Category Archives: Alumni Memories

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Joyful Memories of Livingston College from a 1972 Alumna

Patricia GrahamBy Patricia Graham, LC’72

It is a pleasure to share my favorite memories of my college years at Livingston. Below is my list of joyful memories:

1) “The Black Woman” class (parts I and II) taught by Professor Sonia Sanchez. Professor Sanchez taught the class in a room that had a kitchen, because she often cooked for us!  The setting was cozy and intimate. The guest speakers were accomplished women: poets, authors, politicians.

2) “Black Revolutionary Drama” class, taught by Professor Sanchez. Often the class would act-out the short plays that we were assigned. A favorite memory is when we performed, in class, “In the Wine Time,” for the author Ed Bullins.

3) “Forgotten Black Heroes” class. The professor was excellent, of Caribbean descent. I wish I could remember his name. A memory that sticks with me is my class research topic: Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana. My verbal presentation was very emotional, because Nkrumah died shortly before I completed my research.

4) The class trip, for “Research Techniques African American History” to Harlem, to do our research in the Schomburg Library, which was located in the old historic building at the time. Afterwards, the professor took the class to his apartment for dinner!

5) The first Women’s History Month conference, on campus. I believe it was held in 1971. It was exciting, with lots of speakers, and workshops.

6) I enjoyed the fabulous speakers, poets, writers, jazz musicians, and artists that we were exposed to, as college students. Many of these artists were our professors, such as: Nikki Giovanni, Nathan Heard, Sonia Sanchez, and Toni Cade-Bambara, to name a few. It was a cultural mecca!

Livingston provided me with the basis of a lifetime of cultural and professional interests. As a recently retired college professor, I had the opportunity to develop and teach classes that directly reflected my experiences as a student at Livingston (“Women of the African Diaspora”; and “Frederick Douglass: Social Justice”).

Patricia Graham is a 1972 graduate of Livingston College at Rutgers University. She also earned an M.Ed. degree at Antioch in 1974, and an Ed.D. degree from University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1995.

(Contact Patricia via email.)

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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.

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Long Live Livingston

By Rob Snyder, LC’77

When I lived in Greenwich Village in the 1980s, residents had a habit of telling newcomers that they had arrived too late for the really interesting times. The exact date of this golden age varied with the teller of the tale, from the days of the folkies in the Sixties to the beats of the Fifties to the Wobblies before World War I. Something similar applied at my alma mater, Livingston College of Rutgers University. I was graduated in 1977, when the college was committed to educational innovation, egalitarian admissions, and urban issues. In subsequent years, when the school was centralized out of existence and fully absorbed into Rutgers, I was convinced that the old Livingston I knew died. But thanks to a forum last week [March 11, 2009] at Livingston, I’m no longer sure.

The gathering, organized by Marty Siederer for the Livingston Alumni Association, featured three faculty members: Ed Ortiz from community development and Gerry Pomper and Gordon Schochet from political science. Together, and in different ways, they all reminded me of the innovation, improvisation, and tough-minded idealism that made Livingston a great undergraduate college. Our course offerings included urban communications, community development, women’s studies and social history. (And zaniness: Where else would students hold orgies and then ask if they could get course credit for participating?)

But what inspired me was to hear more recent graduates — I’m thinking especially of one woman who was at Livingston in the early Nineties — extol “The Rock” as an enduring center for radicalism and innovation. What explains this?

Partly this happened because of an unexpected benefit of centralization: it scattered Livingston faculty and administrators all over Rutgers, where they dramatically improved the place. Also, a few faculty members and grad students really did work to maintain the spirit of the old days, even after the educational structures that supported The Rock were all but gone.

Until now, I felt that I was the graduate of a fine college that was left dead and buried. Now, I feel that some of its best legacies live on.

It wasn’t always easy being at Livingston, a place where ordinary Democrats were depicted as conservatives and the left was defined by outfits like the New Jersey Workers’ Organization (Marxist-Lenninist). That made a democratic socialist like me, an admirer of Michael Harrington, a flaming moderate.

But I’ve always cherished my Livingston years, when I received an education that was not only liberal, but liberating as well. For years I was sorry that younger people didn’t get to experience that kind of learning. Now it turns out that they did, and I’m very glad for that.

Rob Snyder is a 1977 graduate of Livingston College at Rutgers University. He is pictured above in the 1977 Livingston College yearbook, The Rock. He originally posted this article to his blog, Greater New York, on March 16, 2009.

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Livingston College’s First Alumni Association President Reveals His Inspirations — and the Holy Grail of LC Alumni History

By Leonard M. Klepner, LC’72

[Read more Livingston College Students’ Memories.]

I am a 1972 LC graduate. I was there almost at the very beginning as a transfer student from Temple University in Philadelphia.  The extensive mud that then still characterized the rudimentary campus on the Piscataway plains of the late Camp Kilmer became “Fango,” the campus newspaper’s initial name.

My early mentors in the political science department included the late, monumental Wilson Carey McWilliams and his wife, Nancy. I retain a personally dedicated copy of Carey’s “The Idea of Fraternity in America.”  As possessions go, it’s probably my most cherished.  Both Carey and Nancy took an ongoing interest in my well-being, and I spent time at their Highland Park home. I house-sat for them on occasion before their daughters were born. During those times, my principal duties involved keeping company with their marmoset and huge parrot. The formidable parrot had a pedestal perch so substantial that it had its own room in the house. The other relic I have from this early era is an oil painting by an artist friend of the McWilliamses visiting from California. Signed as “RDG 74,” the piece is a rendering of the Albany Street Bridge and the town of New Brunswick from the Highland Park shore of the Raritan. The piece captures a remarkable scene of the bridge and the town as they were 40 years ago.

Of importance to me during this time were other political science professors, Henry Plotkin, Dennis Bathory and Gerald Pomper. Henry was the first faculty member with whom I met when I visited the Livingston Campus prior to making my decision to transfer to Livingston in 1970. About 25 years later, Henry and I had occasion to be in contact professionally in his capacity with the New Jersey State Employment and Training Commission.  Dennis was one of the kindest and brightest people that I ever met. Beyond the academics, however, the greatest of experiences was the Sunday pick-up softball game in Raritan Park. Students, teachers, friends and their children were welcomed players. I believe I remember a then-very young son of Professor Pomper’s joining the game eventually.

Another fellow student, graduate and alumnus most deserving of recognition for his inspiration to me both during and after my association with Livingston College and as a Rutgers graduate student is the late Amos Danube. Amos was already in his mid-20s when he left Budapest in the wake of the Soviet repression of 1956.  When I came to Livingston, Amos seemed ancient, but less so as I came to know him and likewise grew ancient. His many contributions to the Livingston and Rutgers communities are well known.  I had the privilege of continuing contact with Amos into his all too brief retirement to Florida.  Our friendship became and was at its strongest when he passed away suddenly a number of years ago. I made contact with his daughter and conveyed to her a compilation of email that Amos and I exchanged during his retirement to offer her, if she wished, a glimpse of her father’s life that may otherwise have escaped her.

Most significantly for the historical documentation of the origin of the existing alumni group of Livingston College, is a copy of what is the Holy Grail of Livingston alumni history. The first of the membership ID card displayed with this article is indeed the very first card, No. 00001A, Valid 1975-1976, issued by the Livingston College Association of Graduates (the LCAG), the very first organization formed to represent, advance and benefit those few who had then graduated from Livingston and all thereafter until the present that the Alumni Association has served.

LCAG ID No. 00001A is rarer (as baseball card collectors would know) even than the multimillion-dollar Honus Wagner T206. It is special, and I knew it would be because it represented the earliest graduates that Livingston had to offer. Even then, Livingston graduates understood that the special nature and intention of Livingston required nurturing, maintenance and perpetuation. As LCAG 00001A indicates, I had the distinction of being elected the first president of the LCAG.

Imagine if George Washington were still alive to witness the unfolding of the promise for which he struggled. There is room for argument either way on the question of whether or not Washington would be pleased with the course that our country has taken. However, as the George Washington of Livingston alumni, I have been fortunate and pleased for more than 40 years now to have witnessed the unfolding and establishment of the good to which the LAA has devoted itself and achieved. Ever may it continue to be so.

Photo at top: LCAG membership card 00001A; bottom: LAA membership cards from the early 1990s. 


Leonard M. Klepner is a 1972 graduate of Livingston College at Rutgers University.

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