Dr. Gerald Poff

Dr. Gerald Poff



When Dr. Gerald Poff completed his PhD at Colorado State University in 1967, he did research for three years with the National Heart Institute in Falls Church, Va.

But he wanted to try teaching at a small undergraduate college, much like his alma mater, McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas. He submitted his name to an employment service and was soon headed to Buena Vista College to visit the campus. He liked what he saw.

“I thought I would be here for two or three years and then move on. That didn’t happen. I liked BV too much,” recalls Jerry, who started teaching at BV in 1969, the same year science classes were moved from Smith Hall to the first Estelle Siebens Science Center. He retired in 2003 before the new Estelle Siebens Science Center opened in 2004.

During his tenure, Jerry, who served as advisor to pre-med students, was well regarded by students, colleagues and alumni. In 1987, he was selected as the first recipient of the George Wythe Award, BVU’s highest honor for excellence in teaching. “The Wythe Award was a real honor. It gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to explore for most of a semester the biological uniqueness of Australia and New Zealand, which has always fascinated me. It was one of my most outstanding experiences in 34 years of teaching.”

In retirement, Jerry continues to live in Storm Lake, and when in town he is on campus every day to swim laps at Finkbine Natatorium. He also stays in touch with some of his former students and faculty colleagues.

He has a lot more time for golfing, gardening, and tracking the stock market. “Reading has always been a great pastime for me and I now have time to do much more reading for fun,” he adds.

Jerry makes extended trips to Virginia and Arkansas, where his daughters and two grandchildren live. Demie Adams and her family live in Fort Smith, Ark.; Kelly Salzmann and her husband live in Ashburn, Va.; and Angie Mahoney and her family also live in Ashburn. He also gets to spend more time with his special friend, Janey Pullen SL’88, who lives in West Des Moines.

“What I miss most about BVU is the interaction with students,” he says. “After I retired, Dean Benjamin Donath asked me to teach a course during two different semesters, and I enjoyed those experiences very much.”