Manchester University
Oak Leaves

May 11, 2018


Dr. Jerry Sweeten has taught at MU for 14 years.

Photo provided

No Time to Slow Down: Sweeten Retires with Praise for MU

Kaity Collins

Dr. Jerry Sweeten, professor of biology and environmental studies, is retiring next week after 14 years of teaching at Manchester University. Being a Manchester alum, Sweeten graduated from Manchester College in 1975 and returned in 2004 to teach biology and environmental studies.

He served as the director of the Environmental Studies Program from 2004 to 2016, too. To him, he can’t believe where the time has gone. “It’s hard to believe 14 years have gone by so quickly,” Sweeten said. “It’s been a blur.”

Sweeten had a whole other career before returning to Manchester to teach. He completed graduate work at Purdue University and was a member of the second class to graduate with an Environmental Studies major, but after a while, he came to the decision that MU was where he wanted to be. “I’m clearly happy I could come here,” Sweeten said. “I love teaching and there are some great people here.”

Additionally, Sweeten has also started his own business as an environmental consultant and offers internships to students who wish to gain experience and pursue their core education in environmental studies. “Maybe I could give back to MU,” Sweeten said, “who also helped me get a professional start.”

Even though Sweeten was a Manchester alum, he didn’t imagine he’d end up teaching at the very university he graduated from. “This is the last place on the planet I thought I’d be working,” Sweeten said. “It was not in my plans.” However, Sweeten has fond memories of his time at Manchester: “I miss Manchester College, but I think the mission here is the same, and that’s a good thing.”

With all the connections and good times he’s made with all the students, faculty and staff, Sweeten has both a wish and high praise for the future of Manchester University. “I hope as the university grows, everyone remembers to stay true to the liberal arts,” Sweeten said. “A Manchester education is one of the greatest luxuries in life and I hope that each student understands that and gives back to the greater good as well as remembering to always work hard as a result of their Manchester education.”

Sweeten was on a two-year phased-out retirement and his last day as a MU professor is May 25. However, he isn’t letting his retirement stop him from having fun: “I’m retiring because I’m old enough and there are other things I’d like to do; the biological clock keeps ticking.”

Whether it was trips to Alaska or the Bahamas or the shared passion instilled in his students, Sweeten will always be grateful to everyone at Manchester University for giving him the opportunity of a lifetime. “Manchester is a special place,” Sweeten said. “It touches lives in ways that cannot be quantified; it did mine, as I know it did for others.”