How Retirement Party Surprise Kept Prof. Peter Stephenson Clueless—For Once

How Retirement Party Surprise Kept Prof. Peter Stephenson Clueless—For Once

By Michele Kellerman ’16, Computer Security and Information Assurance Major, School of Business & Management

Prof. Peter Stephenson, PhD, is practically a household name at Norwich University. When word got out that the cybersecurity and digital forensics guru was retiring, there was a rush to sign up for all of his classes and a line out of his office asking him to put off retirement one, two, or three years. We all wondered who would take over his classes. In all of the madness wondering what would happen, no one thought to give him a proper sendoff. The seed was planted in January when former CSIA Prof. Danny Zeedick reached out to Prof. Mich Kabay asking him when Prof. Stephenson’s retirement party would be. As it happened, I had invited Prof. Zeedick to Norwich as a guest speaker for Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) at Prof. Stephenson’s request. I thought the occasion would be the perfect disguise for a surprise party for Prof. Stephenson. Everyone agreed that it was a wonderful idea, so planning began in earnest to hold a party at our regular ACM meeting on April 13th.

When the day of the party finally came, former students and a former professor came to campus. The cakes were ordered. University President Richard Schneider and VP of Enrollment Management, Student Life and Technology Frank Vanecek both said they would come. Gifts were bought. But the best part was that for once Prof. Stephenson had no clue. Finally, the ACM meeting kicked off and Prof. Zeedick spoke to our Norwich chapter and the faculty of the School of Business and Management. At the end of her presentation, we brought out two cakes. Prof. Stephenson still didn’t think they were for him. The moment he did, he was floored. I’ve never seen him so surprised, and I don’t think I ever will again. While all of us don’t want to see him go, the whole community came together to wish Prof. Stephenson a happy retirement. It was the perfect way to send him off, and I couldn’t imagine it any better.