Category Archives: Alumni Memories

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Alumni Memories

Do you have a memory of your time at Livingston: a favorite professor, dorm, event, club/organization? Email us at info AT livingstonalumni.org to share your memories!

[Also see Deans’ Reflections.]

Top photo: The New Academic Building (later named Lucy Stone Hall) on Rutgers’ Kilmer campus (later named Livingston campus), circa 1973.

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‘Education Is the Main Topic of Discussion’ in 1973; Graduates Have ‘Set the Pace’ for Classes to Come

Noah Hart, Jr.Noah Hart, Jr., a 1973 graduate of Livingston College at Rutgers University who attended the college for two years, edited its 1973 yearbook, Livingston in the Retrospect, 1969-1973. In the yearbook he included the following reflections on Livingston’s first four years:

On September 11, 1969, Dean Earnest Lynton addressed 300 students and faculty members on the newest branch of Rutgers University, Livingston College. One of the few times in the history of higher education in the United States had a dean of a predominately white higher education institution addressed such a racially mixed student body, and faculty.

Twenty-five per cent of Livingston’s student population was Black or Puerto Rican, the highest in the nation for a predominately white higher education institution. The faculty was composed of scholars from throughout the United States and the world. There too, minority people composed at least twenty per cent of the total.

On May 31, 1973, the students who entered Livingston that day in September, 1969 will graduate. They will be among the first official graduating class from Livingston College.

Then University President, Dr. Mason Gross called the opening of Livingston “A historic event,” because it was something new.

Livingston is still “something new”, and has a great deal to accomplish. From the 700 students who made up the original Livingston College class of 1969, has sprung a student body of 2800.

The college has grown from the mud coated, and pebble ridden, always growing embryo of 1969, to a modern and attractive addition to the Piscataway Township landscape.

Student life centers around a large games room in Tillet Hall, numerous dormitory lounges, and a huge newly completed gymnasium in the rear of quads II and III.

After only four years, the student population of Livingston College has sent men and women into many leadership roles in neighboring communities, and to many graduate schools.

The student body at Livingston College also has it’s own intercollegiate athletic program, which competes with teams on a small college level. Livingston teams compete in the Metropolitan Club Football Conference, in which they are the 1972 champions, and compete in the National Club Sports Association, which has recently ranked the football club as the 13th best in America.

Livingston has grown quite a bit since that day in September 1969. The student population has grown, the physical structure has been vastly improved, the student body is a great deal more stable, and education is the main topic of discussion.

Of all the classes which came before, and that will follow the class of 1973, non deserves more credit and acclaim than they.

Following four years of trekking to classes through mud, incompleted buildings and a host of other physical and social obstacles, the class of 1973 has found the endurance to set the pace for the many classes to come.

Noah Hart, Jr., ’73


Noah Hart, Jr., Ed.D., is the Coordinator of First Year Advising at Monmouth University.

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Yours in Blackness: Livingston College’s Weusi Kuumba Dancers and Drummers

William Bellinger, an alumnus from Livingston College’s first four-year graduating class in 1973, founded the Livingston College Weusi Kuumba Dancers and Drummers, an all-Black troupe, before the college even opened, in July 1969. Bellinger was also the student speaker at the 1973 Livingston College graduation convocation. 
 
The 1973 Livingston College yearbook included a photo of the troupe and a description and history of the troupe by Bellinger. Below is the text (with minor edits) as it appeared in the yearbook. The original yearbook page is available here.
 
 

The spirit of Africa is upon me. 
She has annointed Me to bring good tidings.

          William Bellinger 5/1/73

YOURS IN BLACKNESS

The Livingston College Weusi Kuumba Dancers and Drummers, an all Black Troupe, was organized in July 1969 by William Bellinger, of Rahway, a member of the class of 1973.

Soon afterwards, the troupe took as its purpose, “promoting a language, a mode of expression, which addressed itself to the mind, through the heart, using related, relevant and significant movements which are related to our everyday activities for expression of special [and] real-life experiences in our special and rhythmic sequence.”

 

“We as a group are striving for a dwelling and clearer insight of our way of life, labor, culture, aspirations, history, social, economic, and religious beliefs, and disbeliefs, movements and festivity, and sadness.

“In short, we are attempting to portray a heritage, a culture, conceived and felt by our troupe.”

The Weusi Kuumba African Dancers and Drummers have traveled much. Among performance locations are: Somerset County College, Hilton Hotel, N.Y., Malcolm X University and Boston University.

Monies earned, or donated to the group, are used to assist needy Black students wishing to major in community development, and to assist the scientific research for a Sickle Cell disease cure.

Bill Bellinger ’73


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Livingston College’s Challenges at Age 21

By Eric Schwarz, LC’92, SCILS’92,’07

[Read more Livingston College Alumni Memories.]

In 1990, Livingston College faced a transition as W. Robert Jenkins left as college dean. (Walton R. Johnson would be the next dean, serving from 1990 to 1993.) In a Daily Targum article from May 4, 1990 [PDF], Dean Jenkins noted that some of the college’s achievements included coeducational residence halls, new academic departments such as anthropology, computer science and journalism, and a diverse student population. Ernest Lynton, the college’s dean from its planning stages until 1973, recently had been honored by the university, which renamed the North and South Towers residence halls on campus for him. (The college opened in 1969.)

Students and administrators in 1990 hoped to secure more development on campus, such as an expanded student center, fraternity and sorority housing, and a Kilmer Village residential and shopping complex. I chronicled these events and reflections as Livingston College correspondent for the Targum.

It would take another 20 years before some of the visions voiced in 1990 would come to fruition at Livingston.

A student center expansion was completed in 2010, enlarging the center from approximately 35,000 square feet to more than 61,000 square feet.

The Livingston apartment complex, the largest single project Rutgers has ever built, total 650,000 square feet, including 25,000 square feet of retail space, and opened in fall 2012. The mid-rise buildings provide apartment-style living space for 1,500 students along with retail on the first level. Read a fuller description of the 2012 housing and retail project [PDF file].

Other major projects (completed or under construction) are listed in the university’s Vision for Livingston Campus site; the site chronicles development on the campus far beyond what had been planned in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Eric Schwarz is a 1992 graduate of Livingston College and the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies (SCILS) at Rutgers University, where he majored in Journalism and Mass Media, and English. He also earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree from SCILS in 2007.

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A 1974 Graduate’s Memories of a Groundbreaking College on a Diverse Campus

By Marian Murray, LC’74

[This article was first posted September 20, 2010, on our old blog.]

Where to begin? I entered Livingston College in the fall of 1970 and graduated in the spring of 1974–my B.A. was in Urban Teacher Education (Secondary) and English. As Rutgers approved a double major–instead of a major and minor–one came out with a “double B.A,” for all intents and purposes. To give you an idea of how serious this requirement was, there were 22 required courses for the Education major and 18 for the English major! And, even though there were no prerequisite courses, I took them anyway and am glad to have been rounded out as a liberal arts student.

My extra-curricular activities included eight consecutive terms as a student government representative, a formidable group composed of both faculty and students, which was imperative on the most memorable committee that I served on, the “Scholastic Evaluation and Scholastic Standing Committee.” In this committee, the fate of undergraduates literally was in the hands of we faculty and students saddled with the task of determining who could stay and who had to leave Livingston. [At our 10-year Reunion, several classmates came up to me to thank me for the compassion that I and some faculty members showed in allowing them to stay to go on to do good things, professionall and personally. Another of my activities was a wonderful memory of my participation in the glee club, as well as being a reporter/editor for the Third World Report (a paper put out by the Third World Coalition). 

Because of Livingston’s existence a direct result of the Newark summer rebellions (not riots), the time was thick with heavy issues, including but not limited to the lack of equal rights for African Americans (among others), Open Admissions/Enrollment was struggling to become a reality–I participated in demonstrations and rallies even though I could not qualify for the kind of financial aid that was so desperately needed by so many–, then there was the Vietnam War (or as the Vietnamese termed it “the American War”). There were mind-opening Teach-Ins about virtually every political theme one can imagine. Women’s Studies got off the ground, as did Africana Studies, Asian Studies, Puerto Rican Studies, and such. 

The dormitory Quads were unique and were named by the students for their compositions: Quad 1 was called “Woodstock”; Quad 2, “Suburbia”; and Quad 3 “The Ghetto”. In the last Quad were three “Black Houses” and one “Puerto Rican House”. The dorms of the Black Houses were both all female/male and co-ed! Being virtually bi-lingual, I found another “home” in the Puerto Rican House. The nights were magical with Congo drumming in which women as well as men were allowed to play to their heart’s content. 

This was a multi-racial, multi-generational, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic campus. For the most part, we all lived in harmony and there was a solidarity that was remarkable achieve in any times, let alone the turbulent ’60s and ’70s. This was a time when anti-war demonstrations/protest rallies around the country were taking place. And, sadly, the National Guard was called in to “restore order” on some campuses, namely Jackson State and Ohio State were senseless student deaths occurred. What many people do not realize is the Guard is armed with the same munitions that is being used by the military during war time. Consequently, we had M-16s trained on us at some of the education-related as well as political rallies! I have never been prouder of Livingston’s president, Mason Gross, who boldly and loudly refused the Govenor’s call to have the National Guard come onto the Livingston campus! [I believe he paid the price in the coming years when he was ultimately removed from his post.] That was a sad day, indeed. Then there were the takeovers of the President’s quarter–I was among those who sat-in until demands were met. And, after I graduated I heard of some students took over the Registrar’s offices and destroyed academic records. I cannot understand how that senseless act was going to advance their cause! But, I guess, in any movement it takes all kinds! 

On the political front, there were moderates, conservatives and revolutionaries. Discussions between the differinig groups were lively to say the least. But what was terrific was that we listened to one another and much was learned by all–if one was open to hear sentiments different from one’s own. 

Academically, it was groundbreaking to have access to all classes that the different colleges offered, Livingston, Douglass and Rutgers New Brunswick, as well as the other campuses. Getting around was made easy by the three bus lines (A, B, and C) which made the commute a breeze. Being able to attend classes at the different institutions made for meaningful and lasting friendships and relationships, not to mention the broadening of one’s horizons. 

It was at Livingston that some innovative teachers used dormitory lounges to conduct class when space was tight, e.g., Vertamae Grosvenor‘s cooking class (she went on to have her own cooking show on PBS)! On one occasion, my Spanish Translation class was held in my apartment! It was taught by Miguel Algarin, who is the founder of the Poet’s Cafe in Loisaida (The Lower East Side, in New York City). In this vein, some of my English professors would go on to international acclaim or had already established themselves, e.g., Toni Cade Bambara, Nikki Giovanni, Hattie Gossett, A.B. Spellman, Sonia Sanchez, and Marc Crawford, just to name a few. Toni Cade Bambara (who made her transition in ’95) made such an indelible impression on me that I have dedicated my book to her! [I will most likely self-publish; and a renowned poet, historian and scholar, Louis Reyes Rivera, who is a good friend of mine, is doing the editing of the book.] In Women’s Studies I was introduced to the remarkable Chilean singer/songwriter, Suni Paz. This association included attending her concerts in the summers, in midtown Manhattan.

Let us not forget how many couples came out of liasions at the College–including some that would end in marriage and long-term commitments. (I was one of those fortunates.)

Livingston was ground-breaking in the artists of all hues, activists, revolutionaries, educators, international political figures (some who would find themselves known as political prisoners for the stuggles for independence in their homelands. One such person who I had the honor of meeting on campus was the Puerto Rican independentista Juan Maribras (sp.) who recently made his transition. What I truly loved about, and appreciated, was the ethnic and generational diversity in my classes and throughout the campus.

It made for stimulating discussions and true education at its best! I had a wonderful time at the 10th year Reunion of Livingston College; as well as the 20th, which I attended with a long-time friend who I met in my freshman year. I must say that the 20th was particularly memorable because of the “young ones” who gave their perspective of what the Livingston Mission was.

It was heartbreaking to learn of the College’s demise, it was truly unbelievable and inconceivable to me that such a drastic decision was made!

Marian Murray is a 1974 graduate of Livingston College at Rutgers University.

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