Institution of Alan
Professor Alan Rogers retires after over three decades at Westminster
by Sara McCaskey (’14)
Alan Rogers is something of a Westminster institution. Ask faculty, staff, or students about Alan, and they launch into stories about how much they love working with him or how his class was one of their favorites. After 37 years at Westminster, Alan will retire after the 2017 Spring Semester. Alan began working at Westminster in 1979, when tuition was $80 per credit hour and there was only one copy machine on campus.
Computers and air conditioning were nonexistent, and the only refrigerator sat on a rickety old chair in the women’s bathroom in Foster Hall.
“Westminster was a bit different back then,” Alan jokes.
As Westminster has changed, so has Alan’s teaching style. In fact, Alan’s classes are never quite the same. He constantly experiments with the best way to teach a subject and doesn’t always stick to the same class plan. Instead, he bases his lessons off the interests of his students.
“If a student asks a question, we follow that,” he explains.
That may be one of the reasons his classes are so popular: they’re fun. He uses off-the-wall mnemonic devices, accounting cheers, and other wacky teaching tactics to get students interested in accounting and keep them engaged in class. “I’m kind of crazy that way,” he says.
Alan sets the tone for his classes on the very first day. One of his favorite things to do is walk into the first class dressed in a lab coat, write “Organic Chemistry 450” on the board, and watch the looks of panic on his students’ faces.
“When I tell them they’re actually in accounting, they all look relieved,” he laughs. “Now it doesn’t sound so bad.”
Alan is infamous for his unorthodox teaching style and ability to get students excited about what he admits to be a “boring” subject. Interestingly, he never thought he’d spend his career as a teacher.
Before working at Westminster, Alan was a public accountant. One day, he saw a newsletter ad for a part-time position teaching accounting at Westminster and, on a whim, decided to apply.
During his interview, he accidentally called the college “Westminister,” adding the extra “i,” which was a dead giveaway that he didn’t really know much about the college. He thought he’d never get the job, but a few weeks later, he got a call. The college’s first and second choice both turned the position down. Alan was hired.
Alan only planned to work at Westminster for one year. However, after one year of teaching, he was hooked. “It’s really satisfying to see the light come on when a student gets it,” he says.
Spending time with students is what Alan will miss most about Westminster. “I’ll probably come back part time just to hang with the students,” he says.
Alan’s reputation goes far above his teaching ability: he is a beloved colleague and friend too.
Nancy Panos Schmitt started one year after Alan. She describes working with him as one of the “pure joys of being at Westminster.”
For 36 years, Alan and Nancy have had offices right next to each other. They’ve become so close they often finish each other’s sentences and inadvertently dress in matching outfits. “It’s sick and wrong,” says Alan, smiling.
The duo is so well known and loved for their commitment to Westminster that a gift was donated anonymously over the summer to create a flower garden on the north side of the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business to memorialize their contributions to the college. The donation will also fund a scholarship for students pursuing degrees in accounting and marketing.
Aside from the scholarship, Alan isn’t sure what his lasting impact on Westminster will be. “I don’t know if I’ll have a legacy at Westminster,” he says. “In six months, people will say ‘Rogers who?’ But the students you impact—that’s who remembers you.”
Favorite Class to Teach: Principles of Accounting because he loves teaching students who aren’t excited about accounting to love the subject.
Funniest Memory: Going to a Rolling Stones concert with Nancy. “There was smoke everywhere,” he says. “I never inhaled, but the music just kept getting better.”
Looking Forward to the Most: Traveling with his wife, Marsha, their four kids, and their 14 grandkids; and spending more time in warmer climates.
Best Financial Advice: “Start saving for retirement early. Buy a house and pay it off as fast as possible—in 15 years if you can.”
Best Non-Financial Advice: “Get an education, and do something you love.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster College’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.