Dickinson College Homepage Dickinson Magazine This issue of the Dickinson Magazine was mailed on Monday, April 4, 2005
From This Issue
Volume 82 • Number 4
Spring 2005

Bruce Andrews—gentleman, gentle man
By David Strand
Editor’s Note: David Strand composed and read this eulogy at the service honoring Bruce Andrews on Jan. 13 in the Social Hall of the Holland Union Building.

Teaching, scholarship and politics were great and intertwined passions in Bruce Andrews’s life. As a scholar, Bruce was part of the post-war behavioral revolution in political science. Skeptical of the received wisdom about how politics and government worked, Bruce used the tools of scientific data collection and analysis to answer basic and important questions like why citizens in a democracy vote for a particular candidate and party and how a person’s social identity—based on class, ethnicity, religion and gender for example—affects his or her choice.

Bruce resolved to impart these new techniques and methods, and the larger and older fields of knowledge they spring from, to young people. When he applied in 1960 for a job as an instructor of political science at Dickinson he wrote that he did not see the role of teacher as one who played the “shepherd” protecting his “sheep” “from straying along paths presumed to be dangerous” but as one who taught students to think for themselves and equipped them with the tools they needed to meet the challenges that life offers.

His colleagues at Dickinson know, and his students over the years confirmed, that Bruce fully realized his vision of teaching and learning as pragmatic, humane and liberating. He taught a wide range of courses on topics like political behavior, public opinion and propaganda, and the introduction to American politics. He pioneered the teaching of the media’s role in politics at Dickinson, a new and important topic that post-dated his own graduate education. His was a supple and ever-enquiring mind. No doubt influenced by his wife Margery’s interests and accomplishments as a licensed psychologist, Bruce’s syllabi were likely to include psychoanalytical studies of political culture alongside more mainstream texts. Bruce taught his students in the classroom. He also sent them out into the neighborhoods of Carlisle to do polling and interviewing. At least one team of student pollsters ended up by falling in love, getting married and raising two children. That, too, I think Bruce would have agreed, is part of the liberal arts experience.

Bruce was a superb teacher. Students praised his deep knowledge of American politics, up-to-the-moment examples torn from the headlines or back pages of newspapers, humor, enthusiasm, receptivity to different points of view and approachability. Bruce seemed always to have a long line of students outside his Denny Hall office seeking advice and support. One of his students called him the “nicest and [most] concerned professor on campus. [He] not only knew his subject matter but genuinely cared whether or not he was clear, and students understood …” Students treasured his guidance, intellectual challenges and kindnesses long after they graduated. One recalled how Bruce “always seemed to listen to each student’s opinion (albeit sometimes with an expression of disbelief).” One alumna noted with admirable concision that as a professor, Bruce was “thoroughly decent” and “definitely cute.”

Bruce’s students learned from his example that one can be open about one’s political beliefs, fair to the other side and capable of sound scholarly judgment all at the same time. During the height of the Vietnam War, when passions on the left ran high, Bruce went against the grain of student and campus opinion by offering a seminar on “The Politics of the Far Right.” A student of his at the time remembers thinking (and saying): “He must be insane! Here we were in the middle of … Vietnam … and this … this voice of reason, this pillar of liberalism wants me to delve into this crazy insane extremism. How could he make me do this!? He recalled Bruce saying: “Why don’t you take the course. You might learn something. You want to do that don’t you?” The student recalled with gratitude, “I did. I learned. I grew. I still have the books.” Another of Bruce’s students of the same generation attended the uproarious Chicago Democratic convention in 1968 and was tear gassed by police outside the hall. The student was aware that inside the convention hall his professor, Bruce Andrews, was serving as an alternate delegate for Eugene McCarthy. No shepherd. No sheep. Instead, we see the striking juxtaposition of teacher and student, each making an informed choice as citizen through one of the wilder courses of American politics.

Bruce also taught his colleagues a thing or two about professional responsibility and democracy in academics. Bruce was elected to nearly every committee of the college because the faculty trusted him and knew him to be fair and wise in handling matters of importance for the entire Dickinson community. He fought for the faculty, for academic freedom and for the educational values of the liberal arts. It is easy still to imagine Bruce in Memorial Hall at a faculty meeting rising to his feet to ask a tough question, make a telling comment or, just as importantly when working among and with one’s fellow professors, calling the question.

I was lucky to be Bruce’s friend. One of the last times I saw Bruce was on Election Day as he helped lead the get-out-the-vote effort in Carlisle. He relieved me as poll watcher at about 5 p.m. He was a little late. I was a little over-excited.

“Bruce,” I said, “It’s looking good!” (I should note that I am a specialist in Chinese politics, not American politics.) Bruce took that in carefully and replied, “Well, it’s a little too early to tell.” And, Bruce of course was right. He always kept his passions and his mind in good balance.

There were many occasions—often lunches—when we talked freely about world politics, national politics, local politics, even college politics. Sometimes I would rant. Bruce would listen attentively and, I realize now thanks to the insight of his former student, “sometimes with an expression of disbelief,” and gently or humorously steer the conversation toward some more interesting and productive terrain but never away from controversy—which he loved. I realize how much I looked forward to those lunches and how happy I was afterwards, no matter how grim or hopeless the topics we broached might have seemed. Others have shared this experience, whether the activity was a conversation or tennis, a Phillies’ game or a political meeting. Bruce’s sweet disposition—remarkable in a man with such strong views and cutting insights—could lift us up in seemingly effortless fashion. This was a great blessing.

Bruce embodied in his life the advice of an ancient philosopher (Philo of Alexandria) who said: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”

Bruce appreciated life’s battles—especially a good political fight or academic argument. We will miss him as friend and comrade in and out of the fray. And, Bruce was kind to those he met, as a member, not only of the Dickinson faculty, the Carlisle community and the Democratic Party, but also as a member of some mysterious convention or company of the goodhearted. As one friend summed up Bruce’s character, he was a “gentleman and a gentle man.” His lightness of spirit and strength of fellowship—and certainly his smile too—will be sorely missed, and not forgotten.

David Strand, professor of political science, is chair of the East Asian studies department.

 


Dickinson College, PO Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-243-5121