensitive to the people around her. She was a very compassionate person. Always caring about other people. So it was a wonderful mix determination, discipline and compassion and when we reconnect as professors here, I can see that she has carried that throughout her whole life.”
Dittmer returned to Valley in 1984 as an adjunct and was promoted to full-time in 1989. Since then, she has served as the Chair of Communications, Humanities and Human Services Division in the spring of 2014-2015. Chair of Communications from 2009-2013 and Chair of Arts and Humanities from 2007-2009.
Retirement is not an easy decision to make, at least for Dittmer it is not. But she hopes to use every moment of her retirement life to catch up on her family life
I have two kids, one who lives in Mexico City and another who lives in Alaska,” Dittmer said.”and they both have kids. So I want to spend more time with my grandkids and be apart of their lives as much as possible.
Dedicating her time and years at Missouri Valley College will bring sadness throughout the staff including the President of the College itself.
“I love Susan, I love her and I want her to know that,” Valley’s President Dr. Bonnie Humphrey said. “Susan will do anything she possibly can to help Missouri Valley College and its student. She’s one of the main reasons why we have a debate now. We have gone along very well over the years because education is in her heart and soul. She loves kids, she loves helping people, and she loves Missouri Valley College”
“Anytime you have a quality person or instructor, which indeed is Susan Dittmer leave, it’s a lost you don’t want to see that,” Fuller said.”If i can talk her out of it, I would but I’m not going to do that. She made her mind up and she’s going to be hard to replace and i wish her nothing but the best.”
One thing that Dittmer says she will miss the most from Missouri Valley College is the students, and students and faculties members will miss her as well.