This spring UAA will lose one of its oldest and most beloved faculty members. Professor of Physics and Astronomy Greg Parrish has decided to retire after 42 years of teaching. Originally hired in 1970, Parrish joined UAA’s faculty a full six years before the university would even become a four-year college.
Parrish says that the staff hired during that time period were initially called the “September Bunch” due to the large hiring that took place during that time. According to Parrish, the faculty at the time looked upon the new hires with skepticism due to their youth.
“We were called the September Bunch, which later turned into the Black September Bunch because we were seen as disruptive by the older faculty,” Parrish said with a grin. “Now I get to be one of the old guys.”
Parrish has taught introductory level physics courses for the university since he was hired and has provided countless students with a foundational understanding of the subject.
Though Parrish has decided to leave the university, his love for students and teaching has not diminished; he cites concerns about his health as his reason for retirement.
“I’m quitting primarily because of health reasons; I’m not eager to leave, but it’s time to go out on a high note,” explained Parrish. “What I want is a 25-year-old body with my current title and seniority.”
Chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department, Professor Jim Pantaleone, expressed his appreciation for Parrish’s years of devotion to the university. Pantaleone echoed Parrish’s assertion that teaching has been his greatest passion.
“First and foremost, he’s a teacher. He’s been teaching here since we became a campus. He’s been here from the very beginning,” Pantaleone explained. “If it weren’t for his health problems, I’m sure he’d want to stay here for another 42 years”
After over four decades of dedication to the university, Parrish says that the most important and enjoyable aspect of his job has been working directly with his students.
“There’s no question I’ll miss the students most. After I’m done here, I won’t have many chances to interact with young people.”
Parrish plans to stay in Alaska after his retirement and stated that most of his time will be used to pursue his other passion: shooting.
“Shooting is really one of my only hobbies,” explained Parrish. “After this, my community will basically consist of old men. I’ll definitely miss the youth and students that I’ve been surrounded by for all this time.”
Students seem to have responded positively to Parrish’s teaching over the years, with scores of former pupils expressing their appreciation on sites such as “Rate My Professors.”
Pre-dentistry student Dillon Covey expressed his gratitude for the work of Professor Parrish and his encouragement in the challenging field of physics.
“It’s been such a great privilege to have learned from Professor Parrish,” said Covey. “He’s always been approachable and kind and he has always livened-up classes with background information and real-world examples.”
This view seems to represent a large portion of Parrish’s students, as many have expressed their sadness at his retirement.
“He’s always been well liked by his students; his office hours are always more packed than any of the other faculty,” said Pantaleone.
“I’ve loved being a part of his class, and I just hope that retirement goes well for him,” said Covey in reference to Parrish’s final semester.
As for Parrish, he says UAA has become his home after more than four decades of teaching. He says that he will sorely miss the university community and the opportunity to educate students.
“Taking this job was probably one of the best decisions I ever made,” said Parrish.
The physics department and the entire UAA community will miss the efforts of Professor Greg Parrish, as students and staff alike wish him a peaceful retirement.