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Three profs retiring


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Jim Mitchell
By Andrew O'Neill
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
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He decided it was time to begin a new chapter in his life. Literally.

At the end of this semester, professor Jim Mitchell will leave the classroom behind to pursue a career in writing novels.

Mitchell, an assistant professor of journalism in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, has been teaching at the UA since 1995, where he teaches two courses: The Law of the Press and Writing for News and Documentary.

"I found I haven't been able to devote adequate time to writing," Mitchell said.

He said he already has two "modestly successful books under (his) belt." The books are part of a trilogy.

Mitchell said he is still working on the third installment and hopes it will be released in early 2006. The novels are set in Tucson and include many of the same characters.

He said he is also working on another novel which he called a "stand alone," as the plot will unfold around a new set of characters.

Mitchell said all his years working in various nonfiction media have helped him make the transition to fiction writing, particularly in how he constructs dialogue between his characters.

He also said he enjoys writing novels because they provide a writer with the luxury of time that journalism does not, and he can be more creative with the story is telling.

"You can make it up," Mitchell said.

He's leaving the UA to pursue a singing career - sort of.

Photo
Terry Langendoen

Professor Terry Langendoen is wrapping up a 17-year career in Tucson so he may pursue, among other things, his passion for choral singing with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus and the Tucson Master Singers.

"I should be putting on concerts with my friends while I still have a voice," he said.

Langendoen, a professor of linguistics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, came to the UA in 1988 after teaching posts at the City University of New York and Ohio State University.

He was head of the UA Linguistics Department from 1988-1997.

Langendoen said he got hooked on the study of linguistics during his undergraduate days at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he had the opportunity to study with the legendary linguist Noam Chomsky.

Langendoen has taught a wide range of courses, such as Formal Foundations of Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and a course in American Indian languages.

He said he has enjoyed working closely with students in his program, as well as collaborating with faculty members from other departments throughout the university on various committees.

Langendoen said he hopes students learn to appreciate the scientific approach to the study of language.

"Language is a wonderful instrument of study for its own sake," he said.

Langendoen said he will be a professor emeritus after he retires, so he may continue to pursue research projects in the department.

Let's just say he has an RV and plans on traveling.

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Richard Thompson

After 38 years of teaching at the UA, Richard Thompson is ready to hit the open road with his wife.

Thompson is an associate professor of mathematics, and he has taught everything from matrix theory to topology to statistics.

He said he has also been involved in publishing electronic mathematics texts, as well as developing a business math program with the Eller College of Management.

Thompson said the study of mathematics has a significant impact on society.

"It gives you tremendous power to analyze the world," he said.

Thompson said mathematicians create different kinds of models to see what might happen in specific situations.

"It's a fascinating intellectual game," he said.

Thompson said he initially thought about pursuing a career in either engineering or physics, but it wasn't meant to be.

"I didn't want to run physics labs the rest of my life," he said.

Thompson said he hopes his students have learned to appreciate the structure of mathematics as a discipline.

In addition to his domestic excursions in his RV, Thompson said he and his wife will spend two weeks sailing off the coast of the French Riviera this summer.

- Photos by Chris Coduto and Evan Caravelli.



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