MARSHALL – Some work. Some have fun. But some are lucky enough to not have to distinguish the two.
Betty Roers is one of those people.
Roers was the director of senior college and the director of distance learning for Southwest Minnesota State University. She decided to retire from the college to pursue a job with Roers’ Investments, which is owned by her two sons, Kent and Brian.
“John Bowden came up with the idea for senior college 13 years ago and asked me if I would be a part of it. Then, I launched the program. We had to search the community to see what programs seniors were interested in. After that we kicked off. To begin with, we were only accepting seniors into our classes, but now it is open to adults of all ages. People come from a 60-mile radius to be a part of senior college,” Roers said.
“I was on the first advisory board and served for six years,” said Marie Henriksen of Arco, one of the attendees at a gathering Monday at SMSU to honor Roers.
“We started with only one six-week session for the first year, but by the second year had two. John Bowden instigated the whole thing, then Betty lined it up,” Henriksen said.
“I have facilitated a few classes. I say facilitate because I didn’t really teach – many of the students knew more than I did about the subjects,” Henrikson said.
“The cool thing about senior college is that most of the time the teachers teach the students just as much as the students teach the teachers,” said Donna Kurth of Ivanhoe.
“The best and most important part of senior college is the social aspect. The relationships that you form are amazing. You have the opportunity to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t,” Kurth said.
Senior college has made a big impact on many of the seniors in southwest Minnesota. About 200 people travel four days a week to come to some of the 15 classes that are offered twice a year.
“All of this has been made possible by Betty,” Henrikson said.
As Roers retires from her position as director, Lauren Beukelman, a Graduate Assistant who had been working alongside Roers, will be taking over.
“We have to wait for the new president to decide whether or not to hire anyone new. For now, others are taking on more responsibility,” Raphael Onyeaghala, Dean of the College of Business, Education and Professional Status for SMSU, said.
The distance learning program that Roers was a part of is called Two-Plus-Two. Lori Wynia, who has been working with Roers for five years, will be taking responsibility of that operation.
Everyone who was at Roers’ going away party had nothing but nice things to say about her.
“Betty has been amazing to work with. She cares so much about everyone she is in contact with,” Kris Henspeter, Roers’ administrative assistant, said.
“She has done a wonderful job with both the distance learning and senior college program. She has been outstanding for the university. Betty is very passionate about her job. We are going to miss her, her energy and her charisma. Hopefully she answers when we call her for help,” Onyeaghala said.
“It is going to be difficult to leave SMSU, but I will be back whenever I can,” Roers said.