Cedric Rucker

Quote

We’re talking about the late 70s… they fought for it, they established a network of women to safeguard other women who were victims of violence, and they did it a household at a time. It was amazing… those folks were just unbelievable in their commitment.

Biography

Dean Rucker graduated from Mary Washington College in 1979 with a degree in Sociology. He then proceeded to graduate school at the University of Virginia before returning to work at Mary Washington in 1989 and has worked there from that time. He is currently an Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs at the College of Arts and Sciences. He also teaches courses in Sociology.

Interview Video

Transcript

Cedric Rucker

Interviews on the Founding of Women’s Studies at the University of Mary Washington

Part of a series of interviews on the part of the students of Professor Jess Rigelhaupt’s Oral History course in the Fall of 2010 at the University of Mary Washington

Interview conducted by

Eric Halsey and Jenn Arndt

in 2010
Discursive Table of Contents—Cedric Rucker

1-00:00:31

Chronology of time at Mary Washington

1-00:01:01

Discussion of femininity on Mary Washington’s campus during the late 1970s/early1980s—campus organizations during this time—campus leaders during this time—faculty during this time

1-00:06:05

Growth of disciplines—faculty involved in developing women’s studies at Mary Washington

1-00:08:22

Gender neutral campaign on campus—renaming buildings

1-00:09:48

Justifications for curriculum at Mary Washington—female male ratio during the late 1970s

1-00:12:35

Early attempts at Women’s Studies

1-00:16:54

Limitations and difficulties in founding a new major

1-00:19:27

Influence of Mary Washington on the community—relationship between women’s studies and the needs of students

1-00:21:35

Reasoning for interdisciplinary major

1-00:22:45

Teaching gender as constructions of multiple identities

1-00:24:18

Rationale behind women and gender studies title—specialization within the major- building of a framework of Mary Washington as an institution

1-00:27:01

Program impact on UMW—Prepare for the world

2-00:00:04

Fostering critical thinking skills—Think about future

2-00:01:26

Program changes in the institution—New opportunities—challenge faculty and students

2-00:04:05

The program and current gender issues—How acceptance of homosexuality has changed at UMW

2-00:05:55

Student reaction to major—student selectivity

2-00:08:58

Administration’s role in creation of the program

2-00:10:14

Dean Rucker’s personal role in creation of the program

2-00:11:48

Realization that new program will be created

2-00:13:01

Concluding thoughts—“Don’t stand still.”
Interview with Cedric Rucker

Interviewed by: Eric Halsey and Jenn Arndt

Transcribers:  Eric Halsey and Jenn Arndt

[Interview #1: November 12, 2010]

Halsey:

This is Eric Halsey and Jenn Arndt, we are interviewing Dean Rucker on the founding of Women’s Studies at Mary Washington, and it’s November the twelfth 2010.  So, we’re starting off talking a little bit about yourself and your background at this university, so the first question is: how long have you actually been at Mary Washington?

1-00:00:31

Rucker:

I started at Mary Washington as an undergraduate in 1977, was a [sociology] major, finished in 1981, left and went to Charlottesville for grad school, came back in 1989, I’ve been here since 1989.  So it’s been a long tenure, this is my 22nd year back in residence at UMW.

Halsey:

So you were a student here back in the late 70s, early 80s, what role did feminism play on campus if at all?

1-00:01:01

Rucker:

I think feminism was very prominent during that period, you had several faculty members who, were very much engaged in the women’s movement, and awareness and education curricularly, and also in terms of student programing.  You had Sue Hanna, who happened to be in the English department, you had, her name just escaped me at this moment, but there were several faculty members who were  really engaged.  There was a chapter of NOW on campus, you had various discussions in classes, I remember just meeting and talking with Sue Hanna on, before we had campus walk, but just on campus, and in association with English classes where she made sure that in terms of literary selections or in terms of the topical discussions that we were having on issues ranging from poverty to health issues and it was part of the discourse.  I always tell people that during my tenure that most people had just assumed that the biggest issue was race because of the number of students, the number of underrepresented students here was very small.  I was the only African American male on campus for two years during that period.  At the same time, when I think of my development intellectually, and I think of my development socially, and I think of my political consciousness, I would say one of the most significant experiences I had at Mary Washington was gender awareness.  You couldn’t go about the community any day, I had friends who were victims of sexual assault, I had individuals who had abortions when they were here, people were talking about these issues on an ongoing basis, and it was really powerful, to have individuals in the community who were just there for students, for discourse, and who also engaged the greater Fredericksburg community, because the NOW chapter, yes there was one on campus but there was also a group in Fredericksburg, and these were the women who also fought to establish safe havens for women in the city of Fredericksburg for issues like domestic violence.  And we’re talking about the 1970s, the late 70s, when this was not something that was understood or even embraced, I mean, but they fought for it, they established a network of women to… safeguard other women who were victims of violence, and they did it a household at a time.  It was amazing for that period, I mean it seems like today that would be a given, but you know, those folks were just unbelievable in their commitment and their take on creating a world anew in terms of our understanding as students, and it really undergirded my education.  It wasn’t universal in the curriculum, I had faculty members, even in, I was a sociology major, I had one particular faculty member who had the philosophical bent that women should never gain equality.  I mean we’re talking about the era of the Equal Rights Amendment which ultimately failed, and that faculty member’s take was “women should never gain equal rights” and I remember the lectures in this person’s class where this person talked about how, you know, there would be genetic changes in women if there was equality, how women would lose their breasts and grow hair on their faces, you may laugh but this is what, I remember having to write this on an exam, just to pass the exam, and thankfully there were other faculty members who said “this is poppycock, this is just not the way things are.  Do what you need to do in that class and don’t take that professor again.”  I was advised to do that and I never did.  It was a horrific experience, but again, even though I talk about the sort of experience that I had, and the growth that took place, it was not universal, and that’s really important to understand.  Professor Rapson in the Psychology department was the other person I couldn’t think of, she was amazing.  Sue Hanna and Dr. Rapson were incredible.

Halsey:

So, if feminism was a big thing on Mary Washington’s campus, why do you think women’s studies didn’t develop during that time?

1-00:06:05

Rucker:

Well, there were lots of things didn’t develop during that period.  I mean, focusing on issues of race was not significant during that period.  You have to look at the growth of disciplines, the establishment of disciplines, it takes not one, two, three, four faculty members.  A lot of this stuff has to be passed by committees of other faculty.  Faculty members are resourceful, they do what they can, and I think in terms of those particular faculty members, they network with others, and I think in terms of the contemporary context, Carol Corchran who came later, Judith Parker who was later, all of these people, even Dr. Vasey in the philosophy department fought vigorously to enhance the curriculum.  They started small, I remember Carol Corchran and Craig Vasey got a grant, and through that grant they offered workshops and seminars for faculty members to expand, within the framework of their disciplines, the discourse on race, class and gender.  They started small, and it grew from that, and as the momentum took place, and as we saw the discipline grow in other areas, ultimately it became something Mary Washington embraced.  So it took time, it took time and a lot of hard work by a lot of people, and I’ve mentioned faculty, and you also have to think of the students.  One of the things that Mary Washington allows in its curriculum is it allows students to create their own majors, and before the establishment of the women’s gender studies program you had students fashioning their majors through a patchwork of courses, and that patchwork of courses was built through those associations of faculty members, those individual faculty members who were teaching classes that had worked on these efforts, so students could create a major across different disciplines.

Halsey:

OK, getting back a little more to some history, during the 1990s, we had read from other individuals about the de-feminization process on campus, they had tried to make this gender neutral [laughter by interviewers and Dean Rucker]

1-00:08:22

Rucker:

Yeah, they erased gender, because when I was a student here we had Ann Carter Lee Hall, I lived in Dolly Madison Hall, we called the buildings by their names, and we were taught about their names.  I mean, you knew why Willard was named Willard, because there was a woman who sought rights, for reproductive rights to other rights for women.  And, when I was amazed that that had disappeared, because I left in 1981 and came back in 1989, and it was gone, I mean Ann Carter Lee was gone, people were calling it Lee Hall.  ACL had slipped in a little bit, but it was Lee Hall and it was Madison Hall, and Jefferson Hall, and most of the students today think they’re men, I mean they think they live in Thomas Jefferson Hall, they think that they live in James Madison Hall.  We knew better, the generation before, I mean this was a women’s institution, and again, that’s what I talked about.  In terms of the education it was something that was understood about this as students, and when I got back I was very surprised that that changed.

Halsey:

So, do you think before compared to after your leaving and coming back, was Mary Washington, MWC, a masculine or feminine space, as a man did it feel overtly either way during those two periods.

1-00:09:48

Rucker:

I don’t, I’ve never, I don’t get the sense, I think structurally, even in the case, systemically, even in the case of the founding of Mary Washington as a normal school.  That history was to afford women educational opportunities, and professional opportunities, and in terms of the curriculum, one of the few areas available was teaching.  So, even in its founding it was restricted.  Systemically, what it offered correlated to what was going on in the world.  Women had opportunities as teachers, so we were a teaching school.  We weren’t founded initially as a college or university that had [an] expansive program.  So, the role of women in society mirrored what Mary Washington offered, and if you looked at the leadership, even from the time of its founding it was men.  The professors, yes there were great, wonderful, female faculty members here, Elaine Kramer Dodd, I mean most people think Dodd auditorium, that’s Elaine Kramer Dodd.  I mean, there were female faculty members here, but, it still existed within the framework of a male focused society.  I think when I was here, the systemic elements were still in place, but a person coming from, as I did, an inner city high school in Richmond, Virginia, coming to Mary Washington, I quickly realized it was a different space than the space I left behind.  So, even though systemically, structurally, it still fit into what was going on in the greater society, it was different, I mean the population was different.  When I came in as a student it was about 25 to 1 female to male.  So, even though it was run by men, there was still a significant difference in terms of the milieu here than the environment that I had left behind.  I hope that answers your question.

Arndt:

I guess our second major point we want to talk about is actually establishing the women’s studies program, and we actually looked through the Bullet and found an article that mentioned there was a move to establish a women’s studies program two times prior in UMW’s history.  So, can you expand on that, do you know anything about that?

1-00:12:35

Rucker:

I hope you will have the opportunity to talk to Dr. Poska, I hope you will have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Parker in the English Linguistics and Speech Department, I hope that you will also meet with Craig Vasey go back to Carrol Corchran, who is no longer here, in the Psychology Department.  These individuals have engaged this institution on a number of occasions to expand opportunities, educational opportunities, for students.  Again, remember I said that students were being innovative before the major was in place, before the option for the program was in place.  So, our students were leading us, I mean you had students that had expressed interest.  I remember a good friend of mine Gale, Gale who was in Mortarboard, Gale was here in the late 80s, early 90s.  She lived on the women’s studies floor, she was in Mortarboard, I mean this was a campus leader, and she wanted a different curricular option, and working with faculty members across different classes she was able to construct something that met not just her needs as an undergraduate student but her educational needs beyond Mary Washington, she was looking for a foundation that would lead to graduate opportunities, or even professional opportunities beyond UMW, in that time Mary Washington College.  So, she pulled something together.  Again, the interest had been here for a while, but, again, what had to happen was not just an assortment or arrangement of faculty members working on it, it had to be accepted, what I mean by that is a proposal had to be put forward, support had to be garnered across the faculty, and the administration for that to happen.  You asked what happened during the 90s in terms of the whole neutral approach, erasing things from the memories of students, it was a different time.  Not that time should be used as an excuse, what I’m saying is that the reality was that we didn’t have the support in the community to make the major happen.  But, people didn’t give up, that’s why you had other efforts, that’s why at every opportunity you had the same people coming back together.  Dr, Och in the Art Department, you had, again, Judith Parker, who’s been a stalwart back again, Connie Smith, Dr. Poska, Kevin McCluskey, Craig Vasey, myself, people didn’t give up, it was just “we didn’t get it this time let’s keep going again.”  And, ultimately it happened.  You had an administrative change, you had a sea change of faculty members who understood the importance, the value to the community in terms of opportunities for students, and also in terms of the overarching objective of Mary Washington, Mary Washington is supposed to be an institution that prepares students to think in different ways and be critical thinkers, women’s studies, issues in diversity and ethnicity are a critical component of that.  So, finally, it was passed and accepted.  But thankfully to folks like Dr. Poska and others, and again going back in time to Sue Hanna and those other people, who were just amazing back when there was very little support.

Arndt:

You mentioned there has been a constant push, people have been constantly fighting for this since your time here.  Has there been a difference in how people fought for this program, or how people fought for just the acceptance of it?

1-00:16:54

Rucker:

I think the passion on the part of those faculty members has been the same.  I think the passion on the part of the students has definitely been the same to the degree of not fully understanding why things just can’t change, and again, I think that goes back to the issue of the sort of systemic things that exist.  There’s a process, we are part of a state education system here in Virginia, and it’s really important for SCHE, the State Council of Higher Education to look at what institutions are offering to make sure they correspond to needs that the state has educationally.  Also that we’re not necessarily duplicating things, and also that the program has benefits.  One of the things they want to know is that if you create this major, are you going to have students taking degrees?  Are you going to have students declaring majors?  That’s important to SCHE, and I think making sure we dotted our Is and crossed our Ts to use a cliché in that respect, was an important component making sure that we were able to look across time to see if we had students who had the interest in the major.  In addition to that, making sure we had the network of courses that could support a major, making sure that faculty members could be resourced, because there are administrator charges associated with supporting students in the major.  All of those things had to be done, making sure were financial recourses associated with the other programmatic components of a major, you should be able to bring in speakers, you should be able to bring in programs, you should be able to continue to build interest with faculty members across the curriculum.  So, recourses are needed to do those sorts of things, so that type of research is ultimately what was done, and that’s what achieved the outcome, and again, I go back to Dr. Poska, and Dr. Parker, and Connie Smith, and all those people who worked hard to make sure that that was done.  Especially Dr. Poska and Dr. Och.

Arndt:

What was the reaction from the Fredericksburg community this time around, were they supportive of the creation of this program or was there more uneasiness than there was in say the 70s?

1-00:19:27

Rucker:

I can’t speak to the Fredericksburg community in general because I don’t think they really focus on the curriculum of the institution that much.  I mean, I live in town, I’ve lived in town for twenty-two years, and if you were to ask most people in town what majors Mary Washington offers, most would have no idea.  I think the thing that adds to the vibrancy of the community though is that all of those people I’ve talked about live in this community.  We’re part of this community, I live in town, Dr. Poska lives in town, Dr. Och lives in town, Dr. Parker lives in town. Smith, we’re all a part of this community too.  I mean, people take that for granted, we’re not just Mary Washington sitting on a hill, you have many people here who are very active, very involved through community service, political activities, and so forth.  So, we play a role in shaping that discourse, but like I said, I don’t think that in this case there was this uproar about this new major at Mary Washington, the threat it has to the intellectual stance of the institution.  I don’t think that took place, I think there’s a sense that the institution has a mission, and that mission is educational, in terms of being a liberal arts institution that’s pretty broad.  So I think they look to the folks that are here, especially as faculty, because faculty are responsible for the curriculum, they look to faculty to do due diligence in reference to the educational needs to not just the students, but how this enterprise will continue to shape the world when our students leave.  Our students need certain skills, they need certain knowledge, and this curriculum, or this addition to the curriculum, I think truly enhances what students are able to do as they engage and transform the world beyond this campus. I think it’s critical.

Arndt:

Talking more about the curriculum itself, from the perspective of the administration, what was the rationale behind making the women’s studies program interdisciplinary?

1-00:21:35

Rucker:

I think that came from the faculty.  I think if you look at most of the programs, like ethnic studies, is interdisciplinary in a lot of places, women and gender studies, because its encompassing a philosophy of sociology, of history, of anthropology, I mean it speaks to all of those, to the sciences, it speaks to all of those, to the sciences, to those disciplines, so we have an opportunity to build a program that has a very solid foundation because it’s already established on the firm ground of all of those disciplines.  So how can you critique something that already has a superstructure?

Arndt:

Back to the Bullet Article that we read, it was actually really interesting, there’s a quote in there that “the major will focus on gender and the experiences of women, emphasizing the construction of femininity, masculinity, interactions of gender, class, ethnicity, sexual orientations, and race.”  Do you have any thoughts as to how the program does encompass this, especially the question of ethnicity, is this an important part of the program?

1-00:22:45

Rucker:

Well, I think, I teach a course in ethnic studies, I mean I teach a course in queer studies, perspectives on sexualities, all of that is built in. I cannot talk about issues of Gender without talking about constructions of multiple identities, because i am not just one thing. I am not just a male. I am an African American male. I am an African American male who is from a certain class. I am an African American male who has a certain professional outlook. I engage the world in certain ways, my sexuality comes into play. We’re not a composite, we are multi-faceted individuals and the interchange, the interplay, the inter connection, of the mosaic of those identities and those experiences are really important to us- to you understanding me, to me understanding you. And the disciplines would I think be… would be incomplete without understanding all of those intersections.

Halsey:

Real quick, there are some examples of other Women’s Studies around the country where its called like Women’s and Race Studies. What was the rationale then behind having Women and Gender Studies be the title of the major with these other components as sub components, are they really equal. How does that distribute with there and what does that say … (remainder of question unheard).

1-00:24:18

Rucker:

(talks over last half of question) Well, I think what that title gives flexibility, because when you are looking at the way that they, the major, is developed, it really gives students great latitude in terms of areas of specialization. I think it still allows for innovation. In terms of what students can do as they work with faculty members and scholarship and then research. You know a student who is interested in trans-gender studies, a student who is interested really exploring the health related issues of African American Women, a student who is interested in pursuing Latina identity issues. They all have a place with the framework of that… framework. Someone who is interested in studying the Social Movement from the standpoint of Gays in America has a place in that major. Um I just think for us, the type of institution we are and the type of courses and the type of majors we have as a liberal arts institution it gives are students great latitude to pursue a variety of nuances when it comes to Gender Identification, when it comes to race, sex, class, when it comes to women’s issues. I think for our institution, like those institutions that decided based on their resources, I mean some of those are research institutions, some of those are Universities which offer a great variety of programs. We had to look at who we are as a liberal arts college, what we offered as a liberal arts college, how our faculty are interconnected as a liberal arts college to again, develop a program that gives our students the greatest flexibility to pursue their interests within the, again, within the framework of educational opportunity that truly supports, to the best that we can, again those interests. That’s really important to us, and I think that’s why, in terms of those faculty members that I mentioned, they came from a cross-section of disciplines and they are working together to support that exploration, to support that research, to support that scholarship.

Arndt:

How much do you think this program actually impacted UMW. Do you think it changed its mission somehow, or do you think it enhanced it and made it stronger?

1-00:27:01

Rucker:

I think it makes it stronger. I think we are incomplete actually, we’re not focusing on issues that are… inclusive of different experiences, inclusive of different voices. I think it’s really important for us to understand that the education we get today is not really for today, it’s for tomorrow, it’s for a decade from now. What we do here is we explore ways of thinking, ways of reasoning, ways of understanding, ways of interpreting. The skills that you get from a program, like Women and Gender Studies, like you get from Ethnic Studies, that you get from the foundations from all of these students will help students, and I said this earlier, to engage the world beyond Mary Washington. And if you don’t have that understanding of Gender issues, I think that one is less able to engage a world that is made up of predominantly of women. I mean (laughs) to me that’s like duhhh! I think it doesn’t equip individuals to understand the sort of cultural differentiations that exist across the planet.

End first Clip – begin second

Arndt:

We’re back

2-00:00:04

Rucker:

Essentially I was saying that its really critical to really fostering… skills, critical thinking skills, for opportunities that don’t even exist today.  I think its really incumbent upon the institution to think forward because we are working with those individuals who will inherit the world, who play a role in transforming the world who make the world for the next generation. And the understanding of gender issues is really critical for a world that is- in terms of gender issues- continuing to transform, continuing to change. That’s going to be important, I think we will sell students short if we don’t do that. So it makes us a lot better.

Halsey:

On that note, and talking about the mission of the University and what we are trying to do educationally. What do you think is the specific idea of what does this do for the University? You talked about it a little bit, but from the University’s perspective, from the administration’s perspective, what are they hoping to get out of this major probably 10 years down the road? How do they think it will change the institution?

2:00:01:26

Rucker:

I think it will change the institution by exciting new scholars to come in. I mean just think of someone who is out there as a Ph.D. student or who’s a scholar who is interesting in teaching these courses and prior to the establishment of this major they crossed Mary Washington off their list because it was not- we didn’t have anything. I just think of someone who is doing research in the area of Queer Studies, Gender Identities, who overlooked Mary Washington because we didn’t have anything that really spoke to them. I think it creates opportunities for scholars. I think connected to that it creates opportunities for students, because they can benefit from what these scholars bring to the table. And one of the things we treasure here at Mary Washington is student faculty engagement. If you look at our evaluations and assessments our students say it over and over again. I mean as Jefferson said, “Come drink the cup of Knowledge.” I think our students do that and return in kind. They also challenge faculty members, they challenge one another as thinkers. I think for all of those reasons that’s how we benefit, because we create learning opportunities- that’s what we are about- we create opportunities for students to explore knowledge, to explore those issues which effect the citizens around them. To understand how different people live, how different people navigate the world, not just domestically but globally, and those things are important. President Hurley says that he wants us to be the best liberal arts institution in the country, we cannot be the best liberal arts institution in the country if we leave out a sector of thinking, a sector of research, a sector of understanding that is as critical as – again- those people who represent the predominant population on this planet. It’s just… (laughs)… just straightforward to use that term, I’m sorry but it’s simple.

Arndt:

You mentioned it’s going to incorporate a new way of thinking in preparing us for the future. Do you think the program like Women’s and Gender studies includes gender is to also take into account current issues with gender and especially with equal rights for gays and bisexuals?

2-00:04:05

Rucker:

Yeah but that’s what I have been talking about. It’s like it is a part of that. If you look at our student body, one of the things that I think I take great joy in seeing- when I was here we had student who were gay it was a small out population- you look at Mary Washington today one of our largest student organizations is PRISM. We have a gender neutral community in our residence halls. Like I said, not only for faculty, it creates a space that students feel “I could be welcome there.” So we are able to get more students, more students who would have maybe crossed us off of a list. If they did feel that we didn’t offer anything that supported those individuals. Again, for faculty that applies, for students that applies as well. And for the community, they look to places like this as a refuge because you can go to classes, you can go to seminars, you can go to discussions, to hear more about – again- the world. And that is really important. So I think we are worse off as an institution if those opportunities didn’t exist.

Halsey:

Now, you talked about- and I think we can all agree- we had some very big on campus programs and things like that, yet, it may be personally because I wasn’t here last year, but I didn’t hear a lot from the students talking about this new major. It might be my major and where I am and things, but from your perspective as an administrator what do you think was the reaction from- not just the faculty- but average students, were they very aware of this, was there any controversy, was it supportive, was a mix?

2-00:05:55

Rucker:

I mean, I kind of feel weird because I am in Social Department and this is something that is a part of our discipline. We talk about issues of race, class, and gender all the time. (laughs) So, for us it’s a given. I would be very surprised if I am in a classroom and I am getting a backlash. That may be selective on the part of students though. I am not going to take that class or I am not going to pursue that area, and that may be the case for students who have no interest in Gender Studies. They don’t have to take a class. I think they sell themselves short, but they don’t have to, it like you don’t have to a business class if that is not in your area of interest. But it still exists within the menu, within the list, within the array of academic options that our students have. You can go through this place and isolate yourself from certain academic experiences. You can. The way that the curriculum is structured, in terms of the general ed requirements, tries to facilitate a broad exploration before you pin down a specific area. And in that vein, I think opportunities for exposure exist. I don’t think… I did not get the sense from students… I didn’t have students marching on GW Hall, “Get rid of this major!” I didn’t have students who were camped out in front of Marye house for, “this is not something Mary Washington should have.” I think what you can see as the benefit is that we already have students who declared the major. So it tell you it is something that students wanted, it’s something again – we had a few majors before- now we have students declaring when other students declare their major end of their freshman year beginning of their sophomore year. It shows you that there is interest in the major. I teach Queer Studies, I have had over the course of year a waiting list as high as 70 to 80 students. Trying to get into a class where only 30… (laughs)… you know it’s only supposed to have 30 students, I expanded to 35 to accommodate  seniors who were about to graduate. But that shows me that the interest in these areas is keen. I mean I have students, “Dean Rucker can you please let me in?” No, this is supposed to be an intimate learning experience, we can’t do that with a hundred students. So…

Halsey:

Ok getting back, you talked a lot about professors, their roles in creating this…

2-00:08:32

Rucker:

I also talked about the students because they are the ones who did this in their ability to design their own majors, there were students who were doing it before we had a major.

Halsey:

From the perspective of the administration, because you are both an administrator and a professor, you can kind of cross that line. What was the role of the administration in getting this rolling? How, from their perspective, what was this whole successive battles that were trying to get this once, twice … (??)

2-00:08:58

Rucker:

I think it’s one of those things that you can talk to Dr. Poska, because she was on the frontline. Talk to Dr. Parker, because she was on the frontline. And setting up those meetings with the Deans, the various deans over the course of time. Meeting with the President, meeting with the provost office. Umm, I think in the current situation where you had the major accepted it was because you had the committee doing the work, answering all the questions that were asked in terms of what resources, what courses, how many majors are we going to have, how many majors are we going to be able to produce in the next 5 years. Those sorts of things. I think it was that sort of collaborative arrangement where the committee sought to address every single question that was asked of the administration. In that sense, when you’ve answered all the questions and there are no roadblocks. I mean it’s there. Look, we have the majors, look we have the courses. It’s a no brainer.

Halsey:

So what is exactly your role in…

2-00:10:14

Rucker:

I was a part of the committee. I mean, we as a committee met. We talked about classes, we talked about courses. We talked about, I mean, we talked about every- we talked about the history, it was just ongoing. Again, I have been a part of these discussions since I came here. Since the 90’s. And it was wonderful to see the breakthrough that occurred recently, and again I owe a lot of that to Dr. Poska. I really do. Because she … was the person who got us together as a group and Judith Parker and Craig Vasey and Kevin McCluskey and all of those folks kept pushing this initiative forward. Ok, here’s the question. What information do we need to answer this question. Let’s all get together, gather this information… get it spelled out so that there is no misunderstanding whatsoever. Address every issue that is concerns SCHE not just the Mary Washington administration but the state counsel of higher education as well, address all of those questions. Again working together as a team to do that was what this effort was all about.

Arndt:

At what point during this whole process did you feel the change from you pushing for this to happen to you realizing oh this will really happen, we will actually get this program.

2-00:11:48

Rucker:

Well I think it was… I mean we were having a series of meetings and we just kept talking about what we needed to do and as you kept seeing those things getting done it was like, you know, this is going to happen. When, before she left, when Dr. Hample said this was something that made sense. It’s going to happen. When we answered the questions that SCHE wanted, it’s going to happen. When Dr. Poska met with the new Dean, and the new Dean allocated funds to do those supplementary types of things, lectures and stuff, it’s going to happen. It was just like one thing after another, it just seemed to cascade. Yes, there were intervening frustration but the reality is, ultimately everything was addressed. And in the long term we will see what happens for opportunities in other programs, maybe additional specializations. Who knows. But the future bodes well.

Halsey:

That is pretty much all of our questions, do you have any kind of concluding thoughts or…

2-00:13:01

Rucker:

I’m very excited. About the opportunity this affords to members of the community and all of that, all of those individuals. The students, the faculty and community in terms of the speakers and the other programs that will come about as a consequence of that. I am very happy to see that we have gone from that institution that I attended years ago where I had that professor who said those things which were, even today, were stinging because they ring in my ears. The reality is that we have moved so far beyond that place. I always tell students that as an institution we don’t stand still, we change, and we always must invest educationally in the future. Yes we at the here and now but the skills that are imparted to our students as learners and as thinkers are for those things that we don’t see today. If our students are not garnering skills that will help them navigate the world beyond their four years here as undergraduate students, we have failed. AI think this adds to our arsenal of skills, abilities and knowledge base that make our students better for the world. And make the world better for having a place like Mary Washington, that has this major.

Halsey and Arndt:

Thank you

Comments are closed.