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Lawrence Wit

Associate dean for academic affairs
College of Sciences and Mathematics

Lawrence Wit, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Sciences and Mathematics will retire in September, marking the end of a nearly 37-year career at Auburn University. Wit began his academic career at Auburn after he received his bachelor of science in zoology from Wheaton College, his master of science in zoology and physiology from Western Illinois University and his doctorate in zoology and physiology from the University of Missouri. Prior to pursuing his doctorate, he also spent two years serving in the U.S. Army as an administrative officer in the Medical Service Corps. In 1976, Wit was hired at Auburn University as an assistant professor of zoology and entomology in the College of Agriculture. He joined COSAM in 1990 as interim associate dean for academic affairs, and in 1992 was named the permanent associate dean. For 22 years, his responsibilities have included coordinating COSAM's academic programs, teaching classes, assisting with student organizations like the Pre-pharmacy Club, and working closely with COSAM students and the COSAM student advisors.

In addition to advising countless students in the past 22 years, Wit was also instrumental in creating the COSAM Leaders, an exemplary group of students who serve the college as its official ambassadors. His influence is not reserved solely for the Office of Academic Affairs. In his classroom he tends to make a lasting impression as well. He is most well-known for his Mammalian Physiology class. For 30 years, students preparing for professional schools after graduation from Auburn have taken this required class from Wit as he educates them on the core principles of medical physiology. His teaching methods and class content have brought critical acclaim to both Auburn's biomedical sciences students and the university's premedical program. Upon retirement, in addition to spending more time with his children and grandchildren, Wit plans to continue his association with COSAM by working with the Office of Development.

1. What are the most significant changes you have seen at the university during your time here, and what has remained the same?

Probably the most significant changes that I have seen have been physical changes involving the number and quality of facilities on our campus. Also, I have seen an increase in the quantity and quality of faculty research and scholarship. Thirty-seven years ago, I discovered that Auburn was a special place that had the warm feel of a family rather than the sterile feel of an institution. I do not think that has appreciably changed.

2. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job and what is the most challenging?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is witnessing students achieve their academic and personal goals. One of the most difficult has been administering the many challenges which have accompanied the rapid growth in COSAM's student population. This has been exacerbated by the budget constraints we have experienced.

3. What is some of the advice you have given to students over the years?

I will mention two: 1. Failure is not the end of the road; it is only a fork in the road. 2. The most important thing a student can do to be an academic success is to learn to manage his or her time.

4. Of all the accomplishments in your career, of what are you the most proud?

I guess I would say it has been those times when a former student tells me that taking Mammalian Physiology has changed them in some significant way such as helping them learn how to think or helping them learn their own capacity to learn.

5. What is your favorite thing about Auburn University and what will you miss most about Auburn when you retire?

The thing I like best about Auburn is the Auburn Spirit, that intangible culture which distinguishes the Auburn Family from most other universities. I will miss my daily interaction with the students, particularly the COSAM Leaders and the students in my class. I feel unbelievably blessed! When I was hired, had I been given the opportunity to list all the opportunities I wanted to have during my career, I would have asked for far less than I got.

Aug. 20, 2012