Stameshkin retires after 34 years at F&M

BY CATHERINE BROWN ’14
Staff Writer

David Stameshkin, associate dean and prefect of Bonchek College House, is retiring after 34 years at F&M. He has held a variety of administrative positions throughout his time at the College, including associate dean of students, executive assistant to the president and secretary of the Board of Trustees, associate vice president of advancement, and director of the Harrisburg Urban Semester. During the past seven years, he has served as the founding prefect of Bonchek House. He has also taught classes for the history department.

Stameshkin has also been involved with various clubs and organizations on campus, including F&M Hillel, College Democrats, the Black Student Union, and the Badminton Club. He is also an adviser to the Delta Rho Chapter of Kappa Sigma, and was initiated into the fraternity in 2010.

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Additionally, for nearly 30 years he has informally advised F&M Players and occasionally performs in their shows. Stameshkin has also had a great impact on many social events at F&M. He worked to re-institute the Greek Halloween party and DipSync, both of which were quite popular in the 1980s. As co-chair of a committee that created an annual picnic for members of the faculty and staff in 1986, he named this gathering “DIPNIC” and has been the only DIPNIC wiffle ball challenge commissioner. He is also the writer and producer of the 14 Fum Follies, which are musical parodies that have been performed, or “almost performed” since 1985.

Stameshkin has also left a lasting impact from his work in the Advancement Office, and has led fundraising campaigns for many of the buildings on campus, including Hackman Physical Sciences Laboratories, Martin Library of the Sciences, the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center and the Roschel Performing Arts Center. His fundraising efforts have also resulted in many scholarships for students.

Stameshkin’s accomplishments were formally acknowledged by the College in 2003, when he became the first winner of the Kneedler Distinguished Service Award. In honor of his retirement, the College is holding a special event in the upcoming weeks. In addition to these formal types of recognition, however, many members of the College community have both funny and poignant memories of their time with Stameshkin.

Annalisa Crannell, professor of mathematics, recalls many memorable moments with Stameshkin from when she served as don of Bonchek House from 2005-2010.

“I got to meet him in my first year here as a math professor,” Crannell said. “He was doing Fum Follies and I immediately became a member of the Dean Stameshkin fan club.

“Stameshkin doesn’t want to talk about himself; he wants to talk about you,” she added. “He’s intensely interested in the personal lives of his students. I’ve seen him come into my office so tired and just staggering under everything he has to do, and then he’ll jump up when a student walks by and be very enthusiastic.”

Crannell also recollected some of the goofy moments she and Stameshkin shared, including hosting a party in Bonchek House that celebrated Stameshkin’s mustache’s birthday, which is Feb. 15. Events at the party included a best moustache contest and a game of “pin the moustache on the prefect.” On another occasion, shortly after Tareq and Michaele Salahi infamously crashed a party being held at the White House in November 2009, Stameshkin and Crannell decided to crash a Bagel Breakfast at Ware College House dressed as the notorious couple.

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“We were the only don and prefect to publicly say that we loved each other,” Crannell said. “I love him, everybody loves him, and he loves everybody.”

Robert Sternberg, professor of geosciences and current don of Bonchek House, also has numerous memories of his time working with Stameshkin.

“I’ve actually known him for many years,” Sternberg said. “We’re both members of the same synagogue, and both of our wives were professors at Millersville University. He knows everything about campus and everyone on campus. He has an encyclopedic memory and knowledge of students, alumni, and people working on campus. It’s amazing how much he knows about everybody! He’s been really helpful to me as I’ve gotten used to becoming the don.”

Sternberg also recognizes the impact Stameshkin had on Bonchek House and on its students.

“Our house personality owes a lot to his influence,” he said.

According to Sternberg, Stameshkin has also helped foster house unity by repeatedly comparing Bonchek House to Gryffindor House from the Harry Potter series.

“He really seems to relish that comparison,” Sternberg said.

“This corner of the floor can be a very lively place, especially in the afternoon when students get out of class,” he added. “People often stop by to talk and laugh with Dean S. He’s a very raucous laugher. We’ll definitely miss him here very much.”

Kent Trachte, dean of the College, is another staff member who has enjoyed working with Stameshkin.

“Dean Stameshkin’s career at the College has had four parts,” Trachte said. “When he first came to the College, his job afforded him the opportunity to work with students very directly. He worked especially closely with the fraternities and sororities. The second phase of his career was in the president’s office as the assistant to the president, where he had some contact with students. For the third part of his career he was working in development and he had virtually no contact with the students. When we started the College House system, Dean O’Day and I were thinking of people who would be good fits for the prefect position. David was one of the first who came to mind.”

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As the dean of Bonchek House, Stameshkin was able to have considerable interactions with the students.

“While David has done exceptional work in every phase of his career, his true love was to be in a position working with students,” Trachte said. “We agreed to offer him the opportunity to go back to his true love. Every time I see him, he thanks me for allowing him to come back to what he loves more than anything, which is talking with, advising, and helping students and being an educator.”

Trachte cites Fum Follies as one of Stameshkin’s most important contributions to the College.

“As someone who has participated in the Follies, I have seen how this event has brought together a lot of the people who work at the College,” Trachte said. “People rehearse for a long time and get to know each other, laugh together, and have fun together in ways that everyday work does not always permit.”

Trachte believes the Fum Follies series is a unique tradition that Stameshkin has brought to campus.

“I don’t know of any other College that has a tradition quite like this one — one that brings together so many people,” Trachte said. “The Follies also usually takes on a controversial subject. By laughing and having fun about something so serious, you can gain a better perspective. This is definitely one of his legacies.”

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Trachte believes that Stameshkin has many qualities that made him an incredible member of the campus community.

“Dean Stameshkin is one of the most extraordinary educators I have ever met,” Trachte said. “This is because of his deep passion for working with young people and his willingness to extend himself in unbelievable ways to help students make ideas come to fruition.

“For me personally, David has been a dear colleague throughout all the years,” he added. “I love his sense of humor, his sense of humanity, and his passion for life. He makes me laugh, he is somebody I enjoy seeing and I’m going to miss him tremendously.”

Stameshkin has also touched the lives of many students on campus, especially members of Bonchek House.

Alejandra Palomino ’12, a sociology major, took Stameshkin’s first-year seminar Race and Ethnicity in American History. Stameshkin was also her academic advisor. Through a series of pep talks, he helped her make a difficult transition to college life as a first-year POSSE scholar, and she credits him with helping make her the person she is today.

“Dean S. was my resource for support academically and socially as a freshman,” she said. “I had a tough transition, but now I’m graduating with honors and I’m really excited about the future.”

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Carra Kramer ’12, former chancellor of Bonchek House, has a similar story.

“When I was a freshman, I was incredibly homesick and miserable here,” she said. “Dean S. really kept me going. He’s been my mentor since day one and has really become a father figure.

“He’s the most unique individual,” she added. “He’s so kind and giving and he has so much joy. I want to be like him and be able to work through problems like he does.”

Kramer also feels especially close to Stameshkin via his jokes.

“Every Friday morning at Bagel Breakfast, he’s just full of puns, but not everybody understands them. He fist bumps me whenever I get them and nobody else does.”

Kramer, who has served as chancellor, finance chair, and peer adviser (PA) for Bonchek House, also remembers some of the crazy stories that Stameshkin has told the HA’s and PA’s.

“He’s told so many ridiculous stories about stuff that’s happened in the dorm,” she said. “The things he’s seen seem like someone has just made them up.”

As an HA, PA, chancellor of Bonchek House, and orientation planning director, Barton Linderman ’12 has also heard some of Stameshkin’s famous stories. Some of these tales revolve around the time he spent as a Yellow Cab driver in Chicago in the 1960s, which Stameshkin has compiled into an unpublished book.

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“He has the most ridiculous jokes,” Linderman said. “They’re so funny, but you wouldn’t think of him being involved in these situations.”

Linderman admires Stameshkin’s dedication to F&M and his devotion to the students.

“Behind the scenes, Dean S. works even harder than people think he works,” Linderman said. “The great thing about the College House system is that it blurs the line between student and professor interaction, and I think Dean S. is a great example of this. Freshman year, Dean S. knew me as the kid who slept all the time,” he added. “Apparently, I had a knack for taking extended naps, although I didn’t even realize that about myself.”

However, Linderman also credits Stameshkin for helping him learn more about himself than just his sleeping habits.

“He’s taught me a lot about myself and pushed me to think more critically about what I want to do after school,” he said. Due to Stameshkin’s influence as a teacher, Linderman has decided to work for Teach for America after graduation. “Dean S. has definitely been an inspiration for me, and I look up to him for my future career.”

Colin Ely ’12, an anthropology major and studio art minor, also commended Stameshkin for his commitment to his students.

“Everyone tries to help other people, but it’s hard to find time,” Ely said. “But Dean S. finds time for hundreds of kids.”

Ely, who has been a PA and an HA in Bonchek, discussed his role in the annual skit that is performed during First-year Orientation, which was written by Stameshkin. In the skit, Stameshkin plays F&M founder Benjamin Franklin. At one point in the play, male students come out on stage wearing dresses, and one of the male HA’s pretends to give Stameshkin’s Franklin a lap dance. Last year, Ely was selected for this role.

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“It was definitely the closest I’ve ever been to Dean S.,” Ely joked.

Ely also remembers some advice that Stameshkin gave him, which reportedly came from Stameshkin’s father.

“Dean S. said that if you have a conversation with someone and they don’t feel better afterwards, then you’ve failed,” Ely said. “Now I try to live that philosophy out in my life. I just can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for me.”

Stameshkin, too, looks back fondly on his years at F&M.

“I have been blessed to work with talented and caring colleagues at an institution that adds significant value to the lives of so many wonderful young people and helps prepare them to improve our world,” Stameshkin said.

However, the same could easily be said of Stameshkin himself. The F&M community has truly been profoundly impacted by his many years of dedicated service.

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Caricature found in 1980s College Reporter

Questions? Email Catherine at catherine.brown@fandm.edu.

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