Longest-tenured female English professor to retire from Heidelberg

She knew since she was in high school she wanted to be an English teacher; now, Ruth Wahlstrom has taught in the English department at Heidelberg University for more than 40 years and has decided to retire.

Along the way, she became the longest-tenured female faculty member in university history.

Wahlstrom arrived at Heidelberg in 1969. Then, teachers were in demand due to the large number of people attending college.

“I didn’t know I would be teaching this many years,” Wahlstrom said. “I had no goal in mind.”

Over the years, she has seen a many changes, including the improvements to the campus.

“It is a real pleasant place,” she said.

Wahlstrom recalls remembering most names from her classes. She said she may not remember them all now, but she has grade books she has kept from every class she taught.

From beginning at Heidelberg, Wahlstrom said there was one moment that always sticks out: the time of the Kent State shootings in 1970.

Wahlstrom said students were given the option to stay and complete the final exams or leave with the grade they had.

“I look at the grade books from that time, and they are in chaos from my notes of students either staying or leaving,” Wahlstrom said. “As a teacher during that time, I learned that with that moment, I was prepared for anything.”

Wahlstrom has taught several literature classes, such as courses in Canadian literature, Irish literature and British humor. She

doesn’t have one favorite class, though; she said her favorite is whatever course she is teaching at the time.

“I feel privileged to have had a career where one can immerse themselves into literature,” Wahlstrom said. “Learning is the most exciting thing to do. I encourage students to have a joy to dig into a variety of different topics.”

“Ruth Wahlstrom is the consummate professional in and outside the classroom,” said fellow English professor David Kimmel. “For me, she represents the standard by which dedication to the university, to its faculty and to its students is measured.”

Wahlstrom said she will spend most of her time reading for pleasure and traveling. She has traveled to many countries, including France, South Africa, Cuba and India.

She has no plans to leave Tiffin, though.

“I have too many books to think about moving,” Wahlstrom said. “I will miss the people and meeting a new batch of freshmen each semester.”

Wahlstrom will still teach a class this coming fall.

“I’ve devoted my life to my classes, so I’ll have to discover what life is like without them,” she said.