Tribute to David Kranz, Dickinson College Faculty Meeting, May 14, 2009
This is daunting. This is trying to turn a novel into a short story. I can’t bring myself to read a list of Dave’s accomplishments— though they are many—because I feel a list cannot possibly do him justice. So instead, in considering how to best use my few minutes to convey 30 years worth of contributions to the Dickinson community, I did what I do best – I asked other people for help. My hope is that hearing the voices of those who’ve worked most closely with Dave might give you the best idea of what he’s meant to Dickinson.
This is from Tom Reed, who asked that I make sure to note that the nautical theme is a nod to Dave’s years as an Admiral’s aide …
“I’ve had the pleasure to team-teach with David three times over three decades, and have always found him to be an inspired and inspiring fellow-navigator through the seas of medieval and renaissance literature. His knowledge of Shakespeare is masterful, and he wears that knowledge lightly. When a class cruises through a play with David at the helm, their eyes are always fixed on the beauties and complexities of the lines themselves, but Kranz never lets them ignore the historical and cultural matrix in which the Bard—or Spenser—or Sidney worked. Personally, I'm probably most indebted to David for charting a fine and rigorous course for anyone interested in working film studies into literature classes. But I also treasure his staunch resistance to the sillier waves of critical theory that have sometimes threatened to swamp our professional odyssey over the past decades. I shall always remember his Lear-like defiance when confronting the rumbling bellies-full of deconstructive “jouissance” gushing from the likes of Jacques Derrida: “Let them deconstruct Death!” cried David. Amen! And thanks for that, too.”
This is Nancy Mellerski, Dave’s longtime film studies colleague and tennis partner …
“You can say that David is the Godfather of film studies at the college, of course. David was the one who organized his colleagues with an interest in film and media almost 10 years ago, created a summer faculty study group that became the impetus for the film studies minor, and served as the first coordinator of film studies. He has also directed conferences for the Literature/Film Association, a national organization devoted to the study of film adaptation. He’s now on the Carlisle Theatre Board and serves as co-chair of the Hollywood on High committee. Don’t forget that in his younger days, students regularly mistook him for Robert Redford.”
And this from Todd Wronski ...
“In addition to the kinds of thoughtful collegial support you would expect a
Shakespearean scholar to extend to a theatre program, Dave (predictably,
given his nature) went much further. He served as dramaturge for multiple Mermaid Players productions, and team-taught yearlong courses focused on campus theatre productions, including The Winter’s Tale and last spring’s presentation of The Tempest. His courses on Shakespeare and Shakespeare on film were taken by generations of theatre students.”
I also elicited comments from some recent alums from our department.
Here’s Will Crain, class of 2008 …
“To begin with, I’ll always remember Professor Kranz as the Shakespeare
scholar with the most fluid golf swing. While his academic
accomplishments are well-documented and I’m certain others will speak of his distinct ability to engage Shakespeare’s poetry and drama in
the classroom, I wanted to briefly address his passion and interest in
Toward the end of the Shakespeare on Love class I was taking during
my junior year, Professor Kranz and I realized we shared a similar
interest in golf. Our conversations about the game continued well into
my senior year and shortly before graduation Professor Kranz invited
me to join him for a round. Needless to say, my time golfing with
Professor Kranz is one of my fondest memories of Dickinson. Throughout
the round, we discussed a range of topics, from literary criticism to
politics to Professor Kranz’s own biography.
While it is unfortunate that future students will not be able to spend time with him, it is, however, understandable that Professor Kranz has chosen to retire. After spending a career contributing so much to the Dickinson community, he could use some time to fine-tune his game.”
Tom Huddleston, class of 2006 writes …
“I will always remember him as the professor who finally sat me down and told me that I had a serious problem with comma placement. In fact, he told me that some commas in my thesis seemed to be “placed at random” (unfortunately, this was true). I wish him the best and I can only hope that the English Department plans to commemorate his time at Dickinson by ‘retiring’ one of his sweater vests.”
Here’s Betsy Mounteney, class of 2007 …
“I think my touchstone Kranz moment was when he was a knight in shining
armor to me one night my senior year. I was really excited to attend
the Rita Dove reception for the faculty after all the hard work I had
put into coordinating it. When I got there, I did the usual gabbing
with profs and after a while, I was supposed to lead everyone to the
buffet so that they would settle down. The trouble was, by the time I
was done, there were no empty spaces at any table for me and my date
so we ended up planting ourselves at a wholly vacant table, not quite
feeling like the big shots we had felt like earlier. We didn't feel
that way for long, though: Professor Kranz left his table and sat with
us and rallied some members of the Spanish department to join in. He
made sure we had plenty of wine and lively, intelligent conversation
and, based on what I could see from the rest of the room, our table
seemed to have the most fun of anyone. I was incredibly touched that
he thought of how lame we felt as lone students and was so willing to
forgo socializing with the usual suspects to make sure we had a good
Also, Prof. Kranz always made an effort to attend the Belles Lettres
readings and was one of the few non-creative writing professors to do
so. Students were always extra excited to read when they saw
professors there, so that always meant a lot to us. I remember the class I took with him as being incredibly
active, engaging and exciting. We got to do some acting and, even
though the English majors in the class were a bit of a train wreck, he took it in stride and cheered us on.”
And Bessie Rawitsch, class of 2003 …
“I took Professor Kranz’s Introduction to Film Studies class during my sophomore year and after just one hour made the decision to adopt him as my advisor. I loved the passion and seriousness with which he approached the subject. I can still remember his lecture on The English Patient.
But the one enduring memory I have is of watching Swept Away (the 1974 Italian original, not the Madonna remake) and Professor Kranz asking the room full of distracted students who were mainly only there for the distribution credit and who hadn't been paying attention to the lecture, ‘You do know what sodomy means, right?’ You could have heard a pin drop. He had their attention for the rest of the semester.
I'm now pursuing a Ph.D. in film studies. And I absolutely believe that I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for Professor Kranz’s faith in me as a student and the way that he nurtured and supported my attempts at close reading. Dickinson won't be the same without him.”
Lest anyone think I’m shirking my responsibilities, I did want to add a few comments of my own. What follows are simply some things I learned from David Kranz. Some he told me outright; others I came to understand after observing him for many years.
- It is your responsibility to serve, and your privilege to shape, the college. If this means taking an unpopular stand, so be it. If this means leaving East College and becoming a development officer, then by god that’s what you do.
- Committee service is not to be treated lightly. Also, to grumble about it excessively is bad form. David has chaired both P&B and APSC, and served on FPC and the Presidential Search Committee. He regularly requested committee assignments.
- It’s possible to wholeheartedly commit yourself to arguably the most demanding and important community service imaginable—12 years on the Carlisle School Board—and remain completely engaged in your “real” job.
- If no one says anything negative in your course evaluations, you’re clearly doing something wrong. (He told me this my first year here, and I’ve never forgotten it.)
- Follow your passions, and the students will follow you. Even if you teach, over the course of your career, as Dave has, 40 different classes.
- You can be nice and pushy at precisely the same moment. You can be the still, small voice of calm while saying something absolutely radical.
It’s cool to eat at the SNAR.
I want to finish up with a quick story of my own.
At one of the first Belles Lettres’ all-night readings, we did The Great Gatsby. David was given the honor to read the first chapter, and he read every single line of dialogue in the voice of the character. His Daisy Buchanan impression was especially hilarious—“I’m p-p-p-p-p-aralyzed with happiness,” he exclaimed in falsetto, batting his eyelashes.
At one point a first-year student turned to me and said “Who IS that guy?”
And I said: “That's Professor Kranz.”
I know I speak for everyone in the English Department when I say: Professor Kranz, we’re really going to miss you.
—Written and delivered by Susan Perabo, writer-in-residence and chair of English, May 14, 2009
Tribute to Lance Landauer, Dickinson College Faculty Meeting, May 14, 2009
As I began thinking about the remarks I would make today to mark the retirement of Lance Landauer from the college and the Education Department, I was torn among a variety frames to use. The first—the lines quoted from an old army ballad and used by General McArthur on his departure from that service—“old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” The second is of the grand mythological phoenix. Only one of these birds lived at a time and lived in all its glory for a full 500 years until it was consumed by fire. From the ashes another grand bird arose to live another 500 years, and so on and so on. The third is that of the “Lazarus phenomenon” in medicine that “refers to an event in which a person spontaneously returns to life when the heart starts beating again after resuscitation has been given up.” This phenomenon is, of course, a biblical allusion to Lazarus who was raised from the dead by Jesus because of his life of poverty and meekness. Others, the frame of the Timex watch that just “keeps on ticking” or the Energizer Bunny who “keeps going and going.” Obviously, what all of these images share is a sense of a longevity, re-emergence, vitality and contribution.
Some of you may not realize that Lance has retired multiple times in his professional life only to re-emerge to continue to make important contributions to the field of education. In fact, he’s retired several times from the Education Department at Dickinson—but more about that later. Lance’s first retirement was from 33 years in basic education in 1997. At that point, Lance had been a classroom teacher at Chambersburg High School, a guidance counselor in the Atlantic City Public Schools, an assistant principal in both Northern York and Conewago Valley School districts, and a principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent in Conewago Valley School District. While many folks who retire from so many years in public education choose to pass their time playing golf, gardening, or traveling, Lance almost immediately trained to become a Reading Recovery teacher volunteering to teach Philadelphia first-graders who were struggling to learn to read. He also became the education director at Crispus Attucks YouthBuild Charter School in York, Pa., and an adjunct faculty member at both Messiah College and at Dickinson. He continued as an adjunct at McDaniel College in Maryland where he had taught a graduate level course on school finance since 1980.
With my arrival at the Education Department in July 2000, making three tenure-line faculty members in the department, it was thought that there would be no need for adjuncts, and Lance was retired by then-chair Sue Daggett. According to Betsy Miller, our Academic Program Coordinator, the department purchased a lovely print of Old West for Lance and threw him a retirement party and Lance, who as you can tell doesn’t like to remain idle, signed on for additional work at Messiah.
Sue then resigned from the faculty on June 30 leaving us a bit short-handed with a particular need for some help with the supervision of student teachers. Lance was recommended to me by another adjunct, George Beck, as someone who had a lot of experience in supervising teachers but quickly added that Lance was probably too busy at Messiah to help us at Dickinson. Undaunted, I phoned Lance who, in fact, did tell me that his schedule was pretty full. I begged him to return to Dickinson because we really needed his help. He did. And, as many of you have heard me say over the years, Lance was a godsend to me that first year. In addition to supervising his own load of student teachers, Lance pitched in to cover those of one of our now-departed colleagues. This willingness to pitch in to help whenever he sees a need is quite characteristic of Lance. Whether it’s teaching a first-year seminar as an overload without remuneration or staying late to help clean up following a departmental event, Lance Landauer is someone you can count on.
Although we hired a replacement for Sue Daggett for the 2001-2002 academic year, we lost Cheri Quinn late in the spring when she took a position at another institution. I quickly made a case to Neil for hiring Lance as a full-time visiting professor to help to stabilize the department. Lance’s “visit” lasted for eight and a half years! During that time, Lance has been a much-valued member of the Education Department and the broader Dickinson College community.
Lance taught Social Foundations of American Education, Seminar in Teaching, Educational Evaluation, and supervised student teachers. Lance was the first faculty member in the Education Department to offer a writing intensive section of one of the courses he regularly taught—Social Foundation of American Education. He also added a field experience component to Social Foundations of American Education that was lacking prior to his assignment to the course.
As the instructor for Seminar in Teaching, Lance enhanced the course by structuring it around topics that are not addressed in other courses within the department but that are important for those about to enter the teaching profession. These topics range from classroom management to working with students with special needs. Lance also introduced activities to better prepare our student teachers to enter the job market, such as building a professional portfolio to be used during job interviews and mock interviews conducted by area school administrators. Lance took student teachers to job fairs where his students received many compliments regarding their preparedness for the interviews held during these job fairs.
Lance’s work as a supervisor in the field for student teachers has always been exceptional. He has worked effectively with even the most challenging of student teachers and provided them with guidance that enabled them to complete the student teaching experience with success. When asked about their work with him, student teachers describe Professor Landauer as experienced, knowledgeable, caring and inspirational. They also state their beliefs that he is genuinely interested in their success as young teachers and approachable about both professional issues and personal problems that might be affecting their performance.
Lance served as chair of the Education Department and director of teacher certification from fall 2003 to spring 2008. Lance faced two very important and challenging tasks during the time he held these administrative positions. The first was the preparation for and coordination of the reaccreditation visit by the Pennsylvania Department of Education during the 2004-2005 academic year. The second was the provision of leadership for bringing together teacher educators from liberal-arts colleges across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania when we were faced with new mandates from the Pennsylvania Board of Higher Education that threatened our very existence.
Lance tirelessly led the department in its self-study in preparation for our reaccreditation visit during the spring of 2005. In addition to working with Education Department faculty, Lance was, as many of you know, responsible for involving faculty from the 19 disciplines in which we offer teaching certification in the process. Lance also scheduled and coordinated the various meetings that occurred during the actual visit by the PDE review team. These involved Dickinson College faculty, administrators, and students as well as local school district personnel involved in the preparation of our students. The review team gave our teacher education program, the documentation provided, the coordination of the visit, and the hospitality of the college high praise. This was the result of Lance’s leadership throughout the process.
The second great challenge faced during Lance’s service as chair and director of teacher certification, came in January 2006 when the minutes of a meeting of the State Board of Higher Education first reported a proposal to mandate that every teacher education program in the commonwealth require students to take nine semester hours of coursework in teaching special-needs students and three semester hours of coursework in teaching English-language learners. Adding four courses to our existing eight-credit teacher-education program would cause enormous hardship for Dickinson College and our students. Knowing that this would likely be true for other liberal-arts institutions offering teacher certification, Lance immediately began making contact with them and organized two meetings held on the Dickinson College campus to provide a forum for us to discuss the impact of such a mandate as well as a response to the state board. In addition, Lance contacted the chair of the State Board of Higher Education to communicate our concerns to the board and to seek clarification on the impetus for such a mandate. The regulation that was ultimately passed by the State Board of Higher Education allows institutions to either choose the aforementioned semester-hour courses or the integration into their programs of 270 clock hours of work focusing on teaching special-needs students and 90 clock hours of work focusing on teaching English-language learners. Lance’s leadership among education faculty in liberal-arts colleges throughout Pennsylvania was very important in bringing the group together to present a proposal that can be implemented in these settings without quite the same amount of hardship.
In addition to teaching and administrative service to the Education Department, Lance worked with our student organizations as well. He initiated the reactivation of the Benjamin Rush Chapter of the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association and made it truly a student-led pre-professional organization. He advised the Teachers for Tomorrow (TFT ) during Mike Kline’s sabbatical leave. Lance also approached the Kappa Delta Pi national office to charter a chapter of the international education honors fraternity at Dickinson to replace TFT. Lance adeptly made a case for our having a chapter of this organization even though very few small liberal-arts colleges are granted chapters.
As you can see, Lance has been an integral and important part of Dickinson College’s Education Department for quite some time. His impact on our program and our students is commendable. His service to us all has been great. Perhaps more than a colleague, Lance has proven himself to be a friend to all of us in the department. As with work related situations, we all know that when we need a friend in a time of personal need, we can call on Lance. He’s been there for each of us over the years.
At this point, you might think that you see the old educator, Lance Landauer, fading off in the distance toward his home in Biglerville to enjoy his wife, sons and grandchildren. But wait! Here comes Lance back to Dickinson College again. Lance will return to supervise student teachers for us in fall 2009!
—Written and delivered by Pam Nesselrodt, of education, May 14, 2009