Mary Stearns recently left UC Clermont as the Senior Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, but in fact she held many titles while at Clermont, and also leaves with many more memories. Stearns experienced the origins of the college and reflected on the many memories she’s had in the time she’s been with UCC.
After earning her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree at Western Kentucky University, she began her teaching career at Anderson High School. Stearns then moved on to teach English as an Adjunct Instructor at UC Clermont. During her career at UC, she was offered a full scholarship and attended graduate school with UC and is ABD (all but dissertation) for her PhD in English. She met her husband while teaching at Anderson High School and later married him and eventually moved to Batavia. When their first child was a little over a year old, Stearns took on the challenge when a friend of hers asked if she would teach at “that new college up on the hill.”
Mary Stearns worked her way into administration by becoming the school’s college recruiter, and did so after beginning as an adjunct English professor for the newly founded UC Clermont. After juggling teaching English and being a college recruiter, Stearns upgraded her administration position to Education Liaison while keeping her position as an English instructor. As Education Liaison, Stearns handled many different programs such as Tech Prep, and what is now known as CCP. She then moved on to be the Director of Special Projects where she would run state and federal grants working with high schools like Glen Este, Amelia, and New Richmond. Still with “a foot in both camps,” she found herself having to share her concentration between her projects in administration and her students. Stearns still believes it’s important to remain fully focused on students as a professor, but she eventually switched to administration full-time. She eventually became the Assistant Dean after the Dean at the time, Jim McDonough, created her position to help with the new influx of students and programs.
Although she’s enjoyed her role as Senior Assistant Dean, Stearns remembers the days as the Director of Special Projects and Education Liaison as being especially interesting. She enjoyed working with not only college students but high school students too, since her first teaching job was at Anderson High School. Stearns also loved visiting with the high school students because it meant more involvement with the local community—something that is very important to her.
Mary Stearns recollects her memories of the origins of the school and in her spare time researches the origins of people. Stearns has a deep passion for genealogy, the study of tracing lines of descent, and she hopes to gather all of the genealogy materials for her family. She has a deep love for her children, two of whom are biological to Stearns and two who are adopted, and she can often be found bragging of them equally. Stearns is already enjoying her retirement and
has been able to help her children and grandchildren more. She’s already found herself taking care of her sick grandson and traveling to Charleston, South Carolina to help her daughter.
As she reflected on her career at UC Clermont, Mary Stearns spoke about how things have evolved over the years: “When I first started working at Clermont, there was one typewriter for all of the faculty and one ditto machine,” Stearns explained. Fortunately, the school’s technology evolved and more buildings were constructed. One aspect of the college that Stearns has enjoyed seeing change is the programs and classes evolving in response to the needs of the Clermont County community. She recalls the creation of BTAS (Bachelor’s of Applied and Technical Studies), in response to more technology in the medical field being invented, which meant that more people in the community would need to use this new technology.
Stearns also explained that when she began her UC Clermont career, there were no online classes available. But, just as the programs have changed in response to the community, the classes were adjusted to be more flexible in response to the community. Although many people are opposed to change, Mary Stearns understands that many aspects of the college have changed because the world is also changing too.
From experiencing the first Dean of UC Clermont, Edith Peter-Jones, to watching current Dean Bauer, Mary Stearns has seen so much over the years. Because the college used to be a single building and the entire faculty was always gathered in the same area, Stearns recalled that there to be more camaraderie years ago. She also remembered when everyone smoked in the hallways, and Edith Peter-Jones, standing there, making sure kids were in their classes on time. Dean Edith Peter-Jones loved immersing herself in the Clermont community, something that Stearns adored about the first Dean of UC Clermont. Stearns also recollected “Wisdom Wednesdays,” a workshop the school held for faculty, staff and students to learn a new trade every week. She remembered making silver jewelry and even teaching a class on genealogy at one point. Although Wisdom Wednesdays ended and numerous deans have come and gone, Stearns still respects and enjoys the faculty, staff, and students that have surrounded her at UC Clermont.
Mary Stearns’ advice to others is to be content with change because it’s inevitable. Her career at the college has shown her how so much in life changes: the school’s culture, the needs of the community, plans, buildings, Deans, offices, the work force, and so much more. Mary Stearns appreciates the many people and many memories over her last forty-two years at UC Clermont, and she wishes the best of luck to UC Clermont. Her career has been a remarkable one, and she’s touched the lives of so many on campus. She will be sorely missed.