Community Engagement

A Calling to Teaching that Continues in Retirement

After a celebrated career at Oakland University, Alice Horning has continued to follow her passion for teaching in retirement.

A woman sitting at a table with people sitting in the background.

Pioneer Club

icon of a calendarApril 1, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Joan Rosen

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Alice Horning joined Oakland University in 1982 after teaching English, linguistics, and ESL at Wayne State University for five years. She reports that her interviews for a position at OU were the best she experienced. The interviewers were thorough, kind and certainly made the possibility of an offer look very promising.

Once the offer was made for a joint appointment with Linguistics, Alice said that she was eager to accept an assistant professorship in the Department of Rhetoric, Communication, and Journalism (currently the Department of Writing and Rhetoric) in 1982. She taught both Linguistics and Writing until her retirement in 2016.

Alice’s career is marked by many successful achievements. She taught many first-year writing courses and was an active participant and a positive influence in transitioning the Department from Rhetoric, Communication and Journalism to the Department of Writing and Rhetoric.

Alice was the director of the First Year Writing Program for ten years. There, she set the tone for those who succeeded her. She was also instrumental in helping to get funding for the creation of the OU Writing Center which continues to serve students today.

Alice found that life without teaching was a challenge. The many years in the classroom left her feeling a bit sad when the first September of her retirement came around, so she took a trip to Australia. There, she enjoyed every minute and came back home to Michigan where she found plenty to occupy her time — including a role that allowed her to teach, of course.

Alice is now a volunteer participant at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Michigan, which provides online classes as well as special lectures and study groups which she helps to develop. For the Rochester Older Persons’ Commission, she led one of the study groups focusing on her recent book, Literary Heroines: 1880-1930, which highlights Harriet Beecher Stowe, Gertrude Buck and others. If anyone is interested in joining Professor Horning as a volunteer with Osher, she will be glad to meet with you and tell you about her incredible experience. She is now on the board, planning, teaching and recruiting for the program.

When Alice is not volunteering with Osher, she enjoys reading, writing, long walks, piano lessons and golf. The last two occupy many hours. In addition, she loves to visit her two daughters, one in Boston and the other in St. Paul.

Alice maintains her Oakland University relationships with faculty and former students. One way she stays connected is by participating in a reading and movie group led by Brian Murphy, a retiree of the English department and Honors College faculties.

For Alice, her years at Oakland University were some of the most rewarding. She believed that would be the case based on that first interview 40 years ago, and she was never disappointed.

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