Sandra Stewart Holyoak: This begins our second session with Professor Paul Leath, on May 17, 2011 in Piscataway, New Jersey with Professor Paul Clemens and Sandra Stewart Holyoak.
Paul Clemens: We were interested in hearing about the areas of physics that this department is noted for.
Paul Leath: Well, I just went over some of this. I talked for a moment about what used to be called solid state physics but now is called condensed matter physics. The only difference is that condensed matter physics includes not only solids but also liquids. ... There are a great many different things and different approaches to the different properties of solids and liquids. ... In the department, we have people do experiments of all sorts on different materials and we have people that do theoretical calculations and predictions of the properties of ... some of the properties of these materials.
SH: You talked about how the Physics Department had chosen specific areas to work in.
PL: The department ... chose early on to just to do a few things and to do them very well, and to not do other things. For example, there is no one in the department doing simply atomic physics or doing atmospheric physics or doing plasma physics or doing many other areas of physics that exist. The area in which it has its historical reputation is probably what is now called condensed matter physics. Some of the key experiments in condensed matter or solid state physics, in the ... past, were done by Rutgers people. In fact, Bernie Serin who the building is named after was the person who did ... these experiments, by the way, over in Van Dyck hall. [laughter] ... [He] was the first person to show that the superconducting transition temperature of mercury, at very low temperatures, at four degrees Kelvin, four degrees of absolute--that's almost minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit--depends upon ... the different isotopes of mercury. ... Different isotopes of mercury have identical chemical properties, it's just that their mass is different because they have different numbers of neutrons ... in the nucleus, but that doesn't change the chemical properties, but it does change their mass. ... He was able to show that the superconducting transition temperature depends upon the mass of the atoms and that's what ultimately led to Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer, who got the Nobel Prize for this, to come up with their theory of how the superconducting transition temperature depended upon the interaction between the electrons and the nuclei with the atoms. [Editor's Note: Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer wrote the "BCS Theory" of superconductivity in 1957, receiving the Nobel Prize for their work in 1972.] ... That interaction depends on the mass of the nuclei, and he did that key experiment right over there in Van Dyck Hall.
PL: Other people that were very famous, ... and should have gotten the Nobel Prize, was Henry Torrey, who was once the dean of our graduate school, you probably may remember, and was chairman of the department back in those early days when the department started building its reputation. He was the first person ever to see a nuclear magnetic resonance signal in bulk matter. Basically, this was the beginning of nuclear magnetic resonance. He didn't do that at Rutgers; he did that at Harvard. ... His post-doc mentor got the Nobel Prize, and he didn't, but nevertheless, he was the person that ... ran the apparatus and first saw the NMR signal. So, there were several famous faculty members. Herman Carr was the first person who used nuclear magnetic resonance to look at the spatial distribution of matter, which ultimately led to MRI imaging. ... He did early work that [was] the physical basis for modern technologies of various sorts. ... Also, we have, very well-known faculty in the department that do theoretical calculations for all kinds of materials. In fact, the department has a very large number of theorists who do mathematics applied to materials. I also mentioned briefly biophysics. We have now a few very good, young biophysicists who study biology from a physicist's point of view--from a sort of mathematical point of view--looking at; I'm not exactly sure what genetic networks, and other things. There are three other strong areas of physics in the department. One, which was much larger in the past, is nuclear physics. There was a time when it was one of the most exciting research area in the department; we had a tandem accelerator over here, next door, where people did nuclear physics. It was an accelerator that was jointly run by Rutgers and Bell Labs. In fact, you'll read all about it in Allen Robbins' book on the history of the department, because Allen was one of the principle persons behind that project. ... Nuclear physicists study the nuclei of atoms which are basically the protons and neutrons that make up an atom. These days, they know that neutrons and protons themselves are not elementary particles, but are made up of things called quarks, that are held together by something called gluons and make up the structure of protons and neutrons inside a nucleus. We still have nuclear physicists looking at nuclei at various accelerators around the world.
PC: What happened to the accelerator that the Physics Department used to have? Did it become obsolete?
PL: Well, priorities are made by the funding agencies, the National Science Foundation in this case. Their support was essential for keeping it running, and as the saying goes, at some point it was "dis-grantled." [laughter]
PC: I have never heard that word before. [laughter]
PL: ... The result of that was it was sold to a university in Australia. ... They knocked a hole in the side of the building one day and took it out, and hauled it to Australia.
PC: How big was the accelerator?
PL: Oh, it's an enormous thing. It's the size of a building. ...
PC: They actually moved it? They dismantled it?
PL: Well, it's a big tank and they took the whole thing out pretty much intact. I guess parts of it came off--I'm not really quite sure--and they hauled it to Australia. It's still useful, and it's basically being used there as a very fine mass spectrometer which is used in archaeology and other areas to identify tiny amounts of various isotopes and things. It's still being used down there some place, but it's no longer here. The building, which was called NPL for Nuclear Physics Laboratory, is still called NPL, but now it stands for Nanophysics Laboratory. [laughter]
PC: That is neat.
SH: They did not have to change the initials.
PL: That's right. ... We do have a number of nuclear physicists still. Although, it's ... a smaller part of the department than it once was.
PC: When they want to use an accelerator, they now must go to a national accelerator outside of Rutgers?
PL: Right; one of our longest serving faculty members in this area is Noemie Koller who you probably know.
PC: Yes, I do.
PL: She, I think, studies the properties of very heavy nuclei, in particular. Many of them rotate very fast, and she studies their rotational and magnetic properties. ... In fact, she's ... away at the accelerator at Yale at the moment. Yale has just been dis-grantled, and is in its final death throws, and she's gotten time on it ... as it phases down. So, she's up there doing experiments now ... as it ends, yes.
SH: You have a new word for your vocabulary, Paul. [laughter]
PL: ... It's a word that we use sometimes around here, but other places don't know about this word.
PC: Dark humor.
PL: [laughter] Dark humor, yes. ... The other area in which we have been well-known over the years is an area that's simply called high energy physics or elementary-particle physics, and there they study particles at higher energies then you typically do in nuclear physics. Nuclear physics goes to millions of electron volts of energy, and high energy physics goes to billions or trillions of electron volts. ... There, they're trying to study the really elementary particles; the quarks and lots of other particles that have funny names. ... There is a so-called standard theory of the elementary particles, which has done a great job of predicting the properties of elementary particles, but it's kind of an empirical thing that was just created to fit the experiments. The amazing thing is that it's so accurate. The only piece of that theory that's missing in experiments so far is something called a Higgs particle. ... So, this Higgs particle is predicted to exist, but, amazingly, people have never been able to find it so far. ... The big LHC accelerator at CERN in Switzerland, which is the only really big one now operating, is looking for that intensively. Meanwhile, we have a very large group of theorists here in high-energy physics, many of them so-called string theorists. String theory is a theory that at its most elementary level, posits that the elementary particles are not particles at all, but vibrating strings, because vibrating strings have particular properties, and symmetries and they see these symmetries occurring. ... So, they're trying to develop a mathematical theory based upon the fact that ... there are these tiny strings at an elementary level. In order to make the theory agree with what is seen, they get themselves involved in such things as "why we live in three dimensions." In fact, their theory only works, if we work in, if we live in something like eleven dimensions. ... We live in a four dimensional world (three spatial dimensions and time, which is just another dimension to them). So, the question is, what happened to all these other of the eleven dimensions of space that they need? ... Thus, they have argued that these other dimensions of space are all rolled up, so they're very tiny, and you can't see them. If you take something that's sort of one-dimensional, like, for example, a pencil, which is really a three dimensional thing, in two dimensions it's rolled up very tight, and if you made that tight enough it would just be a line, and so would just appear as one-dimensional. Likewise, they're saying that these other dimensions that we don't know about are rolled up tightly, and so they're trying to find properties that are related to those. Well, I should tell you that this is now strongly connected to our final area of great expertise in the department, which is astronomy. ... We have a really outstanding group of young astronomers that have been hired in the last decade. We have really a great group of astronomers, and they're looking at basically the origin of the universe, the formation of galaxies, and things of this sort, and the properties of galaxies such as the rotation of the stars around galaxies. They look at where the galaxies are, how they're moving relative to each other. They have discovered from the rotation of galaxies that galaxies must have to have a lot more mass than we can see. Thus, there's something else in galaxies, called dark matter. Dark matter is something that is dark and you can't see it. ... It's so dark that it doesn't seem to interact with anything, except gravitationally. So, that's how the string theorists come in, because they have various theories of what particles could exist that in fact almost don't interact with light or anything else, and so if they didn't interact you would never figure out what they were. ... Yet, they say there are very tiny interactions, and so in fact at CERN and elsewhere, they're looking for dark matter particles and astronomers are doing all kinds of experiments to look for dark matter. In fact, yesterday, the space shuttle took a new instrument up to the International Space Station, and one of the things it's going to look for is dark matter. Thus, the high-energy physicists and the astronomers are all working together on the nature of dark matter. I mean, they now have narrowed it down that it's some kind of particles of unknown origin, and that's all they know. These particles don't interact with light, or not very much, and don't interact very much with other things. However, the string theorists believe that there are rare interactions that can possibly be discovered. That's what's being looked for. The other thing is that ... all of the stars and galaxies in the universe are attracted to each other by gravity, and yet they're moving away from each other. There was a gigantic explosion once called the Big Bang that created our universe, and everything is moving away from everything else, and you would think that as it moves away it would be gradually slowing down because everything's being attracted back by the gravity of everything else. In fact, the amazing thing is ... the astronomers have now discovered that it's not slowing down. It's actually speeding up, it's accelerating, it's going faster and faster, and the question is, what is that, and they have the name for it. They call it dark energy, so that's something that's totally different, and I don't think anybody has a clue of what that is. You can fit it using a term in Einstein's theory of general relativity called the cosmological constant, but ... nobody knows what that means either. So, that's another big puzzle that the astronomers and the string theorists are very interested in knowing what's happening. ... Our astronomers are working on all those kinds of things but basically on the evolution of the universe. There's all kinds of possibilities. Maybe there's something outside our universe which is attracting things, maybe there's something fundamental about empty space that's causing this to happen. There's many strange things going on, so these faculty and students are working on very fundamental problems. Someday they might tell us why we live in a three dimensional world. The other goal is that the string theorists are really trying to create a unified theory of all the basic forces of nature, and in particular, they're trying to unify quantum mechanics with Einstein's general theory of relativity. With Einstein's theory of relativity they're trying to put that into quantum mechanics, and that's what's led them to all of these funny string theory kinds of things. It's sometimes called the theory of everything. One of their problems with their theory these days, is that when they tried developing this theory, there were so many options of parameters that they could explain almost anything. So, we had a colloquium a year or so ago, called "The Theory of More than Everything. [laughter] ... It's a very exciting time, but right now is the golden age of astronomy. It is never been more exciting--astronomy--than it is right now. This progress is largely due to the Hubble Space Telescope, and the other probes and telescopes that they're managing to put out in space, and get above the Earth's atmosphere and thereby see the universe. We live in a really marvelous place in the universe. We live in a galaxy, but out far enough on the edge that we can see out into space. ... So, we're getting a good view of everything. But what does it mean? I don't know. In any event, they're having lots of fun doing that. So, does that tell you enough about the research areas of the Department?
PL: ... Those are the different areas of study in the department, but there are areas of physics that we ... do nothing with, that are actually important areas of physics.
SH: Is there a cooperative effort with other educational institutions?
PL: Well, we have lots of joint grants and research projects with other universities, and it varies from group to group. The high energy experimental physicists are the prime example. There's basically only one apparatus in the world in CERN--Switzerland--that can do most of these things. So, they all work together on the same project, people from throughout the world. In fact, I'll tell you a very funny story. When I was department chair, ... we have annual meetings; I think I told you this story. ... I went to an annual meeting of the physics department chairs, and we went around the table talking about highlights of what is happening at our university, and we discovered that all of us had one thing in common, that is one of our faculty members had discovered the top quark. ... That's because they were all co-authors on the same paper.
SH: You had said that. [laughter]
PL: I think I told you that. So, you know, I mean they write papers with two thousand co-authors. ... That's a funny thing that happens there because they all work on joint projects. To some degree, that's happening in astronomy too, because there are not a lot of apparatus. So, people work in fairly large groups to analyze tons and tons of data that come down. ... So, that's a modern trend in experimental physics in various areas. It's a bit less so in solid state and condensed matter physics; even a little bit less so in nuclear physics, because we work in smaller groups to do our experiments. ... Theorists, of course, are very different. Theorists tend to work in very small groups and write their own papers. So, there's different areas of physics with different characteristics.
PC: In the areas where there is an enormous amount of cooperation and articles that are authored by multiple people, how does that play out in terms of reputation?
PL: Well, it's a problem, and we rely heavily on the opinions of other people in the field as to who are the biggest contributors to the field. Thus, often, important considerations are things such as is invited to give the invited papers at conferences on this. When people come up for promotion, it's a problem. One of the things that the university tends to do these days is discount letters of recommendation from co-authors. It's impossible in this field, because everybody in the field is on the same paper. ... We have to explain, that we have to ask co-authors, because we had co-authors that don't even know our people, [laughter] writing these letters. So, it is a problem. I can tell you a solution that I had, but they don't listen to me. My solution is that they ought to do like in the movies: they ought to say "directed by," and "produced by," and "sample preparation by," and "data analysis by," and maybe even give awards for the best of each category, and then, put that in the paper. ... Then, we would know what each person did on the project. But the sociology of the researchers deciding to do that makes this very unlikely. It's not like they had a boss like in the movies. It's just too hard for them to decide how to do that.
PC: Are the names listed alphabetically or are they listed in some order of prominence?
PL: Well, I think it varies a bit. Some cases, it's listed by institution. Typically, the people that are really in charge of the project are listed first, though. So, you can determine the name order a little bit. Some groups are so big that when they write the paper, they'll only call it the, say, "d-zero" group. Thus, you would have to go to some website to find out who's in the d-zero group. It's an usual situation, and it gives problems at Rutgers and at all universities in general, to try to give credit to your people, and make sure you have really good faculty in these areas, but it's a very important area of research. So, there we are.
PC: Where were we in discussing Paul's career? We had gotten into Rutgers, as I recall.
SH: We were talking about the expansion of the Physics Department and about some of the committees that Professor Leath had served on.
PL: I forget where I stopped though. So, I don't know. I don't remember what I told you.
SH: We had just started talking about the academic reorganization at Rutgers.
PL: When I was in the administration? The academic reorganization?
SH: I think you were just coming to that in the story of your career.
PL: Right, so in 1978, one day, as I was sitting in my office here in the Department, Kenneth Wheeler called me and asked me if I would be associate provost to replace Ben Stout who had been the previous associate provost for the sciences. He had left to go to Montana or someplace like that. He hadn't been in the job very long. His predecessor had been Paul Pearson who had moved up to be executive vice-president under Bloustein. Ben Stout was there for only a couple of years when he got the job out west. Thus, I became the associate provost for the sciences, and Jean Parrish was the associate provost for the humanities. There were two of us that basically did most of the academic things in that office. Kenneth Wheeler, however, was the boss and was involved in all the major academic decisions. [Editor's Note: Benjamin Stout earned his PhD in ecology at Rutgers in 1967 and subsequently became a professor at the university. In 1978, he resigned from his associate provost position and became Dean of Forestry at the University of Montana.]
PC: Why did Ken Wheeler call you up and ask you?
SH: Was it because you had gotten involved with the AAUP?
PL: Well, I think it was. I don't see how he could have known about me, frankly, otherwise. I had been associate chairman in the department, but that wouldn't make me stand out to Kenneth Wheeler. A person who seemed to be rather taken by what I had done with the AAUP was Henry Winkler who was then a vice president in Old Queens at the time. I think he may have suggested to Kenneth that I would be a very good person, but that's speculation on my part. I don't really have any good evidence. All I know is ... he called me, and asked me whether I would be interested, and if I'd be willing to come in for an interview. I went in to be interviewed, and he basically offered me the job. That's all I really know. There wasn't a proper search, I was just offered the job, and that seemed to be the way Kenneth often chose his staff. I joined the staff there with Jean Parrish who was my compatriot across from me, and I always marveled at the difference between her job and my job. We called her "Mother Jean" because she spent much of her day with faculty members from the humanities coming in and talking to her privately about various in, say, comparative literature, or history, or whatever it was at the time. She was sort of the mother to whoever it was that came in. ... My office was much more of a business-type office, and I had people constantly making requests for money, for equipment, or for grant proposals. ... I had to adjudicate between them. There were people of all kinds of different styles that would come to you. There was Danny Gorenstein from mathematics who would always charm your pants off, and when he'd make a request to you, you couldn't say no to him. I mean the guy was so unbelievably good. [laughter] [Editor's Note: Daniel Gorenstein received his doctorate in mathematics in 1950 from Harvard. In the 1970s he became a professor at Rutgers and was subsequently chairman of the Math Department from 1975 to 1981.] ... Then, there was Saul Amarel, who was chairman of the Computer Science Department, who often managed to get money also, but after he'd got it, I always felt I had been mugged. [laughter] So, I had to learn to get along with different kinds of people and handle emergencies of various sorts, and there were all kinds of those that happened. [Editor's Note: Saul Amarel founded the Rutgers Computer Science Department in 1969, which he was chair of until 1984.]
PC: Today, so much of the work that is going on in engineering and the sciences is driven by grants.
PL: Yes, it was that way then.
PC: In 1978, was that true? Was Rutgers internally funding a lot of things or were outside grants the way in which most people's careers were funded?
PL: Well, grants were very important, and grants were the way that research got funded, even in those days, but in order to get grants, it takes money to get grants. ... You would often have to help a young faculty member get his laboratory started, get the equipment started, so he could get going and get the reputation to allow him to get the grants, or you would have a group of people from different departments, or maybe from at Rutgers, along with colleagues from Maryland, or someplace else, that wanted to jointly apply for a joint center grant of some sort to one of the foundations. The foundation would require matching monies from the university or matching commitments of some sort. For example, if the foundation wanted to fund hiring two people here, would the university agree at the end of the grant to pick up those salaries, and things of that sort. So, we would have to make decisions as to whether that made any sense. There were all kinds of commitments and decisions that we would have to make. ... Then there were some that were just opportunities. For example, Danny Gorenstein might bring you an opportunity to hire this world class mathematician from someplace, and it would take some resources. We would have to pay a salary or we'd have to do something in order to get them. However, generally, the expectation, even in mathematics, was that these people would be getting grants after they came, and they did. Grants grew like crazy. Grants have grown like crazy. We now get more money from the federal government than we get from the state of New Jersey.
SH: Was this more indicative of the sciences than the humanities?
PL: Yes, typically. The funding agencies fund a lot more dollars into the sciences than they do into the humanities. There are grants in the humanities, but they tend to be much smaller.
PC: They are mostly personal in the humanities. They will let you get release time, but you very seldom get anything that goes along with it. Social sciences is a little bit in between.
PL: Well, in social sciences, it's in between. So, there would be grants in the social sciences to study, well, scientific studies really, of the sociology, of interaction of the people, for examples, or maybe in archaeology, to do archaeological projects of some sort.
SH: You were focused on the scientific aspects of the university?
PL: I was focused primarily on the sciences. If it was a social science, generally Jean Parrish would handle it. Although, if there was a problem that would overlap, or that I could advise her on, we were very close to each other, we talked to each other all the time.
PC: Who funded mathematicians?
PL: That was the National Science Foundation.
PC: They do.
PL: They got smaller grants because they're very theoretical and didn't need so much equipment and staff. They generally would not obtain grants for equipment, but they would be grants that would pay summer salary, and pay for post-docs, and graduate students as well as pay for travel to meetings, and publication costs, and things of that sort. So, they would get smaller grants, but they would be grants that would be essential for their research.
SH: Where was your office when you were provost?
PL: Where was my office?
PL: Right there in 18 Bishop Place. You mean where in 18 Bishop Place?
SH: I just wanted to make sure and confirm that that's where the provost office was.
PL: Well, if you walk up those long stairs to the second floor, on the left hand side, there are two offices. The one on the left was mine, and the one on the right was Jean Parrish's.
PL: ... Then the little one by the bathroom was occupied by Linda, whatever her name was, and then later by Gerry Warshaver. ... They were our assistants and helped us set up things like external reviews. We were really responsible for running external reviews on the New Brunswick campus.
SH: Oh, okay.
PC: When did those start?
PL: ... I think that it was Danny Gorenstein's committee that may have gotten them started, and they were in existence when I came to the provost office. ... They had begun probably when Paul Pearson was associate provost, that's my guess. So, they had been in operation for a little bit, but I can tell you that we spent quite a bit of time refining that process, Jean and I, when we were in that office, and setting up a regular schedule of when every department was to be supposedly reviewed once every five years, although we didn't always quite manage that, but we would set up a schedule of when departments could expect to be reviewed. It was in collaboration with the Gorenstein committee, because they would do an internal review or review the documents that were prepared by the disciplines and do an internal review. Most of the internal review was done prior to the visit of the external review team, and then, after the whole review, they'd put it altogether, and make recommendations to the administration. ... We had a regular procedure. Thus, for example, if we were going to review some departments, say the History Department the next year, we would meet with the chair and dean the previous spring. We would meet with the department chair, and the dean to talk to them about, first of all, when it should take place. Should it take place next year in the fall, or should we wait till the spring? How should we structure the review? Questions like you just asked me, like, "How is the Physics Department structured?" We would ask questions about what sort of areas do we needed to find experts to come here. How many review team members do we need? Are there other things that need to be reviewed at the same time, like the center for the history of science, or something--does that need to be reviewed at the same time? ... Sometimes we would put together a joint review of several related units at once. We would structure the review at that particular time. Then we would ask the department chair to give us a list of individuals by title and name who occupied prominent positions in the field, such as journal editors, foundation heads, funding agency directors, heads of professional associations, people like that. ... Then, those contacts we would use to find the reviewers. We didn't allow the departments to ever suggest a reviewer. ... Then we would contact all these sources. ... We'd contact, for example, the head of the American Historical Association, or whatever it's called, and we would ask him or her, telling what we knew about the structure of the department for suggestions of who would be good reviewers for this, or that, to come to the department. From that, we would get several names and then we would call a journal editor or a book publisher, or whoever they would suggest to be good reviewers. ... Finally, we would get a list of potential reviewers with knowledge of what sort of areas that they were in. ... We would share that list with the dean and the department chair, and we would allow them to rule out any individual who's totally unacceptable, because of something like some public disagreement with a member of the department, or something major like that, but other than that, that's all we did. Then, based upon the comments we got from all these sources, we decided who we thought would be the best, and we would then call them up, and invite them, and by that scheme, we would put together a review team, and then just announce who the review team was, and the specific date of the review.
PC: You mentioned the Gorenstein committee. How does that relate to CSPAD, the Committee on Standards and Priorities in Academic Development?
PL: The Gorenstein committee became CSPAD, and that has now become what is called CAPER.
PC: Between 1979 and 1981, there was a comprehensive review done in which the faculty got a newspaper like print out about graduate strength across the university.
PL: Yes, that was produced by the Gorenstein committee. They, in fact, after a review, they would rate a particular program as a number one, a number two, or number three, or something, and this was tabulated, and became public, and led to tremendous pressure from departments to be upgraded to the next higher level. ... Over years with CSPAD, my impression was that there was grade inflation, and ... more and more departments became higher ranked, so people were certainly gaming that system. Nevertheless to some substantial degree, I think the departments at the university were improving, because my impression is we got a tremendous amount of information from these reviewers' reports. This was even though the people coming in to review, say the history department, were almost always advocates for history.
PL: ... They would always argue that we needed to put more resources into say, history in some way, or whatever the department was, and so just like reading letters of recommendation, you learn to read through that. The more useful information we got was what does the department most need. We had resources to spend, where would they best be spent? We would sometimes get more confidential information which wouldn't appear in this report. The external review team wrote a draft report, which we reviewed and generally, we would make them remove the names of individuals. We would not allow them to say, for example, that professor so and so is an idiot, as part of their external review. ... We would force them to excise that. We didn't do much of that kind of editing. Generally, they did a pretty good job, but in any event, occasionally we would ask them to remove something.
PC: I've read through maybe fifty external reviews, with the note sheets that the reviewers kept. In at least several departments, I have found a list of every professor, usually hand written, with an evaluation of that professor alongside the name.
PL: You got that? I don't think I ever saw that.
PC: It is in the official papers. They are kept over in institutional research for some departments. It does not happen all the time.
PL: Well, I don't ever remember seeing that. I certainly remember them trying to say things about particular professors. ...
PC: They were never in the report.
PL: They were never in the report. We invited them, if there was something confidential that they thought was important, to send us a separate letter. So, if they would send us a letter and say, "The department chair is doing a terrible job." We would say, "Well, send us that in a separate letter," and we would often do something about it, but it would not appear ... in the more public report.
PC: Were there times when the exit interviews that you did with the committees were jarringly different than what they were actually willing to write down on a piece of paper?
PL: No, but sometimes they were more specific. At the exit interview, they would sometimes say nasty things about individuals. The external review involved people from our office, the dean, as well as the President and Vice-President, and it involved usually two members from the Gorenstein committee or from CSPAD. All of these would all sit in on the exit interview. So, we would all hear this, and then it would be sort of public, but nevertheless what was said there was generally treated confidential, but almost always in general agreement with the written report. In fact, ... we gave them time to draft their final report before they left that day, and so it was generally consistent. ...
PL: I don't remember many problems of the sort that you asked.
PC: Let us go back to the beginning of your helping to develop the external reviews of the departments.
PL: We worked together to evolve that process into what we decided was a fairly fair process. We didn't always manage to keep to the schedule, but we did run the reviews, and then the Gorenstein committee did the final evaluation. However, I should say that after we got the written report, then we would ask the department to respond to it. ... We would have a response meeting, and following that, we finally would reach some final consensus with the department and the dean as to ... what went on in that department and what needed to be done. We would usually come up with a plan with the dean as to what needed to be done with this department.
PC: Do you know where the idea came from to do serious outside reviews of departments? It was under Bloustein, I would assume.
PL: It was under Bloustein, for sure.
SH: Was it because of accreditation?
PL: No, it was very different from accreditation. We were looking here to build the best departments at Rutgers. We were trying to build quality. Accreditation is looking for minimum standards. They're looking to see if your engineering school does the minimum that's required for a proper engineering education. They are not looking at how to make it the best engineering school in the country. ... So, for a while we, when we would do external reviews of engineering or some professional area, we ran them together with the accreditation visit. ... The accreditation agency would let us do this, and we would appoint a couple of members, and add them to the accreditation team and they would be the people that would make the report back to us. However, we finally decided that we were interfering with the accreditation process, and so, we then separated them, and let them take their own schedule. So, accreditation was viewed then as a different thing than the external reviews because accreditation is really something very different. It's whether you're going to be allowed to give credit in engineering or in pharmacy or in landscape architecture. "Did you meet the ... minimum professional standards?" That turns out to be very different from, "Do you have the best landscape architecture program in the country?" So, it was different and we ... decided not to interfere with that process. The accreditation was so important to the units, we certainly did not want to jeopardize their accreditation, and so we just let them happen separately.
PC: You were not there when this actually was initiated.
PC: It was probably during Bloustein's time. It may have come from a faculty committee like the Gorenstein Committee.
PL: I somehow have a feeling; I know Danny Gorenstein was involved early on in the process. ... Kenneth Wheeler was also a strong supporter of this. I'm sure he may have had a role, and I know Paul Pearson was a very strong supporter. I sort of think that it was Paul Pearson, or the combination of Paul Pearson and Kenneth Wheeler that played a role in getting this started. ... Danny Gorenstein was probably involved in some way. He may have initiated it, I don't know. I think he was a strong supporter of it for sure.
PC: Did it work?
PL: I think so. I think we learned tremendous amounts about the different programs. We learned where to put resources some department, or whether shouldn't put in resources. ... We learned a lot about what the strengths were in the various departments, so at the time, I felt I had a really good feeling of where the strengths were in my departments in the sciences, and what they needed in order to build a better department. We used that tremendously in some areas. A good example is the College of Pharmacy. I mean, the College of Pharmacy had an old guard, faculty that had come down from Newark when the College moved here. They moved the school from Newark to New Brunswick. ... They had an old guard faculty there. We had a new dean, John Colaizzi, who was a very good dean, and we worked very hard to bring that place around. We hired some very good people, but they were frustrated because the majority of the faculty were the old guard, so they couldn't do what was needed to modernize the curriculum, or things of this sort. ... We got good information on what to do and who to trust, and who to put in charge of things. So, the dean I'm sure used that to appoint graduate program directors and other things that made a difference in their program. Thus, it helped the dean very much. In fact, often the most important help came to the dean and the department itself, as to the direction they ought to go. I'd certainly say that was true in physics. The physics department studied the report very much and used that for making its plans of where and what it wanted to do next. [Editor's Note: In 1927, the New Jersey College of Pharmacy in Newark was absorbed into Rutgers. In 1971, as the College of Pharmacy expanded, it was moved to New Brunswick and began to operate out of William Levine Hall on Busch Campus. The school was renamed the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in 2002.]
SH: It was not an adversarial process. It was more cooperative.
PL: Cooperative, yes. I mean, our department always looked forward to the external review because we got good information that helped us, and we wanted that information. We were trying to build a better department. In fact, we always had the attitude that if you're hiring people, you got to hire somebody that's better than yourself if you want to build a department. It wasn't every department that wanted that. [laughter]
SH: Was the athletic department under this external review?
PL: No, the athletic department was totally non-academic and reported directly to the Vice President and Treasurer, Joe Whiteside or somebody. We had nothing to do with intercollegiate athletics.
SH: What about the medical school?
PL: By the time I joined the administration, the medical school was already separated from the university. That happened early on. Dean DeWitt Stetten, who I think was a very good founding dean for the Rutgers Medical School, was trying to build an elite medical school, and was hiring some really outstanding faculty but Chancellor of Higher Education Ralph Dungan was very upset, because the class of medical students was too small, and the need in New Jersey was for many more doctors. He was upset and he kept pressing Stetten to take in more medical students, and Stetten seemed to think that that would lower the quality of the medical school. There was an adversarial relationship between the Department of Higher Education and the medical school, and there were other political forces in the state involving Newark that I don't really know. There was this medical school up in Newark, that, and probably in those days was also connected with the University Hospital up there. ... That's been a major source of problems--still a major source of problems--financially, and the Newark school was not doing well, and there was also another one down in South Jersey, that I don't know much about, an osteopathic school. The powers that were, maybe at the urging of Chancellor Dungan, decided they had to put all the medical schools together and so they ripped it away from Rutgers. William Cahill was the Governor. [Editor's Note: The Rutgers Medical School was formed in 1961. In 1974, the Rutgers Medical School was combined with New Jersey Medical School and the New Jersey Dental School to form the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which by 1986 became part of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.]
PC: Probably either Cahill or Byrne, I think it was Cahill. [Editor's Note: William T. Cahill was Governor of New Jersey from 1970 to 1974. Brendan Byrne was Governor of New Jersey from 1974 to 1982.]
SH: I think it was before Byrne.
PL: Right, so, in any event, they pulled it away. That was a sad moment I think. Did that happen in Bloustein's time?
PC: Yes, it would have.
PL: It was in Bloustein's time, yes. I didn't have anything to do with the medical school, except where we had joint programs. We had and still have joint PhD programs. They pulled the school away but our PhD programs through our graduate school remained as joint programs. ... Their faculty members are faculty members in our joint PhD programs. They had their own MD program but the PhD programs went through our graduate school and still do. ... It was through the joint programs that I primarily got involved. Later on, I got involved more closely when we started creating high-tech research centers like the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, which was a joint center between UMDNJ and Rutgers. Thus, we had lots of joint meetings in those days but still, it's a separate institution.
PC: They continue to be, so who knows.
PL: It may continue to be so. ... I can tell you the medical school faculty very much hope and very much want to come back to Rutgers. ... Their funds are being ripped off. The University Hospital in Newark does lots of indigent care, and so has tremendous budgetary losses, and UMDNJ is paying for that now by stripping out money from all of the academic areas. ... It's been very hard here for the medical school. So, they very much want to come back to Rutgers, but quite frankly, before that can happen, they're going to have to figure out something to do about that hospital up in Newark. It's a financial drain, and somebody is going to have to figure out a way to finance that hospital. Apparently, they're putting political pressure on a place called Saint Barnabas Hospital to take it over. I don't know if that will happen, I don't know why Saint Barnabas would ever do it.
PC: Why would they do it?
PL: Maybe they can give them some financial incentive to do that. ... I'm not involved with that.
PC: You came into the administration as an associate provost in 1978.
PC: You ran external reviews.
PC: What role did you have in the promotion process?
PL: Nothing formally, but Kenneth Wheeler was a member of the PRC [Promotion and Review Committee]. The role of the provost is often, at least when I was provost, required to make the first presentation of the case to the rest of the PRC for any candidate from the New Brunswick campus. ... But, as associate provost, Jean and I would have to read each promotion packet in our area for the New Brunswick campus, and write a series of notes for Kenneth Wheeler to use when he went into that meeting, our analysis of that particular packet--what in particular stood out in that packet. Things that he ought to pay attention to, or he ought to mention regarding a particular case, [for example], the candidate may not have had a grant for the last three years. Or this person has this problem in this letter from so and so. ... We would write notes for him, which he would then, I suppose, use in making his presentation. Of course, he would read every packet as well, as well as our notes, and from that, that would form whatever he would present to the PRC. ... It was our job to do staff work for Kenneth as it relates to this. So, it wasn't a formal part of the process, but we were ... staff to Kenneth, and generally, especially in the sciences, I think, Kenneth would often just go along with whatever I said, but in cases, he would have his own opinion, too. He had strong opinions.
PC: He would come back and tell you what had happened at the PRC level?
PL: Yes, I guess so.
PL: At least from time to time he would, but there were so many cases. I mean, we wouldn't hear on a lot of them.
PC: When I was there working with Joe, I would write a formal report that was not long. Usually, he would not tell us exactly what had happened unless there was a case that was really troubling.
PL: Well, I don't think he would talk to us about most cases either, because most cases he would go along with whatever it was we said and the PRC probably would go along with whatever he said, and there wasn't any real reason to come back, so he wouldn't make any report in those cases. ... From time to time if there was an issue, he would come back. Or sometimes, I suppose in the middle of deliberations, he would come back and ask me a question. So, that kind of thing would happen.
PC: Do you remember two cases of professors who were up for tenure, Tom Forstenzer and Elizabeth Platt? Platt was in religion, Forstenzer was in history. There were student rallies, protests, and newspaper coverage.
PL: That must have been before my time, I don't remember.
PC: I came in 1974, and Tom's case came out of history about four years after I was there. So, I'm guessing it was about 1978. So, it was just about the time you went into the office, but it may have been the year before.
PC: Forstenzer's dragged on in the newspapers at least for three years. There was a cohort of students constantly holding rallies.
PL: It doesn't ring any bells. I certainly remember cases of that sort when I was provost, but the most exciting one was somebody--who's name I forget--at the Mason Gross School who was an artist, a beloved teacher of undergraduate art. ... It was recommended by the department and by the Mason Gross School, but the PRC turned the case down, and we had a big demonstration by Mason Gross students. The provost office was descended upon by maybe the order of a hundred Mason Gross students.
PL: A large number, and I had to go outside and address them with a bull horn and explain to them how the PRC, that had no artist on it, could possibly turn down a recommendation for a faculty member for tenure with positive recommendations from the Mason Gross School. ... We had to explain to them that we sought outside opinion from world-respected artists, and it was based upon those recommendations that we turned it down, and I had to explain that with a bull horn to a large group of people. [laughter]
PC: I assume things like that must have happened in Forstenzer's and Platt's cases.
PL: I'm sorry, that just rings no bells. ... I don't even remember talking about it with Jean. Jean ... was probably the associate provost then.
PC: I don't know what happened with both of them. I know Platt was in Religion Department, which then was a small department without much credibility.
PL: I'm afraid I don't know.
PC: Did you feel that the PRC made the right decisions the majority of the time?
PL: Oh, they certainly made the right decisions most of the time. I'm sure they made some mistakes. They were a critical part of the promotion process, and there were always a number of cases that were turned down with the PRC that had been positive up to that point. So, they were a critical point in the promotion process for sure. At least in my area, generally, they went along with my opinions; either that or perhaps I would consider it a marginal case. ... Maybe my recommendation to Kenneth would be that, "Well, we should probably go along with this, but it's very marginal," and I would give them the strengths and weaknesses, and they would end up turning it down, despite the fact that I had a marginal positive. ... I don't remember having cases that were dramatically different from my recommendation. It was a hard part of the promotion process, and the university recognized it as such, and that led to lots of grievances through the AAUP. One of the things that happens, is that the PRC is supposed to write a report on why it made its recommendation in each case, a written report. ... Those reports tended to be very brief and very vanilla, and would say only that this was turned down because this individual didn't have sufficient international recognition, for example. That would be all it would say, it wouldn't say anything detailed. It would be sort of a clue but it didn't really give enough information. The administration, I guess, didn't want grievances based on detail. Generally though, I was always very impressed by the PRC meetings when I was on the PRC. The PRC members took their job very seriously. Generally, I can say that the faculty members on the PRC were harder than the administrators. Generally, the faculty were very critical, and a lot of the cases that would be turned down would be largely due to arguments made by the faculty members on the PRC.
PC: Did affirmative action enter into the PRC's considerations? Did it matter when you get to that level of judgment?
PL: Well, it was not anything that was explicitly talked about that I recall. I would say that when I wrote my recommendations for Kenneth or when I was on the PRC, I would certainly take into account the balance of genders, and races, and minorities, and that sort of thing, and realized that it was important to keep some balance. ... I'm sure that affected the reports that I made. I guess that's about all I can say. The other thing you had to worry about was whether the letter writers were biased, and so I remember cases of external letters that I thought were clearly biased, and I would discount those for that reason. It was an issue. It was there, and I took it personally and maybe occasionally it would be discussed on the PRC, but we certainly didn't have any goals or quotas but we ... wanted to be very careful, to certainly eliminate bias, and occasionally give some preferences just to keep the diversity among faculty, but it was rather implicit. ... It was not something that was formally done.
PC: One of the issues at the university, and nation-wide for that matter, has been getting more women into fields like physics. How has that played out over your career? What has the physics department and Rutgers University done to address that?
PL: Well, certainly when I was provost, I would look very favorably on hiring women and sometimes set aside funds specifically for hiring minorities or women in areas where they were underrepresented. There was a woman whose name I forget, who did affirmative action for so many years, a black woman. What was her name?
PC: I do not know.
PL: A very good women in any event. We would set aside funds specifically to help departments that were trying hard to hire minorities or women, and physics was one of those areas because physics was always low in those areas, and nationwide physics is low in those areas. Women seem to choose to go into particular areas. I mean, now the majority by far of ... students in the College of Pharmacy are women. I just taught physics to the pharmacy students last fall, and about two-thirds of the class were women. That's a big change, and in other fields it's increased as well. I think nationwide, in physics, it may only be twenty percent. It's small--it's increased--but it's still smaller than other fields. Women don't choose to go into physics so often. I don't really quite know why. I think nationwide and at Rutgers we've tried hard to get women to go into physics and there have been special programs for that. Some of our people, like Noemie Koller of our department are on national committees to try to develop programs to support women in physics, and it is slowly increasing. One of the problems is that the great majority of all graduate students in physics are not Americans these days. They come from overseas, and the number of women is increasing but most of the women that we're getting in graduate school now--in physics--are foreign women. They're from Eastern Europe or China or some other place. It is increasing and those women are getting PhDs and teaching in America. Physics is, like other scientific fields, mathematics and others, dependent very much upon foreign students. Americans are not going to graduate school in the sciences so much anymore. [Editor's Note: Noemi Koller received her PhD from Columbia University in 1958. In 1960, she was appointed as assistant professor and earned tenure in 1965, becoming the first women to be a tenured faculty member at Rutgers College.]
PC: My impression that there are more native-born women who are in math than in physics.
PC: It is strange because once you have the mathematical background, there is no reason you could not go into physics at the undergraduate level.
PL: Absolutely, yes, I don't fully understand that, but I think generally, that's true.
PL: Our math department is not particularly good in women these days. It has very few women right now. I think we do a much better job in physics. One of the things that we led the country was married couples. At one stage, we had four or five married couples in our department. Both the husband and wife were physicists.
PC: Like in the History Department, but still unusual.
PL: Yes, I remember. I think, Bonnie Foster--was her husband also in history? I think we hired both of them together, once. Is that possible?
PC: It is possible. That rings a bell.
PL: That rings a bell. Oh, okay, but you have other couples in your department?
PC: Within the History Department? Yes, we have many.
PL: Okay, well we do too, and I think we may lead the country in that. That's been a way that we've increased the women in our faculty a lot.
PC: It has worked out very well for us.
PL: Yes, us too.
PC: We have no had problems with it.
PL: It's worked very well. ... We found couples where both members of the couple were outstanding physicists.
SH: Are women included in the term minority faculty?
PL: Well, minorities are different than women. I'm not talking about women when I talk about minorities. ... It's relatively easier to hire Asian physicists. So, I almost don't count that. When I think of minority, I'm really thinking of black physicists, since there are very few of them. We tried very hard over the years. One of our notable successes was Shirley Jackson and we had another physicist named Joe Johnson. ... The problem with black physicists is that there are so few of them nationwide that you can't keep them. For example, Shirley Jackson left here to become the President of RPI [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute] for god sakes. ... There was nothing we could do under those circumstances to keep her. ... They have tremendous opportunities in physics. There's a tremendous opportunity for blacks going into physics, but they don't choose early on to study physics, so there are not many of them.
SH: There have been substantial efforts to recruit minority faculty to Rutgers during the 1980s and 1990s.
PL: Yes, I remember creating those. We tried very hard and hired some good people in those days, but they didn't all stay.
PC: When did you become provost?
PC: You were an associate provost for a decade.
PL: Nine years.
PL: Most of my administrative career was as associate provost, and that was a very exciting time because Kenneth was not a scientist, and he rather let me run things with sciences. So, I was sort of the provost for the sciences. I mean he had the final say, but he gave me a lot of freedom. It was very good for me. Did you want to talk about reorganization? That's what you asked first.
PC: At some point, yes.
SH: We have to.
PL: I forget many of the details and I did not come up with the idea of academic reorganization. The need for reorganization was very clear [from] the external reviews. The ideas for reorganization undoubtedly came out of the external reviews. This is another very positive thing that came out of the external reviews.
SH: That has been my suspicion all along.
PL: ... We had these strange units called New Brunswick departments. You may have had a New Brunswick Department of History.
PL: ... When we'd have an external review of history, we would review, I presume, not just the Rutgers College History Department but also the Douglass College History Department and maybe the University College History Department and maybe the Livingston College History Department, and they were all included in one giant review. ... The kind of thing that we got back again and again from these external review teams was, "Why do you have all these crazy departments?" ... Eventually, it sunk in at some point. I agree with what I saw in the reports especially since I came from the department that was the first, probably to reorganize in the entire university. George Horton had been the chairman of the Douglass College Physics Department at a particular low moment in the Douglass College Physics Department when a couple people retired, and somebody didn't get tenure or something. So, he was left alone. In despair, he came over to the Rutgers College Department and said he wanted to join together and make a single department. Thus, long before academic reorganization there was only one physics department in New Brunswick and we served all of the colleges. ... Physics was a model that became the model for everybody.
SH: You had mentioned that in the last interview.
PL: Yes, that had already happened. ... It was decided that something had to be done major generally. There was also pressure from the Gorenstein Committee to do something, I'm not sure. In any event, there was the appointment of a committee, something called "Committee I." Committee I was supposed to look at the strengths and weaknesses of our present system. Danny Gorenstein chaired it. ... You can find it in the records. ... The idea from that committee came from Kenneth I can tell you. Well, I played a role I'm sure in ... recommending people to serve on the committee, but that's all. They made their recommendations about the strengths and weaknesses of our present system which made it pretty clear that something needed to be done. Then, there was the appointment of "Committee II" that was setup that was charged to recommend what we needed to do. I think that was chaired by Tilla Milnor from the Math Department, I'm not sure. At this particular stage, Kenneth Wheeler and Ed Bloustein got rather more directly involved, and the basic idea for what was to be done really, in my view, was their initiative. They came up with the proposal to actually put all of these duplicate departments together, not only politically, but also geographically and to move all the departments together. That took a major commitment from the administration to do that. ... I'm sure that influenced the recommendations of Committee II. In any event, after that we ended up with the proposal for academic reorganization. ... Then, there were lots of discussions in higher office about how to bring this about. ... The upshot of that was we setup many committees to deal with the different aspects of this reorganization. For example, in Rutgers College we had all sorts of disciplines, not all of which were arts and science. Communications was there, probably, speech pathology was there, I'm not sure. Over at Livingston we had departments of urban planning. We had all of the Cook departments, some of which were sort of arts and science, and some of which were clearly very applied. ... So, there was a committee setup to decide which disciplines were arts and science, and which disciplines were professional disciplines, and to make recommendations of where they could be placed, and where we ought to setup a professional school to handle them. ... There was a critical mass of faculty needed to setup a professional school. There was a separate committee on physical location to decide where on the campuses we were going to put the History Department, and where we were going to put the Philosophy Department, and where we're going to put the Chemistry Department, etc. The goal was try to consolidate departments and disciplines and we did an amazing job of that. I give a lot of credit to John Salapatas for working out the logistics of how that might work, but also a lot of credit to the administration for coming up with the resources to allow those consolidations to take place. ... We more or less allowed all of the disciplines to be consolidated except for a major failure in psychology. ... The experimental psychologists and cognitive psychologists were located here [at Busch], and the social psychologists were over at Livingston, and we never managed to get them all together. ... They are still not quite all together. So, that was a big failure, but it would have taken major resources that we didn't have at the time. ... We just couldn't find a solution despite how hard we tried. ... Other places, we did manage to accomplish this in one way or another, and Salapatas had all kinds of major problems. He would be moving, I think it was political science over to Hickman Hall on the Douglass campus. The previous Rutgers College Political Science Department was located, I believe, in a house on College Avenue, say. In any event, there was a professor there who had this wonderfully decorated office with furniture that he'd gotten from professor so and so when he had retired many years before, and he was now being forced to move over to Hickman Hall which had all modern furniture, and he wasn't allowed to take his furniture with him. [laughter] ... How we survived all those conflicts, I have no idea, but in any event, all of that had to be worked out. ... There were several committees, I can't even remember all of them.
PC: I was on the fellows committee.
PL: Oh, the fellows committee.
PC: With Jewell Cobb, I will never forget her. [Editor's Note: Jewell Cobb was a professor and later Dean of Douglass College before taking the position of President of California State University in Fullerton.]
PL: With Jewell Cobb, and that was to figure out how to setup the Fellows Program for all the colleges, and how to make that work. So, we had all of these various kinds of committees. My job, assigned by Kenneth Wheeler, was to coordinate all these committees, and to keep on top of them, and see to it that they were making their recommendations on time, and from time to time to help them. The one I actually worked closest with was Mike D'Amato's committee. Mike D'Amato chaired the committee on disciplines to decide which arts and science and which were professional disciplines. ... That had a lot of thorny problems, and the upshot of that committee is that we had a lot of professional disciplines that we didn't quite know where to put. We put them into what we called informally, a "nursery school for professional schools." ... It was called the Faculty of Professional Studies which was a place to hold them until we could figure out what to do with them. We ultimately then ended up creating, for example, the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. It wasn't initially called the Bloustein School, it was just going to be called the School of Planning and Public Policy. ... We were just in the process of creating it when Ed Bloustein died. ... It was very timely, and so we named it after Bloustein, but in any event, we created that. We changed the School of Library Science into SCILS, and put communications and speech pathology and I'm not sure exactly what of all we put in there, in addition to library science, which is all that had been there before. So, we changed that school into a different professional school. That I guess was recommended by the D'Amato Committee I suppose. ... So, in any event, we finally found a place for all these professional disciplines and created all of these various schools. Well, we changed the Institute for Management and Labor Relations into the School of Management and Labor Relations. ... We put Labor Studies as a discipline into that institute, and it became the new school of that. We did all those things. Thus, the structure of Rutgers changed very much at that point. Well, I guess we also, had social work pick up undergraduate programs then, and education took on more responsibility for the undergraduate education major. They had been simply graduate schools prior to that. We put people in many places around the campus, and thus changed the structure of the university very much. It was a great learning experience for me of how to make great changes within a university. ... The key to it was beginning in a very limited way by having a committee that just looked at the strengths and weaknesses. What became clear to everybody is that something had to be done, and then finally evolving through lots of fairly rational planning, into what we finally did. There was much fighting through, and keeping our resolve to see to it that it was followed through as best we could. I think it was a tremendous accomplishment and I give tremendous credit to Kenneth Wheeler and Ed Bloustein for pushing that and supporting it all the way. [Editor's Note: With the reorganization of the faculty into the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1981, Rutgers University centralized its academic operations in campus-wide provosts' offices and separated many executive powers from the college deans.]
SH: Did you feel that Bloustein's death may have halted these changes taking place?
PL: No, I thought that the changes were irreversible, and I thought the support for it was, actually, fairly overwhelming once it happened. The faculty were very supportive with the reorganization. The objections we got were from alumni associations. The Douglass Alumni Association were very upset that they no longer had a Douglass faculty. ... Those were the major problems, but the faculty themselves, I think, thought it was a great thing. ... Maybe there were some initial problems with the students. ...
PC: The students were overwhelmingly opposed, that I can tell you frankly.
PC: I know that as a historian researching it more than I do as an observer. We ignored the undergraduate opinion, in fairness.
PL: ... We ignored the students, and we did what we thought was best. ... I don't remember major demonstrations or anything but they must have had real problems with losing their departments.
PC: All the student government associations passed resolutions condemning it, except Rutgers College which could not come to a conclusion. The other student bodies condemned it outright.
PL: Well, I'm sure Douglass did.
SH: Did the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees support these efforts as well?
PL: Well, they had to pass it. Ultimately, they had to approve this. So, it was approved by the Board of Governors, but it was approved undoubtedly with the strong recommendations from Ed Bloustein and whoever was Vice President then, Pearson, I don't know, whoever it was.
PC: Probably, yes.
PC: I recall that the fellows system was considered a bow to the pressure from the Douglass alumni to keep an attachment to the old college tradition.
PL: ... We created the fellows system. ... We tried as the best we could for those subsequent years to try to make it work.
SH: Was the fellows system developed solely to ameliorate the reorganization?
PL: Yes, so the deans over there would still have a faculty body that could meet and discuss the status and what's needed for Douglass College, for example, and they did that, and what would happen is that the fellows were mostly taken from who were the original faculty of Douglass College. ... They had a very difficult time when new faculty came in, of attracting them to be fellows of the various colleges. So, the fellow bodies for each college just sort of aged one year per year, and got older, and older. [laughter] [Editor's Note: The Deans of Douglass and the Douglass College Fellows were tasked with shaping the college's mission, setting policies on admission, honors and graduation requirements, established new programs, coordinated campus operations, administering student life and advising students.] However, it was a disaster for faculty governance.
SH: You were involved in creating the Faculty Council?
PL: Well, I was. The Faculty Council didn't happen until after our accreditation visit to the university by Middle States in 1988. So, that was much later. In 1988, we had an external review. I'm sure you can get the report of that, but one of the great failings it found in our self-study, once they got here, was a lack of any good semblance of faculty governance. I mean, one of the things that really failed with reorganization, is prior to reorganization the faculty of Rutgers College and the faculty of Douglass College were ... strong faculty voices and important decisions, budgetary decisions, academic decisions, all kinds of things were made by the faculty of each one of the colleges. ... There was this fairly strong tradition of faculty governance, but once we combined everybody together, and they were reporting to a dean of the faculty of arts and science that didn't have students. The students weren't enrolled in the faculty of arts and science. A lot of the reasons for the faculty meetings disappeared, and the faculty of arts and science meetings devolved into Dennis Bathory [a political science professor] giving a list of all of the changes in courses and majors that the departments wanted to do, which wasn't very controversial. ... We didn't take up any of the big issues which were the ones that would generate so much interest in the past, and which often had something to do with the students. ... We sort of lost our faculty governance, and the 1980 external review recognized that, and said, "You don't have any faculty governance at the university anymore." ... I think the faculty themselves in some sense missed that, so we had to do something about it. So, I appointed a committee, which was chaired by Dick McCormick, who was then the chair of history, to make a recommendation on what we ought to do, and his committee recommended the setting up of the New Brunswick Faculty Council. [Editor's Note: Richard L. McCormick, then a professor of the history department, later became the President of Rutgers University in 2002.]
SH: This was in 1989 or 1990?
PL: Yes, must have been something like that, yes. ... So, we set it up, and I met regularly with it. ... When it was setup, it was an important body. It was very different from the kind of faculty governance that existed before, because it was a representative body. ... The only way you could really participate in the Faculty Council would be to be elected. I mean, it was setup different from the senate in that the members were elected by departments. So, there would be a representative from the History Department, from the Physics Department, etc. So, there were people representing the departments there. ...
SH: Was the representation based upon the number of faculty in the department?
PL: You had a maximum of one per department, and that was only for departments that were of ... some minimum size. If you were smaller than the minimum size, they would be grouped together. So, little departments would join together, and have one representative from two or three departments and they would jointly elect a representative, but then there were also representatives ... that were elected by the fellows of each college. So, there would be Douglass College representatives, Livingston College representatives, Rutgers College representatives, and University College representatives. So, these existed as well, and I've forgotten how many there were. There were a couple or something from each one of the colleges, and that made up the New Brunswick Faculty Council, and we certainly took up some important issues of the sort that faculty had taken up before. This was certainly faculty input and we were certainly using faculty to make decisions. I used them very much to advise me--and, in fact, there were many things that I wanted to do that the Faculty Council voted down, so we didn't do, such as building a fraternity row on Livingston. So, I mean, it was ... really influential, but it wasn't faculty governance in the sense that it involved all of the faculty. ... Most faculty in a department knew very little about it, and didn't participate in it. Thus, the faculty themselves did not have a tradition of faculty governance the way they had when there were colleges. I remember when there colleges, for example, Warren Susman would propose "four schools" or whatever it was he proposed and ... this might cause great damage to some department or other. ... Faculty would come around and knock on your door, "You got to go to this meeting because there going to do this--those guys." [Editor's Note: Warren Susman was a professor of history at Rutgers from 1960 to 1985, also serving as department chair from 1973 to 1979.] ... Everybody would show up at the faculty meeting, and have this big emotional discussion. That's not possible with a representative body. So, at most, you just get the representatives there. Maybe they go back and report to their faculty, but there still wasn't a mechanism for full faculty governance. So, in fact, I was very hopeful when we finally did this last reorganization and put the students back in the School of Arts and Science. I'm sorry to say that it has not taken on anything like the expected role. [Editor's Note: Professor Leath is referring to the reorganization of Rutgers, Douglass, Livingston and University Colleges into the School of Arts and Sciences in 2007.] I thought that by now we would have a dean that not only had faculty but it had students, and it would take on all of these student issues as well, and faculty governance would reappear. However, the deans of the School of Arts and Science--Greenberg and such--have hardly changed faculty governance. It's just like it was and the student issues are mostly handled by Greg Blimling or some administrator up in Old Queens. It's not at all the same. We still don't have faculty governance the way it was before reorganization. [Editor's Note: Douglas Greenberg is the Executive Dean of the School of Arts of Sciences at Rutgers University, appointed in 2008. Greg Blimling is the Vice President of Student Affairs at Rutgers, appointed in 2004.]
PC: When I was on the Faculty Council, I recall that we met with you personally on a budget planning committee.
PL: Yes, we had a budget planning committee, sure.
PC: It was a central committee where we sat down with you and others.
PC: In those first years of the Faculty Council, we would have serious discussions about how to prioritize resources at Rutgers.
PL: Oh, yes, I did that regularly, I took it very seriously. ... Any major proposal for the campus would go back to the Faculty Council--perhaps through one of its committees first--and perhaps through the budget planning committee. The one issue that was a big disappointment to me was when we were having big problems with fraternities. We had this brilliant idea at one stage that the reason we were having so much trouble with fraternities is that we didn't have control over them. They operated their own independent houses on College Avenue over which we had no control. We didn't have any access to those, and you know, we didn't have control over them. We looked at other universities to see how they control their fraternities, and they basically, they had university housing fraternities. ... That allowed them to control the fraternities because if the fraternities didn't behave they could be kicked out. We can't kick a person out of a house on College Avenue. ... So, we proposed creating a fraternity row over at Livingston College, which Paul may remember. ... The Faculty Council was not too enthralled by that. ... I recall Rudy Bell being particularly against it.
PC: Probably. [laughter]
PL: In any event, the faculty council rather resoundingly voted that down, so we killed the project. We didn't do it because the Faculty Council didn't want to do it. So, I'm just giving it as an example, in fact, that we listened, and even things we wanted to do, we weren't allowed to do, but they went along mostly with what I recommended. So, I mean, I had a good relationship with the Faculty Council, and it was a good time. It got into a harder time perhaps in the time of Joe Potenza because when Fran Lawrence came as the President, there was a lot of faculty opposition to Fran Lawrence, and the Faculty Council did things that Fran Lawrence didn't like. ... In fact, I think Potenza, if you interview him, he will think that the reason the provost post was abolished was because it wasn't controlling the Faculty Council. In any event, the Faculty Council still exists but it's a shadow of its former self. [Editor's Note: Francis Lawrence served as President of Rutgers from 1990 to 2002.]
SH: What about the Rutgers Foundation? When was that created?
PL: The Rutgers Foundation, I wasn't directly involved with that. I guess that was mostly Bloustein. I don't know when it was actually created. That was done for financial reasons I think at some stage. There were always problems. It's been reorganized now, and related to the fact that the Alumni Associates at Douglass College was a separate foundation, and there was all kinds of competition between them, and that's all now been put under one organization. That's happened more recently.
PC: To what extent was the Faculty Council related to the University Senate? Do you have impressions about the University Senate and its effectiveness as a governance body? Did you ever serve in the Senate yourself?
PL: Oh, absolutely.
PL: I've been vice-chair of the Senate for the last several years.
PL: I think now it's having some effect. I think there was a time when the Faculty Council was first created when I don't think the Senate was doing very much.
SH: The Senate existed prior to the Faculty Council.
PL: The Senate existed prior to this. What's happened over the years with the University Senate; I guess it began with Mason Gross, who decided at some stage that it wasn't ... just a faculty senate.
PL: Decided that it was important to add students to the Senate. ... Then, it became a university senate as opposed to a faculty senate, and then subsequently they've added representatives from alumni and staff and all kinds of constituencies. It does important things, and we did important things when ... I was involved with in the Senate. We setup a procedure, for example, to review deans every five years. That was a process that was created by the Senate. They did lots of things. Most recently, they were deeply involved in the academic integrity program for undergraduate students. ... You can read all the issues they've been acting on at their website. I think they've done generally good things. Nevertheless, the President doesn't simply bring many things to the Senate the way I would bring them to the Faculty Council in those early days. It's a little more complicated because it involves ... large numbers of students as well as staff and alumni. So, it's ... not simply a faculty body. ... A lot of faculty aren't sure that they really want to participate in it, I think. One of the problems is that the largest group of members of the Senate are the faculty. It's not the majority anymore, but in any event, its largest plurality is faculty members. However, one of the problems is that a lot of the faculty members that are elected never come, unlike the students, who tend to show up. So, that's a problem. There has been, over the years a stalwart group of people involved in the Senate, who've provided the leadership and there are some really good leaders. I think Paul Panayotatos, who's now the President of the Senate is actually a very good President of the Senate. He tries to bring really important issues to the body, but the university generally goes ahead with whatever it wants to do. The Senate, unlike the Faculty Council, has some real powers. ... The only thing it has ultimate power over, is the university calendar. It sets the university calendar, so if ... the university wants to move commencement to Sundays, the Senate has to approve that. ... That's something that been has been an issue lately.
PL: ... In fact, Martha Cotter chairs the committee that's responsible for this, and she was supposed to make a permanent recommendation on whether to move it to Sunday, and so she just got the Senate at its last meeting to say that, "Well, before we make a decision on it, let's wait and see how this thing works." Last weekend [was commencement], which I gather was a big success.
PC: Yes, I was there. It was a success, as much as someone could hope for.
PL: Okay, so in any event, that may happen. ... That's the thing it has power over. It does have some other powers. Anytime there's going to be a major change in the structure of the university, their advice has to be sought. The power for that does not reside with the Senators, it resides with the Board of Governors ... but the Board of Governors has to get their advice. So, most recently, to give you an idea of how it's worked recently, there was a sudden big push in Camden to create a School of Nursing. ... It had been talked about for a long time, obviously, between the President, Vice President Furmanski, and the Chancellor in Camden, but suddenly, in January, it was brought to the Senate, and we were told that we had to make a recommendation by April, as to whether the university should create a School of Nursing in Camden. Now, this was a little bit strange because there is only one tenured faculty member in nursing in Camden. Thus, how can we create a new school with only ... one tenured faculty member?
PC: The answer is you can not.
PL: Well, they just did.
PC: Oh, wow. [laughter]
PL: I mean they don't even have enough tenured faculty for a tenured faculty meeting. [laughter] ... In any event, it apparently is urgent, because there is apparently a need for nursing education in South Jersey, nobody's disagreeing with that. ... There has been a shortage of nurses--it's a little bit less now with the downturn in the economy--but in any event, there's a need for nurses. So, there's probably a need for nursing education, training of nurses in South Jersey, and Rowan University down there had given indications that it was thinking of creating a school of nursing. ... The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had given indications that they know there needs to be a school of nursing in South Jersey, and they were going to give money to ... help create such a school. ... Suddenly the university decided that, "Well, we have to do it before Rowan does it, so we can get that money and create our school." ... So, they put together all kinds of rationalizations of why we needed to approve the school now, including the fact there was a department of nursing in the faculty of arts and science down there already with this one tenured faculty member and two or three instructors. ... Some of them are tenure track, some may not be, some may be PTLs [Part-Time Lecturers], I'm not sure. They argued that if we would create a school of nursing down there, they could get more good students and we could attract more good faculty. Also, they said that were willing to put more resources into this in order to create this new school. So, the Senate this last spring, under a lot of pressure, finally passed a very strange resolution, where we listed all our reservations about creating the School of Nursing in Camden, and yet we approved the School of Nursing in Camden. So, we acquiesced to the university administration, but it's a very strange thing. ... You can get an idea of how the administration is treating the Senate in this regard. Anyway, there's going to be a School of Nursing in Camden. The Board of Governors still has to approve this, but presumably they're going to.
SH: Does the Senate have say over what happens in Camden and in Newark?
PL: Oh, yes, that's a University Senate, that's not just a New Brunswick Senate. That's another issue. The Faculty Council is only over in New Brunswick. Newark has its own Faculty Council. Camden has refused to have a campus-wide faculty council. They have a Faculty Senate down there for the School of Arts and Science, but it doesn't include the law school and it doesn't include the business school. ... They don't have a campus-wide Faculty Council. We've tried pressing them to do that, and over the years, when I was on the Faculty Council, we tried to establish closer relationships with Newark and Camden, and even created something called the President's Advisory Committee, which consisted of the officers of the Faculty Council in New Brunswick and Newark and representatives from Camden that would meet. This was [when] Fran Lawrence was President, and we would meet with him and give him our concerns from the faculty to him and Joe Seneca. ... We did that for a while--it wasn't terribly productive--and McCormick didn't think it was a very good idea when he came. So, it's defunct now. ... That's about all that I can say. The President is responsive, the President and ... Furmanski and Bruce Fehn, the treasurer, come to the executive committee meetings of the University Senate and hear about the problems, maybe make a few suggestions, give us an ... update on what's happening in the university, or with relations with the state, or Snooki, or whatever is the issue with the time. [laughter] ... So, there is a strong relationship but I think they go about their planning in their own way. ...
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Reviewed by Nicholas Molnar 9/26/11
Reviewed by Paul Leath 2/16/12