Anderson, Indiana

Paul Saltzmann celebrates 50 years of teaching at AU

Mon, 2009-02-23 08:15 -- univcomm
February 23, 2009

It is not unusual for faculty to stay at Anderson University for a long time. Many professors continue to teach for 25 to 30 years. But to still be teaching after 50 years? That is an amazing feat even at AU. Mathematics professor Paul Saltzmann BS ’57 has done just that — he will celebrate 50 years of teaching at Anderson this year. Not only is he still teaching, but he still has an obvious passion for it.

After graduating from AU, Saltzmann taught high school math in Ohio for two years. When he was asked by Gloria Olive to return to AU and teach at the request of Robert Nicholson, he didn’t hesitate — even though doing so meant quite a pay cut. “In the spring of 1959, I got a letter inviting me to come and teach for $3,900 a year, which was a $900 cut from what I was making.” Despite the 20 percent pay cut, Saltzmann accepted the position with joy.

“My four years as a student at Anderson were among the greatest of my life,” says Saltzmann. “I absolutely loved it. I flourished and came into my own here. Unlike students who come to their senior year and they have senioritis and they cannot wait to get out, in my senior year I was mourning the fact that I had to leave here. Needless to say, when I got the invitation, I knew I wanted to come back.”

While Saltzmann has taught math to thousands of students, math isn’t what thrills him. He is passionate about teaching, and math just happens to be the subject he was best at and that he chose as the vehicle for his teaching skills. “I am a teacher; I’m not a mathematician,” he says. “I’m totally in love with the classroom experience, the interaction, the dynamics.” In his 50 years, Saltzmann has never taken a sabbatical. In his only year away from campus, he taught in a secondary school in Kenya.

“Paul Saltzmann found a way to teach math to students who had struggled with its concepts for years by making math fun and relevant. In business we discussed widgets. In math with Paul, it was kumquats,” says former student Sena Landey BA ’75. “As I have had a chance to share with alums over the years, I consistently hear how he alone can be credited with enabling them to meet their math requirements for their degree from Anderson University. His influence and legacy for several generations of AU students cannot be overstated.”

Saltzmann’s classes are famous for non-math related elements, such as “Scrippy-Scrapps,” What’s New Department, Salute to National Kumquat Week — anything to keep the students engaged.

One thing that more recent students will recognize about Saltzmann is that he is known on campus for always wearing shorts and sandals. Whether it’s 10 degrees or 110 degrees, Saltzmann has on his shorts. He chuckled about a publicity photo the university took that showed him walking in shorts across a snowy campus. He didn’t always shun pants, though. “I’ve only been doing that for about 10 years,” he says.

But Saltzmann is much more than a campus personality. He has touched many lives during his 50 years at AU. He has been active in prison and nursing home ministries. He has been the Dativus advisor since it formed on campus in 1971, and he has been on several Tri-S trips. Former student Ashley Ingle BA ’05 says that Saltzmann’s students knew his door was always open to them. “It's not unusual to walk by his office and see a student or colleague who just needed someone with open arms and an open heart to listen,” she says. “I cannot possibly describe the transformational love by which Paul lives, but after 50 years of teaching at Anderson, he truly exemplifies the heart and mission of this institution.”

And he is still going strong. “When I was first asked 10 or 12 years ago when I would retire, the answer I came up with was, ‘I hope I can teach until I die.’ That effectively ends any discussion,” he says. “Of course, I hope I don’t do it during class — that would put a damper on the day.” It is obvious that he thoroughly enjoys being in the classroom. “I feel so very blessed that my health allows me to continue to teach, and that I still love it very much,” he says.

Ingle says, “The legend of Paul Saltzmann will live forever in the countless students whose lives have been changed by their relationship with him.” What more could a teacher ask for?

—Heather Lowhorn is a contributing writer for Signatures magazine.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.