Saying Goodbye

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May 29, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Trinity University professors Fisher, Hill, and McGuire retiring but looking forward to a 'second life'

Ana Esparza Meredith McGuire Laura Esparza
Sociology professor Meredith McGuire (center) with first-year student Ana Esparza (left) and Ana's mother Laura Burge Esparza '89 (right). McGuire taught both mother and daughter during her years at Trinity.

Sociology professor Meredith McGuire's final semester teaching at Trinity has a direct relationship to her first semester at the University. And that relationship is a familial one - one of her first students is the mother of one of her last students.

McGuire started teaching at Trinity in the fall of 1988 and is retiring at the end of the 2013 academic year. In one of her first courses, Sociology of Religion, was a senior named Laura Burge. 

Since graduating from Trinity in 1989 Laura, now Laura Esparza, has become Project Coordinator in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, working in health promotion research. "It is very exciting for me to learn about her work, because it turns out to be relevant to some of my interests for after full retirement from teaching," said McGuire.

Fast forward about 25 years.  In one of the last courses McGuire would teach, Sociology of Health and Illness, would be a first-year student named Ana Esparza, the daughter of Laura.

Laura learned from her old Trinity roommate that McGuire would be retiring when Ana was a first-year student.  Ana, who is interested in urban studies, would later contact McGuire in order to take a course that was part of the urban studies curriculum.

Laura said she was delighted Ana had the opportunity to take a class with McGuire. Especially, Laura added, because the class she took was very meaningful to her. "It really helped shape my perspective on the role of religion in world conflicts. That course planted a lot of seeds.  What a legacy!" she said.

McGuire said she would like to hear from former students, even if they don't have children ready to come to Trinity (yet).

Two additional professors who have spent the last quarter century on campus are retiring at the end of this school year.

Judith Fisher, English professor, has been at Trinity for 26 years, and L. Brooks Hill, professor and longtime chair of speech and drama (now human communication and theatre), has taught at the University for 25 years. Here are their reflections:

Judith FisherFisher:

"Everything has changed a lot in a quarter of a century. Basically, the University and I have grown up together. My department and the whole University is much more of a national and international presence in academics. We have all become professionals, adhering to high standards of research and active in our very many professional organizations. We have come of age.

"My own work, of course, has both broadened in its scope as I have learned more about my field by reading, traveling, and teaching. But this breadth has, somewhat paradoxically, also allowed me to develop depth as a textual scholar, producing a meticulous scholarly edition whose apparatus depends upon my own knowledge of nineteenth-century publishing practices.

"I will miss the collegiality of my peers both in the department and across the University. I have served on many University committees and have found my colleagues terrifically fun and ntelligent. I have great intellectual respect for our faculty. My own department has been a place that I have looked forward to coming into work. I will also miss the community of the classroom. The quality of the students - their brains and curiosity - has made many classes simply 16 weeks of joy. I have been able to explore new texts, ideas, and modes of presentation that have really extended my own thinking. I hope to carry on this exploration in my second life.

"The second part of my life is a continuation of my first. I have ongoing academic projects already in process and have plans for several more. I am lucky that this part of my career - the reading, thinking, writing part - continues and, I hope, flourishes because I can concentrate on it more. I plan to move to Wisconsin. After 30 years of San Antonio summers, I am looking forward to 30 years of Wisconsin winters - apples, cherries, and snow combined with camping, hiking, and fishing. I will also be traveling to Europe for fun and work and gardening."

L Brooks HillHill:

"I arrived on campus in 1988 as chair of speech and drama, and during the next 21 years, we raised the department's profile locally, regionally, and nationally, making it very successful. This success was one of my greatest accomplishments at Trinity.

"I am also very proud of the extensive work I did with the Curriculum Council, the Promotion and Tenure Commission, and the Entrepreneurship Program.  While I was active in many other committees and programs, these three provided the opportunity to work with outstanding leaders around campus and to mentor younger colleagues.

"Bates Hoffer (Trinity professor emeritus of English) persuaded me to join what ultimately became the International Association for Intercultural Communication Studies. It was my primary professional organization and research outlet for 25 years. I was president for three two-year terms and held other leadership positions that enabled me to meet and work with people throughout the world. Additionally, Trinity students provided me with opportunities to work on research projects and continue work begun during 20 years at the University of Oklahoma, 1968-88.

"As with most teachers, I will miss contact with students from throughout my total of 45 years as a faculty member. I will also miss the collegial reinforcement I received during my years of work with our exceptional faculty. The Trinity faculty and students will always be my extended family, a source of both pride and motivation. My seven years or so working with engineering science professor Mahbub Uddin on the Entrepreneurship initiative has influenced my thinking forever.

"My future will involve a lot of reading, and we will spend more months each year at our condominium on the shores of Lake Eufaula, Okla., where we zealously boat and where I will become the manager of our Condo Homeowners Association. I will probably generate an autobiographical book that edits my life and scholarship within the framework of what I have accomplished, why I did what I did, and implications for the present state of my profession and beyond."

All professors will keep their Trinity connections via e-mail:, and - and they hope that students and colleagues will keep in touch.