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When I speak to our graduating classes at commencement each year, I tell them how Florida Tech faculty members are the engine that makes our university run.

Today, as the classrooms and labs at Florida Tech are bustling with the spring semester well underway, I am going to offer a different, nautical-themed analogy in honor of a special member of our faculty.

This fellow has participated in over 40 oceanographic cruises, including 12 where he served as chief scientist. In total, he spent more than 600 days at sea.

So for John Trefry I say: Faculty members are the rudder that steers Florida Tech toward excellence.

John is retiring this year after more than 40 years of educational service, and he embodies the American writer William Arthur Ward’s description of teaching excellence: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

The world of marine and environmental chemistry, of ocean engineering and marine sciences, is populated with people John inspired. That is one of the wonderful legacies of teaching – and longevity – and it makes me proud to have alumni out there who count him as their advisor, mentor and friend.

I believe that great faculty are one of the four components of a great university. The others are great students, outstanding infrastructure and visionary leadership.

What lessens, if only slightly, my disappointment at losing John to retirement is the fact that we have many great faculty here. And as the semester unfolds, it is always exciting for me to see the alchemy of those four key areas interacting and creating the unique experience that is Florida Tech.

Please join me in wishing a happy retirement to John Trefry.

Have a great spring, everyone. I’ll see you around campus.

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