(Above) Left to right Michael Hudson ’88 (MSU Director), Dr. Timothy Sawyer (LSSU Psychology Professor 1976-2002), and Dr. Paul Byrnes ’89, ‘09 (NMU Professor) reconvene in Sault Ste. Marie to celebrate a 35-year friendship that began at LSSU in 1984.I knew LSSU offered the small community feel I needed to thrive academically, but I did not foresee the way friendships and faculty leadership would blossom into lifetime memories and successes.” 35 years ago this fall, Michael Hudson of Saginaw and Paul Byrnes of Marlette arrived on campus with ambition, curiosity, and a bit of uncertainty hours from their hometowns. The small LSSC campus became home and new friendships began while faculty mentorship shaped their futures.
Michael reflects, “As a first-generation college student challenged by progressive vision loss that would ultimately lead to blindness, I was unsure about how to choose a major, what it meant to be a college student, or what I would do following graduation, but Dr. Timothy Sawyer, professor of Psychology, shared compelling evidence that the science of mind and behavior was foundational across career and personal life.” Paul and Michael initially enrolled in Dr. Sawyer’s introductory psychology course to fulfill elective academic requirements, but his passion for the field and outstanding teaching qualities prompted each of them to major in psychology. They recall his commanding use of the English language and a rigorous set of academic standards and expectations, balanced by a sense of humor and eagerness to advise and mentor as particularly salient. Paul recalls, “at the conclusion of a typical class session, we acquired new vocabulary that essentially required a dictionary to derive full value from the lecture.”
“In the 1980’s, Drs. Sawyer, Ratwik and Malmberg were all revered for excellence in teaching and advising by psychology majors”, remarks Michael. They emphasized that the psychology program would not be an easy path, but would well-position students for advanced studies. Both Michael and Paul went on to earn graduate degrees and today celebrate LSSU as foundational to their career success as higher education leaders.
During a July 2019 summer break, Michael and Paul returned to campus and reconnected with Dr. Sawyer over breakfast. “There is value in revisiting your alma mater, reflecting on the ways those college years provided opportunity, and paying homage to a professor who served admirably at LSSU. Dr. Sawyer helped launch our careers and lives on today as one of the most influential people in our lives.” The chance to return and say thank you, walk the campus, and even peek into our old residential settings was a powerful trip down memory lane. Personal mentoring by Dr. Sawyer communicated the power of reliability, hard work, and persistence, as well as envisioning challenges in our lives not as barriers, but as opportunities that promote creativity and problem solving. We are thankful for the LSSU experience and encourage each graduate to take time to revisit campus and connect with a professor who made a profound difference in your life.