Among our outstanding group of Western Oregon University employees who retired in June is Robert “Bob” Hautala, an associate professor of health and exercise science. Bob was We had the opportunity to chat with him about his time as faculty at WOU.
Q: How long have you been at the university, and what titles have you had while here?
A: I’ve been at WOU for 14 years. I was assistant professor for three years and associate professor for 11 years.
Q: In addition to your regular job, what other campus activities have you participated in?
A: I served as a faculty senator and on a lot of committees, including the Executive Committee, the Pastega Awards Committee, the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee, two University Professional Learning Communities, the Honors Committee, the Maurice Initiative Prize Committee, and the University Center Advisory Committee. Those last three all had several students serving, which made them very stimulating and effective committees.
I also didn’t miss a volleyball game or a women’s basketball game in 14 years (including watching both home and away volleyball games on the Internet while I was on sabbatical in Finland). Seeing students, many of whom I have known in the classroom, using their brains in combination with their physical skills while on the court is always enjoyable.
Q: In what ways has working with WOU students made a difference to your career?
A: My career became a partnership with students. We have “been in this together,” and it has been personally and professionally very rewarding for me.
Q: What is it about WOU that allowed you to have such a long tenure here?
A: Western’s mission and its people. The mission, written in the job announcement, is what interested me in the position, and it and the people I first met here are what got me to come out here and kept me here. You see it in the students and in the employees with whom I have worked across campus.
Q: What will you miss most about WOU?
A: The easy answer is “everything.” I will miss the variety of work and all of its challenges. I will miss the debate and discussions of the faculty senate and committees, knowing that the differing viewpoints come from people who all have Western’s best interests at heart. I will miss the feeling of being involved in the progress that Western continues to make in meeting its mission at even higher levels of success.
Q: Please share a favorite memory about your time at WOU.
A: Commencement. I always remember a few students from their Preview Day. I have had many of them in class or have gotten to know them on committees, as athletes or just by meeting them on campus. They are our success stories, ready to move on in life. It is always memorable to share that time with them and their families.
Q: What do you envision for your retirement?
A: Thoreau left Walden Pond to live his “other lives.” What my next life will be is yet to be determined. My life at Western has been a 24/7 immersion, in all positive ways. I plan to approach my retirement in that way as well.