May 2, 2012

Faculty recognition reception

Joe Plut of Crosby, a retired Central Lakes College English and humanities instructor, will be the guest of honor at a May 15 Faculty Recognition Reception hosted by the CLC Foundation. The event is from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Jon Hassler Library on the Brainerd campus, where speakers will include former CLC president Sally Ihne, retired colleagues Ray Frisch and Evelyn Matthies, and retiring librarian Larry Kellerman.
Two students will be introduced as the latest recipients of Joe Plut Scholarships. Julie Jo Larson, Brainerd, and Nalrah Hicks, Pillager, received scholarships of $710 each through the fund directed by the CLC Foundation. It currently has $38,378, with the interest on the endowment providing the financial aid benefit to qualifying students.
            The Foundation has been holding the annual retired faculty reception since 2007. The qualifying honoree must have an endowment fund of at least $10,000 in his/her name. 
                Previous honorees were Ray Frisch, Jean Goodwin, Oren Abraham, Dale Nathan, and Dick Ashmun.
            Mildred Stave, a student of Plut’s in 1971, initiated the scholarship in her favorite instructor’s name by providing the first $1,000.
            Plut has lived in Crosby his entire life, except for six years (1958-64) in New York City, where he earned his master’s in English and comparative literature from Columbia University and was a legal researcher at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, primarily “Dr. Kildare” TV scripts.
            Known as “the mad hugger,” Plut created a culture that fostered creative communication at CLC, where he began teaching in 1965, when it was Brainerd State Junior College. He retired in 2001.
            Except for one non-credit course on the works of Jon Hassler, Plut spent his entire teaching career at the Brainerd campus. In retirement his projects have kept him quite busy, with the publishing of “Conversations with Jon Hassler” a major accomplishment that features nine interviews Plut had with his close friend.
            Plut’s book was published by Nodin Press of Minneapolis in 2010 and continues to be a popular companion to those who enjoy reading – and re-reading – the novels by the late Jon Hassler, whose writing career began when he taught at CLC.
            The Joe Plut Reading Room at Prairie Bay spawned the recent start-up of a literary series that is held on the third Thursday each month at the site to showcase a variety of authors, publishers, book photographers, and illustrators.
            Plut is also busy editing Hassler’s “My Simon’s Night Journal” for possible publication, and  editing “Dingle Drenched, Dingle Dry--Collected Short Writings of Jon Hassler,” also for possible publication.