70 years a Jesuit

You’ve probably seen him wheeling around campus behind his rolling walker.

The Rev. R. Gerard Albright, a professor of biology, has been a familiar site on the McNichols grounds for decades, and this year he is celebrating his 70th year as a Jesuit.

Albright, who was born and raised in Dearborn, attended University of Detroit High School, where he was first introduced to the Jesuit tradition.

“I had met the Jesuits there for the first time,” said Albright. “I kind of liked what they were doing, so I entered at the age of 18. It was the Jesuits at the high school that I got to admire.”

 After high school, Albright studied philosophy, basic science, biology and theology before being sent in 1960 to what was then the University of Detroit.

“The reason I’m still here after 55 years is my interest in working with students,” said Albright.

Albright has formed close connections with his students over the years, officiating at the marriages of over 100 of them.

“I’m still in contact with students I had in the 1960s,” said Albright.

Albright said that most of the faculty at UDM is devoted to helping students and forming long-lasting bonds with them.

“Anyone who focuses on research without student interactions probably doesn’t want to come here,” said Albright.

Albright goes the extra mile by offering general and spiritual counseling to his students, as well as supporting students in any other ways they need.

In addition to his special attention to students’ needs, Albright has worn many hats as a faculty member.

He is chairman of the biology department, a position he has held for many years.

In addition, although he was not as interested in administration, Albright also served at the dean of liberal arts from 1979 to 1982.

“They needed a dean,” said Albright. “So I took it on a temporary basis. I still stayed in biology, but I had a theology degree.”

After 55 years, Albright isn’t done at UDM.

“I just always like what I’ve been doing,” he said. “I could’ve retired a long time ago, but I like to get to know the students personally.”

He plans to teach as long as he can.

To ensure that he remains healthy, Albright likes to walk around campus.

“Students probably know me as the guy with the rollers,” said Albright of his rolling walker.

Rain or shine, Albright appreciates his walks around campus as an opportunity to exercise.

“I sure can’t go to Calihan and shoot baskets,” he joked. “But as long as my health holds out I’ll keep working and helping students.”