The Turbulent Sixties At Rutgers: An Interview With Richard P. Mccormick


  • Michael J. Birkner Gettysburg College



History, Rutgers


Richard P. McCormick's professional life has been so intertwined with Rutgers University's history that it is difficult to imagine anyone who knows more about Rutgers or who has put a greater imprint on the institution. Except for half a dozen years living in Philadelphia and Newark, Delaware, during the era of the Second World War, McCormick has been a significant presence at Rutgers for six decades. He arrived as a freshman at Rutgers College in 1934 and, after graduating in 1938, worked for the Department of History as a factotum while completing a master's degree in history. Recruited to join the department as a junior faculty member in 1945 while still completing his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, McCormick has never left. He worked his way up the ranks of the faculty, served on virtually every major college committee during a thirty-seven-year teaching career at Rutgers, including a tumultuous term as department chair in the 1960s, and a three-year tenure as dean of Rutgers College in the 1970s. Although he formally retired from teaching at age sixty-five in 1982, McCormick has maintained an office on campus and since then has published a steady stream of articles, pamphlets, essays, and books, some on Rutgers University history. During his years teaching at Rutgers, McCormick was frequently invited to chair history departments at other institutions, assume deanships, and in one case, be seriously considered for a small college presidency. Always he declined, not because the offers were not flattering or were unattractive, but because, as he later told an interviewer, "I never wanted to leave Rutgers. . . . I was happy—and appreciated—here."

Author Biography

Michael J. Birkner, Gettysburg College

Michael J. Birkner is a professor of history at Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.