After a 40-year career at Franciscan University, Dr. John Herrmann has decided to retire, although he continues to make the mysteries of physics accessible to students on a part-time basis.
Herrmann graduated from Providence College, Rhode Island, in 1961. (A physics major, naturally.) He went straight to graduate school, getting his master’s in 1963, and his PhD from Lehigh University in 1967. During his last year of doctoral studies, he was a full-time instructor at Lehigh. Next stop—Steubenville, where he has been ever since.
Herrmann witnessed lots of Steubenville history: “When I first came, there was a physics major, but in the ’70s enrollment plunged, so I oversaw the dismantling of that major.”
He saw the College search for its identity and struggle to stay in existence: “When Father Michael Scanlan talked about a stronger Catholic identity, I remember saying, ‘Father, maybe you’d better not do that.’ I was afraid the school would close if we made it stricter. He didn’t take my advice, thank God! I got involved in the charismatic renewal, and my life as a teacher and as a Catholic began to grow … and the school began to turn around.”
Dr. Herrmann has specialized in making his subject comprehensible to non-scientists: “I took out the math and equations whenever possible and emphasized how physics explains everyday occurrences. I’d use quirky examples–King Kong or whatever would make it interesting.”
His first wife, Regina, passed away in 1986. He has since remarried, and he and Karen have a “yours, mine, and ours” family of nine. Their two youngest—twins—are now seniors at Franciscan University. John says he wants to devote much of his retirement to enjoying his grandchildren—all 33 of them! The Herrmanns live in Wintersville, Ohio.
Originally published in the Autumn 2008 Baronette newsletter.