Interview With the Last Original Faculty Member - Dr. William Lubenow
By Kat H. Wentzell
Dr. William C. Lubenow is a Distinguished Professor of History at Stockton University, and has been teaching here for over 40 years. He is also a published author, having released The Politics of Government Growth (1971), and The Cambridge Apostles (1998), to name a few of his titles. He currently serves as President of the North American Conference on British Studies, and Chairman of the American Associates Committee of Parliament History. Dr. Lubenow also has received numerous academic distinctions, ranging from Visting Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, to Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Dr. Lubenow is a very accomplished individual, and he is beloved by many. Read this brief Q&A below with the man himself:
Q: What were the original Stockton students like compared to today’s students?
A: Stockton students now, I think, on the one hand, are more imaginative. On the other hand, the students now are more occupational. That is, their interest is more of an occupational interest. That might be because of parental pressure. I don’t see that quite so much in honors students as I do in regular students. Students now are [also] more sophisticated. Sometimes that sophistication leads them in weird directions, like with the use of cell phones and laptops and that sort of thing. Maybe students are more technologically sophisticated.
Q: It’s interesting that you used the word “imaginative.”
A: Maybe it’s generational. The original college students were first-generation college students, most of them. I think that is less true now. It is still true to some extent, but I think now, students have been around university graduates more than students fifty years ago.
Q: How easy was it to navigate around the campus then versus now?
A: Well, it is difficult to find parking now. It was less difficult then. But people have always quarreled about parking in some respects, because sometimes there might be suitable parking, but it’s just less convenient. Now, I don’t think it’s a matter of convenience; it’s simply a matter of whether or not someone arrives before 8:30 in the morning. If they don’t, they’re stuck. Way back when, the parking was there, it just wasn’t close enough.
Q: How was student spirit back then versus now?
A: I don’t think student spirit has changed a lot. Students still raise the question, “why am I here?” A difference, however, is that students now believe that there is a job at the end of this, somehow, some way. That’s not just true of Stockton; that’s true of higher education everywhere. I met some students at an instant decision day this summer, as a matter of fact, and there was a representative from Academic Affairs there that gave a description of what Academic Affairs was all about, and she said hardly anything about the arts and humanities, nothing about economics and political science and the social sciences….nothing about biology, chemistry, history, the natural sciences, and mathematics. It was though these--what we used to call the “liberal arts”--simply didn’t exist. Now, I don’t know what that means, but it’s a troubling thought.
Q: How was student/faculty interaction then versus now?
A: The faculty was very much younger, so the age difference was not all that great. The students often called faculty by their first names. There was a kind of informality about that. [The faculty] were recruited right out of graduate school having no teaching experience, so--I don’t mean this in a negative sense--they were sort of “green.” And, the war was going on, so everyone was a draft dodger. I mean, students came to colleges and universities to escape the draft. Everyone was a draft dodger, and there was a sort of mentality that came with that: anti-institutional, that all institutions are bad. It was a way of expressing a sort of anti-authoritarianism. At the very beginning, too, there were no deans. There were heads of divisions called chairs.
Q: So you could say Stockton has always had that free-spirited, open-minded mentality?
A: It’s [more] closed down [now]. It hasn’t closed down completely, but I don’t think that anyone could characterize Stockton as free-spirited now.
Q: Why do you say that?
A: Students like yourself are coming to the university as second-generation college students, which reduces free-spiritedness. And, faculty are less “green.”
Q: What is your favorite or most memorable Stockton memory?
A: Well, I don’t know. It’s all good. I don’t think I can look back through the ages and think, “well, this is especially memorable and important.” Class today was memorable and important.
More about Lubenow....
Read his essay on the "Organizational Paradox" (Which appeared in Stockton University's "Reaching 40") here.
Find his academic works available for purchase here.