Colleagues remember Ashtabula professor

Matt Carroll

Professor Bart Nolan’s 46-year teaching career at Kent State’s Ashtabula campus ended Sunday when he passed away in his home at the age of 73. Friends who knew him best said that’s the way he would’ve wanted it.

“Kent State, the Ashtabula campus was really his life,” said Susan Stocker, dean of the regional campuses. “I don’t know what he would have done if he didn’t have the campus to come to every day.”

Stocker first met Nolan 16 years ago when she was a faculty member. She remembers Nolan as someone who always had time for people.

“He loved to talk and share information,” she said.

After receiving a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University, Nolan accepted a job at Kent State Ashtabula – which was being housed in a junior high school at the time. It was there that he would spend the next five decades of his life.

Although his job title was assistant professor of history, Nolan wore many other hats, including coordinating the Developmental Education program and serving as president of the faculty council. He also has the distinction of being the Ashtabula campus’ first ombudsman.

He was not afraid to try new things. In the wake of the events of May 4, 1970, the university implemented the “Experimental College” program, which allowed students and faculty to create their own courses. He welcomed the change with open arms.

“Bart was way ahead with all of this stuff,” Dean Emeritus John Mahan said. “He was always looking for new ways to do things.”

Mahan, who served as Ashtabula’s assistant director in 1969 before eventually serving as dean from 1985-95, referred to Nolan as the “last of the great stand-up lecturers.”

“When I first came to the campus, I used to stand outside his classroom just for the joy of hearing him lecture,” Mahan said.

Despite his popularity among colleagues and students alike, Nolan was a private man who did not like the limelight.

“Bart was someone who shunned, absolutely shunned, any type of recognition,” Stocker said. “There had been attempts over the years to recognize him publicly for his many contributions to campus and he would not stand for that.”

Both Stocker and Mahan will be speaking at a memorial service on Sept. 24 at the Ashtabula campus.

Contact regional campus north reporter Matthew Carroll at [email protected].