I was born and raised in Philadelphia–the city, not the suburbs–and went to public schools in the city. I went to college some sixty miles west of the city in Lancaster, PA (Franklin and Marshall College), where I majored in both history and government; and then went some sixty miles in the other direction for graduate school (Princeton University), where I received both my MA and my Ph.D. in American History. I taught at several other universities–all of them public institutions–before coming to the University of Maine in 1986. My family had many relatives in both the Boston and Worcester areas whom we visited often, but I had never set foot in Maine before my job interview in December 1985. I knew very little about the state or its flagship university.
But I found both Eastern Maine and the University of Maine to be welcoming environments and, as the phrase goes, a very good place to raise a family. Both of my children are Mainers from birth on. They both attended Bangor public schools. I hope that I can provide some useful historical as well as contemporary perspectives on issues and developments in education–primarly higher education but not exclusively so–for the benefit of the millions who will surely be reading my blog within a few days. By nature I am a contrarian who is usually skeptical about what the late great economist John Kenneth Galbraith called “the conventional wisdom.” I am not easily seduced by majority views on any subject. But neither am I enamored of those who dissent just for the sake of dissenting. I in fact encourage a diversity of viewpoints in my classes and appreciate it when students–and others, for that matter–challenge me as long as they do so in a civil manner. Several of my colleagues for whom I have the highest respect disagree with me on political and other matters. I would thereby welcome responses in my blog that do likewise. I very much appreciate the opportunity to undertake this blog, my first (and perhaps my last!).