Kathryn Tracy Rizzi: This begins an oral history interview with Dr. Barbara Lee, on July 29, 2020. The interviewers are Kate Rizzi and Dr. Paul Clemens. Dr. Lee, thank you so much for doing this second oral history session with us.
Barbara Lee: You're welcome.
KR: In our first session, we left off discussing your undergraduate years at the University of Vermont. You graduated in 1971. What was your graduation like?
BL: Well, I didn't go. [laughter] By then, I was married and moving to Columbus, Ohio, and I did not stay for my graduation ceremony.
KR: Did you apply to any other graduate schools besides Ohio State at that point?
BL: No, because I knew that I would be joining my husband in Columbus, Ohio, and so my choices were Ohio State or no graduate school.
KR: What was it like moving to Ohio?
BL: Well, I had never lived in the Midwest before, and I would not say that my time there was particularly happy. I made good friends at Ohio State, but I am too much of an East Coast person, I think. By the time I finished my PhD, I was very ready to go back to the East Coast, which I did.
KR: What was Ohio State University like when you were there?
BL: Well, I was there twice. So, I was there once in 1971 and '72, getting my master's degree, and teaching freshman English at eight o'clock in the morning, which is not the best time to be teaching any class but certainly not freshman English. After I finished my master's degree, I went back to Ohio State in 1975 to start my doctoral program. So, I was very involved, but I think graduate students tend to be somewhat isolated within their departments. You take all of your courses in one department pretty much, at least I certainly did in English.
I met some fellow students and some faculty members that I enjoyed working with. I did not really take part in student life at the university. As I said, I was married and busy with family issues. It was a big place. There was a lot going on during the Vietnam War. By the time I went back in '75, that was not much of an issue anymore. But it was huge. It was huge. I did go to some football games. The University of Vermont had abolished football while I was there. I guess I went to some football games as a freshman, but after that, there was no more football. So, being at a Big Ten university and going to football games was new for me and I enjoyed it, but I never really got into the co-curricular part of the university. I was busy working on my courses and my home life.
KR: Did you do a master's thesis?
KR: What did you do your thesis on?
BL: My thesis was on Nathaniel Hawthorne and themes of guilt in Hawthorne's novels. I really enjoyed doing that.
KR: What came next for you after you finished your master's degree?
BL: Well, as I said when we talked before, I was uncomfortable in the academic environment I was in, and I decided I was finished with higher education, which is sort of funny since I've spent my whole career in it now. I decided that the most exciting thing that I could do was to be a travel agent, so that I could travel for free and go all around the world. Well, of course, that's not what travel agents do, but I didn't know that. I spent most of my time typing other people's airline tickets because, in those days, we had to type the airline tickets with multiple copies of carbon paper. I guess I was at the travel agency from '72 through '75, actually until I went back for my doctorate.
I also taught part time at night at a local private college called Franklin University. I taught business English there, business writing basically, how to write a business letter and that sort of thing. The department chair had just finished his PhD in higher education at Ohio State and loved the program, thought it was great. I enjoyed the teaching at Franklin, although I didn't want to spend the rest of my career teaching people how to write a business letter. So, I decided, "Well, that sounds like an interesting thing to do. I think I'll apply for the PhD program." I just sort of wandered into it, not really knowing what the career options were or anything. I was limited to Columbus, Ohio. I was living there. I thought if I got an assistantship, it would pay my tuition and a stipend, and I've always liked being a student. I mean, these were horrible reasons to go to graduate school, but I wasn't very sophisticated in those days. I'm not sure I am now, but it just sounded interesting to me. So, I did it, and I'm glad I did.
KR: What was the course of study like in higher education administration?
BL: Well, it was very different from anything I'd ever [done]. I'd never had a course in education, for example. I didn't know anything about organizational theory or organizational psychology or any of the quasi-business-related courses that I was taking. I started in the summer, so I kind of landed in the middle, taking elective courses that were completely different from anything I'd ever done before. I just worked hard, read all the books, did the best I could. I had gotten a graduate assistantship with an organization called the University Council for Educational Administration, which was actually a K-12 organization. It was funded by various universities that had graduate programs in K-12 administration. I was a research assistant for them for my first year, starting in the fall. Then, I was the assistant to the dean of the College of Education my second year of doctoral study. By then, I was ready to graduate. I was only in the doctoral program for two-and-a-half years.
KR: Are there any professors that you had that stick out in your mind?
BL: Yes. The trouble is I'm having trouble remembering their names. It's been a while. I graduated in '77, so it's been quite a while. But the professor who taught the higher education law course, Fred Staub, was not a lawyer, but he loved the law. He loved teaching the class. I loved taking it and I became fascinated by it, which, of course, led to my eventual decision to go to law school. I also had a very good professor of statistics from the sociology department, Kent Schwirian. I was told that the sociology department faculty did a better job teaching statistics than the ones in my area. I hope I'm not stepping on any toes here. So, I took three statistics courses in the sociology department and was fascinated by them. Now, for somebody who thought she was terrible at math when she was in high school, I surprised myself, but it made sense to me and I really enjoyed it. I did not do a statistical--well, I sort of did a statistical dissertation but nothing very elaborate. I think I used chi-square, which is about the simplest kind of statistics you can use, but Kent Schwirian was terrific. He was a really good teacher. He ended up on my dissertation committee as well. He was my outside member.
KR: What did you do your dissertation on?
BL: Well, my initial advisor was George Ecker. He was a fairly new professor. He was an untenured assistant professor and always very aware and nervous about that, I remember. During his graduate study, he had worked with his own advisor, J. Victor Baldridge, who had done a nationwide survey of governance issues related to faculty collective bargaining, and I became interested in faculty collective bargaining. It seemed unusual to me that faculty would join unions. Now, realize this was in the '70s, but faculty unions started at Rutgers in the late '60s. So, it was not particularly unusual on the East Coast, but at Ohio State, the faculty still aren't unionized. I thought it was interesting. [Editor's Note: In 1922, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter was founded at Rutgers. In 1970, full-time Rutgers faculty voted to certify the AAUP as the official bargaining agent, making it the second AAUP bargaining unit in the country. In 2005, members voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), so that the AAUP-AFT now represents 6,000 full-time faculty, graduate students, part-time lecturers, postdoctoral associates and non-tenure track faculty at the three campuses of Rutgers.]
I was going to reanalyze the portion of the survey data that my advisor's advisor had collected, and I got permission to do that. It was questions about the impact of collective bargaining on how decisions are made in colleges and universities. Well, unfortunately, the standard deviations were bigger than the means in the statistical part of my dissertation. So, my dissertation chair, Dr. Lonnie Wagstaff, said I needed to do some case studies as well. I picked six colleges and universities whose faculty were unionized and interviewed probably twenty or thirty people at each one of those to find out their views on how having a unionized faculty affected the way decisions were made and the locust of decision making at various levels at the institution. So, that's what my dissertation was about.
KR: When you were doing the interviews as part of your dissertation, did you travel around to other universities?
BL: Yes, I did. I didn't have any money. I'm not sure why my dissertation chair let me do this, but I picked colleges in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, all of which were unionized, two private universities, two public research universities, and two state colleges. I was able to stay with family. They fed me. They housed me. I didn't have to spend much money on that. I was divorced by then, supporting myself, and my two-hundred-dollar-a-month graduate student stipend didn't go very far. I was lucky; I was able to pick reasonably appropriate institutions in different states, so I could compare, because [at] public institutions, public laws govern public sector collective bargaining, and then I had the two privates. Federal labor law governs private universities. So, I had the contrast of private and public institutions, big ones, small ones, but I asked the same questions of everyone.
PC: Who did you interview in these schools? What was the ideal target for your collection? What did you think in the 1970s? Who would you go to talk about these things?
BL: This was in '76 and '77. I talked to the provost, various department chairs, faculty union leaders, and if there was someone--for example, at Rutgers, there was a professor, his name was James Begin, who had made his career writing about faculty unions, and so I interviewed him. I interviewed Wells Keddie, a name you may recognize because he was very active in the union at Rutgers. So, it was a mixture of union activists and union leaders and department chairs and provosts. I don't recall that I interviewed any college presidents. I think provosts were the highest I got, but people were very good about talking to me. As I said, faculty unions were fairly new in those days, and I think they wanted to know the answers to my questions. So, it was a good experience. [Editor's Note: James Begin served as a professor and administrator at the Institute of Management and Labor Relations, which became known as the School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR) in 1994. Begin's papers relating to the history of collective bargaining at Rutgers University reside in Special Collections and University Archives. Wells Keddie served as a professor of labor studies at the IMLR/SMLR, as well as a leader and member of the AAUP.]
KR: What was your takeaway of that? What were your conclusions about how collective bargaining affected decisions that were made?
BL: Well, of course, it depended on the institution, but I would say, overall, most of the respondents agreed that decision making became much more centralized. There were sometimes, I wouldn't say power struggles, but conflicts between what a faculty senate, for example, would have the authority to do and what the union had, by law, the authority to represent employees with respect to terms and conditions of employment. So, it was an interesting conversation. You reminded me that I also spoke with the leaders of faculty senates or other faculty governance groups to get their perspectives on how decisions were made. I would say that in most cases, relationships in those days between administrators and the union leaders were pretty positive. They have gotten much less so in the succeeding years, but in those days, I think the attitude was, "We're all academics. We all want what's right for the institution. We may disagree on how to get there." But there was not the tension or the conflict that we see now.
KR: Did you publish your dissertation?
BL: I published a couple of articles out of it. I have sort of a funny story to tell you. I mentioned that I interviewed James Begin at Rutgers, who was then the director of the Institute of Management and Labor Relations, which I eventually joined as a faculty member, and I interviewed Wells Keddie, the head of the union. Jim was a very prominent authority on faculty bargaining. I submitted my article to the top journal in higher education, which is called The Journal of Higher Education. I got the reviewer comments back, which were revise and resubmit, which is normal in academe. I made all the revisions. I didn't know who the reviewer was. It turned out that it was Professor Begin, and it turned out to be the lead article in the next issue in The Journal of Higher Education. I ended up marrying him. We had common interests. We went to the same conferences. I was working in Washington, DC, going to law school then, and obviously, he was at Rutgers.
I would send my papers, as a graduate student--I was a law student by then--to professors who were experts in my field to get their comments, to let them know what I was doing. I sent my papers to four or five different faculty members, including Jim and another professor named Ken Mortimer, who wound up being a college president after that, and a few other people. Jim, for some reason, was interested in me and my career and also in me, I found out later, personally. We would see each other at conferences. Anyway, we eventually got married. I moved to New Jersey and joined Rutgers, which I'm sure we'll talk about in a while. I can't remember how it came up, but several years after we were married, he said, "You know, I was the reviewer on your paper." I said, "No, you weren't." He said, "Sure, I was." He said, "I knew who it was because you had interviewed me, so I knew what the study was about." I don't remember whether I sent him a summary of my dissertation; it's too long ago. Anyway, he said, "Yes." I had kept those comments; I had kept the original manuscript and the comments. Sure enough, I went up into the attic of our house and pulled it out, and, of course, I recognized his handwriting. I mean, I'd been married to him then for four or five years, and sure enough, he had done the review. He had never told me. He had made sure that the paper was as good as it could be. Fortunately, he hasn't taken credit for it, but I thought that was pretty funny. [laughter]
KR: At that point, when you were finishing your PhD, what were you thinking about in terms of your career and what you wanted to pursue?
BL: Well, that's a really good question. I wasn't sure because I sort of walked into the PhD program without thinking very carefully about what the upshot of that would be in terms of the career. I thought I could either maybe be a college administrator or work in labor relations because I was very interested in that, but I wasn't sure that I could find a job in labor relations in higher education without a law degree. By that time, I was divorced from my first husband. I had no obligations. A fellow student of mine at Ohio State had decided to go to Georgetown Law School, and he said, "Why don't you think about it? You don't have any particular [reason to stay in Ohio]." I mean, I could've stayed in Ohio, but I didn't really want to. I wanted to get back to the East Coast. I thought to myself, again, just sort of off the top of my head, "Oh, yes, that sounds like an interesting thing to do." I moved to Washington, but by the time I did, I had finished my dissertation. My defense in August. It was way too late to apply to law school starting in September, so I moved to DC without a job. I'm not sure if I would ever suggest to people that they should do that, but I did. I knew that I was a very good clerk-typist, and I could at least get temporary work until I found something more professional and that's exactly what I did.
I moved to DC. I got an apartment in Alexandria, Virginia. I signed up for a temporary secretary job. Because I could type really fast and was an English major, it wasn't hard to get temp jobs. My very first assignment was at the Comptroller of the Currency, which is a federal agency that regulates the national banks in the United States. They needed a secretary, and so I started working there. I wasn't their employee. I was an employee of the temp agency, but they liked me and they liked my work and they decided that they would like to keep me there. I said, "Well, I don't want to stay here as a secretary. I have a PhD." They said, "Well, the enforcement division of the agency wanted to start a newsletter," and if I would edit the newsletter and write the articles, they could get me civil service status. Once you have civil service status, you can get your foot in the door and go to any other federal agency if you're qualified for a job. So, I said, "Sure, I'll do that."
In the meantime, I was applying to law schools, and I got into four law schools in DC. I knew I had to go at night because I had to support myself. Fortunately for me, all of the law schools had evening programs and I was accepted at all four, but I knew that Georgetown--at least I believed and I think I'm right--that Georgetown was the top-ranked one of the four. So, I got into law school. I continued working at the Comptroller of the Currency, and then a job opened up at--in those days, it was called the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The education part split off while I was there. So, I moved from the Comptroller of the Currency over to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare a couple of months before I started law school, so it must've been in the summer of '78.
I worked in the higher education policy office there, working on doing research on various educational issues and working with other employees in the office who did the budget, the federal budget for higher education, and went to law school at night. That lasted two years. I came to the notice, I'm not sure how, of the former Commissioner of Education Ernest Boyer and some people who worked for him. He was leaving the Department of Education, which had been created probably in '79, because I remember, in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected, he decided he was going to abolish the Department of Education, and of course, he didn't. It's still there. But I was concerned that if it was abolished, I wasn't sure what that meant for me. Dr. Boyer left the Department to become President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. I was offered a job at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as their director of data analysis, so I did that for the third and fourth year of my law school time.
KR: How is it that you came to the attention of Ernest Boyer?
BL: Well, I'm not sure. One of his subordinates at the Department of Education asked that I be loaned from the policy office to work for the subordinate. The Department of Education was just starting up, and I think they wanted someone with some higher education background, a PhD, and so I worked with him for a while. I guess that's how. I met people who worked for Ernie Boyer. It didn't even occur to me to apply for a job at the Carnegie Foundation. I didn't really know what was next. I assumed I'd go back to my former job in the policy office, but they offered me a position there and my salary increased. So, I said, "Okay."
KR: Tell us about going to law school at Georgetown at night and your course of study.
BL: Night students, at least in those days--and it has been quite a while since I was there--did not have the options that day students have. For example, I didn't have time to work on a law journal or to volunteer at a law clinic because I had to work. There were, I think, three or four sections of day students and then one at night. The night students were older, most of them, not all of them. Most of the students that I met and became friendly with were, let's see, I was twenty-eight, I guess, when I started law school, and most of the rest of them were twenty-two. The students that I gravitated toward were older, although I don't consider twenty-eight very old right now. I made good friends there. Again, I had to adjust because, as it was with my PhD program, I never had a law course. All I'd had were English and education courses. The way that you write, the way that you think, the way that you analyze things is very different in the law than it is if you were doing textual analysis or literary criticisms or something like that. I did okay. I did very well in terms of my grades. I worked very hard at it.
I did not find the first-year topics/subjects very interesting. You have to take contracts and torts and civil procedure. They were okay, but I was lucky, Georgetown offers a master's degree in labor law. You can't really major in anything in law school. But once you take the required courses, you could pretty much take any elective that you want to as long as you're sensible enough to take courses that help you prepare for the bar exam. For example, tax, I took a tax course, which I hated. I took an estate planning course, which I found fascinating, not that I've ever done any estate planning, but it was just about how to think about your assets and planning and that sort of thing. Plus, I really liked the professor. But I took all the labor law courses I could, all the JD [Juris Doctor] courses and all the master's courses that I could fit into my schedule and just loved it. I also had two favorite professors. One was Wendy Williams, and she was a friend of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In those days, the late '70s and early '80s was when Justice Ginsburg was doing some of her very important Supreme Court work. There were no textbooks on employment discrimination law, so we studied the opinions that Justice Ginsburg was responsible for producing in the sex discrimination area. It was a very exciting time. It was a new area of the law. Sexual harassment law was not established then, but certainly sex discrimination law and employment was and Justice Ginsburg's cases were not all about employment. One was about the drinking age in Oklahoma, and one was about whether a woman could be an executor for somebody's estate. The state preferred men to women, so it wasn't all about employment, but there was a lot of employment stuff going on.
I just drank it up. I just soaked it up like a sponge and absolutely loved it and decided that this was a much more deliberate choice, that what I really wanted to do from then on was to teach law, either at a law school or another type of department. So, I did. I finished at Georgetown in four years. I got the John F. Kennedy Labor Law Award, probably because I just had more credits than anybody else did in labor law. I just loved it. I absolutely loved it. I loved taking the classes. I loved writing the papers. I wrote two papers for classes that wound up being published as law review articles, not student notes, but law review articles, which is really unusual for student work. I just flourished. I loved it.
Paul Clemens: Barbara, just a side note, when I went to graduate school in history, I took a law minor. The only thing in that law program that turned me on was labor law. I had an old New Deal National Labor Relations Board teacher, who had all this anecdotal stuff, plus really interesting questions. It got me actually excited about the law, a field I had no interest in going into, but it was my minor field.
BL: [laughter] No wonder I like you so much, Paul.
PC: [laughter] There we go.
BL: I'll tell you, a really nice thing about being in DC, and I imagine other DC law schools are like this too, we did have some adjunct faculty who worked in government and my contracts professor was the counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee and he was an expert on food stamps. So, we heard a lot about food stamps from him. Another one of my professors was either the solicitor general or the deputy solicitor general for the United States Department of Labor, and I took a course from him on, I think, workers' comp [compensation] and OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration]. So, I had people teaching me who lived this stuff every day. They weren't just writing law review articles about it, but they were doing it and that was just really very exciting for me.
KR: You talked about reading about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and employment discrimination. One of my questions going into today was to ask you when the women's movement first came on your radar. Could you tell us about that?
BL: Sure. [laughter] That's probably responsible for my divorce. When I got to graduate school, that was in 1975. The women's movement had been around for a little while, but I don't remember when it started. I had not really been all that aware of it. I was in a very traditional marriage, working in the travel industry, which doesn't really lend itself to feminism particularly. All the travel agents were women, and we weren't paid very well. It just went over my head. But when I got to my doctoral program, it was the first time I'd really been treated like I had a brain by my colleagues, by my professors, by the people that I worked with, and I won't say I necessarily started believing it right away, but it made me think about my role in my marriage, my role in my career, what was important to me, what I wanted out of life. So, it was a very important influence for me, yes.
My parents were very conservative, very traditional. I know I mentioned before that their hope for me was that I could be a high school teacher, so that I could stay home in the summer with my children. When I told my father I was going to law school, he was flabbergasted. He couldn't understand why I was interested in being a lawyer. I don't think he had ever met a woman lawyer. He certainly didn't have one at his firm. It's not that they didn't support me. It's just that they didn't have any aspirations for me to be more than what they thought I could be. When I got to my doctoral program, there were people there who showed me that I could be more than a high school English teacher and I loved it.
KR: When you were getting your PhD at Ohio State University and then going to night law school at Georgetown, how diverse were your cohorts?
BL: Well, racially, they were not. In terms of gender, I would say that in my PhD program, we had one African American woman. There were probably three or four women in the cohort of about eight or ten students, I guess. At Georgetown, there were quite a few women in my class. I don't know what the day students were like, but I would guess that between a quarter and a third, maybe more, of the students in my night class were women. I don't recall much racial diversity, but I do definitely recall gender diversity.
KR: You talked about your law professor, Wendy Williams. Was there much diversity in the faculty at Georgetown?
BL: No, I had two women professors in four years, and all the rest were men. Judith Areen was my other professor, and she became the dean of Georgetown Law School after I had been gone for quite a while. She's a very well-regarded scholar. She was my constitutional law professor and she also taught family law, which I also took, and she has written about higher education law. I was very lucky to have her as a professor.
KR: I am just curious, in all the things that you have done in your career, have you ever gotten to meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
BL: No, I'd love to, but no, no.
KR: When did you take the bar exam?
BL: I took the bar exam in, let's see, I think it was January or February of 1983. I probably could've taken it in the summer, but I wanted to study for the bar exam. I started my assistant professor job in 1982 in the fall, and I knew that that would take a lot of time to put together my classes and my writing. So, I waited until January or February of 1983 to take the bar exam, and I passed, which was nice.
KR: Paul, before we go on to Barbara's time at Rutgers, is there anything you want to follow up on?
PC: I guess it's a somewhat personal question, so feel free not to answer it, but would you like to elaborate a little bit on why, as you put it, being in the era of the women's movement had something to do with your divorce?
BL: I changed. I was not the compliant housewife who was deferential to her husband that I was when he married me. He had the right to expect me not to change, but I did.
PC: As you were going through this process, did you make the links with what was going on more generally in society in the women's movement at that period of time? Was this something, in other words, that informed you at the moment or that later you looked back on and reflected and said, "Yes, I see the pattern there that I was a part of"?
BL: Well, I think it took me a while to realize. By the time I started my PhD program, I had been married for five years, and my former husband was an Army Reserve captain, I think, in those days. During the summer, I was a military wife, and he had a very demanding job, so he wasn't around much at home. I just started thinking and reading and realizing that there was more to life than what I was getting, frankly, and that I did not want to be tied to [Columbus]. He had to stay in Columbus for his job. I did not want to be tied to Columbus. I didn't think that the job market for me would be very good. I wanted to have more independence to make decisions that I thought were good for me. So, it was an evolution, and I was meeting people in my doctoral program who had very different ideas, more non-traditional ways of viewing women than I had been brought up on or that were in my first marriage.
KR: After you finished your JD, what brought you to Rutgers?
BL: Well, I had been dating Jim for, let's see, we started dating in the spring of 1981, yes. We had decided to get married when I finished law school. So, I applied for jobs, both at Rutgers and some law firms in New Jersey and also a job at Rider [University] to be the associate provost there. So, they were very different kinds of jobs, either practicing law, being a faculty member at Rutgers, or being associate provost at Rider. The law firms were not very interested in me because they wanted to hire somebody who could bring in a lot of business, and I did not have contacts. I hadn't been in New Jersey for a long time, and I was fresh out of law school. I mean, who was I going to bring into the firm as a client? I did get the job offer at Rider, but I really wanted to be a faculty member. I wanted to teach and do research, so it was an easy decision.
KR: When you moved back to New Jersey, where did you live at that point?
BL: I lived in Princeton, New Jersey. Jim had a house in Princeton that he had bought several years before then, and so I moved in there and started my job at Rutgers. I got married, started my job at Rutgers, and moved from D.C. to New Jersey all in the same week. I would not recommend doing that.
KR: Initially, at Rutgers, you were in the Graduate School of Education. What was that teaching experience like for you?
BL: Well, I enjoyed the teaching, but the department I was in was really interested in K-12 administration, not higher ed. They had me teaching school law, which I was much less interested in than higher education law. They also had me teaching some other courses that they needed someone to teach. I taught more organizational theory related or systems theory related, which I had no background in. I was there for about a year and a half, and then the faculty in the--it was called then--the Industrial Relations and Human Resources Department at the School of Management and Labor Relations had done a search for a person to teach employment law, and, obviously, I had taken a lot of employment law and labor law at Georgetown. I did not apply for the job. They did a national search, and it failed. Somebody said, "Well, what about Barbara?" At that point, my husband got up and left the room at the faculty meeting because, obviously, it was a conflict of interest for him to be involved in the discussion. They asked me to apply for the position. I really was not happy teaching school law. Locker searches didn't [interest me], the legal problems of schools. So, I applied for it, and I got it. I started, in 1984, teaching employment law and labor law. I taught quite a few labor law classes as well and the occasional higher education law class when I could squeeze it in and persuade people to let me do it.
KR: Describe what the School of Management and Labor Relations was like at Rutgers at that time.
BL: Okay. Well, in those days, it was still called an institute. It was not a school until the early '90s, but it behaved like a school. It had graduate programs. It had an undergraduate program. We didn't have a PhD program until 1990, but, clearly, in everything but its name, it was a school. Most of the faculty were tenure track, and you were expected to do the things tenure-track faculty do: be a good teacher and be a good scholar and do service. I will say that it was a little more than awkward for me. I was married to the director of the institute, who really was a dean, so he couldn't have anything to do with evaluating me. Merit pay decisions had to be made by someone outside of that chain of command. Actually, when I went up for tenure, again, he couldn't have anything to do with that. So, the director of the Eagleton Institute had to stand in for him. I had never met the director of the Eagleton Institute and he was not a subject matter expert in my area, but things turned out okay. I got tenure.
The institute then, and even now as a school, has a structural difficulty because there are two departments, one of which is very pro-labor and the other one is very pro-management. The passionately-held beliefs and values within the school were bifurcated, so there had always been tension between the two departments. I was in the department that was more management-oriented, although when you take labor law and employment law, you always understand both sides of an issue, not just the management side. But there were struggles over resources, as there are in any school. I'm sure in engineering, each of the engineering departments thinks that another engineering department gets more money than they should and it should go to them. That's not unusual in higher education or corporations, for that matter. It was interesting. I managed okay. I think I got along with everybody. I didn't have any problems with my teaching and my research. If the faculty were mad at my husband, I kept my mouth shut. I told him privately what I thought, and, on some occasions, I thought he was wrong. I was happy to share that perspective with him at the dinner table, but I kept quiet during meetings.
KR: Just to follow up really quick and go into specifics of something you said, what was the pro-management part of the institute and what was the pro-labor?
BL: Well, the Labor Studies Department was the pro-labor. With respect to the pro-management department, the original department name had been Industrial Relations and Human Resources, but there was a decision made to shift all of the labor-related courses, including the one I taught in labor law, over to the Labor Studies Department. So, the collective bargaining piece that had been in my department got shifted over to the Labor Studies Department [now Labor Studies and Employment Relations]. So, it was just Human Resource Management, which is the name today, and is my departmental affiliation on my CV [curriculum vitae].
KR: When you were a junior faculty member, did you have any mentors?
BL: I had one, yes, the department chair. His name was Jim Chelius. He died in 1997 of pancreatic cancer, but he and his wife and my husband and I were good friends. We traveled together and socialized together. He was a mentor to me, and we actually wrote a couple of articles together, at least one, maybe two if I remember. He was a labor economist, so had a very different disciplinary background, but he was very supportive, very encouraging, talked to me about funding opportunities that I was able to take advantage of. He was a good guy. I miss him. [Editor's Note: James R. Chelius served as a professor in the Human Resource Management Department of the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.]
KR: Early on in your career, in the '80s, what were you focusing on in your research and what were you publishing?
BL: Well, I was publishing mostly on higher education legal issues related to either labor issues or discrimination issues. I was fascinated by the Yeshiva University decision of the US Supreme Court in 1980 when I was still in law school, and I actually went to the oral argument. I thought the case was wrongly decided and said so in a class paper that wound up being published in a law journal. So, I continued to write about the interpretation of the National Labor Relations Act with respect to college faculty, who are very, very different from rank-and-file employees in a manufacturing setting or a corporate setting in terms of their involvement in academic governance. The Supreme Court said that faculty had so much influence in governance at what they called mature universities that they should not be allowed to unionize because they're actually managing the university. Well, I thought that was wrong. I still do. Fortunately, for faculty at public institutions, that decision has no relevance because it interprets federal labor law, which only applies to private schools. So, I was writing about that.
I was also very interested in--when I think back on it, I don't think it was hubris, I think it was naivete, but maybe a little bit of both--I was very interested in women faculty who were denied tenure at a time when I was an untenured assistant professor. So, I got a grant to write a book with a colleague from another university, and we did case studies of faculty who were denied tenure and sued their institutions. It's called Academics in Court. Fortunately for me, my colleagues and the rest of the university apparently didn't mind that an untenured assistant professor wrote a book about faculty suing their universities when they didn't get tenure, but it was a fascinating research project and the first grant I ever got. I also was very interested in the way judges assess and evaluate plaintiffs' arguments in employment discrimination cases, primarily in higher education. If you see my list of publications in the '80s, that's pretty much what I was looking at.
KR: You are the co-author of the widely regarded Law of Higher Education. How did the partnership come about to write that book, and what was the process that went into that?
BL: Bill Kaplan wrote the first two editions of the book. I, of course, knew who he was because I was in the higher education PhD program and was very involved in a couple of scholarly organizations, where I gave papers, and he sometimes gave papers. He was at Catholic University in Washington, DC and I was located in Washington, DC at the Carnegie Foundation, so I had met him, I guess, on a couple of occasions. I remember just before I moved to New Jersey, he asked me to have lunch, which I did, and he asked me if I would be willing to help him with the book because it was getting away from him. It was too much for one person. It's now four people who are co-authors. It's still too much for four people. I was very flattered. He was a person I looked up to and really respected and was thrilled that he wanted me to be a co-author.
We sort of divided up the topics. I took the employment stuff, which I was happy to do, and he took the academic freedom things and some of the things that he was very interested in. Then, we divided up the stuff that neither one of us really wanted to do but needed to be in the book. Neither one of us, I think, knew a whole lot about student affairs issues and student discipline, for example; I ended up taking that. It's been a nice collaboration. We finished the sixth edition, which was published in 2019 and is over 1,000 pages. He's retired, and he really has not had very much to do with the sixth edition. I'm pretty much the senior author in that, even though we'll continue to give him first billing because he really started the book and deserves to be the senior author. We recruited a couple of younger JD-PhD scholars, and I had not met either one of them. Bill had met one of them, I think, but they're excellent scholars. They write very well. They were happy to be associated with the book, so the story goes on.
PC: Kate, I have this listed on my calendar as a two-hour thing. That is fine, if it's going to be, but why don't we take a five-minute break, if I can make that suggestion?
KR: Sure. Should we take a break right now? Does that sound good to everybody?
BL: That's fine.
KR: Let's take a break.
KR: Paul and Barbara, I am ready when you are.
BL: Okay, I'm all set.
PC: Can I jump in for a second, Kate?
PC: This is sort of a contextual question because we jumped right from your coming to Rutgers to becoming a co-author on the book, which did make sense. They happened at the same time. But stepping back for a second, what was your sense when you got to Rutgers of how important higher education law was to the management, the health, the vitality of the university? Was it a field that had relevance as you understood the world of higher education, beyond your own academic interest in it, to most universities or to Rutgers as you got here? Were lawyers important? Was law important at that point in time? Did people think in those sorts of categories, like they clearly do today when they talk about higher education? What was your sense of things?
BL: That's a really good question, Paul. I want to break it down into two pieces. One is the academic integrity of the discipline of higher education, and then I'll answer your question about lawyers. The primary reason that I left the Graduate School of Education was that I had been recruited there with the promise of being able to start a PhD program in higher education. When I got there, I was told that the provost didn't think higher education was a field of study, which was a surprise to me, having just gotten a PhD in it. So, I was disappointed. I don't know what I would've done, frankly, if a similar job offer had not come along. It's two years later, but that's water under the bridge.
With respect to the view of lawyers, I think that lawyers had a much lower profile in those days--in-house lawyers I'm talking about, general counsel and other people--and certainly, we didn't have as many of them. I don't even know how many we have now. I think there are around twenty, but, certainly, there were no more than a handful when I first came to Rutgers. I got to know them because I became active in their professional organization, called the National Association of College and University Attorneys. I desperately wanted to be a part of that organization. They published a journal that I had published in, which, by the way, I'm now the editor of. It only took me thirty-eight years. They had a conference that was very relevant to my interests that I really wanted to go to every year, but you had to be authorized. You either had to be approved by the general counsel of the university to be on the list of people allowed to be members, or you had to be an associate member approved by the board of directors. They were very, very careful about who they invited into the sacred grove of college attorneys.
There was a woman who was the general counsel in those days. She left, I would say, in around 1984. I got there in 1982. The next general counsel understood my interests and, I think, appreciated what I brought to the organization and put me on the list. So, I always--I wouldn't say hung out with them [laughter], I was a faculty member and they certainly were not going to disclose any secrets or consult with me about any legal issues at all, but there was a handful of people, Beckman Rich, you may remember him, was there, and Shirley--oh, her last name began with a "W" [Weitz], maybe I'll think of it eventually--and a few other really good people who felt that their role was to support what the university wanted to do and worked very hard, I think, to give advice that was good law and also good policy. It's a lot more complicated now than it was thirty-five years ago. There's way more litigation. There are more types of legal issues that colleges and universities face. There's a lot more government regulation. There was plenty in those days but nothing like what we have now.
KR: When you were a junior faculty member, what did the institute stress that junior faculty members needed to do to get tenure and to get promoted?
BL: Publish. Publish in the best journals you can get into. That was the push. Obviously, you had to be a good teacher as well and a good colleague, but they were in a--I don't know whether it was friendly or unfriendly--competition with Cornell University that has its own School of Industrial Labor Relations, and Rutgers had aspirations to be number one. Cornell was certainly considered number one in those days. Publishing was extremely important, still is.
KR: Were there many women faculty members at that time at the Institute of Management and Labor Relations?
BL: Well, in my department, there were three. Two of them were actually in extension work, so they did not have the kind of publication requirement that I did. There was a more senior woman, a tenured faculty member, who was also a labor arbitrator, and she and I wrote an article together. She spent a lot of time doing labor arbitration. After about, let's see, eight years, nine years, after I got there, she left academe to become a full-time labor arbitrator. At that point, I think I may have been the only woman for a while in my department, I'm trying to remember, well, with the exception of the extension folks. But, again, they were tenured or tenure track, but they didn't have the research expectation that I did.
KR: Who was the woman who left academia?
BL: Her name was Joan Parker.
KR: What was it like for you when you were starting your family in the mid-1980s?
BL: Well, I was very worried that if I had a baby, all the men in my department would think that I wasn't interested in scholarship anymore. That was wrong. I was silly. I enjoyed and still do enjoy being a mother, but it was not my full-time aspiration. My son had very good daycare in a woman's home, who spoiled him and loved him and fed him sugar, terrible nutrition. I don't think he was harmed by that, in fact he thrived under her care. When he was two, he went to preschool, which was a great experience for him both socially and intellectually. I was able to continue my scholarly work and my teaching and know that he was well cared for. I only had one child. We tried for more, but we weren't able to have any more. He's the love of my life, and now his son is as well.
KR: Was your office located on Livingston?
BL: Initially, the offices in my department were in trailers attached to the Labor Education Center, which is over on Cook-Douglass Campus. It was really kind of funny because when we had corporate people come in to interview our students or meet with faculty, it looked like Dogpatch. The trailers were all different colors, and the walls were very thin. It was just really not very nice. The Labor Studies Department had a building, but they were not willing to share any of their offices because of the tensions that I mentioned earlier. My husband was still director, and he was able to get the university to agree to build a building that the School of Business and the institute would share, over on Livingston. That was built in--it was either '89 or '90 that it opened up. So, the school--now it's a school--was split in half. The Labor Studies Department was on the Cook-Douglass campus and the Human Resource Management Department was on the Livingston Campus, and that's the way it's been ever since.
PC: If I could just jump in, this is a historical question, so it's something I could research, but I'll just ask. Before you got there, was there ever a time that labor studies at least was over at Livingston, like in the very early '70s or something? It's hard to imagine Livingston opening up as it did in '69 and not being the site of labor studies. I just don't know. I should, but I don't.
BL: Well, yes, it is historical. Given that it's Rutgers, it's complicated. There was an undergraduate labor studies program that was housed in Livingston College. The graduate program was housed in the Labor Education Center, and it took a lot of work to get Livingston College to agree to let go of that undergraduate program and let them move into the Labor Education Center over on Cook-Douglass. David Bensman and Adrienne Eaton were the original faculty members. There were a couple of others. David Bensman just died, by the way. I don't know if you knew that, just within the last week. So, they were transferred over from Livingston College to what is now the Labor Studies Department that now had both undergraduate and graduate programs. Good question.
KR: I am curious about something. In Rutgers's history, there are some notable cases of faculty members and controversies, some involving troublesome faculty, some involving academic freedom, going back to World War II, the McCarthy Era, the Vietnam War era. Have you written about any of those Rutgers cases?
BL: No, I haven't.
KR: In '95, you got the position of associate provost for academic affairs. How did you get that position?
BL: Well, what I've been told is that Barbara Callaway was the associate provost for the social sciences. There were several associate provosts. There was one for the hard sciences, one for the social sciences, and one for the humanities. I was asked to be the associate provost for the social sciences. Barbara wanted to go back to the faculty. I had just gone up for full professor recently. The social science tenure packets went through her in the provost's office in those days, and she had read my resume, my CV and letters and things that are in a promotion packet and thought I might do a good job. She asked me if I would do it, and I said, "Okay."
KR: What did you take away from your time as associate provost in terms of lessons learned that you applied as you took on other administrative positions throughout your career?
BL: Well, for one thing, I got a much expanded view of--I was going to say the university, but it was really just New Brunswick. Obviously, Newark and Camden were not involved with the New Brunswick provost's office. My school, as many professional schools are, is kind of isolated. Your students, particularly graduate students, which is all I taught in those days--we didn't have an undergraduate program in Human Resource Management in those days--take all their courses in your department or almost all of them. I had not really ventured beyond my department very much. So, I learned a lot about the other social science disciplines. I wasn't involved in the humanities or the hard sciences.
We had meetings probably every week. Joe Potenza was the provost, and all of the associate provosts met with him and we talked about issues that we were dealing with, not only academic issues but problems that faculty presented. There was a big sexual harassment case that I was involved with, not personally, but I was asked to review it because of my legal background before they decided whether to file tenure charges against the professor, which they in fact did. I learned a little bit about budgeting, not a lot, but some. I learned a lot about how faculty view administrators and how administrators should work with faculty because we have usually common goals. It was good preparation. It was abruptly ended when President [Francis L.] Lawrence decided that we didn't need a provost's office anymore in mid-1996 and sent us all packing. So, I went back to my school, back to my faculty job. It was an interesting eighteen months, very much so. I enjoyed it.
KR: Just a follow-up question. When did the undergraduate component of Human Resources Management begin?
BL: I think it was right after I stopped being dean, and that was 2006. They were talking about it for some time, but there was some faculty resistance to an undergraduate major. I think there was some concern that it might cannibalize the master's program. When it became apparent that tuition revenue was becoming more and more important to the school, suddenly the faculty members' attitudes changed. So, I think it was around 2007 maybe. That's a guess.
KR: That would have been right around the time of the reorganization of undergraduate education.
BL: Right. I don't know that there was a relationship there, but certainly my school--we were a school by then--worked very closely with the School of Arts and Sciences to manage the undergraduate major because it's not a direct-admit major. They are admitted to SAS first, and then it's a third and fourth-year program.
KR: You were chair of the department of Human Resource Management from 1997 to 2000 and then again in 2014. What was it like for you being a department chair?
BL: [laughter] I think being a department chair is one of the hardest jobs in the university. You don't have a whole lot of authority, but you have a whole lot of responsibility. I liked my colleagues; I still do. Some of them were ornery; most of them were not. I tried to make sure that teaching loads were fair, that junior faculty got mentored properly. Always we had budget issues. Recruitment of new faculty was a big responsibility and a lot of work. Getting busy faculty to agree to participate on committees was not always easy, but it was worthwhile, definitely worthwhile. I think we made good progress during those years.
KR: As chair, with having that responsibility but not much authority, who did you find yourself going to? Who did you find yourself working with to get things done that needed to be done?
BL: Primarily, some of the senior faculty that I was close to. Some were more willing than others to tear themselves away from their research and be good department citizens. The dean was reasonably supportive. I didn't always agree with him. My husband stepped down as director in 1991, I believe. So, we had a new dean for ten years, from '91 until I became dean in 2000. He really struggled trying to balance the interests of the two departments, which is impossible. I mean, they both wanted everything. I know he appreciated my work and did his best to support me.
KR: I want to ask you about your time heading the Center for Women and Work, but, first, I just want to check in with Paul. Paul, do you want to ask any questions at this point?
PC: Both in your time with the provost position and as department chair, were there a number of particularly contentious political issues that are still appropriate to talk about without getting into the personal details? To put it in a more general sense, too, in either of those positions, was your work and your participation defined by certain types of crises, or was it more just, every once in a while, something would pop up?
BL: Well, we had occasional issues. One of our faculty members, who was one of our strongest scholars, decided he wanted to join the Labor Studies Department instead of staying in the Human Resource Management Department while I was department chair, and I had to battle the dean to make sure that that didn't happen. Interestingly enough, I knew enough people from my time in the provost's office to be able to get advice from them about university policies that said if a faculty member is transferring to a different department, the department they're exiting from has to agree to it, particularly if the line is going to be transferred. So, that was something that I had to be firm about. And other things came up. The departments just didn't get along at all. When I was a chair, I had issues sometimes with the chair of the other department, who was doing his job as an advocate. I was doing my job as an advocate. I don't remember a lot of specific details, except for that one I just mentioned. It wasn't an easy job, and being the dean wasn't easy either because the disagreements between the two departments got kicked upstairs.
PC: Your chairs were elected chairs or appointed in your department?
BL: Well, they were elected by the department, but it was up to the dean whether or not he would agree to appoint them, yes.
PC: Was that ever an issue? I've never heard of a chair in the history department being denied election because the dean didn't approve. In all my years here, I heard one rumor that a certain person that might not have been approved if he had been elected sort of thing, but that was it.
BL: Well, the dean, and speaking as a former dean, we were just so grateful that somebody wanted to be a chair. In some cases, it wasn't the person I would've preferred, but at least we had a chair.
PC: Yes. Good. That's very often the way it was in my department as well. One other question, in these jobs, did your background in higher education administration and in particular the legal parts of it ever make you see problems in ways that were significantly different than the way in which some of your colleagues in the department or people around the table or when you were having your meetings with Joe Potenza saw those same problems? Did you see yourself focusing on aspects of things that you really understood as a scholar, when you were in some of these positions you've held?
BL: Yes, my doctoral work and my law preparation were immensely helpful. I really understood, I think, the culture of an academic organization better than most people do, particularly brand new faculty, young, freshly-minted PhDs coming into an academic environment, particularly in my school, where there was tension between two departments, and one department was the A&P [appointments and promotions] committee and the other department made the departmental promotion and tenure recommendations. [laughter] So, you can imagine what that was like. I felt, from the very beginning that, even as a brand-new assistant professor, I understood the value system. I understood what I had to do. I think I understood where the potholes were much better than most brand-new assistant professors, and it helped a lot, it really did. I didn't have a lot of surprises, with respect to things that happened, either because of my scholarly work or because of all the lawsuits that I'd read about and all the ways that people treat each other, maybe mistreat each other in academe. I sort of had my eyes wide open because of that background, and it was really helpful.
PC: This is sort of a follow-up question, but one that takes us back to something we were going through quickly and I didn't want to break in. For people who at some point in the future will be reading the transcript, could you explain a little bit about what it meant to have faculty whose specifications were that they were doing extension work as opposed to what we traditionally think of tenure-track teaching-research positions, and whether that sort of work created more complicated problems in the department than just a faculty where everybody's got the same standards to meet? I know that things like that exist in the library system. In the old days, there were a lot of places over at Cook where those things existed. Can you tell us a little bit about those sorts of people?
BL: Sure. I don't want to go into a long discussion about the history of the institute, but it was created in 1947 by the New Jersey legislature right after World War II when there was a lot of labor unrest. For some reason, they thought a bunch of academics could solve all the problems of labor unrest, but we haven't quite gotten there yet. We're still working on it. Some of the early faculty who were hired didn't even have college degrees. They were union leaders. Several of the extension faculty in the Labor Studies Department had tenure, but they were not scholars and their job was to train union leaders and rank-and-file members on labor law and how to effectively represent their constituents. That was their role.
In the department I was in, the Human Resource Management Department, the extension faculty did corporate training. So, they were training managers, some labor relations managers, but also other managers, just general managers, on dealing with employee issues. They were off-site mostly, although there were programs that were at the Labor Education Center or later on in the [Janice H.] Levin Building. They were giving practical information, the way a SEBS [School of Environmental and Biological Sciences] extension specialist would tell people how to plant plants or how to fertilize a field. It was job-related, useful information for these managers to have, or the labor leaders to have. There was no expectation that extension faculty would do any kind of traditional scholarly work at all, and they did not teach in the graduate program or the undergraduate program. They only taught in these constituent-focused programs. So, it was a very, very segregated group of faculty, and, frankly, you could imagine what the status differences were between the extension faculty and the graduate faculty. But the extension faculty, for the most part, had tenure or were tenure track in those days.
KR: How was it that you became director of the Center for Women and Work?
BL: Well, that was another thing that I just sort of walked into without a whole lot of thought. Another faculty member, [Dorothy] Sue Cobble, had created this center under the dean, John Burton, in around 1995, I would say. Either she misunderstood or he wasn't clear that there was no money for the center and that she was expected to fundraise for it. She loves to do scholarly research and did not see herself as a fundraiser, so she decided to step down after a couple of years as the director of the center. By that time, I was back from my stint in the provost's office, and I thought it was really important that the center continue, that a School of Management and Labor Relations ought to care about women and work. I told the dean that if he would give me--this will make you laugh--a budget of twenty thousand dollars, I would take over as director. I didn't need a salary for myself, but I needed to hire at least a part-time person to help with fundraising and programming. He gave me, or he gave the center, the twenty thousand dollars, and I was able to parlay that with Mary Hartman, who was the head of the Institute for Women's Leadership. We each contributed funds to hire a person we would share, so we hired a woman named Mary Trigg, who is now actually the department chair in the Department of Women and Gender Studies. I don't know what her title was, but basically she was a program coordinator.
At the same time, we were able to get--the State of New Jersey had just created a gender equity task force, and they needed somebody to do research on gender equity, mainly in pay but other issues as well. Somehow, [laughter] through friends of friends of friends, they decided to give the whole budget of the gender equity task force to the Center for Women and Work to conduct research and collect data on equity issues in New Jersey for women. So, I was able to hire a second person, who was a sociology PhD, to actually conduct original research. So, the center then grew. We were able to get grants, mainly from the State of New Jersey, but from other places too, and it grew. I don't know how many staff it has now, it's gone up and down over the years, but maybe half a dozen people working on various projects. We had money from the state Department of Education to look at gender equity in curriculum programming for students. So, that was one of the things we did. We did a project on gender equity in law firms and the lack of women partners. I think they did one on the financial industry as well. By that time, I was doing something else. But you'll see that my time as director of the center overlapped by two years with my deanship. It took me a while to be able to recruit a very good strong scholar to take over as director, but we found one.
KR: Who is the sociology PhD that you hired?
BL: Mary Gatta. G-A-T-T-A.
KR: I am curious, doing the gender equity analysis in curriculum, did you work with Rebecca Lubetkin and the Consortium for Educational Equity, which was also at Rutgers?
BL: I didn't myself, but (Terry?)--I'm blanking on her last name--the one who worked on the project with the Department of Education, she may have, but I did not.
KR: Who succeeded you as director of the Center for Women and Work?
BL: Her name was Eileen Appelbaum. We hired her as a faculty member, and she did that--I'm trying to remember when she left--throughout my deanship and about two years after that. So, that maybe was 2008, 2009. She left to work at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC.
KR: I noticed through your career and continuing with your time as Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, you have kept very close contact with centers in the IWL [Institute for Women's Leadership] Consortium.
BL: Yes. I don't attend their meetings anymore, but I chaired their search committee for the IWL director [Alison R. Bernstein], who has since died. I'm certainly a big fan of them, but I haven't been closely involved since Eileen was hired.
KR: You talked a little bit about this before, when you were talking about being chair. From 2000 to 2006, you were dean of the School of Management and Labor Relations. What were some of the issues that you were confronting as dean during that time period?
BL: Well, we had pretty serious budget problems during my deanship, and I decided that I was going to reorganize my office. It was a very tough decision to make because the associate dean for administration, she was not a faculty member, she had worked for my husband in the '70s, I had to lay her off and also lay off another staff member. I had problems filling the IT [information technology] function. Rutgers was way behind in supporting information technology in those days, and it was difficult to find someone who was an appropriate leader for that area, particularly when we didn't have a lot of resources to spend. We were doing a lot of faculty recruiting during those days in both departments. So, there's nothing that really stands out that was horrible. There were challenges. Being a dean is always challenging, and being a dean at Rutgers when we had constant budget problems was always challenging, but I can't think of anything that was life-changing or terribly unpleasant.
KR: What was the school focusing on at that time in terms of recruiting faculty?
BL: Well, that depends on the department. The Labor Studies Department was really moving in a direction that I was happy to see, putting much more emphasis on strong scholars, which had not necessarily been the case a decade earlier. The Human Resource Management Department had always emphasized scholarship and visibility, and we were able to recruit some very good senior scholars, who provided a good deal of leadership, particularly for our doctoral program. We were allowed to start a PhD program around 1991. I wrote the proposal and it got approved throughout the university and then at the state level, but it took a few years to build up a cadre of students and faculty because we had only given a professional master's degree before that, which is very different, obviously, from a PhD. That was a big focus for both departments, I would say.
KR: Did you work with PhD students?
BL: I did. Because my background was not in human resource management, I did not have as many dissertation students as the folks who had PhDs in human resource management, and that's understandable. I had some really, very bright students that I enjoyed working with, and I still do. I still have, depending on how you count them, three doctoral students who I'm working with even now, and I did all the way through my term as senior vice president. I taught every year as senior vice president.
KR: I want to ask you about your teaching. You said earlier, when we were talking about the early portion of your career, you taught employment law, labor law, and then you had to fight with faculty members to teach higher education law when you could. Over the years, what other classes have you taught?
BL: Well, that was really it. I taught at a Byrne Seminar for freshmen called "What is Employment Discrimination?" I did that twice. But really, because my course was required--employment law is a required course in both departments at the school--I taught usually four sections of employment law a year to graduate students.
KR: Over the course of your time teaching at Rutgers, what do you think are major changes in the student body?
BL: Well, I haven't taught undergraduates, except just twice and for one credit. Well, the biggest difference that I see is diversity. Our master's students that I deal with, and my PhD students as well, are much more diverse than they were a decade ago, much more, and I'm really happy to see that. They also tend to be more critical of their experiences at Rutgers. They're less shy about complaining, which is fine; they should. They seem to worry more about their careers and the experiences that they're having.
KR: I want to ask you a specific question about your scholarship. In 2014, you co-authored No More Business as Usual in Higher Education. What were you arguing?
BL: I'm trying to remember. [laughter] I'd have to look at that and see. Obviously, something struck a chord in me, or I wouldn't have done that. I'm just trying to find …
KR: The subtitle of that is Implications for US and UK Faculty.
BL: Okay. Actually, I was invited to be part of a seminar at Oxford University, and one of the things we were encouraged to do was to team up with a scholar from the UK and write sort of a comparative paper, in this case the way higher education is managed or led or regulated in the US compared to the UK. I think, at that time, the UK was really reeling; the faculty were reeling from demands that they produce more research and they were evaluated basically on the numbers of scholarly publications they produced. It was a much more heavy-handed, I would say, regulatory system in the UK than the UK's faculty had been used to. As I recall--and, again, I'd have to look and make sure that I'm not misremembering here--it was a discussion of how much more regulated higher education is in both countries than it had been and that the--I don't know that we used the word bureaucrats, but we might have--[bureaucrats] had much more influence over decision making at colleges and universities than they had previously, how the environment had changed for scholars. That's my recollection. That's what we talked about. I should go back and read it, actually, [laughter] and see if I still agree with it.
KR: The next questions that I have for you has to do with your time as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. We've been going for almost two hours. Do you think we should leave off for tomorrow and pick up during your time as Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs?
BL: Yes, I think that would be good, if you don't mind.
PC: Kate, can I throw in in one last question?
PC: We'll get to this again when you're senior vice president because I got a memo, as all faculty did, about this topic. But I am curious about before then, you alluded to the fact, a long way back today, that in the various things you were thinking about in higher education and law, one of the areas on the periphery at that time was sexual harassment. I wondered whether you had experiences--especially given the links you had to Mary Hartman and the work that they were doing over there--experiences that sensitized you at Rutgers--and I do not need the specifics on this--about the problem of sexual harassment, which was going to explode, in terms of its visibility to the public, during the twenty-first century. Were there things that were happening that you were aware of or even involved in that were giving you some sense that this was a field that had to be taken far more seriously by university administrations and even by department administrations?
BL: Well, I experienced it myself as a doctoral student at Ohio State, and when I complained to my committee chair, he said, "Just put up with it until your dissertation is finished, and then you can deal with it." I refused to do that. It was a member of my dissertation committee who had some suggestions about activities that the two of us could engage in, and I insisted that he be removed from my committee. It's really interesting because it never occurred to me that there could be any retaliation. I just knew it was wrong, and I didn't want to have to deal with it. It was hard enough to be a doctoral student without wondering whether one of my professors was judging me on my merits or other kinds of merits.
Of course, I had done a lot of reading about sexual harassment and had done a lot of training. I've done a lot of corporate training about sexual harassment ever since I got to Rutgers. By the way, I trained all the judges in New Jersey on sexual harassment in the 1990s. We talked earlier about extension work. I did a lot of extension work too, in addition to my graduate teaching, for extra pay. So, I did a lot of corporate training, both through Rutgers and on my own, on sexual harassment. I was a member of the sexual harassment committee that Leslie Fehrenbach chaired for Rutgers. Gosh, it must have been 2008-2009, somewhere in there. Maybe it was before that. I don't remember.
I don't know if you recall, but while I was in the provost's office, William Powers was accused of sexual harassment. I was given the job by Joe Potenza to review all the evidence and write a memo, which turned out to be twenty-five pages long, evaluating all of the evidence and making a recommendation about whether or not he should be de-tenured. From my personal experience, which was relatively mild, frankly, compared to the allegations against Professor Powers, which I'm sure you remember, it was very much on my mind, not only at Rutgers but in the larger community. The judiciary was having terrible problems with female law clerks being propositioned and touched by judges, one in Middlesex County, Judge [Edward J.] Seaman, and that's what got me the gig to teach all of the judges in New Jersey on sexual harassment, nineteen programs. So, it's an issue that I've been interested in for a long time, not necessarily as an advocate, but as somebody who wants to help organizations do a better job of preventing it. One of my last actions as SVPAA, which we can talk about tomorrow, was to implement a policy forbidding consensual relationships between faculty and students, which I'm sure has endeared me to many faculty at Rutgers.
PC: I do have a couple of follow-up questions, but we can come back to that policy when we talk more generally about the senior vice president position. I will wait for that.
KR: We will continue tomorrow at ten AM.
KR: Okay, great. Thank you so much, Dr. Lee, for doing this second session with us. Thank you so much, Dr. Clemens, for co-interviewing. I will see everyone tomorrow morning.
BL: Sounds good. Thank you.
KR: Okay, have a great night.
BL: You too.
PC: Stay safe.
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Transcribed by Jesse Braddell 9/1/2020
Reviewed by Molly Graham 10/16/2020
Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 11/30/2020
Reviewed by Barbara Lee 12/6/2020
Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 12/8/2020