Committed to Her Students
Exercise and Sport Sciences Professor Jean Eckrich became intrigued with biomechanics when she took a course on the topic and was able to assess her own situation with limited knee movement due to injury. She said, “It really intrigued me and soon became my specialty.” But it was the undergrad professors that served as her mentors that inspired her to take on a career in teaching.
Eckrich received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and her master’s degree from the University of Wyoming before working with K-12 students in Colorado and Nebraska. Her first taste of teaching in higher education came at Earlham College, where she was a member of the faculty for five years. She then returned to school to receive her doctoral degree at Purdue University. Eckrich went on to teach at Augustana University before coming to Colby-Sawyer College in 1995.
Eckrich was looking for a position that had a strong commitment to her field as well as liberal arts. When the opportunity came up and she saw the strong enrollment in exercise and sport sciences, she was inspired to apply. At the time, the first advertisement for the position did not mention the college was looking for a chair of the department. After she applied, she received a phone call asking if she would still be interested if it came along with the extra responsibilities of being the department chair. Eckrich agreed, and she was interviewed and offered the position.
In addition to serving as director of the department for many years, Eckrich has held many other positions here at the college during the past 26 years including being the founding director of the Teaching Enrichment Center and the co-principal investigator in writing a grant to make sure the center got off the ground. She currently serves as the director of the teaching enrichment center and chair of the undergraduate research task force. She oversees assessment for the academic side of the college, served on the faculty personnel and academic policies committee and is involved in the vocational task force. One of Eckrich’s proudest accomplishments, however, is initiating the Susan Colby Colgate Scholars' Symposium back in 2003. As a result of establishing this annual event, she serves as the chair of this committee. “I truly value seeing our students shine at the end of their capstone presentations. They go in nervous and come out with pride in what they have accomplished,” she said.
Eckrich has enjoyed teaching classes throughout her career because they all require something a little different. She takes pride in seeing her students grow. As Eckrich leaves her teaching position, she knows she will miss the students the most. She said, “I love the students and will miss working with them on a day-to-day basis. I will also miss my colleagues. They are an impressive group of folks that are willing to share ideas. I will miss the ability to collaborate with my colleagues on ways to enhance student learning. It has been a great work environment and very rewarding.”
Eckrich admits she will also miss quite a few events on campus as well. She loves Homecoming Weekend, the new faculty orientation, Mountain Day and, of course, the Susan Colby Colgate Scholars' Symposium.
As Eckrich gets ready to retire, she looks forward to autumns in New Hampshire without her usual hectic schedule on campus as well as to volunteering. For future professors at CSC, Eckrich has this advice: “Know the culture. Students are the center of everything we do. There are not a lot of us, so we all need to chip in and contribute.”
Eckrich has enjoyed her 26-year tenure at the college. She says, “It has been an honor to work at Colby-Sawyer College.”