Susan Bloomfield

Profile Updated: May 23, 2024
Spouse/Partner M Scott Borden
Occupation Retired university professor/administrator
Children Alicia, born 1987; Lauren, born 1990

[How does one summarize 50 years in less than 1000 words?]
I took a gap year after graduating from Oberlin because 1) I was exhausted from full-time academic pressures, but still needed a few more courses towards goal of a graduate program in exercise physiology and 2) Dan Hinrichs (class of '73) and I planned to marry in May 1975. I spent a very looonnng 6 months in Muncie IN, where Dan and friend Dave Tempest were engaged in a top-notch MS program in ex fizz; the 3 of us shared a small house near a rendering plant (smelled awful!). After completing required courses and asst. coaching an age-group swim team, I moved back to Oberlin in April to spend a lazy several months before Dan and I were married in the small chapel caddy-corner from Finney.

Dan and I both enrolled in the graduate ex fizz program at the University of Iowa, where I completed my MS degree in 1978. I then joined Dan in St. Louis; he had wisely switched from academic research career goals (didn't suit him) to teaching science and coaching swimming at St. Louis Country Day School, where he excelled. By a great stroke of luck, in searching for a job in cardiac rehabilitation, I ended up doing that plus so much more in a research technician job in one of the best applied physiology labs in the country at Washington U School of Medicine. I got the best "post-masters" training possible, working with all sorts of clinical populations plus unique healthy ones, such as master runners (aged 60-85).

Dan and I parted ways ~1980. In 1982 I made the surprising transition to teaching exercise science at a small liberal arts college in mid-Michigan, Alma just N of Lansing. Labor Day 1983 I married Willie Allen, a fellow research tech in the St. Louis lab. The teaching (and swim coaching) at Alma was one of the hardest jobs I've ever had; I certainly refined my teaching skills. But I had the bug to get back to research and a colleague persuaded me I needed my "union card" (PhD) to do so. In 1985, I started a doctoral program at THE Ohio State University in exercise physiology, with a research focus on bone health and exercise/disuse. Willie and I also started up our family during these years, welcoming daughters Alicia (1987) and Lauren (1990). Lauren had a number of medical issues early on, so it was a long slog to finish up dissertation work. After 6.5 years, I graduated in 1992.

After one year back in Iowa City as a Visiting Asst. Professor in the same department in which I had earned my MS degree, I took the best job offer and landed in College Station, TX, with a tenure-track position at Texas A&M University. Never thought I would live in Texas very long, but this was my professional/personal home for 27 years. I was graced with wonderful department heads (only 1 exception to that) and research colleagues. Most of my lab's research (funded by NASA) focused on contributors to/ interventions for the bone loss experienced by humans living in zero G, with one sidebar with the US Dept of Defense. Favorite part of the job: mentoring graduate students in my research lab. I worked part-time as Asst. Provost in A&M's equivalent of the Graduate School, then moved to full-time administration as Associate Dean for Research for my college.

Husband Willie and I parted ways (mostly) amicably in 2005, always prioritizing family time with our 2 daughters. Alicia ended up a biomedical engineer and now works in Research Triangle NC in a biotech firm, hoping to transform pig lungs into tissue usable for human lung transplants. She and Nate welcomed their first child (my first grandchild!) Theo in February 2024; I am thoroughly enjoying "grammy" time with this kiddo. Lauren works as a data analyst for in Denver, CO-- and is an accomplished archer, among other hobbies.

I retired (so quietly!) during the pandemic and moved to Fort Collins CO in June 2020, where I am presently. It's been a phased retirement, filled in the first 3 years with volunteer professional activities; e.g., I was able to meet one of my nerdy bucket list items of working with one more National Academies (of Science, Engineering and Medicine) committee completing research recommendations for NASA. And there were/are multiple manuscripts I've worked on, hangovers from the A&M research lab.

I love being back in the Rocky Mountains (grew up in Cheyenne WY) and the ready access to hiking and cross-country skiing. Retirement allows for much more swimming time (and naps!), enabling better times in US Masters Swimming competitions; current goal is competing in short-course national championships in Indianapolis June 2024. After 17 years of flying solo, I met a fellow through our local Unitarian Universalist church who is now the love of my life: Scott Borden. We are incredibly compatible, have enjoyed sharing a home the last year, and look forward to many years together. Life is good.

School Story

My favorite story will be appreciated by those many Obie women athletes who lived through the era we will kindly call the "Title IX transition to parity".

My junior year the women's swim team DID exist, with a paid coach, but the season was pinched into two months in the fall. The following year, several of us--including diver Margaret Cheney-- determined that we would really like to compete in a late February AIAW regional conference meet to be held in (I think) Urbana-Champaign, IL. We approached the men's coach, Dick Michaels, to ask if we might continue training with the men's team November through February. To our delight, he said yes-- but no modifications to the workouts. The extra bonus? he would allow us to swim "exhibition" (no points) at home meets during the men's season if there were open lanes.

So the 4 or 5 of us swimmers did our best to keep up with the men's yardage and were likely over-trained by early February (I think I lost at least 5 pounds). And we did make it to that AIAW meet; if memory serves, the College provided a van in which to travel. But my sharpest memory of this extended swim season is from the dual meet with Dennison during the men's season. Virginia Chapin swam exhibition during the 500 free and finished ahead of Dennison's slowest fellow. The Dennison coach was apoplectic. He later brought formal charges against Michaels for breaking "the spirit" of the [all-men's] Division III Ohio Athletic Conference. I don't believe this charge went anywhere (sure hope not!!).

Michaels was similarly supportive of women running cross-country (the other sport he coached) and has forever since been one of the unsung heroes of the evolution of women's sports at Oberlin.

Likelihood of attending the 50th Reunion

Yes, for sure

Did you spend a semester (or more) away from Oberlin before graduating?

I transferred into Oberlin in January of 1972, middle of my sophomore year.... started at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, which might constitute the polar opposite of Oberlin. A very wise move.

What do you remember about your Winter Term projects?

My first opportunity for a Winter Term was during my junior year, when I selected an intensive reading project of Thomas Hardy novels with (I believe) David Young. I quickly learned that --in the middle of Oberlin's infamous gray and gloomy winters-- one should not select an author who dwells on gray and gloomy characters/topics.

Senior year I did something entirely different. Inspired by classmate Sue McGarry's practice of Aikido (a defensive martial art), I signed up for daily Aikido work. This on top of 2-a-day swim team practices left me exhausted... but it was encouraging to learn I could gain some competency in a physical skill out of the water.

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Posted on: Jan 04, 2024 at 11:23 AM

Looking forward to seeing classmates from '74 and absorbing Oberlin vibes for several days!

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