Livingston College, 1971: An ‘Incredibly Radical Outlook on City Living’

By William Ciaburri, LC’76

Coming to Rutgers' Livingston College in 1971, two years after it opened, was an eye-opening experience for William (Bill) Ciaburri, a Hamden, Connecticut, native who later returned there. (His photo at right is from 2012.)

Ciaburri shared some of his most vivid memories of college life via email, on …

The college:

Zen and Japanese Literature opened up a whole different world and way of thinking for a sheltered Catholic boy from the Connecticut suburbs. Also, Urban Ecology in 1971 was brand new and an incredibly radical outlook on city living.

The campus:

In 1971 Livingston College and its campus wasn't fully complete yet. Faculty and students intermingled easily. I remember trucking down to the old army barracks where many classes were held.

His fellow students:

In my freshman year, 1971-72, there were many upperclassmen in my dorm who were mentors to the freshmen, and involved us in some of the activities they were in such as working at the radio station, the coffee house, etc.

Living at Rutgers (Livingston’s Quad 1 his freshman year, then off-campus):

I also recall my first day and walking to my room in the dorm in Quad 1 and everyone’s name and hometown was on their room door. Mine said “Camden” (crossed out) and under it “Hamden Court.” I crossed out “Court” and wrote in “Connecticut.” I read everyone else’s signs which all had towns I never heard of like Red Bank, Cinnaminson and even Piscataway. Yet that night when we gathered in the first floor lounge I was welcomed by everyone and was made an honorary Jerseyite!

Faculty influences:

  • Dr. Janet Walker and Dr. Steven Walker, who were also student advisors/mentors and were always available to students. In many ways they were also like our big brother and sister.
  • Dr. W. Robert Jenkins, who was an energetic and inspiring biology professor, later became dean of Livingston.
  • Dr. J.J. Wilhelm, who taught literature so masterly one actually enjoyed reading!

The experience of New York (and New Brunswick):

I learned that the world is an exciting and diverse place. Being so close to New York City and having many field trips there for classes such as art history, religion classes and music classes also helped. For a Veteran's Day anti-war march down 7th Avenue, in the pouring rain, we took the campus bus into town and then a bus to Manhattan. We returned to New Brunswick soaking wet and had pizza and pitchers of beer at the Hungarian Club with the locals who tolerated us being there.

William Ciaburri is a 1976 graduate of Livingston College at Rutgers University.
Originally posted August 26, 2013
Revised January 24, 2016