Sheldon “Shelly” Nagel was hired on September 3, 1968 at the beginning of the second year of classes at Ohlone. He was a history professor and Division Dean. He was a Pioneer Faculty member at the temporary campus at the Serra Center on Washington Boulevard and he helped pave the way for the move to the permanent Mission Boulevard Campus in 1974. Shelly served Ohlone as President of the Faculty Senate, the first Chair of the Social Sciences, the first Division Director and the first Division Dean of Math, Social and Natural Sciences. He retired at the end of May 1997 but continued to teach in an adjunct capacity for seven years, bringing his total of service to Ohlone to 36 years. Upon his retirement, he was granted Emeritus status.
As a faculty member, Shelly contributed to the development of the curriculum in his discipline and created the course “The History of Radio Broadcasting”. He directed the accumulation of a representative selection of volumes in the areas of history and political science in the Ohlone library. He was also responsible for the acquisition of many films and videos that were widely used by full-time and adjunct faculty in his discipline.
Always an advocate for students and for community service, Shelly founded the STAY Program (Students to Assist You) which placed over 200 students per quarter throughout the district to tutor elementary, junior high, high school and college students. Shelly created a community “Talent Bank” which allowed Ohlone students to interview practicing professionals on the day-to-day experiences of various occupations.
As a Dean, Shelly was a strong faculty advocate and worked tirelessly to ensure faculty had the resources needed in the classroom. He promoted excellence in teaching and mentored many new full and part time faculty. He compiled a collection of practical teaching techniques from his Ohlone colleagues and distributed the collection in the booklet, “It Works for Me,” which is still available in the college archives.
Shelly exemplified the highest standard of academic excellence and achievement in service on numerous committees at Ohlone and on eight accreditation visiting committees of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. He was a founding member of the Community College Social Science Association and member of the editorial board of the association’s professional journal. He published several articles in journals and in anthologies on topics in history, popular culture and teacher education.
Shelly touched and changed for the better thousands of lives, those of both students and colleagues. He was known for his professionalism, dedication, hard work, positive and caring attitude, and quick wit (a lover of a bad joke!).
During the final years of his life, Shelly penned a series of Ohlone memories, mostly about the people he worked with and the issues the all faced together. This memoir, titled “Toiling in the Vineyard”, has been published in the college archive and is accessible for all to enjoy. Shelly’s memoirs stop too soon, as did his life; seemingly midstream. Those who knew him will sense that Shelly is again talking to them; they will hear his voice and see his smile. For those who did not know him, these memories will give them a glimpse into the career of a remarkable man.