• Interviewee: Trusheim, William
  • PDF Interview: trusheim_william_part_1.pdf
  • Date: May 29, 2020
  • Additional Interview Dates:
    • Date: June 1, 2020
    • Date: June 4, 2020
  • Place: Hightstown, NJ
  • Interviewers:
    • Shaun Illingworth
  • Transcript Production Team:
    • Jesse Braddell
    • Donald Koger
    • Kathryn Tracy Rizzi
    • William Trusheim
  • Recommended Citation: Trusheim, William. Oral History Interview, May 29, 2020, by Shaun Illingworth, Page #, Rutgers Oral History Archives. Online: Insert URL (Last Accessed: Insert Date).
  • Permission:

    Permission to quote from this transcript must be obtained from the Rutgers Oral History Archives. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Dr. William Trusheim, on May 29, 2020, for the Rutgers Oral History Archives Class of 1970 Project. My name is Shaun Illingworth, and I am currently located in Hightstown, New Jersey. Sir, if you can share your name and where you are?

William Trusheim: I am William Trusheim. I am a member of the Class of 1970 at Rutgers College. I am also from the Class of 1987, having gotten my doctorate from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. I am located in West Milford, New Jersey.

SI: First, where and when were you born?

WT: I was born in 1949, in Baltimore, Maryland.

SI: What were your parents' names?

WT: Lester Trusheim and Muriel Trusheim.

SI: Starting with your parents, maybe with your father, can you tell me a little bit about his background and where he was from?

WT: Well, all my relatives going back two generations were from the Baltimore or the Maryland area. That was a very popular place for people coming from Germany to disembark, as much as Ellis Island was a place for many others. Baltimore had a very large and active German population. They kind of spread from Baltimore out into some of the other counties of Maryland. Both my father's family and my mother's family came from Germany in various generations and settled in Baltimore, and there were some other relatives who settled in Carroll County, Maryland.

My dad was a steamfitter by trade, in his early days. He ended up becoming the facilities supervisor for all the State of Maryland office buildings in Baltimore, so he used his practical experience to do that. I think that had some influence on me because he had a very, very deeply-seated work ethic, and that was something that I saw really even from a really early age. So, I can credit him for that. I learned a lot from him in terms of getting the job done. If you needed to know something, you went out and learned it, and he had a very practical approach to things. I would like to think that's something that I learned from him.

My mom was also very influential. She was kind of a leader in her time because she was a chemist for the State of Maryland Health Department in the late 1930s, early 1940s, and that was unusual for a woman to take a leadership position like that. I've always been very proud of her for that. I think that certainly she could have probably done a lot more. Her father wanted her to go into medicine, but she decided she'd had enough school at that point in her life and she opted to go right to work. So, she worked for the Maryland State Health Department as a chemist.

SI: How far did she go with her education?

WT: She got her bachelor's degree from Goucher College, which is in Baltimore. She probably could have gone on for additional degrees, but she opted not to. She did a lot of training that was connected to her work. She was involved in doing chemical analysis using gas chromatography pretty early and went to a number of training sessions and workshops for that. That was practical for her line of chemical analysis. She did get her bachelor’s degree, but the rest was all practical experience. After taking time off to raise me and my two sisters, she returned to the health department to continue her career, and that's when she got involved in gas chromatography, which was cutting edge for that time.

SI: As a chemist in the Department of Health, was she overseeing diagnostic tests, things like that?

WT: Well, she was actually involved in analysis of water and sewer samples. I can talk about this later, but one of the most interesting summer jobs that I ever had was when I got to work for the Department of Health because I started Rutgers as a chemistry major. I worked for the Department of Health on a federally-funded project that was an investigation of the environmental impact of building the town of Columbia, Maryland, which is now a really booming city. The grant studied the environmental impact on rivers that were in the area to determine the effect of stripping the land to build this new development. I was collecting samples from different water treatment plants and sewage treatment plants in and around the area between Baltimore and Washington. That was an interesting job, and, again, that was directly connected to what my mother did. Her job involved that kind of chemical analysis, biochemical oxygen demand, dissolved-oxygen content, those kinds of tests. That was an interesting summer spent doing that--a little far afield from where I ended up, but that's okay. [laughter]

SI: How far did your father go in school?

WT: He did not go to college. He went to work because that was the depression era and so my dad was sort of forced to go to work. There was a family business in contracting, electrical, plumbing and air conditioning and things like that. That's where he got involved with being a steamfitter. One of the things that he did was put cooling towers in major office buildings in the Baltimore area. So, his experience was all practical. I think it would have been very interesting if my father had been in a position, which he wasn't, to go to college, because I think he would've made a pretty good engineer. I really think he would have been very successful in that vein, but he never had the opportunity. He had to get all that same experience in a practical manner by going out and doing the work. In some way of thinking, maybe that was a better education than a theoretical one in the classroom, because as a facilities supervisor, the problems that he faced were practical and he had the answers. [laughter] I know he was highly regarded and was successful for the time that he did that job.

SI: You mentioned that both sides of the family traced their heritage back to Germany. Was it their parents' generation that came over or earlier?

WT: It was my mother's grandmother, on the maternal side of her family, who came to America. I believe it was my father's grandfather as well, but it might have been his great grandfather. I know that all of my grandparents were born in the Baltimore area, so it was probably one generation before them.

SI: I am curious, and this might stretch further into your childhood or even later, in your generation and your parents' generation, was there still any kind of German traditions in the family?

WT: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. We didn't speak German because it was almost a generation away from that, but certainly my grandmother was a typical German cook. It was meat and potatoes, and that was how she approached feeding the family. One thing that I do recall is that my grandmother used to make sauerbraten and dumplings for parties of forty people, for friends or our relatives. I don't know if you know anything about making sauerbraten, but that's a major accomplishment. [laughter] It's not an easy thing to make for a big group like that. Some of the food traditions came from my grandmother, as well as some of our holiday traditions. One thing that we always had was a train garden, a model train railroad. My parents and my grandmother told me stories; I guess it was when my mother was growing up, in their neighborhood, people would, at Christmastime, much like trick or treating, they would go house to house and look at everybody's train garden. It's kind of an interesting thing. If you think about doing that today, that's way off the radar, but that was a tradition that was there in Baltimore at the time. Some other holiday traditions also came from that heritage.

It's interesting because one of my sisters is currently investigating our ancestry. We've learned more about my father's side of the family in the last single month than we ever learned from him because he didn't talk about it. We were much more aligned with my mother's side of the family in terms of family gatherings simply because they were around. My dad's parents died before I was born, so I never knew them. I knew one of his brothers, so that was about it. So, it was really more focused on my mother's side. It's been an interesting ride; my sister's done a great job of digging out information. At some point, I'll actually have a little bit more knowledge of his side of the family.

SI: You said you have two sisters.

WT: Yes.

SI: Are they older or younger?

WT: Younger.

SI: Okay.

WT: One was also a music teacher. She taught in the Baltimore City Public Schools for thirty years. She graduated from Towson University. Actually, both of my sisters graduated from Towson. My youngest sister was math major, and she was a systems operator for several different companies doing data analysis. They're both retired, as am I. I think we've all had successful careers in our own right, different careers, but all successful.

SI: You are a music teacher. Your sister is a music teacher. Growing up, was music a big part of your family life?

WT: Well, I think it was. My mother was a singer in our church choir. She had also taken piano lessons at Peabody Prep when she was younger. My father was a good audience member, [laughter] but you need good audiences if you want to be in music, so that was his role. I think that I was certainly encouraged to be involved, and I really started in school. My friends and I all joined the band program. In Baltimore, you could join it at a rather early age. I think we joined the band program perhaps as early as second or third grade, which is early by New Jersey standards. Music is something I've done for my whole life, except for when I was a building principal and a superintendent. I really had to put my music on hold. Once I was retired, that was something that I knew I really wanted to do, I wanted get back into music, which I was successful in doing.

Music was a big part of our life. My friends all played instruments. I was very involved. We actually had a brass ensemble. We'd play in churches in the Baltimore area, and we'd play a couple weekends a month at different churches all around Baltimore. It was a good background. When I started Rutgers as a chemistry major, I was, in a way, avoiding the obvious. The obvious was to continue on with my music education, which I eventually did. So, that was a big part of my growing up. It certainly continued through my life. It's one of the beauties of music; it's something that you can experience even at seventy.

SI: Tell me a little bit about the neighborhood you grew up in. Was it in Baltimore itself?

WT: Yes, it was in the northern part of the city--within the city limits. It was actually six blocks north of Homewood Field at Johns Hopkins University, on Charles Street. It was an interesting neighborhood because when my grandfather bought the house, it was what you would call a vanity address for Baltimore. The only dilemma was that it was on Charles Street, a major thoroughfare in Baltimore. The sense of neighborhood is not the sense of neighborhood as many people experienced it, with lots of kids and playing in the street and yelling, "Car," or whatever. [laughter] You really couldn't do that on a major thoroughfare. It was a good place to grow up. Even though there weren't a lot of kids around, I had a lot of friends from school, as did my sisters, so we were never really lacking for companionship and camaraderie.

SI: Would you say that the neighborhood or the street was kind of a melting pot, or was it kind of dominated by one or two ethnicities or groups?

WT: As I say, when my grandfather bought the house in the '40s, it was a vanity address, and I would say that it remained so throughout my childhood. I wouldn't say it was upscale. I want to be careful how I say this, but it wasn't culturally diverse, let's say, although there was certainly plenty of diversity in Baltimore. I went to a public high school and met all sorts of people there. I mean, I wasn't cloistered in one socioeconomic group or ethnic group or racial group. As I moved into high school, we had friends from different parts of society.

SI: You mentioned the church being a place for music, but did it play a big role otherwise in your life?

WT: It did because ironically, we lived less than a block away from our church. I was very active in the church. I certainly participated in the youth activities there. I served as an acolyte and an emergency acolyte so if a person didn't show up, I'd get a phone call and say, "Can you come a little early today?" So, I did that. I also played trumpet in my own church, as well as in other churches in the Baltimore area. So, it really was a part of my upbringing. It was important to me. There were a couple of people involved in the church were influential. The pastor of the church was someone who I deeply respected. He was a very intelligent man, sometimes too intelligent for some people in the congregation. Also, the choir director there was very influential. That church certainly was a part of my foundation growing up, less so today.

SI: What was the name of the church?

WT: It was called the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church.

SI: What instruments were you playing?

WT: Primarily, it was the trumpet. It was and is my major instrument. I also did take some piano lessons through high school, and I did join the choir. That all contributed to my musical background.

SI: Where did you go for your elementary school?

WT: Roland Park. It was actually an elementary-junior high school, Roland Park Elementary, Roland Park Junior High. It was not really a campus. There was a single building that had separate wings for the junior high school and for the elementary, an excellent school. It's interesting because a former student of mine from Pequannock is now the band director at that school. [laughter] It's interesting how things connect in the world. The school is still going strong. It's an excellent school, and people from that school grew to be very successful, even at that early age.

SI: You mentioned the band director being influential. Was that at the junior high or the high school?

WT: I think that the most influential band director in my life was Scott Whitener, who was the Director of Bands at Rutgers. But I did have good music instructors in school. I had the same one for elementary and junior high school. I had an interim director for a while, and I didn't realize how lucky I was to study with him. He was a really accomplished player, but he was very different from our regular band director. The regular band director was out on a medical leave of absence, and he was the substitute for a few months. I wish I had just listened more to him because he was actually a really an accomplished musician and a member of the Baltimore Symphony. My high school band director had also been a member of the Baltimore Symphony, and he was another influential person for me growing up before I got to Rutgers. I got a pretty solid musical background. Yet when I had to declare a major, I went with science because I thought that was expected of me. Then, I realized that that wasn't what I wanted to do. [Editor's Note: Dr. Scott Whitener is a Professor Emeritus of Music at Rutgers, having served as a faculty member from 1966 to 2013. He became Rutgers University Director of Bands in 1966.]

SI: Before we get to Rutgers, were there other subjects that you were particularly interested in at elementary or junior high or later?

WT: I was very fortunate because in a big city like Baltimore, there were a lot of specialized programs. I was very fortunate to go through several of those programs. In elementary school, I was in two split-grade classrooms, which they tended to do more back then than they would today. I had some really, really influential teachers at that point, one in particular, who I was fortunate to have for two years. I had started in a private school and then switched to public school, and this teacher went out of her way to make sure that I was comfortable making the move. I was lucky because I had her for two grades. She was my second-grade teacher and then I had her again for a split second and third grade the next year. She was terrific. Her name was Mrs. Bivens. If I had to look back on my early days, I'd have to say she was really a significant teacher in my life.

When I went on to junior high in the same building, I was in a special program, where you did seventh, eighth and ninth grades in two years. I was already younger than everybody else. It got to become a bit ridiculous for me to keep accelerating my years the way I was going, so when I went to high school, I went to a very highly-regarded public high school and I was accepted into an accelerated program there, but the program started in ninth grade, so I repeated it. The interesting thing is that the program was associated with Johns Hopkins University, and I could have gone to Hopkins as a sophomore--skipped my freshman year and just gone to Hopkins. The application process would have been automatic! Instead of doing that, I decided to go to Rutgers.

My high school was the third oldest public high school in the country, Baltimore City College. It was called that because, at one point, it was also a normal school, offering some college courses. It was a public prep school, and there were about four thousand students all around. It was a really interesting place. I'll give you an example. Russell Baker and I had the same English teacher. [laughter] There was some pretty good stuff going on there. [Editor's Note: Russell Wayne Baker (1925-2019) was a journalist and writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1983 autobiography Growing Up. He was columnist for The New York Times from 1962 to 1998. Baker also hosted PBS's Masterpiece Theatre from 1992 to 2004.]

In terms of favorite subjects other than music, I liked history, and certainly I still do. I certainly liked English. I liked all my subjects actually, come to think of it. I think that was one of the things that really helped prepare me for what I did in life. My high school education was a liberal arts education because it was a specialized high school focused on the humanities. In Baltimore, there was another specialized high school for engineering--our rivals! I got a liberal arts education all the way through, going through that high school program and then going into Rutgers College, which was certainly a very different entity in 1966 than Rutgers is today. I think that allowed me to be successful in a lot of ways, because I really did get a good education the whole way. It was rigorous. I think that it helped me be an educator and understand what was important to kids. Music was clearly a favorite subject, but I couldn't say that there was any subject that I hated or didn't like. Some were more challenging than others, but that's always the way it is.

SI: Outside of school, what kinds of things would you do for fun or entertainment? Were you in Boy Scouts?

WT: I was in Scouting for a while. I didn't go as far as to be an Eagle Scout, but I did stay in it up until being an Explorer. When I think back, in retrospect, I probably would have been smart to stick with it and go for the Eagle Scout, but I didn't. It's not a big regret in my life, but it's like anything else. It's something that once attained it's something you always have in your background. Again, I was very involved in music all the way through, and I spent a lot of my time doing that. In terms of other things, I did play some baseball, Little League baseball. I played a little bit of football but not much. When you go to a high school with four thousand guys that has a football team whose coach was George Young--if you know the name George Young, from the New York Giants and the NFL--and the team was one of the top-ranked teams in the country, you just didn't walk in off the street say, "I want to play football." Actually, I did try out [laughter], and to tell you the truth, I got rebuffed at the experience.

I played a little lacrosse. I played a year at Rutgers, too. That was an interesting experience because I had to make a choice. You always make choices, based on the knowledge you have the time. My first year, I opted to play lacrosse for the school, and I had to stop my involvement in the band program. If you look at my overall life, that was probably a bad choice. I should have stayed with the band, but it was also a good experience to play lacrosse for that year playing intercollegiate sports. I still have my "aRa" t-shirt. I don't know whether they're as significant today as they were in the 1960s. It was a sort of a badge of honor to have your "aRa" (Rutgers Athletic Association) t-shirt. It's in a drawer somewhere around here. That's pretty much what I was involved in. I spent most of my time doing music. It's one of the reasons why, later on, it was kind of the obvious decision that I was looking past.

SI: When you were in high school, were you in different types of bands, like marching band and the school orchestra?

WT: I actually was in the marching band for four years. I was in the concert band for four years. I was also in the orchestra for a while. We had a rather strange situation; the school was so big that we ended up going on split shifts for the last two years that I was there. As an upperclassman, the juniors and seniors went in the morning, and so we were done with school at twelve-thirty. If you wanted to stay and be in an extracurricular activity, you could, but so many students were off at twelve-thirty to work a job, to buy a car--it's what everybody was thinking--and so it was really kind of detrimental to many of the activities. Even with that, the athletics at the school were still top notch at the time. Again, I think that being on split shifts did affect the music program and the variety of offerings for those last two years, but there were some offerings that I did continue to be involved in. I just didn't have quite as many classes because, frankly, it did limit class periods-- you could only take five classes a day. There were no electives those last two years; it was all academic subjects. But the overcrowding of the schools required these kinds of decisions to be made. As I said before, being a part of my brass ensemble outside of school was very important to me musically and contributed significantly to my musical development at the time.

SI: What types of music interested you? Were you mostly into classical, or were you listening to popular music at the time?

WT: I think I listened to a little bit of everything. In reflection, I was really learning my classical music training at a pretty early age and that was just because of my own interest, and a lot of it stemmed from being in a brass ensemble and listening to good examples. Some of my earliest recordings that I bought were trumpet performances of concertos and other things. Early on, that was my greatest influence. My favorite composer at the time was probably Bach. I ended up listening to lots of compositions by Bach and other Baroque composers. I was very interested in that. My best friend growing up was a budding organist. Of course, for him to love Bach was obvious because of all the learning opportunities that were there. It was probably a little unusual for somebody at that age to be so into that, but I did listen to all kinds of music. Even today, people ask me, "Who's your favorite composer?" I really couldn't give you a good answer because the beauty of music is that there is so much to choose from. At seventy years old, there's still things I'm learning about the literature, hearing the pieces. Every day, every week, there's something that's interesting, hearing a piece that you never heard before that you're learning more about. I think I have a pretty broad interest.

What I thought was really cool, I just remember being at Rutgers when groups like Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears first came out. It was kind of a fusion of the brass stuff that we were into, plus pop and rock music. I still like that kind of music today. Interestingly enough, one of my students from South River ended up being in Blood, Sweat and Tears and also the Miami Sound Machine. So, it's interesting how things do connect.

SI: Before we leave Baltimore, being in a large city, were you able to travel around and make use of amenities like museums and libraries?

WT: Sure, absolutely. As I said, I lived up the street from Johns Hopkins University. When I was in high school, I was involved in a couple of special programs that ran at Hopkins. One was in chemistry and one was in math, and both of those programs were actually related to the curriculum-writing that Hopkins was doing for secondary schools. As I said, my high school was connected to Hopkins. We had opportunities to do summer programs at Hopkins, so I did several of those. It was interesting stuff.

Of course, there are a number of museums in Baltimore. I was very fortunate to have a social studies teacher in junior high school who would take us monthly to the Walters Art Gallery, which was in downtown Baltimore, to see different exhibits. It really connected us with antiquity. It was a really good experience. The Baltimore Museum of Art was not that far from my house. You could walk there. We'd go there, and also to the Peabody Conservatory which was downtown. My brother-in-law was a member of the Baltimore Symphony for fifty years, but that was later on.

There were a lot of opportunities. Memorial Stadium was about a mile from my house. I went to Colts games, Orioles games. There were a lot of opportunities and things to do. The thing about Baltimore, it's not a huge city. It's getting a pretty bad rap today, but I think that's undeserved. I enjoyed growing up in Baltimore. I would have gone back if I had gotten the right job opportunity there. That never happened. I'm very satisfied to be a New Jerseyan, having spent most of my life here. The educational system here has really offered me opportunities I never would have had in Baltimore. It was a good decision to stay.

Baltimore, at the time, was not metropolitan like New York. When I was working for the Health Department, I met Brooks Robinson on the street several times because he was working with a public relations company that was not far from where I was working. Big sports figures of the day were out in public. It was kind of a hometown feel in a larger city. It wasn't a huge city, about 500,000, but I thought it was a good place to grow up. As I said, I would have moved back, but the right opportunity never came up. [Editor's Note: Brooks Robinson played for the Baltimore Orioles for twenty-three seasons, after which he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.]

SI: You were coming of age and going to school in the aftermath of the Brown v. Board Education decision, which different places implemented it differently. Do you remember any of those issues coming up in your own education? Were your schools integrated? What were your schools like?

WT: I went to a public high school with four thousand guys, and it was a college-prep school. From that standpoint, there were admission standards to get in, but the student body was very diverse. I had friends from many different areas of the city with very diverse backgrounds. It was another great learning experience. In Baltimore, you could choose your school, but you had to apply. It was an interesting time in Baltimore educationally, and it's probably a lot different now. When I went there, there were as many private schools as there were public. There were an awful lot of people that just went to private schools. A lot of my friends were in private school. They didn't go to the public schools. As I said the public school that I went to was really an excellent, excellent school and still is today. If anything, it affirmed my belief in public education, and I ended up spending my whole career in public schools!

It's interesting, I've reconnected with many of my high school classmates. Thirty of us went through school together for four years, because we were in this accelerated program in Baltimore. Following the fiftieth reunion, our homeroom class has reconnected, and the amazing thing is almost everybody, in that class of thirty--I think there's eighteen or twenty of us have stayed in touch, which is a pretty good percentage when you think about it--almost everybody is either a doctor, a lawyer, or has a terminal academic degree.

As a superintendent or as a principal, I wouldn't be in favor of tracking, but that school was totally tracked. I've got to say, everybody I went to school with has been very successful, some tremendously successful, a lot more than me. I was also involved in activities in my school that were a mixture of everybody in the school and you got to have friends from different categories, all races, all ethnic groups.

In terms of integration, there's a great story, and I'm not going to do it justice, but there was a great story about the first Black students who went to my high school. There were demonstrators on the street. This is a school that sits up on a hill on a large campus. The school actually was built copying Harkness Tower at Yale, so it has a nine-story tower front of it. There were three stories plus underground levels. It's big. Four thousand is a lot of guys--and yes it was all male at the time. This is a story I didn't directly experience but heard about. When the first Black students went to my school, there were protestors on the street, but they were not from our school. The protestors were against the fact that Black students were going to be going to this school for the first time. Those protestors were rebuffed by many of the school's students, who then went out and welcomed the Black students into the school. I read a story about that not long ago, last year, but I can't really give it a good quotation.

By the time I got there, there was no issue at all with it. I do think that my elementary school, because of the neighborhood it was in, was not all that integrated. That was just by dint of the fact it was a neighborhood school. It was a learning curve for some people who would go from a neighborhood school like that to a school that was fully integrated. It wasn't a problem for me.

SI: Another subject I usually ask about is that we read in textbooks about the Cold War being all encompassing, affecting even kids in school with drills such as the duck-and-cover drills. Do you remember anything related to that or at least thinking about it?

WT: Yes! Every Monday, at one o'clock. Sometimes, you'd have to go under your desk and sometimes you'd have to go out in the hallway and line up in alphabetical order. I finally realized, later in life, that would be so that if there were bodies to be identified, it might be easier, which is kind of a grim way to think about it, but at that time it was a real thing. This happened when I was in elementary school. I think those didn't continue into high school, but there were bomb shelters everywhere. My dad was a civil defense guy because he was a building supervisor. So, he had a civil defense helmet and all of this stuff. They had stores of water and food and things like that stored away in the basement of some of the buildings. It was definitely an impact on the time, I mean, really.

I do remember the Bay of Pigs. I remember my reaction to that. I was worried about whether we were going to be at war or not. I did have that memory from my childhood. I do think it had an impact on how we thought. I don't really know what my political feeling was at the time, but it was an interesting time. Thank God it never came to reality.

With the current pandemic, one of the good things about all the schools being closed is that there are no school shootings. That's a sad commentary, isn't it? I think today, we have to be more concerned about the intruder drills, the lockdown drills and things like that. Back then, I guess it was just as real. I mean, it's eerie. Those drills are eerie when you're on the other side of them. As a principal or superintendent, as you're walking through a hallway that normally has several hundred kids in it and you do the drill and it's like everybody disappears in a blink of an eye, that's an eerie experience, probably eerier in a way than what we did when I was in elementary school, lining up in the hall, putting your hands over your head, which certainly would protect you from a nuclear bomb! [laughter]

SI: Before you went off to college, had you really been aware of what was happening in Vietnam? Was that something that you followed?

WT: Well, I was certainly aware. I think we were all aware of that, moving into college and into a place like Rutgers, which, for whatever you want to say about Rutgers, it did encourage progressive thinking. When I say progressive thinking, I mean thinking for yourself. I went to Rutgers right after the whole thing with Genovese. That was a pretty good sign of how Rutgers approached everything, your right to have an opinion, voicing an opinion without repudiation. I think that one the things that Rutgers did that was really kind of extraordinary at the time was that they provided some protection for academic freedom. I think that was clearly the case, and whether in fact that still is the case, I really couldn't comment, but I know it was the case when I was there. [Editor's Note: Eugene Genovese (1930-2012), a scholar of slavery and the American South, served as a history professor at Rutgers from 1963 to 1967. On April 23, 1965, at a teach-in at Scott Hall dedicated to discussing U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam, Genovese declared, "Those of you who know me know that I am a Marxist and a Socialist. Therefore, unlike most of my distinguished colleagues here this morning, I do not fear or regret the impending Viet Cong victory in Vietnam. I welcome it." Amidst the firestorm of controversy that ensued, Rutgers President Mason Gross, with the support of the faculty, resisted public pressure to dismiss Genovese and staunchly defended the principle of academic freedom.]

That was way different than being in high school and really having some expectations that are different than your parents' views. I could've gone to Hopkins, which was close to my house and I would've basically gotten a year free, but fortunately, my dad thought it was really important to go away. I never even entertained the Hopkins option because it was always, "Okay, you're going to go away to college." I'm glad it all worked out for me. One of the reasons why it's good to do that is because it allows you to be able to develop your own way of thinking and Rutgers was a good place to do that.

SI: That leads into my next question. Your father wanted you to go away, but why Rutgers as opposed to another school?

WT: Well, I had looked at other schools. I'll be honest, the school I really wanted to go to was Duke. The reputation that Duke had in 1960s wasn't the same reputation that Duke has today. I mean, when you think about Duke, you think about basketball. The truth of the matter is that when I interviewed at Duke, they had just been in the Final Four for the first time, so they really didn't have that big of a basketball reputation then. I wanted to go to Duke because my girlfriend and her dad went to Duke, and so it was one of the colleges that I applied for. I thought it would be really good to go there.

I actually did visit the Duke campus. I hopped on a Greyhound bus and took the bus all night from Baltimore down to Durham. I went with one of my friends. We both had our interviews scheduled, and so we were just going to go for the day, hop back on the bus after the interviews, and go back to Baltimore. During that bus ride down to North Carolina it snowed, and when we got there, there was a foot of snow. These people weren't ready for snow. We walked past a hardware store in town and they were selling garden spades to be used as snow shovels. Well, that's not a snow shovel. [laughter] It was like the strangest experience. I remember that one of the questions that the guy who was interviewing me asked was, "Who was on that Duke basketball team that was just in the Final Four?" I kind of fudged that answer to the best of my ability.

Then, I went to Rutgers, and who does Rutgers have playing for them the first year that I was there? Bobby Lloyd and Jimmy Valvano. Yes, that was the place that I wanted to go to. I had Rutgers on my list. Actually, Rutgers was on my list because at the time Rutgers was ranked third in the country in chemistry, where they had just built the Wright Labs up at the Heights. We used to call it the Heights [Busch Campus] back then. They had just built the Wright Labs. They had a very high profile in chemistry, and I put them on my list. I had a couple friends who I knew from high school who had gone to Rutgers, and so I said, "Well, let me put that on my list and give it a try."

As it turned out, I did get into Duke. I did get into Rutgers. Through all of this, I ended up going to Rutgers because of the chemistry and because it was something that was affordable for my parents. Do you know what my term bill was when I was a freshman? Four hundred and sixty-seven dollars.

SI: Wow.

WT: And that was the rate for out-of-state students. I had friends in-state and they said, "You had to pay that much money to come here." They had like a two-hundred-dollar term bill.

SI: Wow.

WT: It was pretty incredible. It was a good bargain, and you know what? It was a really good education. It was good education because of the rigor of the place. The speech that everybody got, and you probably still get when you're a freshman, "Look to your right, look to your left, only one of the three of you is going to graduate from Rutgers." That was the Rutgers attitude. The truth of it is, I had two roommates when I was a freshman and I'm the only one of the three of us to graduate from Rutgers. Maybe there was some truth to that. I think that Rutgers was a good preparation for life. It was a real. I'm glad I ended up where I am, for any number of reasons. That ended up being my choice, as I say, not just because of the prestige of the university in chemistry (it didn't do me much good because I was only a chemistry major for a year), but because it was one place that my parents could afford.

SI: What were your first few days and weeks like on campus? How did you get there?

WT: Well, it was interesting because to see the campus, one of the other advantages of Rutgers was that I could go to downtown Baltimore, hop on a train, get off at the train station in New Brunswick, and walk to the campus. My parents didn't see Rutgers until they dropped me off as a freshman. That was the first time they saw it. I went to my orientation; I went to visit Rutgers by train. Of course, when I visited all the colleges I applied to, my parents didn't go to any of them, that was a different era.

I wasn't sure quite what I wanted to do when I went to Rutgers. One of the significant things helping in the transition from high school to college was of course being involved in the band, because, first of all, it gave me a circle of friends that weren't just in the dorm. I had friends who were seniors. I had friends who were from all different majors. I had friends from all different places, most of them New Jersey, a few from out of state like myself. You get so involved in it. That was really my orientation, my transition to Rutgers, was being involved in the band.

Certainly, the academics were rigorous, as I said. Even coming from a very highly-regarded high school, where I thought it was rigorous, it wasn't as rigorous as Rutgers College was in 1966. There was a learning curve there that I also had to deal with. I spent a lot of time studying, but I also spent a lot of time with the band. That was really my first experience and of course going to football games, going to away games. I think my first away game was at Yale and being a member of the band was an important experience. It really shaped my life at Rutgers.

I have to say that was very significant because I have lifelong friends who I spent those early days with, and they ended up being my roommates for most of my time at Rutgers. They became my friends for life, and I don't think that's unusual. I think lot of people say that. It's like how my homeroom class from the Class of 1966 from high school have come together, the same is true of the people from Rutgers. I've gone on several Zoom meetings the last couple of years for functions with them, so that we can reconnect. It's really been a lot of fun to get back together.

That period of growth was significant to the band and significant to the University, and we had a lot of experiences that were really incredible. The one thing that I learned from being involved in the band, in being a leader as an officer in the band, was that it really made me feel committed to do something that was important and that needed to be done. That mindset, you stick with it, not only for yourself but for your students as a teacher. I still think one of the most important lessons that you can learn is that you too have the ability to make a difference in the world. I do feel very strongly, as a teacher, as an administrator, as a superintendent and now doing the work I do with character ed and school culture and climate, social-emotional learning, that that's one of the most important things that you can learn. Some people, I think, never really learn that. They never really think for themselves, which is a terrible shame. I would hate to think that people go through life without thinking that you could leave the world a better place than it is. Maybe I'm getting ahead too far.

SI: No, it is good to make these connections.

WT: But I do think I learned that. I learned that from being involved in the band at Rutgers. As I said, maybe we were overestimating the importance of the work we did. But for us, it was the be-all; I think the other guys that I went through that experience with, we probably put in forty hours a week easily, maybe more, forty hours in addition to rehearsal. We were doing things we needed to do to run the band. That's how I learned to do my job when I became a high school band director, by putting in all those hours, not in coursework.

SI: I do not have a band background. Is it just practicing that takes up all that time, or are there other things you have to do?

WT: Well, I was a band officer for years. There were different things like recruiting, which was always an issue. Public relations, I worked with public relations. I ended up writing articles about the band for the football programs. I typically wrote the band page of the football program. I did press releases. So, I learned a lot about that sort of thing at Rutgers, aside from handling the equipment and instrument repair, all the stuff that goes into making a band work. When you go to a football game and you see a ten-minute halftime show, well, that's the tip of the iceberg as to what goes into it. It's even more complicated today because the bands are bigger and the shows are more complicated, but it took a lot of work to make everything happen. As I said, that was my on-the-job training. That was my apprenticeship for knowing what to do when I had my own high school band. Those were significant learning experiences and significant relationships, and probably in my whole life, those four years, the impact of that period of time on my whole life and everything that I've done, it was almost without equal, without measure. Some of the greatest influences of my life came at that time. I talked to you about Dr. Scott Whitener, the band director at Rutgers. He has been my mentor for the last fifty-five years, still is today.

SI: Had you made any contact with the band before coming up to Rutgers, or did you just go to tryouts when you were a freshman?

WT: I just ended up going to tryouts, and I did an audition with Dr. Whitener. It's funny, I just, this minute, got an email from him. It just came in. It's funny because I said his name and then it's up on the screen. I see the notification. So, there you go; we do stay in touch. I just went in and played for him and was in the band, and the rest is history.

SI: Were you playing the trumpet then or other instruments?

WT: Yes, the trumpet. It was interesting because as most people at that age, you think you know a lot more than you know, and sometimes it doesn't take long to learn how much you don't know. So, I remember that audition very clearly. I remember the piece that I played and some of the conversation that we had. He ended up being one of the greatest influences in my life.

SI: Wow.

WT: It's a significant thing.

SI: You mentioned that you went away to Yale for your first away game. Do you have any early memories from those experiences, either with the marching band or other forms of playing with Rutgers?

WT: One of the things that came out of those early years at Rutgers was that we really had the sense that we were part of building something, something important. As it turned out, we did build something. In those four years, the growth of that band program was--I won't say astronomical, but it was really significant. Of course, one of the forces behind its growth on the part of Rutgers University was that they knew that the hundredth anniversary of college football was around the corner. I think that their desire was to have a great band program for that. So, on January 1, 1969, we were in California and we went to the Rose Bowl parade, representing the Football Hall of Fame and the hundredth anniversary of the sport. I don't want to misquote history here, but it seemed that there was some thinking at the University level that the band program needed to be upgraded, and that's when they hired Scott Whitener. He and I came to campus roughly at the same time. My freshman year was his first year.

One of the things that I think is important to me was that we really had a sense of being able to do this and build something that was important together. I'm not sure that every kid that goes to college gets that feeling right off the bat. It was really important. I'm not sure that every kid that goes to college gets to actually meet and know a college president, Mason Gross, in this case. We performed in New York at Town Hall and Mason Gross was the narrator for Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait." He came to many of our rehearsals preparing for this performance and was a good friend and supporter of the band. That was significant.

A lot of really cool things happened in those four years. I was on The Ed Sullivan Show with the marching band in April of 1970. So, there were a lot of big things that happened for the Rutgers bands at that time. There have been a lot of big things happening lately, which is also great. This was the 1960s, and performances like these really kind of put the Rutgers Band on the map, which was a good thing. I'm very proud of being a part of that. I'm proud of being able to work with my fellow students and to be able to say that we did that. It was an accomplishment. So, it was very fulfilling and very much fun.

I was also in the pep band, and you talk about going away, in that first year, the pep band would go to basketball games in people's cars. Later on, of course, they actually got us a bus. The pep band experience that I remember the most happened when I was a freshman. We went to the NIT (National Invitational Tournament) at the old Madison Square Garden, where Rutgers actually did very well. It was the first time that they really were on a national stage. Rutgers had Bobby Lloyd and Jim Valvano. Walt Frazier played for Southern Illinois, and Nate Archibald played for Niagara. So, there were some interesting people that we saw in the old Garden. I'm glad we got to go there because now it's gone, you can't go there anymore. Then, starting the next year, we went to the new Madison Square Garden often when Rutgers played there. We went to a lot of the away games, I wouldn't say all of them, but we went to a lot of them. [Editor's Note: On March 16, 1967, the Rutgers men's basketball team, led by Bobby Lloyd and Jim Valvano, lost to Southern Illinois 79-70 in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). Walt Frazier went on to lead Southern Illinois to win the championship over Marquette. The final rounds of play took place at Madison Square Garden.]

I remember going to Annapolis, when Rutgers played Navy, in cars. I mean, we drove down to Annapolis to play in the basketball game in students' personal cars! Certainly, it's a little bit more formal these days with buses and little bit more organized. It was a good experience.

That was a whole different function, being in the marching band and being in the wind ensemble, being in the concert band. There was a real sense of accomplishment and a real sense of camaraderie and teamwork, aside from the musical side of it. Of course, the most important thing was that we played well, and that it sounded good. There were other features that were also important in building the program, a sense of working together and teamwork and all that stuff. Everybody contributed to making it successful. That was an important learning experience.

SI: When you first came to Rutgers, it was the year we were celebrating the two hundredth anniversary.

WT: September 22, 1966, it was the bicentennial convocation.

SI: All right, you remember it.

WT: I do remember that. [laughter] Yes, it was something. Hubert Humphrey was a speaker, and I have a program from that bicentennial convocation someplace.

SI: Was the band a part of the ceremony?

WT: Not the marching band, but the wind ensemble. Yes, it was a big deal. There were representatives from colleges across the country. There was a representative from the Netherlands who actually had a connection to Rutgers. It was held right there by Scott Hall in the area near Willie the Silent. Yes, I was part of that.

SI: You mentioned the classwork was challenging. Do any of the professors or courses stand out in your memory?

WT: As a chemistry major, I think everybody would remember Professor Ericsson. He taught chem majors' chemistry, and chem majors' chemistry was not like taking regular chemistry in college. In chem majors' chemistry, our midterm and our final exams were essay questions. You're doing problem-solving, and it wasn't just multiple choice or anything like that, whereas if you take regular chemistry, it would be. There was a real requirement for deeper thinking. I do certainly remember him; he was a piece of work. He was also the tennis coach at Rutgers at the time. To give a final exam with a deep question, one question was that you walked into the chem lab, and the labels on several bottles of chemicals had fallen off. What you had to do was figure out where to put each label, one on each bottle, based on the chemical reactions between the different bottles. You talk about problem-based learning, that was like being in outer space in terms of what you might normally expect. I certainly remember that.

I remember having a German professor, his name was Lothar Zeidler. He was teaching German literature, which I found to be an interesting course. It was kind of a sampling, a survey, of German literature up to the present. We read everything in English; we didn't read it in German. I did take German at Rutgers, but I didn't continue it after my freshman year. I thought that Professor Zeidler had a very broad understanding of things, and he brought a lot to class.

I was fortunate to go to a concert at Rutgers. This was in the spring of '68. It was the third to last concert that was conducted by the famous conductor Charles Munch. He was conducting Johannes Brahms' German Requiem. Zeidler knew I was a music guy, and when I walked into the next class after the concert, he said, "Did you manage to go to hear the Brahms Requiem?'" I said, "Yes, I did." We had a conversation about the Brahms Requiem conducted. It was cool to me that he would step out of those shoes to make that connection. I thought that was really special.

Of course, the music professors were significant to me, Scott Whitener, again, being the most influential of all of them, but all the rest of them--Henry Kaufman, "Soup" Walter, Martin Sherman, Ed Strainchamps, and Robert Moevs. That's not all of them, but those are the first to come to mind.

Plus, my philosophy professor, his name was Seymour Feldman, Ph.D. Why I remember that, it's probably because that's how he introduced himself. But he was an interesting guy and had a whole different slant on everything. There were certain musical connections there too. The one that first comes to mind was Friedrich Nietzsche, who wrote Also Sprach Zarathustra. Those are just ones that came to my mind. I'm probably leaving a few out that were significant, but those are the ones that I was friendly with, and I remember them with fondness, for sure, all of them. [Editor's Note: Also Sprach Zarathustra was composed by Richard Strauss in 1896 and inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra.]

I can't say that every professor that I had at Rutgers was top notch, but most of them were. I had one or two, in my time there, that I didn't have much of a taste for, but by and large, they were really top-notch professors. I was fortunate. It was a liberal arts college. It's grown into something that is different. Saying it's better or worse is not what I want to do. It was 5,900 students versus 51,000, which is a big difference.

SI: One of the things that your generation had to deal with was if you failed out, you would be fodder for the draft. Do you recall having to deal with the draft board or getting deferments?

WT: Well, again, ironically, my draft story is that when I was a senior, that was the year that they had the lottery. My number was 181. Ironically, I was called for my pre-induction physical, and it happened to be on May 4, 1970. I don't know if you get the significance of May 4, 1970--Kent State. [Editor's Note: The first Vietnam draft lottery took place during the senior year of the Class of 1970. On December 1, 1969, the U.S. Selective Service held the draft lottery, which was broadcast live on television and radio. The lottery selected birthdays to determine the order in which men born between 1944 and 1950 were called to report for induction in 1970. Following President Richard Nixon's expansion of the Vietnam War to Cambodia, a nationwide student strike commenced in the beginning of May 1970. On May 4 in Ohio, National Guardsmen opened fire on anti-war protesters and bystanders at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine.]

I went to this appointment for my pre-induction physical. I had to go to Baltimore for the physical, so I drove down there the night before. I got on a bus at the Selective Service System office, and I was taken to a place called Fort Holabird, which was in Baltimore. It was on the outskirts of the city. I went through the whole pre-induction physical, which wasn't the most pleasant experience in my life, and I'm sure a lot of people would agree with that statement. When I was released from my physical, it was early afternoon. I was given a bus pass and I wasn't quite sure where I was in Baltimore. It wasn't a place that I typically would visit. So, I said, "Okay, well, if I can get on a bus that would get me to the center of the city, I can get home. I can figure it out." I sat at the bus stop, got on the bus, managed to get to downtown Baltimore, and then from there, I took a bus home. It was kind of a surreal experience that whole day.

What was really surreal about it was that on my way home, I stopped at a local pharmacy a couple of blocks from my house. I walked in, and I hear on the radio something about Rutgers closing down the campus. That was the first thing I heard; I don't remember whether it was Douglass or Rutgers. The pharmacist, who knew me pretty well, I said, "What's going on?" He said, "Don't you go to Rutgers?" I said, "I don’t know, I've been at my pre-induction physical the whole day." He said, "There was a massacre at Kent State." The impression that I got was Rutgers was one of the first ones that cancelled classes. [Editor's Note: On May 4, the Douglass faculty voted to suspend remaining classes and cancel exams in support of the national strike. The Rutgers College faculty voted on May 5 to make classes and final exams optional and instituted pass/fail grades for the spring semester 1970.]

I do remember the experience of sitting in front of Old Queens on the grass and being given a choice that year of how to finish the year. Of course, this is my senior year, a month before graduation. Different professors had different approaches to it too, but that was my experience. That's what I can remember about the draft. Fortunately, I got a job teaching right away. I think I made a greater contribution as a teacher than I would have made as a soldier.

I was actually in ROTC [pronounced "rot-see"], like everyone was. I was in Air Force ROTC. I still have a medal that I got, and I actually got a promotion in rank! I remember going to a meeting with the commandant of Air Force ROTC at Rutgers. He asked me, "What do you want to do as a career?" I said, "I want to be a band director." He said, "Well, you can't be an officer in the Air Force and be a band director." He said, "Those bands aren't conducted by officers. That's not going to fit your chosen career path." Basically, we came up with the joint decision that ROTC wasn't going to be for me, and I wasn't going to go into the rest of the program, where they pay your tuition, and you go to summer camp and do all that. For me, it wasn't going to work out career wise.

I had friends at Rutgers with who did stay with it, and they did okay. I have to say that I don't think I had any friends in ROTC, either in Air Force or Army--because the ROTC Band was a cross of Air Force and Army guys--that lost their lives there. There may have been. I didn't enlist into the official phase where you had to sign on the dotted line to make the commitment to get them to pay tuition. It was an interesting experience being Air Force ROTC. The acronyms were aplenty in the military. Trying to remember what all the acronyms were and studying for ROTC class, and it was like, "I think I should be studying chemistry so I could put those labels back on the bottles!" [laughter]

It was a strange time. I wasn't at Rutgers in ROTC at that time, but I do remember the convocation held in Voorhees Chapel after the bombing of Cambodia, which happened the previous fall. It would have been in October or November of 1969. I have a friend now that I work with in one of my organizations who was at Kent State when it happened. So, he's got me trumped by one. [laughter]

SI: Did you have any involvement with people who were anti-war or any groups?

WT: I wasn't involved in any anti-war groups. I was so busy with the band, to be quite honest with you. My whole college career was focused on music and the band. I did know about some of those groups on campus. I probably had acquaintances or friends that were involved in these groups, but I wasn't. I would only be aware of them based on reading the Targum or hearing about it. I had a full-time job helping to run the band.

SI: Just so I have the chronology correct, you were in band your freshman year. You left briefly in your sophomore year for lacrosse. Is that right?

WT: It was freshman year.

SI: Okay.

WT: Second semester. I played lacrosse the second semester of my freshman year.

SI: Okay.

WT: I actually started playing fall lacrosse my sophomore year, and I had made a deal with the band program that I could play lacrosse three days a week and do band two days a week. I went to see Bob Naso, the varsity lacrosse coach, and I said, "Mr. Naso, I'm in the band, but I'd like to play lacrosse. Would it be possible for me to come to lacrosse three days a week and go to band two days a week?" He said to me, basically, "Well, if you can only commit three days a week to playing lacrosse, then you're never going to make the team." That was his whole attitude, whereas Scott Whitener was willing to make a compromise. So, I said, "Thank you very much," and that was my last day of lacrosse. It was a good experience to play, to be in intercollegiate athletics even just really for that one semester. [Editor's Note: Bob Naso, a member of the Rutgers Athletic Hall of Fame, was a student-athlete at Rutgers who won three varsity letters in lacrosse (1957, '58, '59) and football (1956, '57, '58). He was a three-time lacrosse All-American. He became the Rutgers football defensive line coach from 1961 to 1967 and then the defensive coordinator from 1968 to 1979. Naso served as the head lacrosse coach at Rutgers from 1962 to 1974, posting a 95-60-1 mark, while leading the 1972 and 1974 teams to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.]

That was in a different time period than lacrosse today. Rutgers was a member of the "Miller Division," which was top division of lacrosse in the country. We played Hopkins and other top teams. Lacrosse wasn't as developed and widespread then as it is now. I'm happy to see lacrosse be successful. Again, it's tough to be in the Big Ten, even if you're good. I mean, they've been good the last three years, but it's going to be difficult to make the playoffs when you've got Hopkins, who is in the Big Ten just for lacrosse, thank you very much, and Maryland and a few other Big Ten schools that have good teams. Ohio State has a pretty good lacrosse team. It's tough to make the playoffs when you have that kind of competition! In some ways, we were better off in the old days. In the old days, it might have been easier for them to make the playoffs as an independent. Some of the teams that do make it, don't play the same level of competition that Rutgers does now in the Big Ten.

SI: When you first came, where did you live on campus?

WT: I lived in Pell Hall, 337. It was interesting to be in the Quad because that was kind of an entity into itself. The one thing about the Quad is there were always people hanging out in the Quad. As soon as you went out of the dorm, there were people all over the place. Of course, at the time, the Ledge was right across the street. The Ledge is long gone. That was the snack bar and the place where they'd have concerts, not big concerts, but smaller, more intimate concerts. That was right across the street, so that was easy. The River Dorms were right there. It was pretty centrally located. It was fine being in Pell. They certainly weren't the most sumptuous of rooms on campus, but it was livable. [Editor's Note: Pell Hall is a residence hall on the College Avenue Campus that is located in the Bishop Quad. The Ledge on George Street is now called the Student Activities Center.]

It's not like today. When my kids went to college, well, they had to have a refrigerator, a microwave, matching bed sheets and curtains. They had to have this, they had to have that. I went to Rutgers with a clock radio and a desk lamp; those were my amenities coming to Rutgers. That was it. It was a different time. You had a bed that was sort of like a cot, a metal desk, a metal dresser, and a closet shared by three guys. The floor was terrazzo tile--it was pretty bare bones. But it was okay. Then, the next year I lived in the fraternity. I lived in off-campus apartments for the rest of it. It was good. I had some good friends that were not only in the band and there were a couple of guys in my dorm section that I was friendly with. There were some other guys that I was friendly with from my freshman year that I lost touch with. Pell was okay. It wasn't like the Hilton. There was no glamour. I wouldn't have picked Rutgers because of the dorm rooms, that's for sure.

SI: It's always interesting for me, when I look at the yearbooks, looking at years '66 to '70. The hairstyles drastically changed. Dress drastically changes. Do you have any memories of living through those changes? Did you adopt a different appearance?

WT: When I went there, I was pretty preppy, just from my own high school background and being in Baltimore and my friends and social life. I would typically wear a blazer, a button-down collar, a tie, khaki pants, loafers. That was how I went to Rutgers. I don't know that I changed a whole lot; maybe I did a little bit over the course of time. I grew this moustache and had long hair. I mean, it wasn't such an intent to have really long hair, but I think that was kind of the style of the time. I did kind of change from being preppy to something a little bit more contemporary. I think I got my first pair of jeans at Rutgers. We never wore jeans in high school. The high school I went to, we were expected to wear a tie every day. It was a preppy kind of experience. So, some of that had continued through to college. I was also working in schools, so you had to wear a jacket and tie.

SI: When you switched from chemistry, was it to music education or music?

WT: Music ed.

SI: Music education, okay.

WT: I wanted to be a band director. Truthfully, I wanted to do for my students what Scott Whitener did for me--inculcating the love of music and the positive experience that focused on excellence. I remember when I talked to him about making the switch, he spent two weeks trying to talk me out of it. After those two weeks, he said, "Do you still want to do this?" I said, "Yes, I still want to do it." He said, "Okay, I just wanted to test you to make sure that you had thought this through." He was tremendously supportive. Of all the people in my life, he's probably the most significant mentor I ever had. I gave into the inevitable and switched to music ed. The interesting thing is my best friend from high school went to Northwestern for pre-med, because his dad was a physician. He went to Northwestern in pre-med and he ended up switching to music his sophomore year too, just as I did. I didn't do it because he did it because we hardly were in contact. I did it because of what Scott Whitener did for me and what I felt I could do for others.

Of course, because I lost my freshman year, I actually had to catch up in terms of the curriculum. I had to make up some music courses to make sure I had the background. My senior year, I did student teaching, and I think I took forty-one credits between the two semesters of my senior year. At one point, I remember thinking that I wouldn't be able to fit it all in, and Scott said, "Well, why don't you take a fifth year? It'll be easier to make up those courses." I mentioned that to my father. He said, "No way, José." [laughter] "You have two sisters. I'm not paying for a fifth year at Rutgers." Of course, he got off easy; everything from my undergraduate education only cost about ten thousand dollars for all four years including room and board.

SI: Wow.

WT: Think about what it costs today, 60,000 or 70,000 dollars a year at some places.

SI: Is there anything else you want to add for this session?

WT: My experience at Rutgers was really positive. It was challenging in its own way, and I am really thankful that I went there and got the experience that I got and met the people that I met. I can talk more about some of the things that the band did on Monday.

SI: Yes, absolutely.

WT: I don't want to miss that because the reason why I wanted to do this interview was to get this band stuff on record. I don't know if anybody else has or will. It was a really significant time for the band, and it made a huge difference in my life and others who went through it with me. To this day, it's had an impact on me, and so that's why I volunteered.

SI: Great. Let me just end this recording. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

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Transcribed by Jesse Braddell 7/7/2020
Reviewed by Donald Koger 9/28/2020
Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 1/25/2022
Reviewed by William Trusheim 2/10/2022