Rob Stohlman, ’88

Many have heard the story about the professor who went to a student’s dorm room to conduct class when the student failed to show up one day.

Rob Stohlman, ’88, was that student, and the late Dr. Leanne Wolff was the professor. As the story goes, Dr. Wolff marched her entire communication class to the fifth floor of Miller Hall – to Rob’s room – and delivered her lecture right on the spot. At the end of the class, Dr. Wolff dismissed everyone else and said to Rob, “If Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, I’ll bring the mountain to Mohammed.” His response: “Yes, ma’am.”

“And that was the last she ever spoke of it,” he says.

An awesome lesson was learned that day – a lesson that Rob has carried with him throughout his life.

Today, as Rob has become more involved in the life of his alma mater, he credits his mentor, Dr. Wolff, and his great experiences as a member of Sigma Tau Nu for his motivation. In his first term as a member of the Alumni Council, Rob came to campus earlier this semester to conduct a HYPE Career Ready session on leadership communication. As he spoke to students, he thought of Dr. Wolff.

His HYPE message was that you have to reach people where they live and connect their needs with your own. Good leadership, he maintains, is about empowering people, involving them in the process and listening to find common ground. He related his message back to the students’ majors, although he maintains, “The real world doesn’t care what your major is.”

“Being a good communicator trumps all,” he says. “That goes back to my personal mentor, Dr. Wolff. I put her in a class by herself. She was such an amazing, strong-willed woman, and I cannot overstate her importance to my life.”

Today, Rob and his wife, Sheri, are the parents of two ‘Berg students – Sam, a junior theatre major and daughter Morgan, who is enrolled in the graduate counseling program.

As the kids’ activities wound down and they headed off to college, Rob found himself with more time. He jumped at the chance to become more highly engaged with Heidelberg.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for 25 years,” he says. It’s been an ongoing learning process, especially involving HYPE. As one of its priorities, Alumni Council members have thrown their support to that program. Rob agrees it’s a great strategy.

“Even though I’m on Alumni Council, I thought I knew what HYPE was about. But I didn’t really understand it until I led that session,” he says. “It was a great experience.”

As the parent of two current students and an active recruiter for Heidelberg through his community theatre connections, Rob has taken the Alumni Council’s charge to heart.

“Dr. (Rob) Huntington has been explicit in our role in playing an important part in recruitment and retention,” he says. “We’re very goal-driven. If that is our charge from the president, I will be a vocal and staunch supporter of that goal.”

Rob’s mentor would be proud of his “all-in” commitment to his alma mater.

Published in Alumni

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