Wells Keddie, Professor Emeritus of Labor Studies and Livingston College Fellow, Remembered as 'Working-Class Educator'

Wells Hamilton Keddie, Professor Emeritus of Labor Studies and Employment Relations and Livingston College Fellow, will be posthumously honored in 2018 with the Livingston Legacy Award, celebrating his key role in the establishment and growth of Livingston College.

Keddie passed away on April 1, 2006, at age 80.

Keddie was well-known for being outspoken about workers' rights, animal rights and social justice. Even after his 2005 retirement from active teaching, Keddie regularly visited classes in the Labor Studies Department, particularly an introductory level class he helped shape.

Keddie was a stalwart in the faculty union, the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), serving in virtually every leadership capacity, including several terms as president.

Wells Hamilton KeddieAt the time of his death, he was serving as vice president of the AAUP's New Jersey State Conference.

Keddie was the first director of Bachelor of Science in Labor Studies degree at Livingston College, starting when the college opened in 1969, according to a history of Rutgers' Institute of Management and Labor Relations (.PDF file).

An ardent advocate of animal rights, and an enemy of class, race, gender and other systems of inequality, Wells often described himself as “still pointed in my chosen direction and fighting like hell to get there.”

He was survived by his wife, Mary Gibson; a daughter, Heather S. Keddie; a son, Hamilton Keddie; a brother, Douglas Keddie; grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews, nieces, grandnieces and grandnephews.

Norman Markowitz, a Rutgers history professor, remembered Keddie as "a true working-class educator."

"More than half a century ago, as a graduate student at the University of California, he refused to sign the anticommunist 'loyalty oath' that the state Legislature had passed," Markowitz wrote for the People's World website in 2006. "They never really got Wells, although they kept on trying, at Penn State where he was fired in spite of mass protests, and even at Rutgers. At Rutgers he played a leading role in building the American Association of University Professors and in training students who went out and became organizers and leaders of the labor movement for three decades."

In bottom photo: Keddie, left, at a May Day picnic at his house in Piscataway, NJ, with Arsenia Reilly (center), an undergraduate student who went on to work in the labor movement, and Rutgers History Professor Norman Markowitz.

Revised October 19, 2017