Seton Hill honors late professor Suzanne Rogers

Pictured above are the officers and advisor of the Seton Hill Biology Club with family members of Suzanne Rogers at the tree dedication for Rogers, an associate professor of biology at SHU before she passed away in June. From left to right: Suzie Borchard, Vincent Dethier, Hannah Hartman, Abby Gillis, Kathy Dethier, Nate Zanoni, Shreya Sudadi and Jessica Brzyski. Photo by P.Parise/Setonian.

Suzanne Rogers loved plants, so it only seemed appropriate to plant a tree in her honor.

Rogers, who was an associate professor of biology at Seton Hill University, passed away on June 14. The Biology Club dedicated a tree to Rogers to honor her life, which is planted along Seton Hill Drive.

“Dr. Rogers loved the London planetrees that line Seton Hill Drive and would mention them frequently in our freshman biology classes,” said senior Hannah Hartman, president of the Biology Club. “When the Biology Club began considering planting a tree for her, we immediately thought of that type of tree and remembered fondly her reaction to them.”

“She always talked about those trees, so I know she would have loved that we gave her one,” said senior elementary and special education major Cassie Dallaire. “She definitely is one of the people who would appreciate it more than I think anybody else because she was do dedicated to plants. I’m glad she’s still on the Hill in a way.”

The tree dedication took place after the memorial service for Rogers, which took place on Oct. 12 in St. Joseph Chapel. Among the speakers were Bernadette Fondy, dean of the school of natural and health sciences; Steven Bassett, chair of the biology department; and Dallaire, who completed work study with Rogers for three years.

In her speech, Dallaire shared anecdotes about the fun times she spent with Rogers, including the unexpected lessons Rogers taught her, such as how to determine the sex of a crayfish. She also discussed how Rogers asked her three questions in her work study interview, including if she found herself to be responsible, if she liked learning new things and what her favorite kind of cheese was.

“I doubt I’m ever going to go into another interview again and get asked what my favorite type of cheese is, so it’s just weird things like that I know I’m always going to remember,” Dallaire said. “I was just super happy to have gotten to see that side of her and spend time with her when I did.”

“Dr. Rogers had a humorous and excitable personality,” Hartman said. “She loved to laugh, even if no one else in the room of freshmen understood whatever sciency joke she told us. She was always happy and in a good mood and was always ready with a fun fact or funny anecdote about an encounter with an organism.”

Multiple students and faculty members shared their own stories about Rogers at the service, along with Rogers’ brother and sister. The service also featured a reading of a letter of encouragement from a donor by Bobbie Leeper, assistant professor of biology, since Rogers’ body was donated to science.

Rogers was a native of Ithaca, N.Y. She earned degrees from Cornell University, Ohio State University and the University of Illinois, and taught at Texas A&M University, Salem-Teikyo University and Fairmont State University before coming to SHU in 2009.

In September, the faculty senate passed a resolution that “commemorates and honors Dr. Suzanne Rogers’ dedication to Seton Hill University.” Michael Cary, president of the faculty senate, presented Rogers’ family with a copy of the resolution.

“I will always remember Dr. Rogers’ passion for all that she did,” Hartman said. “Not only was she passionate about science, but she was passionate about helping her students and even more about making learning accessible to all of them. I can only hope that I am able to enjoy my career as much as she enjoyed hers.”

Published By: Stephen Dumnich

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