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Memories of SSU

Ardath Lee

Part-time Faculty (English/BALA), 1972-1981
Professor, Hutchins School, 1989-1999
Acting Dean, Extended Education, 1979-1980
Acting Dean, Graduate Studies & Sponsored Programs, 1981-1983
Dean Academic Programs & Graduate Studies, 1983-1989
Faculty Coordinator, Degree Completed Program, 1987-2007

Ardath Lee and President Benson's wife Betty

Ardath Lee and President Benson's wife Betty

The Way We Were

            A nervous, part-time instructor from the English Department made her way to the Dean’s office. She had recently been thinking that part-time teaching might not provide a very good future. And, she had read about a new statewide initiative called External Degree. So, after quite a bit of thought, she wrote up an outline for an External Degree in Humanities, typed it up on a purple ditto (this was 1972, of course), and sent it off to Dr. George McCabe. She hoped that by showing this level of interest that she might become part of a team designing an external degree.

            Shy, inexperienced, unconfident, she entered Dean Fallandy’s office. (Her previous experience had been on very large campuses, where it was considered a high honor to have a face-to-face conversation even with the department chair.) After the introductions, Dr. McCabe began:           

           “We think this is a very creative proposal.”
            “What? She had only heard the word “creative” used in connection with the arts.”
            “We’d like you to get it started.”
            He continued, “I’ll fund you quarter-time for a year to get it started. You’ll need to get some faculty together.”
           And she said, “I want you to go over to the Grants Office and see about funding from NEH.”
           “NEH?”
           “Yes,” impatiently, “National Endowment for the Humanities.”
            “Oh.”
            So, she left the office with the stamp of approval, set about writing grants, and recruiting faculty (was she ever lucky—Dan Markwyn, John Smaby and Susan Moulton were the original faculty).

            Two NEH grants later, the program began in 1974.

            I was the part-time instructor. Ironically, a few years later, when the Grants Office reported to me, we put through a rule the only tenure/tenure track faculty could head up grants. There has been a problem, so of course, the rule followed. But, in those early days, we weren’t that way. Partly, the door opened for me because of the nature of those two individuals—George and Yvette. But, it was also the spirit of the place, a spirit bequeathed to us by people like Red Thomas and Amby Nichols. I remember so fondly the way we were, and hope so intensely that some of the spirit endures.