Shearer Adjusts to Retirement
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by Laura Miller
Nearly two months into his retirement after 27 years as president of Transylvania University, Dr. Charles Shearer is still adapting to the change.
“It is an adjustment. There’s no doubt about it,” said Shearer, now president emeritus.
Shearer said the transition process began in April when Dr. R. Owen Williams was named Transy’s new president, but Aug. 1 was still a major shift when he suddenly no longer had the same responsibilities, schedules and commitments he had had the past 27 years.
Though his title is now more honorary than official, Shearer has remained involved with and committed to Transylvania. His office has moved from Old Morrison to the second floor of the physical plant building across from the study abroad office. He usually comes in for two to three hours a day.
He has kept in touch with the development office, mostly providing information on donors. In addition, Shearer has been able to provide a historical perspective for President Williams. The two have shared several meals at Williams’ invitation, and Shearer has tried to answer questions or share whatever background information he can to ease the transition.
Shearer also still has 12 advisees, mostly students from his 2009 University 1111 class.
“I will continue to help Transylvania as needed going forward. … Transy is a great institution, and I always want to be available to help in any way I can,” said Shearer.
Shearer had hoped to teach an economics class during winter term, but he has decided to wait until May term. Since he has not taught any economics courses since 1983, he has spent several hours each day of his retirement brushing up on current material. As eager as he is to get back into the classroom, Shearer said he wants to be well prepared first.
Currently, he and Dr. Alan Bartley are preparing to co-teach a new May term class concerning some of the challenges and opportunities facing individuals on the lower end of the economic ladder. They have met a few times to discuss the course and will meet again next week. Shearer just finished reading his fourth book on the topic.
In addition, Dr. William Pollard has suggested that Shearer teach a course on leadership. Shearer said he has never taught such a class, but he is entertaining the idea.
As for right now, Shearer is just trying to enjoy his more flexible schedule.
“Every day’s a little bit different,” he said.
He has not accepted any speaking commitments or similar engagements yet. With the exception of a little consulting work, he has managed to stay under the radar so far.
Shearer and his wife, Susan, hope to take a weeklong vacation in October. The campus was always too busy at that time of the year for them to consider such a trip during his tenure as president. He said they have both greatly appreciated having more time to spend together.
Much of their time this month has been spent unpacking and sifting through boxes after their move from the President’s House. He was happy to say that he has kept to his daily walking regimen and also can now sleep in until almost 7:00 a.m. each day.
Shearer has had much more time for leisure reading as well. He said he has enjoyed being able to finally read newspaper and magazine articles of his own choosing without the pressure that he should be doing other work.
Although he has truly missed seeing the students and faculty and staff on a regular basis, overall Shearer said he has “adapted fairly well” to retirement. Seeing as he is starting only the third month of his retirement, however, he did quip that the campus should check back in with him again in April to see if he is still managing to keep busy.