Judith Ruderman


Judith Ruderman

41 minutes
Melissa S. Mead
Interview/Event Date: 
Biographical note: 

Judith Ruderman graduated from the University of Rochester in 1964 with a B.A (summa cum laude) in English in the Honors Program. She married Robert Ruderman (1963, 1968M) shortly after commencement in 1964. In 1965 she received her M.A. in English Education from what is now called the Warner School of Education, and in 1976 completed her PhD at Duke University where she had accompanied her husband for his medical internship and residency. She remained at Duke, serving eventually as director of the Office of Continuing Education, and finally Vice Provost for Academic and Administrative Services. Throughout her career she has served on the Duke faculty, and continues to teach as a Visiting Professor.

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JR:      Judith Ruderman

MM:    Melissa Mead

MM:    All right, today is Sunday, October 19th, 2014 and I’m speaking with Judith Lehman Ruderman, Class of 1964.  Judith, thank you so much for joining us and for giving us your time to do this Living History Project interview.

JR:      My pleasure.

MM:    I’d like to start by asking you to tell us a little bit about your background, where you’re from originally, and family, and schooling, and how you got here to Rochester.

JR:      I’m from Rockville Center, Long Island, New York on the South Shore of Long Island.  I would say today since Doris Kearns Goodwin[1] was our keynote speaker this weekend that the claim to fame is that Doris was in our same high school – in fact she lived around the corner from me.  And it was a very nice place to grow up in.  Nobody in my family had graduated… had gone to college; nobody had a college degree, so I was the first. I went to a good high school, Southside Senior High School, and that prepared me well.

I actually got to Rochester, I would say, more or less by a fluke; because I had actually never heard of the University of Rochester when I was a junior in high school and a friend of my father’s said, "I think Judy ought to look at Rochester."  I thought it was a state school like Buffalo – I had no idea, but I went up in my junior year of high school, my first plane trip, with my father and a combination I think of 3 things got me to Rochester.  One, it was my first plane trip – very exciting; two, it was just me and my father and I admired my father very much – in fact, he was a formative influence on me, I would say, intellectually, even though he never went to college; and three, I loved the University of Rochester when I got here.  It probably wasn't raining, it wasn't snowing, it was a nice day… Whatever it was, I liked the whole gestalt and so I applied to Rochester early decision. So it was the only school I applied to, and I got in, and I'm very happy about it.

MM:    Can you tell us a little bit more about your father?

JR:      Yes.  Well, I was in a home with two parents and my mother was formative on me musically because she played the piano and loved music, and my grandmother lived with us and she sang.  So my mother was the musical side, but my father who was in a business that I would call technical in a way – he sold television and radio tubes.  This shows you how long ago it was, when televisions and radios had tubes, and that’s what he did for a living. 

As I said, he never went to college but he loved books.  We had a lot of books in the home and we would discuss books at the dinner table, especially novels.  So I call him my formative influence.  Unfortunately he died young and never saw how I perpetuated his love of books, which became my love, but he was a very formative influence on me.

MM:    Thank you.  So, you arrive in the fall of 1960 as a freshman.  Can you tell us about what it was like for Orientation and what your impressions were when you arrived?

JR:      What I loved, immediately loved, was the camaraderie of the women in the Susan B. Anthony Hall.[2]  So all the women lived together and the class was much smaller then – our whole class might have been 600-plus students and all the women lived together.[3]  I think there might have been fewer women than men; maybe it was 200-something women. There we were all together in the Hall and I liked that camaraderie.  I’m still close to several of those people and reunited this weekend with many, many, many others.

And, I loved Freshman Camp.  There was something about that.  I kept a scrapbook of high school and college and a little bit after, and I looked through the scrapbook when the call came out for pictures to send in to put in our memory book, or on the Web, and I saw I had several pictures from Frosh Camp; I just loved it.  So in my junior year I became the co-chair or chair, I forget what it was, of Frosh Camp[4] because it was such a bonding experience to go off campus.  Those are the things I remember.[5]

I remember wearing my beanie – and I still have my freshman beanie.[6]  Now we say “first year student” we don't say freshman, you know, but we said freshman then, and that’s what I still have and I display it proudly in my study. So that’s what I remember about first arriving on campus.

MM:    And so you lived in the women’s dormitory?

JR:      Yes, 5th floor of Hollister.[7]

MM:    And you would’ve eaten, then, in the women’s—in the cafeteria there?

JR:      Yes, but we didn’t call it a cafeteria.  It wasn’t really a cafeteria; it was a dining hall.  Even though we went to college in 1960, it was really the 50’s, if you know what I mean.  It was a very conservative campus in many ways and that includes how women behaved.  So one of the things that women did was to sit down at a table and be served by waitresses; they were our peers, our college classmates, but they were waitresses.  So we didn’t call it a cafeteria; we called it the dining hall.  And the food wasn’t all that great as we remember; we used to joke that we had mystery meat of 2 varieties – brown mystery meat and gray mystery meat.  Nonetheless, we ate in a very civilized manner, right in our dormitory.

MM:    Did you go – so the men would’ve eaten at that point in the men’s dining center, but did you go eat at all in the men’s dining center?

JR:      No.  

MM:    Did you go and use the coffee shop in Todd Union?[8]

JR:      I’m sure I did, but you know, we have selective memories and some people have better memories than others.  I don’t remember going to the coffee shop there, it’s the kind of thing I would’ve liked to do so I’m going to say that I did it.  But my memories of eating, per se, are in the women’s dining hall.  Now, eventually, my boyfriend was in a fraternity[9] and they had a cook – I almost remember her name; I think it was Mrs. Lewis – so I could eat there also, but I ate in the women’s dormitory.

MM:    Where did you study?

JR:      I studied either in my room, with… on my bed, probably not at my desk because that’s how I studied in high school, or I studied in the Welles-Brown Room. I was not a sleeper, so I noticed around campus today, just like where I am now at Duke, students sleeping all over in the library.  But I was not a sleeper, so I was studying in the Welles-Brown Room,[10] which I loved, I loved that atmosphere, or I studied in the stacks.

MM:    Did you have– skipping slightly ahead; you were in an Honors seminar – did you have a carrel assigned to you in the stacks?

JR:      Yes, I did.  But I couldn’t tell you where it was, but I did have it, because I remember studying in the stacks and I probably studied there if I had a carrel assigned to me.  The Honors Program was very special; of course, that was only the final two years. I would consider myself blessed and graced to have been at Rochester when they had the Honors Program, which lasted only 6 years.[11]

MM:    So as a … looking at the first two years, what classes do you remember taking?  Or, overall four years, which classes stand out?  And, which seem to have been just fun to take?

JR:      Well, I would say some classes that stand out are classes I never took and wished I had.  I never took an art history class –wished I had.  I never took a music appreciation class, and I never took a history class, among the many subjects I never took.  But in my first two years, I remember my biology class with Professor Caspari[12] – because -- not because… it’s not the only reason, but one reason is I remember the labs and the dissections and I remember there was a sophomore in the lab with me.  He turned out to be the guy that I married, so I remember for that reason.  Also I had come to Rochester thinking I might be a biology major; where I got that, I’m not sure. I was never particularly good in science but I think this was also an influence from my father because we loved nature programs, we loved animals, we loved the outdoors, and I guess I associated that with Biology writ large, and so I came as a biology major, and so that was one of the first classes I took.  And he was a very intriguing and wonderful professor – not a, not a sparkling professor in terms of a teaching style, but somebody we admired.  Then I also remember the guy who ran our lab, so that was something that stood out.

It’s mainly the Honors program that stands out for me, because that was most formative, the deepest experience intellectually that I had and the most memorable, and that was only in my final two years.

MM:    So let’s talk about that.  What classes did you take in the Honors program?

JR:      I took classes with the most marvelous professors; and I’m not sure how much you know about the Honors Program, especially because it was short-lived, but we only two took seminars a semester instead of the normal four courses a semester.  And you didn’t have exams after your fall semester; you had all your exams, meaning four, because you only took four courses for the whole year – this is one reason why it was too expensive to maintain.  And at the end, you were examined by outside examiners, people you didn’t know who came from outside the university and they grilled you orally.  Now can you imagine as, you know, a junior or senior in college, to have a famous poet come and talk to you about modern poetry, which you had taken maybe in the fall semester and with a totally different professor?

And you were doing this orally in a conversation.  This was such good preparation for me to continue on in the life of academia.   What I remember of my seminars were the following:  I remember being among a group, maybe there were 10 in a seminar, of extremely bright people.  And we wrote paper upon paper upon paper, which is good preparation for almost anything.  And the professors that we had I remember Kitty Koller, we didn't call her Kitty Koller, but that was Katherine Koller, we didn't call her Kathrine Koller, either.[13] Professor Koller; she was probably the only female tenured faculty member in English at the time, and she was wonderful.

I remember Professor Weinberg [14]– and how, and I put this in the memory book; when we reviewed the materials that you put out for us from our days here and even our 25th year memory book, I said the same thing in that memory book, which is that I mispronounced in Professor Weinberg’s seminar.  We had to read our papers aloud; can you just imagine that?  And be judged by our peers and these famous professors?  And I mispronounced the word “macabre.”   I said “mac-a-bra.”  And I never forgot it.  But nobody laughed at me; just corrected me.  It must’ve stuck with me because I put it in the 25th reunion memory book and in the 50th reunion.  But he was excellent.

And Norman O. Brown[15] who was a famous professor in, gosh, a mixture of Psychoanalysis and Comparative Literature; he was so inter-disciplinary I can hardly categorize him.  He would eat a piece of chalk as he paced around the room – it was one of his idiosyncrasies.  These are some of the seminars that I remember, but it was the whole picture, that I remember.  The joy of going into a subject matter very deeply because you’re only taking 2 courses the whole semester. Some people didn’t like that, and were sorry that they did the Honors program, because our educations were a bit narrower – not a bit, a lot narrower – than other students.[16] Hence no music appreciation, art appreciation, and so forth.  But they were deep and that was useful.

MM:    Where were the classes held?

JR:      Many of them – maybe all of the Honors Seminars were held in the professors’ homes. That was another joy.  My heavens!  And we had… we were often served sherry.  I don't like sherry, but it was the sophistication of sitting around with your peers and your professor sipping sherry and mouthing "deep thoughts" – or at least, you thought they were deep.  They probably were very shallow but they were our thoughts and we were enjoying hearing each others’ thoughts.  So a lot of my classes in the last two years were in the professors’ homes.  Maybe that was a requirement of them; I don’t know.

MM:    How did you get into the Honors Program?  Did you apply for it?  Did someone put you forward?

JR:      I guess. I have no idea.  Just … as far as my memory goes, it was just a miracle that happened.  We must have applied, maybe we were nominated, maybe we were recommended.  I don’t know.  Maybe we had to have a certain grade point average. I don't know. All I know is that I kind of flowered in the Honors program.  I was a good high school student; I wasn’t a great high school student, I wasn’t in the top 10.  I was 20th in my high school class.  By the time I graduated from Rochester, I graduated second in the class with highest Honors and it was because I was so stimulated. Also I was a hard worker, that was part of it, but I was stimulated by my intellectual environment and very sad to hear that shortly thereafter, there was no more Honors Program.

MM:    So what did you do for fun?

JR:      Believe it or not, that was great fun for me.  And still is.  Sometimes people say “You know, you’re supposed to be retired!  Why are you still working on books and stuff?” I enjoy it!  What I did for fun: I did a lot of things for fun, as you say – extra-curricular.

MM:  Co-curricular, they call it now.

JR:  Co-curricular, yes, I know, they do at Duke, too. Co-curricular. I am surprised to have to say that I don’t think I sang in college, I thought I did sing with Ward Woodbury,[17] but I didn't see my picture in our yearbook as being in the big chorus, and I certainly wasn’t in any of the productions; because… I'm surprised because I sang before, and I sang after and I still sing.  So what did I do?  Well, I tended to do a lot of RA-type work.  When I was a sophomore, I was on a freshman hall as their kind of – I don’t know what they called it then, I don't remember what they called it then.  And when I was a senior, I didn’t move over to the brand new co-ed dorm[18] as all my friends did because I got free room and board to be an RA. 

I didn’t become an RA to get free room and board; I became an RA because I enjoyed that kind of thing.  So as I said, I was chair or co-chair, probably co-chair, of Frosh Camp; I did a lot of that kind of thing.  I was a volunteer at Strong Hospital.  In my scrapbook, there’s a certificate from the Red Cross. And I had many hours of doing that.  And I would walk across the, I think there were railroad tracks, to get to Strong. And I remember holding babies, holding newborns who didn’t have somebody to hold them. Babies who were… could be sick and whatever.  I remember doing a lot of that. I don’t remember anything else that I did but I worked – I don’t know how many hours, but a lot of hours there.  So I did that for fun. That was co-curricular. I'm trying to remember what else.

I saw in the scrapbook that I'd won the Theta Eta prize[19] when I graduated, given to the senior woman who, I can't remember exact words,  by her influence and by her achievements and by her activities has done the most to influence the River Campus. I was shocked to see that because I didn’t remember doing that much.  But I guess I did enough.  I was on the women’s judicial board,[20] which is kind of funny because decades and decades and decades later, one of my responsibilities as Vice Provost[21] at Duke was to be in charge of academy integrity endeavors at Duke, so I guess I was always a goody-goody.  I was on the judicial board then and I was still working in academic integrity issues all those decades later.

MM:    And you were a Marsien?[22]

JR:      Yes.  I think that was an honorary society. Marsien, was an honorary society. Frankly, I don’t – I know I was involved in a lot of committee work and just getting things done. I always liked to get things done. So I was…I wasn’t involved in activities now I wish I had been, like Co-Kast[23]  or Ward Woodbury’s singing groups.  I remember playing volleyball as… in college, which is funny because I’m very short. I was just a little taller then, but not much--we shrink with older age. But those are the things that I did.  I’m not sure why I won that Theta Eta prize, but I did.

MM:    Did you – if you didn’t perform in productions, did you go to productions?  Do you remember going to Co-Kast or Kaleidoscope?[24]

JR:      I don’t remember them then, but when I got married, right after graduation my husband Bob Ruderman, class of ’63, went to Rochester for medical school in part, in part -- great part -- because we were engaged and he wanted to stay close and he was a year ahead of me and we became the first housemother and housefather to live in the women’s dormitory.  This was brand new, to have a married couple live there. And I remember that we either that year, that first year of our marriage, which would’ve been right after my graduation, or my senior year, we reviewed productions for the newspaper, and one reason I remember that is because one of the leads in one of those productions later wound up at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  And we became friends, and he said “You know, you panned my performance in 1963 or '64 in Danton’s Death[25] and I never forgot it, but I’m going to forgive you for it.” 

So I know that we reviewed productions and I’m sure I went to them, but what I most remember is you know, seeing Ray Charles[26] or some of the bigger things.  I believe Bobby Kennedy spoke at Duke, not at Duke, listen to me, I’ve been at Duke so long sometimes that happens… at Rochester while I was there.[27]  But I’m sure I went to the productions; they kind of are in the background noise of my memories of the U of R.

MM:    Did you go to football games?

JR:      No.  I’m sure I must have gone to a couple of football games. I do remember going to basketball games, but not football games. I was never a big football fan.  However, I was proposed to in Fauver Stadium on the eve of Bob’s graduation in 1963.  We were sitting in the bleachers on a lovely evening in Fauver Stadium and I guess it was assumed one day we would get married, but I must’ve said something about – I think I said something like "You know, I certainly don't  need any ring to be engaged."  He took a ring out of his pocket and he said “Well, how about this ring?’  I remember that – you see! I may not remember what I saw of Co-Kast and I'm sure I went to those productions, but I do remember being proposed to in Fauver Stadium in 1963! 

MM:    That’s wonderful.  We have lots of stories of people falling in love in the book stacks, but not a proposal in Fauver Stadium.

A:        No, but I have a nice story about the book stacks and it also has to do with the man that I married. He also was an English Honors.  Although he always intended to be a physician, he also loved literature so he was in English Honors with me.  We studied Paradise Lost, I remember, in the stacks together.  I don’t think this was my own carrel, I don't know what it was, but we studied Paradise Lost together.  And we decided that we would engrave part of Book 9 in our wedding rings, which we did.  And the line was “To lose thee were to lose myself” – Adam says to Eve or Eve says to Adam.  Half of it was engraved in his ring and half was engraved in mine.  And eventually his ring was stolen when he left it in the changing area to do an operation and my ring fell down the drain in the bathtub.  So, so much for “To lose thee were to lose myself’”!

Of course, he died very young, not of course, but he did die very young, as his parents had.  He died at 40, so I did lose him eventually but not…he always is here and here[28]– and one of my nice memories at Rochester is that I’m one of the many people in my class and probably in many other classes, who met their spouses in college, which is a good time to meet your spouse.  When you know, you’re away from your parents and you do activities together and you’re in classes together, and grow emotionally and intellectually and so forth.

MM:    So how aware were you, if at all, of what was going on in the administration?  Your class bridged the end of the de Kiewiet presidency[29] and the start of the W. Allen Wallis[30] presidency, there was a fair amount of construction on campus –[31] was that at all part of your life?

JR:      No, it was outside of my radar.  I knew who our president was, and I’m sure I knew who the deans were and so forth, but I don’t even remember being aware – somebody told me that this was the integration of women and men on the same campus.  No?

MM:    No, that was, that happened in 1955.  Yours was the first year that had the co-ed dorms, so Wilder and Anderson towers–

JR:      Well, but not until I was a senior.

MM:    Yes.  When you were a senior, but those were being built.  And they were opened as co-ed dorms, and that was new, I think.

JR:      I never lived there because I was an RA and was still in the women’s dormitory trying to be a big sister to these – and that also was influential on me because when I became an administrator and teacher at Duke, I was always a pre-major advisor, and that’s one of the things I like about being on a college campus.  So I’m sure that was influential on me too, but I never partook of the co-ed dormitory.

MM:    So you – you love music, although you didn’t necessarily take any here.  Did you go down to Eastman School and listen to any concerts?

JR:      Never. Never. I can’t believe it.  I didn’t.  And I rarely went downtown.  I have 2 memories of going downtown in 4 years.  One was shopping at Sibley’s[32] or McCurdy’s[33] or maybe both – I must’ve been looking for a particular dress for a particular function.  And the other was sitting-in at the police station as, you know, part of the Civil Rights movement.  I remember doing that; do not ask me where the police station was or what year this was – it would’ve been ’63 or ’64.  I remember that. Otherwise, I never went downtown.

Now, you have to understand how amazing this is to me. Because, just to repeat, I was very musical in high school and post-college. So this is a big gap in my education that I never took advantage of the Eastman School.  I’m mad at myself.

MM:    Many people didn’t; it’s very rare to find people who did. But so I won’t ask you which police station, but why were you in a police station?  What was the event that you were…?

JR:      It must’ve –

MM: … what landed you there, and were you on the wrong side of the cell, or were you just protesting something?

JR:      Oh, no, I wasn't arrested.  We must have been sitting in, because there must’ve been an incident of either racial profiling, or something happened with the Rochester Police.  And so a group of us sat in at the police station. For all I know that police station was right off campus, so I can’t even tell you if that was downtown.

I did not take advantage of anything off campus; the most off-campus I remember is boating on the Genesee, which I very much enjoyed because that was outside. I did take advantage of the location of the University right on the river which, to me, was a very big plus.  It’s very beautiful.

MM:    What kind of boating did you do?

JR:      Canoeing.  Just canoeing.  You could rent a canoe – just for pleasure.

MM:    So you were here after 1964, because you stayed on because your husband was going to medical school?

JR:      I was getting a Master’s – they didn’t call it a Master of Arts in Teaching; they called it a Master’s in Education.  My goal was to teach high school to put my husband through medical school.  He had some scholarships but his parents died young.  I never knew his father and his mother died 3 years after we were married.  She was very young, and he would die very young – a genetic kind of a thing.  So I stayed at Rochester to get my Master’s so I could teach high school.

At that time… and then I always did really want to get a PhD in English, always wanted to, but that would have to wait.  And that was okay; this was a very 50’s mentality, although it was the 60’s.  When my husband graduated from medical school, his sister gave me a plaque and on it, it had a loving cup.  And on it, I still have it, it said “Best supporting actress in the Making of a Doctor.”   This was the expectation in the 50’s, because we went to college right after the 50’s that we would find our spouses in college.  And, that we would get married right after college – many of us did, not everybody – and that we would often, the expectation was, you would support your husband in some way if he was going to professional school.  That was fine with me.  It tickles me a little, but my, Bob was very supportive and he always knew I would go back and get a PhD.

Anyway, the medical school encouraged a year out to do research, so he was at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology[34] in the middle of his medical school career, so I finished up my Master’s at George Washington.  And I taught one year in Washington and I taught 2 years at Rush Henrietta High School.  I loved teaching high school, I loved those kids, but I wanted to do research also and that’s not something you can do as a high school teacher, so eventually I went for my PhD.[35]   So, between the two of us, we had 4 degrees from Rochester, which was nice.  It wasn’t called the Warner School then, though now on my name tags, it’ll say “W 66.”

MM:    I’m going to backtrack to your senior year because – yours was a very interesting class in terms of it being on the cusp of change. I’ve heard it described as sort of the last conservative class.

JR:      I would say.

MM:    And there’s a big event which I think precipitates that.  What I’ve been asking others, do you remember - I’m sure you do – when Kennedy was shot?[36]

JR:      Yes. I was in the women’s dormitory because I was an RA, so that’s why I was still there. And I remember I was either in my room and rushed out to the hall when I heard that or I happened to be in the hall but I remember that very well.  I also remember when Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald.  I happened to be watching that on TV when they were leading Oswald out when he was assassinated.  Those were two very big events.  Mostly my class was conservative. We had a cadre of about four guys, who were very avant garde in that they smoked pot, they had long hair, they may have had an earring – they were kind of late 60’s guys in the early 60’s.[37] 

I remember them because they were very special.  And I had classes with them.  They tended to be in Honors seminars.  One of them became a henchman in the inner circle of James Jones in the People’s Temple[38] and was killed or he killed himself, after killing others, in the Jonestown massacre.  So they were very interesting guys, but on the whole I think we were rather conservative in all ways.

MM:    Did your outlook change or did you see a change in your classmates, after Kennedy’s death?

JR:      I don’t know.  Kennedy’s death happened so soon before we graduated – the fall of the year that we graduated – so you know, did we become more sober?  Were we terribly shaken up?  Probably.  After that is when I remember sitting-in at the police station and whether there’s a direct connection I don’t know, but Martin Luther King was very much in the air if you will, at the time as well.  Let’s see, he was assassinated in ’68 I think,[39] but his speeches and his march on Washington came after that.[40]

I guess, for me, I was not totally politically and socially aware; I became more so later. As a result of Kennedy’s assassination, Martin Luther King’s activities, and the whole Civil Rights movement?  I can’t say.  It’s just that I grew more mature.  These were formative events.  There were probably… Then Vietnam happened and by the late 60’s I was more in tune with the times. In the early 60’s, I would say I was rather self-centered, naïve.  A good friend of mine was very politically aware – so I'm not saying we were all like that. There was one particular friend who was then and still is in the forefront of political movements, but I wasn’t.

MM:    So and as a kind of follow-up, you stayed in Rochester and lived on campus.  Do you remember anything, any of the events surrounding the race riots we had here in 1964 in July?[41]

JR:      No, I do not.  Now where would I have been in July of ’64? I was not on campus in July of '64. I got married in June, I would have had a little honeymoon in the Adirondacks.  And then…I’m not sure where I was in the summer of '64, but I don’t remember those race riots. It’s very embarrassing to say those things, "I don't remember this, I wasn't active in that," but it is what it is and I can’t do it all over again and be a better person.  Anyway, you don’t have to respond; I’m just saying.

MM:    I think that that’s very normal for the time.

JR:      I think I was working for the Urban League[42] in the summer. I don't know. I did work for the Urban League, now there something that should be to my credit so to speak [laughs]… Maybe we came back right before the fall semester began. I don't know.

MM:    What did you do for the Urban League? Do you remember?

JR:      I was some kind of canvasser for them. I was pretty much the only – very few white people in the office at that time, but I did work for the Urban League.  But I can’t tell you when.

MM:    Do you feel… It seems like there are a lot of things you did here as a student which, whether intentionally or unintentionally, have prepared you for the career you had – being an RA essentially, or housemother seems to have prepared you for your life as a dean and assistant provost, and working with students.  Do you think that that’s the case?

JR:      Well, the main preparation I got here was the Honors Program.  Some things I did in a co-curricular way I had done in high school too and I followed my high school– except for music – followed my high school interests in college. But the Honors Program was the most totally formative experience of my college career.  Because of all the papers we wrote, because of the association with professors, because of the intellectual dialogues – all of that prepared me.[43]  I'd always wanted to get a PhD in English – I won’t say always because I came as a biology major, perhaps biology major, but for a long time I thought I wanted to get a PhD.

It’s not that I didn’t have that idea; it’s just that I think I knew how to do it better, because I was prepared, by being in the Honors Program.

MM:    Would you have done anything differently, can you think?

JR:      Yeah.  As I’ve implied, I probably – I can’t – you know, woulda, shoulda, coulda.  I don't know. I wish that I had done music and I’m not sure why I didn’t, because I remember singing with Ward Woodbury but there’s no record of that, so I must have fantasized that somehow.  And more involved in politics perhaps, but I was very happy doing what I was doing.  So, and I try not to look back anyway, because what’s the point?  I can’t change it; it is what it was.  And it was a good time for me.  First time… for every college student, except for the townies who might have lived at home and come to campus, I had the privilege, especially from a family which was I would say lower middle class, we were middle class, but we were lower-middle-class, without any college degrees, being the first, being encouraged by my parents to go to college.  I did work and I did have some scholarship – I was the laundry girl and I sold personalized stationery and then I was an RA with free room and board so it wasn’t a total burden on them, but it was a burden. I feel privileged to have spent 4 years in this bubble if you will -- maybe too much of a bubble for me, but we were kids of the '50s by and large, not all of us—some very active politically, and I learned a lot. I had wonderful faculty.  That’s why I came to college really – not to find a husband, not to have co-curricular; all that's important, but I came to college for an intellectual experience and to prepare me for the rest of my life not necessarily as an academic, but as a human being, as a citizen who could read, who could write, who could vote.  And I got that from Rochester and I can’t imagine having better faculty than I had.  I don’t remember having any bad teachers; have I repressed who they were? I don't know. But I remember all my teachers as being wonderful, and that’s a gift.  I owe a great deal to Rochester for that.

MM:    Is there anything else you can think of to add that I might have missed that you want to comment on?

JR:      I just hope that I’m as good a teacher and a scholar as my own were at the U of R.  I had lunch with one of my professors on Friday and I must’ve thought he was very old when I was in his class but he was only 10 years older than I was.  So he was a young professor and he’s been teaching now 53 years at the University of Rochester, Russell Peck.[44]  Coincidentally his son[45] teaches at Duke and looks just like him, and Russell Peck is 81 – 10 years older than I – and still teaching.

And still editing, he’s editing volumes of medieval texts that he and his graduate students gloss and have wonderful notes about and he wants to have I think he said something like 144 volumes all together and he’s only on about volume 79.  You see, he’s my ideal; he’ll be working until the day he drops over his desk, and that's, he’s my kind of role model.  A U of R kind of role model.  And that’s all I need to say.

MM:    Thank you very much.  I think we’ll end it here.

JR:      Thank you, Melissa.  It’s been a pleasure.

[1] Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the author of six books including Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005), No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II (1994), and The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism (2013) (“Doris Kearns Goodwin Biography.” Blithdale Productions. 2012. Web. 1 May 2017. http://www.doriskearnsgoodwin.com/about.html).    

[2] Susan B. Anthony Hall opened on the River Campus in 1955.  The building primarily serves as a co-educational dormitory for first-year students.  It houses the Danforth Dining Hall, and office space, including the primary Office of Residential Life and Housing Services (“The Campus.” University of Rochester. 1998-2015. [RBSC]: Web. 3 May 2017. http://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/1455; “Office of Residential Life and Housing Services.” University of Rochester. 2012-2017. Web. 3 May 2017. https://www.rochester.edu/reslife/freshmen/housing-options/res-halls.html). 

[3] There are 483 students included in the class photos for the junior class in the 1964 Interpres (Interpres Class of 1964. [RBSC]: Web. 3 May 2017. http://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/interpres/browse-all).

[4] The first “Frosh Camp” took place in 1924, as an outgrowth of freshmen week, a concept begun in 1918.  “Frosh Camp” introduced first-year students to their fellow classmates through a series of activities including sports, skits, and learning of University and class songs.  Select juniors and faculty members supervised the camp, and selection as a student mentor was an honor deserving of mention in the Interpres, the long-time yearbook for Rochester students.  Women first attended a three day “house party” held opposite the men’s frosh camp; however, in 1938 the men’s camp was suspended, while women continued the tradition at various regional campgrounds.  The final frosh camp took place in 1967, its demise largely a reflection of the changing political climate within the student body (“Ask the Archivist: Freshman Week, B.B. King.” Rochester Review 77.1 (September-October 2014): 26-7. Web. 1 May 2017. https://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V77N1/0312_archivist.html).

[5] Judith Lehman belonged to the Frosh Week Committee as a junior (Interpres Class of 1964. 107. [RBSC]: Web. 5 May 2017).  She also belonged to the Social and Traditions Committee and Advisory Board (111).  

[6] According to Harmon Potter (Class of 1938), a longtime member of the office of admissions staff at the University of Rochester, if the freshman class lost the annual “flag rush” to the sophomores (a near inevitability), then freshmen had to wear beanies and travel in the campus tunnels throughout the first semester (“Harmon Potter.” Living History Project [RBSC]: Web. 5 May 2017. http://livinghistory.lib.rochester.edu/).  The tradition of class cap wearing among students at the University of Rochester began in 1900; from 1905 to 1937, the student handbook stipulated that freshmen wear caps.  While the initial caps were grey “Eton” style, green and yellow caps became the campus staple when cap wearing continued after World War II.  Students continued to don the beanies until 1967 (“Ask the Archivist: ‘What’s the History of this Hat?’ Melissa Mead. Rochester Review 79.2 (November-December 2016): 18. Web. 5 May 2017. https://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V79N2/pdf/0308_ata.pdf).  

[7] Hollister Hall is one of the four interconnecting wings—the others are Gates Hall, Gannett Hall, and Morgan Hall—that make up Susan B. Anthony Hall (“Office of Residential Life and Housing Services.” University of Rochester. 2012-2017. Web. 8 May 2017. https://www.rochester.edu/reslife/freshmen/housing-options/res-halls.html). 

[8] University of Rochester historian Arthur May recounts that after World War II, “Todd Union committees arranged coffee hours and suppers” and also hosted a “Night of Sin” which featured gambling games played with fake money (Arthur J. May. History of the University of Rochester, 1850-1962. [RBSC]: Web. 2005. http://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/2347).  

[9] Bob Ruderman belonged to Kappa Nu, a Jewish fraternity that first welcomed pledges at the University of Rochester in 1911.  A “Mrs. Thomas” is pictured along with the men of Kappa Nu; she is the only woman pictured with any of the fraternities (Interpres Class of 1962. 214. [RBSC]: Web. 8 May 2017).

[10] The Welles-Brown Room was designed as a casual reading and study space.  In addition to continuing to serve in those capacities, it frequently hosts visiting speakers (“Rush Rhees Library: Historical Spaces.” University of Rochester Libraries. 1998-2017. Web. 8 May 2017. https://www.library.rochester.edu/rhees/history/spaces).

[11] It is unclear to what Ruderman refers when she claims that the Honors Program lasted six years.  Experiments with what was then called the “Honors Division” began in 1926, when individual departments were granted authority to conduct honors courses.  Interestingly, Frank Aydelotte, then president of Swarthmore College – where former University of Rochester President Alan Valentine, who implemented the Honors Program at U of R, obtained his undergraduate degree -- addressed the University of Rochester on Swarthmore’s honors program in 1928.  Juniors in the Class of 1941 were the first students to partake of an official University wide Honors Division, which stressed smaller class sizes, freer choice of coursework, and greater research and writing (May, History 2005).  For alumni reflections on the Honors Division, see the Living History Project interviews with George Mullen and G. Robert Witmer.  For those of an alumnus and a former faculty member, see the Living History Project interview with Richard Wade.

[12] Professor Ernst W. Caspari

[13] Dr. Kathrine Koller (Diez) (1903-1993), an authority on 17th century English literature, was the first woman head of a major department at the University of Rochester. She was chairperson of the Department of English from 1946 to 1958, when she resigned her administrative duties to devote full time to teaching, research, and writing. Prior to coming to the University in 1942 as an assistant professor, she was assistant professor of English at Bryn Mawr College. In 1944 she was promoted to associate professor, and in 1946 was named Joseph H. Gilmore Professor of English. A graduate of Wittenberg College, she received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1952-53. According to her New York Times obituary, “Beyond her expertise in 17th-century English literature, she was known for her belief in the need of a firm footing in the humanities for young people to help them learn self-discipline and integrity.” Dr. Koller-Diez has contributed an interview to the Living History Project, which provided information for this footnote (“Katherine Koller-Diez.” Living History Project [RBSC]: Web. 1 May 2017. http://livinghistory.lib.rochester.edu/).

[14] Professor Kurt Weinberg (French, German, and Comparative Literature)

[15] Norman O. Brown joined the University of Rochester faculty in 1962, as one of the founding faculty members of the new department in foreign and comparative literatures.  Trained as a classicist, Brown had established himself as an academic cause célѐbre prior to arriving at Rochester, largely due to his provocative book Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (1960) (“The University.” Rochester Review (September-October 1962): 14. [RBSC]: Web. http://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/rochester-review/browse-all).

[16] In his interview available via the Living History Project, George Mullen (Class of 1941) expresses this criticism “[The Honors Program] had some very strong points and some I thought were weak.  I’m the only person who ever left the Honors Program of his own volition . . . . the thing I missed was the great lectures of [professor of English John] Slater and all those great professors . . . . I was not as interested in hearing about what George Mullen said at that point of view than I was Slater and [professor of history Dexter] Perkins and [professor of history Arthur] May” (“George Mullen.” Living History Project [RBSC]: Web. 5 May 2017. http://livinghistory.lib.rochester.edu/).

[17] Ward Woodbury (Ph.D. ESM 1954) was the first director of music on the River Campus and was director of the Men’s Glee Club.  Prior to coming to the River Campus, Woodbury worked in the ESM opera department from 1949 to 1954.  The Men’s Glee Club celebrated its 90th anniversary with a concert in April, 1965, which may contribute to Ruderman’s lasting memory of Woodbury (Vincent A. Lenti. Serving a Great and Nobel Art: Howard Hanson and the Eastman School of Music. Rochester: Meliora Press, 2009.306; “Men’s Glee Club.” Living History Project. [RBSC]: Web. http://livinghistory.lib.rochester.edu/).

[18] The Towers, now Anderson and Wilder residence halls, became the first co-educational dormitories on River Campus when they opened to students in September 1963.  The dorms housed men and women on separate floors, and elicited strong public sentiments.  Joseph Cole, then dean of student affairs, wrote in the Rochester Review “it is only the confidence and pride in the judgment of Rochester men and women that has permitted us to embark on this program.” He acknowledged “we recognize the Towers as experimental and we expect it will be necessary to evaluate the program on the basis of experience.”  Looking back on the experience, then University of Rochester President Allen Wallis remarked, “the newspapers really did sort of play this up. We were getting complaints from alumni.  Parents were speaking very favorably of [co-educational dorms]” (“Celebrate Meliora Weekend: A Towering Reunion.” Scott Hauser. Rochester Review 78.1 (September-October 2015): 40-5. Web. 1 May 2017. https://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V78N1/0504_fifty-main.html; “Cornelis de Kiewiet, Allen Wallis, and Robert Sproull.” Living History Project [RBSC]: Web. 1 May 2017. http://livinghistory.lib.rochester.edu/).   

[19] Theta Eta became the first sorority at the University of Rochester on September 13, 1903; it discontinued operations in 1970, due to low enrollment.  From 1942 until its dissolution, the sorority awarded the Senior Prize, a cash award that recognized “contribution to campus life” (“Theta Eta Sorority Papers.” collections description, [RBSC]: Web. 3 May 2017. http://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/4736). 

[20] The Interpres for the class of 1964 includes both a photograph of a judicial board (105) and a photograph of a women’s judicial board, of which Judith Lehman was one of five members (112) (Class of 1964 Interpres [RBSC]: Web. 5 May 2017).

[21] Ruderman retired from her position as vice provost and adjunct professor of English in 2009.  She continues to teach one class per academic year at Duke (“Judith Ruderman.” Duke University. 2017. Web. 3 May 2017. https://english.duke.edu/people/judith-ruderman).

[22] The senior honorary society inducted at least eight members each year. Arthur May calls the Marsiens “the most influential undergraduate organization at the women’s campus.” Its male counterpart, the Keidaeans, became a co-educational group in 1971, and continues to function as the campus honorary society today (“The Keidaeans, 1924-1975.” collections description, [RBSC]: Web. 3 May 2017).

[23] Co-Kast, a student drama group specializing in musicals, formed in 1958.  The group performed such Broadway standards as Girl Crazy (1958) Damn Yankees (1959) The Pajama Game (1960) Bye Bye Birdie (1962) and Fiorello! (1965) and, in its final performance, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (“All the School’s a Stage.” River Campus Libraries. Web. 3 May 2017. http://projects.lib.rochester.edu/?page_id=387#lightbox/9/; “Third Act Surprises.” Scott Hauser. Rochester Review 61.3 (1999): [RBSC]: Web. 3 May 2017. https://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V61N3/feature6.html).

[24] Kaleidoscope was an all-female drama club that produced original work. It was founded in 1910 when several women’s campus organizations presented a series of skits to benefit the YWCA. Kaleidoscope adopted its trademark musical comedy focus in the 1930s. The 1939 show On the Brink, a satire of the current international situation, was publicized via a telegram to Hitler himself. Their counterpart at the College for Men was the Quilting Club (Q-Club) founded in 1939. The two clubs merged to form a co-ed organization called The Jesters in 1961. (Rochester Review (April-May 1962). [RBSC]: Web).

[25] A play by Georg Bucher that dramatizes events during the “Reign of Terror” in 1794 France.  Last performed by the University of Rochester’s International Theatre Program in 2009 (“International Theatre Program Productions.” University of Rochester. 2013-2017. Web. 8 May 2017. http://www.sas.rochester.edu/theatre/productions/past/2009/dantons-death/resources.html).

[26] Ray Charles performed at the Palestra in November 1963 as part of Fall Weekend (“Celebrate Meliora Weekend: A Towering Reunion.” Scott Hauser. Rochester Review 78.1 (September-October 2015): 40-5. Web. 1 May 2017. https://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V78N1/0504_fifty-main.html).

[27] Robert Kennedy spoke at the University of Rochester in September of 1964.  He later returned to campus with President Lyndon B. Johnson in October of 1964 (ibid).

[28] Points to head and heart

[29] Cornelis de Kiewiet, president of the University of Rochester 1951-1961 (“Presidents of the University.” University of Rochester. 1996-2017. Web. 10 May 2017. http://www.rochester.edu/president/history.html).

[30] W. Allen Wallis, president of the University of Rochester 1962-1970; chancellor, 1970-1978 (ibid).

[31] Major additions to campus during the Wallis administration included the Hill Court residential facilities, Wilder and Anderson towers, Hopeman Engineering Building (1962), Elizabeth Hoyt Hall (1962), the Brain Research Center (1963), the Interfaith Chapel (1964), and the University Park Apartments (May, History 2005; Janice Bullard Pieterse. Our Work is but Begun: A History of the University of Rochester, 1850-2005. Rochester: Meliora Press, 2014. 116-7).

[32] Sibley’s, a department store that operated in Rochester from 1868 to 1990.  Sibley’s featured an art gallery, restaurant, and other amenities.  At its height, the Rochester-based chain operated fifteen outlets between Buffalo and Rochester, and maintained a grocery store and bakery within its six-story central location at 228 E. Main Street, Rochester (“Whatever Happened To . . . Sibley’s?” Alan Morrell. Democrat & Chronicle 19 July 2014. Web. 10 May 2017. http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/local/rocroots/2014/07/18/whatever-happened-sibleys/12866151/).

[33] McCurdy’s operated several Rochester area department stores from 1901 to 1994.  Though it followed a traditional family ownership model, the chain proved innovative in two ways: first, by investing in the development of Midtown Plaza in 1962, in an attempt to revive Rochester’s downtown commercial district, and then by expanding into the Rochester suburbs and later, Eastview Mall.  Gilbert J.C. McCurdy, son of the department store’s founder, John Cooke McCurdy, belonged to the University of Rochester Board of Trustees from 1941 to 1965, and subsequently became an honorary trustee.  He has provided an interview to the Living History Project (“Whatever Happened To . . . McCurdy’s?” Alan Morrell. Democrat & Chronicle 21 November 2014. Web. 10 May 2017. http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/local/rocroots/2014/11/21/whatever-happened-mccurdys/19372903/).

[34] Located in Washington, DC, the AFIP became an independent entity in 1949.  It began under the auspices of the Army Medical Museum, founded in 1862.  Over time, the museum transformed into a medical facility, first through a cooperative agreement with the Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology in 1922, and later with its absorption into the Army Institute of Pathology, in 1946 (“Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.” Web. 3 May 2017. http://www.afip.org/). 

[35] Ruderman received her MAT from Rochester in 1965 and her Ph.D. from Duke University in 1976 (“Judith Ruderman.” Duke University. 2017. Web. 3 May 2017. https://english.duke.edu/people/judith-ruderman).

[36] John Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.  Jack Ruby fatally shot Oswald on November 24, 1963, as Oswald was being transported from a local police station to the county jail (“November 22, 1963: Death of the President.” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Web. 1 May 2017. https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/November-22-1963-Death-of-the-President.aspx).

[37] Men in the class of 1964 listed as English Honors candidates included: Frank Fennell (45), Jay Kugelman (57), Stuart Levison (58) Robert Parker (65) Steven Silverberg (72) Mark Stern (74) and Daniel Walkowitz (76).  None had long hair in their respective class portraits (Interpres Class of 1964. [RBSC]: Web. 3 May 2017. http://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/interpres/browse-all).

[38] Jim Jones founded the People’s Temple church in Indiana in 1955.  Gradually, Jones’ congregants morphed into a cult, though they retained the name “People’s Temple.”  By the early 1970s, Jones had established a loyal following in California.  In 1974, Jones and his followers moved to Guyana, where they lived on a compound known as “Jonestown.”  On November 18, 1978, over 900 people living in Jonestown committed mass suicide by drinking cyanide laced Kool-Aid, an event that became known as the “Jonestown Massacre” (“Jim Jones 1931-1978.” A&E Television Networks. 2017. Web. 5 May 2017. http://www.biography.com/people/jim-jones-10367607). For an interview with a former member of the People’s Temple, see “Drinking the Kool-Aid: A Survivor Remembers Jim Jones.” Jennifer Rothenberg Gritz. The Atlantic 18 November 2011. Web. 5 May 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/drinking-the-kool-aid-a-survivor-remembers-jim-jones/248723/. For a contemporary article addressing the murder of five members of a party travelling with California Congressman Leo Ryan, whose investigation of the Guyana compound prompted the mass suicide, see “Jonestown Massacre Takes the Lives of Hundreds in a Mass Suicide-Murder in 1978.” New York Daily News rpt. 17 November 2016. orig. pub. 20 November 1978. Web. 5 May 2017. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/jonestown-massacre-takes-lives-hundreds-1978-article-1.2877618.   

[39] King was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee (“Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (4 April 1968).” Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle. Web. 1 May 2017. http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_kings_assassination_4_april_1968/). Maintained by: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute Stanford University. Web. 1 May 2017. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-resources/document-research-requests).

[40] Major events in the Civil Rights movement that occurred during Ruderman’s tenure at Rochester included the murder of Medgar Evers, June 1963; Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, August 1963; and the Birmingham church bombing that resulted in the deaths of four girls, September 1963; the signing of the Civil Rights Act, July 1964; Martin Luther King Jr.’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, December 1964; and the assassination of Malcolm X, February 1965 (“Celebrate Meliora Weekend: A Towering Reunion.” Scott Hauser. Rochester Review 78.1 (September-October 2015): 40-5. Web. 1 May 2017. https://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V78N1/0504_fifty-main.html).

[41] Rochester’s race riots took place from July 24 to July 26, 1964.  During the riots, 4 died, at least 350 were injured, and 800 were arrested.  The arrest of a black man at a Joseph Avenue street dance prompted the activity.  Complicating the situation further, two other major race riots occurred in the summer of 1964, one in Harlem and one in Philadelphia.  The summer of 1964 would be the first in a series of summers that saw significant rioting in response to racial inequality in cities across America.  For further insight on the Rochester riot, please see the “Rochester Race Riot Papers,” available at Rush Rhees Library, Rare Books and Special Collections, and the online project Rochester Black Freedom Struggle, particularly selected interviews in the “Oral Histories” section (“The Original Long, Hot Summer.” Michael W. Flamm. New York Times 15 July 2014. Web. 1 May 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/opinion/16Flamm.html?_r=0; Rochester Black Freedom Struggle: Online Project. [RBSC]: Web. 1 May 2017. http://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/572; “Rochester Race Riot Papers.” collections description. [RBSC]: Web. 1 May 2017. http://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/1097).   

[42] The National Urban League formed in 1910.  It maintains a variety of programs to support urban residents, such as scholarship and job training initiatives.  Under the leadership of Laplois Ashford (Class of 1957), the Rochester Urban League grew to become the second largest Urban League chapter in the country.

[43] G. Robert Witmer, Jr. (Class of 1959), another participant in the Honors Program, describes the assignments for an Honors seminar this way: “In each seminar, you were expected to prepare an original research paper, circulate it, and defend it every other week . . . . half [of the class] would present one week, another half the next week.  You presented every other week” (“G. Robert Witmer, Jr." Living History Project [RBSC]: Web. 5 May 2017. http://livinghistory.lib.rochester.edu/).

[44] Peck has been a member of the Department of English faculty since 1961.  A specialist in medieval literature, Peck’s interests range across genres, time periods, and media.  The many projects and facilities that have flourished at Rochester under his stewardship include the medieval collections at Robbins Library, the Middle English Text Series (METS), and the consortium for Teaching Middle Ages (TEAMS).  Peck has won numerous teaching awards, including the Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, The Students’ Association Professor of the Year Award, and the Robert and Pamela Goergen Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.  He is also a recipient of the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service, and has also won a number of national Honors for his teaching and scholarship (“The Professor’s Tale.” Myra Gelband. Rochester Review 74.4 (March 2012): 25-31. [RBSC]: Web. 5 May 2017. https://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V74N4/pdf/0401_peckmain.pdf).  

[45] Gunther W. Peck, Associate Professor of History and Public Policy.  His faculty profile can be found here: https://sanford.duke.edu/people/faculty/peck-gunther-w).