Mount St. Joseph University

The Unusual Hiring of Gene Kritsky

Mount News: alumni magazine

Man with hat posing.

A little light beige can go a long way.

When Annette Muckerheide, SC, ’63, became chair of the Mount’s biology department in 1979, she was struggling to re-establish the major that had been dormant during much of the 1970s. By the 1982-83 school year, when it was time to fill a faculty vacancy, she and her colleagues had whittled down a stack of applications to 10 potential hires.

“Spring break was upon us and I took that stack with me when I went to visit my mother in Phoenix,” recalls Muckerheide. “Mom was a former teacher herself and was very interested in what I was doing so she volunteered to go through the applications and offer her opinion.” Muckerheide’s mother plucked one out of the pile simply because she liked the light beige color of the paper, which stood out from all the white pages.

The beige application just happened to belong to Gene Kritsky, Ph.D., who today serves as dean of the School of Behavioral and Natural Sciences.

At the time, Muckerheide didn’t think she wanted an entomologist as much as some of the other applicant specialties. However, as the semester progressed, final exams and preparing for graduation had consumed her time.

“Finally, I called Kritsky,” Muckerheide says. “He was quiet and reserved at first, but I liked his enthusiasm, his willingness, and his ability to teach a variety of courses,”

They met for a face-to-face interview at a local restaurant on Delhi Road, now long gone.

“He was late. I was irritated,” says Muckerheide. “He walked in in mud-covered boots and jeans, full of apologies, saying that he had to stop at a couple of sites on the way from northern Indiana to collect a few ‘cool fossils.’” My irritation vanished and I was soon impressed by his enthusiasm again—for learning, for science, and for teaching.

About a week after the interview, Muckerheide had worked out his salary and benefits. “The final phone call was on a Saturday morning,” she recalls. “I was working in a garden I had on the Motherhouse property. So, there I was, in farmer attire, covered with mud, using a phone in a barn, when he accepted the job—and found a new home at the Mount.”