A sign reading “Happy Retirement” and balloons wishing “Congratulations” fill Frank Hemphill’s office in Hindsdale Hall, where generations of Hiram College students have sought academic advice over the years.
Hemphill, Director of Student Academic Services, is retiring this month, after working at Hiram College for more than four decades – 42 years to be exact. He’s seen many students come and go, but has built connections with students that span well beyond their four years of college.
Even in one 45-minute meeting with Hemphill, it’s easy to see his sincerity and genuine interest in student lives, academic success and career paths.
Hemphill started working at Hiram College in 1971. The Student Academic Services office provides programs such as peer to peer tutoring and personalized academic coaching. Hemphill himself has worked under six presidents, touched many lives, helped countless students and accomplished many things.
“A lot of my memorable moments are with specific students that I had the opportunity to work with,” he said. “It would take too long to give you names…but it is just the intermittent satisfaction of successfully being able to see some issues that start out looking grave end up looking fantastic.”
Besides working with current students, Hemphill feels like his biggest accomplishment was the outreach program he took on in the late 70s and early 80s.
At the time, Hiram’s African-American population had declined, and Hemphill’s “brain child” was to have Hiram alumni go back to their high school alma maters (primarily in the Cleveland area) and talk to prospective students about college life. This outreach program allowed Hemphill and his colleagues to add more diversity to the College’s recruits. Although Hemphill passed the program onto the Admission Office in the 90s, he is happy to see that the basis of his program continues to bring in minority students.
Through the generations, Hemphill has seen communication take the form of emails, voicemails and text messages. Hemphill said these changes in technology have led to changes in the way Hiram students communicate, making them less likely to initiate face-to-face interactions.
His advice for students is to focus on forming meaningful relationships through face-to-face interactions. Hemphill says that proper communication is one of the three things you need to do to be successful; the other two are to organize and collaborate.
Overall, Hemphill has really enjoyed his time at Hiram. He has liked having the ability to be innovative without having micromanagement, and he has especially loved working with the people.
“The collegial relationships that I have with the faculty and staff here have just been wonderful,” he said. “The relationships are one of the things that kept me here, because they’re not a strain, they’re a pleasure.”
However, Hemphill said he will not miss anyone, but that is just because he lives right here in Hiram! He plans to visit campus and keep the connections he has made over the years.
During retirement, Hemphill looks forward to having more free time which he will fill with several new hobbies including photography, woodwork and car maintenance. Hemphill also plans on traveling to see his four children and seven grandchildren. Finally, he expects to spend the majority of his time getting more involved with his local church.