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Senior Instructor of Biology Shirley Dillaman Retires After 30 Years

6/18/2013 —

Senior Instructor in Biology Shirley Gildersleeve Dillaman retired this past spring after 30 years of teaching at Shenango campus. Dillaman began teaching as a part-time faculty member in the spring of 1983, and was hired full-time to teach anatomy and physiology in 1984.


During the past 30 years, Dillaman received many grants including a computer technology grant through Penn State’s Project Empower Program which enabled Dillaman to develop her own “Tutorial of the Human Muscular System.” She utilized this tutorial in her own classes and presented it at other Empower convocations and regional and national “Human Anatomy and Physiology” conferences.  She also received several equipment grants which enabled the campus to procure new microscopes and a new $25,000 autoclave for the microbiology department.


Dillaman has been an outstanding instructor, receiving the campus’ prestigious Riforgiato Teacher of the Year award on three occasions, the highest number of times for any instructor at the campus. The biology coordinator at University Park remarked that she had the highest “Student Ratings of Teacher Effectiveness” of any faculty in the biology department throughout the Penn State System. Over the years, she served as a member of the campus’ Faculty Senate Committee, as well as several faculty and staff search committees, and numerous accreditation processes for Shenango’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program.


Outside of campus, Dillaman was invited to speak at several events, including numerous Sharon Regional School of Nursing’s graduation ceremonies. She is on the advisory board for the Mercer County Career Center and is an active member of the National Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, in whose journal she was published. She continues to review anatomy and physiology manuscripts for several publishing companies. She also published a Photographic Atlas for Human Anatomy, which is presently being used at the Shenango campus and other local universities and colleges.


Over the years Dillaman has donated her time to present workshops for elementary and high school students, in an effort to improve their appreciation of, and interest in, science.  She has also spoken to new instructors on how best to teach adult students. Dillaman states that she tries to create an atmosphere of mutual respect in the classroom.


“Most of my students are adult learners.  I attempt to build their confidence in themselves, and I make myself available to help them. I know that it takes courage and stamina to go to school, while working and raising children. My courses are difficult, and I expect a lot from my students, but I am always fair, and they know exactly what I require of them.”


Many of her students have written that she is the best teacher they have ever had. “Her passion for both biology and teaching came across in every lecture and lab.”  “Her teaching skills are unparalleled. It is obvious how much she lives and breathes what she teaches.” “She delivers her lectures with enthusiasm, personality, and a caring attitude.” “She impacted me in such an enormous way both as a student and a human being. She gave me the confidence to push myself to achieve my goals.”


Dillaman completed her undergraduate studies in biology at Slippery Rock College where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and first in her class. She went on to Cleveland State University graduating Summa Cum Laude with a master of education in biology. She and her husband, Glenn, reside in Grove City, Pennsylvania.


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