Peru, Nebraska – At Commencement in May, Dr. Daryl Long received the Peru State College Distinguished Service Award. It is conferred upon an outstanding person who has made a significant contribution to the College.
Dr. Long began teaching at Peru State College in 1967, after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State University and a doctorate from UNL. He retired in 2017 after a half-century, teaching chemistry, energy, and math among other subjects. He dedicated his career on campus to the students; his legacy is living on through their lives.
Dr. Michael Evans, President of Peru State, submitted nomination materials which led to the awards’ approval by the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees.
Evans commented, “Dr. Long taught math and science at Peru State for half a century. His were challenging courses, covering such topics as nuclear science, calculus, and alternative energy. But his students loved him, and they appreciated the ways in which he intertwined lessons with stories about life on his farm or his passion for flying small airplanes.”
Long was happy about the move to Peru (from Lincoln) in 1967, noting, “I knew I wanted to be in a small rural setting. The big city did not appeal to me. It was neat, I’d never been on a small campus like this before.”
Daryl and wife, Peggy, planned to stay in Peru for two years and then move on. Two years turned into 50 and more as they fell in love with the College and vicinity.
For decades, Dr. Long presented to visitors from LEAD Nebraska, a leadership-development program for people in agribusiness fields. Participants learned about nuclear power from Dr. Long before traveling to Cooper Nuclear Station in Brownville for a tour of the facility.
Dr. Long was the inspiration for the College’s annual Etiquette and Financial Planning Dinner. The event provides dinner to upper-division students while helping them learn more about business etiquette and financial planning.
Daryl and Peggy Long have contributed to the life of Peru State in many other ways, including installations of significant sculptures on campus. The “Power of Thought” statue sits in the lobby of the V.F. Jindra Fine Arts Building, designed to inspire students to think about how they might “add their own creative energies to the never-ending quest of humankind to expand the sphere of knowledge.”
The Longs also contributed the “Cat in the Hat” statue, which is nestled in the Sesquicentennial Plaza next to the Performing Arts Center, where hundreds of elementary-age students attend the annual celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The statue is designed to “delight young readers and to encourage people of all ages to spend more time reading.”
Long exemplifies Peru State’s commitment to the region. Among his many activities, he served as a board member of Tri-State Missouri River Tourism, the Peru Chamber of Commerce, the Nemaha County Development Corporation, Nemaha County Hospital, Southeast Nebraska Development District and River County Economic Development.
Daryl and Peggy were selected Grand Marshals for the 2017 Peru State Homecoming Parade, a well-deserved honor to cap a 50-year career. Upon his retirement, Long said, “You dedicate your whole life here, and people ask why did you stay at Peru? Well, I wanted to teach, and you love that you’re at a small college in rural America and you get to know people, which was one of my goals. It’s home, it’s where we are.”
Long’s son, Keith, of Papillion, accepted the award on his behalf and shared the following comments:
“On behalf of Dad - who many of you know as Doc - which never really worked for me as a kid…Dad, Mom, and I and the rest of the family thank you for this award and acknowledgment. Mom and Dad both loved Peru for its rural setting and the passion this institution and the fellow professors had for its students and their success. That is why Dad and Mom dedicated so many years to this institution.
“As I talked to Dad about this award, he wanted me to leave you with three key ideas. Yes, there were more than that, but we were able to boil it down to just three,” Long said.
“One of those ideas is that it took a partnership. It wasn’t just Dad but it was him and my Mom together that made a choice that said ‘we love this place.’ It fit them like a glove and that is why they stayed here.”
“Second, Dad made it very clear to me and he hopes for every one of you that it was never a ‘job.’ He was so passionate about students and helping them learn and their life-long successes,” he said. “It just never was work for him. I remember almost every Sunday night he would leave the house to ‘go to the office’ up in the science building to get ready for the week. “
“There never was a sentiment of ‘work’ to it. I hope and pray for each of you graduates that you find that passion. I assure that you have seen that in every one of your professors. I hope you find it within yourself based on what you have been learning here at Peru.”
“Third, Dad wanted me to leave you with a quote from another sage man in our US history, and that is Ben Franklin: ‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.’ So as Dad put that to work in his classes, he would always put questions on tests that did not just confirm a student had studied to the test, but confirmed that they looked beyond the content, looked deeper,” Long said.
“And to you graduates as you leave here today, I hope you continue your daily education. I know that is the wish Dad would have for you and your professors, for Dr. Evans and everyone in the Administration. This investment in knowledge you have had here at Peru it will pay interest many-fold.”
“Dad considered it an honor and privilege to be a professor here at Peru State,” Long concluded.
About the Distinguished Service Award
The Distinguished Service Award is conferred upon an outstanding person who, or organization that, has made a significant contribution to Peru State College, or to an alumnus who has achieved distinction which reflects favorably on the College and the Nebraska State College System.
Nominees are to be graduates of the College or persons who are making or who have made significant contributions and has previously been associated with the College and has gained regional or national prominence. The award recognizes the capstone of the individual’s contributions to their career or community.
The Peru State College Foundation sponsors the Distinguished Service Award. Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the College may nominate alumni or an organization for this award online. Nominations must be submitted by October 1 each year. The award is approved by the Nebraska State College System.