Larry Heck, professor of sociology and assistant undergraduate dean, has been a part of the Newman family since 1973. During his 46 years at Newman University, he has served as a professor, division chair, director of financial aid, coordinator of a Title III grant, planned giving officer and assistant dean. He is set to retire at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.
Heck has also been a member and chapter sponsor of Pi Gamma Mu during his entire Newman career. Pi Gamma Mu is an international honor society in social sciences that recognizes students in the social science field for their accomplishments.
The Newman University chapter, co-sponsored by Heck and Jill Fort, who serves as the dean of the School of Business and a professor of criminal justice, was recently selected for the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences Roll of Merit for their work during 2018-19 academic year.
Heck has been a part of the organization for many years and said he is happy to be ending on such a high note.
He became a member of Pi Gamma Mu in the 1973-74 academic year and served as chapter sponsor for 30 years. In 1987, he became involved with the group’s board of trustees, serving as vice-chancellor, secretary-treasurer and first vice president. He is currently serving the last year of his second three-year term as president of the board of trustees.
These honors are typically recognized at an annual initiation ceremony but this year the honors will be made virtually.
“The feeling is close to incredible to think that our chapter members were successful in that accomplishment,” said Heck. “The recognition was also meaningful since it was the 45th anniversary of the chartering of our chapter, Kansas Theta.”
The organization has received this accomplishment a number of times in the past, Heck added.
“The award, the concept of an honor society, and Pi Gamma Mu are highly significant for me,” he said. “I believe in academic excellence. And Pi Gamma Mu, and all honor societies, recognized students’ excellent academic accomplishments. When I was a student and invited to join an honor society, I was absolutely elated. My primary motivation is to pass that on to our students and to students in all the other chapters of Pi Gamma Mu. As president of the trustees, my name is on hundreds of membership certificates —- I feel elated once again.”
Heck cherishes his memories from his time with Pi Gamma Mu as well as Newman University. All in all, he will miss the students and his classroom the most after retirement.
“My first great joy is seeing my students progress and grow personally and academically — the changes can be so amazing. My second great joy is the classroom and sharing that experience and my discipline with my students; the experience is remarkable. For me, the experience has a rather transcending quality,” he said.
In retirement, Heck has plans to catch up on many delayed projects, including some academic and non-academic writing.