From directing the exploratory program to advising WIXQ to running in hundreds of races and spreading Christmas cheer as Santa Claus, Dr. Ralph (Doc Roc) Anttonen is known by thousands in Central Pennsylvania. He and his wife are the voice of the “Doc and Mama Roc” radio show on WIXQ, and he announces at Marauder volleyball and basketball games.
Anttonen will retire after 41.5 years at Millersville University in January. “They say you ‘just know’ when it’s time to retire,” said Anttonen. “I know. It’s time to let someone else carry the ball.” Despite his plan to retire, he will continue volunteering at WIXQ, announcing at games and co-hosting the radio show.
“I never saw myself settling down in Millersville. I had full intentions of leaving. I was a young man with a young family and a world to explore,” said Anttonen. “This area grows on you though.” Anttonen also contributes his extended stay to ongoing support from University faculty; Dr. Gary W. Reighard, Dr. Joseph A. Caputo and Dr. Francine G. McNairy. “Location and faculty aside, none of this would have been possible without my wife Judy,” said Anttonen. “She is the glue and I am the rock.”
Anttonen has been director of the exploratory program since 1986. This program has helped support undecided students in finding a major course of study, meeting general education requirements, extracurricular involvement and campus services. “Developing programs to help these students is the reason I come into work,” said Anttonen, who has watched the exploratory program mature over the last 27 years, from 15 colleagues and 147 students to 100 advisors and 758 students.
As faculty advisor of WIXQ, the University’s student-run radio station, Anttonen believes that “streaming audio is only the tip of the iceberg.” He envisions a Millersville branded satellite transmitting signals from outer space in the near future. “Intellectual curiosity has never left me,” said Anttonen. “I have embraced technology as a tool.” Anttonen finds joy in bolstering his department with technologically adept student workers.
Along with helping students and embracing technology, Anttonen has enjoyed running races and spreading his Christmas cheer. “I haven’t run a race for more than 12 years because I have a hip replacement. Until then, I ran about 35 races a year,” said Anttonen, who designed the Millersville Mile and directed the race with his wife for 25 years. “I will be playing Santa Claus at the Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia, the Millersville Christmas tree lighting and on campus on December 14.”
Recently, Anttonen received the Dr. Tom Baker Community Leader Award as part of the Second Annual South Central Pennsylvania Service Summit. This merit is awarded to a passionate, energetic and positive community champion who has made an impact and helped others in a myriad of ways. He was also honored for his leadership as chair of the National Commission on Faculty Advising by the National Academic Advising Association, which promotes and supports quality academic advising in institutions of higher education to enhance the educational development of students.