Professor Brown retires after 42 years

June 29, 2010

Professor Michael Brown has retired after a four-decade teaching career but will be long remembered by colleagues and former students alike. Brown arrived at the college in 1968 with a freshly minted Ph.D. in plant physiology from the University of Delaware. Over the years he was influential in important tenure-track faculty appointments and, as chair of the Biology department, provided leadership during curricular revisions.

He taught botany for many years and later, microbiology after completing a retraining project at the University of Maryland. Brown is best known for his guidance that has long prepared undergraduates to enter medical school and graduate programs in the life sciences and for his strong connections with medical school deans and admission staffs.

“I definitely remember sitting in Dr. Brown's office telling him how I didn’t think I would get into medical school; he told me that I had to apply anyway,” said Blair Heinke ’03. Heinke earned her M.D. from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and recently completed a three-year residency in Beth Israel’s Family Medicine Program in New York City.

Brown convinced Heinke, then an undergrad, to enroll in a winter elective at University of Maryland Shock Trauma.

“That experience turned out to be a real milestone in my journey to being a doctor. I kept a journal of these experiences that I shared with Dr. Brown. It was very introspective and it is something that I still keep to remember that I was once a naive premed student.”

During his tenure, Brown served as the first president of the Sigma Xi honorary organization devoted to post-graduate research in the sciences, establishing the first club in Maryland associated with an undergraduate liberal arts college in 1970. He also steadily guided the Biology Department as its chairman from 1979-89. During many summers, Brown could be found in the labs organizing NSF-funded workshops for high-school teachers, science institutes for high-school students or mentoring senior Biology majors with their capstone projects.

Brown joins English Professor LeRoy Lad Panek and President Joan Develin Coley with faculty emeritus recognition approved by the Board of Trustees at its April meeting.