This year, three members of the GSSWSR community with
a combined service record of 90 years will be leaving, sort
of. For Paula Dubin, former admissions secretary, we
wish her all the best as she retires to a life of leisure knowing,
as she must, that she will always be a part of this community
(see box below). But for the other two—Marcia Martin,
Ph.D. ’82, former associate dean, and Nancy Kirby, M.S.S. ’65,
former assistant dean and director of admissions—
stereotypical retirement of past generations is not (yet) truly
on the horizon.
Dean Darlyne Bailey says that for the ‘baby boomer’ genera - tion in today’s organizations, the idea of retirement has trans - formed. Bailey references the term “encore performance” (coined by author Marc Freedman in his book Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life)—the creation of post-career positions tailored to individual desires and talents and aligned with organizational needs. And so it is with Martin and Kirby. Marcia Martin came to Bryn Mawr in 1976, when she commenced her doctoral studies. In 1979, she became a field liaison and also started teaching for the School. When she completed her Ph.D. in 1982, she became the director of field instruction and in the late 1980s, Martin added associate dean to her title. When Ruth W. Mayden retired in 2002, Martin became co-dean (with Raymond Albert).
Next up was director of the program (while the national search for a dean was conducted), and then finally, associate dean again. Throughout all of these administrative positions, Martin continued to do what she loves most: teach. For her encore performance, Martin will continue to teach. In addition to clinical Social Work, she is excited about teaching Human Behavior in the Social Environment. “I taught a version of this course many, many years ago and it has been terrific to come back to it. Has human behavior changed over the years?” She shrugs. “I wonder.”
She is also pleased to be a consultant for the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program run by the University of Pittsburgh, where she is currently developing a child advocacy curriculum.
How does she feel about this shift in her professional life? By way of metaphor, Martin shares this personal anecdote about her shift from a high-cut hiking boot to a country walker. “It felt monumental to me at the time. It was tantamount to admitting I could no longer negotiate the rugged incline that leads to Goodrich Rock [New Hampshire] and view the magnificent valley below, or ascend the very steep and rough Mt. Osceola Trail to the scenic East Peak. But as I became a country walker rather than a mountain climber, an explorer more than an adventurer, I realized that while the most panoramic view may be from the mountain peak, the valley’s paths hold so many compelling discoveries of their own. Experiences like that have helped me to embrace change and as my professional view changes now, I feel so blessed that at this point in my life there still are new opportunities and challenges.”
Nancy Kirby did her undergraduate degree at Bennett College for Women, an historically Black college, where she wept every evening at dusk from home sickness. But she eventually adjusted enough to participate in the sit-ins of the 1970s, and this year, for the original activists’ 50th anniversary, she was selected as one of their “unsung heroes.”
Kirby was hired in 1979 as the field faculty for the Maternal and Child Health grant program. Then, in 1982, she became assistant dean and director of admissions for the School. She worked closely with Ruth W. Mayden, Martin and Bailey, of whom she says, “I really learned from working with each of those people. They were important in their respective ways in my personal and professional development.”
Though self-described as “timid” and “shy” in her youth, Kirby blossomed into an effective and valued leader, serving during the course of her career on a number of boards, including the boards of the Spectrum Health Services, the Black Women in Sport Foundation, The Inglis Foundation (who honored her with their Gold Coin award), The Valentine Foundation, and The Dowdy Foundation.
For her encore performance, Kirby will work with Bailey to enhance alumnae/i relations, one day a week. “Knowing Nancy,” says Bailey, “she’ll probably tip-toe in more often.” Kirby’s goal is to try to help alumnae/i become more connected to the School. “We want our alumnae/i ambassadors to let the School know what they are doing, what their concerns are,” she says, “but also to let the School share their perspectives on the social work profession and give us their input.”
Along with her GSSWSR role, Kirby will continue to serve at Valentine and Dowdy, but she is also looking forward to being somewhat retired. “I just want to be able to explore the city,” she says. She also will get back to weaving tapestries.
Dean Bailey, who has a five-year goal of meeting every living alumna/us of the School, says, “All the alumnae/i that I’ve met feel indebted to this School. They feel they joined a community that supported them in their most formative years. I am certain that Nancy and Marcia played a major role in that.”
Peggy Phipps and friend. Phipps is one of the GSSWSR students who helped design the mural with ACPPA Artistic Director Amy Grebe. In October as part of the celebration of the GSSWSR’s 95th birthday, members of the Norristown community joined the GSSWSR, our College Civic Engagement Office, Bryn Mawr undergraduates, and students from Swarthmore in creating a mural at the ACPPA Community Art Center. The mural will be installed at ACLAMO Family Center later this year.
Good-bye to Paula Dubin
Gloria Guard, MSS/MLSP ‘78, president of the People's Emergency Center in Philadelphia. The GSSWSR and College community came together in celebration of the 90+ years of service provided by Marcia Martin, Nancy Kirby and Paula Dubin. Dubin is retiring and we will miss her!