Feature Story / Unity College News

Goodbye Nancy Ross

Today, like every day for the last twelve years, Nancy Ross commuted over seventy miles to come to Unity College to do what she loves.

Ross is a professor at the college and will be retiring at the end of the current semester.  She hasn’t always worked at Unity though. In fact she stated that she had had two careers prior to her current position at Unity College. Her position here at Unity really started after she finished school at TUFTS University.

After getting her PhD in Agriculture for the Environment, Ross said she was looking for a teaching position and had gone on many interviews, however, “I thought do I really want to move?” Ross grew up in Maine and wanted to stay in the state that she had come to care so much about. “Then this job came up, so it was a God send for me.”

Since then, Ross has taught governmental, social science, policy, and core classes at Unity. Ross is also the faculty advisor for Constructive Activates, a student run organization at the college, and has worked on many different advocacy projects and campaigns in her Environmental Advocacy class.

Outside the college Ross has also been a part of a number of advocacy programs and organization. Some of these include the Carrot Project, MOFGA, and the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. According to Ross, working on these campaigns helped her become a better professor. “…I wouldn’t be able to teach the skills unless I were practicing [them].”

The Environmental Advocacy that she teaches at the college actual started off as a topics class. “The class was not on the books before I came here,” said Ross. According to her the students liked the class so much that it became a regular course that the college currently offers.

Her favorite campaign she worked on while working at Unity was in fact the first advocacy class campaign. “The first time I taught it, now you wouldn’t believe it, but we didn’t recycle,” said Ross. That first class started the recycling program on the Unity College campus. Their enthusiasm for the campaign really stuck with Ross. “They were [just] so engaged.” This was one of the things Ross was going to miss the most.

“I’m going to miss students that really care.”

At one point in her career at Unity College, Ross had Lyme disease for the duration of two years. “I could barely walk.” She remembers this time on campus not as a time of unpleasantness, but rather as a time her students showed they truly cared. “Students would take me by the arms and help me down the bridge.” She was referring to the bridge that used to be at the top of the hill near, what is now called, Higgens Wing.

“It’s hard to speak about it now, but I’ll probably miss teaching [also].”

The one thing Ross wants her students to get out of her classes the most was, “to think, to think critically.”

Samantha Longo, Ross’s current work study student, said that Ross has been like a mentor to her while she has been at Unity. “[She] has really helped me dive right into the environmental policy, law, and society program.”

At first Ross wasn’t sure she needed a work study student said Longo. However after meeting each other, Ross decided to take Longo on in a work study position.

“I have enjoyed all of my time working with Nancy, said Longo, “I will miss Nancy very much.

Longo said that Ross will be missed not only by her, but also by many others including the students she has taught. “Nancy is a great professor with so much enthusiasm for her students to learn and be engaged. She will be missed by many.”

-Michelle Plance

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