Roxbury, Massachusetts native Liz Geller did not expect to build her life and career in Waterville. After many visits to see relatives here, though, she was set up with Sidney Geller on a blind date. The two married in 1965 and continued Liz’s long-term love for Maine and her life at Thomas College.
“I started out teaching business education courses including typing and shorthand,” Liz recalls. “[Professors and alumnae] Roberta Tibbetts and Philomena McPhee were two of my star students, and I taught alongside Marie Cutchin [Class of 1962].”
From 1970-1971, Liz took a leave of absence to return to her own college alma mater, Boston University, to earn her Master’s degree in Business Education. Back in Waterville, she was eager to get back to work and returned to her full-time teaching position at Thomas.
Today, Liz’s son David teaches at Thomas as an adjunct instructor. “I took David to work one day when he was about four, and I remember Roberta (Tibbetts) talking to him, but he was so shy at the time he kept hiding behind me,” she said. In 1973 and in 1978, Michael and Stephen came along. In fact, Liz often found her family and career intersecting, and balancing the long hours of a college teaching position with motherhood was extremely busy work. Thus, in 1975, when the Registrar position became available, she took it – taking on the role that so many Thomas faculty and alumni remember as Liz’s.
“When I was about 50, I realized I needed another challenge,” Liz says. “I signed up for the Master’s in Business Administration program here. I loved the case studies and found it rewarding to get back into the classroom!”
She held the Registrar position for nearly 25 years and made many lasting friendships along the way – with both staff and administration. “We called ourselves ‘the Lunch Bunch,’” Liz remembers fondly. “And though we lost one of the group a few years ago, we still get together to go out to lunch!”
Today, Liz may be retired, but she considers herself a lifelong learner and stays very active in her community. She volunteers at the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter and as a docent at the Colby Art Museum. In Florida, where she and Sid winter, she volunteers at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital and participates in a Knit for Charity group.
“I never thought I would see Thomas where it is today,” she reflects. “So many people think you have to go to an elite school to be successful. It is not where you go, but what you make out of your school that matters. Look at the number of successful alumni Thomas has turned out. It’s proof that one can attend this small – but growing – college in Central Maine and be very successful.”
Finally, Liz offers this advice: “Be thankful for what you have and twice as thankful for what you don’t have.”
*This was originally published in the Spring 2017 Thomas Magazine.