Stephen Bishop retires
“It means more to me than I can express, to see these generations of faculty and staff,” said Professor Stephen G Bishop as he looked out on the audience of young and old colleagues who had gathered on May 4 to thank him and wish him well in his retirement, which begins at the end of May.
The faces in the crowd in the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MNTL) seminar room represented the many phases of Bishop’s career at the University of Illinois.
After climbing through the ranks of the Naval Research Laboratory, Bishop came to Illinois to serve as director of MNTL (then called the Microelectronics Lab) from 1989 to 2000. From 2000 to 2004, he was a Faculty Fellow and Associate Vice President in the Office of the Vice President for Technology and Economic Development. He returned to teaching and research in ECE in 2004, and in 2006 he became the department’s Associate Head for Administrative and Instructional Affairs. In this position Bishop has guided ECE through successful accreditation and consulting reviews while overseeing a variety of departmental functions including teaching assignments. He was also a research professor in the Coordinated Science Lab.
ECE Head Andreas C Cangellaris emceed the program for the retirement reception, summing up Bishop’s varied service to the department and the university with a quote from Dickens: “He did each single thing as if he did nothing else.”
Other speakers were College of Engineering Dean Ilesanmi Adesida, who focused his remarks on Bishop’s contributions to the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory; ECE Emeritus Professor and former Vice President for Academic Affairs Chester S Gardner, who worked with Bishop in University Administration but focused his remarks on Bishop’s distinguished accomplishments in physical electronics; and former ECE head Richard E Blahut, who brought Bishop into departmental administration in 2006. ECE Professor James J Coleman, also of MNTL, was unable to attend but left a video presentation.
Blahut commended Bishop for his skill at dealing with ECE’s proud, sometimes prickly, faculty. “That can be difficult for most of us to deal with, but not Steve. He analyzes an issue and puts down an algorithm or procedure. That’s a good weapon because it’s hard to argue when he looks you in the eye and says, ‘No, we have a procedure.’”
Coleman’s video presentation brought big laughs with its collegial ribbing of the soon-to-be retiree, but ended on a note of sincere appreciation: “I don’t know how we managed to talk you into coming to Illinois twenty-two years ago, but I can assure you we are all so much the better for it.”
In his remarks, Bishop recognized the contributions of many support staff in the various phases of his Illinois career, as well as those of his superiors and faculty colleagues. ECE students earned a special citation, thanks to Bishop’s extensive encounters over the years with external evaluators from government, accreditation agencies, and other organizations, all of whom witnessed ECE students in action.
“What do all these people have in common? They are all blown away by the quality of our students,” he said. “And so we must never forget this: Without excellent students, even great faculty cannot sustain a great department.”
Finally, he thanked his wife of 48 years, Helene, “for her willingness to pull up deep roots in Northern Virginia, leave behind family and friends, the mountains, the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, to move to the prairie. But I believe she has thrived in this community.”
Indeed, the Bishops now have roots in the Midwest and plan to leave them intact. The couple will reside in the Chicago area, where the latest in a growing collection of grandchildren was recently born.