Skip to Content

The Golden Guys: Three of the Greats Set to Retire

They say all good things must come to an end—but sometimes endings bring new beginnings, and as one chapter closes, another opens and the story goes on. For three outstanding, longtime faculty members, the stories will most definitely go on, and in their wake, they’re leaving quite a legacy behind. Still, one wonders what these three—Dr. Norman Beck, Dr. Robert Jonas, and Dr. Eric Daub— will remember most as they look back over their years at TLU—and what wisdom they have to bestow from all they’ve learned along the way.

Beck, Lutheran pastor and professor of Theology and Classical Languages, is capping off an amazing 49-year tenure at TLU, having arrived on campus in January of 1975. When perusing his decades of Bulldog memories, he fondly recalls the 1975-76 football season, when legendary head coach Jim Wacker led the Bulldogs to the NAIA Division II Football National Championship—for the second year in a row.

Jonas, professor of Biology, showed up on campus a good many years after Beck, in 1991. That brings his TLU run to 33 years. His best memory from that time? Turns out he’s got too many to count, but he says, “It’s always great to see how former students are doing!”

Daub, director of Piano Studies and Music Theory at TLU’s School of Music, is an accomplished pianist covering everything from jazz to blues to rock. He started his TLU days in August of 1994. He says he’ll always remember when, at the beginning of one spring semester, his music theory students presented him with what they called The Box of Shame. “They had apparently written down quotes from the past several years of lectures all over the outside of the box—lighthearted admonitions about music theory and being more responsible about studying and taking notes,” he explains. “They wanted me to put a student in the Box of Shame when they weren’t measuring up to expectations, and were very disappointed when I refused to do so.” Daub says the Box of Shame sat in the classroom through that entire semester. “I guess it was recycled over the following summer. I wish that I would have kept it.”

Considering how long these three—these golden guys who’ve walked alongside generations of TLU students—have been on campus, one wonders what advice they might offer to their younger and less experienced selves if they could go all the way back to the beginning.

“l would advise myself to audit Spanish language courses to gain a reading and speaking knowledge of the Spanish language.” That’s Norm Beck’s take. Bob Jonas, on the other hand, feels like he actually did receive a nugget of wisdom, right from the start: “Don’t lower your standards.” This advice came from the late Dr. Deb Hettinger, biology professor. And what about Daub? “I would say to myself, ‘Relax, enjoy, and know that you are in a great place working with great people.’” Good advice for all of us.

And as to the students—the up-and-coming leaders in our midst—the three have some simple words of advice for them as well. “Attend all classes if possible, participate in class discussions, take good notes, study your notes daily so that you will not need to cram for exams, and complete all assignment before the due dates,” says Beck. Jonas advises, “You have time, don’t rush your life. I started my PhD program when I was 28.” And Daub points out that “TLU is a place where you can learn the skills, discipline, and joy that is essential for your future professional lives. If you aren’t sure about what you want to do with your life, we will help you discover your purpose!”

Having seen so many groups of students come and go through the years, how, you might wonder, do the three feel about this current generation? Well let’s just say the future is looking bright from where they’re standing. “This generation of TLU students welcomes diversity and includes rather than excludes a variety of viewpoints in Theology and in life,” says Beck. Jonas adds that, “Our students are compassionate, they respect each other and everyone’s uniqueness.” And Daub concurs. “Our students are all really kind and generous people who care deeply about equality, justice, and inclusiveness.”

So as they close this chapter and move on to the next, what’s in store? Beck will continue to be actively involved in TLU activities and in the lives of his family—so don’t fret: you’ll still see him around campus. Jonas is looking forward to doing some traveling and fishing, and he’s considering taking up the guitar. And Daub, who’s been commuting in from North Austin, looks forward to leaving rush hour behind. He’ll be working on numerous musical projects on his piano and keyboards and enjoying travelling with his wife.

Consider this: between the three of them, Beck, Jonas, and Daub have given 112 years to TLU. Who knows how many classes they’ve taught or lives they’ve changed—or what their students would say, were they all gathered together in one group. But one thing is sure: that group would jump to their feet and the applause would be thunderous.

And it would be well deserved.

On Sunday, April 21 at 4 p.m. in Jackson Auditorium, Dr. Daub will be featured as a soloist together with friends and the TLU Orchestra in J.S. Bach's Concerto for Four Pianos and in William Grant Still's Ennanga. For more information, click here.

On Saturday, April 27 at 2 p.m. in TLU’s Chapel of Abiding Presence, Dr. Norm Beck is preparing to deliver his final lecture before entering a well-earned retirement. For more information, click here.