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  1. Let’s start at the beginning. How did you go about hiring a new faculty member?

The hiring process varied over time, from very casual to fully orchestrated. For the first two or three decades of our period, it was simple. When there was an open position, the chair of the department, and perhaps other senior faculty, contacted friends or prominent classicists in other PhD-producing programs and asked if they had any new or recent PhD’s whom they could recommend. Sometimes the process–inquiry and recommendation–was purely oral, for example in a hotel corridor during the annual meeting of the American Philological Association (APA). A highly recommended candidate might be offered the job on the spot; [1] or a list of candidates could be assembled and considered before the job was offered to any one person.

In those early decades, there was almost no paperwork. When George Kennedy in 1969 wanted to hire me, he wrote me a one-page letter asking if I would like to join the department. I replied saying that I would, and that was that: no forms to fill out, no formal contract. Some weeks later, George sent me a list of the courses I would teach in my first semester. Thirty-six years later, I retired.

But that simple system was about to change. By the late 1970s, departments regularly advertised open positions nationally. In classics, departments registered job opportunities in Greek or Latin with the placement service of the American Philological Association (APA); a description of the position would then be included in the association’s jobs book, and the department was given a book containing the curricula vitae of people who were seeking jobs. Positions in archaeology were publicized in several ways, including, eventually, the career services of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). The department’s announcement could also be placed as an advertisement in the Chronicle of Higher Education and other professional publications; it could be sent to various newsletters; and, toward the end of our period, it could be posted on listservs and blogs.

If all went well, the job was announced late in the summer. Applications came in during the fall, and the search committee–usually three current faculty, of different ranks–read the applications and selected ten to fifteen candidates to interview at the annual meeting of the APA-AIA. Traditionally, this meeting ran from December 28 to December 30 each year [2]. After the interviews, the committee would discuss the candidates and confer with the chair, and the department would then invite three (sometimes two, or four) candidates to visit Chapel Hill. The visits took place in January or February, one candidate at a time. During their time on campus, the candidates gave a scholarly talk, usually on the subject of their dissertation. In later years, they also taught an undergraduate class, either Latin or classics, and they met with many current members of the faculty for one-on-one discussions and with other appropriate persons, including the dean of the college. They were given tours of the campus and shown the library. There was at least one good dinner with current faculty. Then they went home.

At that point, the search committee met, made its own decisions, and wrote out its observations in the form of a report to the faculty of the department. The faculty met, discussed, and voted. The vote, which was not always unanimous, was advisory to the chair of the department. The chair decided which candidate to nominate to the dean and wrote a letter of nomination, reporting the department’s votes, explaining the negative votes if there had been any, and spelling out the reasons for his choice. As the years went by, the process gradually became more elaborate, with increasing amounts of paperwork and additional stages of approval. The department filed an affirmative action report showing that it had sought to attract women and minority candidates and had given such candidates full and fair consideration. A faculty committee considered the nomination and advised the dean, and the dean either approved or rejected the nomination. If the dean approved, the chair could then begin to negotiate terms–salary, benefits, responsibilities and so on–with the candidate, and if all went well actually bring the search to a close.

  1. What were you looking for when you considered candidates for positions?

What we wanted was someone who (A) held promise of being a good and effective classroom teacher and (B) was an active scholar who was likely to carry out sound research and publish it. Beyond that, we were aware that anyone we hired would become one of our colleagues for at least some years and perhaps decades. We therefore sought people who seemed to be congenial and who did not shy away from committee work and administrative responsibilities, and whose work, in both scholarship and service, revealed a person of integrity. We also kept in mind, though much less actively, the need to hire people who might in future provide leadership in the department and university by serving as chair or in other administrative positions.

  1. You say you wanted effective teachers. Did candidates have much training as teachers? [3]

Not if you are thinking of formal, systematic training that would introduce young people to aspects of teaching such as the planning of syllabi, use of equipment, classroom management, and educational psychology. Teachers in elementary and secondary schools were trained in all of these areas, but college teachers oddly received little training for the teaching part of their job; certainly there were no courses in teaching that we expected candidates for positions to have, and none that our own PhD students took before they set out to find a job [4]

  1. How, then, did they learn how to teach?

There were informal ways in which young people, at or near the beginning of their careers, could learn to be effective teachers. When I began teaching, my training consisted almost entirely in having been a student for many years. As a student, I had necessarily been watching my teachers at work, and I had observed what they did and remembered what was effective and what was not. When I became a teacher, it seemed logical to emulate my teachers and do as they had done, insofar as that was possible given my own skills and limitations. That would probably be effective, it was obviously acceptable, and it easily became the most basic element of what might be called my training. It was no doubt a fundamental element in the training of every aspiring young college teacher.

In Chapel Hill, though, beginning in the late 1960s, the department moved toward the development of a systematic approach to the training of graduate students as teachers. In 1969, Jane Phillips Packard was given a new appointment in the department: she was to supervise and coordinate the elementary Latin program and act as liaison to the secondary schools of the state and to the North Carolina Department of Education. When she left two years later, supervision of the elementary language program–and thus training of our graduate assistants–was assigned each year to one or another of the younger faculty (I did this for two or three years, as did others), but that was not a satisfactory solution, since, while it provided some guidance for the current crop of graduate student teaching assistants (TA’s), it did not encourage continuity and consistency in their training over time. Accordingly, the department in 1981 hired Cecil Wooten as Director of Elementary Latin, a position he held for more than twenty years. As director, Wooten supervised the graduate teaching assistants, provided them with guidance in the preparation of syllabi and examinations, worked with them on specific topics, and critiqued their teaching. Wooten and other permanent faculty observed the classes of graduate TAs and offered suggestions on how they might improve their classes. In this way, the department prepared its PhD candidates to teach wherever they found a job.

  1. You said that the department wanted faculty who could do research as well as teach. How did you assess a person’s ability as a scholar?

In the 1950s and 1960s, the department relied, for the most part, on the recommendations of those faculty members in other schools who had taught the candidates. Particularly important would be a favorable judgment from the dissertation director, for he or she would know in detail how the candidate went about research, how careful and accurate and how able to handle complex material the candidate was, and whether the candidate was a good writer or not. The search committee might ask for one or more chapters of the candidate’s doctoral dissertation and read that, or, if the candidate had published one or more articles in professional journals, the committee would want to read those; but such early publication was unusual in the ’50s and ’60s. Senior classicists in other institutions might also write letters about candidates, for PhD students frequently worked in contexts other than their home institution and came to know professors from other schools. Some students, for example, went to Rome or Athens to study, traveled to libraries or collections, or joined archaeological expeditions, and their work could be observed and described.

As time went on, candidates tended to have more publications and more teaching experience. The reason was simple, if depressing: there were many more new PhD’s than there were open positions in the last twenty-five years of the century, so many newly minted PhD’s were compelled, in order to survive, to look for part-time or adjunct positions. These appointments lasted only a year or two, and they did not lead to tenure, but they paid the bills (or some of them), and they gave the young classicists teaching experience and a couple of years to do some research and publish articles. When we were conducting a search, it was helpful if the candidates had held one or more such short-term positions, because in that case they were likely to have had several years of teaching experience (with dozens or hundreds of student evaluations of their teaching) and to have published one or more articles or perhaps a book that could be read and assessed. Thus, by 2000, gauging a candidate’s promise as a scholar was generally based on solid evidence in the form of publications; only in the case of a young person who had just finished the PhD and did not yet have an extensive record of teaching and research was the search committee still compelled to rely on measures of promise rather than achievement.

  1. OK, now we know how you advertised open positions, what you were looking for, and how you went about finding and hiring good candidates. What was the net effect of the department’s hiring? Did the composition of the department change over time?

To answer this, we can compare the subjects taught in 1978, and the faculty members who taught them, to the subjects and faculty in the department twenty-two years later, in 2000. See Table One, below [5].

Table 1. Faculty and areas of specialization in the Department of Classics, 1978 and 2000.

Area of StudyFaculty in 1978Faculty in 2000
Homer and archaic GreekBrown, SmithBrown, Smith, Race
Didactic poetryBrownBrown
Pindar, Lyric poetryRace
Tragedy and comedyReckford, SmithReckford, Smith
Philosophical literatureSmithSmith
HistoriographyStadter, WestStadter, West
Rhetoric and oratoryKennedyWooten
Hellenistic literature and cultureBrownBrown
Later Greek literatureStadterStadter
Epic poetryMackMack
Rhetoric and oratoryKennedy, LinderskiLinderski, Wooten
HistoriographyLinderski, HoustonLinderski, Houston
PoetryMack, Reckford, DessenMack, Reckford, James
Roman lawLinderskiLinderski
EpigraphyHouston, LinderskiHouston, Linderski
Near EasternSams, M.-H. GatesSams
GreekSamsSams, Haggis
Roman art and architectureKoeppel, RichardsonKoeppel, Terrenato
Byzantine studiesSnipesConnor
LinguisticsH.P. GatesWeiss
Computer applicationsBolter

It is clear enough, even from a first glance, that the department retained much of its basic shape over the twenty-two years. Ten of the eighteen full-time faculty present in 1978 were still in the department in 2000. Some others (Kennedy, Bolter, M.-H. Gates) had remained in the department until 1991 or later. Medieval Latin and paleography passed from Sheerin to David Ganz to Maura Lafferty, linguistics from Phelps Gates to Laurence Stephens to Michael Weiss [6]. On the other hand, no successor to Emeline Richardson was hired, so we no longer offered Etruscan art and archaeology. And when Jay Bolter moved in 1991 to the Georgia Institute of Technology, no one was hired to replace his expertise in computers; but by then faculty and students were familiar with computers, and the university was providing strong support at the university level, so it was no longer necessary to have a technology expert within the department.

There were significant additions in these decades, however, and important refocusing. Especially notable in this regard was the hiring first of Donald Haggis and then of Nicola Terrenato, both of whom were active in field archaeology, a new direction for the department. Through the efforts of Haggis and Terrenato, the department began to cooperate closely, for the first time, with the Department of Anthropology and with the Research Laboratories of Archaeology. In 1990, the department had not yet begun to offer courses that dealt explicitly with the new developments in women’s studies and in theoretical approaches such as structuralism, post-colonialism, and reader-response theory. This changed substantially with appointments made in the 1990s and early 2000s, including that of Sharon James in 1999, but these developments belong largely to the new millennium. Several areas of study not represented in 1978 were added as new faculty were hired: William Race brought Pindar and early Greek lyric poetry, Cecil Wooten the ancient novel and especially Petronius, and Carolyn Connor Byzantine art. Some other areas, we might note, were seldom or never covered by faculty within the department during the latter half of the twentieth century. These would include early Latin, Latin and Greek later than the second century AD, Greek paleography (taught only once, by Philip Stadter), papyrology (in which Duke had a strong program), and Egyptian archaeology.

  1. The department was clearly an unusually stable one in terms of faculty and program. What would you say were the advantages and disadvantages of this? Was the department open to change?

From the 1960s onward the faculty was pretty well agreed, even if it never debated the matter, that it wanted to provide a relatively traditional training for its students. This had always been its focus. On the graduate level, the department was known for its philological approach, its emphasis on language and literature, and the solid training and experience its students received in teaching. This training helped them, we believed, when they sought academic jobs. From the outside, of course, the stability of the department might look like a reluctance, or an inability, to change, but in fact the department evolved and changed in important ways, as we have seen. It was an early adopter of computer-assisted research. It developed, over the course of several decades, a comprehensive program in archaeology, gradually shifting from an emphasis on art history to a roughly equal balance of art history and field archaeology. By the end of our period, the department was offering courses in women’s studies and gender studies and in new theoretical approaches to literature. It developed, after some experimentation, a systematic training program for aspiring college teachers.

The stability of the department over time helped it maintain an appropriate range and depth in its programs; there were no crucial gaps, and although there were areas of particular strength such as rhetoric, early Greek, and Roman historiography, no one field dominated the others.

  1. You mentioned several areas or subfields, such as papyrology, that were not represented in the department. How, if at all, were students able to take courses in these topics?

There were several ways in which the department could extend the scope of its teaching. We occasionally had funds to bring in a visiting professor for part or all of a semester or a year, scholars such as John Herington, Miroslav Marcovich, Christopher Pelling, and Donald A. Russell in Greek, Franco Munari, P.G. Walsh, and R.M. Ogilvie in Latin, and Siegfried Wenzel in Latin paleography. After her retirement from Bryn Mawr College, Agnes K. Michels served as Visiting Paddison Professor of Latin from 1977 to 1979, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses.

There were a number of scholars and teachers resident in the Chapel Hill area who could be hired to teach courses on a part-time basis as adjunct faculty. Their contracts were year-to-year, and they were not eligible for tenure. Several of them taught for the department over a long period of time and made a very significant contribution to the instructional mission of the department. Among these long-term adjunct professors were Iris Friedrich (Latin), Rebekah Smith (Latin and Classics), Richard Liebhart (archaeology), Georgia Machemer (Greek), Maria-Viktoria Abricka (Greek mythology), and Charles Gates (Greek archaeology). Most, but not all, of the courses they offered were on the undergraduate level.

Students, especially advanced undergraduate and graduate students, often took courses that were pertinent to classical studies but offered by faculty in other departments or at Duke. Some examples:

  • Greek art and archaeology. Sara A. Immerwahr (archaic materials of the Athenian Agora) taught part-time in the Department of Classics, beginning in 1964, before accepting a full-time position in the art department. Mary Sturgeon joined the art department in 1977. Her area of special expertise was Greek sculpture.
  • Greek history. W. James McCoy taught in the history department from the early 1970s on.
  • Roman history. Henry Boren was active in the history department until his retirement in about 1985. He was succeeded in 1988 by Richard J.A. Talbert. Students could also take courses with Mary Boatwright at Duke.
  • Medieval studies. Several faculty in various departments offered courses in aspects of medieval culture, among them Fred Behrends (history; retired about 1985), Jaroslav Folda (art, especially crusader art), Calvin Bower (music; moved to Notre Dame about 1990), and Joseph Wittig (English).
  • Linguistics. George Lane taught Greek and Latin comparative grammar until his retirement in 1972. Subsequently, Michael Weiss in Classics and Craig Melchert in Linguistics offered courses in Indo-European linguistics.
  • Papyrology. (Only at Duke) William H. Willis, John F. Oates.
  1. Was the department affected by the social and political movements, for example feminism and civil rights, that were so prominent in the second half of the twentieth century? Did the department have many women faculty?

Until the very end of our period, there were not many women among the full-time faculty. None of the Hellenists, through the entire half-century, was a woman. On the Latin side, Sara Mack remained on the faculty for some twenty-five years, and Cynthia Dessen was full-time in the faculty for about ten years. From 1964 until her retirement in 1976, Berthe Marti taught medieval and classical Latin one semester each year. Agnes K. Michels, as Visiting Paddison Professor, taught Latin full-time for three years. No other women were full-time faculty teaching Latin or Greek. Several of the archaeologists–Sara Immerwahr (in the art department), Emeline Richardson, Marie-Henriette Gates, and Carolyn Connor (a Byzantinist)–were women, as were four of the adjunct faculty we noted above [7].

  1. How about minority faculty?

At no point in this half-century did we have a full-time faculty member who was a member of a minority. This is not surprising, because throughout our period there were seldom more than a handful of minority PhD’s in classics in all of North America. We should note here that, at UNC until the late 1990s, “minority” meant, in practice, African Americans. Hispanics and other groups later acknowledged as minorities were not so regarded until the twenty-first century, after our period.

In 1983, the university established a minority postdoctoral fellowship program to improve faculty diversity. This program brought young minority faculty to campus for periods of two years; the holders of these grants usually taught one course per academic year and continued their research. Collaborating with the Department of History, we sponsored one such person, Leah Johnson, in 1995-97. She taught an undergraduate history course and Latin, but she did not become a full-time member of the department.

  1. How much were you paid?

Pay, through our half-century, was sufficient for a non-extravagant life. My salary in my first full year of employment (1969-1970) was $8000, while the median family income in the United States in 1970 was an estimated $9870 [8]. Since I taught in Summer School that year, my total income was right about the national median for a family. Over the next twenty-five years, my salary went up erratically, but in the long run steadily, and when I was fifty years old (1991-92) my salary was just over $50,000. There were fringe benefits as well: university contributions to my retirement fund, and partially subsidized health care [9].

Faculty were hired to work for the university for nine months each year, from September through May, but their annual salary was divided into twelve equal parts and given to them a month at a time. In the three summer months, faculty members could seek other employment, including teaching in the Summer School, and many of us, particularly when we were young, did this in order to supplement our income. Almost all faculty members used the summer months also as time for research and writing, whether they were teaching in summer school or not.

  1. Apart from your paychecks, what kinds of support did the university give the faculty?

In classics, faculty members were provided with an office, [10] telephone (rotary only until 1996), filing cabinet, book shelves, and computer (beginning in 1997, and gradually phased in). For classroom facilities, see chapter three. For their research, faculty could obtain a carrel in Davis Library, which opened in 1983, and obviously there was Davis Library itself and its predecessor Wilson Library.

Faculty were assisted in many ways by the department’s staff. In the early years of our half-century, there was a departmental secretary and a part-time assistant. The secretary worked both as a secretary to the chair of the department and as an administrator of such things as student registration, maintenance of the department’s equipment, and financial records. The principal jobs of the assistant, if I remember correctly, were to type articles, books, and course-related materials for the faculty, to do any large jobs involving the mimeograph machine (such as making 150 copies of the final exam in Greek mythology), and to handle incoming telephone calls. For many years, the secretary in classics was Nancy Honeycutt, who took a very motherly attitude toward the department, and her assistant was Erline Nipper. As time went by, Nancy and Erline retired and were replaced. The departmental secretary became, by 2000, a Department Manager, and the part-time position became first full-time and eventually two persons. One of these (for many years now, Kim Miles) was dedicated specifically to working with our students, helping them understand and negotiate the requirements for such things as in-state tuition, undergraduate honors theses, and graduate examinations. The other worked on administrative tasks such as course scheduling, classroom assignments, compliance with the many new bureaucratic requirements (especially those emanating from the Affirmative Action office) and, after the turn of the century, the department web site.

Outside of the department, the Center for Teaching and Learning (later called the Center for Faculty Excellence) worked with faculty to improve their teaching skills and provided technical support and equipment, including importantly an excellent camera and camera mount to make slides.

  1. How about financial support? Did the university provide funds in support of your teaching and research?

In the second half of the twentieth century, most research universities and many colleges offered their tenured faculty some kind of support for their research. Most commonly, this was in the form of a sabbatical, or leave with pay. At many schools (but not Chapel Hill), a faculty member could expect a sabbatical once every seven years. The terms were:

  • The faculty member was relieved of teaching and administrative responsibilities for the term of the sabbatical.
  • The term was generally a semester at full pay or a year at half pay.
  • The faculty member was to spend the time on research and publication. He or she was not allowed to teach or take other employment elsewhere during the sabbatical.

Usually, faculty did not have to compete for sabbaticals. So long as the department could offer the courses it was expected to offer, a faculty member could expect a sabbatical every seventh year. But not in North Carolina.

The University of North Carolina was unusual in not offering faculty members sabbaticals. Instead, faculty sought financial support for their research projects from a variety of sources, both internal and external. In the 1960s and 1970s the chief sources of internal support in Chapel Hill were competitive research leaves–Pogue, Kenan, and Reynolds grants–administered by the provost’s office. It was rare for a faculty member to receive more than one such grant in the course of a career. Beginning in the 1990s, quite late in our period, the College of Arts and Sciences made funds available also for one-semester “research and study” leaves, giving faculty released time for the development of new courses or instructional materials and for their research; these leaves too were competitive, but on the department level, not through a university-wide competition. In 1987, the College established the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. The Institute each year provided one-semester on-campus fellowships for about eight (later, more) faculty members, which released the faculty members from teaching and administrative responsibilities for the term of the grant [11] In addition to research leaves, there were from time to time course development grants that provided one-course teaching load reductions; this allowed the faculty member time to create and develop a new course and the educational materials needed for the course.

Limited funds in support of travel were available from the dean’s office. Funds could be used to support travel to professional meetings, but only if the faculty member was to give a paper or have some other significant role at the meeting. The funds for travel, usually some $700 per calendar year during the years when I was teaching, paid for about one or one-and-a-half trips per year (transportation, lodging, food, conference registration). Similarly, the College made some $10,000 available each year to pay the cost of publication of research–permissions, photographs, graphics, and so on, but not full publication subventions–and these funds were awarded by a faculty committee.

We may add here that faculty in classics of course sought support also outside the university. This took the form of research leaves from various endowed funds and institutions, above all from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Humanities Center. Grants for smaller, more focused projects were offered by the American Philosophical Society and other learned organizations. All of these grants were awarded on a competitive basis.

  1. Most of you were colleagues for many years. Were there any long-term feuds?

In general, no. We occasionally heard about dysfunctional departments in other schools, and we would marvel at them. In Chapel Hill, there was some friction in the early years that had apparently originated in the 1950s. Walter Allen was annoyed at his colleagues, possibly because he had expected to be made chair after the retirement of Berthold Ullman, and consequently he tended not to cooperate in departmental affairs. He also was known among the graduate students for giving almost all H(igh pass) grades. In this, of course, he was not performing one of his professional responsibilities (accurate grading), so it constituted a kind of insubordination that pleased him. When queried on his tendency to give only high grades, he reportedly said, “Just good teachin’. Just good teachin’.” It is true, he was an excellent classroom teacher, as I found when I took Latin composition with him. In the early 1970s, the linguistics department caused trouble when various faculty members disagreed strongly and loudly with one another. The dean, after attempts at peace-making, dissolved linguistics and moved its faculty to other departments. One of them came to classics and taught modern Greek, among other things. I recall a classics department meeting during which she and one of the other linguists got into an argument and began shouting at one another; we classicists, relatively naïve about such things, were surprised and shocked and did not know what to do, but eventually the two linguists calmed down [12]. Other faculty sometimes lost their tempers, of course. One threw an ashtray at a wall when he was angered by the department’s secretary. To my knowledge, though, the faculty remained largely civil through much of our period.

  1. So far, we have been considering the faculty for the most part as individuals, coming and going, teaching, doing their research, and working with their students. I’d like to change our focus now and think about the classics faculty as a whole. Let’s start by asking: how did the department govern itself?

The department had a chair who was chosen and appointed by the dean after consultation with the members of the department. The chair had a variety of responsibilities. He (always he in the twentieth century):

  • served as liaison between the department and the dean. This worked both ways: the chair presented the thoughts and recommendations of the department to the dean, and brought plans and proposals from the dean to the department for discussion or implementation.
  • presided at department meetings.
  • assigned committee and administrative tasks to the members of the faculty.
  • made final decisions on courses to be offered and who would teach them.
  • advised and mentored the junior faculty.
  • oversaw searches for new faculty.
  • brought to the faculty proposals for new initiatives and possibilities in teaching and research.
  • in the Classics Department, the chair controlled the budget and, in those years when there were funds for merit raises (as opposed to across-the-board raises), decided how large a raise each faculty member would receive, subject to approval of the dean [13].

In its day-to-day operations, the department relied upon a number of administrative appointments and permanent committees. Chief among the former was the director of graduate studies (DGS), who generally served also as assistant chair. The DGS was charged with advising our graduate students and helping them progress through the various required courses and exams to the MA and PhD degrees. With the assistance of a committee, the DGS was responsible also for the design and administration of graduate examinations. The undergraduate major advisor (sometimes called the director of undergraduate studies or the like) worked closely with our undergraduate students, making sure that they undertook a program of courses that would provide them with both sound training in classics and knowledge of other fields suitable for a broadly-based liberal arts degree [14]. There was also a director of the elementary Latin program and, toward the end of our period, a director of the archaeology program who was charged with advising students and overseeing the administration of the various archaeology exams. Several other responsibilities involved specific activities within the department: curator of the department library, liaison with the university libraries, summer school coordinator, and a committee on visiting lecturers. In any given year there would be a number of ad hoc committees as well.

We had a departmental meeting about once a month during the academic year, September to May. The chair set the agenda and presided at the meetings, and minutes were taken and subsequently distributed by one of the faculty. For the first few decades, this was usually the youngest one or the one most recently hired,[15] but from the 1980s on we rotated the task among the faculty; each faculty member was “scriba” for one meeting roughly every two years. Typically, a meeting included several types of business. We might consider enrollment figures and compare them to previous semesters. The directors of graduate and undergraduate studies regularly reported on the progress of individual students, and we discussed the skills and progress toward degree of our graduate students and decided which of them would be given appointments as teaching assistants in the following year. Faculty members might propose new courses, which would need to be discussed, the proposals accepted or sent back for revision. Candidates for open positions in the department, including senior positions such as the Paddison professorships, were discussed and their work assessed. We regularly reviewed, and often revised, our departmental policies, and we were often asked to react to proposed policies originating in the dean’s office; members of the department brought matters of concern, such as cuts in the budget of Davis Library, to the attention of the others. Finally, of course, new opportunities and programs would be carefully assessed. In the early 1970s, for example, the department considered expanding to include computer-assisted programs, Byzantine studies, modern Greek, and ancient philosophy. Any of these would require substantial resources and support, and accordingly there was extended discussion of them.

  1. Were there recurring or persistent problems that came up repeatedly over the course of many years?

Probably the matter that vexed us most consistently and often over the decades was the design and sequence of graduate examinations and their connection to the courses we offered. Between May of 1970 and September of 1989, a period of about twenty years, we discussed the exams fifteen times in department meetings, introduced three comprehensive revisions (in 1974, 1980-81, and 1987), and made many minor adjustments.

There were in addition frequent changes, some large and some small, in the undergraduate program. Sometimes these were in response to developments outside the department. In 1979-80, for example, there was a university-wide review of the undergraduate curriculum. The narrative and recommendations that emerged from this review were known as the “Thornton report,” the chair of the committee being Weldon Thornton of the English Department. The committee recommended the adoption of a new set of distribution requirements, called “Perspectives,” for undergraduate students. We discussed the proposed Perspectives (“philosophical,” “aesthetic,” “natural sciences,” etc.) in our meetings, and once they were adopted by the college, we created a number of new courses and refocused several old ones, in each case after discussion. These changes were made in response to the Thornton report, but quite apart from that we were constantly developing courses that incorporated new information and methodologies.

  1. What powers did the department have?

To a remarkable degree, departments at UNC in our half century controlled their own affairs, although policies or actions with significant financial implications were subject to the approval of the dean and the Board of Trustees. In practice, this meant that the department was free to set a number of basic policies, among them the criteria for grading student work in our courses, course and examination requirements for undergraduate and graduate degrees, and the standards to be used when considering promotions of, or grants of tenure to, faculty. The department decided what courses it would offer each year, and who, including any visiting faculty, would teach them; which faculty members would serve on which committees; whether we should seek approval for a search; and who might go on leave.

  1. Did the department have any influence on the university as a whole?

Individual departments did not, of course, have the power by themselves to establish policies that were valid across the college or the university, but in departmental meetings the faculty could discuss and make recommendations concerning proposed policies that had been generated at higher levels, whether in the dean’s office or higher. In addition, individual faculty members often served on college-wide committees and thus were able in some degree to influence college and university policy. It must be admitted, however, that this influence was sometimes very weak. In 1991, Chancellor Paul Hardin announced to the members of the Faculty Athletics committee (of which I was one), that Florida State University had been invited to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. There had been no prior discussion of this, neither in the committee nor more broadly among the faculty, and many faculty members, both at the time of the decision and still today, regard this as a terrible decision. The decision was made by the heads of the universities already in the conference and their directors of athletics. So far as I know, no faculty were asked for their opinion on this matter. In this important case the faculty, whether individuals or departments or the faculty as a whole, had no influence.

There were less formal ways in which the department played a role in the college as a whole. As the department that taught Latin, we were the focal point of medieval studies, which extended through at least half a dozen other departments, and when an undergraduate minor in medieval studies was established, it was housed in the Department of Classics.

  1. What did the department’s budget look like? Did the department have control over its budget?

Most of the classics department’s expenditures consisted of salaries for faculty and staff and stipends for graduate teaching assistants. In classics, most of the revenue came from state appropriations, which in fiscal year 2000 amounted to about 30 percent of the university’s overall revenue. (The other 70 percent came from tuition and fees, contracts and grants, gifts and endowment income, and sales and services) [16]. The state appropriations, while not the largest part of the university’s revenue, were essential for faculty salaries because they provided a source of revenue that was more or less consistent and predictable from year to year. The department of classics did not receive much income directly from grants–that was the province of the sciences, for the most part–but it did have several important endowed funds, such as the Paddison fund. These funds had a variety of aims. Some provided income for salary supplements of distinguished faculty, others funds for graduate student support, and still others for immediate departmental expenses.

The department could not itself determine the level of its funding or its budget from year to year. During most of our half-century, the legislature provided more or less regular raises for faculty salaries, some of them across-the-board, others “merit” raises. In the latter case, the chair reviewed the work of each faculty member and awarded that person a raise that was above, the same as, or below the average raise for the entire department, according to his judgment of the quality of the faculty member’s work. (See further above, question 15.) Merit raises were subject to the approval of the dean.

  1. For most of your careers, you had job security in the form of tenure. Given that security, what incentive did you have to work hard?

The immediate answer could be money. As we have just seen, the most productive faculty members received, in the long run, the most substantial raises. This was potentially true of whole departments, too: a department that was exceptionally productive and highly regarded on a national level might expect to be given a higher-than-average allotment of funds for merit raises than an unproductive department. Thus, despite the security provided by tenure, there were certainly financial incentives that encouraged productive scholarship and effective teaching.

But there was more to it than just a desire for salary. Individual faculty members have always tended to work hard for a number of reasons: they enjoy the work (reading Homer or Vergil, for example, is a delight); their professional advancement depends upon their performance; and they have, quite apart from the expectations of others, a sense of responsibility. As a department, we in classics had a culture of dedication and hard work in teaching, service, and research. There were of course also many ways in which we were held accountable, both individually and as a department, by the dean, the trustees, and, ultimately, the legislature. I will discuss these means in some detail below in chapter thirteen, “Quality Control.”

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[1]  Philip Stadter was offered a job by Albert Suskin in the corridor of a hotel in Philadelphia, during the annual meeting of the American Philological Association, simply on the recommendation of Kenneth Reckford, who had been a fellow-student of Stadter’s at Harvard.

[2]  The date was determined in good part by the fact that relatively few people travel at the end of December, so hotels are willing to offer low room rates for groups who will come then. Also, meeting on these dates meant that one would not have to miss any classes.

[3]  In this discussion of training, I am speaking of recent PhD’s who would be hired as assistant professors without tenure. More senior candidates for jobs, those who might be hired as associate professors or professors with tenure, had proven track records in both teaching and research, and questions about their training are not relevant here.

[4]  There were such courses at the university, but they were in the School of Education, and they were intended for people who wanted to treat education as an area of study.

[5]  The faculty in this table are those who were the most likely to teach a graduate course or direct a dissertation in the given subject. They were often, but not necessarily, involved in research of their own in the area of study.

[6]  Weiss moved to Cornell in the early 2000s, and the department at that point ceased offering Indo-european linguistics.

[7]  Women adjuncts were Iris Friedrich, Rebekah Smith, Georgia Machemer, and Maria-Viktoria Abriska. The ratio of women to men began to change with the appointment of Sharon James in 1999, at the very end of our period, and it has continued to change. See below, in the Epilogue.

[8]  Bureau of the Census. Philip Stadter tells me that his salary in 1962–his first year in Chapel Hill–was $5,500.

[9]  Salaries and benefits at Chapel Hill were somewhat lower than those at many of our peer institutions. At some schools, especially private ones, the college or university paid the college tuition of the children of faculty members. If one had two or three children, this could amount to a benefit of tens of thousands of dollars, a benefit that was not available to us.

[10]  Junior faculty members sometimes shared an office, but in that case each had his or her own desk.

[11]  The Institute, as it matured, also undertook to organize and sponsor a variety of public programs.

[12]  The linguistics department was reconstituted after about ten years of separation.

[13]  Other departments handled decisions on merit raises differently. In some cases, for example, there was a committee that reviewed the work of each faculty member in the department and made recommendations on raises.

[14]  Some of our undergraduate majors continued in classics and eventually became faculty members themselves or teachers in secondary schools. They needed sound training in Latin or Greek or both, and in classical culture. Most of our majors, however, did not become professional classicists. Among the students who graduated between 1975 and 1995, I know of several who became lawyers; two who became career diplomats (one serving in Iraq, the other, for a while, in Afghanistan); a neurosurgeon; two financial experts; a physicist whose career was with the National Science Foundation; two businesspersons; and a media expert. Students such as these needed broad and deep training in challenging courses.

[15]  The task of taking minutes and writing them up could become burdensome. Having taken the minutes for about four years, from 1972 to 1976, I asked, in a department meeting, to be relieved of the task. No other faculty member was willing to take it on. George Kennedy consoled me: “Eventually, you will go on leave, and someone else will have to take over.” This was true; my leave was in 1978-79, and when I returned, someone else was taking the minutes.

[16]  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2000 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, p. 26. <>