By CELESTE ORENDAIN
Two great friends who have each taught at Pima Community College for more than 35 years will both retire this month.
West Campus physics instructor Anthony “Tony” Pitucco and humanities instructor Stu Barr say it is time to move on, though they will continue to teach part-time.
“You’ve got to grow, everyone has to grow,” Pitucco said.
Pitucco started at PCC in 1971 as a temporary teaching assistant. He was hired full time in 1973 as a physics laboratory technician, and became a full-time instructor in 1978.
Barr started at Pima as a student, and was inspired to become a teacher after taking a class with Pitucco. Barr was hired as an adjunct instructor in 1978 and became full time in 1987.
Both have served as department chairs, and were active in numerous committees and programs.
The two longtime friends share similar beliefs, including a preference for teaching without technology.
“Professor means to know,” Barr said. “I don’t teach as a machine.”
They also prefer face-to-face interaction with students. Pitucco called online classes “impersonal.”
During their years as instructors, Pitucco and Barr attended conferences together and spent 10 years taking students to Europe.
They socialized off the job, as well, and weren’t above playing practical jokes.
On a trip to Canada, the two became separated while waiting in line to cross the border. Barr reached the immigration official first, and was asked whether he taught science.
His reply: “No, the guy in the back teaches science, and he has a monkey in his suitcase.”
When Pitucco approached the official, she asked about his monkey.
“What monkey?” asked an understandably confused Pitucco. When he saw Barr laughing, he added, “Oh, did you listen to that guy?”
Barr also resorted to trickery to convince Pitucco to teach a philosophy class. After Pitucco repeatedly declined, Barr used computer scheduling to assign him anyway.
When the two met to drink coffee, Barr asked Pitucco why he was there instead of teaching his class.
“I don’t have any class,” Pittuco said. When he checked his schedule, he was surprised to learn he not only had a philosophy class but that enrollment was full.
He worried he wasn’t prepared, with no syllabus and no textbook, but Barr convinced him to give it a try. Pittuco has continued to teach philosophy ever since.
Both instructors say they will miss their students.
“We see a lot of our students go on to earn their doctorates,” Pitucco said.
The two plan to donate all of their textbooks to the physics lab, but it’s doubtful anyone will want their office furnishings.
“We got all of our furniture from the halls. It was stuff the college was going to throw away,” Barr said with a laugh. “That is how we built our bookshelves and our entire offices.”