“Our alumni now have the responsibility to assure that they students who follow them benefit in the same way they did from the alumni who preceded them.” ~John Mickus, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus
John Mickus, Ph.D. began as an Associate Professor at Illinois Benedictine College in 1978. Over the next 33 years he would climb the ranks of Professor, Program Director, Department Chair and even Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences until he retired as Professor Emeritus in 2011.
In his years of teaching he recognized the importance of using advanced tools in the classroom to keep students engaged and to ensure that Benedictine University was graduating students who had an understanding of current technology. During his final year while teaching Histology he realized that the departmental microscopes were not in the best condition and wanted to do something about it.
“I realized that the department really needed new microscopes and that maybe I could be of assistance in raising fund for new ones,” said Mickus. Supporting the University through outside funding sources is nothing new to Mickus. During his tenure at Benedictine University he was involved in securing over $1.6 million in grants to advance the science programs.
Each year in his Microscopic Anatomy course he would end the semester with a promise and expectation. “The promise was that I would not solicit funds from the graduates until I felt that they had adequate time to be established in their careers. The expectation I left with them was that there would come a time that I would ask them to contribute to a fund that would be used to replace the microscopes that they were using. Now is the time for both.”
While he attributes Benedictine University’s legacy of excellence in the sciences to the facilities, small classes and student-oriented faculty, he credits the students for building up the reputation. “I am very proud of the students I have taught. They are good people who have become successful in whatever they have set their minds to do. I have talked to many alumni whose paths led them to careers they could never have expected when they were in college. Hopefully they realize that they received a strong education at the university and they were well prepared to meet the demand of these degree programs and life’s demands in general.”
The Mickus Microscope Fund is not just a fund to raise money for current students but also a way for Dr. Mickus to reconnect with the students he has taught over the years. “The growth that I saw in the students over their years at the institution was incredible and I think I learned as much from them as they maybe learned from me. The total experience was always a positive for me and I was excited for my students at graduation but also a little sad to see them go. It is quite fulfilling on those occasions when I hear back from an alumnus about their life after Benedictine, their careers and families, expectations met or not.” He is hoping this will help bring back some alumni who have not stayed connected to the university.
“Our alumni now have the responsibility to assure that they students who follow them benefit in the same way they did from the alumni who preceded them.”
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