Manchester University
Oak Leaves

March 11, 2016

Dr. John Planer

Dr. Planer Retires after 47 Years

Carly Kwiecien

Dr. John Planer, professor of music, is retiring at the end of this school year and will deliver his last lecture on Friday, May 6 at 2 p.m. in the Wine Recital Hall.

Planer has been a professor at Manchester University since the fall of 1969. Over the years, he has taught Music History and Analysis, Advanced Analysis, Jewish Faith, Arts and Ideas, First Year Seminar and several other courses. 

Although he will miss teaching his courses, he will miss his students the most. 

“I will miss meeting them, knowing their stories, [their] joys and pains, watching them confront challenges, overcoming them, [and] growing into good, stable adults investing in their (and my own) future,” Planer said.

He will also miss the faculty and many staff members, teaching diverse courses and helping to repair a broken world.

In his time at Manchester University, Planer has helped draft the mission and values statements with trustees, faculty, alumni, students and staff; he has created countless close friendships and has had significant conversations with students and colleagues. He has also attended faculty meetings to discuss the core program of integrative courses, but most significantly, he met, dated, and married his wife, Janina Traxler. 

Planer has experienced the transformation of Manchester College into Manchester University, the changes of presidents and the increasing layers of paperwork, regulations, forms, administration, reports and meetings.

“I have also witnessed the change from faculty ownership of the entire curriculum to department focuses [and] movement toward a business model: marketing, branding, profit, ‘best’ practices,” Planer said.

Through these experiences, Planer has learned a lot about himself.

“I like and care deeply about people – friendships, relationships: students, colleagues and staff,” Planer said. “I am a humanist – my interest is in the people who express themselves in the arts. I came to Manchester intending to be a music researcher; I evolved into a teacher.”

He has also learned more about the world and humanity.

“Our lives are our arguments; we must walk the talk as parents and teachers – live with integrity,” Planer said. “Polarization and hatred based upon racial, religious [and] sexual identities is easy to incite; unity, sensitivity to others and communal welfare are difficult to build and [are] very fragile.” 
Retirement will allow Planer to devote his time to his interests he did not have time to pursue before.

His bucket list is continuously growing -- he is interested in auditing graduate courses such as musicology, art history and critical biblical studies at Indiana University, Notre Dame and Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and auditing Spanish, finance and perhaps even a calculus course at Manchester University.

Planer believes in helping others and plans to look into volunteering, whether that be at a senior center, by tutoring or by being a big brother.

He plans to write about Jewish cantors living and working in rural Alsace. He also is interested in learning Italian in Italy.

When his wife retires, they have plans to travel together, especially to France.

Although Planer is excited for retirement, he has some angst about this major life change. His fear could be a difficult transition of identity, but nothing is strong enough to stop him. 

“Lifelong learning – it’s not a slogan – it’s a way of life,” Planer said.