Professor will “graduate,” not retire

Dr. Owen Rogal will "graduate" this May after teaching English for 28 years at St. Ambrose. Beck Leke/The Buzz.
Dr. Owen Rogal will “graduate” this May after teaching English for 28 years at St. Ambrose. Beck Leke/The Buzz.


By Beck Leke

As May approaches and many seniors are ready to graduate and go out in search of new opportunities, one professor says it’s time for him to “graduate” as well.

“I don’t want to stop working, so I don’t like it when people put the emphasis on retiring,” Dr. Owen Rogal said. “I’m graduating and seeing other things out there.”

Rogal, 66, an English professor at St. Ambrose University, is taking a break from teaching at the end of the semester after 28 years at the university. Rogal started his career at Ambrose back in 1986.

After 44 years of marriage, Rogal and his wife have 2 daughters; Deborah who is 30 and Hannah, 27. He and his wife are moving to Vermont to a house designed by Rogal’s father -in-law that resides in the middle of the mountains after they both “graduate” this May.

“We might spend part of the summer here but we are definitely moving soon,” he said.

Rogal says he really enjoyed being at Ambrose and it is no doubt that his exit will be hard for him and his colleagues.

“I have met amazing people here,” Rogal said. “The faculty, staff and students. I started my first semester here with one of my colleagues, Barbara Pitz, and I have worked with her for the past 28 years. Suddenly, I won’t be able to see her again and many others. That is a hole in my heart.”

He says the good sense of community on campus and also the strong sense of social justice are some of the things that kept him going at Ambrose.

Rogal says he could write a short book about the students at St. Ambrose University.

“I’m not the kind of person who has dramatic things happen to him, but going to class everyday and having some students blow my mind with some of their work will always be my favorite and significant memories about Ambrose,” Rogal said. “Amazing people.”

He added that he has no advice for the faculty and staff members because he believes they are doing a good job.

“I really do work with amazing people,” he said.

While he has no regrets for his plans to leave, he hopes that his years at Ambrose have been successful.

“Intellectually exciting, emotional gratifying and purposeful,” are the words Rogal used to describe his stay at Ambrose and he says he would use those same words to describe his leaving. He is excited for the new opportunities life is offering him and emotionally satisfied as he enters this new world and starts new projects with his wife.

Rogal says his time at Ambrose has been a learning process because he has changed and learned a lot since the mid 80s. Now he wonders if there is any kind of work out there that he might like to do.

He concluded that he would like to come back and visit Ambrose, but he is not the type of person who makes a lot of plans so, ‘who knows.’


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