Monthly Archives: July 2009

“From 27,573 to 1,589”: a post-Rutgers postcard from Grinnell IA


OK, we know that there have been no posts on the RU Classics Blog for like six or seven weeks…that’s because we’ve been researching for some big future features on Rutgers alums Lane Cooper (Class of 1896, and son of one of Rutgers’ more important classicists),  Ozzie Nelson ’27 and Mr. Magoo. Oh, and it’s summer.

So it was a genuine piece of great news to get this engaging postcard from our distinguished 2008 Ph.D. (and former University Trustee) Ryan Fowler.  Here Ryan offers a lyrical, richly illustrated portrait of his first full-time teaching position, at Iowa’s Grinnell College—with a few remarks on his next stop, which is another outstanding Midwestern small liberal arts institution, Knox College in Galesburg Illinois.

“One never knows what will catch the eye of a potential employer. I have a relatively odd set of teaching skills, but some of the skills desired by the Classics Department at Grinnell (such as the ability to teach Ancient Philosophy and Logic 101) had not even been mentioned in the American Philological Association placement listing. It is impossible to anticipate anything in the academic job process, but apparently there seemed to be a fit, and I was hired.

My first shock was the moving situation. I was living in Park Slope, Brooklyn commuting by subway or train to Brooklyn College (not bad) and The College of New Jersey in Ewing (very bad: look at a commuter’s map; its about 80 miles one way, through NYC and all of NJ). I asked about college housing: one house was left, a “rather expensive” four bedroom two story with hardwood floors, renting at $600/mo.

Picture 1

I was paying $1400 to share a small two-bedroom at the time. My commute would be “about a two minute walk.” A greater shock, perhaps, would be the population difference: from Brooklyn (many, many people) or New Brunswick (50,172) to an isolated town of 9,105 residents (around 1,589 of whom are students). Continue reading