WCC honors long-time faculty and staff members

WCC honors long-time faculty and staff members

QUINN DAVIS

Staff Writer

Mary Faulkner stood to the side as President Larry Whitworth detailed her accomplishments, both the well-known kind and the not-so-known kind. He stood in front of a room of their peers to share his appreciation for her 25 years at Washtenaw Community College. “I thought, ‘Why isn’t someone filming this?’” joked Faulkner, executive assistant to the board of trustees and the coordinator of this year’s Annual Employee Recognition Reception. “It was great. It just made me feel really good to know that he knows what I do.” That was two years ago at the 2008 Employee Recognition Reception. Since the honorees are based on five-year increments, Faulkner will keep working until she gets another chance to have one of those camera-ready moments, which will be in 2013. At that point, she will have worked for WCC for three decades. The reception is organized every year to give faculty and staff a chance to recognize their peers. The honorees for this year have worked anywhere from 10-40 years at the college, and will be held from 3-5 p.m. on April 29 in ML 101. Obviously, recognition isn’t the only reason staff and faculty members continue their careers at WCC. For many, they just wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. “It’s a tribute to the college that these people hang in there and like this place. There’s really not a lot of job openings here because we love it and we stay and stay and stay!” Faulkner said. The reception will offer finger foods and small speeches commemorating a few of the faculty and staff members who have worked here the longest. Not all those being honored will have a chance to be introduced by someone. That kind of reception just wouldn’t be feasible, as 68 faculty and staff members are to be honored. Martin Thomas, manager of campus services, is one of those staff members who won’t have a personal speaker. After 35 years at WCC, Thomas decided he didn’t want one. “To be honest with you, I kind of get recognition every day… I like what I do,” Thomas said. “I love the college. I’m engaged in trying to make it succeed more than it was.” Thomas first came to WCC in 1975 as a custodian when he was only 20 years old. If it weren’t for the reception, many might not believe that Thomas could have such a long career at WCC yet. “Some of the ladies are like, ‘Martin, you weren’t even shaving (when you were hired)!’” laughed Thomas. Thomas attributes his longevity to the attitude of the college and the positive outlook he’s had on his responsibilities. To him, his job title doesn’t mean much, and he’ll often be out and about fixing whatever problems need to be addressed. “What WCC allows you to do is become involved,” he said. “If you want to stand up for things that are right, or stand up against things that are wrong, you can do that here.” While Thomas admits that the encouragement to stand up for right and wrong has dissipated a bit since WCC’s inception, he still thinks the general feeling is there. He tries to instill the same positive attitude in new WCC employees. “I think it’s what we look for when we hire people,” he said.

Art and Dignity: Jon Oyne Lockard leaves WCC with both

Art and Dignity: Jon Oyne Lockard leaves WCC with both
Jon Oyne Lockard

ROBERT CONRADIWASHTENAW VOICE

Quinn Davis

Staff Writer

Now that his 40 years of teaching at Washtenaw Community College have come to a close, professional faculty emeritus Jon Onye Lockard wants one thing: respect. “Respect is so important. It’s an amazing feeling, in the beginning, to go to different places and they respect art,” Lockard said. “You feel it right away just in the way that people talk with you and whisper when they talk instead of shouting and screaming or with a boom box on their shoulder.” Lockard started teaching at WCC and at the University of Michigan in 1969. He stayed at both places, teaching part-time, until he retired from WCC at the end of the Fall 2009 semester. Even though he isn’t physically on WCC’s campus anymore, his presence is. His art is everywhere. “I enjoy having art — and being allowed, having the privilege — to do art in a place where my spirit is at,” Lockard said. In the same way that he appreciates receiving respect, he strives to give it to others through his work. The halls of the Student Center hold dozens of portraits he made of individuals that invested in the college. There is also an ongoing project of his called The Miracle of the Apple Orchard. “All of those apples on that tree are going to eventually be portraits that are going to be superimposed on that tree with their faces all over there because they have invested so much in the development of this institution,” said Lockard. “Many of them are long-since deceased, but I remember them.”
Jon Oyne Lockard

ROBERT CONRADIWASHTENAW VOICE

Jon Oyne Lockard
Jon Oyne Lockard

Even though Lockard had a gift for art, he didn’t always know that it would be his career.

“I was born in the Great Depression. And who thought about being an artist? You thought about surviving,” Lockard said. Even so, Lockard was only 14 when he applied and started an apprenticeship with a local artist in his home of Detroit. The job was quick to abolish any visions of glamour he had about working in the art world. “I was eager and anxious to paint and draw like I saw other people doing, but he had me cleaning the shop and cleaning the brushes and doing all that kind of stuff, which really frustrated me. But as a kid, I didn’t realize that he was preparing me for entrepreneurship of running a studio,” Lockard said. “I worked there for almost three years and it was a great experience — now that it’s over.” Growing up, Lockard also learned assumptions that he tries to un-teach his students now. As a child, he read stories, as many do, where the “bad guy” wears black and the “good guy” wears white. He was a teenager at the start of white flight in Detroit. And he was expected to adapt to many, many names. “I was born a negro. I became colored. I also had an opportunity to live through certain periods of time where I became both an Afro-American and an African-American. “Then I traveled … As I traveled through the country, I finally realized what a human being was,” Lockard said. Later in his travels, Lockard added something to his definition of himself as a human being: a name. Lockard met and traveled with a young Nigerian engineer in the early 1960s. His friend was surprised that they could not only travel to places far away where people were much different than them, but that the people in these places knew Lockard. “He wrote his dad and told him about me and his father said, ‘His name should be Onye Ije.’ Onye Ije means ‘the traveling artist who has many friends,’” Lockard said. Throughout the years, Lockard has kept Onye in his name. He said it is significant because the other parts of his name were most likely passed down from his slave ancestors that were named by their masters. “It’s a name that I gave me,” Lockard said. “It’s nice to have a name that emotionally, I feel good about. Not that I’m ashamed by my name by any means, but it’s just an addition.” With Onye and with his art, Lockard continues to respect himself and others. That’s not always the easiest thing to do, especially when so many people view art as a frivolous thing. “Say I’m in the supermarket. And I run upon somebody that I know and they have their kid, or their grandkid or something with them. And they say, ‘I want you to meet Mr. Lockard. He’s an artist!” And I say yeah. And they say, ‘And little Jimmy’s an artist too!’ No he isn’t! “What would happen if I were a medical doctor and you’ve got a kid that enjoys using Band-Aids? What are you going to say, is he a doctor too?” Lockard asked. But Lockard tries not to get caught up in incidents like this. Instead, he creates and teaches. Besides, if he doesn’t give his work respect, he doesn’t expect others to either.
Jon Oyne Lockard

ROBERT CONRADIWASHTENAW VOICE

“If you honor your product, you can go places where you never dreamed of going. Honor your product and then others will too,” said Lockard. Currently, Lockard is honoring a friend at WCC. He is making a portrait for his friend’s wife for her birthday. He holds a 15-year-old picture of the couple from their 40th wedding anniversary in one hand. With the other, he runs his fingers over pink and brown pastels. Every sweep of his hand seems calculated and careful. “She’s very ill now. I’ve got to develop this in a way that her husband will be very, very happy to see her in a way that he remembers her,” he whispered. For Jon Onye Lockard, it’s a matter of respect.