Farewell but Not Goodbye

by Katherine Noll, photos by David W. Coulter
June 18, 2012

The sentimental may say that the beautiful day on June 15 - the sunny, blue sky, a gentle breeze - was the Northampton Community College campus itself saying thank you to two extraordinary leaders.  The weather and the setting were picture-perfect as the NCC community gathered for a farewell celebration to honor Dr. Arthur L. Scott, NCC's president since 2003, and Susan Kubik, vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the NCC Foundation. After having served NCC for a combined 73 years, Scott and Kubik will retire at the end of June.

The festivities began outside in the Quad with food, drinks, live music and a sea of smiling, happy faces as close to 500 students, alumni, friends and colleagues reunited for the momentous occasion.

"I was here for Art's first interview. I was here for his inauguration. I was here for his inaugural ball. Of course I'm going to be here for his retirement," retired staff member Millie Hudak said. "He is like a son to me."

The program began inside in an overflowing Lipking Theatre. "We're a close knit family, we all love each other," Thea Phalon, director of special events said as she asked people to move closer together to make room for more guests. "We love Art and Sue!" an audience member shouted in reply. It was a refrain that was repeated throughout the night, during an evening filled with fun surprises.

Did you know that Scott and Kubik were retiring to spend more time on their music career? Neither Paul Pierpoint and Mardi McGuire Clossondid they. The entertainment began with a video of Paul Pierpoint, dean of NCC's Fowler Family Southside Center, and Mardi McGuire Closson, vice president of student affairs, impersonating the "Hullabaloo Hipsters," with Mario Acerra, professor of communication/theatre starring as the host of the  "Showbiz Review." "Susie and I are both retiring," Pierpoint mimed to Acerra as Scott. "But this college is always going to be a part of us. We go together."  The song from the movie "Grease" began to play on the video, and it was soon proven that the entire college community believes Scott, Kubik and NCC do indeed go together as staff, faculty and students from all departments and campuses appeared on the screen dancing to the song.

The fun continued as Pierpoint and Closson reenacted a true story depicting how Scott and Kubik's beloved dog Ollie joined the family as a result of a golf bet.

Guests held up electric tea candles in tribute to Scott and Kubik as NCC's Community Chorus sang the NCC's Community Choruscollege alma mater. Before anyone could shed too many tears, the mood turned light again as Professor of History Michael McGovern, cast as a transitional therapist in a satirical video, told the couple:  "The good news is that when you retire, you get to spend a lot more time with your spouse," he said straight-faced. "The bad news is, you get to spend a lot more time with your spouse."

The crowd went wild when "Artie Baby and the Kub-i-chicks" hit the stage, pleading with Scott andArtie Baby and the Kub-i-chicks Kubik to reconsider their retirement by serenading them with the Diana Ross and the Supremes song "Stop! In the Name of Love." It may have backfired when Mitch Murtha, director of judicial affairs, decked out as Diana Ross, ignored Scott's protests and sat in his lap to finish the song.

The program turned serious again as Jeff Focht, vice president of academic affairs, recapped the amazing careers of the guests of honor. "It is hard to imagine this place without you," he said.  Members of the Alumni Association, Foundation Board, and Board of Trustees, as well as Senator Lisa Boscola and Representative Joe Emrick, stepped forward to pay their respects to Scott and Kubik and the lasting legacy they have created at NCC.

The first gift of the evening was presented by Brian Shaud.  A May graduate of NCC, Shaud produced the "We Go Together" video when he was still a student.  He gave Scott and Kubik their own copy.

Scott Raub '92 and Cindy Workman '74, gave them mini billboards and a replica of a paver that will be placed in the Tribute Garden with their names on it from the Alumni Association.  "You are a dynamic duo who truly coined the Northampton Way," Raub said. "Thank you for the many wonderful memories. Your actions will always be felt and you will be greatly missed."

Bruce Palmer of the Foundation Board recalled how Scott and Kubik began their careers during his days as a student. After crediting them for the "extremely positive image NCC enjoys not only in our region but around the country," he, Arif Fazil and Diane Martin presented them with a Martin Guitar signed by all the Foundation members. "It is a fitting gift because you played such a role in industry here in the Lehigh Valley. And if retirement doesn't work out, take guitar lessons and busk in the Quad," he joked.

Fazil, who leads D'Huy Engineering group shared a favorite quote before presenting Scott and Kubik with hard hats to wear when visiting the construction site of the new Monroe Campus.  "We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us."

"During the last few months, our campus community has been working around the clock trying to figure out what kind of present would be just right for Art and Sue. They are not easy people to shop for, but I think we figured something out they'll enjoy," Jeff Focht said before calling Closson, Associate Professor of Biology Charlie Rinehimer, and Donna Taggart '73 to the stage.

Closson revealed donations had been collected from the College family to purchase a trip to Pebble Beach, California, for the avid golfers.  In presenting a portrait of Scott painted by Suzana Mestric, Rinehimer explained, "Here at Northampton, we like to see our president:  in line at the cafeteria, around the table at meetings, at student activities and college celebrations. Seeing Art is always a pleasure. Now we can continue to see Art at NCC anytime we like."

Taggart drew enthusiastic applause when she said, "Every year, individuals choose to make financial contributions to Northampton as a way of honoring people they love. When people make those gifts, it is often Art and Sue who phone them up and say thank you and let them know that from now on, they are a part of the Northampton family. Tonight, rather than making the call, Art and Sue get to take the call. It is my pleasure to let you know that faculty, staff and friends have contributed over $40,000 to NCC in your honor. Art and Sue, you will always be part of this Northampton family." The money will be divided between the Laura Scott Scholarship Endowment, the Dr. Arthur Scott Presidential Leadership Endowment, and the Development Endowment.

There were more revelations to come.  On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Bob Fehnel and Karl Stackhouse took turns at the mic. "Sue, we want your name to be a part of Northampton Community College forever," Stackhouse said before announcing that NCC's Tribute Garden would from now on be known as the Susan K. Kubik Tribute Garden. 

Next Fehnel and Stackhouse turned to Art, saying, "Art's background in athletics shaped the leader he is today. He understands the value of teamwork, and never took his eye off the goal of helping students succeed." Because of this, the Trustees deemed it appropriate to rename the Spartan Center the Arthur L. Scott Spartan Center.

Closing reflections were offered by David Shaffer '77, who praised Art as a bricklayer who built on the foundations laid by his predecessors Dr. Kopecek and Dr. Richardson, and as a community connector and leader of the highest touch.  He commended Sue for her advocacy on behalf of students to keep tuition affordable. "When someone says Sue Kubick is the most successful and talented fundraiser in the area, I say balderdash," Shaffer said. "She is the most successful and talented fundraiser in the universe."

Visibly touched, Scott and Kubik offered their thanks.  "You will never know how much your presence tonight means to us," Kubik told the audience. She shared that while having angst over retirement, she turned to NCC's former president, Dr. Robert Kopecek, who told her: "I guarantee you won't miss the work. You'll miss the relationships," she related. She then thanked the Trustees for their wisdom and guidance, philanthropists for trusting NCC with their hard-earned investments, staff and faculty for exemplifying the Northampton Way, and the Institutional Advancement staff for making it a pleasure for her to come to work every day.

"Northampton has been our life," Scott said. "We met here, grew up here, and survived 32 years of marriage here," he joked. "I came in the '70s and only planned on staying for a few years. We stayed because the work is so extraordinary, important and exciting. Many of you in this audience can and should take credit for all we have accomplished together. It has been a blessing to be at a college that works every day to transform the lives of its students. We leave with a sense of accomplishment, fun memories and knowing the future is very, very bright not only for NCC, but for the community."

Jeff Focht ended by remarking that Art and Sue have left NCC well-prepared for the future. "Respect and joy are key ingredients to the thing we call the Northampton Way. These are among the gifts that Art and Sue have been giving to us for over thirty years. And these are the gifts that will carry us into the future.

The celebration continued out on the Quad where the crowd savored the moment, the memories, the company, and desserts prepared by NCC's culinary arts students and Sodexo.

View more photos from this event on Flickr.

Watch the "We Go Together" video here.

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