The End of a Legacy
By Hunter Epperson ~ Copy Desk Chief
“I think the most important part of my job is to inspire students to ask questions and give them the tools to answer those questions.” – Dr. Jorgensen-Earp
After 30 years of teaching at the University of Lynchburg, Dr. Cheryl Jorgensen-Earp (known as “Dr. J-E”) will officially “hang up her tassel” and retire at the end of the semester.
Jorgensen-Earp joined the Communication Studies department in 1993, and is known for her passion for teaching Communication Law and Ethics, Visual Rhetoric, Advanced Theory/Senior Thesis, and leading study abroad programs to Great Britain.
As she enters retirement, Jorgensen-Earp said, “ I hope to continue to research and write and to finish a book project on Winston Churchill and his interplay with the British Women’s Suffrage Movement. […] We hope to travel, but do not know when due to COVID. That is up in the air. For me, back to England, and so many places to see. We have a nice long list. My husband wants to go to the wine country of France. We also enjoy traveling around America such as New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco, and New England.”
She added that she hopes to dig into old hobbies such as pleasure reading and gardening more, and practicing her stained-glass hobbies, and working on her needlepoint.
Jorgensen-Earp is optimistic and hopes to stay in contact with the university community, despite having mixed feelings about retiring.
“I am mixed about retirement. I could stay in the classroom until I’m 97, but I know it’s time for someone new, and I want time to travel. I will always be attached to the University of Lynchburg, and I don’t want to leave the school completely. I will come back to Hornet 2 Hornet, graduation, and other events,” said Jorgensen-Earp.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with double majors in Speech and Theater, and receiving her masters from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in theater, at the age of 23, Jorgensen-Earp began teaching at Coastal Carolina Community College.
She loved it and knew at that point she wanted to teach.
Years later she would go on to the University of Washington and get a second masters and her Ph.D. (this time in Communication Studies) so she could get tenure.
“I think I was meant for the classroom. That’s where I feel the most alive,” said Jorgensen-Earp.
She said she is going to miss the fun of being in class and the vibe of the classroom. She added that she is going to miss the students, and working with them on their research.
Jorgensen-Earp added, “COVID has removed me from the classroom but not the lives of the students and what they’re doing.”
“I remember coming to campus for the first time, stepping into Friendship Circle, falling in love with the campus, and meeting faculty members like Dr. Paula Youra. I knew this is where I wanted to work. I remember teaching the first class, and how excited and willing the students were to talk.[…] In 2001, when I received the Virginia Professor of the Year, the department surprised me by decorating my office door, and taking me out to lunch. It is the fun and the support that I will miss, and the sense that the good things that happen for one professor are good things for everyone. The study abroad trips here with students and seeing them taking on and owning the information. In 2017, Vicky and Sam went to England and when we were visiting Parliament, I watched as they taught Jill something they learned in class prior to the trip.” Jorgensen-Earp added, “I want students to own the information and apply it in the real world.”
Besides the great opportunities and memories made with the students, she also added that she is going to miss the great memories with the department, such as the many running jokes such as the joke with Dr. Mike about Guy Fawkes Day on Nov. 5. “So, we always try to be the first to say “Remember, remember the fifth of November,” said Jorgensen-Earp.
She added that she is going to miss being next door to Dr. Mike and talking about pop culture.
Dr. Jimmy Roux said he had known Jorgensen-Earp for 23 years and described her as disciplined, an educator, and student-oriented.
“She is always interested in doing student-scholarship and helping the students pursue their academic career after the University of Lynchburg,” said Roux. He added that he will miss her dedication to the students.
Roux added that one of his memorable moments with her was when they offered a communications study abroad trip to London and Scotland in 2003, and when they were in London having lunch, and a student was complaining about the food. Jorgensen-Earp was very understanding about the student’s perspective and understood them.
Roux said one of his favorite moments with her was when she won the Virginia Teacher award.
Dr. Michael Robinson (“Dr. Mike”) said he has known Jorgensen-Earp for 22 years since he arrived in 2000.
Robinson describes her as, “Teacher. That is the core of who she is. She loves classroom interaction, She is always thinking about them and worrying about them. That is the mission of the university, and she takes it very seriously and is very important to her. We have talked a lot about teaching, and always discussing each other classes and learning how to improve things. She loves the theses and gets very excited about them. A nerd – all in the best possible way. She loves things in pop culture, is an old-school marvel and sci-fi fan, and talks about media. She is very excited about those things – books, shows, movies. We have an ongoing argument about who is Spiderman’s, true love. (She is on the MJ side) She is funny- she has a really funny sense of humor and I’m going to miss that the most. We were always joking, and she loves to laugh.”
During tenure with Jorgensen-Earp, Robinson said, “I don’t think of a single favorite moment and I think we have been friends since she got here despite our ups and downs and she is always interested in my family and watching them grow up. […] I can’t pick one thing, but one of the funniest moments was when I was playing Mr. Blue Sky and she came dancing in my office.”
Robinson added, “It’s going to be weird, and academic departments are like the Avengers, they leave and find their new journey, and it’s going to be different. We will stay in touch, but it will just be different.
Overall, Jorgensen-Earp said, “[I owe the university] So much. The opportunity. You find the place where you fit and where you should be. I owe them so much for the opportunity they gave me to teach and their support over the years.”