Saying goodbye to Professors Bob and Jackie Wiggins

Ariel Themm, Staff Reporter

After nearly 24 years, Oakland University professors Bob and Jackie Wiggins will retire at the conclusion of the academic year.

The couple was honored during a retirement celebration on Tuesday, April 3 in the Oakland Center.

Bob has worked as a professor in education and human services, while Jackie worked as a distinguished professor of music education, led as the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and became the founding director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Both professors worked on their undergraduate and master’s degrees from the Queens College in New York City before going on to the University of Illinois for their doctorates. They both began careers in public schools, with Bob working as a principal, before they both joined OU as faculty members in 1994.

“Neither of us had heard about Oakland University before we got here, since we grew up in New York City and spent our whole lives in that public system,” Bob said. “When I came here, I found that some of the leading top educators worked here. Actually, a couple people in the Reading and English department, I found that I had their books when I was a principal and I was just thrilled to come here and work alongside people that I really admired throughout my career.”

For the couple, coming to OU meant a great deal, but in different ways. They saw a future not just for themselves, but for the school in general.

“I saw this amazing amount of potential for what I needed to do professionally and Oakland had that for me,” Jackie said. “I had been offered jobs from universities that were kind of mired in their histories and I knew that I couldn’t work for a school like that because my ideas were kind of cutting edge and Oakland is a cutting edge kind of place. When I first came, this is a place where I could come and establish a program that is now one of the top leading programs around and as I took it, there was nothing I was taking away or replacing, I just took it to the highest level that I could.”

For the Wiggins family, being a part of the OU community was more than just a job. Their daughter and son-in-law both attended and graduated from OU as well.

For the next several years, the couple cultivated relationships with students and staff at OU, working in multiple areas that grew dear to their hearts.

“My favorite class to teach was on Elementary Education Classroom Management and Diversity Issues,” Bob said. “I think it represents probably the most important piece of being a teacher and that’s developing relationships with your students, in a way to help them mature and help them move towards developing goals.”

Both educators developed special connections that extended to both classes and students at OU.

“I would not say any particular class is my favorite because my energies were focused on Undergraduate Music Education majors and developing new teachers,” Jackie said. “I taught all the courses because I loved all of the courses. Some of the students I had for six or seven courses and even got to supervise their student teaching, which was really special in its own way.”

Bob will officially retire from OU on April 30, while Jackie will retire on June 30. Jackie has, however, promised to continue mentoring students and reaching out to them using her mertia status, which allows past faculty to interact with current students as long as they are recommended to do so.