Summer Arrives on Campus
Every year after Commencement, the CC campus performs a transformation act worthy of Superman in his phone booth. The mild-mannered liberal arts college sheds its winter blanket of students, only to don a fresh coat of conferences, performing arts events, and wholesome academic programs. The woman behind the magic: Libby Rittenberg, the economics professor turned dean of summer programs.
Q: What’s this place like in the summer?
A: Quite different than during the regular year. More than 600 of our undergraduate and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) students take courses, along with students from other schools. And we host conferences for groups as varied as the American Numismatic Association and computer and sports camps. Then there’s the spectacular CC Summer Festival of the Arts. About 4,000 to 5,000 people come to campus for one or more of these offerings.
Q: You’ve been at the job for three and a half years, having previously taught in the economics department. Why did you decide to make that change?
A: First, it was too difficult to take a vacation in the summer without missing the Arts Festival! Second, I’ve taught some memorable courses abroad in the summer, and being a part of expanding these unique opportunities for our students has been most gratifying. Third, I want to give people a good impression of our beautiful campus, and working with the summer conference program is a good way to do that. And a number of teachers who taught my children in elementary and high school turned out to be truly excellent CC MAT graduates, so I was excited to get closer to that program.
Q: Do you miss being a professor?
A: I regret having less contact with students, but it’s kind of fun to run a little college within the college. It’s as close to orchestra conducting as I’ll ever get.
Q: Haven’t cancelled the Wall Street Journal subscription, though, have we?
A: No way! I’m keeping my hand in the economics field by working on a revision of the introductory textbook, “Economics,” that I wrote with Timothy Tregarthen.
Q: Ben Bernanke: a good choice for Federal Reserve chair?
A: A good transition. I think he’ll do a good job.
Q: You’ve been studying and visiting Turkey for over 25 years. Where do you see that Eastern and yet very Western country going?
A: Turkey is transitioning from an agrarian and relatively poor country to an urban, industrialized one. That process is difficult in any case, but is even harder given Turkey’s internal psychoses, stemming from the clash between secular modernity and religious traditions that are still held dear. Meanwhile, it’s in a pretty bad neighborhood. Still, I’m optimistic that good things lie in its future, though there will undoubtedly be bumps along the way.