Goshen College bids farewell to five retiring faculty members

GOSHEN, Ind. – Five faculty members are saying farewell to Goshen College at the end of the 2010-2011 school year as they retire and begin the next chapters in their lives. The five retirees are John Blosser, professor of art; Rafael Falcón, professor of Spanish; Mervin Helmuth, associate professor of nursing; David Miller, associate professor of biology; and David Janzen, director of human resources and affirmative action officer. Together, they have served a total of 119.5 years at Goshen College.

John Blosser will retire as professor of art after teaching for 12 years at Goshen College. Blosser graduated from Goshen College with a bachelor’s degree in 1970. He continued on to Bowling Green State University for a master’s degree and Arizona State University for a master of fine arts degree before teaching at Hesston (Kan.) College for 20 years. In 1999, Blosser returned to Goshen College as a professor.

Blosser spent the majority of his time at Goshen as the chair of the Art Department, during which he led search committees that hired four art faculty members and oversaw the opening of the Hershberger Art Gallery in the Music Center. Blosser also began the Art Committee at Goshen, which oversees the college’s art collection and works to develop the arts on campus.

“John has an unbelievable vault of knowledge regarding various artists and techniques, and he is particularly good at relating individual students to particular artists,” said Liz Gunden, who graduated from Goshen College in 2011 with a degree in art. “He was always willing to talk with his students, whether it be about class or about anything else.”

Now, Blosser is finishing his career at the same place he began studying over 40 years ago. “Finishing my career as an artist/teacher at my alma mater has been particularly sweet,” said Blosser. “This is an exceptional place that sports a distinctive intellectual and spiritual mix.”

Rafael Falcón has taught all classes that Goshen College has ever offered in Spanish since he began teaching here in 1979. Falcón began his studies in Puerto Rico, where he received his bachelor’s degree from Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico in 1968. He then received his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Iowa.

In addition to teaching, Falcón has served as chair of the Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures Department at different times. He, and his wife, Christine, served as leaders of the Costa Rica Study-Service Term for six terms during 1983-1984 and 1998-1999.

“It has been very rewarding to see students develop a passion and love for Spanish language and Hispanic culture,” he said. “Equally energizing has been observing graduates move into an assortment of work or graduate studies, where they are utilizing those skills honed in the classroom.”

Falcón has published several books and articles. His most recent titles in English include: “Mi Gente: In Search of the Hispanic Soul,” “Salsa: A Taste of Hispanic Culture” and “101 Spanish Riddles.” He has also written about various topics in Spanish, including Spanish American literature, Hispanic culture and Spanish grammar, and has edited numerous Spanish textbooks.

Mervin Helmuth has taught at Goshen as associate professor of nursing for 41 years. His teaching focus has been mainly on pediatric and pharmacological nursing.

Before being employed at Goshen College in 1970, he received a diploma in nursing from Parkview-Methodist School of Nursing (Fort Wayne, Ind.) in 1966, a bachelor’s degree from Goshen College in 1969 and a master’s degree from the University of Florida in 1970.

In addition to teaching, Helmuth has been an active leader and participant in numerous activities benefiting both nursing students and the local community. Since 1975, he has coordinated activities for the Nursing Mock Convention, a simulated nursing experience for students. He has also helped coordinate activities for students such as a free immunization clinic in the local community, as well as the flu shot clinic on campus.

Beyond Goshen College, Helmuth served as a member of the Indiana State Board of Nursing for six years and was a charter member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and remains a member today.

For the past eight years Helmuth – who grew up in an Amish family – has also been involved in The Windows of Hope genetic research project primarily among the Amish community, and wrote a chapter about the Amish culture in the textbook, “Transcultural Nursing.”

David Miller has served Goshen College both as associate professor of biology from 1988 to 2011 and as program director at the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center from 1988 to 2008. He received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Mennonite University in 1964, a master of science degree from the University of Delaware in 1972 and a doctorate from Michigan State University in 1977.

During his first 10 years at Goshen College, Miller focused mostly on developing the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center as he established high quality environmental education programs to serve K-12 students in the region. During his second 10 years, he helped establish the environmental science major, teaching several courses in the program, and also helped plan the master’s in environmental education, teaching in that program for two years.

Miller continued to expand Merry Lea as he served on the building committee for Rieth Village, home to the first LEED Platinum buildings in Indiana, and advance field research there by developing significant insect and plant collections. He also established an official bird-banding program with The Institute for Bird Populations.

On campus, Miller served as chair of the biology department for the past four years, facilitating transitions in the department and coordinating curriculum initiatives.

“I think what I have found most satisfying is the quality of people with whom I have been privileged to interact — students, faculty and staff,” said Miller. “Without exception they have been courteous and thoughtful.”

After retirement, Miller will keep his hand in entomology, making a survey of the insects he has found on his property in Goshen as well as continuing his work on the collection at Merry Lea, where he began surveying dragonflies and butterflies.

David Janzen is retiring after serving for 12-plus years as the director of human resources where he provided leadership and direction to the recruitment and development of employees.

During his tenure, Janzen restructured the college’s annual appraisal processes for staff and faculty, and incorporated intercultural competencies into the process, providing training opportunities for employees in those competencies.

He also helped lead campus wide hospitality and wellness initiatives and wrote institutional policy in areas such as racial and sexual harassment and employee grievances. In addition, Janzen led numerous United Way campaigns, including setting a record of $20,000, which placed the college in the top 20 companies countywide.

“I am deeply grateful for my years working at Goshen College, holding a position with the privilege of knowing most members of this talented and dedicated employee group,” said Janzen. “To see God at work in the lives of our students, faculty and staff has been inspirational and challenging. While we sometimes have disagreed as we faced difficult decisions, this group of employees has and continues to demonstrate love to each other in times of crisis.”

– By Alysha Landis

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or jodihb@goshen.edu.


Goshen College, established in 1894, is a residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit www.goshen.edu.