After 40 Years, EHS Bids Farewell to Retiring Colleague

James M. Loy, Miami University

Take a look outside her door right now, and you’ll immediately notice a fond tribute to one of the most recognizable faces in Miami’s College of Education, Health and Society (EHS).Kathy's office door

“There is a retirement countdown calendar on my door!” says Kathy Salmon. “Yesterday was 18 and today is 17. And someone from EHS has decorated each sheet. So I flip it over each day and it is either pictures or quotes, but each person has decorated a sheet. I love it!”

Salmon, a certification and licensure specialist, is approaching the end of long and fulfilling career that’s spanned over forty years, all of which have been spent working directly with the students and faculty who have traversed the same halls for generations.

“I have always been in McGuffey Hall,” she says. “Always. I wouldn’t have stayed here this many years if I wasn’t happy and didn’t enjoy what I did.”

Throughout her career, Salmon has helped countless students resolve issues around degree requirements, course hours, and GPAs. And because EHS attracts such a large number of education majors, she’s also responsible for helping seniors secure the teaching licensure they’ll need to start fulfilling careers of their own.

When she first began this role, a teaching license cost only two dollars. But today that price has risen to 160 dollars. And that’s just the start of the dramatic changes Salmon has witnessed during her long tenure here.

Back then, the entire EHS administrative staff consisted of one dean, one associate dean, and one assistant dean. That was it. “So we have really come a long way,” Salmon adds. But the primary change has been the influx of new technology.

“We’ve always had about the same number of students, but we used to check every graduation requirement for every student by hand,” she says. “That was really time consuming. But then you also worked one-on-one with students and faculty because you didn’t have all the technology or email. And I do really miss that face-to-face part. Now you pass people in the hall and you might not even know if it’s somebody you email all the time.”

The inundation of vast technological transformations, of course, have been a sea change that most organizations have had to navigate, and Miami is no different. So a lot certainly has changed over the years. But at EHS, at least, it is good know that the most important things still remain the same.

Kathy Salmon“Overall, we were still here for the same purpose then, just as we are now,” Salmon says. “We’re here to help the students. Help them complete their forms, get that degree, find jobs, and get them started on their life.”

And for Salmon, this has been the most rewarding aspect of all.

“I have a file that I started years and years ago,” she says. “And it’s got thank-you notes that were mailed and emailed to me from students who appreciated how much I helped them. That is so rewarding. If you have a tough day and you pull out some of those notes, it’s shows you that people really do care.”

Here, people do care - friends and co-workers, and current and former students alike. And Salmon says she’ll miss them all. And they, in turn, will miss her. For so long, she’s helped so many Miami students transition into a new phase of life.

But now it’s her turn.

“I have a whole bucket list of things I’m going to do,” Salmon says. “But my top priorities are family and friends, because I have two daughters and two grandsons. And I already have a trip to New England planned. But I have mixed emotions about retirement. I am excited, but I have worked here for over 40 years and I have really enjoyed it. I have. So I don’t know that it’s really hit me yet.”