Words and phrases such as, “Thoughtful,” “Genuine,” “So damn sharp” and “just a pleasure to be around,” are shared by students and colleagues about communication professor Robert Gershon, who is scheduled to retire from Castleton University as its longest serving faculty member after 40 years of dedication.
It’s no secret that Gershon has made his mark on this campus. From student success stories to his impressive media background, he has been providing inspiration since 1977.
“I keep wanting to do this thing or that thing and I’m finding that I can’t do them because of my current schedule,” Gershon said.
Some of these things include spending time with his family who, live across New England, reading books for entertainment and travelling.
After retirement, Gershon will continue to teach a Future of Communications class online from wherever he ends up. He also will continue working this summer for students who have summer internships through Castleton.
“As one ages they tend to become less engaged,” said communication professor Michael Talbott. “That’s not the case with Bob. He is very engaged.”
Talbott has taken over the communication department chair often held by Gershon over the past two decades.
Talbott said Gershon has been a great role model for him since starting at Castleton three years ago and says working with him has been “the best.”
“I interrupt Bob like 15 times a day,” Talbott said. “I joke that we should have hollowed out this wall (between their offices), with just a little door that I could open so I could just shout to Bob when I have questions.”
In addition to helping colleagues, Gershon has impacted the hearts and minds of his students for four decades. In fact, Castleton communication professor David Blow was also a student of Gershon’s from 1985-1989.
“I think I’ve modeled part of my career after him,” Blow said. “I owe my career to him and I am forever grateful.”
When Blow sought a recommendation from Gershon for graduate school with intent to teach at the college level, his former professor suggested that he became an adjunct professor at Castleton while working toward his degree.
Blow said he might never have become a professor if it weren’t for Gershon.
“It’s going to be a huge void for me when he leaves. Things are going to be very different,” Blow said. “I lean on him a lot and he’s basically the encyclopedia of the school.”
“I look forward to him saying, ‘Hey Dave!’ every morning when he’s walking by,” Blow said. “I like going into his office and just talking about whatever. It’s personal for me.”
Gershon also connects to some of his students on a deeper, more friendly level.
University of New Hampshire professor Marquis Walsh was one of Gershon’s students in his very first year at Castleton. Since then they have worked together on various projects in and out of the classroom developing a lasting friendship.
“He lit my passion,” Walsh said. “He made me realize that I do have the talent.”
Gershon was also a big part in Walsh’s personal life.
“My father passed away right after graduation and Bob was there at the funeral,” Walsh said, “Then, 30 years after graduation, when my mom died, Bob was there at the funeral.”
According to Gershon, so much has changed since his beginning years at Castleton. He says technology has changed “completely and wonderfully” and the students are a lot less crazy than they used to be.
He still recalls pranks that students would play on him and each other as well as getting drunk and pitching hilarious ideas for the well-known parody edition of The Castleton Video Magazine.
“You really have to put yourself into it. Unlike at other schools, you’re here to teach students, not subjects,” Gershon said, with childlike enthusiasm.
When asked what they would like to say to Gershon as he departs the hallowed halls of Leavenworth, the overwhelming response was, “thank you, for everything.”
“Thanks, and I’m going to miss you a lot. And don’t be a stranger damn it!” Blow said.
“I’d tell him to have a blast, and that I look forward to working with him on projects in the future,” Walsh said.