Mentoring for 45 years…and still going strong

By Ray Feldmann on May 9, 2018

Accounting Professor Barry Buchoff among those honored at TU’s 49th Annual Service Awards Celebration at SECU Arena

Towson University's 49th Annual Service Awards
Towson University hosted its 49th Annual Service Award Celebration at SECU Arena on Wednesday, May 9. 

Of the many positive characteristics that define Towson University, mentorship is at the top of the list. The willingness of faculty and staff to invest their time to help students grow, flourish and put their knowledge to work in internships, community engagement and other transformative experiences is a trait that makes TU so distinctive.

If there was a “poster child” for mentorship, it just might be Barry Buchoff.

An accounting professor in the College of Business and Economics, Buchoff was honored for his exemplary 45 years of TU service at Wednesday’s 49th annual Service Awards Celebration at SECU Arena. Specifically, he was recognized for the positive difference he has made in the lives of others during those four-and-a-half decades.

“He finds teaching, interacting with students as an adviser, helping students find internships and jobs and mentoring all very rewarding,” observed Human Resources Associate Vice President Steve Jones, moments after Buchoff, 70, had good-naturedly sprinted to the stage to be recognized.

“Students seek him out for academic and career advice because he cares enough to know the answers,” Jones added. “Students come to alumni events and seek him out to thank him again for advice he gave in a most caring way, advice that in many cases actually changed their lives.”

Buchoff had first arrived on campus in September 1972, when a gallon of gas cost 55 cents, the price of an average house was $7,374, and when a bungled burglary known as “Watergate” would dominate the national news for years to come.

“When I first came to Towson I was doing graduate work and I wanted to try teaching,” Buchoff said earlier this week. “And I enjoyed it, and I stayed, dealing with students.

“When I arrived, the business department was just starting,” he recalled.  “It was a spinoff of economics. And we were out recruiting students. Everyone thought Towson was just a teacher’s college.  We did well recruiting and business is now one of the largest majors here, with accounting being part of it.”

Wednesday’s event was part of Towson University's second annual “Celebration of Excellence,” which is a series of 10 events in April and May that celebrate the many achievements of its students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Buchoff’s special recognition came at the end of a two-hour ceremony that was kicked off by President Kim Schatzel.

“I love this time of year because through a series of special events like this one, we get the chance to reflect on what we have accomplished over the past year and recognize that it is the steadfast commitment of many individuals that drives our collective success,” Schatzel said to the hundreds of attendees.

“It is important for us as a community to celebrate the many talented people that serve Towson University day after day and year after year,” she continued. “And there’s no better day to do that today, which has been officially declared by Governor Hogan as Maryland State Employees’ Recognition Day.

“Thank you all for being the driving forces behind the academic and personal success of our students,” she concluded, echoing the mentorship theme, “and for taking such great care of this incredible and close-knit community.”

Following Schatzel’s remarks, 58 retirees from 2017 were recognized, including seven with more than 40 years of service each.  Keeping with tradition, current employees with five to 45 years of service were subsequently called to the stage to have their photo taken with the president. The 30-year group included 24 TU employees; six people have 35 years of service.

Phil Ross and Ralph Valle, two of the five employees who have spent four decades at the university (Ross retired from TU last year), were also on hand Wednesday. Three other 40-year veterans were unable to attend the awards celebration: Tom Cascella (Theatre Arts), Susan Brodie (Financial Services), and Michael Decker (Music).

Ross and Valle were both featured in a two–minute video, highlighting the university’s 1977 era, that was played on screen as the men were walking to the stage.

 “Working on a college campus, it’s difficult sometimes just to separate work and personal life because work doesn’t feel like work,” Valle said in the tribute video.  “And we hear about, if you love your job it’s really not a job. And I always felt that way.”

Ross concurred with Valle’s assessment of the positive TU culture.

“I remember the camaraderie, the mentoring,” Ross noted. “People took an interest in you professionally, to help you grow and develop. And that’s one thing, that when I left the university, in my opinion still existed.”

For Buchoff, that camaraderie and mentoring are just as vibrant today as they were when he walked onto campus more than 45 years ago.

“I enjoy coming to work every day,” Buchoff said.  “I have great memories of the past but I’m still looking to the future. I still plan to be here, doing as hard work as I always do.”

If the standing ovation that Buchoff received at the conclusion of Wednesday’s ceremony is any indication, Towson University is hoping the longtime accounting professor will enjoy coming to work every day for many more years to come.