By Jamie Dickson (CLA '05)
Two College of Liberal Arts faculty members recently retired: Dr. Eric Klingelhofer, professor of history; and Dr. Laurie White, professor of computer science.
Dr. Eric Klingelhofer
Dr. Klingelhofer began teaching at Mercer in 1985 and retired in June, when he was honored as professor emeritus and appointed the University's first research fellow. He was a favorite professor among Mercerians; his Ancient Rome class was one of the department's largest enrolling courses. However, he considers his work with the Western Civilization curriculum to be one of his highest teaching achievements. “I am proud of having worked with Dr. Good in bringing the teaching of Western Civilization into the 21st century – making it not just relevant, but essential in understanding a world that finds ancient threats and dangers re-awakened,” he said.
Dr. Klingelhofer boasts an extensive research career. Over the years, his interest in both medieval Europe and in England's earliest colonies involved him in archaeological fieldwork in England, Ireland, France, North Carolina, Virginia, and numerous Caribbean islands; he often took Mercerians on yearly archeological digs.
Dr. Robert Good, associate professor of history and department chair, said Dr. Klingelhofer is irreplaceable. “Eric's understanding of the pre-modern West, from Near-Eastern antiquity through the early modern era, was remarkable,” Dr. Good said. “But what's truly irreplaceable are the archaeological digs he took students on year after year. In the U.K., in the Caribbean, and in North Carolina, students got hands-on experience at Eric's own craft of archaeology. They got expertly delivered 'engaged learning' before the term was coined.”
Dr. Klingelhofer has authored three books and is a founding member of the First Colony Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the archeological and historical research of early English-speaking America. In August at UNC Chapel Hill, he joined in announcing the Foundation's excavation of artifacts attributable to Sir Walter Raleigh's “Lost Colony” in North Carolina. Mercer's long-term support for this project was recognized in a New York Times article on the discovery. Dr. Klingelhofer remains the co-director of the excavation, and he is currently researching the architecture of Sir Walter Raleigh and his associates for a future book.
In retirement, he plans to write about the medieval architecture of English 'daughter' churches of Cluny monastery in France and will publish his Irish fieldwork on Molana Abbey, which Sir Water Raleigh gave to the Elizabethan scientist and American explorer, Thomas Harriot. Additionally, he will apply for grants to use radar to locate Elizabethan forts on Trinidad and Puerto Rico. He has also been asked to continue the spring break archaeology field school in the Virgin Islands.
Dr. Laurie White
Dr. White, who began teaching at Mercer in 1999, was an instrumental part of the University's Computer Science Department. Known for her high expectations, many alumni have reported that Dr. White's class prepared them for the real world, said Dr. Bob Allen, professor of computer science. “Laurie was a very solid, and strict, teacher,” he said. “Students became very disciplined in her class. They learned to follow rules and to meet deadlines. Many students appreciated this rigor.”
During her career at Mercer, Dr. White strove to stay current in technology and would always bring innovative ideas to the department's attention. “Most prevalently, Laurie and I made adjustments to the way our CSC 204: Intro to Programming course was taught,” Dr. Allen said. Dr. White was also instrumental in the redesign of the department's IST curriculum.
Outside of the classroom, Dr. White was a major contributor to Mercer's Alice Programming Competition – a contest for local middle and high school students – and was instrumental in the formation of Mercer's Google Developers Group. She also judged numerous local, national and international programming contests, including the World Finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest from 1992-2000. “Dr. White is a genius at developing programming contest problems sets and then at judging the contest,” Dr. Allen said.
Dr. White has been active with the Advanced Placement Computer Science program and outreach to K-12 for more than 20 years. She served as a chief writer for the exam, was the chair of the APCS Test Development Committee from 2007-11, and was a contributor to AP Central, a collection of online materials for teachers of the first two computer science classes.
At Mercer, Dr. White was passionate about the teaching and use of technology in the classroom. She and Dr. Allen gave numerous workshops – in Bibb County and at regional conferences – that were geared toward instructing teachers how to teach technology to young people.
“Laurie's retirement is being deeply felt by our remaining faculty and staff,” Dr. Allen said.