Life Lessons from a Veteran of Lakeland


Emi Tsuji, Staff Reporter

Professor Mehraban Khodavandi is retiring from his nearly 40 years teaching at Lakeland by the end of Spring 2020. 

Dr. Khodavandi graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a major in educational administration and rehabilitation psychology which was formerly known as “studies in behavioral disabilities.”  

He came to Lakeland College in 1981 and has been teaching here for almost 40 years. He explained why he stayed at Lakeland without changing to any other colleges. “I was so happy with my job here. I never had any desire to change it. I have said many times, if I’m born again, I would like to get the same job at Lakeland University, because I was so happy with what I did. This was a dream come true.”  

In his nearly 40 years teaching at Lakeland, his favorite part is spending time with students both inside and outside the class. “I enjoyed the intellectual debates and I enjoyed the conversation with my colleagues, but what makes me the happiest is when I was with my students, when I spend time with them, discuss things, and especially when I know that they’re growing and they’re learning. I know that many students when I see them here, they come as a student, and when they leave it is as a man or as a woman. They leave no longer as a student,” Dr. Khodavandi said. 

Honoka Sato, a junior student here at Lakeland, looked back at a memory with Dr. Khodavandi. “I took his course, Transition to America, in the first semester I transferred from the Japan campus. He always cared about me and he was like everyone’s grandpa,” Sato said. 

Samantha Miller, a senior student, described his traits as a professor. “He is definitely one of my favorite teachers. He is an amazing person. He cares so much for his students and goes above and beyond to try and help them,” Miller said. “Every class that I have had with him is one that I will never forget. He has taught me to be passionate in what I do and to care for others. I am so grateful to have been a part of his classes and will definitely take everything that I have learned from him and incorporate it into my own classroom one day. I am sure every education major will be sad to see him go but we have learned so much from such a great individual.” 

Dr. Khodavandi offered some final advice. “Just follow the couple of mottos that I have kept and reminded them of every year for the past 40 years. One is to be good to each other all the time, to help each other. The other to students is that their priorities in life should always be the health and happiness, and then education in that order.” 

He elaborated, “College education is not all about study. College education is about developing overall as a person emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually. So, it is not all about intellectual development to go to classes and study, but it is also about having social contact with everybody. To have this emotional contact or the psychological contact with everybody, makes it better for everyone.” 

When asked for his reason for retiring, he explained, “I think the time is right. The time is right because perhaps there are other people who can do what I’ve been doing. You need to have new ideas and new blood in the system, so new people and new blood can do it. And I’ve done it for almost 40 years.” 

Dr. Khodavandi stated that he is uncertain about the plan after his retirement. “I will continue to research, continue reading, continue getting involved with some intellectual discussions with colleagues, with friends, but I will also spend some time for myself and my family. Hopefully, I’ll do something that keeps me going and keeps me happy in life, but I’m not sure,” he said. 

He will be retired by the end of Spring 2020 but encourages students to stop by his office WAK 301. “If I know they’re coming, I’ll be more than happy to be here,” Dr. Khodavandi said with a smile.