Six Pomona College Faculty Members Retire this Year

Campus 2022

This year, Pomona College bids farewell to six treasured faculty members. Though their presence on campus will be missed, each leaves behind a rich legacy of scholarship and teaching.

Kim B. Bruce, Reuben C. and Eleanor Winslow Professor of Computer Science, taught at the College for 16 years. Bruce studies the design of programming languages and their type systems with the goal of designing expressive, statically type-safe programming languages that can be proved to be safe. In the past, he did research in mathematical logic and on the semantics and pragmatics of natural languages. He remains interested in issues in computer science education ranging from the design of curricula to individual course design.

Mary L. Coffey, professor of Romance languages and literatures, retires after 22 years at the College. Coffey is an expert on 19th- and early 20th-century Spanish literature and culture. Her work on realist and historical fiction addresses the complex cultural processes by which Spain, throughout the long 19th century, processed the loss of its global colonial empire and its changing position on the global stage. Her work also explores the role of panoramic literature in the development of post-colonial identities, both in Spain and in newly independent nations in Latin America. She served as the director of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona and as associate dean of the College.

Thomas G. Leabhart, resident artist and professor of theatre, was at the College for 40 years. Leabhart is a noted performer and teacher of mime who studied with Etienne Decroux, known as the father of modern mime. Also a scholar of mime, Leabhart edits the Mime Journal and is a widely published writer on the subject of corporeal mime, chronicling its rise and development in modern theatre. He is the author of one of the standard works on mime, Modern and Post-Modern Mime. His scholarship focuses on Decroux and Decroux’s teacher, Jacques Copeau. Leabhart frequently performs and teaches in Europe, Asia and South America.

Sandeep Mukherjee, associate professor of art, retires after 17 years at the College. For over a decade, Mukherjee’s work has explored the notion of abstracting as a means to image a particular aspect of flowing matter. Working in painting, drawing and installation, his work has been process oriented and improvisational. His works are in numerous public collections, including those of MOCA, Los Angeles; MOMA, New York; LACMA; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi; and the Jumex Collection, Mexico City.

Cynthia Selassie, Blanche and Frank Seaver Professor of Science and professor of chemistry, retires after 32 years at the College. Selassie is an expert in the area of Quantitative Structure Activity Relationships (QSAR). She has more than 60 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books. Her research program was funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and organizations such as the Council on Undergraduate Research, Dow Chemical, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. She served as a reviewer/consultant for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Health, and as a member of the Pharmaceutical Science Advisory Committee for the Food and Drug Administration from 2003-2007.

Patricia A. Smiley, professor of psychological science, was at Pomona for 33 years. She studies language behavior of one- to three-year-olds, including requests and self-reference, as a way of exploring their self-development. She is also interested in the contributions of children’s temperament and parenting behaviors to the development of motivation in children from four to eight years old. In 2020, she received a research grant from the National Science Foundation to study the changes in stress response in adults and children brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. She taught multiple courses over her tenure, with her most popular courses including child development, statistics in psychology, socio-emotional development and the senior seminar. She also served as associate dean of the college.