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2011 News Releases

Seven retiring Longwood faculty members recognized at reception

March 31, 2011

2011 Longwood Faculty Retirees
Retiring Longwood faculty members Dr. Don Merkle (from left), Sandra Bollinger, Dr. Geoff Orth, Dr. John Graham and Dr. Sarah Bingham, as well as Wendell Barbour and Dr. Glenda Taylor (not pictured), were honored recently.

Seven Longwood University faculty members who are retiring at the end of the academic year were recognized in a campus reception March 29.

The retirees, and the year they started at Longwood, are Wendell Barbour (2004), dean of Greenwood Library; Dr. Sarah Bingham (1985), professor of physical education; Sandra Bollinger (1968), assistant professor of mathematics; Dr. John Graham (2005), assistant professor of computer science; Dr. Don Merkle (1975), professor of biology; Dr. Geoff Orth (1977), professor of German, director of the Cormier Honors College and associate vice president of academic affairs; and Dr. Glenda Taylor (2001), professor of recreation and leisure studies.

Barbour had previously been vice president for information resources and chief information officer at California State University at Bakersfield. He was the dean of academic support and academic librarian at Christopher Newport University (CNU). He spent 12 years at CNU in a variety of roles, including university grants coordinator, legislative liaison, and, for a decade, library director. He also has held library positions at Georgia Southern University, Indiana University South Bend, and the University of Illinois.

Bingham came to Longwood after serving in faculty/coaching positions at the College of William & Mary (1981-85), the State University of New York at Albany (1979-81), and Randolph-Macon Woman's College (1976-79). In all three previous positions, she coached the women's swimming and diving team (her coaching duties took 50 to 80 percent of her time) and was adviser to the synchronized swimming club. At Longwood, she was hired as the aquatics director, taught a variety of classes, and advised the former Catalinas synchronized swimming club. An aquatics specialist, she has served as national secretary of the National Institute of Creative Aquatics, now defunct. She is proud of the fact that at Longwood she went from instructor to full professor (after earning her Ph.D.) and, as a program coordinator, oversaw successful NCATE recognition of the Physical and Health Education Teacher Education program. Additionally, she is proud of her work in teacher education for the College of Education and Human Services, in which she mentored not only teachers in health and physical education but also practicum students in secondary education and liberal studies students in the elementary schools.

Bollinger, a 1964 Longwood graduate, has served Longwood in a number of roles. She was director of assessment and institutional research (2006-08) after having served as associate director (2002-06) and interim director (2003-04) of that office; registrar (1980-94); and tenured assistant professor of mathematics (1968-79, 1994-98 and 2008-11).

Graham is one of two executive editors of Incite, the journal of undergraduate scholarship in the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences; he built the high-performance computer lab and used by the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science; and he coaches the men's and women's rugby teams. He taught previously at Coastal Carolina University and the University of Delaware and before that worked as a computer engineer in private industry, including Hughes Aircraft, and at NASA Langley Research Center in Newport News. Graham Hall is named for his grandfather, Samuel L. Graham III, Longwood's business manager from 1929 to 1955. His aunt, Sarah Graham, of Laurel, Miss., is a 1952 Longwood graduate, and his daughter, Dr. Sarah Graham Porter, is assistant professor of chemistry at Longwood.

Merkle is the only Longwood faculty member to twice (1991 and 2004) receive the Maude Glenn Raiford Award for Outstanding Teaching, and he received the Student Faculty Award for Outstanding Service to Students in 1997. He directed the Longwood Greenhouse and also pre--professional medical programs for 30 years, was adviser to Beta Beta Beta, the national biology honor society, for 33 years, and was the departmental webmaster from the inception of the Internet at Longwood until 2005.

He has received grants from numerous organizations, including the National Science Foundation and Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society of North America, in support of his research in the population genetics of amphibians and reptiles. He has served on the board of directors of the Virginia Herpetological Society and as editor of its newsletter, Catesbeiana. His lifetime research into the history of natural history art resulted in the 2003 LCVA exhibition "Birds of Prey: Five Centuries of Illustration." Some of the original etchings and engravings from that exhibition are on display on the ground floor of Chichester Science Center.

Studies that Merkle has conducted at Longwood include the population genetics of Virginia populations of the Cottonmouth Water Moccasin Agkistrodon piscivorus and a longterm study of the salamander Ambystoma opacum, and he is currently working on experimental hybridization in the genus Hemerocallis. A 1981 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch featured his research into the Cottonmouth Water Moccasin. "Dr. Merkle has always had an interest in reptiles and amphibians," the story said. "He said that when he was 7 years old, he was catching water snakes and selling them to students at his school in Dayton, Ohio for $2 each. Another student saw that it was a good thing and started selling them for less. A price war was started, and before it was over, Dr. Merkle was selling his harmless water snakes for 25 cents. Every kid in the school had a snake if he wanted one."

Orth, the chief faculty marshal, has directed the Cormier Honors College since 2001. He has been president, treasurer and secretary of the Longwood chapter of the American Association of University Professors; webmaster and a member of the board of the Virginia Collegiate Honors Council; and a board member of the Virginia chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German.

Taylor, a native of Wellington, New Zealand, who has lived since 1983 in the United States (she is a U.S. citizen), taught previously at the Eastern Institute of Technology in New Zealand (1999-2001) and Grand Valley State University in Michigan (1987-98). During her 21-year basketball career, which began in high school and ended in 1977, she played for New Zealand's national team from 1962 to 1965, and after retiring from international play, she played on the national level. While raising four children, earning three degrees and playing basketball, she helped her now-deceased husband run a residential/commercial electric and heating business from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. A lifelong learner, she completed an M.B.A. in April 2010.