Saturday, September 19, 2009

A history of my work life.--done while high

April 16, 2009 chemohi notes------Edited 9/18.09----but still high

Job history--a career in college teaching

1. First job at Cornell was sheer luck and the support of people like Pat Smith, Julian Hockberg. I still do not understand why they took me (a brand new Ph.D.) over the other candidates, most of whom had a year or more on the job, or in post-doc positions. Pat Smith told me once that I got a lot of votes because of the moxie I showed during the interview with the whole department and that I kept up that form in the social events. Of course I did promise them a primate lab and Harry’s letter affirming that I would probably establish a monkey lab undoubtedly helped. I was productive at Cornell in terms of building the lab, but I drank too much. Got tenure in 1964, still not sure why. Sobered up in November 1965 .

2. Montana was an ego trip--full professor at age 37--how could you turn that down. Montana expected a monkey lab--and they got one--and Dave Stroble turned out to be just the guy to inherit that lab. But from a reality point of view I went from a little fish in a pond of geniuses at Cornell--Sagan, Betha, Nobel prize winners in genetics. So Montana made me a big fish in a little pond and I got caught with the bait.

3. I have no idea why they hired me at Central Michigan. But they did bring in a full professor with loads of publications. They might have seen me as an addition to the credentials that they needed to get the doctorate programs going (which I opposed--better to produce first rate masters than less than doctorates. ) Never did fit in with CMU. Constant conflicts with the chairman, Bill Hawkins, a conservative, and always at war with the Freudians. Did get to like that off campus teaching. Got great evaluations from that group. Published a lot with grad students, and helped many get their master’s degrees. They did not renew my contract. If they had kept my another year they would have had to grant me tenure. And that would happen over some dead bodies.

4. Got the job at Delta in a developmental disabilities program by being brassy about the failure of the school systems and social workers to appreciate the significance of the handicap laws. I took a very strong parent position (learned something at Central--the power of parents with handicapped children as articulated in the rights of the disabled to be educated). So the job was to educate parents of handicapped kids on their rights. (I even took off my beard for this job.) I promoted it like hell and got a good number of parents active. The schools’ principals hated my guts. But man did the parents love me.

5. Got the second job at Delta in a Government-sponsored assessment program-because of my Ph.D. credentials and the job I had done on the parents program. The new program was designed to identify students with a specific weakness and get them in remedial programs. In other words, improve college success in at-risk students through assessment. Was fun at time and stressful at times. Learned a hell of a lot about assessment, particularly how to play the success game. (Give a person enough tests and they are sure to do well on at least one. Then you talk to their strengths.) I also came up with the idea of giving a two-day seminar on test taking before the tests were administered to a group. It lasted about four hours a day in two-hour blocks per day. This gave time for review and take home work. The participants ate it up. Also we offered courses to help them bring up their scores in tests they did not pass. We also got involved with the big layoffs of the 80’s. Unemployed workers were invited to free assessment programs at their old place of work. Got tons of folks into different community college programs and tripled the number of people enrolled the GED program. The best and most successful program I worked on was the one where we brought in 24 welfare mothers to the college four days a week for 6 months of “education”. We had courses in how to dress, simple math and grammar, personal development (getting rid of self defeating behaviors, human development, career research, budgeting (or practical economics). Twenty-two completed the course and at the end of two years not one of the 22 graduates was on welfare.

We had a series of management changes after the original manager, Larry Gabbert, took the job of director of assessment in the state of West Virginia, and it was a disaster. After a year and a half of lousy management and much infighting the dean (Cabbello)decided to shut down the assessment center, and not renew our contracts at the end of the next semester. In other words I got about 9 months’ notice. So did everybody else in the program But unbeknown to me, that move opened the door for a full-time teaching in psychology.

6. Got the assistant professorship at Delta in 1998 partly because of my good record of part-time teaching, particularly the black students, and probably guilt on the part of the faculty since I had been turned down for that position at least four times. I really enjoyed those last years of teaching from 1998 to retirement. I was a full-time assistant professor and loved every minute of it. Even with the fights I used to have with Pat Caldwell at the Ricker centre. I ended my teaching career on a very high note.

36 years in the academic field and loved every minute of it.

so endith the chemo high story for the nights..


  1. You are amazing and I love to read about you. The things you've done and learned.... shit, it's just astonishing.

  2. And the variety. I've had a varied career/life myself, but you've got me beat, Bob.