Retiring Again And Going Back To School
When Jim Lofstrom began
teaching at UH he planned to
stay for only a couple of years.
Now that he's planning to retire
— more than a decade later —
Lofstrom is amazed at the way
time has flown.
"Somehow teaching got into
my blood," he says. "I love it.
Education is such a challenge;
every class, every student is different."
Lofstrom, an adjunct professor in the College of Technology, is used to challenges. In
1978, he conceived, financed
and established an industrial
distribution major at UH with
the cooperation and financial
support of interested businessmen.
Five years later, 350 students
were enrolled in the interdisciplinary program. Many of them
were transfers from other universities who came to UH specifically for the major he had
"They love it because it's
practical," Lofstrom, 74, said. "I
take them to trade conventions
and into plants, and distributors
lecture at plants, and distributors lecture at the University.
The kids get terrific exposure
that leads to jobs."
Lofstrom's practical approach to education emanated
from years of business and experience. For a long time, he
was Standard Oil of New Jersey's marketing coordinator for
industrial products, overseeing
worldwide sales. When the
company decentralized his department, Lofstrom left it and
accepted a job with Exxon in
After one year, Lofstrom decided to retire at the age of 60,
when he "felt the fun and challenge had gone from my work."
After an extended trip to
Europe with his wife, Lofstrom
decided it was time to get busy
In January 1974, he began his
new career at UH with two
marketing classes and definite
ideas about the type of teacher
he wanted to become.
"I wanted to teach the kinds
of classes that I would have
liked in college," he said. "I
wanted to be fair and honest
with the kids and available for
help at any time."
And because he understood
the needs of business, he attempted to make his students
more job-ready by relating personal experiences and non-textbook solutions.
"I've been out in the real
world long enough to know
when it's different from textbook theories," he said.
Lofstrom listened when distributors suggested UH's program could be strengthened by
adding some basic mechanical
engineering to existing marketing and management courses.
"They (distributors) felt very
strongly that it would help the
kids sell the products if they
could read drawings and understand machinery and motors,"
With his dean's permission,
Lofstrom and a small group of
distributors created the curriculum for a four-year major in
Their plan was approved, but
no University funds were budgeted for it. Lofstrom went
back to the distributors for financial support. "It took one-
and-a-half years to raise the
$35,000 I had estimated we'd
need to start the program," he
Through the years, he has
continued to finance his department with business contributions and has raised more
"I don't ask the University
for anything," Lofstrom said.
Due to the current economic
downturn, however, distributors' contributions are down
and fewer students see a future
in the major.
"There are only about 150 in
the program today," Lofstrom
said. "It's heartbreaking to see it
drop off. It will come back, but
it will take time."
— Marilyn Swanson
At year's end, Dean of Students Connie Wallace retired from her professional position to become a student
once again. She will enroll in the UH
Law School after being employed at
UH since 1965.