Personal Department Histories
The Rutgers political science department was created in a very unusual manner, merging several existing political science departments, each with its own distinctive history, culture, and curriculum. We are not pretending to present a history of the process, but it seemed useful to collect the memories of some of the individuals involved while we could still pretend to remember. I have asked them to set down their memories of their departments before the merger, the process of reorganization as they saw it, and how the new department differs from the old ones. No limitations were placed on content, length, or medium, although most chose to write, no doubt reflecting our age. No effort was made to reconcile differences of fact or opinion, and I encouraged them to be candid even at the risk of offending others. We hope you find them interesting.
A VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF RUTGERS NEW BRUNSWICK
Roy Licklider and Gerald Pomper
Rutgers University historically dates to 1766 when Queens College was granted a royal charter, the eighth of nine colonial colleges. It was founded to educate ministers of the Dutch Reform church to offset the devilish Presbyterians of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University). Renamed Rutgers College after a Revolutionary War hero who gave money (and a bell) to the school, it barely survived the next hundred years or so, closing for extended periods of time because of lack of funds but eventually developed into a classic liberal arts college for young men; the seminary remains as a separate institution on College Avenue. For much of this period the building known as Old Queens was library, dormitory, and classroom space (at the same time).
The Morrill Act of 1864 gave federal land to states to found colleges for the “agricultural and mechanical arts.” In most states this resulted in new institutions (Texas A&M, Colorado A&M, etc.) teaching agricultural and engineering skills separate from colleges which eventually became state universities. Over time the two types tended to become more similar with the A&M schools often being renamed (Colorado State, Arizona State, etc.). In the East it sometimes seemed simpler to build on existing private colleges. Reportedly in New Jersey Princeton declined to participate (gentlemen don’t shovel manure?). Rutgers established a state-funded agricultural school, although it did so across town where it eventually spawned Cook College, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS), and the Agricultural Experiment Station. Cornell in New York did something similar.
After World War I feminists succeeded in getting the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution ratified, giving women the right to vote. As a part of the same movement, the New Jersey College for Women (later Douglass College) was founded in 1918 as a separate private women’s college with loose ties to Rutgers College but its own faculty and curricula. It was located on land immediately adjacent to the agricultural school given by James Nielsen; his house was Woodlawn, the home of the Eagleton Institute of Politics. In 1934 University College was established to serve adults and part-time students, often with night classes, closely linked to Rutgers College but with its own faculty (probably because most faculty don’t like to teach at night).
After World War II New Jersey decided that it needed a state university. Essentially it bought a number of private institutions including Rutgers College and Douglass College in New Brunswick. It also purchased a number of professional schools and colleges in Newark and Camden to get the votes of the state legislators from those areas. The entire rather unwieldy complex was named Rutgers The State University of New Jersey. Rutgers is the only school in the United States to have been a colonial college, a land grant institution, and a state university.
By 1960, the first members of the baby boom generation were nearing college age, and hordes of new students were on the way. Rutgers, still new to its position as New Jersey’s state university, would have to expand rapidly. The vibrant postwar economy would provide the resources, expanding graduate programs would provide the ambitious faculty, the federal government would provide land, and young veterans and spouses would provide the children. Neither Rutgers College nor Douglass had much land available for expansion. However, a major Army base across the river in Piscataway, Camp Kilmer, had become available after World War II. Rutgers secured a substantial chunk of it and planned to create three new liberal arts colleges there. The first was Livingston College, where planning began in 1965 and instruction began for freshmen and a snall number of transfer students in 1969.
Where was political science in all this? Apparently it didn’t exist as a separate discipline until about 1962 when the independent departments of history-political science at Rutgers and Douglass split up to form separate departments. Expansion was rapid, including persons still remembered in New Brunswick, including James Rosenau, Robert Kaufman, Harvey Waterman and Licklider at Douglass, and Gordon Schochet, Ross Baker, Michael Curtis and Pomper at Rutgers College.
At two different levels the various groups of institutions did not mesh well. Attempts to link New Brunswick/Piscataway, Newark, and Camden were very awkward. Eventually each developed independently, with recruitment and promotions essentially controlled by each of the separate units (although as late as the 1970s faculty promotions had to be nominally approved in meetings of the tenured faculty of all three). Furtermore, the Eagleton Institute of Politics had its own contingent of faculty, including the noted Americanists Paul Tillettt (memorialized in the first building at Livingston) and Alan Rosenthal and the political theorist Sebastian de Grazia.
In New Brunswick the original idea, the Federated Plan, was that there would be several coordinate undergraduate colleges, somewhat along the lines of Pomona in California or the Five Colleges in Massachusetts. Each of the three units (Rutgers, Douglass, and University College) had its own faculty and curricula, not to mention very different cultures, and Livingston was formed on the same pattern. Initially the plan was that the agricultural school would be changed into a liberal arts college with an environmental focus called Cook College, and a recent political science graduate student, David Rosen, was hired as the first member of its political science faculty. So there were four separate undergraduate political science departments in New Brunswick, with an incipient fifth at Cook, each with its own rules, curricula, and culture. The theory was that they would coordinate to operate a graduate program, but this was difficult since there was no single location for teaching and no way to produce a faculty with an appropriate balance of specialty and methodologies for a Ph.D. program.
In 1968 James Rosenau of Douglass College was appointed New Brunswick Chairman of Political Science. Despite this imposing title, he had had relatively few resources to work with; the Chair had no independent budgetary authority and only an advisory role in appointments and promotions. Over time the powers of the chair were increased, but the faculty remained separated geographically, administratively and culturally.
The reorganization of 1980 changed everything. The Federated Plan was abandoned. Colleges departments of all the disciplines were collapsed into single disciplinary departments located in one place (for political science it was Hickman Hall on the Douglass campus). The classrooms, dormitories, and other facilities on the three campuses were immovable, so classes continued to be taught in these different locations, producing the unusual (!) physical arrangement of Rutgers New Brunswick/Piscataway. Faculty and students traveled as necessary (with the assistance of the second-largest bus system in the state),. In a further consolidation in 1995, faculty were totally separated from the separate colleges which were reduced to residential not instructional units (albeit with a nominal Douglass group), replaced by a single School of Arts and Sciences. Not surprisingly the need to change physical locations and at the same time create a new department with its own rules and curricula was not simple, but it got done; for further discussion of how it was done, see the contributions of individual participants.
It seems fair to say that this process is unique among major political science departments, and it seemed useful to try to preserve some memories of life under the Federated Plan and reorganization. A number of individuals who experienced the process from different positions and perspectives were asked to tell how things looked to them at the time. These are strictly personal accounts; no limits were placed on content, length, or format other than some very light editing. Not surprisingly their recollections differ, but the narratives serve as a basis for understanding what happened and why it mattered.
R.I.P., DOUGLASS COLLEGE POLITICAL SCIENCE DEPARTMENT
by Roy Licklider
In 1968 I was hired at Douglass College. The Douglass department was quite separate from the much larger one at Rutgers College on the College Avenue Campus, but I was familiar with the Pomona system in California and the Five Colleges in Massachusetts which struck me as useful ways to combine the advantages of a small college with a larger institution. I grew up in Colorado and Arizona where state universities were important institutions, and I thought that Eastern state schools might be able to grow out of their inferior status to the private universities given the increased number of students. I wasn’t so keen on a women’s college, but I became a convert (which was just as well since my wife and daughter each attended one).
In 1968 the department consisted of five full-time faculty. Neil McDonald was the chair, a political theorist and the only senior member. Harvey Waterman and Steve Salmore were already there, finishing their dissertations at Chicago and Princeton respectively. Bob Kaufman from Harvard was replacing Doug Chalmers who had been raided by Columbia, and I was from Yale and a year in Mississippi to replace Jim Rosenau, a senior international relations scholar who had just been named New Brunswick Chair of Political Science, a position whose title proved rather grander than its authority. Barbara Salmore, Steve’s wife, was a Rutgers graduate student and T.A. who became effectively a sixth member of the department, at least until the nepotism rules were invoked later. The dominant figure in the department was Ruth Bennett, the department secretary who could easily have run a major corporation and handled us with mildly tough, loud love.
We were a tight and friendly group. I was the only single person, and we all lived close to campus so socializing was natural and easy. The behavioral revolution was in full swing, and our graduate educations had been quite different; we learned from one another. This process was facilitated by our unusual curriculum: a single, year-long introductory course, essentially a comparative course that included the United States (which, of course, is how comparative should be taught). There was no lecture; each of us had one section (or sometimes more—we were on three course loads), and we had to agree on the basic approach and most of the assigned readings. The framework was structural functionalism—the notion that all governments have to perform the same functions but do so in different ways. You don’t hear much about this approach now, which is probably just as well, but it was a great way to organize a course, and it produced an ongoing discussion of undergraduate teaching which brought us together and has no parallel today. Most other courses had low enrollments—when my introductory international relations course reached fifty I felt swamped!
I had a particular issue with teaching that course. The Yale department believed at that time that it was possibly the best in the country (Putnam and Axelrod were in the class behind me), and we were pretty cocky. But when preparing for comprehensives the one book in international relations that intimidated us was a collection by Jim Rosenau of cutting edge articles. So when I met Jim on my recruitment trip, I told him so. He said he didn’t understand since that was his syllabus for his introductory international relations course at Douglass!
As it happened, Jim taught that course for the last time my first semester. I took that course! I attended every lecture, took copious notes, and then walked down the hall with about half the students to teach my American foreign policy course to them. They thought it was pretty funny, and my later version of that course didn’t look like Jim’s, but I learned that you need to challenge students but also give them security and that they learn by doing.
The Douglass physical environment also encouraged interdisciplinary discussion. Political science occupied most of the sixth floor of Hickman, with American Studies tucked in one of the double corner offices. History was on the fifth floor, English on the fourth, philosophy on the third, and we taught all our courses on the first two floors. We met faculty from other disciplines in the elevators and hallways, and the technologies of the time encouraged us to work in our offices rather than at home. Undergraduates poured through the building at all levels. The contrast with the current situation could not be more extreme.
I had no warning of the high level of conflict that we would face outside of our little department. My job interview seemed fairly normal—I gave a talk about my dissertation at a lunch attended by faculty of Rutgers College as well as Douglass and then talked individually to members of the Douglass department. I asked about teaching a graduate course and was told that it would happen. I was later told that the luncheon format had not been followed before and that Bob and I were the first junior faculty to have been promised graduate courses. What was going on?
Teaching political science at the time was challenging for political, intellectual, and technological reasons. Politically the country was in an uproar about Vietnam and civil rights, to the point where some officials of the Nixon Administration reportedly feared civil war. Like all males I had registered for the draft when I turned 18 in 1959 without thinking much about it. By 1963, when I graduated from college, Vietnam was becoming a serious issue. I decided that I wasn’t going to volunteer but was going to do what I wanted to do; if the government wanted me, I would go. As it happened, I was deferred because of graduate school until I was 26 and effectively draft exempt. By this time it was 1967 and I was pretty clear I owed something to someone. I spent a few weeks debating whether to try to get into Marine Officers Candidate School (if I was going to be a killer I might as well be a good one) or teach in a Black college in the South. I finally decided that my fellowship money was better used in the classroom, a decision which probably saved my life; a prep school roommate, stepson of the actor Jimmy Stewart, went the Marine route and was killed. Tougaloo College was not without its interesting moments; a bomb went off on campus shortly after classes started, I was called a homosexual on the front page of the Jackson newspaper (“that was no lady; that was our new assistant professor of political science from Yale”), and I had some interesting conversations with the FBI which was in the process of taking on the Klan. I arrived at Rutgers just in time to see federal troops suppressing riots in Newark and other cities and a ROTC building on College Avenue destroyed by arson, capped with debating closing the school in Voorhees Chapel after the Kent State killings with student demonstrators screaming from the balcony—it felt like the French Revolution! And grades were sometimes seen as life or death matters for young men since they might determine draft status. We have a lot of problems these days, but to my mind the country is leaps and bounds ahead of where we were then.
Intellectually political science was working through the behavioral revolution. My dissertation had been a survey of civilians outside of government arguing nuclear strategy. The results were recorded on IBM punch cards—roughly a thousand--which had to be kept in the proper order for analysis. For much of this time we did our own programming. A single computer would often occupy a whole building, and the routine was that you would submit your program (also on punch cards) along with your data and return 24 hours later, usually to find that it had been rejected for some unstated reason which normally meant that one or more cards were defective or out of order. An alternative was a countersorter; Douglass had one on the first floor of Hickman, but it couldn’t compute statistics. Steve Salmore somehow persuaded Neil to scrounge up $3000 (at about this time I bought a new Camaro for less) to buy an electronic calculator which had programs to compute statistics; of course he was the only one who could make it work.
Saying that there were three or four New Brunswick political science department is true but deceptive because the Rutgers College unit was so much larger than the others, at least until Livingston came up to full strength. A majority of the senior Rutgers College faculty were not happy with the changes in the discipline, the university, or in some cases the country and felt threatened. The graduate program was controlled by a Graduate Committee made up of senior faculty. Presumably because graduate courses were so difficult to teach, only senior faculty were allowed to teach them, and they received double teaching credit for doing so! About the time I came along a Combined Graduate Committee was created, including junior faculty, but it was only advisory to the Graduate Committee.
It took several years to break this system, and relations among faculty were often personally poisonous. Some of it concerned methodology; given my dissertation, it was disconcerting when the Rutgers College chair said to me “You don’t really think numbers have anything to do with international relations, do you?” I regret that I wasn’t quick enough to suggest that numbers of soldiers and weapons did seem to have some relevance! We regarded the Rutgers College department as a snakepit and felt pity for the junior faculty like Ross Baker, Dick Mansbach, and Dick Lehne who had to put up with that atmosphere.
The system did change over the next few years. Some senior faculty (Gerry Pomper, Neil McDonald, Jim Rosenau, Dick Wilson, and Chuck Jacob prominent among them) worked very hard to make this happen. Gerry went from Rutgers to be the founding chair of the Livingston department and hired several senior faculty, including Gordon Schochet who had been denied tenure by Rutgers College! There was also some support from the University administration which supported centralization. But there were some very unpleasant years, and it made me determined to try to prevent such animosities from developing again.
Within the Douglass department, I always felt that Steve was the smartest, Harvey had the broadest intellectual reach, Bob was the most professional, and I was the one most focused on undergraduate teaching. But the central player was Neil McDonald, the only senior member in the department and fortunately the perfect person for the job. He was gentle, kind, tolerant, and knew everybody and everything about Douglass and Rutgers where he had been since the Depression (he once told me his first salary at Douglass was $3000). He gave us all a lot of space to try our wings and tried to save us from our more obvious errors. He once told me that it was his job to shelter us from pressures of all sorts, both inside and outside the institution, and we loved him. He took us to the point where Bob and I had been promoted and then, to our surprise, retired. He said he didn’t feel able to do the job as well as he should, and he died shortly thereafter.
Of course there were other changes. We finally hired some women in the Douglass department, Sandy Kenyon Schwartz out of M.I.T. and later Roberta Sigel at the senior level. Harvey moved into administration and became the heart and soul of the graduate school for four decades. Barbara went to Drew and later Fairley Dickenson, first as a professor and then later as a dean, because nepotism rules wouldn’t let us hire her since Steve was in the department; he eventually succumbed to a lifelong illness after founding the Eagleton Poll and becoming the only person I knew who made intellectual contributions in American politics, comparative politics, and international relations.
I was very happy within Douglass, and relations within New Brunswick improved over time. But my primary professional interest was teaching undergraduates. I didn’t mind teaching graduate students, but I didn’t find them as rewarding. I liked research, but after getting tenure I couldn’t find a major project that interested me so I was an associate professor for seventeen years, taking advantage of an academic’s freedom to structure my own job, first as chair at Douglass and then on leave for three semesters as program officer with the Exxon Education Foundation. I shared my colleagues’ desire to see Rutgers become a top ten public department in the country, but it was not my passion.
The graduate program was fundamentally hobbled by the institutional and geographic divisions within New Brunswick. But we were, after all, a flagship state university. Undergraduate education was the primary goal of state colleges; our distinguishing features were supposed to be research and graduate education. When the reorganization proposal was circulated in 1979, there was no disagreement on its likely outcome (at least in the Douglass department)—it would greatly strengthen the graduate program and weaken the undergraduate one. I opposed it; most of my colleagues supported it. The disagreement remained civil, and in any case the decision was basically made by the administration for perfectly understandable reasons.
It is hard to overstate the level of uncertainty during reorganization. Every department in the university was going through the same turmoil at the same time—folding several different college departments, each with its own curricula, bylaws, culture, and authority structure, into a single new one and at the same time moving physically! Within political science, at least, it was an intensely political process, and I’m sorry I didn’t study it systematically, especially since I was teaching a short-lived course on the comparative politics of higher education (which I still think should be required of all college students).
The first major decision was physical location. We were a big department, and the existing structures had been built for the much smaller college departments. Everyone wanted to be on College Avenue, with the main library and where all the other good departments would want to be as well. We were told that, if we wanted to be in a single location, it would have to be at Hickman on the Douglass campus. The vote was contested, and some residual unhappiness remains to this day. (To be fair about it, the physical problems of Hickman were much less obvious thirty-five years ago, although the cables on the sixth floor securing the pillars were an early clue. These had their own stories. While sitting with her back to the window on the sixth floor and talking to an emotionally disturbed student, Sandy Schwartz saw the student’s face whiten. Turning around, she saw a hand coming down outside the window; a workman on the roof was checking the cables.)
This in turn raised the question of how offices would be allocated. The highlight of the debate was when Ben Barber, who had staked out a public position in favor of strong democracy, asserted that senior faculty had few enough privileges and should have first choice. He was voted down overwhelmingly, and it was decided to allocate them by lottery with an understanding that a “white market” could be set up for exchanges. As it happened, I was able to persuade Tony Broh to give up 616 and was therefore able to remain in the same office for fifty years!
The next question was curricula. Rutgers, Douglass, and Livingston all had different courses at both the introductory and advanced levels. After much discussion a typical political decision was reached—they would all be retained to allow faculty to continue to do what they were doing, and (implicitly) enrollments would determine which survived and which did not. So for a number of years we had two different international relations introductory courses (102 and 221); this was also true of the other fields. It took several years for these to be reduced, often only after the particular faculty left.
A more difficult issue was hiring and promotions. Standards for both changed fairly quickly. The college departments had allowed for teaching and service to be valued highly (although this did not always happen); in the larger department research became substantially more important, and the senior faculty who had shepherded promotions lost influence. I do not believe that anyone who was junior faculty at reorganization was promoted, and we lost several very good people as a result. On the other hand we were able to make somewhat more rational choices of specialization when hiring new faculty, and our new, more conventional structure may have made us more attractive to good candidates. And it may not be a coincidence that at about this time I went back to research myself.
The result was a fairly conventional department on a very unconventional physical setup. The physical plant was built for separate colleges and could not be changed very much, and it’s probably true that our location at Douglass has hurt us; the decay of Hickman Hall has made it worse. A more serious problem for the University as a whole has been the declining level of support from the state, pushing us to one of the highest tuitions of any state university and limiting our ability to support graduate students and hire faculty. So we remain a good second-level public university department. But when students ask me about Rutgers’ future, I point out that it has lasted for two and a half centuries and suggest it will outlive us all!
Rutgers Since 1945: A History of the State University of New Jersey by Paul Clemens
Rutgers: A Bicentennnial History by Richard Patrick McCormick
Academic Reorganization in New Brunswick 1962-1978: The Federated College Plan by
Richard Patrick McCormick
Evaluation of the Rutgers-New Brunswick Federated Plan, 1979-1980 by Richard P. McCormick