51 and done


Nathan Carter

Dr. Carolyn Hale has worked on landscape paintings for years. She plans to continue the activity, along with a variety of others, in retirement.

Nathan Carter


After 51 years of teaching, Dr. Carolyn Hale, professor of communications, has decided to retire at the end of the 2011 semester.

“I’m ready,” she said, “Once I retire I’m going to pursue things in areas I am already interested and I have done things with.” 

There have been rumors of Hale departing as a response to the communications course redesign. The instructor dismissed these claims.

“I have made my decision independently of that,’ she said. “I just feel like I’ve come to a point. There are some things I really want to do. While I’ve always tried to be goal-oriented, I think in light of the tornado I think that everyone has reanalyzed their situation, their life, and if we only have ‘x’ number of years left and no one knows what that is going to be, that if I’m going to do certain things that this seemed to be a good juncture to do it.” 

While Hale noted that she does not agree with some components of the redesign, she said she has confidence in the instructors putting the course together, as well as other new teachers.

“We do have young ones coming on such as Shanna [Slavings] and she seems to be very competent, and we have a younger group coming on,” Hale said.

Hale spent the early years of her career teaching in Texas and New York before beginning work on her master’s degree.

“For about four years it was a very intense time,” she said. “When you’re young you love to be in New York. There’s so much going on and so many dynamics. It’s very exciting, and then I taught a year in Tulsa, Okla., and that year I decided to go to graduate school and applied and got a fellowship to Oklahoma [University] for a master’s and doctorate degree.”

She earned the master’s degree within the year and worked on her doctorate immediately after.

“I was on fire to get it done and I did,” she said. “My doctorate dissertation was a case study on the Rev. Ian Paisley and the conflicts and social change between the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.”

She was later allowed the opportunity to revisit her doctoral studies through the McCaleb Initiative for Peace when Southern alumna Karena Wells came to her office.

“It’s very interesting to me that many, many years later when I would come here to Southern that I would have a student come to me and say I want to do something on Northern Ireland … and she said I would like to interview a representative of all six political parties in Northern Ireland and that turned into a fabulous McCaleb project,” Hale said. “Through my contacts, we got a 25-minute interview with the honorable David Trimble, which is like the equivalent of our president.” 

Another trip in 2005 took Hale and Southern alum Jessica Koch to Northern India.

“When I worked with Jessica Koch, she was passionately interested in Tibet, but the United States government wouldn’t allow us to travel to Tibet,” Hale said.

They were allowed to travel the home of the Dali Lama in northern India.

“That was a wonderful thing because we met what the Tibetans think is the spiritual reincarnation of the early spiritual teachers,” Hale said. “I had to have an interpreter but he instructed me to bring a message of peace and reconciliation to the students here.”

Hale said she has appreciated her many experiences through the McCaleb initiative. 

“I think for a student to win this is one of the finest opportunities they can have to research,  to interview, to write and have something published as an undergraduate,” she said. “The students I have worked with and traveled with, it has been a great experience. It has impacted me in a positive way because I’m passionately interested in the role of peace and conflict in resolving international problems, and for a student to have this opportunity in their life this young in their careers is an exceptional possibility.”

Now that Hale has announced her retirement, she wishes to pursue her many recreational interests.

“I’ve been teaching a long time and everything has a beginning, middle and an end, and I felt this was the best time and you realize there are still things that you need to do in your life,” she said. “When you get into your 50s, 60s and 70s, you know the clock is ticking and even though I’m still in excellent health now, there are things I still want to do before I pass on.”

Hale plans to continue her hobby of painting landscapes which she hasn’t been able to participate in for more than three years. She also wishes to participate in environmental work and to travel finally travel to Scotland. She also wants to continue working with children and admissions work.