I grew up in Oakland, California. I went to elementary school at Sacred Heart and then to high school at St. Mary’s in Berkeley. Going to Catholic schools was a financial sacrifice, especially since my father, who was a welder, passed away in 1960 when I was twelve. My family came to America in the early decades of the Twentieth Century and I was the first member of the family to even attend a four-year college. I graduated from St. Mary’s in 1965 and although I had a scholarship offer from another college I wanted to attend (what was then called) California State College, Hayward. In fact, it was the only college that I applied to for admission! Cal State was new, fresh and dynamic; I knew I wanted to be a Pioneer. I started at Cal State when I was 17 years old.
My teaching area is in Rhetoric with a research specialization in Classical Rhetoric. I was introduced to the field of Rhetoric by Professor Bruce Loebs. Over the years we have remained in contact and, to this day, we talk on the phone once or twice a month. I was so taken by Professor Loebs that I changed my major to his field because of him.
California State East Bay gave me the best preparation for graduate school that I could ever have hoped to have had, although I did not realize how special that education was at the time. My professors helped me to select graduate programs for doctoral study and my top choice was Indiana University (Bloomington) thanks to the help of Professor John Hammerback. I received an NDEA Title IV Fellowship at Indiana which was a three-year fellowship leading to a Ph.D. that I received in 1969 with graduate minors in Classical Studies and History (Ancient & Medieval).
We have always been Pioneers, even 50 years ago when we were Cal State, Hayward. I was always impressed with the nurturing care the professors showed toward students. I felt like my professors knew me and wanted me to do well. I felt right at home, even though I was one of only two seniors from my high school to attend Cal State. I enjoyed making new friends in my new school and became active in campus life. I was a member of Alpha Phi Omega (a national service fraternity) and played on the Men’s Tennis Team and I am very proud to say that my team members voted me “The Most Inspirational Player” in 1968.
After graduating from Cal State in 1969 I went to Indiana University (Bloomington) and received my MA in 1970 and my Ph.D. in 1973. During that time I was also a summer student in Italy. I began teaching at The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) in 1973 as an Assistant Professor and stayed there until 1979. I was offered an Associate Professor position at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh) in 1979. I was promoted to Full Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in 1991 and remained there until 1995.
I was offered and accepted an endowed chair (The Lillian Radford Chair of Rhetoric and Composition) at Texas Christian University and remained the Radford Chair until I retired in 2019 when I became an Emeritus Professor. During my time as the Radford Chair I received the “Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher and Scholar” (2008). Each year the Piper Foundation awards a Piper Professorship to ten professors in all colleges and universities and in all fields in the State of Texas. I was named a Piper Professor by the Piper Foundation in 2009. I also was, and have remained on, The Managing Committee for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. I was the President of The Rhetoric Society of American and received their George Yoos Distinguished Service Award and inducted as an RSA Fellow. My career spans 46 years but began with the support from my professors at Cal State East Bay.
I feel honored to be remembered by my Alma Mater and fortunate to have been encouraged while a student. I hope to reconnect with my old classmates.
I will miss the teaching but teaching takes enormous energy, time and commitment and I could tell that I was no longer able to keep up with the daily demands that are required for teaching well. That said, I look forward to staying active, meeting students informally and to continue to work with them on research projects. I still have ongoing research projects and plan to continue to make research trips to Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Seize the wonderful opportunities available at Cal State East Bay! Be sure to follow your dreams and know that your professors at CSEB will be there to support and encourage you along the way. I tell my students that the only thing I can guarantee is that you will not realize your dreams if you don’t try. I am forever grateful to CSEB for helping me strive for my dreams.