A living tree has been planted on the Claremore campus of Rogers State University to honor the legacy of two longtime professors who have deep roots on college hill. Don and Claudia Glass retired from the biology department in 2019 with a combined 64 years of instruction, leadership and dedication to the mission and values of RSU. Their love story began in the very biology lab they would end up serving, mentoring and instructing students for the next thirty years.
“Mr. Glass and I met in Loshbaugh Hall in lab 205. We were paired as lab partners, but we didn’t like each other because we didn’t dissect the same way. By the time we finished the semester, we had fallen in love,” Claudia Glass said.
Together, the Glasses poured their knowledge and wisdom into each student who took their class or lab. Each student came from a different background, but every student was given an opportunity to learn from two instructors who believed in their value and encouraged them to succeed.
“So many kids are so strong and powerful. They are the reason we teach. They can be anything they want to be, but they must work at it. I’ve seen several students come from nothing and graduate with honors. Anything is possible with determination and a mentor who believes in them,” Claudia Glass said.
Class field trips were one of their fondest memories, and the institution plans to carry on that tradition for future students to experience.
“RSU is one of the few remaining schools were regular field trips are a part of the class requirement. This is a practice the Glasses have instilled in our department and we will strive to continue that journey as we move forward,” Dr. Jerry Bowen, the department head of biology, said. “The department wanted to honor Mr. and Mrs. Glass in a way that would be both meaningful and lasting. A tree not only meets those criteria, but also provides a reflection of their career successes and the students produced from the many years of teaching and service to the community.”
At their retirement ceremony, both Don and Claudia were formally designated Assistant Professor Emeritus of Biology at RSU and will hold the title in perpetuity.
Don Glass received numerous awards during his tenure including the Lambda Upsilon Teacher of the Year and the Pfizer Award for Teaching. He served on numerous faculty committees, helped develop RSU’s Bachelor of Science in Biology and its environmental conservation option, and developed the RSU conservation education reserve into a valuable teaching and community resource.
Claudia Glass also received numerous awards during her tenure including the Pfizer Excellence in Teaching award and the Lambda Upsilon award. She served on community and faculty committees and was instrumental in developing courses as part of the bachelor’s degree in biology with options in medical, molecular and environmental conservation.
Their handiwork can be seen all over campus from the flowers that bloom to the walking trails at the campus conservatory.
“We planted flowers and helped build the trails on campus. We’ve always been part of the school. In a way, this school belongs to us. It has been our whole life. It’s not just a classroom or building, it’s campus life. It’s certainly been hard to separate. We are deeply bound to the institution,” Claudia Glass said.
The Glasses continue to teach part time while working on their ranch in Tiawah, OK. When they visit campus, they enjoy seeing the tree as a visual reminder of the promise and growth of a place that has brought them so much joy.
“When I look at the tree, it represents the growth of students and the growth of the intuition. it ties us and binds us to the institution. I smile every time I look at it. It brings happiness to me, and I hope others feel the same,” Claudia Glass said.