Dr. Peter Staffel retiring this spring after professing for 25 years at WLU

Pictured in the photograph above is Dr. Peter Staffel His wife took the photo.

West Liberty University (WLU) professor of English and Director of the Honors Program, Dr. Peter Staffel, is retiring at the end of this academic year. Staffel earned a Ph.D. in English from Tulane University, a Master of Arts in English from the University of Idaho, a Bachelor of Arts in classics from Edinburgh University in Scotland and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His teaching specialties at WLU include William Shakespeare, Renaissance and 18th Century British Literature, classical studies, mythology and The Epic. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, gardening, attending the theater and the opera.

Some of Staffel’s favorite parts of teaching at WLU were hiring and working with his present colleagues, taking students to various venues in Pittsburgh, Pa., going on two trips to Europe with students and teaching; additionally, reading, watching and discussing Shakespeare. Although Staffel noted his enjoyment of every class taught, a few of his favorite courses included Shakespeare, British Literature (Renaissance, 18th Century), pirates of the Golden Age, Greek mythology and senior seminar.
Staffel shared that he didn’t always want to be a college English professor until he went to college- he wanted to be a high school teacher. Staffel said his decision to be a professor was “a relief.” Staffel said, “I almost feel like it was divine intervention.”

Staffel was inspired to become an English professor when he took a required upper-division humanities credit in English with an extraordinary young professor (who later moonlighted in as a punk musician). This course just happened to be in 18th-century British Literature, which became his specialty.

When asked about his favorite book, Staffel said, “As you might expect, it has changed many times, but for the last several years it has been Amore Towle’s ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ which is a beautiful narrative, a beautifully written a book that I intentionally read slowly, both to appreciate and to keep from finishing it.”

As for his advice to WLU students, Staffel said, “Quit focusing on Instagram and Twitter and read real prose (or ‘pro’s’ as in professional writers). Oh, and unplug the buds and listen to the world around you.”

Staffel said, “I would like to thank my many colleagues for their kind indulgences over the years, and especially my last and best Chair, Professor Angela Rehbein. I wish I would have had longer to work with the new dean of the College of Liberal and Creative Arts, Dr. Cecilia Konchar-Farr. And I wish I had purchased one of Bob Villamagna’s fabulous works of art.”

After retiring, Staffel plans to travel and read. Staffel said, “Actually, I added grotesquely to an already unreadable stack, several ‘stories’ high. They’ll all go to our library when I finish them or when life finishes with me.”

A reception was held yesterday, April 13, in the alumni wall area on the third floor of the Elbin Library at 3:30 p.m. to celebrate Staffels’ retirement. At the celebration, Staffel discussed several poems that had special meaning to him throughout his 35 years of teaching. Staffel has been teaching at WLU for the past 25 years, and his presence on our campus will be greatly missed by students, faculty and staff.