COLUMBIA — Columbia College is preparing to say goodbye to about one-third of its art department staff.
Ed Collings, Tom Watson and Ben Cameron will retire in May, after 122 collective years of teaching.
For the past 40 years, these three professors have guided the art department, helped students build careers in the field and been significant in the mid-Missouri art community, according to a news release.
"It's going to be a big change for us, obviously, but it will be a big opportunity for the future to see what we want to do the same and what we want to do differently," Mike Sleadd, chair of the art department, said.
Sleadd said the department has already hired two employees, and will do a national search to fill the third position next year.
"We are still working on what that position ought to look like," Sleadd said. "The department is doing great, it's just going to be a change, and we are really going to miss everyone who is leaving."
A reception was held Friday evening to honor the soon-to-be retirees. The reception was part of the school's alumni weekend.
Ed Collings — 43 years at Columbia College
Collings was hired in fall 1969, just before Columbia College's name was changed from Christian Female College and the school became a four-year college. He is the school's longest-serving current instructor, according to the Columbia College website.
*Collings created the photography, ceramics and filmmaking program at Columbia College. He also taught computer graphics and art history.
"I will miss learning from my students," he said. "They really taught me a lot."
Although he will retire in May, Collings said he will continue to teach two online classes he created and work as an artist, showing his artwork, photography, ceramics and glass in local galleries.
"To sum up my time at (Columbia College), I can honestly say I never wanted to work anywhere else," Collings said.
Tom Watson — 41 years at Columbia College
Watson joined the Columbia College art department in 1971, making him the second-most senior instructor.
He said he is going to miss his colleagues and students when he retires.
*Watson has taught jewelry, ceramics, computer graphics, 2D and 3D design and drawing. Basically, he has taught every class offered by the art department except graphic design and photography, according to the college website.
"I'm looking forward to doing anything I want to, and I've got a bunch of stuff I want to do," Watson said.
Ben Cameron — 38 years at Columbia College
*Cameron has taught at Columbia College since 1974. He specializes in painting, drawing and etching and also taught watercolor, 2D and 3D design, printmaking, art history and fashion illustration. He also established the school's annual Paper in Particular show 35 years ago.
"I thought it was a great experience because you can make your own job," Cameron said. "They are open and free, and you can teach anything you want to teach."
Cameron said he is going to miss the students and teaching.
"I've just had a lot of fun," Cameron said. "It's a good school, and they support the arts."
But there is one aspect, in particular, of retirement he is looking forward to: "Quiet."
He and his wife are also looking forward to traveling.
Although Cameron is retiring, he plans to continue to teach one class per semester and help run the Sidney Larson Gallery, for which he previously served as director.