Esteemed faculty member named 2014 commencement speaker

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Kevin Coriolan | News Editor

A former Buena Vista College (BVC) student turn Buena Vista University (BVU) Professor of Biology Dr. Richard Lampe may experience a life-defining commencement speech this year, his own. Lampe has served as a faculty member for 38 years at BVU and has been chosen as the class of 2014 commencement speaker.

As is tradition, graduating seniors will walk through the arch on commencement day, May 24, just as Lampe can remember walking through the same arch before Old Main burned down in 1956.

This year’s graduation date is also significant for Lampe because he is retiring after the end of this academic year.

“To me, it’s been a rather daunting assignment. I’m on version 4.1,” Lampe said about writing the commencement speech, which he admits to having spent four months of adding, rewording, and rewriting already.

He was once on the faculty committee for events and public relations in the late 1980s, so he knows what is sought out in a good commencement speech.

“You want someone who will say something that is significant. And you try to get someone of some standing, of some name recognition that makes your event stand out of all the others,” Lampe said.

Not many other universities can say that their commencement speaker has contributed to their schools as much as Lampe has for BVU.

Lampe taught for 15 years before working in administration for seven years. He has served as a Dean of Centers, an academic dean, and Executive Vice President. He then returned to the classroom once again. Throughout his career, he has developed several courses including conservation biology and fly fishing.

“What a teacher does is not so much impart knowledge, as stir up your curiosity so you want to go find it on your own. If the artifacts we put around us do that, it helps the process move forward,” Lampe said, specifically referring to the large collection of taxidermy and mounted animals in the Estelle Siebens Science Center.

Lampe had a large hand in gathering these artifacts, and when students walk into Lampe’s office today, they might find a foot of a rhino standing on his desk. This is a sign that he is cataloging.

As a man who has served his school long after he graduated from it, Lampe will include the motto, “Education for Service,” in his commencement day speech. That’s the only hint he’s giving other than the fact that he will make a conscious effort to show BVU’s heritage to students of the graduate and professional studies.

Senior biology major Chelsey Snyder looks forward to having Lampe speak at commencement. During her time at BVU, she enrolled in zoology with Lampe, who identifies as a vertebrae zoologist.

“I am super excited that he is giving the commencement speech,” Snyder said. “I know that Lampe has spent a lot of his professional career at BV, so me going out at the same time as him is rewarding because we both have experienced what BV has to offer.”

Another animal in Lampe’s office is a taxidermy crow that he bought from a rummage sale.

“If you’re driving down the road, and you see six or seven birds, that’s a family. That’s mom and dad, and it’ll be last year’s kids who have hung around to help mom and dad raise this year’s kids. Crows are what we call ‘helpers.’ The behavior and the biology are fascinating,” Lampe said.

Certainly, many on campus agree that Lampe, during his time at BVU both in the classroom and outside of it, has been one of BVU’s greatest helpers.

Photo by Kevin Coriolan