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.