Nov 14 – Life at Ramapo College in the 1970’s: Faculty Perspectives – A Virtual Program
Life at Ramapo College in the 1970’s: Faculty Perspectives – A Virtual Program
November 14, 2020
Moderated by Charles Carreras
College in 1970 was nothing like it is today. As student Craig LaCaruba remembered: “We were taught by nontraditional professors, hippies, free thinkers, creative individuals. Professors who were involved in life outside of academics. There were set designers from Broadway, actors, artists, economists, financial people from Wall Street. These were the people teaching us. They were dynamic individuals.”
In the webinar Life at Ramapo College in the 1970’s: Faculty Perspectives, founding members of the Ramapo College’s faculty and staff describe their experiences, the obstacles they overcame, and the creative ways they launched a progressive curriculum.
Participants: Dr. Eddie Saiff, Professor of Biology and Dean of the School of Theoretical and Applied Science, Dr. Clifford Peterson, retired professor of international politics, and Nancy Mackin Robinson, Dean of Students (retired). Afterwards, Ramapo College alumni and staff share their experiences and talk about the professors that they remember.
The program is moderated by Dr. Charlie Carreras, Professor Emeritus of Ramapo College of New Jersey, and Vice President of the Mahwah Museum.
Eddie Saiff came to Mahwah to live when he became Assistant Professor of Biology in the second year of the College. He is currently dean of the School of Theoretical and Applied Science and has taught and mentored students and provided leadership in the College community throughout his career. He served four terms as president of the Faculty Assembly. He has been a member and president of the Mahwah Board of Education, the Mahwah Environmental Commission, and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Linnean Society of London, and the American Society of Ornithologists. He is the author of 48 academic papers and has presented his research at conferences in the US, Europe and Russia. He is the recipient of awards from Ramapo College for Outstanding Contributions to the Extracurriculum and for Contributions to the College Judicial System. He served three terms as president of Temple Beth Haverim Shir Shalom in Mahwah. He is an Eagle Scout and served as Scoutmaster of Troop 50 in Mahwah.
Nancy Mackin Robinson was 24 years old when she arrived at Ramapo in July, 1971 to be Assistant Registrar. > Nancy served on virtually every all-College committee during the College’s early days, was a voting member of a presidential search committee, was instrumental in the College’s move to becoming a residential college, and spent untold hours with students and colleagues creating a vibrant student life program. When she retired in 2009, having served as Dean of Students for 14 years, the College renamed a building in her honor. Nancy was there for most of the College’s most memorable milestones and was present for some moments best kept private (unless someone else brings them up!). Nancy was married for 40 years to Tim Robinson, also a Ramapo Founder, and they made the campus the center of their professional and social lives.
Cliff Peterson -In September of 1972 I began my first of 80 semesters at Ramapo College–not counting summer sessions, study abroad programs in China and January intercessions at the United Nations—as a professor of International Politics. I was thrilled to be associated with a brand new college whose mission statement promised an innovative and experimental approach to public higher education in the State of New Jersey. The prospect and rare privilege of being part of an effort to help create an institution from scratch and provide an opportunity for so many students to be the first in their families to attend college was simply intoxicating.
Those were heady early days of intense curriculum design, shared governance, tutorials, required senior interdisciplinary seminars, a non-punitive grading system and students encouraged to ‘question authority’, be engaged with the community and to call faculty by their first names (something I never quite got used to). Upon retiring in 2012 after four rewarding decades at Ramapo, I have been able to reflect on and take pride in the wondrous transformation of Ramapo from those early turbulently creative days into a mature and nationally recognized college which continues to evolve and thrive. Saving the best for last, Ramapo is responsible for my meeting and marrying my new wife, Carol Ryan, who was in the first class of students when the college opened in 1971 and who I only met last year in connection with the 50th anniversary programs. We both owe Ramapo a tremendous debt of gratitude for so many reasons.