Bill Valmont: a remembrance September 11, 2007Posted by Michael McVey in Colleagues.
Today I learned that my predecessor at the University of Arizona, Dr. Bill Valmont, passed away over the weekend. I had known him and worked indirectly with him in the Instructional Technology Facility while I was working on my Masters. In fact, Bill was my technology advisor and allowed me to do an independent study under his guidance.
When I learned about the position of Clinical Assistant Professor for Technology that was opening up at the College of Education, I immediately e-mailed Bill and asked if that was the sort of position that might be a fit for me. This was a radical departure for a fellow who had been a classroom teacher for almost two decades. Career teachers like me stayed in the classroom and retired from the classroom. We rarely left the school system entirely.
You can imagine how nervous I was before my first interview at the University. Bill was the one who met me at the door and brought me into the conference room. We joked about our mutual lack of hair and teased each other suggesting that a shiny head was required for the job. Bill was always ready for a laugh and we shared quite a few.
I served as a Clinical Assistant Professor for almost two years but when my term was nearly up Bill supported me for a position in the college. I believe he had the sense that I would be able to take over his position when he retired. Just over a year later, he made the move into retirement and I moved into his office.
We certainly came from different backgrounds and occasional we clashed over issues that were petty in hindsight, but his insights were profound and occasionally prophetic. One day, when I was talking about the possibility of going back into the classroom if things did not work out at the University, he simply said, “Those days are done for you. It’s time to move on.”
Two years later, I had my doctorate and three years after that I find myself in the position of Assistant Professor at Eastern Michigan University. Bill was right.
The office we occupied concurrently for over a decade is still empty but I hope the person they choose to fill that seat will remember the prime consideration for that job would have to be a bald head and an excellent sense of humor.