Four Longtime Science Faculty Celebrated at Retirement Reception

Science Faculty Retirement ReceptionCake was served, drinks were poured and the works of four Saint Mary’s faculty were joyfully recognized during the School of Science Retirement Reception on Friday evening, May 4. The four retirees are (shown at left) Professors Brother Raphael Patton, Philip Leitner, Lawrence Cory and Lidia Luquet. Combined, these faculty members have devoted 180 years of service to the College, each offering their unique talents and studies to the Saint Mary’s community.

Lidia Luquet, a professor in the Environmental Science and Studies Program and Mathematics and Computer Science, joined the Saint Mary’s Community in 1984. She earned her doctoral degree from Cornell University and since then has taught all over the world. She says she learned the “art of teaching” from her travels and her experiences at Saint Mary’s. In addition to her dedication to teaching, Luquet also served on numerous elected committees during her tenure at Saint Mary’s, always striving to improve the College and the learning experience of the students. In her parting words, she reiterated her commitment to students and to teachers and emphasized the need for creativity and freedom in teaching. Luquet was given a membership to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where she can continue to appreciate life science in her retirement.  

Brother Raphael Patton, who has been a Christian Brother for 50 years, graduated from Saint Mary’s in 1963 with a double major in mathematics and physics. He taught in the Mathematics Department for 31 years, taught astronomy and was a longtime tutor in the Integral Program. Over the years he has held an inspiring list of positions at the College, including serving as chair of the Mathematics Department. He directed the Integral Program and has served on the board of trustees. Brother Raphael also was a resident director and is considered the unofficial historian of the College. Deeply devoted to student well-being and to education, he once memorably hit his head while giving a tour of the catacombs to a group of freshmen and continued the tour with blood running down his face. Brother Raphael left the faculty with this advice: “Don’t complain,” noting that his old office is now the Galileo men’s bathroom.

Philip Leitner graduated from Saint Mary's in 1957 and later from UCLA, where he received his master's and doctoral degree in biology. Leitner studied bats for 25 years, delving into underground caverns in the Sierra Nevada, Lake Shasta, Redding and various deserts. When he returned to Saint Mary’s to teach in 1962, he established a flight cage for bats in the top floor of  Galileo Hall. More recently, he has been studying squirrels. So the faculty honored him with a pair of binoculars that would allow him to study these creatures at any time of the night. Leitner said he was grateful to Saint Mary’s for giving him a career and a great time where he had a “chance to do so many different things.”

Lawrence Cory actually taught Philip Leitner, who remembers waiting outside Cory’s classroom sweating over the professor’s infamous quizzes. Cory graduated from Saint Mary’s College in 1939 and has been a professor in the Biology Department since 1952, teaching genetics and biology to generations of Saint Mary’s Students. In the study of amphibians, he has led hundreds of students on many explorations of the campus environment. Professor Carla Bossard described Cory as a “legend in his own time.” Cory commented on the changes he has seen during his time at Saint Mary’s, particularly the addition of women to the campus. But, as an appreciator of the philosophy of process, Cory regards an entity— be it an individual or a campus — as an active process. He has enjoyed watching Saint Mary’s transform.

The reception invited faculty and students to reflect on the careers of these four accomplished individuals, who have given students and the College immeasurable gifts. Brother Raphael enjoyed the reception, observing, “You only retire once,” and agreed with Cory that he would miss the students the most. Cory said he will miss ”the opportunity to converse and learn from the students,” since he “learns from them as much as they learn from me.” The evening ended with a reverent toast to all the retirees and lively conversation among faculty and students.

By Liset Puentes '15

Photo by Gabrielle Diaz '11