CCC welding instructor to retire after four decades

January 6, 2019

After nearly 40 years on the job, longtime Central-Community College-Columbus Welding Technology Instructor Gary Senff said it’s time to retire.

Senff began teaching at Central Community College - Columbus back in 1979. Although there’s the possibility of teaching some classes over the summer, Senff said this spring semester will officially be his last.

“I’m at retirement age, so it’s time to let somebody else take over and give me a little time to relax,” Senff said. “It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, it’s just I think there comes a time in life where you need to let go a little bit.”

Senff studied welding at CCC-Hastings, graduating with an Associate of Applied Science degree in welding technology in 1972. He went on to work for Schwitz Dairy Equipment in Fullerton and Nebraska Public Power District’s Cooper Nuclear Station in Brownville. For a time, he worked as a welding lab assistant at the Hastings campus until taking a job at Hobart Brothers Welding Company in Ohio. While there, he got the chance to work on projects around the world, in places like Korea, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela and the Philippines.

Eventually, he made his way back into the world of teaching. Now having spent the last four decades teaching at CCC, Senff said he’s happy about what he has been able to accomplish. Senff said he’s glad he has been able to help so many students make a career in welding.

“Oh, I’m sure I’ll miss it,” Senff said about teaching. “There are times when (welding) gets frustrating, but that’s the same with any job. You hear it all the time. But when you can work with the individuals (students) and see the change in the individual and what they learned, when they walk out the door, you know they’re going to make it, just because of their attitude and work ethic.”

Senff is a member of and certified welding inspector through the American Welding Society. In 1998, he was named the Central Community College-Columbus faculty member of the year, an honor he won again in 2017. Also in 1998, he was named the American Community College Association’s Western Region Faculty Member of the Year.

Bryce Standley is the other welding instructor on the Columbus campus. Having worked with Senff for the past two years, Standley said he has tried to learn as much from Senff as he can before the veteran instructor officially retires.

“He’s an extremely knowledgeable guy ... it will hurt losing that knowledge,” Standley said. “I think he looks out for the best interest in people. As a person, he will be missed. And as an instructor, he will be missed.”

Associate Dean of Instruction Duane Matson said it took the school six months to fill a welding instructor position last time it was open two years ago. He said the school plans to begin advertising for the position sometime in the near future.

“It can be a challenge sometimes to find someone with the right skills,” Matson said. “I hate to see him (Senff) go, but he has been here a long time and deserves to enjoy his retirement.”

Once retired, Senff said he plans on doing minor, part-time work for companies in his free time. But mostly, he wants to go fishing, cut firewood for the winter, work in his garden and look after his two grandsons, ages 2 and 3.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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