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Summer 2009
Special Edition Vol. 1 of 5

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Professors retire after more than 100 collective years of service

At the end of the 2008-2009 academic year, the School of the Arts, the School of Health and Natural Sciences, and the School of the Humanities each said farewell to educators who have been a part of the lives of Messiah College students for decades. Here are the citations read in their honor at the Employee Appreciation Ceremony in May.

Reta Finger, assistant professor of New TestamentLareta Finger (14 years)

Assistant Professor of New Testament

Reta Finger is retiring from the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies as an assistant professor of New Testament. During her years at Messiah, she regularly taught courses on a wide variety of books in the New Testament, with special emphasis on women in the scripture. Finger has published widely, both in traditional scholarly venues and in those designed primarily for the local church. In 2007 she published Of Widows and Meals: Communal Meals in the Book of Acts as well as a second edition of Roman House Churches for Today (both with Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company). She has been committed to making the Bible relevant to the life of the local church, a commitment made evident in her regular column in Mennonite Weekly Review  focused on the weekly lectionary.

Ted Prescott, professor of visual artsTheodore Prescott (29 years)

Professor of Visual Arts

When Ted Prescott came to Messiah in 1980, there was no Department of Visual Arts, no major in the visual arts, and no real space in which to have an art program. Prescott began and developed the visual art program from within the Department of Language, Literature, and Fine Arts, and for a year taught in the basement of Kline Hall of Science. While furthering his own work as a sculptor, author, and speaker, he was also developing and giving leadership to the visual arts at Messiah. The program grew into new spaces in Climenhaga and Frey, and became the Department of Visual and Theatrical Arts, with Prescott serving as department chair. His role has been pivotal in developing the outstanding visual arts program at Messiah, as his leadership continued over two decades. Since 2001, he has served as a distinguished professor, focusing on his teaching and making art.

Martha Solomon, assistant professor of nursingMartha Solomon (25 years)

Assistant Professor of Nursing


Martha Solomon is retiring from the Department of Nursing as an assistant professor of nursing. She was among one of the group of faculty who originated Messiah’s four-year Bachelor of  Science Nursing program.Many nursing students say they have valued Solomon for the excellent instruction in pediatric nursing that they received from her.

Norm Shank, professor of chemistryNorm Shank (34 years)

Professor of Chemistry


Norm Shank, professor of chemistry, is retiring this year after 34 years of service to Messiah College students. In the spring of 1975, he finished a five-year teaching contract at the University of Zambia in Central Africa. He moved with his wife and two small daughters back to the U.S. He had no job and no prospects, and the unemployment rate in the U. S. was at the highest level it had been in his lifetime. Within two weeks, Shank received a phone call from Messiah's dean, saying there was an opening at the College for a physical chemist. Since then Norm has taught courses primarily in general chemistry, physical chemistry, and physical science. 

John Stanley, professor of New TestamentJohn Stanley (14 years)

Professor of New Testament

John Stanley is retiring from the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies as a professor of New Testament. Over the course of his career at Messiah, Stanley has taught courses on parallels between contemporary music and biblical wisdom literature, Book of Revelation, women in the Bible, and ministry. He has also served the College in a number of significant administrative roles, especially those related to first-year students. His work on the First Year Experience Committee led ultimately to his being named as the first Core Course director where he has been responsible for the first-year students’ deepening understanding of their calling as Christians.


When not reading, writing, and teaching, Stanley can usually be found trout fishing. He also has developed a modest campus reputation as a gourmand through his regular reviews of local restaurants in the weekly campus newsletter, the Intercom. His students and colleagues alike have appreciated his wit and wisdom in all areas of campus life.

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