Kutztown is only about 30 minutes from Bethlehem, PA. Lehigh University, best known for its engineering program is home to an educational administration program that is at the top of its game. After getting a couple of master’s degrees from the New School and Temple University, I was ready to take on a superintendent’s ticket and a doctorate. These were not idle endeavors. I was a principal, with a family and obligations beyond a regular 9-5 job. There were community things expected from me. I had been asked to join Rotary Club and encouraged by my superintendent to agree. There were looming events with my children and Carol’s desire to go back to work sometime when the kids were both in school full time.
There was Sunday school and eventual preparation for Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s which would take place on a week night basis. All of these things had to be worked into my taking courses at Lehigh and eventually into the writing of my dissertation. Fortunately, the staff in the ed. Admin. Department was populated with people who had done the same thing. They were former school superintendents and other workers in the education field. As I look back on my classes there, I realize that I had a monstrous advantage in my education.
You remember the school prayer case in 1963, Abington v. Schemp. Dr. Matthew Gaffney was the superintendent there during that time. He was my professor for school law- and what a course it was. I wrote some of by best papers in that class. I fell in love with statistics, even though I was not a math person. My professor ( whose name I cannot for the life of me remember) got me so enthused that I took an advanced statistics course and used many of the concepts in my dissertation. Dr. Bob Fleischer taught me negotiations from the view of the actual table where he had done it for many years in New Jersey. He was also an arbitrator and mediator and eventually led me down that path after I retired.
Perry Zirkel, who later became the Dean of the School of Ed., is still one of the national experts on school law. He appears most months in the Phi Delta Kappa magazine. My special remembrance is of my advisor, Charlie Guditus. Charlie had been a school superintendent in the William Tennet School District in Bucks County and was connected to many of the top educators in the state. Charlie was a jolly kind of guy with an eye on perfection. His smiles and quips were aimed at getting me to do the best possible work that I could do. On the other hand, he allowed me latitude because when I became superintendent of schools in 1977, I was so cramped for time, he made some exceptions for me. I owe him a great deal.
His view of doing a dissertation was that it was chance for both of us to shine. He had me take one year to actually come up with my problem statement. I know that sounds way out of bounds, but it eventually made my dissertation clear and important enough so that four subsequent doctoral dissertations followed up on mine. My dissertation led me to travel around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and meet some of the most talented supes in our state. My dissertation title was, “ Creative Problem Solving and Success as a School Superintendent in Pennsylvania.” There is no doubt in my mind that it was the signal intellectual achievement of my life. I could never top that work and I never have. The dissertation was chosen as the Best Dissertation at Lehigh in 1980. I was proud to get my doctorate that year and receive my diploma from none other than Henry Kissenger, who was the speaker at my commencement.
I still have connections to Lehigh today, other than contributions. I run into Lehigh graduates all over the state. Many of those who went to school with me have retired to do other kinds of work and some are now riding around on their chrome ponies, with long hair, leather jackets and a feeling of freedom of the road. Hello to you Frank wherever you are.