George Spagna

Update 12/23/2014

In the 2 years since my last post:

·        Sylvia and I celebrated our 40th anniversary last June. Sylvia is now officially “retired” having given up her part-time position as Parish Administrator.

·        I’m still teaching physics and astronomy at Randolph-Macon College, now in my 29th year.  I was asked by the Provost to be Director of our academic internship program – students receive credit rather than pay.  We fielded a record 142 interns last academic year and are on track to break that record this year. I’m also working on the design for a new, relocated College observatory – a planned addition to our science building will for decommissioning of the current facility.

·        Reverend Daughter Amy is serving at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

·        Daughter Kim married Mike Cruz last month, just before moving to Silver Spring, Maryland from Naples, Florida.  She has taken a job with the DC Superior Court.  The big celebration will be next February, when we’re all taking a cruise to Cozumel, where the Rev. Big Sister will bless the wedding on the beach.

·        By the way, I’m now the Mayor of the Town of Ashland (“the Center of the Universe”) – somewhat an ironic position for an astronomer! We were the center of a lot of political attention as one of my erstwhile faculty colleagues defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary, and then ran successfully against another faculty colleague for that seat.

Time does seem to fly when you’re having fun!


   “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;

           the real tragedy is when adults are afraid of the light.

                                                                         – Plato


Update 12/20/12

Time seems to fly.  I’m in my 27th year teaching physics and astronomy (and a bit of theology, when I can work it in!) at R-MC, and seriously considering retirement in 2017.  I’m in my third 4-year term on Ashland Town Council, and in my second 2-year term as Vice Mayor.  Younger daughter Kim is Supervising Attorney in the Naples office of the Florida Division of Children and Families.  Older daughter Amy was just ordained a Priest in the Episcopal Church (picture attached – you can probably figure out who’s who!).  She taught high school Latin for 11 years before answering the call and heading off to seminary at Yale.


        Be yourself.  Everyone else is taken.”

                                                          – Oscar Wilde



Original Post 2008

Gee, where to start?

I’m in my 23rd year at Randolph-Macon College, after finishing my PhD in 1986 (while working part-time as the physics lecture setup person at RPI for 7 years!).  I was department chair for 16 years, stepping aside last year for a long-overdue sabbatical.

I also direct activities at the Keeble Observatory here at R-MC, which has a modest optical telescope and two radio telescopes built as student projects. 

Ashland itself is a small town about 15 miles north of Richmond, where it’s very easy to get involved in Town affairs.  Back in 1999-2000 my wife and I were involved in a grass-roots effort to keep Wal-Mart from coming to Ashland with a store we felt was much too large and out of character with the rest of town.  (You may have seen  a PBS show called “Store Wars” which documented the battle.)  Wal-Mart won their rezoning, but at the cost of having the citizens vote out of office every member of Town Council who voted for it!  In 2004 I ran out of excuses and found myself elected to Town Council … I was re-elected this last spring, and am now serving my second 4-year term.  Let me just note that zoning and street paving may seem about as far as one can get from astrophysics – but it still requires “knowledge and thoroughness” to help run a small town!

Some may recall that I donated a kidney to a colleague in 2000.  Unfortunately, Russ lost the kidney in 2006, and died at the beginning of last summer (which is one reason I was not at Reunion.)

Sylvia and I celebrated our 34th anniversary last June.  Our older daughter is Amy, who is a high school Latin teacher currently in a discernment process to find out if she’s called to ordained ministry.  Kim, the younger daughter, is an attorney working for the State of Florida as a children’s advocate.  She took her current job after 2½ years in the Public Defender’s office in Ft. Myers. 

There’s more on my web site (address below).


 "I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge,

                      in order to make room for faith."

                               -  Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason


Dr. George Spagna
Physics Department
Randolph-Macon College
P.O. Box 5005
Ashland, VA 23005-5505

phone: (804) 752-7344
fax: (804) 752-4724