APSA, 1977 – William Angel, Ph.D., 1978

I attended my second APSA meeting way back in 1977. The conference was held in Washington D.C. that year. Jimmy Carter was president, and in fact, Willie Nelson had visited the White House to give a concert for the President, then flew back to Austin in the same plane as me and several of my grad student pals. We rode coach. Willie and his entourage flew first class.

I was ABD then–on the job market– and had a few interviews, but Ohio State was collecting applications for jobs on two of its regional campuses, one at Mansfield and the other at Lima. In November, I received an invitation to interview for the Lima position. Dave Perry, Al Watkins and others on my dissertation committee were approached by Randall Ripley, the Chair of the Political Science Department at Ohio State, who wanted to determine how close I was to completing my dissertation. “Very close,” they each assured Rip, then told me that they had stuck their necks out for me and said that I had better be ready to defend the dissertation by Spring. In fact, I wrapped up my dissertation shortly before Christmas 1977, managed some revisions and defended the dissertation in February 1978.

By then I had gone through interviews both in Columbus and in Lima, and had started teaching in Lima while putting the finishing touches on my dissertation. The organization of OSU’s regional campuses–specifically their relationship with the main campus in Columbus–was quirky and difficult to explain to my advisers. Tenure would be on the Lima Campus, but my tenure would be decided by colleagues in the department on the Columbus campus. Funding for the campus came through a separate line-item in the state budget (that has changed.), meaning that OSU/Columbus had no financial stake in the operation at Lima, although the Department of Political Science certainly had an academic stake in who taught on any of the regional campuses. Still, even with the confusing structure of the position, along with the messy financial and academic links between OSU/Lima and OSU/Columbus, I did not hesitate to take the job when the offer came.

It was a great decision. I later discovered that the position held certain advantages. For one thing, I shared space with colleagues from a variety of disciplines–English, history, philosophy, mathematics, biology, geography–creating an environment that awakened a strong liberal arts perspective in my research and teaching. Furthermore, I could pick my own schedule, team-teach with colleagues from other departments at Lima, and teach courses–including one entitled “Science, Technology, and Human Values”– that I would never have had an opportunity to teach had I been a member of a “real” political science department.

Besides, I had grown up in Ohio and had family there. I also had earned BS and MA degrees from Ohio State, and even had worked for Randall Ripley as a graduate research assistant. I eventually earned tenure on the Lima Campus and have stuck with OSU/Lima right up until the present. Although I retired in 2012, I have continued to teach as an Assistant Professor emeritus (merely a fancy title for an adjunct), and on August 21st will begin my 40th year on the Lima Campus of The Ohio State University.

Retirement has given me more time to work on a new research project, a book tentatively entitled; “A City in Revolt: Frank Lausche and the Political Transformation of Cleveland, 1928-1948.” The book describes political realignment at the ground level, analyzing the transformation of Cuyahoga County from a reliable base for the Republican party to becoming the strongest Democratic county in Ohio.

Bottom line: I am still enjoying a career at OSU/Lima. Course load is lighter now–Ohio State’s conversion to a semester-system in 2012 had a devastating effect on enrollments in political science courses–but enrollments are strong enough to allow me to teach 3 or so classes a year. I am still the only political scientist at OSU/Lima, just as I was in January 1978 when I walked into a classroom there for the first time.

I continue to be grateful the University of Texas and to my friends in Burdine Hall, including the faculty, who helped and inspired me along the way.

Bill Angel
Ph.D, Class of 1978

Redbird Memories of an Orange Tower Prof

by Leslie LaHugh (“Hugh”) Gardner

The signature event of my time at UT – after the assassination of JFK – was when Cassius Clay whupped Sonny Liston and became world champion boxer Mohammed Ali, which brought the nascent civil rights moment alive on campus, which in turn put to rest the haunting ghosts of slavery represented by Littlefield Fountain.  The very first civil rights march in Austin ended up with a frolic in its pool.

I think my personal epiphany at UT came when I was returning home at dawn one cold and snowy morning – probably after partying all night – and was crossing the mall when I realized that there were no other tracks there, that mine were the only footprints anywhere on this epicenter of Texas at its best.

As if that wasn’t enough, I heard a beautiful birdsong, and scanned the surrounding live oaks until I spotted its source, a magnificent crimson cardinal singing his heart out to some passionately imagined destiny in this white and silent world … perhaps inspired by UT’s great slogan on the tower, “Ye Shall Know the Truth, and the Truth Shall Make You Free.”  It worked for me!

I was the prototypical math-whiz high school geek from Dallas, carrying a slide rule around and reading mostly comic books.  I enrolled at UT in 1961, having been rejected by Rice for faking books I had supposedly read in my interview.  I really dodged a bullet on that one!  I had to take remedial English my first semester, but after four years at UT – reading like a sponge, writing my ass off, listening to all the brilliance around me – I was offered financial support by all five of the great public universities I applied to for graduate school (including UT), choosing Sociology, Queen of the Social Sciences, at Wisconsin/Madison, over Political Science at Berkeley.

I was prepared for this leap from nerd to notoriety by many great teachers at UT, foremost among them Dr. Murray Havens of the Government department, who must have written me dynamite letters of recommendation.  Dr. Havens was not only a terrific teacher; he was the department’s leading innovator in that era, showing how politics, like society, could be best understood (and influenced) by scientific methods.  He might be amused to know that in the 1970s I was the Colorado equivalent on the left to Karl Rove in Texas on the right, introducing new ideas like personalized computer letters and key-precinct targeting that helped bring the Dem tide of Hart, Lamm, Wirth and Schroeder to my adopted state.

With apologies to Dr. Havens, who taught me the basics of this new and powerful science, I gave it up when I learned that many politicians, and most all my fellow consultants, were cynical, abrasive ******** I wanted nothing further to do with.  I guess Karl liked ******** a lot more than me.

Dr. Havens sponsored and supervised my honors thesis about “liquor by the drink” in Texas, which I reworked into one of only two articles out of hundreds that I ever had rejected for popular publication (by Ronnie Dugger of The Texas Observer, no less).  I got to interview Ben Barnes at the capitol and get tanked at the Texas Restaurant Association, wow!  Dugger thought I was too biased toward booze, which was true.

Dr. Havens also put me to gainful employment my senior year grading essays, which taught me how to edit for grammar and style as well as judge knowledge.  Despite Dugger (but partly thanks to him too), Dr. Havens helped me understand that I could research, analyze and write with the best.  I gained a sense of personal power with the written word that stood me in very good stead from then on – like my first published article, the cover story of Esquire magazine (September, 1970) at age 26.

Twenty years later, I actually met Mohammad Ali at a Chinese restaurant in New York while attending a sociology convention.  He was going around to different tables doing card tricks.  When he got to me, I jumped up and gushed, “You really are the greatest!”  What sticks with me today is my astonishment that he wasn’t all that much bigger than I was.

I still have dreams about being a student at UT, waking up in a cold sweat wondering where’s my car, dude, or running late to an exam.  These were some of the happiest moments of my life.  I will be eternally grateful to Dr. Havens and UT Gov (I still feel it should be “Political Science”) for opening up some fabulous opportunities and helping me gain the self-confidence it took to pull them off.

Forty Years Ago

By William Tarver

Recently, I was privileged to dine at the faculty lounge in the AT&T center on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. My host was Professor Gary P. Freeman of the Department of Government; the other invitees were our esteemed guest, Profes- sor Emeritus William S. Livingston; Stuart Tendler, Alumni Coordinator … and me.

Of course, it was a day for old war stories to be told of my students days from 1968 and 1969 … from the perspective of an, at best, mediocre student. This day was my first on campus since graduation in May of 1969. So, what was different? Well, Austin was significantly bigger; ‘The Drag’ had become ‘seedy’ in my opinion; and the campus itself was just as beautiful as I remembered.

In reminiscing, I offered in casual conversation the meaning to me of the signatures on my Bachelor of Arts degree: Frank C. Erwin, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Regents; Harry H. Ransom, Chancellor; John R. Silber, Dean; and Norman Hackerman, President.

While the credit for the great physical plant, enroll- ment and capital endowment of the University is rightfully granted to the Herculean efforts of Frank Erwin, I think that the heart and soul of the modern University belongs to the contributions of Professors Ransom, Silber and Hackerman.

In thinking back on all of it, I’d have to say that it was Professor Hackerman who most exemplified com- mitment and personal contribution to undergraduate students by teaching Introductory Chemistry 301 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:00 a.m. His was an amazing commitment, especially when one consid- ers his other responsibilities.

Accordingly, other professors of my brief tenure come to mind: from the Department of Government, Doc- tors Redford, Mendelson, MacDonald, and Taborsky are fondly remembered. From Physical Science, I recall Professor Noyes, and from Germanic languages, Dr. Werbow.

Students are interested in their professors, teachers, and mentors. So, what to say? We government stu- dents were always asking Professor Redford about his lifelong relationship with President Johnson. We believed that Professor Mendelson would accept appointment to the United States Supreme Court, if ever nominated. While we all respected Professor MacDonald, we were all terrified at the prospect of taking his course on Anglo-Saxon Jurisprudence. And we always tried to divert Professor Taborsky from his lesson plan in order to tell us stories of Presidents Masaryk and Benes and the escape from Stalin and the KGB!

Dr. Hackerman was a member of the National Acad- emy of Sciences and so too, was Professor Noyes. And we also asked Professor Werbow to tell us of his expe- riences as a code breaker in World War Two. Professor Werbow was beloved because he was instrumental in providing the first immersion course in German …
I enjoyed going at it … eight hours a day, five days a week … for two summer semesters. Aller anfang ist schwere (Nietzsche). Nicht war?

I am proud to have known these men. My professors were all unique, in a very unique time. I am also hope- ful that today’s students at the University of Texas are fortunate enough to have encounters with professors who inspire them, and that they will remember them … forty years from now.

William H. Tarver received his B.A. in government in 1969. Bill has sustained a diverse career through continu- ous personal and professional growth. After honorably serving his country in the U.S. military, he acquired two Master’s degrees that sustain his commitment to maintaining his intellectual curiosity. He is a manager at Mission Technologies, Inc. in San Antonio.