K Thanks Retiring Faculty, Staff

Kalamazoo College bids farewell to the following faculty and staff members who have dedicated decades of service to the institution as they are retiring. As they embark on their well-deserved retirements, the College thanks them for their significant contributions, the legacies they leave behind, and the indelible marks they have made on students and colleagues alike.

Kim Aldrich ’80, Alumni Engagement

Aldrich joined Kalamazoo College in 1980, two days after her graduation from K. An economics major, Aldrich’s first role was as a gift and data systems processor in the Advancement division before becoming the assistant director of Management Information Systems (a previous iteration of Information Services). She then served for several years as the Director of Operations and Records in Advancement before taking on the role for which she is best known—the Director of Alumni Engagement—in 2006.

Since then, Aldrich has served as a bridge between the institution and its alumni, helping to build lasting relationships, create meaningful experiences, and ensure that alumni always feel like an integral part of the K community. Aldrich was named the College’s Lux Esto Award of Excellence recipient in 2020 and was presented with the Honorary Hornet Award by the Kalamazoo College Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2024. At 44 years of service, she is the longest tenured employee among those currently working at K today.

Portrait of Kim Aldrich
Director of Alumni Engagement Kim Aldrich ’80

Leslie Burke, Collection Services Librarian

Burke joined the Kalamazoo College Library in 2012, having previously worked for EBSCO Information Services and various libraries in Grand Rapids. 

She started a master’s degree in library science at Western Michigan University, and when Western dropped the program, she finished the degree at the University of Michigan.

Working as collection services librarian has enabled Burke to serve the K community in various ways, all in pursuit of ensuring that K has the best and most accessible collection of materials possible. She has enjoyed advising students and serving on various committees at K. Some of her favorite memories are the epic Information Services summer and holiday parties. Her personal interests include genealogy, reading, traveling and her Bernese mountain dog, Woodford, shared with her husband, Clyde. She plans to combine genealogy, traveling and reading to research her ancestors.

Portrait of Leslie Burke
Collection Services Librarian Leslie Burke

Teresa Denton, Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement

Denton is the founding associate director of the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement (CCE). She served in her role for 23 years, committing herself to ensuring that the CCE’s community partnerships are authentic, reciprocal and sustainable. Her primary responsibility has been to connect K students, faculty and staff with the greater Kalamazoo community so they may learn from and work alongside community members to address systemic and historical issues of injustice.

Denton holds a Master of Social Work and was especially involved with Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS). As the mother of three Woodward students, she immersed herself in the school community in many ways, but primarily as the liaison between Woodward and K. She had been doing such work for three years before her role was formalized in 2001 when K hired her to develop and sustain community partnerships through the Institute for Service-Learning, now known as the CCE. 

Portrait of Teresa Denton
Teresa Denton, founding associate director of the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement.

Thomas G. Evans, Director of Bands and Professor of Music

Evans joined the faculty of Kalamazoo College in 1995. He has conducted and overseen all aspects of the band program—symphonic band, jazz band and pep band—and taught courses in music history, music education, jazz, trombone and euphonium.

He has been the principal conductor of the Kalamazoo Concert Band since 2002. His jazz bands have toured internationally to Russia, Estonia, Finland and Tunisia, and nationally to Chicago, Washington, D.C., Cincinnati and Detroit. In 2004 and 2013, he took a seven-piece jazz combo from Kalamazoo College to Numazu, Japan. 

Evans holds a Doctorate of Music Arts in trombone performance from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in music education and trombone performance from Boston University, and a bachelor’s degree in music education from the State University of New York at Fredonia.

In 2020, Evans received the Community Medal of Arts award sponsored by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, recognizing an individual for their significant creative contributions and leadership in the arts. This lifetime achievement award also highlights an artist who has received acclaim on a local or national level and who has made a tremendous impact on our community through art.

Thomas Evans holding a trombone and talking with a student
Director of Bands and Professor of Music Thomas Evans

Ann M. Fraser, Professor of Biology

Fraser came to K as an assistant professor of biology in 2003. She served as the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Assistant Professor of Biology from 2007–2010, and has been a professor of biology since 2018. 

She received her Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University and her Bachelor of Science with honors in biology from Acadia University in Canada. Before her studies in biology, she earned a diploma in land surveying from the Nova Scotia Land Survey Institute and spent several years working as a hydrographic surveyor for the Canadian government.

Fraser’s research has centered around biodiversity and behavior of insects. She has used behavioral, physiological and ecological approaches to probe how interactions between certain insect species arise and are maintained, and the consequences of these interactions for generating biodiversity. In 2008, her lab turned its attention to pollinators and their conservation. She has worked with students to document native bee diversity in Southwest Michigan, examine interactions between bees and native plants, launch the citizen science project Southwest Michigan Bee Watch and collaborate on a project examining pollinator health and apple grower livelihoods in the Western Himalayas.

Portrait of retiring Professor Ann Fraser
Professor of Biology Ann Fraser

Alison Geist, Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement

Alison Geist, who joined K in 1997, is a founding director of the CCE and has served as co-director of the Community and Global Health (CGHL) concentration. Geist taught service-learning public health courses alongside community organizations beginning in 1999 and established the CGHL concentration with Diane Kiino in 2010–11. In 2013, Geist received the Linda Vail Spirit of Health Equity Award from Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services for her work with the CCE. During her tenure, the CCE has has grown into a key element of experiential learning and the K Plan, fostering partnerships and engaging the community with students and faculty through community-based courses, student-led programming and community-based internships.

Geist holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and is interested in the intersections between sustainability, public health, gender and social justice, with a particular interest in food systems. She lived in Morocco from 1983–89, where she conducted village-based research in the High Atlas Mountains and pre-Sahara on maternal issues and health, range fuels, cookstoves, and women’s and girls’ roles in livestock production. She was also the first director of the Near East Foundation (NEF). 

Previously, Geist coordinated several National Institute of Mental Health-funded projects at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research in the Center for Research on the Utilization of Scientific Knowledge. Geist also worked at the Health Institute at Tufts–New England Medical Center as coordinator of a multidisciplinary, five-university qualitative study of ethnicity and well-being. 

Portrait of Alison Geist
Alison Geist, founding director of the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement

Thomas Massura, Physics

Massura, an instrument technician in both the physics department and chemistry and biochemistry department at K, was the 2022 recipient of the Lux Esto Award of Excellence. The honor recognizes an employee who has served the institution for at least 26 years and has a record of stewardship and innovation while exemplifying the College’s spirit through leadership, selfless dedication and goodwill.

Massura started at the College in 1987. More recently he has maintained more than 50 machines used exclusively in K’s science division while managing general science instrumentation and setting up physics labs.

Retiring Instrument Technician Tom Massura receives the 2022 Lux Esto Award of Excellence from President Jorge G. Gonzalez
Instrument Technician Tom Massura receives the Lux Esto Award of Excellence from President Jorge G. Gonzalez in 2022.

Bruce Mills, Professor of English

Mills, a K faculty member since 1992, was the 2024 recipient of the Lux Esto Award of Excellence, honoring a College employee who has served the institution for at least 26 years with a record of stewardship, innovation, leadership, selfless dedication and goodwill.

He has taught first-year, service-learning seminars on autism and disability as well as classes on short fiction, autobiography, African-American literature, American literature from 1500–1790 and 1790–1865, and the life and legacy of James Baldwin. He also has led the digital humanities portion of the Humanities Integrated Locational Learning (HILL) project, a Mellon Foundation-funded effort combining classroom and in-person experiences in cities such as New Orleans, San Diego and St. Louis that seeks solutions to societal problems while promoting the critical role of the humanities in social justice work. Along with K alumna Donna Odom ’67, and through the support of a GLCA grant, he also oversaw the Engaging the Wisdom Oral History Project, a local racial healing initiative and digital humanities project featuring Kalamazoo residents involved in and/or influenced by the civil rights movement.

Mills has published three books in his area of 19th-century American literature: Cultural Reformations: Lydia Maria Child and the Literature of Reform; Poe, Fuller, and the Mesmeric Arts: Transition States in the American Renaissance; and an edition of Child’s Letters from New-York, originally published in 1843. In addition, he has written and edited books of creative non-fiction, including An Archaeology of Yearning: A Memoir and Siblings and Autism: Stories Spanning Generations and Cultures, co-edited with Debra Cumberland.

Portrait of retiring professor Bruce Mills
Professor of English Bruce Mills

Timothy E. Moffit, Associate Professor of Economics and Business

Moffit joined the faculty at Kalamazoo College in 1989. He received his undergraduate degree in economics from Kalamazoo College, his Master of Business Administration from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College and his Doctor of Business Administration in finance from Nova Southeastern University. 

Moffit’s research interests include valuation theory, mergers and acquisitions, and the intersection of faith and finance. He has published journal articles, case studies and books in valuation theory and practice.

Over the past 20 years, he has owned 10 different small businesses. He currently owns three local businesses with his son—Kalamazoo Kettle Corn, Heilman’s Nuts & Confections, and a medical-supply company. Moffit is a board member of Delta Dental Corporation and Renaissance Health Services Corporation.

Retiring Professor Timothy Moffitt teaches a class from a blackboard
Associate Professor of Economics and Business Tim Moffit

Deia Sportel, English

Sportel began her career at K in September 2008 with Facilities Management. In 2010, she moved to a newly created position as office coordinator with Campus Safety and Religious Life. During her time with Campus Safety, Sportel initiated the formation of the Campus Safety Committee. In September 2011, she began working as the office Coordinator at Humphrey House, where she has remained. Sportel supports the English, classics, religion, philosophy and critical ethnic studies (CES) departments, and the women, gender and sexuality (WGS) program.

In 2018, Sportel became a certified trainer for Green Dot, a national prevention program that significantly reduces the likelihood of dating and domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault. During her time at K, she has also served on the Benefits Review Group, Community Council, and served as the administrator for the Religion Journal Review from 2017–2020. She has a Bachelor of Science in business management from Cornerstone University.

Portrait of Deia Sportel
English and Humanities Office Coordinator Deia Sportel

Jan Tobochnik, Dow Distinguished Professor in the Natural Sciences in the Department of Physics

Tobochnik has taught physics and computer science at K since 1985. He has served as Dow Distinguished Professor of Natural Sciences since 2004, as physics chair from 2022–2023 and 1996–2007, as Posse mentor from 2015–2019, as acting provost in winter 2014 and as interim provost from 2007–2008.

Tobochnik earned a Bachelor of Arts in physics from Amherst College in 1975 and a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University in 1980. His research has involved using computer simulations to understand systems as wide ranging as lattice models of earthquakes, structural glass transitions, granular matter, transport through random media, percolation, patent citation networks, melting in three dimensions, neural system simulations and econophysics.

Tobochnik was editor of the American Journal of Physics from 2001–2011, and he continues to co-edit a column in that journal. He has been especially interested in teaching students how to write and use computer simulations to do physics and co-authored several textbooks. He also taught introductory physics at the top engineering university in Taiwan in fall 2018.

Tobochnik said he enjoyed working with many wonderful faculty, staff and students during his 39 years at the College. He will be moving to Rhode Island to be near his older son’s family, and he will have a visiting scientist appointment at Brown University.

Retiring professor Jan Tobochnik
Jan Tobochnik, Dow Distinguished Professor in the Natural Sciences in the Department of Physics

And Finally…

The College congratulates David Saxman, architectural trades coordinator in Facilities Management, and Stephen TenBrink, officer in Campus Safety, who retired earlier this year after more than nine and 11 years with K, respectively.