Sandra Stewart Holyoak: This begins our fourth session with Peter D. Klein. The interviewers are Paul Clemens and Sandra Stewart Holyoak. It is June 20, 2011, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. We left off last time as we were just about to talk about Rutgers University President Edward Bloustein's administration and Livingston College. You had related a story about Bloustein.
Peter D. Klein: At the commencement.
PK: Bloustein, actually, was a strong supporter of Livingston, but there was tremendous pressure on him to rein us in, so-to-speak. [Editor's Note: Dr. Edward J. Bloustein served as Rutgers University President from 1971 until his death in 1989.]
SH: Who was the pressure from?
PK: The faculty at Rutgers College and at Douglass, the Legislature, the Board of Governors, the Board of Trustees, [laughter] the public, the press, just about everybody. So, Livingston acquired this man-or-woman-the-garrison [mentality]. I mean, we thought, "To hell with the rest of the world. We're going to do what we want to do," and we developed some really interesting things that I think at least we thought were new. Maybe they weren't new; I don't know the history of education at all. So, for example, at the beginning, we had just honors, credit, no credit, I think, maybe there was another grade in there, and we wrote out student evaluations, rather than "A," "B" and "C," etc. Students could take a course as many times as they wanted. We had student-initiated courses, whereby any group of students could request a course, and our contract with them was, if we didn't have a faculty member at Livingston that could do it, we would find a faculty member, either within the University or we would bring people from the outside, and we did several such courses. We also had, in some sense, work-for-credit courses. There is still, I think, in the Great Hall that's in Livingston, in Tillett [Hall], there are some big benches there, big, wooden benches.
[The] story about those is interesting, because it illustrates Ernest Lynton's, the dean, the founding dean, view of the college. Ernie was a physicist, but extremely broadly educated. He knew music well. He was responsible for getting Bob Martin, my friend, who eventually recruited me to go there, because Bob was a cellist and Ernest knew about this budding little quartet [Sequoia String Quartet], which eventually achieved some national reputation, and he brought them [to Livingston]. He was very widely read in literature, was a very cultured man and an idealist. He bought some furniture for the Great Hall. The Great Hall was part of the student center at Livingston at the time. We didn't have a separate student center. The idea was that students should not separate their fun time, if you like, from the academic activities. So, Tillett Hall was combined academic space and student center. So, there was a main lounge, which is still there, that was a student lounge, essentially. Down at the end of the hall, there was a café. There was another café and small dining room right off the Great Hall. The rooms on the back side of the Great Hall, what must be behind the Great Hall, were student-service and student-club rooms. The room where psychology, I think, has a home away from home in Tillett, right off the Great Hall, was where the dean of students was initially, and the idea was to integrate academic and non-academic activities, or maybe, better yet, to have academic activities dominating everything. He put some gorgeous furniture in the Great Hall, some lovely, I wouldn't say throw rugs, because they might have been ten-by-twelve, expensive rugs, nice couches, nice furniture. I bet him that they would be gone within two days and I was wrong--they were gone within one day. They didn't last one night and they disappeared and they probably ended up in student dorm rooms. I don't know what happened to them.
So, some people and I decided, "We're going to build some furniture that they're not going to be able to get out of here." I don't know if they're still there. They were there a couple years ago. They're these big octagonal wooden benches that we built. There was a little woodshop, but we assembled them inside the Great Hall and you can't get them out the door. It's impossible. [laughter] Students got academic credit for that, for helping me with that, because they learned all about woodworking and these were kids who had never had a hand tool in their hands at all. They didn't know what a plane was. They didn't know what a dowel was. So, it was a good experience for them.
I believe, at Rutgers College, the teaching load at the time was three-two in the humanities and they were all three-credit courses. Students were taking, I think, five courses, and some of them were taking six courses, at Rutgers College at a time. We thought, "That's not the way to teach." So, we developed four-credit courses and the good thing, from the faculty point of view, was, then, we taught two-two, because that was sixteen credits. A three-two, was five courses, was fifteen credits. So, we were teaching more hours, but we taught fewer courses with fewer preparations and almost all the courses met three times a week, not just two times a week. Almost all the courses were either small or they had discussion sections led by faculty members. The Livingston faculty, except for some departments, let's say Computer Science--Livingston established the Computer Science Department--we did not have a math requirement for graduation, what we had was a computer science requirement for graduation. The idea was, "Well, of course, everybody knows math. We're not going to require that." That requirement was put in place at the time or was thought of at the time when Livingston was going to be just the honors college and that would have been appropriate for that group of students, but only some of our students satisfied that criterion. So, eventually, we got a math course. [laughter] [Editor's Note: In the years preceding the opening of Livingston College, the shaping of the institution's identity evolved to reflect crosscurrents in society. After Rutgers acquired 540 acres of the former Army base Camp Kilmer in Piscataway, planners envisioned the construction of several colleges on the land to accommodate growing student enrollment in the post-World War II years. In 1965, the Curriculum Planning Committee, under the guidance of Dean Ernest Lynton, undertook the task of designing Livingston College as an innovative institution dedicated to the teaching of the social sciences. By 1969, after riots across the nation and demonstrations at Rutgers protesting racial inequalities, Livingston planners expanded the college's mission to emphasize diversity and began to recruit and enroll minority students. Livingston College opened in 1969 as Rutgers-New Brunswick's first coeducational undergraduate college. Livingston existed until 2007, when the Rutgers-New Brunswick undergraduate liberal arts colleges merged into the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS).]
We established the Computer Science Department, so, they were a singleton department. We established the Anthropology Department. They didn't have a graduate program at the time. The singleton departments did have some graduate programs, so, they had TAs [teaching assistants], but none of the other departments [did]. English, for example, was split on all the campuses. [Editor's Note: In 1967, the Federated College Plan established a system in which each of the undergraduate colleges in New Brunswick--Rutgers College, University College, Douglass College, Cook College and Livingston College--retained control of its own budgetary and academic matters. Multiple departments reported to a New Brunswick-wide chairperson, a position created by the Federated College Plan that signaled a move toward a more centralized system. In 1981, the faculties of the colleges merged into a single entity, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). The autonomous college structure existed until 2006, when the undergraduate liberal arts colleges combined into SAS and Cook College became the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.] There were separate departments. The recruiting was done by the local department and what determined what kind of specialty the faculty member brought was what's required for the undergraduate programs at the various colleges. So, what you could do at the graduate level was, just simply, you'd have to cherry pick and pick faculty members from the various departments to put together a graduate program. The Livingston faculty was, by and large, younger, much younger, than the faculty at Douglass and Rutgers. They, therefore, weren't full members of the graduate program, if they were even members of the graduate program, and so, we didn't have TAs.
SH: Are you ready?
PK: Yes. Since we didn't participate very much in the graduate program, especially in the humanities and social sciences, we didn't have TAs and that meant that the discussion sections were taught by faculty. So, we, as a result of meeting three times a week and students only taking four courses, rather than five, spent more time with the students. We got to know them better, I think. Now, there were some exceptions to the kind of departments [I described]. Anthropology brought [Robin] Fox and [Lionel] Tiger and Irving Louis Horowitz [Rutgers Professor of Sociology], so, they were very senior, distinguished faculty, some of the most distinguished faculty Rutgers had at the time, frankly. They were internationally-known figures, Irving in particular.
Paul Clemens: That is interesting. Just to follow up, I do not know him and I do not know if he is even still alive, but I do remember Irving Louis Horowitz being described by some of my History colleagues as being something of a loose cannon.
PK: Oh, absolutely.
PK: Well, he was a loose cannon.
PK: One little story about Irving. Irving was a fairly big guy, so, cannon is the right word, [not] pistol. [laughter] I mean, he was a big fellow and we used to have faculty basketball games and he probably outweighed me by eighty pounds or ninety pounds and he was a rough player, very rough player. He, one time, stuck out his knee and tripped me and it hurt a little bit, and so, I got up and punched him and, from then on, we were really close friends. [laughter] We had really good relations. Some of the students played. We had faculty-student basketball games. Livingston, you can imagine, we didn't participate [in Rutgers University sports] and we didn't permit our students [to], at the beginning, and they voted to go along with this. If they had voted not to go along with it, they would've been able to play on the varsity teams, but we didn't allow them to play. At the time, we thought of Rutgers' football team as way too professionally oriented. [laughter] I mean, you can imagine what some of us think about it now. So, we had what were called club sports. We had a club sport in basketball. We had a club sport in football. One of the people who was both on the faculty and was part of the athletic program was a guy named Phil Shinnick. [Editor's Note: Phil Shinnick, an Olympic long jumper, a sports studies professor and Livingston's athletic director, was imprisoned for refusing to cooperate with the FBI in the Patty Hearst kidnapping case.]
PC: Ah, yes.
PK: And Phil was, I gather, a really good athlete and pretty much of a Socialist and labor leader type. He was partially responsible for bringing the club sport idea to Livingston and Ernie Lynton recruited him in order to do that. He may have been a high jumper [long jumper]. I don't know what he did, but it was probably track, because he was tall and thin and I don't think he played basketball. [laughter] So, I think he was a high jumper, or something or other, and we had club sports. The name of our football team was called the Black Panthers. [laughter]
PC: That is right, yes. [laughter] I found that by accident somewhere in a college memo and I could not believe it.
PK: Yes, yes.
PC: That was so wonderful.
PK: Yes. They were called the Black Panthers and we had a pretty good but small coach who was a quarterback for some semi-pro team, not a real pro team. Well, it was a pro team, but a minor-league pro team. We had a faculty-student football game. I had played football and a bunch of others had played football, including Ernie Dunn, who was a linguist and part of the Black Studies Department, I think we called it, Africana Studies. I forget what the original name was, [Africana Studies]. We played on a frozen field between Tillett and the library, where that temporary teaching building is now.
PK: The field was just really hard, a regular game, twelve-minute quarters, and it ended up being seven to nothing--they beat us. [laughter] That was only because we didn't have enough people to go--I'm going to defend our team--we didn't have enough people to play both offense and defense, [laughter] and the equipment we had was their hand-me-down equipment and their equipment was hand-me-down equipment from some other place. [laughter] There's a very--was, unfortunately, he died, was probably six, seven years ago--a philosopher named David Lewis, an important philosopher at Princeton, extremely important philosopher, was married to a woman named Stephanie Lewis and Stephanie was a fairly good-sized lady. We didn't have enough people, enough guys, to play and she played. [laughter] She played both ways; she played offense and defense. [laughter] Of course, we didn't have any fancy plays. We had about four or five plays with a couple variations on them and one of them was just simply an end-around, I mean, where the left halfback, which I played, because that's what I played, I was just supposed to go around the right end. She was playing right offensive end and she was leading to block [laughter] and she knocked this little kid flat on his butt. She probably weighed, I'm guessing, 170 pounds and he probably weighed 180 pounds. So, he was little compared to some of the people we were playing against on that team. She knocked him flat. Now, this is David Lewis' wife. She's a philosopher. She's a part-time instructor for us at Livingston. She reaches down to give him a hand and he says, "I don't need any help from any fucking woman," and she said, "Well, this fucking woman just put you on your fucking ass." [laughter] The game went like that, essentially, because we did not want to lose to these students, but, eventually, they scored. We were just so tired, we couldn't keep up.
PC: [laughter] I have to say, in defense of my department, we played the undergraduates probably a few years later than Peter did. We won, but we had this ringer, who was Jim Reed.
PK: Oh, okay.
PC: Who was semi-pro, and vicious, vicious.
PK: [laughter] Yes, yes. Well, we had some big guys, but, I mean, this is football on a frozen field. Nobody broke anything, but we were all bruised and banged up for about three or four weeks. Anyway, so, Ernie had, Ernest Lynton had, this idea.
PC: I had one question. If there was a recruited athlete for the football team, the regular Rutgers football team, or basketball team, and they wanted to go to Livingston, they could not do that, at least at the very beginning, because Livingston would not let them participate.
PK: That's correct, that's correct.
PK: We didn't. I think that changed within about four years, five years.
PC: When it changed, did the Livingston club sports sort of disappear?
PC: Were they absorbed into some sort of general club sports program?
PK: That's right. It became an intramural thing first, and then, it disappeared. There were football clubs from all around. Some of the schools, Stony Brook and some of the other schools, had football club teams.
PC: When I read about the Panthers, they were playing other schools.
PK: Oh, yes.
PC: They were playing these mid-level schools, like the football critics would like us to play today.
PC: They were obviously not insubstantial programs.
PK: Yes. They were pretty good. There was talk, and we wanted to do it one time, but the regular football team wouldn't do it, we wanted to play them, [laughter] because we thought we could come close to beating them.
PC: Embarrassing them. [laughter]
PK: Well, I think they were a little worried, frankly, because we had some really great athletes. They were terrific. Once we allowed the students to be on University athletic scholarships, there may actually have--I may have misstated it a bit--there may actually have been some students who played on the varsity teams, but they certainly were not scholarship players. It may have been that we said, "We don't want our students having those kinds of scholarships." I don't remember.
PC: You mentioned people like Irving Louis Horowitz and Lionel Tiger, with their huge international reputations. Were they involved in the day-to-day world that you are talking about of creating this experimental, I should not use this term, of creating this
SH: Honors college.
PC: New honors college?
PK: Well, certainly, Irving was. Irving ...
PC: Yes, I know that. I guess Tiger is the one I was asking about. I was interested in the Anthropology people.
PK: They were still, I think, involved with some of the honors aspect of the curriculum, but they didn't come to meetings. They didn't come to faculty meetings. They were pretty absent. I don't know when the graduate Anthropology program began. It may have begun with them, for all I know, but they were deeply involved in that. [Editor's Note: In 1967, Robin Fox came to Livingston College from the London School of Economics to start the first anthropology department at Rutgers-New Brunswick, which served undergraduates and graduate students.] Most of the Livingston faculty, if they were involved in the graduate program, they were viewed by the members of the graduate program as sort of second-rate. A lot of Livingston faculty members--and it happened in my department, too--a lot of the Livingston faculty members were both to the political left and to the left, if there is such a thing, in a discipline, whereas the faculty members at the other colleges, at least we viewed, as extremely conservative, both politically and academically. So, we didn't play much of a role in the graduate program, but there were these exceptions. Computer Science was an exception. Anthropology was an exception. I don't know if there were [others]. There probably were others and they're not coming to mind.
PC: To follow-up, did you follow the Shinnick disputes here? Were you involved in those in any way?
PK: I knew a little bit about it, but I wasn't ...
PC: Yes, yes.
PK: There were, every once in a while, meetings to support Phil and I would go to those, but I really wasn't involved in that very much. Now, one member of our department, Mary Gibson, who was turned down for tenure by the combined department, during the discussion about Mary's tenure, one department member said, when we were discussing Mary's work, "Affirmative action hurts my gut." [laughter] I helped Mary get tenure by saying that at a grievance. The Livingston faculty self-segregated from Rutgers and the Douglass faculty and they were also exiled in some sense by that faculty. Now, there were exceptions. George Levine was an exception in English and, to some extent, John Gillis and Allen Howard were exceptions in History. There were probably others that I'm not thinking of, but, by and large, our faculty, until the reorganization in '81 and '82, our faculty stayed away from the graduate programs. There was no anthropology department at Douglass or at Rutgers College. It was a singleton department. The Livingston faculty, they were the only faculty in it, so, of course, they dominated that one. So, what else should I [talk about]? Are there questions about Livingston?
The Philosophy Department was very large at Livingston, compared to the size of the college. There were eight or nine of us, maybe eight, and I think Rutgers College had nine or ten people, but Rutgers College was three times bigger or so, maybe even a little more than that, than Livingston. The reason was that Albert Blumberg, the chair of our department, and Ernie Lynton were close collaborators and Albert convinced Ernie that people in Philosophy would participate in joint intellectual and teaching efforts with people from other departments, and we did, to some extent. We had, among the faculty in New Brunswick that were here in Philosophy, in the early '70s, there were three fairly distinguished faculty, nothing like the faculty we have now, by and large. There was a guy named Smullyan, Arthur Smullyan [at Rutgers College]. There are two Smullyans; they're brothers. Arthur was a logician and fairly well-known for a fairly small area in logic, an important area but a fairly small one, and Fred Schick [at Rutgers College], who worked in political theory and on the formal side. We would now call it decision theory, it wasn't called that at the time. I don't remember what its name was, but it wasn't called decision theory--rational theory, probably--and Amelie Rorty [at Livingston College], who was already divorced from Richard Rorty, very famous philosopher, influential philosopher, at Princeton, and Amelie was and still is an influential philosopher. So, we had three such people.
Amelie did play a role in the graduate programs, but I didn't. Bob Martin didn't, because his field was logic and Arthur was there, and the graduate program in Philosophy started in 1970, one year after that Livingston opened up. That was a coincidence. It was peculiar, frankly, that there hadn't been a graduate program here earlier. All the other major public state universities had a graduate program in philosophy, but we were viewed by the University in general as a service department. So, we would teach undergraduate students. We would teach lower-level courses. We did have a major, but not many people majored in philosophy, so, why would you invest a lot of money in such a department? I don't know the history of this, so, I don't know why Rutgers College, and probably Douglass, decided to set up a graduate program or how that happened. I'm just ignorant about it, but it opened, our first students came, in 1970, so, it must have been in the works, given how slow universities are, for three or four years. So, it must have been--the talking about the graduate program--must have been simultaneous with talking about Livingston, because Livingston opened in '69, and being able to participate in a graduate program mattered to me, but I didn't do much in the graduate program until probably '80, '81. I may have taught a course or two, but I wasn't very active in it.
PC: Roughly when you became chair.
PK: I became chair at Livingston, I think, in '75 or '76, one of those. They had a forced retirement age. I think the forced retirement age was sixty, actually.
PK: Then, they raised it to sixty-five, but, Albert, they'd already forced him to retire.
SH: Was this across-the-board for all faculty?
PK: I don't know the answer to that.
PC: Yes, I am sure it must have been.
PK: And Albert retired, but I was chair the last year he was here, because he wanted to make sure I did a good job. [laughter] Albert was a mentor to me and to all the young faculty at Livingston, but also to the faculty in general. He was just a wise person, both in terms of the theory and the views that he had, but also the politics. He knew how to get things done. I don't know if I told you about Albert's death.
SH: I do not believe so.
PK: Albert retired, forcibly, and I think this is all right to say now--Albert never really had tenure. He thought he did …
PK: And everybody else did, but Bloustein was afraid--maybe afraid isn't the word--concerned that if it had to go before the Board of Governors, because of Albert's past with the Communist Party, that was well-known, that they would say no. The president has the right, or had the right, I don't know if this is written down anywhere, to reappoint faculty members year after year. So, every year, he'd reappoint Albert. Albert never knew that. In fact, I'm not sure how many people knew that. I know it because Bloustein told me at one point and, now that everybody's dead, I think I can say it. Albert never knew, because Albert would not have accepted that had he known. I didn't know that until long after I became chair.
PC: Peter, you were vice provost, so, the provost might actually know the rules on this--I thought there was some sort of rule that if you were kept here for more than six years or seven years, you had to be given tenure.
PK: I don't know if that rule was in effect and I think Albert was actually exempt from that rule, and I'm trying to remember why. I don't remember why. I know Bloustein said he had to reappoint him each year and he never told Albert. The university did go through the process of granting tenure up to the point of it going to the BOG [Board of Governors].
PC: Was Albert, at this point in his life, still a member of the Communist Party?
PK: No, I doubt it.
PK: Because ...
PC: He was not doing anything currently controversial.
PK: No, no.
PK: No. I mean, his views were controversial.
PC: Yes, right.
PK: No, no, once what Stalin had done became obvious. There's an old joke. Stalin is addressing the party--did I tell you this? It's one of my favorites. Stalin was addressing the party and somebody ran up on the stage and said, "Comrade, I have a telegram here from Comrade Trotsky," and Stalin opened it and his face beamed and he said, "I have wonderful news. I have this conciliatory telegram from Trotsky and we can unite once again." He said, "I want to read this telegram aloud to you." He read the telegram and it said, "You were right. I was wrong. I should apologize," and everybody broke out cheering and yelling. The one Jew that was still left in the party said, "Comrade Stalin, you're reading it incorrectly. Here's how to read that. You were right? I was wrong? I should apologize?" [laughter]
PK: Well, you can't put it in a telegram. Albert, after he left, became fairly powerful in the Democratic Party in New York. He was head of some Democratic committee that would select the people to become judges, across the whole state. He founded some sort of old person's organization in New York. I don't remember its name, and he lived in Harlem and I didn't feel too comfortable going there. I asked Albert, "How do you do this?" and Albert said, "I tutor young people in logic who are going to some of the colleges and universities in New York and some of the students in high school and they meet me at the subway station and they walk me to my house." [laughter] So, Albert sort of had a group of young kids, not young kids, but younger males, accompanying him.
SH: Bodyguards. [laughter]
PK: The neighborhood was originally black, then, Puerto Rican, then, Costa Rican, and he set up the neighborhood Costa Rican society or organization, [laughter] the neighborhood Costa Rican something-or-other. Albert was just a wonderful man. I got word that he was in the hospital and had suffered a stroke and was in serious condition. My current wife and I had essentially just met and I said, "Let's go visit," not knowing essentially what I was going to get into. I went into the hospital and they told me he was in bed "A"--it was an "A/B" bed--in "A" in room such-and-such. I went in there and there was a person there and I said, "Oh, no, this is the wrong room," and it was Albert. It turned out to be Albert. His one arm was one-and-a-half, two times the size it should have been. He had fallen. His wife had died earlier, years earlier, so, he was alone and he had been on the floor for maybe a day-and-a-half, two days, couldn't talk. He was clearly suffering and it was clear he wanted to say something, but he couldn't write and he couldn't talk. I said, "Okay, let's do this," and I wrote out the alphabet. He would look at the letters and I'd say, "Is that an A?" and he'd blink once for, "Yes," and twice for, "No." Eventually, what he said was, he wanted his own doctor, because they were needlessly prolonging his life. Well, he just said, "I want my own doctor," and I said, "Is that because you want to die?" and he said, "Yes." "And you want them to stop the medication? Is that right?" and he said, "Yes." I said, "Are you sure?" He said, "Yes," and I said, "I'm going to come back tomorrow morning. I'm going to ask you this again," [laughter] and he said, "Yes." So, we called his doctor and he died the next afternoon.
He just was such a vibrant person and the kind of life that he was going to have from then on--he understood everything. He tried to talk, but he couldn't. Albert died and with him died a kind of leadership of the progressive faculty that I don't think we've had since. He was still--fifteen years, almost twenty years after he retired--he was still a moving force here. Faculty would consult him. The progressive faculty would consult him. He would give us ideas.
He was somewhat upset with the way our department was going; not the Livingston department. I was chair, as I say, I think in '75 or '76, one year before he retired, and I was chair of the Livingston department. When reorganization happened, we all became one department. It was not cold fusion. We had designed our own undergraduate program. Rutgers College had an undergraduate program and Douglass had an undergraduate program. The Rutgers and Douglass programs were pretty similar. Rutgers College did emphasize contemporary analytic philosophy more and logic, again, because of Arthur Smullyan's presence and Fred Schick's, and Douglass emphasized philosophy of literature, history of philosophy, aesthetics and, to some extent, some aspects of Continental philosophy. There was a very bright faculty member there named Fadlou Shehadi, who did specialize in the continental figures. Livingston specialized in political and social philosophy, ethics. We did teach analytic philosophy. It's my field and it was Bob Martin's field, but we started, at Rutgers, the "Philosophical Issues and Feminism." We started "Philosophical Issues in the Black Experience." We focused on the political aspects of philosophy. Are there other things you want to know about Livingston that you think I might know?
SH: You had started a thought. You had said that Ernest Lynton ...
SH: Had an idea, and then, you ...
PK: Then, I veered off, yes. Ernie's idea was putting people together in ways that weren't typical. So, students and faculty would be together in a building. So, the student activities would be going on in the same building that faculty would have their offices and that there were classrooms. He thought, by putting department X next to department Y, where they had virtually nothing in common, would help create interdisciplinary activities. He thought, for example, that it would be great if all the students could get from one dorm to another underground. So, we had those tunnels in the quads. His view was to set up a real academic community. They're now called living-learning communities or learning-living communities or whatever. [Editor's Note: Rutgers-New Brunswick offers various learning communities or living-learning communities for students that center around similar academic or residential areas of interest.] That was his view, actually, and his view was, students should take more command and charge of their education, with the guidance of the faculty. We had a lot of independent majors, so, students would design their own majors. It was still in the New Brunswick catalog five or six years ago, I know. It's probably gone now, but you could put together your own major and you'd have to have a committee of faculty members, three faculty members, who would go over it to see that there was some coherence and progression, and a lot of our students did that. So, Ernie's idea that students would be able to craft a major and know enough to do it, with the guidance of the faculty, was right, in some cases.
PC: Small footnote. I remember, I went to work in Reg Bishop's office very shortly after I got here. [Editor's Note: Dr. Klein emits an emphatic sigh.] They had an associate or assistant dean, Gordon, maybe--I do not remember. He was one of Bishop's sidekicks, I think from Princeton, maybe a language professor. One of my first experiences, I remember, an undergraduate came in and Rutgers College must have had some sort of a craft-your-own major, too. The student came in to see the dean. He could not just see me. He had this major laid out, the whole bit. I listened to the dean literally browbeat this kid for half an hour, convincing him he should not do it and could not do it and that Rutgers College students did not do things like this. [laughter] It was an idea they had imported from Livingston. [Editor's Note: G. Reginald Bishop was a long-time professor and administrator at Rutgers College. Bishop served as Rutgers College's Dean of Instruction from 1970 to 1982 and as Acting Dean of Rutgers College in 1974.]
PC: And it was bad. [laughter]
PK: Yes, right. It was almost redundant to say "imported from Livingston" and "bad."
PC: [laughter] Right.
PK: "That's a harebrained Livingston idea." It actually was a useful idea for many students. I think some students probably didn't profit from it and would've been better served going with a kind of tried-and-tested curriculum. Our students would take courses in other colleges. The Rutgers philosophy major would allow their students, or the faculty would allow them, to take one course from Livingston and that was the logic course. [laughter] They wouldn't allow their students to take any other course.
PK: Yes. Well, they could take the course and it would count towards graduation, but it wouldn't count towards the major. I became chair. Albert retired. We recruited a bunch of people, who are still here, Brian McLaughlin, Howard McGary--I made a list, just because I was afraid I'd forget somebody--Martha Bolton, Martin Bunzl. Those are the ones that are still here.
PC: When you say recruited, do you mean this is post-reorganization?
PC: No, this is just at Livingston.
PK: Just at Livingston.
PK: And Mary Gibson. Did I say Mary?
PK: And so, we brought people who have been influential in developing the Rutgers University- New Brunswick Philosophy Department. All of those people were part of what Mesthene, that I mentioned last time, I think, or the time before, would refer to as the soft pedagogical Left. [laughter] There was no comma and we were not soft pedagogues. So, I think either he left the comma out or The Times left it out in the letter, but we were not soft graders. [laughter] [Editor's Note: Emmanuel Mesthene served as Dean of Livingston College from 1974 to 1977.] Anyway, so, we recruited a bunch of people and things were going along okay. Ken Wheeler, who was then the provost, maybe because of Bloustein, maybe because of Albert, I really don't know, invited me to one of his little gatherings at his house. [Editor's Note: Dr. Kenneth Wheeler became the New Brunswick Provost in July 1972.] He had a house down a dead-end street in Highland Park. He would invite people for an afternoon, and then, a dinner, mostly young faculty that he thought might play a role later on in the leadership in New Brunswick. He invited me and we spent a lot of time together, actually, after that. I was chair at Livingston from, I don't know, '76 to '81 or '82, when we [Dr. Klein claps his hands] combined. Fred Schick was the chair at Rutgers College and, also, chair of the New Brunswick something-or-other ...
PC: Or graduate program, one or the other.
PK: Graduate program.
PK: Graduate program. Fred was perfectly content--he thought the job of a chair was just simply to fill out the forms and that's it, and conduct the meetings. He accepted the idea that we were a service department. By that, I meant we would teach undergraduates and, even though we had a graduate program, it wasn't going to be a very good graduate program. The University wasn't going to invest any money in us, because, after all, why invest in a philosophy department? A lot of the younger faculty didn't want that, and so, the older faculty were willing to step aside.
I became the chair of the Philosophy Department in 1982, I think, or '83, the year after. We had this horrible move. You know, one day, we all picked up our books and it was chaos when we moved to one place, because everybody had to move, virtually everybody. The singleton departments didn't, but the others had to move. The Rutgers College faculty was in the basement of Van Dyck and there were nine or eight or ten of them and there were eight or nine of us. Well, we couldn't move over there. They didn't want to move over to Livingston. Nobody wanted to move to Livingston, including us, because it was isolated. We learned a lesson in that one and, that is, if you don't have a sufficient power base, you're going to get stuck in a place you don't want to be in. Well, anyway, I became chair of the department, the combined department. The older people were happy. Fred didn't want to be an active chair anyway and there was no other senior person who was interested in doing it and the younger people said, "Why don't you do it?" [laughter] Ernie Lepore was here already. He and Brian McLaughlin grew up together, in someplace near Hoboken. The young people at Rutgers College also wanted me to become chair. I spoke to Ken about it and said, "Look, I want to become chair, but on the condition that there are going to be some resources that went towards Philosophy." The first dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was David Mechanic and David was perfectly happy to let philosophy languish. He was going to invest his money [elsewhere] and there were resources floating around. There were lines, there were dollars. He was going to invest that in something other than philosophy. I spoke with Ken about it and Ken made it clear that he would help and that was extremely important. I spoke with Alec [Pond], [after] Ken said, "I want you to meet with Alec Pond." I met with Pond and Pond said he would help. [Editor's Note: Dr. T. Alexander Pond served as Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer under Rutgers President Dr. Edward Bloustein from 1982 until Dr. Bloustein's death in 1989, when he took over as Acting President. In 1990, he was appointed University Professor in the Physics Department and retired in 1997.]
PK: Why? I think, in part, because Ken said, "They have a leader of a department that is onboard for what we're trying to do here," which was to start building, within the sciences, the humanities and social sciences, top departments. Pond had a drive towards academic excellence and Ken never made that a kind of explicit agenda that Pond did, but, boy, that was his agenda, too. [Editor's Note: In 1989, Rutgers was admitted to the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization of preeminent research universities.] One of the reasons for pulling all the departments together was, you could then recruit with the graduate program in mind. As long as you had these separate colleges, whose faculty and departments' primary responsibility was the undergraduate program, then, the hiring for the graduate program never happened, just didn't happen. Well, we had the opportunity, once we became one department, to start focusing on that. There was an abrupt change in what the criteria for tenure would be. It was just clear as hell that we were now going to adopt, rather than a four-year, liberal-arts-college model, it was going to be a research-university model.
SH: At that point?
PK: At that point. It was clear that's why we were doing it, or least from the faculty point of view. It wasn't an efficiency move. It was a move to strengthen the research and scholarship components of departments.
PC: Did your department lose some people because of that, which is what happened in history?
PK: Yes, as a short answer. Once it was clear to some of the young people that that's what we were heading towards, that the University was heading towards, you could either get onboard or not and, if you got onboard and you got onboard early, you were going to get some of the resources. If you dilly-dallied, the resources were going to disappear. Brian McLaughlin and Ernie and I met one day, afternoon, in '84 or '85, I don't quite remember, and what we said was, "Here's what we want the faculty, our department, to say, 'If we don't become a top ten program within the next ten years, we'll kill the graduate program,' because there's no sense having a mediocre graduate program in philosophy." There already were lots of them. Well, what do you need another one for? There are about a hundred, 110, maybe a little bit more, maybe 120, maybe as many as 140, Ph.D. programs in philosophy. Some of them, the National Research Council probably didn't even rank. At the time, given Fred Schick and Amelie, who was still here at the time, and some of the younger people, who were really coming along, we were thirtieth or something, you know, mediocre. We weren't getting the very good students. Every once in a while, we would, for some odd reason. There'd be this jewel standing out and, every once in a while, we'd get an intellectual jewel whose personality was obnoxious and you knew, "We're never going to get a job for this person. It's impossible." So, we sat around and we hatched, Brian and Ernie and I, given this view of philosophy as a service department, which was still the dominant view around here, what we would have to do was to make some sort of a splash, both in the philosophic world and here. We would have to have people--I'm revealing some secrets here--we would have to have people in the administration who were supportive. The way to ensure that was to have some of us in the administration. [laughter] So, there was a conscious plan to have somebody in the administration at all times, if possible, who was in a position of responsibility. I'm saying this in part because Paul asked, that one of the things he wanted to talk about was, "How did we become what we are?" and, hopefully, don't lose. It's in danger, I think, right now. It's always in danger, but I think it's especially in danger [now]. We can talk a little bit about that, but it's not the history of it. So, Wheeler said, "I'll support you, if you come up with good candidates and if you demonstrate that that's the kind of department you want to become." He didn't say it, but we knew what he meant and that was, "Your standard for tenure had better be such that the people you're tenuring are going to contribute to the kind of department you want to have."
The first five or six years that I was chair, I don't know how long it was, it probably [was] from '82 to '87, so, five years, yes, maybe six, we probably had eight, nine, ten tenure cases. Half of them didn't make it and they were close votes within the department. They were terribly difficult votes. The ill will in our department, we got over it probably about ten years ago. It lasted. There's a person in the department who's a good friend of mine now and [has] been an important contributor to the department, who said, at a meeting when we were discussing the problems that the department was encountering, pointed at me and said, "You're the problem." [laughter] Well, anyway, that person had supported a person for tenure whom I did not support for tenure and that was the proximate cause of that comment. Many of the people who we turned down for tenure, not many, but there were five, six people, I think, we turned down for tenure, five or six.
So, the tenure fights within the department were really tough and the older people in the department were generally the ones saying, "No, this person is a good colleague. The work is okay. No, they're not going to be stars in their field, but we didn't recruit them with that in mind," and there was a point to that. What the department agreed on was a policy something like this. The crucial question is, when you were reappointed as an assistant professor, what were the then-standards in place? If the standards in place [changed], were there tougher ones and you were reappointed at that? You knew what you were being reappointed towards. You had two to three years to find another job if you thought you couldn't satisfy those standards, and so, those would be the standards by which you were judged. On the other hand, if [at] the time your appointment was renewed, they were the old standards, you'd be judged by the old standards. So, we had a way of dealing with this. We finally came to it. Albert helped me see this, of dealing with it in principled in a way that would address the problems. A problem was that people had built up understandings within their local departments. So, there were people at Livingston who we had, in a sense, under the old idea. We had, in a sense, said, "Yes, you're doing okay," when it came time for reappointment. People at Rutgers College [said], "Yes, you did okay," and there were sort of mutual understandings. Then, wham, here came this new thing, and what's fair? Well, we decided that was fair, and that was tough. It was hard and there were times when people would not talk to each other for a long time and there were kinds of conniving going on. Since that time, every vote for tenure has been unanimous. Now, I don't mean by that that, when we started the discussion, everybody would have been in favor, yes, or against, no, but by the time it was done, and it was crucial to make sure everybody had ample opportunity to say [and] present whatever evidence they wanted, etc. People were gracious in the department. All of our hiring decisions have been unanimous, never split, because people who were on what would have been the losing side, had there been a vote, would say, "Let's make it unanimous," every time. I'd walk in the room as chair and I thought, "How the hell are we going to get out of this mess?" because people would have been cornering me before the meeting and weeks before the meeting [laughter] and I [thought], "Gad, we're going to get in that room and somebody's going to jump across the table and strangle somebody else. That's what's going to happen," [laughter] but it didn't. We always acted unanimously, after this time period. We had badly split votes during the first five years. Since then, we don't. Now, there's new leadership taking over and it may change again, but us old guys have to step back and let them run it.
PC: You started at Livingston, and then, the world collapses and there is now a united department. That coincides with a very rapid improvement in the external evaluation, if you will, even internal, of the way that philosophy is viewed. What is lost in that? From your perspective, as a Livingston faculty member, were you comfortable with this new direction completely?
PK: No. It was clear that the relationships we were going to have with our undergraduate students was going to change dramatically, whether we wanted it to or not. Now, some departments, history in particular, I think--now, maybe it's a myth, but I don't think so--has maintained a commitment to undergraduate education throughout this whole period in a way that I don't think we have, because there was a drive here for not being viewed as a service department. We use too many adjuncts now. We use too many graduate students teaching their own courses. [I will] tell you a little story about one thing that happened. So, we had a three-two teaching load, the humanities departments, when this thing came together, because it was the Rutgers College teaching load. Some of us, it was very clear that we were not going to be able to recruit and retain good faculty with that kind of teaching load and we couldn't do the graduate program and spend enough time on the graduate program. A bunch of us chairs met one day and my suggestion was, "We'll switch to a two-two, but we're not going to tell the dean, because how are they going to figure that out? It'll already be one semester before they could possibly figure it out, because how do they know what semester was the two and what semester was the three? They'd have to wait a year before they could figure it out," and we knew damn well the Dean's Office had no way of keeping track of stuff. So, we switched to a two-two load, a bunch of us. They didn't find out for two years. [laughter] When they did find out, they said, "You can't do that," and we said, "Sorry, it says in the University regulations, the chairperson has the right to determine faculty assignments," and the Dean's Office made very clear that that meant, "Within the assigned teaching load from the Dean's Office, you could determine the assignments of the faculty, but you aren't going to set the teaching load." We said, "Well, have we taught any fewer students than we did before?" and we all made very sure that we didn't teach fewer. "So, what's your complaint? Is it that we're not teaching enough students?" The dean really had nothing to stand on by that time, because we had all planned that we're not going to lose any enrollments, because that would've jumped off the page.
So, we taught things in a different way, and that was sad. I think the sheer size of our department, when a student walks into a thing that has twenty-five or thirty offices, it's very different than walking into a place with six or seven offices. Our new buildings, these little buildings that we have over here, recreate that and students are coming by now and that was one of the reasons we liked this space, [1 Seminary Place on the College Avenue Campus]. Of course, we liked this space because it was on College Avenue and right next to the library, which we don't use that much anymore, because you can get every damn thing on the web.
SH: Where was the Philosophy Department housed after the reorganization of 1981?
PK: At Douglass, in Davison Hall, which is one of the more grotesque buildings on campus. It's horrible. If you were in a low-level corporation, it might be appropriate, but it's just horrible. It's like a 1945 school building. You expect lockers in the hallway. It's disgusting. I think the key to how did we do it was, we had administrative support and, at the beginning, we had administrative support from Alec Pond. I'll tell you a story about that. So, Jerry Fodor, who is, now, since some philosophers have died or they're almost dead, Jerry is going to be read fifty years, a hundred years from now, maybe as part of the history of something, because of what he introduced, and we've now moved beyond it in ways, but it will be Jerry Fodor's idea, thinking of the mind as a modular instrument with specific functions that then can be put together to create bigger functions--a computer model, essentially. That was Jerry's idea. So, philosophy of mind or philosophical psychology could become integrated with cognitive science. Ernie Lepore knows everything about everybody. He's Diogenes Laertius, [a third century biographer of the Greek philosophers]. I mean, he's a terrific philosopher, and I wouldn't call him a gossip, but he knows all the gossip and he knows how to use it. [laughter] So, he knew Jerry Fodor had gotten tired at MIT. Jerry had been a mainstay of that department, had worked with [Noam] Chomsky, came to CUNY, to their graduate program, and he was not that happy at CUNY and Ernie knew it. Ernie said, "Let's invite him down to teach a seminar for a semester and we'll all sit in and we'll all be really interested in his work and we're only going to allow the best graduate students to register," etcetera. We did that and Jerry felt in heaven here and indicated to us that he would be willing to leave CUNY. [laughter] At the same time, [Tom] Kean, Governor, was supporting Rutgers University with resources and I was on a committee that put together a proposal, "Well, what do we need to become a better research university?" and we needed special chairs, we needed graduate fellowships and we needed research money. That's what we needed and Bloustein went out and got it from Kean. [Editor's Note: Thomas Howard Kean (born in 1935), a Republican, served as Governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990.]
Kean was extremely supportive and one of the things that he set up were faculty positions called World--it's a little disgusting--World Class Scholar Leaders, WCSL. They later became New Jersey State Professors, because nobody wanted to call them [world-class], but they were referred to as the World Class Scholar Leaders. I went to Alec, as chair, I wasn't yet in the Provost's Office, and I told Wheeler, "I'm going to do this," and Wheeler encouraged me, saying, "I don't know what Alec'll say," because Alec was investing his money primarily in the sciences. He said, "Alec probably won't know who Jerry Fodor is." Ken did know and he said, "So, you're going to have to explain who Jerry Fodor is." Anyway, so, I talked to Alec and Alec was really enthusiastic about it and said, "If you can get Fodor, I'll get you one of those WCSL chairs." They had already been assigned to the University. I think there were eight of them or something. There weren't very many.
SH: I know there were less than ten.
PK: Yes. It could've been fewer than eight, but it was some number around eight. None of them, I think, had been given to the humanities yet. There wasn't one, and so, I thought, "All right, let's meet with Jerry in New York." I had met Jerry once or twice outside of the course, and, of course, I had read his stuff. We met at some fancy restaurant. I forget what it was. Oh, no, we met at Wheeler's reading club. I don't remember what it was called, but it's a reading club and you walk into this thing that reminds you of some British Victorian building, books, leather-bound books, you know, and the chairs are leather. [laughter] There are some people there, sitting, reading, but it was a dinner club, too. You could have dinner there. So, Wheeler, Pond, me and Jerry, I and Jerry, met and this was for Pond to meet Jerry and for Jerry to meet Pond. So, it was a mutual wooing. Pond said at one point, after they talked a little bit, "You know, you're going to be the first WCSL professor in the humanities," and Jerry, thinking it was something like Ruth or John Whicksel, who had given the money or something, [laughter] said, "What's a WCSL professor?" [laughter] Pond explained that it was a World Class Scholar Leader, and Jerry has this wry expression when he's about to say something cute and I saw that. I now know; I mean, I can recognize it instantly now. [Editor's Note: Dr. Klein snaps his fingers.] At the time, it was a little puzzling, "What is that expression?" and Jerry said, "Oh, I heard it was called the WCSLBLS." If I had been gripping the table, my knuckles would've turned white. [laughter] I was afraid, "Oh, God, we just blew this chance," and Pond said, "WCSLBLS, what's that?" Jerry said, "Oh, well, I've heard it referred to as a World Class Scholar Leader By Local Standards," [laughter] and I thought, "Oh, hell," but Pond thought that was really funny, thank heavens, and so, we got Jerry.
PC: What year was that? Do you remember?
PK: Probably '87, yes, probably, '86, '87. I think he didn't come until one year later, so, it might have been as early as '85, and he came in '86 or it was '86 and '87, but I wasn't yet in the Provost's Office. [Editor's Note: Jerry Fodor joined the Rutgers faculty in 1988.] We got Jerry Fodor and that was a big, big splash in the philosophic world. They knew we were serious at that point. The next person we brought was a guy named Colin McGinn, who was much more of a public intellectual and public philosopher. Jerry sort of resists doing that. Jerry likes talking to philosophers and biologists and specialists. He doesn't very much like talking to the general public, because he thinks they won't understand a word he's saying--and he's right, they won't. They won't get it. Once we got Colin, things almost fell into place. It was pretty easy, but there's a really important step in here.
Wheeler asked me if I would become the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Associate Provost for Humanities and Fine Arts. We had a strong Provost's Office at the time. There was an Associate Provost for Humanities and Fine Arts. That was me. There was an Associate Provost for Social Sciences and Professional Studies, or Professional Schools. That was Barbara Callaway. There was an Associate Provost for Math and Physics, and there was an Associate Provost for the Life Sciences. The deans in New Brunswick reported to the Provost, not to the central administration, at the time. The Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences reported here, to Ken, and the Dean of Mason Gross [School of the Arts] and the Zimmerli Art Museum reported to the Provost's Office. Well, that meant, in a way, they would have to go through me to talk to Ken. Now, of course, they would end-run that all the time, and they should. I mean, that's what good deans do and good chairs end-run around the dean. Pity our current dean doesn't know that [laughter] and that it's not an insult if you do it. It's just the way things are done and the dean has to take advantage of that and get resources for the SAS out of those kinds of moves as well as for the local thing, and not set up a [system driven by], "No, I'm a New Jersey kid and I'm not going to be beaten down by a department chair." When Ken asked me if I would do it, I thought, "Sure," but I consulted with Ernie and Brian, who'd been the people [functioning as departmental leaders]. Brian's been chair a bunch of times, so, he's been visible, but Ernie's been a macher [a Yiddish word from the German meaning a "doer"] behind the scenes the whole time, and Brian has and I have, up until the recent past.
Now, you know, younger people are taking over. It's up to them. We all decided, "Well, if I move into the Provost's Office, that'll give us some responsibility and some authority and some ability to get resources, but who's going to be chair?" because there wasn't anybody [to do it]. Brian was too young to do it and didn't want to do it and Ernie would not be the right person to do it and he knew it. There wasn't anybody else. So, the deal with Ken was, we get to bring in an outside chair if I go and that was Dick Foley and Ernie knew that Dick was unhappy at Notre Dame. Dick Foley was born in South Bend and had the ambition always of teaching at Notre Dame, because he was born in South Bend. You know, kids in New York have the ambition, I suppose, of teaching at Columbia or something. [laughter] So, this was the jewel of universities. For personal family reasons, Dick was in the process of getting a divorce. In fact, the joke is that Ernie knew that Dick was going to get a divorce before Dick did; [laughter] probably did. So, we figured, "We can get Foley here," and Foley became the chair, I think in 1990. No, maybe it was '88, probably '88, not sure. It might have been as late as 1990 and he was chair for only two or three years, and then, he became Dean ...
PK: ... Of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and I think he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences from '92 to 2000. They switched titles in there, Executive Dean at one point, because the Graduate School reported to the SAS [FAS] in that reorganization move. [Editor's Notes: In 1990, Richard "Dick" Foley came to Rutgers-New Brunswick from Notre Dame, where he had chaired the Department of Philosophy since 1983. From 1990 to 1992, Foley headed the Rutgers Department of Philosophy. Foley served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences from 1992 to 1996, and then, as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Dean of the Graduate School from 1996 to 2000. Foley went on to become a dean, and then, vice chancellor at New York University.]
So, we've had, from '85 until quite recently, almost every year, a person either in the administration or in the shadow administration for years, [laughter] but we also adopted a strategy--my strategy, Albert didn't like this, [laughter] I can see why--of, "We don't hire assistant professors unless they're just about ready to be tenured. We hire associate professors or soon-to-be associate professors and full professors." Why? The argument that prevailed, it may not prevail anymore in the department, but what the argument was, that the standards for tenure and the standards for hiring a person with tenure are quite different. You hire somebody from the outside, you can set your standard at, "You have to be one of the top three people in your field," or top two people or whatever. You can't do that [regarding someone who's already here]. It's just completely unfair to somebody who's here. A Kantian [follower of Immanuel Kant] would say, "If every university did that, there'd only be two people tenured in every field." It would be a mistake.
So, if you're going to build a department and you want to do it fairly quickly, you have to have a different hiring plan and the hiring plan always was, don't hire beginning faculty. You know, you can set up postdocs [postdoctoral fellowships] and you can do that kind of thing, but this argument--my view is--this argument about bringing young blood and all the rest of that stuff, well, people who are getting tenure are only six years older. Their blood isn't that much older, and we know exactly what they're going to turn into. Now, what that means, though, is that the kind of loyalty that gets built up to a department, if you start there as an untenured faculty member, there's less chance of that happening if you bring somebody at the associate professor level. There's less chance of that happening now anyway.
The saying or rule of thumb in philosophy, and I'm sure it's in other disciplines, "When you pick your first job, if you have a choice, pick a school that it's good to move from." I lucked out. Colgate was a very good school to move from, because it's known for its teaching. It really is--it's called a university, but it's an undergraduate college with a couple of master's programs thrown on top of it. It's known for having pretty good judgment about teachers and spending a lot of time on that, so that if you publish and you're coming from that kind of place, you're in a pretty good position to move. So, it was a combination of Brian, Ernie and me at the beginning, with some--I don't want to make it sound like that the other younger people, the people my age and maybe ten years younger, weren't a party to this, but they weren't as full players as Brian and Ernie were.
A key to all of this was establishing the Cog Sci Center [Center for Cognitive Science]. In order to get Jerry, Jerry would come only if he was going to be able to teach cognitive science and, of course, there wasn't a place to do that here. "How're you going to do that? Well, set up a place." [laughter] Ken Wheeler went along with it, Pond went along with it. We got, along with Jerry, a person who published with Jerry, who's a psychologist, but also knows philosophy, and Jerry is primarily a philosopher who also knows areas of psychology, a guy named Zenon Pylyshyn, P-Y-L-Y-S-H-Y-N, Zenon, Zenon Pylyshyn. The two of them were given a lot of resources to establish the Cognitive Science Center. At the beginning, that helped us attract some philosophers, because they could have a lower teaching load than the rest of us because they were in the Research Center and they would contribute to building the Research Center. Instead of a two-two teaching load, they'd have a two-one teaching load in our department and one of their courses or one of those activities would be in the Cog Sci Center, but, since they weren't teaching many courses yet, it was primarily setting up seminars, bringing in postdocs, running conferences, etcetera, like what this center does.
Well, Bloustein had already died and Lawrence was here and Lawrence wanted to go over establishing this center. [Editor's Note: Dr. Francis L. Lawrence served as Rutgers University President from 1990 to 2002.] It was because of the Provost's Office that I was there--and it's going to be a while before this gets read by anybody. [laughter] So, I'm sitting at the table with Pond, who's sitting across the table from me, Lawrence and I think Ken was there, but I'm not sure. I think he was. Lawrence had pulled his chair a little bit from the table, so, Alec and I could see each other's eyes, but I don't think--and we were acting as though--Lawrence couldn't see what we were doing. We were preparing the memo to go to the Board of Governors establishing a center. Now, we'd already hired Pylyshyn and we'd already hired Jerry and we'd already promised them in their offer letters various kinds of resources. I had put together a little packet that I had sent to the President before meeting, explaining what cognitive science is, why psychology, linguistics, computer science, biology and engineering, as well as philosophy, would be involved in this thing, why those disciplines. I explained that a core issue that they all explore is an issue that Jerry and Chomsky made salient, namely, how do children learn languages so quickly? It can't be a stimulus-response thing, because they learn to generate all these new sentences. As soon as a kid can generate one sentence, they can start generating hundreds of them. Well, how the hell is that possible? It can't be this old empirical notion that you generalize over individual occasions, because there aren't enough occasions, and there's a kind of novelty. You can take words and you can put them together in strings that you've never heard, and so, how do you do that? How does the mind do that? That was a core issue. So, how do you learn a language, your first language?
Well, Lawrence read this stuff and his first question to me, and I had, when I put together his [packet] in the Provost's Office, letters from all of the participating department chairs, after they had discussed the establishment of the center with their faculty, endorsing it. He said, "I notice you don't have French and German and Italian and Spanish in this. They teach linguistics," [laughter] and Pond could see that I was thinking to myself, "You didn't listen to a word I said about what the problem here is. It's not a problem of how do you teach a language. That's not the problem, because you're teaching a second language. The problem is how do you learn the first one?" Lawrence used the expression "applied linguistics," and that's what language departments mean about how do you teach a second language? It has nothing to do with linguistics in the way that our Linguistics Department--well, it has something to do with it, but very little--to do with what a linguistics department studies. Now, there are interesting questions about how you learn a second language and what are some of the difficulties in learning a second language, given what has to happen when you learn a first language. Lawrence said that he wasn't prepared to send this to the board [BOG-Board of Governors] until the language departments had signed on. Pond, who was some sort of a captain in the Navy, I think he had his own ship, so, he was a big gun in the Navy, he--Paul, put your hand on the table for a minute, and I'm not getting too friendly--he said, he gestured like this to Lawrence and Lawrence pulled his chair up, and he said, "Mr. President, we have a saying in the Navy and that saying is that, 'It's almost impossible to recall a ship once it's sailed and this ship has sailed.'" [laughter] [Editor's Note: Dr. Pond enlisted in the US Naval Reserve when he was eighteen and served until 1953. His active duty tour during World War II lasted from 1943 to 1946, during which time he served aboard the USS Mount McKinley and became senior ensign afloat. Pond eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant.]
PC: Wow. [laughter]
PK: Well, there you have it and Lawrence said, "Okay;" [laughter] well, good. So, that's how the Cog Sci Center got to the Board of Governors. [laughter] Now, of course, given stringent budget times and given that people have some of their line weight over there, there may be some problems. There were always problems within our department and there were problems within psychology and within linguistics, because here were people who, initially, you could not have gotten to come to the faculty if we didn't have that center. It really is true that the faculty who affiliated with the center and had part of their line weight [there] were, by and large, more productive scholars than people who didn't, and [it was] in part because they had a lighter teaching load and they could devote some of their time that the rest of us put in for teaching doing the research. Well, that led to, within my department, a sense of unfairness on the part of other faculty that we recruited who were becoming as distinguished as some of the people associated with the center. Now, we have never hired a faculty member who is as distinguished as Jerry Fodor, and I don't think we ever will. Philosophy has become much more democratized since then and there aren't people--maybe there are one or two, but there are many more really outstanding philosophers than there were thirty years ago and there are fewer of the really, really big guns, like [W. V. O.] Quine and [Donald] Davidson and Fodor. There are some. Maybe Timothy Williamson at Oxford counts that way.
PC: What did somebody like Fodor teach undergraduates? Did he teach an upper-level seminar?
PK: He taught a few undergraduate courses, but not many.
PK: Yes. He kept saying to me and to other chairs, "I want to teach undergraduate students," and we kept saying, "Oh, yes, fine, we'll schedule it next year," because, frankly, he would only be able to teach the really, really smart ones who could follow. He has no tolerance for slow-minded people. He's a very charming, wonderful man, but he would not have been good in an undergraduate class, whereas Colin McGinn and all the other people teach undergraduate classes [were], but Jerry has, maybe he taught one, might have taught a senior seminar or something, but he teaches graduate courses. Next year, he'll be half retired, and then, done. He'll probably come back and teach a graduate seminar, every once in a while, but he's the only one in that kind of circumstance. Everybody else teaches undergraduate courses and teaches two hundred [level classes], typically not the one hundred level class, although some of us teach that "Critical Thinking" class and some teach the "Current Social and Moral Issues" class. When you think of the people we have, it's an amazing bunch. We lost three this year--that will hurt. Well, we've lost two and we're going to lose the third.
SH: They have been ...
PK: Lured away. Tim Maudlin [is] one of the people we brought as a beginning assistant professor during the early days of the combined department. It was so clear in Tim's case that this is a genius. He's going to go to NYU, which is the best-ranked philosophy department in the world.
PK: We're second. Now, what's that going to do? Princeton's third. We're not sure. Alan Code is another person who's leaving. He's only been here about four or five years, a very distinguished person in the history of philosophy. Our strengths are in philosophy of mind, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of psychology, and we were strong in philosophy of science. With Tim going, we won't be that strong anymore. We'll have to fix that, and our ethics group is getting better and better. We brought some really good people in their late thirties, early forties, because a bunch of us were getting old and it was time to bring not very, very young people, but [younger people]. Tim is going and Tim's bright, really bright. NYU can just outbid us financially and their teaching load is even lower than ours and they get subsidized housing, highly-subsidized housing, in New York City. The support for the children going to college is much, much better at other places than here. I mean, you can go here for free and that's it, whereas a lot of other places, you get either the full tuition that the person would have to pay were they going to Columbia or Yale or whatever, or Princeton, or a high percentage of it. Well, a high percentage of Princeton's tuition, a high percentage of undergraduate tuition, a high percentage of Princeton's undergraduate tuition or NYU's, is a lot of money. [laughter] So, you can pretty well go anywhere.
PC: Peter, earlier, when you were discussing building up the strength of the Philosophy Department, Fodor forward, you did not mention money. At this end, you are mentioning money.
PC: Is money a really big factor?
PK: If we hadn't gotten support at various times from the administration with infusions of money, none of this would've happened, because the people that we recruit, once they're here, we want to retain them, get offers all the time. Even in this bad economy, they're getting offers all the time. The third person we're going to lose is Brian Weatherson, to Michigan of all places, and the reason in that case is that they're offering his wife tenure, who's a philosopher. She has a tenure-track position in Newark. Will we be able to offer her tenure? It's not clear yet. I don't know if the dean's going to approve our even ability to do it. [Editor's Note: Brian Weatherson left Rutgers for the position of Marshall M. Weinberg Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan.] We bring people here. Being here, just being here, makes them more visible in the profession, so, they get invited to more conferences. They get invited to contribute to books, etc., and it makes them more marketable. Our salaries are much, much higher than any other department in the SAS, including the science departments. Our salaries rival those at the Business School and that's because it's a market-driven [field]. I mean, if you want to get the best people, you're going to have to pay for it. We've gotten support. The reason we needed support from the administration was not to help us figure out whom to hire. We can do that, but we need the resources to bring those people. In part, the resources mean we're bringing associate and full professors. So, whereas another department is bringing an assistant professor in philosophy, maybe they're earning seventy-two thousand [dollars]--I don't know, I've been out of it for a while--we're bringing in an associate professor who's earning 105,[000 dollars], because they've been out six years. So, the initial shot is higher and we often do what a lot of other departments do--we bring people at the associate professor level and promote them to full professor within two years. So, they get what used to be that ten percent bump in salary. So, we're more expensive to begin with. On the other hand, we don't need labs. We don't need postdocs. We don't need all kinds of equipment and we're relatively small, compared to history or English or psychology or something, but history and English are the two parallel departments in some ways. Our teaching style and manner is very similar. There's a difference in the publishing. In history, almost every crucial thing is in a book, and so, a book is the standard for tenure, whereas for us, a book is, that's okay, but as many people get tenure on the basis of five, six, seven, eight articles, sometimes three, four--depends where they are, depends how important, what impact they had. There's a guy named Edmund Gettier who wrote, I think I might have told you, one paper in his life, two-and-a-half pages--changed epistemology--and Gettier could get tenure anywhere after writing that paper. So, we're more expensive, but, if you had two million dollars to invest in upgrading a department, for two million dollars, you can get maybe a third of the Philosophy Department, whereas you'd only get a tenth of the English Department. So, if you're going to build a top-notch English department, you have to have maybe fifteen, twenty stars there, or ten or twelve, whereas in philosophy, [if] you have six or seven, you're home free. So, [if] you have six or seven people of Ernie Sosa's character and Fodor and Alvin Goldman and Brian Loar, who's now retired, and some of the young people, for their career stage, you don't need that many of them. I could always argue within the administration, "You get a lot of bang for your buck here."
We are good enough now that we're attracting undergraduate students to the University. Three or four of the students who are first year--students normally didn't declare their major until the end of their sophomore year. They're doing it earlier and earlier, because the pressure's on them to do it, which I wish we didn't have, but we do [now]. We have three first-year students from out of state who are coming here to study with us. There is some philosophy being taught in high schools, not much but a little bit. To be a state school and to be ranked above Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, when the hell does that happen? [laughter] Not very often. Individually, it looks like we cost a lot, because of our salaries, but, as a department, we're pretty cheap. If you were going to do that for psychology, imagine what that would cost.
There's this old joke; you must have heard this joke. The chairperson of the philosophy department and the chairperson of the mathematics department were trying to persuade the dean that it's very cheap to develop their departments. The mathematician said, "Look, we don't need labs. We just need pencils, paper and a wastebasket," and the philosopher said, "We don't even need the wastebasket." [laughter] So, there's something to that. I don't mean we publish trash, [laughter] but some of it's trash. So, money mattered.
There were times when deans, when we'd go in with candidates, we can honestly say, "This is one of the three best people in the country working on this thing and here's our evidence." Sometimes, they didn't even authorize searches and we never let that stand in the way. I mean, the number of people that we've hired as a result of an authorized search from the Dean's Office, I'm guessing, twenty percent of the people that we've hired over the past couple of years. We go in and just [say], "Look, this person is available. We're going to lose Sally over here. Look at this person." They look at that person and, frankly, if you're in the Dean's Office and you look at those credentials and you look at the credentials that the other departments are bringing you, it's pretty hard to say, "No, you can't hire that person." It's just hard to do, and so, you'd better come in with those kinds of candidates. There were some deans that we've not had good relationships with. Tilden [Edelstein] was one of them. He didn't see the point in investing in the department and I must have done something that rubbed him the wrong way. I don't know what happened, but it was good he left. Holly [M. Smith] was tough. Holly's one of us.
SH: I was just going to say.
PK: But, Holly was very concerned, rightly so, about appearing to favor the Philosophy Department, and so, I think she said, "No," on some things that another dean would have said, "Yes," on. She's much more of an egalitarian. [laughter] I don't know. We'll see what the current dean's like. Here's a good way to put it, and we'll see what the current dean does. We're ranked, by any ranking, among the top three departments. Now, I don't know what's going to happen when we lose these three people. We'll see, but I think the dean might say, "There's no real difference between being the top three and the top seven or eight, so, maybe I won't give you the money. I'll give the money to some other department and see if they can get to the top seven or eight." From my point of view, that's a stupid move, because they're not going to get to be one of the top seven or eight. They just aren't, unless there's some lucky break, where they can hire three people all at one time. We've had deans who have done that--Rick Falk, when he was acting dean. We did have an authorized search and we came up with three people. [laughter] They were all at Syracuse and we said, "If we have to choose, we'll choose this one, but we want you to look at all three," and Falk said, "Hire them." It was just absolutely clear. Now, only two of them are left. [laughter] Oh, no, I'm sorry, only one of them is left. One went to NYU and the other one went to Oxford. [Editor's Note: The one who is mentioned here is Dean Zimmerman. As of 2015, the second, Ted Sider, returned to the Philosophy Department as the first Andrew W. Mellon Chair.] So, we know what we're doing. Whether this dean would choose to keep a department among the top three or lose that ranking to seven or eight or something and bring some others up to seven or eight, I think that's what he's going to be faced with, because he doesn't have enough money to do everything he needs to do and that's a legitimate question. It surely makes no difference to the undergraduate program whether you're ranked third or seventh or eighth, none, doesn't make any difference if you're ranked third or tenth or twelfth, none, but it sure does make a difference in the graduate students you get and it makes a difference in what faculty members would be willing to consider moving from their place to your place. It also makes a difference in the number of outside offers your faculty's going to get, and we'll see. Over a period of years, it was because of Pond, and then, because of Foley and partially because of me and Phil Furmanski. [Editor's Note: Dr. Philip Furmanski served as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs from 2003 to 2011. He is currently a Professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers-New Brunswick.]
There was a period, three years ago, when we were going to have a bunch of retirements of some senior people when Ziva [Galili] was dean and I went to Ziva and said, "Look, we're in trouble here." [Editor's Note: Dr. Ziva Galili, a Professor of History at Rutgers since 1981, served as Vice-Dean of the Graduate School-New Brunswick from 1997 to 2002 and Acting Executive Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 2006 to 2008.] She said, rightly, "But, we don't have any money," [laughter] and I said, "What if I can get the money? Will you authorize the [search]?" "Sure." So, I went to Phil and Phil gave the SAS some money to help us, on a temporary basis. The SAS had to repay it. Phil never would give anything away. So, you could borrow against future retirements.
Our view was this--we have a bunch of really great people. In epistemology, Ernie Sosa and Alvin Goldman and me, to some extent, but I'm putting me up there because I'm their age. I'm not as famous as they are, but I pull my own weight. [laughter] Without them, we wouldn't be [ranked]. We're ranked number one in the world in epistemology, by far, and, if they weren't there, there would be no [chance of achieving that ranking]. I mean, we wouldn't even be considered for that ranking, but we're all getting old and Jerry was getting old and Brian Loar, who's retired, was getting old and Colin was thinking of leaving. So, we thought, "Look, while we have those people here, we're in a better position to recruit new people. So, let us expand temporarily for two or three years and shrink when these people leave," and that's what's happened. Some of those people are still here, but we haven't replaced [those who left]. We've lost twelve people and we've replaced them with nine, but we were able to replace them with nine over the last five, six years, whereas some other departments, if they lost twelve--English in particular, there, they lost a whole bunch of people one year and they didn't get enough resources. I don't know what the situation is now, and history lost a bunch of people in particular areas. So, money mattered.
PC: Peter, let me ask a question, because we are sort of running up against the clock. In my discipline, it was still true at the time I came into it, people outside the history profession read history.
PC: If you wanted to find out something about American history, you did not read a journalist.
PK: All right, right.
PC: You did not read a public historian. There was no such thing. You read a book written by a professor at Yale.
PK: Yes, yes.
PC: What about philosophy? Is there a general public, or has there ever been a general public, who reads philosophy? As you look at your profession, has its audience changed as drastically as the audience in history or English has changed in the last thirty or forty years, or has it always been an academic discipline?
PK: No, no.
PC: At least in our mind.
PK: The British philosophers, C. D. Broad, [Bertrand] Russell, A. J. Ayer, they were public intellectuals. They would have programs on the BBC. They would take visible public stances. That disappeared in philosophy. Of course, it was [William] James and [John] Dewey, so, in the pragmatist tradition was an involved tradition. I'd say, up until about five, six years ago, [among] philosophers, there was an awful lot of turning inward. They were writing to each other. They weren't writing in a way that the public [was involved]. We have our own vocabulary. The word "supervene" is a word in English, but nobody uses that word except philosophers and we mean something relatively specific. It's connected in some way with the ordinary use of the word, but not exactly. So, we have our own vocabulary and what we mean by "a priori" is quite different and what we mean by "possibility" or "probability" or "certainty" or whatever is quite different. There was an inward move, but, in the last ten, fifteen years, in part because of cog sci and the philosophers' contribution to this new way of looking at the mind and at, "How rational a creature are we?" because we like to think of ourselves--we, I don't mean just philosophers--we like to think of ourselves as [rational beings]. What distinguishes us from the other animals is the rationality and coming up with arguments and reasons and the pursuit of truth and all the rest of that stuff and that perception is a reliable guide to the world and all the rest. Cog sci is sort of calling all of that into question, and so, philosophers have become a little more publically engaged. Then, notice there is a program from Stanford that's something like the "Click-and-Clack Brothers," something like Car Talk [a National Public Radio show]. It's called something like Philosophy Talk and they're two guys [Ken Taylor and John Perry] talking about issues and there are phone-ins and they have guests and all the rest and it's pretty entertaining. Then, there's "The Stone" in The New York Times. The most recent one was called "Epistemology and the End of the Earth," or, "the End of the World" ["Epistemology and the End of the World" from "The Stone," June 16, 2011]. By an epistemologist, Gary Gutting, it was discussing whether the evidence that, the guy, something like Hadding or Chadding, Chaddings [Harold Camping], the person who was predicting the end of the world on May 21st.
PC: Right, yes.
PK: That person.
PK: Whether that person has better or worse evidence than the general, as he called it, "Christian view" that there will be an end, but we don't know when it's coming. A lot of people said, "No, what's so silly about this is that he picked a particular date. What's true is that there will be an end, an end of times. We just don't know when it's coming." So, his article in The Times was, "Is there qualitatively better evidence for the claim that there's going to be an end than there is that it's May 21st?" [laughter] and his general conclusion was no.
PK: The letters to the editor, [laughter] normally, the thing called "The Stone" generates fifty comments over a week. There were over a hundred comments within an hour on that one. [laughter] Ernie Lepore did one recently on the linguistic issues surrounding slang and derogatory slang expressions like the N-word or the K-word or various other kinds of words. Linguistically, how do they behave? [Editor's Note: "The Stone" featured Ernie Lepore's "Speech and Harm" on November 7, 2010.] They're not descriptive. They're not giving your own visceral opinion. Interestingly enough, if somebody uses a word in indirect discourse, "Sally said that," so, in indirect discourse, if you use a word like, "Sally said something," if you use a derogatory term, that redounds to you in that expression, not to Sally. Well, that's interesting, because you're not using it [and] you're not condemning another group. You're using a word that condemns another group, but you're not doing it. Sally did it. Well, how come? Are there other words in the language that function like that? and Ernie had a long thing in "The Stone." So, there is, I think, a growing recognition on philosophers' part that, "We have something to contribute. Maybe people don't want us to contribute it, [laughter] but we have something to contribute." There's a growing [concept]. Some of our young people, Jason Stanley and a new guy we hired, this is his first year, a guy named Andy Egan, so, Andy is teaching one of the Signature Courses on food. I first saw Andy Egan, food, "What the hell?" [laughter] but what he's talking about are the social policies and the consequences of what we eat, not what's good for your diet and all the rest of that stuff, but what are some of the social and moral and ethical issues involved in the kind of eating that we have and the kind of agribusiness that we have. How would you feed the world if you weren't going to do that? We have people like Larry Temkin, who works with the United Nations committees on how to distribute scarce medical resources; really tough. I don't think I could sleep nights thinking about that kind of problem. So, if you have a hundred million dollars, do you spend that keeping particular people alive for two or three weeks? It costs a quarter, essentially, to provide hydration for a person. Then, you can save their lives for three or four days. On the other hand, then what? So, you've saved their lives for three or four days, and maybe you save a million people for three or four days. Then, you need the money again the next three or four days, whereas if you invested it in the eradication of measles or polio or whatever, you'd save generations and generations forever. So, what kind of obligation do we owe to the people who aren't here yet but will be here. I couldn't sleep. So, he works on that kind of thing. Jeff McMahan, Jeff is teaching one of these Byrne Seminars and the question there is our understanding of what's moral and what's not moral in a war, given that the whole thing stinks. You're not allowed, for example, to bomb civilian areas. Well, think of what we did during Dresden [in World War II], but, anyway, you're not supposed to bomb what are primarily civilian areas, but the way wars are being fought now, they're being fought in civilian areas, so, how do you do that? He's concerned about that. I think they're consulted; well, I know Larry is. It's nothing like what it was in Britain, but it's beginning, I think. I think it's a trend that's coming. As philosophers turn, they'll still talk to each other, because we do have a vocabulary and we do have a set of problems that bothers us, that most people think, "Well, who the hell cares?" What time is it?
PC: It is about one o'clock.
PK: Oh, we still have a little time.
PK: So, Zeno's Paradox--Zeno lived in 480, I don't know, B.C., and here was his paradox. You have Achilles, supposedly the fastest runner in the world, and a turtle and they're going to have a race. It seems as though you should give the turtle a little head start. I mean, after all, it's a turtle. [laughter] Here's how the paradox goes. Now, you have to understand that paradoxes have conclusions that we know are false. All right, so, here's the first premise. Do you think it's true that in order for Achilles to pass the turtle--so, here's the turtle at the beginning of the race, here's Achilles--in order for Achilles to pass the turtle, he has to first get to the point where the turtle was when the race began. Doesn't that seem right? [laughter] He has to.
PK: By then, of course, the turtle will have moved ahead a little bit, because the turtle was moving slowly, but, nevertheless, it's moving. Well, then, in order for Achilles to pass the turtle, he has to get to the point where the turtle was at this point, right? The distance between what Achilles still has to travel and the turtle is going to shrink, but it'll always be a finite distance. So, it looks like Achilles can never pass the turtle, because he has to get to the point where the turtle was and, by that time, the turtle will have moved ahead. Now, if you give that to students, and I teach one of those Byrne Seminars on paradoxes, their first response is, "Well, wait a minute, how fast is the turtle going?" and I'll say, "Two miles an hour," and, "How fast is Achilles going?" "Let's say ten miles an hour." Then, they say, "Well, I can tell you exactly when he's going to pass the turtle," and I said, "Yes, I understand. We know he can pass the turtle. What's wrong with this argument? Do you think both premises are true?" "Yes." "Do you think the conclusion follows from the premises?" "Yes." "Well, then, don't you think the conclusion is true?" "No." "Well, that's the problem--that's a paradox. That's the problem." So many people, when they hear that, they [say, "What?"] [Editor's Note: Dr. Klein makes a "huh" noise, intonating a person being puzzled by the problem.] [laughter] They don't get why philosophers find that [interesting]. There's something wrong with our concept of motion that allows those two premises to be true. Something is screwed up. Newton and Galileo both took that problem seriously and, in part, Newton developed the calculus to solve it and it was quite deliberate on his part. He had that in the back of his mind. He also had other reasons for doing it. He had to determine where the center of gravity of a thing was. The kind of thing that interests a lot of philosophers, most people think, "Well, that's just silly. We know he can pass, so, there's something wrong with that argument and I don't care what it is. There's something wrong," [laughter] but, then, you can give other arguments that seem to have paradoxical conclusions that get people [interested].
There's a thing called the surprise quiz paradox. I'll give you that one and we'll get back to the subject, but it's relevant to why people don't turn to philosophers, because they think of us, as Socrates was portrayed, as in a basket with our heads in the clouds, right. [laughter] That's how we were portrayed. That's where the expression, "Your head's in the clouds" comes from, I believe, all the way back to the play, The Clouds, Aristophanes' [play]. It's Aristophanes' play. So, here's another one. A professor says, "There'll be a surprise quiz next week," and the week has three class meetings, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. "And what I mean, students, by a surprise quiz is a quiz such that you cannot tell the night before that it's coming the next day. That's what I mean by a surprise quiz." I'm not talking about some psychological thing. I mean, if every time you look at a pair of glasses, you're surprised, "Huh, there are glasses. Huh, there are glasses," that's not what I mean by a surprise. I'm talking about the ability to predict something with certainty. If you can predict something with certainty, then, it's not a surprise, even if you're surprised, because you could be a dodo and you don't see that you could do it or you don't believe what you could predict. So, a clever student says back to the professor, "Well, then, you can't give a surprise quiz." "Why?" "Well," the student says, "look, class meets only three days next week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. On Thursday night, if I haven't had it, I know it's coming on Friday, so, it can't be on Friday," and the professor says, "Right, can't be on Friday." The student says, "Well, then, there are just two days left, right? Monday, Wednesday." The professor says, "Yes." The student says, "Well, on Tuesday night, I know there are just two days left, Wednesday and Friday. I know it can’t be on Friday and be a surprise. So, it's got to be tomorrow,” and the professor says, "Yes, I guess Wednesday's out, too." Then, the student says [Dr. Klein snaps his fingers], "I know it's coming Monday." [laughter] Well, all right; now, again, we think that if a professor announces that she's going to give a surprise quiz that you can give a surprise quiz. Maybe not--maybe, sometimes, these paradoxes reveal something that shows that our thinking is going awry.
There's a thing called the gambler's fallacy and you see it all the time. You go to Atlantic City and you know this slot machine--it'll say on the slot machine--pays off five percent of the time. So, you watch the person playing it and playing it and playing it--it hasn't paid off for fifty times in a row. "It's due." [laughter] That's what they'll say. People will go spend money in that machine rather than another one, thinking the chances are higher that that machine's going to pay off than the one next door to it that just paid off--complete nonsense; that's a fallacy. The probabilities of any one winning is not affected by what happened immediately before it. It's affected only by how many symbols there are on the wheel and, of course, the initial causal conditions, but we're assuming you don't know those causal conditions, and how hard you pull the lever or whatever. So, it's called the gambler's fallacy, but, in that case, it looks like the common belief that something is more likely to happen the next time if it hasn't happened in a whole lot of times. That'll hold true if they're causally connected, the events, whereas if they're not causally connected, it won't. So, sometimes, things that we take for granted are false. What the philosopher is interested in is, maybe there can't be a surprise quiz if you announce it and maybe Achilles can't pass the turtle if motion is conceived as this kind of a thing. So, if you conceive of motion as, "A person is at a particular point at a particular time," you may be stuck. You may have that and maybe the concept of motion that we employ says, "Well, at a particular time, you're at that point, rather than moving through that point." So, maybe the paradoxes have a point, but philosophers typically don't try and explain that. So, our field has become more isolated, not because--well, maybe, I was just going to say something which may be false. You have competitors, the historians. You have journalists, you have bloggers, you have these nitwits on television, by and large, and I was going to say we don't have those, but maybe we do, because people will use the expression philosophy in ways that make us cringe. "My philosophy is that you should give all your money away," or, "My philosophy is, no, you should do what's best for you." When people talk about Ayn Rand's philosophy, for example, [Dr. Klein makes a snoring noise], gadzooks. [laughter] [Editor's Note: The Russian-American writer Ayn Rand gained fame from her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Academia largely ignores Rand's brand of philosophy called Objectivism.]
So, it is a problem, but I think there are philosophers, the younger generation is not as caught up in the internecine warfare in philosophy that some of us of my age are. So, I think it's going to open itself up. I hope. The dangers that I see to our department, I think it's really, really a shame that we're not going to have Phil Furmanski. Whatever one thinks of his treatment of the union and various other things that he's done, he cared about academic quality. It was a primary concern, because he doesn't have to have concern that much for the students. That's a dean's job, and so, we've lost an ally there, and McCormick did, too. I enjoyed working with Dick. [Editor's Note: Richard L. McCormick served as a Professor of History at Rutgers College, Chair of the Department of History and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, before becoming Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and then, President of the University of Washington. McCormick returned to Rutgers in 2002 to become University President, a position he held until 2012.]
When I was in the Provost's [Office] as the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Dick was the Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences and many things that we now take for granted were his ideas, partially mine, but his ideas, like the Gateway courses. [Editor's Note: Established in 1987, the Gateway Program offers support for students who need further enrichment in math and writing.] That was his idea. It was very clear that he cared about academic quality. It was also very clear he was not going to be hidebound by the rules. I don't mean he violated any rules, University policies, but we stretched them as much as we could. He was genuinely concerned about bringing to the University a diverse set of students. He still kept that. He was willing to make up his mind. He didn't dilly-dally and, if you came in with a proposal, he was willing to bargain and negotiate and work with you.
SH: When you served as Vice Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences ...
PK: Never in a permanent position, only acting.
PK: I took Jane Grimshaw's place for a year and maybe another semester. I don't quite remember. I think it might have been more than a year; might have been a semester, and then, a year, or something like that. For Ziva [Galili], I was only acting for two years, and then, for Greenberg, he didn't want to call me acting, but I was acting, because he knew I was only going to be there for one year. So, I've never been the Executive Vice Dean when I wasn't an acting one. I liked that job and I thought it was the right kind of job. The Executive Vice Dean, at the time, had two kinds of functions. The associate deans for the various areas would work with the Executive Vice Dean and, if it was a problem that was bigger than what I could do, then, it went to the Dean. On the other hand, the personnel office and the business office and the tech office reported to me directly, and that was a good thing, to have an academic person running those two offices. So, I thought it was the right thing to do. The way Dick would draw the little box, he would put the Dean and the Vice Dean in the same box. It really wasn't true, of course. He was the dean, but ...
PC: Do you mean Dick McCormick or Dick Foley?
PK: No, Foley.
PC: Foley, okay.
PK: Yes, yes. McCormick had [Karen] Stubaus there in that position, with the business office and the personnel office reporting to her. It's been re-created in a way, because, now, there's a person named [Vice Dean of Administration] Todd [Bristol] [in] the business office, and he's not an academic person. He has a degree, but he's not primarily a faculty member and doesn't see the job as, "I'm here for a while, and then, I'm going to go back to the faculty." So, he doesn't have his primary allegiance with the faculty and that's the way I always saw my job. I never wanted to be viewed as, "Oh, I'm on an administrative track," because that wasn't what I wanted to do. There were things I wanted to get done and I couldn't get done by being just in the Philosophy Department. If I wanted to affect the Gateway program and if I wanted to affect admissions and EOF [Educational Opportunity Fund] and all the rest, then, I couldn't do that as chair. I could contribute, but I couldn't do it, whereas being in the Provost's Office or being acting whatnot, I could.
SH: Was being in the Provost's Office and being Executive Vice Dean comparable in what you could do?
PK: No, it was different. At Rutgers, at least in the past, virtually everything is up for negotiation. [laughter] To talk about a chain of command would be just a misperception. It's always, "Here's some things I think we need to do. What do you want to get done?" [laughter] and that's probably a good thing. I'm not deploring it. It takes a little longer to get some things done and, every once in a while, you don't want to have to consult. I was never in a position where I could do things completely on my own, because I was always reporting to a dean or to the provost, and that was okay. That was fine. If I can't persuade those people that I'm right, then, I'm probably not right. Here, in the Provost's Office, it was much, much more persuasion.
So, one of the jobs as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education was calling together committees like the scheduling officers of the various colleges and the cops and the registrar and the advising people. So, we had sort of staff committees that would be reporting to the individual college deans, but, also, to this office. I chaired the Fellows Committee twice, [laughter] and it was clear what Wheeler wanted. Wheeler wanted to move in the direction of one school of arts and sciences and professional schools. That's where he wanted to end up and he knew he couldn't pull it off within the timeframe that he was going to be provost. It was just too much loyalty to the colleges, and universities are too slow. There's the Legislature and there's the women's organizations and there are the black organizations and the Puerto Rican organizations, etcetera, and none of them wanted any of this to happen. So, he knew it was going to come in steps and he picked me, in part, to chair the Fellows Committee because I was viewed as a champion, somewhat, of Livingston College. This was all put into effect prior to '81 and '82. We had to get some buy-in from the colleges for this plan. The Dean of Rutgers College, who was a philosopher, brought from the outside, Reg Bishop's boss.
PC: It does not ring a bell. I do not know.
PK: Died two years ago, specialty was Locke.
PC: Oh, John Yolton.
PC: There we go. I have a hard time of thinking of him and the Philosophy Department, but, yes, he was an expert in the history of philosophy, yes.
PK: Yolton saw, and Yolton was brought because he saw, that the direction of the University was towards graduate education and getting away from these individual, isolated departments. The Fellows Committee was put together in such a way that if that committee bought into it, it was going to be very hard [to avoid reorganization]. The idea of fellows--there were two committees. There was a first committee that would put some guidelines together for this reorganization. I forget what it was called. Then, there was the committee that was supposed to implement the guidelines, and I think I was chair of both. I worked very closely with Ken on that one, because I was in favor of that happening, but I was also in favor of trying to preserve as much of the good things that Livingston was doing as possible. We couldn't keep doing some of the same things, that the nature of the faculty that we hired was different after. There was a commitment to progressive education and to progressive aspects of philosophy and in history and in English. It went overboard a little bit in English, I think, at times. [laughter] When I was at Colgate, I was the flaming radical. There was hardly anybody I could talk to, except this one guy Doc Summers, that I mentioned earlier. When I got here, I was moderate, [laughter] and Gerry Pomper was the conservative. Now, Pomper, at Colgate, would have been on the very, very liberal side of things, both external general politics and university politics, whereas here, at Livingston, he was on the extreme conservative side, standards and all that. [laughter] No, I'm kidding. We had standards, too. I could predict that if a question came up--now, it never does ever come up quite like this--but, "Is a function of grades to encourage students to study? Is that one of the functions, or is it simply to mark how well they've done? Do you give grades at the beginning of a semester to encourage people? At the end, is your responsibility over? It's, 'Well, they know this,' or is it still to encourage? What's the function of grades here?" Well, I know what Gerry thinks. I've never talked to him about it, but I know damn well what he thinks and he knows damn well what I think. [laughter] We can talk about it, whereas some of the people at Rutgers College, you couldn't even ask [about it]. The idea that there could be some view other than what they had, "What do you mean? Grades are to measure how much a person knows. What is this other thing? It must be like the people who think, 'Well, a marriage between two men--what kind of thing is that?'" It must seem as strange, the idea that you could use grades as a way to motivate students to learn more. [laughter] I don't know what else to say about where we are and how we got to where we are in philosophy. We're always at a crisis in this sense. No philosophy department stays really good without work at it all the time. You cannot relax for a minute, because if you do [Dr. Klein makes a croaking noise], and I think losing those three people this year is serious.
SH: Is there still a move in the department to keep someone in the administration?
PK: No, I don't think they think strategically like that. I don't know if that's a tactic or a strategy, [laughter] but they don't think in the long run. I think most faculty members in my department now, not all, but most, care about the quality of the major and care about the quality of our instruction and care about ways that we can contribute to the general undergraduate education, but, to care enough to get involved in the policy matters of undergraduate education--we're starting to get those people. The young people, I think, maybe are going to [continue], since they're the ones that we delegate, "You serve on the Curriculum Committee," and, "You serve in the [University] Senate," and, "You serve in the New Brunswick Council, because we're not going to do those things anymore. We've done it." They may get involved, but I think it's the overall function of undergraduate education and the role we can play in bringing people to the University and providing them with tools to change things--I don't think many people have that view. Now, interestingly enough, Greenberg does. I mean, when the dean speaks about the function of undergraduate education, he talks about a transformative experience, because he went here and it was transformative for him, and I believe it was. It is for many students. So, he has that view and I think he's dead serious about continuing to develop the Core [Curriculum] program and the Signature Courses. [Editor's Note: The Rutgers-New Brunswick School of Arts and Sciences requires undergraduates to complete the Core Curriculum, a set of core liberal arts and sciences learning goals. As a part of the Core Curriculum, undergraduate students take Signature Courses, which are foundational courses that combine an interdisciplinary approach with real-world relevancy.] Now, where did those ideas come from? Ziva [Galili]. I mean, who developed this Core program? Ziva and Ann Fabian and me, to some extent, and Mike Beals; wasn't his idea, was Ziva's idea. When we went to the central [administration], when Ziva went, well, I was with her, when Ziva went to the central administration, said, "We're going to be able to pass the Core," Furmanski said, "You'll never pull it off, never. You're an acting dean and there's so much resistance. You'll never get that in place." We did. When we changed what Africana Studies taught, so that we took the language instruction out of Africana Studies and set up a separate department [Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures], people said, "Political pressure, you'll never get that done." Well, Ziva did. [laughter] So, you can make [changes]. The Core has a chance, has a chance. It's got a way to go, but it has a chance of making a different kind--it won't be a different education, but it'll be a different part. It has a real chance of doing something neat. I'm glad we had it in place, put it that way. [laughter]
SH: With both Furmanski resigned, and then, President McCormick basically on a sabbatical, and then, out as president, what is your perception about all these different levels that you have been involved with in your tenure here at Rutgers?
PK: Well, I think, I did use the word "crisis" with regard to the Philosophy Department, it's common. It happens all the time. We're used to it. I don't think the University has faced, and is going to face, the problems that we are about to encounter in the next two years, that I think they're more serious problems than anything we've encountered in the past. I think that not having Dick and not having Phil is really dangerous, and having the Board [of Governors] that we now have, it's also dangerous. I think they're going to look for a corporate type. I think they will rely heavily on a search firm to vet the candidates. I'm quite worried about it. I think Dick Edwards, who is the Acting Executive VP, is a thoughtful, deliberate, careful, fair person. I don't think he has the academic vision and goals that Pond and Phil had. They really wanted this place to join the ranks of the great public research universities. Now, have we done that yet? No, I don't think we have. Have we made any progress in the last four years? No and yes. No, we're no better than we were four or five years ago. Yes, we could have become a hell of a lot worse in this time period. There were so many pressures against the University and, together, I think they resisted a lot of them. They had to do things that are going to cause us problems. So, relations with the unions and with the staff and faculty right now are pretty low. So, I'm very worried about it. I'm also worried, in particular, about the School of Arts and Sciences, because we have an inexperienced dean. He's both inexperienced as a dean and he's inexperienced as an academic administrator. A very good thing about our dean is he does have a moral vision and he's willing to work hard to bring it about and he approaches things from an overall view, "What is the effect of this going to be towards this moral vision?" but deans have to play in the gray. If it gets to their level, if the chairs can't solve it, if the faculty can't solve it, if an associate dean or if the executive vice dean can't solve it, it's a difficult one. It's difficult because it's in the gray and it's typically in the gray because there are competing, legitimate interests. Sometimes, they're competing interests and one of them's completely illegitimate and just ignore it, but they're legitimate interests. I'm worried about the University in general because of the lack of leadership that we're going to have. The Chair of the Board [of Governors] has not been on the Board and isn't an experienced academic administrator. [Editor's Note: Dr. Ralph Izzo, Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer of Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc., (PSEG), was elected as Chair of the Board of Governors in 2010. Dr. Izzo became a member of the Board in 2009.] He's a very experienced business administrator. I mean, to run PSEG, you have to know what you're doing, and so, I do think the fiduciary aspects of the administration are going to get better, because I think that Board Chairman is going to demand that it get better.
I'm not sure that the problems that we're facing, which I think are huge--I mean, first of all, there's just the overall financial problem. Second, I think this is the lowest ebb we've ever had in our relationships with the Legislature and the Governor's Office. Assuming the newspaper reports are accurate, and this one, I think, is, Dick says he had some friends in the Legislature. "Who did you have?" "[Stephen?] Sweeney." Talk to Sweeney, "Well, I hardly ever talk to him and I called for him to resign twice." [Editor's Note: NJ State Senator Stephen M. Sweeney, a Gloucester County based Democrat, has served in the New Jersey Senate since 2002 and has served as Senate President since 2010.] Well, that's a friend. Well, so, we have these terrible relationships with the Legislature and with the press. We don't have very many defenders in the press at all. The general public thinks we're all high-paid people who do nothing. I think we internally have not decided whether we're one university with three major campuses, I mean Camden, Newark and New Brunswick, not Busch, this one [College Avenue] and Douglass, [laughter] whether we're one university with three campuses or whether we're three separate things and, for matters of efficiency, we're working together. There was an attempt by McCormick to differentiate the missions of the three schools. The move to make them chancellors--I mean, the former provosts in Camden and Newark are now called chancellors--that move was to signal, I'm sure, I know, it was aimed at signaling a kind of independence and you can see some signs of it. So, there's now going to be a new school of nursing in Camden. On the other hand, the Legislature doesn't see us that way and, politically, the power bases in New Jersey are Camden and Newark, not New Brunswick. So, we have to be really careful here and one of the problems is how we associate with the medical schools, if there's going to be one medical school, not differentiated the way it has been, but one medical school. We're going to have to deal with [George] Norcross in Camden, and that ain't going to be easy. Did you read the bill before the Senate on what they want to do with the out-of-state hospital stuff? I actually read the damn thing and it's just transparently there to support Norcross and his hospital. It's just clear as hell. There can't be any other reason for it. [Editor's Note: George Norcross, III, an insurance magnate and former Democratic Party boss, has been a major force in reviving Cooper University Hospital in Camden, which launched its medical school in 2012. Cooper Medical School is a part of Rowan University.] My prediction is that the state will want there to be one medical school that's multiply located and that will include both the osteopathic and the allopathic medicine. That's going to lead in the direction of one big university, not three differentiated things, and my guess is that people in Camden and Newark will say, "Now, wait a minute, how many people do we have on the Board of Governors? Who selects those people?" "Well, it's the President in New Brunswick." "Where is the President's effort?" "In New Brunswick." So, they're going to want some members of the Board of Governors. [Editor's Note: As of July 1, 2013, most of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) will become part of Rutgers University. The School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford and University Hospital in Newark will not integrate into Rutgers. The restructuring, authorized by the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act and approved by Rutgers' Board of Governors and Board of Trustees, will allow Rutgers-Camden to have greater autonomy and will increase ties between Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University.] Whether those particular things materialize, it doesn't matter, but we're facing a real crisis period here, I think. Financially, it's going to get worse, not better, because there are pressing needs out there in K [kindergarten] through twelve that are not being met. If we're branded as this highfalutin, high-paid faculty that does nothing and the University that squanders money, neither of which are true, but we don't have any power base from which to operate. So, I'm worried.
What do I think [is] going to happen? If the Board sees that the President and Executive Vice President are a team, so, they can bring a corporate person to be the President. I mean, if Tom Kean were younger, gosh, you'd just say, "Okay, please, be President for three years or something. Please, do this." Now, Kean wouldn't know how to run this university at this point. He needs a Pond or a Furmanski to help him run the damn thing and that person had better know how to run a medical school, because the integrating of those two cultures and the way in which grants are done, the way in which the two foundations work--see, we think that it's going to be a boon to getting research grants, that we're connected with a medical school. I don't think that's clear at all. Even if it is, what's it going to cost us? Many medical school faculty members are also members of the hospital and they have to earn their salary. Well, that's difficult to integrate that culture into ours, or the other way around. Now, other schools have done it, but there are schools that have tried to affiliate with medical schools and it's been a miserable failure. There are other schools that have done it and it's been a great success. The closest person we have is [Dean of Life Sciences and Vice President for Health Science Partnerships] Ken Breslauer, now, who would be good to help with those negotiations, but we're not going to have Phil during those negotiations. The President has said that Phil will take telephone calls and consult--yes, that's a lot different than getting the initial plan and negotiations together. So, I also think that given the membership of our current Board and the lack of their experience of having served on other university boards, or [as] trustees even, they're going to rely on a search firm. A successful search firm places people. They get paid for doing that. They're not evaluated, "Well, how good was that person?" I mean, we don't go back and say, ten years later, "Well, how good was that recommendation?" We don't do that. We evaluate them, "Did they place somebody?" I know they're in the process of selecting a search firm and I know they're thinking that maybe the search committee should be composed of thirty people. Well, if you have thirty people on a search committee, the person who's going to be running the search is the representative of the search firm. That's who's going to run it, and that would be terrible. They may, by luck, come up with a good person, but their job is to get their person placed. I've been on the other end of it. If you're an executive vice something-or-other and they think you want to become the something-or-other, so, I used to get all kinds of search firms saying, "Would you be at all interested in this and that and the other thing?" before they knew me. I mean, they had no idea, but, "We have several positions here. Would you be interested in any of them? If you are, we'd be very happy to meet with you." Well, they don't know me from Adam. I'm leery of that. So, a key thing, we'll see, is who do they pick to head that search committee? If they pick a faculty member who has the respect of the faculty and who knows how to run searches and won't let the search firm run it, we may be okay. We may be okay anyway. I mean, we suffered through one President who was miserable; not the current one. I think Dick was dealt a really hard hand and I think if you measure a person on the basis of, "What did they accomplish given the obstacles?" I think Dick has accomplished a lot and comes out pretty well, given that measure. If you just objectively [measure], "How much did he accomplish?" not a whole hell of a lot. Now, he can say he accomplished the final consolidation of the colleges and it did happen under his watch and he did help, but, for God sake, that was in the works [for years]. I don't believe in historical inevitability, [laughter] but that was pretty close to one. You would have to screw up to have prevented that from happening. He didn't screw up. I mean, he made it happen, and he had tough obstacles. The financial obstacles have been tough and the cloud that came with him when he first came, that was tough. I'm sorry he's resigning and going back to the faculty, especially sorry because Phil's not going to be here, too. I don't know Edwards all that well. He is a fair person, that's clear, and he's a principled person. Is he an adventuresome, creative person who's willing to take a risk and fail? [I] don't know. I just don't know. The first clue is going to be how big is that search committee and who's the chair. I think that's a clue about what they have in mind, what the Board has in mind.
SH: Who will determine the size of the search committee?
PK: The Board.
SH: The Board of Governors?
PK: [Yes]. In some sense, it's completely up to them. There are precedents and there are certain things they simply have to do, because the faculty will just be so upset if they don't, but whether they do it in a way that really gives any responsibility to the search committee; for example, if they say to the search committee, "We want five names," you know that they're going to make sure that one or two of their candidates are in that five and that's who they'll pick. Izzo is a good, as I said, a good businessperson and he has an agenda, right? He wants the nuclear power plants sanctified, in perpetuity. Does he know anything about academic administration? I don't know. There are one or two good people on the Board that I know and I don't know the others. So, I don't know what allies they would have. Again, I think we'll just have to see what that search committee looks like and who's the chair and how much responsibility they assign to the search firm. If all the candidates have to be vetted by the search firm before they get to the search committee, then, you can tell the Board of Governors doesn't care what the search committee wants.
SH: Do you have any others?
SH: My thanks.
PK: Thank you.
SH: From both of us, thank you.
---------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW-------------------------------------------
Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 11/21/12
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 9/12/13
Reviewed by Peter Klein 11/8/2019
Reviewed by Kate Rizzi 1/27/2020