Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career and Higher Education

Major Professor

William H. Young III, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Donald A. Dellow, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Valerie J. Janesick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Vicky Phares, Ph.D.


oral history, life experiences, professor emeritus, higher education, identity, organization theory


The purpose of this study was to describe and explain the perspectives of a professor emeritus regarding his life experiences in the discipline of chemistry and in a career dedicated to research, service and teaching. Another purpose, interwoven within the perspective of this one individual, was to explore the potential influence a professor emeritus can have on his institution, and the impact the institution, its changing culture, and its shifting priorities may have on a member of the professoriate dedicated to this chosen career path. The research guiding questions for this study were: (a) What elements of this professor emeritus’ example constitute his perspective on his life as a professor? (b) What elements in his social context contributed to this perspective? And (c) What elements in his life have detracted from this perspective? The literature reviewed for this study focused on organization theory and identity theory as a lens for understanding the perspectives of a professor emeritus. Further, the specific environment of higher education was examined including the professoriate, shared governance and changes in higher education over the last couple of decades. These topics were also explored as they converge in the life of an emeritus professor. The experiences of an emeritus professor were gathered through topical interviews in both unstructured and semi-structured formats, continuing dialog between the researcher and the participant, a researcher reflective journal, and the life artifacts and site documents related to the participant. The presentation of data for this study includes a short narrative of the history and mission of the University of South Florida as well as that of the Department of Chemistry within the College of Arts and Sciences, which is the tenure home of the participant. The data also includes biographical information on the participant, Dr. Dean Martin, and presents data that relate to Dr. Martin’s perspective regarding his career through the lens of self-identity via the theoretical concepts of social and salient identity. The data illustrate the elements that Dr. Martin believes contributed to and detracted from his perspective as an emeritus professor. The data also looks at Dr. Martin’s viewpoint on the various components of the University of South Florida’s landscape. Its environment and how it has changed … or not changed through its history. Finally, this inquiry explores the idea that can we garner ideas from Dr. Martin’s experiences that will direct current and future members of the professoriate towards an engaged and mutually beneficial path. The study presents a discussion of the intersection of personal identity and organizational affiliation. The major findings include three components that are significant in the life of this professor emeritus: a commitment to his continuing career as evidence through ongoing writing, mentoring and philanthropy; the importance of having the opportunity to have an impact in the current and future discipline of chemistry and academia, and the ever present fear of becoming obsolete.