Barry McNamara  |  Published December 19, 2019

‘A Wonderful Place’

Associate vice president Mohsin Masood retiring after 25 years of serving students.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A chance meeting at a newspaper office in Pakistan led to a long and distinguished career at Monmouth College for Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Mohsin Masood.

Masood is retiring at the end of 2019 after 25 years of service to Monmouth and its students.

MOHSIN MASOOD: This was the best 25 years of my working life. I leave here with gratitude to the... MOHSIN MASOOD: “This was the best 25 years of my working life. I leave here with gratitude to the College.”“This is really a wonderful place,” said Masood when he spoke in May at a retirement ceremony for several College employees.

He repeated that sentiment during one of his final days in his Poling Hall office in December.

“This was a wonderful place for me,” he said. “This was the best 25 years of my working life. I leave here with gratitude to the College.”

He also leaves with advice to the College personnel who remain.

“The newer faculty and staff should have faith in Monmouth College and its leadership,” he said. “Monmouth will remain a wonderful place, thanks to the commitment of the trustees – people like Bill Goldsborough, Mark Kopinski, Brad Nahrstadt, Anita Ridge, Dan Cotter and so many others. I’m more than confident that Monmouth will be here for at least another hundred years or more.”

How it all began

To start Masood’s path to Monmouth, one has to look into the past to the first months of 1989.

“I used to visit my journalist friends at a newspaper office in Pakistan,” he said. “I liked reading the telexes, which was the way newspapers received stories back then. That way, I could read the stories before they were even in the newspaper.”

On one such visit, he met Farhat Haq, at the time a fairly new Monmouth College political science professor who was visiting the newspaper’s library to do research on an ethnic political party on behalf of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. Haq is now president of that organization.

“I remember I was wearing a T-shirt that said ‘Laguna Beach,’” said Masood. “She asked me if I’d ever been there, and I said no, I had no idea where it was.”

That’s not all that Masood recalls from those early moments with Haq.

“We started talking, and then we went out to get tea, which is what you do in Pakistan,” he said. “She started smoking a cigarette in the middle of the market. I was like, ‘OK, this woman is smoking in a very conservative society.’ She didn’t care. I thought, ‘Boy, this woman is amazing.’”

His Jewish brother

Masood and Haq decided to date, and they were married the following year, which also happened to be the year that Masood came to the U.S. He remembers it very well.

“It was Aug. 22, 1990,” he said. “Ira came to pick me up at the airport.”

That was Ira Smolensky, Haq’s political science colleague, who died in 2018.

Masood took a moment to gather his emotions before finishing his story.

“From the moment we started talking that day, I could tell he was one of the most broad-minded, open-minded human beings that I would ever be friends with, and boy, was I friends with him. … He was my only Jewish brother I ever had.”

Masood had a master’s degree from Pakistan, and shortly after coming to the United States he earned another, studying political science with a focus on public administration. But with a dearth of government jobs in the area, Masood decided to pursue one more graduate degree, earning a master’s in college student personnel. That led to him being hired at Monmouth in 1995 after a nationwide search for his position.

“My colleagues here in student life like to say I’m a master of master’s,” said Masood of his three graduate degrees.

Masood worked in a number of areas at Monmouth, primarily in residence life but also including intercultural life, supervising security, working on judicial matters and serving as a liaison officer with U.S. immigration.

Other people of influence

Masood places Smolensky on a short list of the most influential people in his life. That also includes his “determined” mother, his wife, and two other women he served with at Monmouth College – former President Sue Huseman and Dean of Students Jackie Condon.

“President Huseman was incredibly smart,” said Masood of the College’s 11th president, who served from 1995-97. “Jackie Condon was not only smart, but determined. She always wanted to do what was best for the students of Monmouth College.”

At the retirement ceremony in May, Condon spoke on Masood’s behalf.

“Mohsin ran in when others were running out,” she said. “We’ll always be grateful to him for his strength and his courage.”

“Whatever assignments I received – which were mainly from Jackie – I didn’t shy away,” said Masood. “I did what I was asked to the best of my abilities and I wanted to do it in the best interests of the students. That was supreme in my mind. I made sure that I did my work in a way that satisfied both constituencies – the students and Monmouth College.”

Masood’s first “assignment” in his post-college career will have a strong Monmouth connection. In January, he will accompany his wife to Mexico for the College’s “Monmouth in Mérida” program, which Haq will oversee. Beyond that, he plans to be active in area organizations, including the Warren County United Way, with an eye toward one day moving closer to his and his wife’s two sons, who both live in the Washington, D.C., area.

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