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Settling In

After the first heady months of its existence, the College began to settle down to life as another state college of New Jersey. Some of the idealism remained, and new ideas continued to be brought forward, but a spirit of conflict seemed to predominate. Questions of governance came to the fore, because these were very much contested. Was the college to be led by a powerful executive, in the form of a president and his or her Board of Trustees? Or would a system of shared governance gain hold? And, if it was to be a case of shared governance, what was the power of each constituent element—Faculty Assembly, unions, student body, administration—to be?

In the first two pieces, we are immediately introduced to two presidents whose tenures at Stockton make an interesting contrast. Rob Gregg shows that Peter Mitchell was a man who, to some extent, was a victim of the backlash that occurred against Richard Bjork. He had been chosen to be more open and democratic, but this, in part, led to his downfall, as he had no clear power base upon which to rely. Harvey Kesselman provides a nuanced view of Vera King Farris, whose tenure saw the College grow significantly in a number of ways, but who, like the first president, was not willing to brook much opposition. As a result, feelings were strong about her: many faculty ended up seeing themselves as her adversaries, while there were many others who remained fiercely loyal to her. However, all members of the college community had to respect what she accomplished.

The next two essays view the college from the faculty's perspective. Bob Helsabeck describes in great detail the story of governance at the college, showing how it has changed and describing what he feels it ought to look like. John Searight provides an excellent tribute to the Stockton Federation of Teachers, revealing the many ways in which, by fighting for the rights of its members, it was able to contribute, along with its sister unions, to creating a fair and decent work environment for all Stockton's employees.

Next, we turn to the brief attempt to establish Life Sports at Stockton. Joe Rubenstein (who has since gone on to be the faculty's liaison to the NCAA Division III teams, and who was a great cheerleader for the men's soccer team that won the National Championship in 2001) describes how innovative Stockton tried to be and what his colleague Marty Miller brought to the college community. Based upon the college obituaries for Larry James, Gregg then pays tribute to the importance of "The Mighty Burner," both to the growth of Athletics and to Stockton as a whole.

The next essays provide different perspectives of the college. Jeanne Lewis describes being a young administrator endeavoring to help students afford to come to Stockton, a job that has become increasingly difficult over the years. Nancy Messina reflects on what it was like rising through the ranks of Arts and Humanities, while also pursuing degrees, and witnessing the changes that have occurred all around the college.

The three essays that follow provide different views of the college in its earlier years. Melaku Lakew and Pat Reid-Merritt describe the faculty culture of lower K-wing, the residents of which crossed disciplinary boundaries and worked well together both intellectually and socially. It is a different way of looking at Stockton—and one that continues to have significance as we contemplate moving offices so that people of like disciplines live together—to see it from the perspective of the offices and their almost happenstance arrangement. Clearly, many liked this layout, and, quite possibly, each wing would have had its own story to tell. This is then reaffirmed in Elaine Ingulli's description of her first days at the college, describing how this kind of arrangement led her from her position within Business Studies into interdisciplinary teaching, most notably in Women's Studies. In the third of these essays, Franklin Smith touches on the experiences of being the longest serving African American faculty member at Stockton and the difficulties he faced pushing the college community to recognize its limitations in the area of race.

The next two essays reveal the College's endeavors to align itself, politically and economically, with the world beyond its gates. Nancy Hicks describes how she has endeavored in her position overseeing affirmative action and issues of diversity and equity at the College to keep Stockton in alignment with changing policies in the United States with regard to hiring and equal opportunity. Izzy Posner delineates what the College was endeavoring to do in the surrounding community and what its overall impact was. While the College had difficulties in this area at the beginning, he shows that early on it was committed to helping to transform the region.

Finally, Bill Lubenow, himself a Mayflower faculty member, provides an alternate view of the early years, that echoes, somewhat, the early questioning of the Stockton experiment that Alan Lacy in the Philosophy program had published in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 1974. Stockton has always provided space for difference, and there has never been a single way to look at what we are doing. Lubenow's vision certainly differs from many of those among the faculty who taught at the college in the early years.

So, while tensions flared up on numerous occasions, differences of opinion would be many, and a strike would be fought and won by the Stockton Federation of Teachers, the college would continue to grow, both in size and reputation. Perhaps more importantly for the long-term health of the institution, a feeling of camaraderie and solidarity would grow within Stockton's community that would sometimes smooth over the fractiousness.

Inside Settling In:

"Stockton Changed Me, More than I Changed Stockton"—Peter Mitchell
Rob Gregg
  Building an Environment for Excellence—Vera King Farris
Harvey Kesselman
  Shared Governance?
Robert Helsabeck
The Union Made Us Strong
John W. Searight
  Life Sports
Joseph Rubenstein
  The Mighty Burner — G. Larry James
Rob Gregg
When Lower K-Wing Rocked the World
Melaku Lakew and Patricia Reid-Merritt
  Providing Funds
Jeanne Sparacino Lewis
  Stockton Campus Planning, 1969-1974
Richard N. Schwartz
Nancy S. Messina
  Nurturing Community
Elaine Ingulli
  Voices and Experiences that Echo Across Time
Franklin Ojeda Smith
In Good Faith
Nancy W. Hicks
  Stockton's Impact on the Community
Israel Posner
  The Organizational Paradox
William C. Lubenow

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