Java Joe Retires
“I think I’ll just have one more cup,” laughs Joseph “Joe” Merkle, Vice President of Student Affairs, as he heads over to Johnson Dining Hall to grab another cup of “Java Joe” — the special coffee named for him by dining hall staff featuring exactly half decaf and half regular coffee.
After 34 years at York College and 48 years in higher education, Merkle will be retiring in June, leaving behind not only his signature, “Java Joe,” coffee but also many memories and a legacy of campus improvements.
“I’ve just been so glad that I’ve been in these positions working in higher education with students and having some impact on learning and personal development,” says Merkle. “I am most grateful to have worked in this educational arena.”
During his time at the College, he has seen tremendous growth in many aspects from campus facilities, athletics, and student organizations, to the number of students and student life programs; as well as the diversity of the student body. “There was always a major project that you were involved with that you saw the College developing and providing more resources for the students’ education,” says Merkle. “I really liked that idea because it showed the vibrancy of the College, and that the College was being contemporary and visionary. Being a part of that, and being involved in these projects has been exciting and fulfilling.”
Working in Student Affairs has made for a “wonderful career! Being an influential part of students’ education and collegiate experiences is rewarding and invigorating. Never a dull moment; and at times very challenging. You get involved in people’s lives and some of the most personal things that they’re dealing with,” shared Merkle. “We’ve had everything, from the simplest things of an event-scheduling conflict, to life and death matters. They’re certainly difficult to deal with, but you can feel good that you’ve been able to be there.”
Once retired, Merkle plans to take time to do more of what he loves outside of the College — visiting his children out of town, taking trips to the shore, coaching and, most of all, swimming. “I’ve become positively addicted to swimming,” he admits.
With his last day as VP fast approaching, he knows he will greatly miss the College, the students, and the wonderful people he’s worked with here at YCP. “I don’t really think about, ‘Oh gosh, I can’t wait to be retired.’ I don’t have that feeling because I love what I do here. And I know I’m going to miss it. It’s been great.”