Barbara Finkelstein - Oral History Memoir

Interviewed in person by Jennifer Rudolph

October 24, 2013

Massasoit Community College - Brockton, MA

RUDOLPH:  This is Jennifer Rudolph, coordinator of public services and instruction at Massasoit Community College Library. Today is October 24, 2013, and I am interviewing for the first time, senior vice president and vice president of faculty and instruction, Barbara Finkelstein, in her office at Massasoit Community College. This interview is being conducted by the Massasoit Community College library and is part of the fiftieth anniversary of the oral college history project. First, I want to thank you very much, Barbara, for agreeing to help us with this project by being a part of the archives. I’d like to know if you could tell me a little bit about yourself, where you grew up, went to school?

FINKELSTEIN:  Well, thank you for including me in this project. I’m a Boston kid. I grew up in Dorchester—and Dorchester back in the 1950s in what we would describe as a very blue-collar neighborhood. I grew up in a six-family tenement in Dorchester, went through the Boston public schools—two different schools: an elementary, the William Bradford and the Roger Wolcott, which was on Morton Street in Dorchester. And then I went to Girls’ Latin, and I graduated from Girls’ Latin School. From there, I went on to Boston State College, which is now part of UMass Boston, then NYU [New York University] for my master’s in history. I actually was in the doctoral program there—completed everything except my dissertation and then later in life went back and got a doctorate in education.


RUDOLPH:  Boston Latin has always interested me. Was it a great place to be at that time?


FINKELSTEIN:  It was the best school that you could possibly go to in Boston. I went to Girls’ Latin because in those days, the girls had to go to Girls’ Latin and the boys went to Boston Latin, or as we called it, Boys’ Latin. So, there was no integration of males and females in those days.


RUDOLPH:  I remember those days too when we were all separated. When you went to Boston State, were there people that you later met either here or in other places in education in Massachusetts?


FINKELSTEIN:  Absolutely. I remember meeting our former registrar Dan Kimborowicz the very first day I was at Boston State—had a fight with him the very first day [laughing] I was on campus because he sent the wrong registration materials and then told me, “No, that’s yours,” and I said, “No, I’m not Joel Paris,” because that was my maiden name—Paris. And then I met Joanne Jones because I worked one summer in the library at Boston State. So I met Joanne Jones—we go back over forty years; and I met Jerry Burke, the former president of Massasoit Community College—Jerry was my Irish History instructor; and Moe Foley, who just recently passed away, was my U.S. History instructor—later he became a faculty member here at Massasoit; and a number of other faculty that came after Boston State was merged with UMass [University of Massachusetts] Boston.


RUDOLPH:  Boston State was a place where a lot of people who later taught in Massachusetts went to school.


FINKELSTEIN:  My original aspiration was to become a school teacher in Boston and, believe it or not, an English teacher. So throughout my seventh through twelfth grade experience at Girls’ Latin, I thought I’d go to Boston State and then go on and teach in Boston, probably get a master’s in ed. [education], and go on. But I had a couple of folks in the history department at Boston State who convinced me otherwise—told me that I’d be better off in history—and I concurred. I really got the history bug, so to speak, while I was at Boston State and decided to go the non-secondary-ed route and get a bachelor’s in history and then go on and get a master’s in history, and eventually I was hoping to get the PhD in history.


RUDOLPH:  So after you left Boston State, did you go to NYU right from there?


FINKELSTEIN:  I graduated. I went through Boston State in three years. I was twenty years old when I got my bachelor’s and went immediately on to NYU on a fellowship and got my master’s when I was twenty-one.


RUDOLPH:  Oh, very young.


FINKELSTEIN:  Very young.


RUDOLPH:  So, what did you do before you came to Massasoit?



FINKELSTEIN:  I actually taught in the Boston public schools for a couple of years. Before I came to Massasoit in between my work—and I was in the doctoral program at NYU—I took a couple of years off, and I worked in what was called the Home and Hospital Department. It originally was called the Department of Physically Handicapped Children but later was renamed the Home and Hospital Department, and it was a department that dealt with special-needs children. So my first experience in teaching was with special-needs children.


RUDOLPH:  Did you stay with that very long?


FINKELSTEIN:  A couple of years. I started teaching here in the spring of 1978. In fact, I was still teaching in the Boston schools, but I taught one morning class and one evening class here at Massasoit and then later made the transition in the fall of seventy-eight just to teach here and at other higher ed. institutions. You know, my heart was really in higher ed., rather than in the K through twelve, but it was a very good experience in the Boston public schools. It gave me an understanding of what it means to be a special-needs student and the special work that they need to accomplish what our other students do.


RUDOLPH:  And we have special-needs students here, so I’m sure that was a help as well.


FINKELSTEIN:  Oh, I had students that ran the gamut. I had students with cerebral palsy; I had students with juvenile arthritis and some students that were drug addicted. I had several students that died while I was their teacher. It was emotionally very draining.


RUDOLPH:  I bet it was. So, what brought you to Massasoit?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, when I decided to make the switch to higher ed., I sent out resumes to about twenty different schools in the area. I heard from a couple, and I was called in for an interview in December of 1977 by the then division chair, Leighton Shields. Leighton Shields in the history department, who has just recently retired, called me in for an interview, and I was interviewed by he and Bob Small, a former member of the history department, and Kevin MacWade, who is still teaching here. So the three gentlemen interviewed me, and I was hired by Leighton to teach one course on Tuesday/Thursday at eight o’clock in the morning because that fit the schedule—because I used to go to the students’ homes, so I was able to rearrange my schedule—and one course on Wednesday evening; it was two Western Civ [Civilization] Two classes.


RUDOLPH:  What positions have you held here at Massasoit?




RUDOLPH:  I know there are a number of them.


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, I started as an adjunct faculty member, and I do understand what adjunct faculty members go through as well, and that gave me a good understanding. Four years as an adjunct—you know, waiting for the phone calls—Are you going to get a course or not get a course? and Where am I going to be? And those days, we just had the Brockton campus, and I was teaching at a couple of other places like Mount Ida. I taught at Framingham State in the evening, so I was running all over the place. At one point I was teaching eight classes in five different locations, so I understand what it’s like to be a true adjunct. I did that for four years, but while I was also an adjunct here, I had a part-time administrative position running what was called Project Access. It was a federally funded program where we offered instruction behind prison walls, so I was the administrator down at MCI [Massachusetts Correctional Institute] Bridgewater. So I ran the first prison program behind prison walls in Massachusetts—I believe it was first one in Massachusetts—and taught in the program as well. So, two days a week I’d be going down to MCI Bridgewater, and then later we expanded to MCI Cedar Junction—those days, Walpole.


RUDOLPH:  What kind of things did you set up—courses or faculty?


FINKELSTEIN:  All of that. I brought the books in; I worked with Dean [Ralph] Sarro, who was the assistant dean of continuing ed. [education]—in those days we had a very big continuing ed. operation at the college. Worked with him to get everything ready, did the registrations, advisement, everything.


RUDOLPH:  And how did that work out for the inmates?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, in June of 1980 we actually had the first graduation behind prison walls down at MCI Bridgewater. I remember running and getting the caps and gowns from Jack Otis, who was the assistant dean of students. He was very helpful in bringing everything down and arranging for refreshments and the press and all of that. The president at the time was George Ayers, and George Ayers was there at the graduation along with other staff at the college. So it was really a very interesting experience. But that was my first administrative experience here at Massasoit.



RUDOLPH:  Thrown in.


FINKELSTEIN:  Literally thrown in [laughing] and not under the best circumstances. I remember one day going to MCI Walpole, because it was Walpole in those days, and being stuck in the second trap—because you go from one trap to another—and wondering why after forty-five minutes they hadn’t let me through, and it was because there was a dead body on the other side; somebody had been stabbed to death. So it was really a very, very interesting position. But it prepares you for a lot of things.


RUDOLPH:  It does—but different from here.


FINKELSTEIN:  Different from here.


RUDOLPH:  So that was your first administrative position?




RUDOLPH:  And you became full-time faculty here?


FINKELSTEIN:  No. I became a full-time administrator here in August of 1982. George Ayers decided to expand from three divisions to five divisions because the college was growing. So, they created the division called the Liberal Arts Division, which started with three departments: the History Department, the Social Sciences Department, and the Communicative Arts Department. And I was called by George Ayers and asked if I would be interested in the position. I was interviewed and I was hired for that position. So I became a Division Chair—today they call it Division Dean, but Division Chair in 1982.


RUDOLPH:  You held that position for quite a long time?


FINKELSTEIN:  Oh yeah. Well, they had title changes, but essentially it was the same position. I ended up getting more and more departments. In 1984 I ended up getting the Law Enforcement Department, today the CJ [Criminal Justice] Department. In 1985 with the merger with Canton, I got the Visual Arts Department—at that time it was called the Advertising Art and Design Department—and I got in I think it was in 1987, the Travel and Tourism Department, and then in 1995 they changed our titles to Assistant Deans. I got Childcare Ed. [Education] in the Children’s Center, and then a little later in the nineties, I got Culinary Arts under Bob Rose, another president. So I ended up with so many different departments plus I ended up with more staff responsibilities, so that was my next job, and I held that, really, for about nineteen years. But at the end of those nineteen years, I had a couple of other titles as well because for a period from I think it was October of 2000 to March or April of 2001, I served as the administrative dean at Canton as well as division chair—or division dean—for liberal arts, so I was doing both jobs. Did that for about six months and then was promoted to Associate Vice President in the spring of 2001.


RUDOLPH:  Well, I think all of those jobs probably prepared you for –


FINKELSTEIN:  Oh yeah. You get used to the long days. It was particularly difficult, that six-month period where I was the Administrative Dean over in Canton. Plus I had a division—a full division—here with like seven or eight departments. So I’d start my day at about quarter of seven in the morning, having coffee with one of the maintainers in Canton—the best way to learn what’s going on in a campus—and was there until about eleven-eleven thirty in the morning. Then I would come to Brockton and I’d stay here until like seven or eight o’clock at night and would get everything done. So it was a tough six months but it –


RUDOLPH:  And before cell phones.


FINKELSTEIN:  Oh yeah, well, no actually I think I had a phone in the car. [both laughing] I think I had one built into the car.


RUDOLPH:  A box phone.


FINKELSTEIN:  One of those box phones.


RUDOLPH:  When you first came to Massasoit, what was it like?


FINKELSTEIN:  Oh, it was a very different place. The building that I’m in right now, Liberal Arts, was not open. Neither was H [Humanities] Building. Neither was Fine Arts or the Field House. My first office was over in B [Business] Building. And I shared that office with Ken Anania, Jack Keating, a gentleman by the name of Rick Henderson, who left a few years later—he was an economics instructor, and Joel Becker. So there were five of us in this office in B Building. It was a very different place, a lot smaller—probably about 2500 students, if that—again, everything in one campus. Everybody knew everybody very quickly because it was very small, very social, very different.



RUDOLPH:  Yes, well, we grow.




RUDOLPH:  What were the students like when you first came?


FINKELSTEIN:  Oh! I had some wonderful students in my history class. In fact, one actually came to visit with me about two years ago. She was in the very first class I taught in 1978. She came back—she was a twin—and she was a straight-A student, wonderful student. She told me she went on and got her bachelor’s and her master’s degree and teaches herself. So, [I] had a very good relationship with my students. They were terrific—[a] terrific bunch.

RUDOLPH:  Do you have any little stories from that time that you’d like to tell us?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, I could tell you about Massa Day. [I] remember that one very well. The day before Thanksgiving, there was a tradition at the Brockton campus where they’d have parties and everything was kind of—shall we say—free flowing, including the alcohol. It was a little different in those days—students smoked on campus. And on Massa Day, there’d be beer and wine and everything else, and people would party the day before Thanksgiving. So it was a very different type of atmosphere; I think a lot more collegial in some ways because everybody knew each other, and the students I think felt very comfortable approaching faculty and staff. Mentoring went on but in a very informal way. But there were some wild traditions here. I was glad Massa Day ended because it was not fun to see the way some of the students looked at the end of the day—or some of the faculty!


RUDOLPH:  [laughing] You mentioned a few of them already, some of the colleagues that you had at that time that might no longer be here or still are here that you remember specifically?


FINKELSTEIN:  Leighton Shields definitely because Leighton hired me, and Danny Kimborowicz I knew from way back and you know, he was a colleague and a friend too, although we did have running battles from time to time. Jack Keating has been a close friend over all of these years. In terms of deans, I’ve worked with Anne Scalzo-McNeil since 1984; she came on board in ‘84. Karyn Boutin was an adjunct faculty member with me, so we go way back to the early eighties. It’s nice seeing some of those folks, and there’s so many more that I could mention. Some have retired—like Carl Kowalski. He was the first dean that I reported to; he was the Dean of Academic of Affairs when I started as Division Chair. I remember his Monday morning meetings. He would have staff meetings on Monday morning at nine o’clock, and they’d go to about eleven o’clock. And then he’d have a special meeting each week on a particular day with each of his Division Chairs, so that if we had any items that were just particular to our own division, we’d be free to talk to him. So it was very, very personable. And there were a number of others —so many.


RUDOLPH:  Well, thank you for that. I’m trying to get an idea of who the colleagues were that people worked with, and it’s interesting to hear what other people have to say about—

FINKELSTEIN:  Oh, but there are so many—there are so many. I mean there’re folks that are retired—Stephen Tooker; Stephen and I were Division Deans together—wonderful man. Kevin MacWade I’ve known for so many years. Rick Dicara, who is retired. Just so many that almost everybody who’s been here twenty-plus years I feel are colleagues. And of course Joanne Jones. Joanne came with the merger with Boston State and UMass, and I was very excited when she came here because I knew her.


RUDOLPH:  This kind of goes off topic but—the college and the community—we are a community college, and I would like to know what you think our place is—not just Brockton, but in the area?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, I think that we’re probably one of the major resources not only for educational services but also for training and for a lot of cultural events. If you asked me this question in 1978, I would have said that we were the best kept secret—I don’t think we are anymore, although I hear that. I think people do know that we’re out there; we’re there to provide services; we’re there to be a resource for the community. So I think that our outreach has really been much more effective recently than it was many years ago.


RUDOLPH:  Do you feel that besides the fact that we were a secret then, that the economy has changed how people look at us as well?



FINKELSTEIN:  In some ways, yeah, that would be true. We’re a very good buy. But more than that, some native Brocktonians used to thumb their nose at Massasoit and describe it as “Massatoilet,” which used to drive me crazy. I don’t hear that derogatory term anymore, which is good. I think we’re seen in a much more positive light because of all the things that we’ve done.


RUDOLPH:  What do you see as some the college’s biggest accomplishments?


FINKELSTEIN:  Oh, there’re so many. Looking at it from a longitudinal view, I’d say acquiring the Canton campus in 1985; starting the Middleborough campus in 2010. But I think in terms of its growth, all of the programming that we’ve had, all of the wonderful student services we provide, we’re one of the first to have really a very effective academic resource center, which is very comprehensive. We really began the model for the state for that. So, I think just getting the reputation that we’re here to serve students.


RUDOLPH:  Do you see any disappointments? Do you have any disappointments about the college?


FINKELSTEIN:  Yes. In 1985 we were supposed to get an Allied Health Science building. So, I’m still waiting!


RUDOLPH:  Ah, yes, but we are one of fifteen [public community colleges].


FINKELSTEIN:  We are, we are. And hopefully we’ll get one soon.


RUDOLPH:  If we’re patient. What are the most difficult problems that you faced at the college, and what were the outcomes?


FINKELSTEIN:  There were several big challenges. We’ve had some real significant budget turns in the nineties and then again in the last decade. That’s been very, very disruptive. When you don’t have a constant flow of—or steady stream, rather—of revenue from the Commonwealth, it becomes difficult to do planning, and I’d say that was disruptive. Also, although it was wonderful for those people, the early retirements incentive programs in 2002 and 2003, which were very restrictive in terms of how we could backfill some of those positions, I think it’s left a mark on the college. I mean we’re beginning to push forward again with faculty hiring, but it put us back quite a bit.


RUDOLPH:  So are you talking about the use of more adjunct faculty than full time?


FINKELSTEIN:  Yeah. You know, there weren’t that many adjunct faculty members when I started in 1978. There were more full-time faculty, and it saddens me to see that it’s been reversed, and that’s a national trend.


RUDOLPH:  Can you talk a little bit more about how that affects things at Massasoit when you have more adjuncts than full time?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, it restricts the way you do advisement, of the way committee work gets done. It’s very difficult when you only have a finite amount of full-time faculty. Adjuncts are wonderful; they bring a wealth of experience, but it’s hard to ask them to do things, and we don’t always have the money to pay stipends to do things. So it really restricts some of the curriculum development we do and some of the other things that we do on campus.


RUDOLPH:  Along with that, Massasoit has hired some faculty, some new, young faculty, and how do you see that changing what Massasoit is right now?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, I’m really proud of the new, full-time faculty that we’ve hired over the past ten years. They are a phenomenal group. They are tech savvy; they are open to curriculum design. Very, very pleased with the caliber of faculty we have. Many of them are researchers in their own right, scholars in their own right—just a phenomenal group.


RUDOLPH:  And how is that going to change what we do here, do you think?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, I think we’re going to see a transformation of the way we teach. These folks are open to suggestions about flipped courses, technology embedded in the curriculum, civic engagement activities within the curriculum. So I think that we’re going to see a revitalization that we haven’t seen really since the eighties because a lot of the folks that were hired at the time I was hired—you know, we were all young—and we came up with all these ideas, and we worked together collaboratively. But then, you know, as you get older, some of these things kind of went by the wayside. Well, I think we’re seeing this renaissance of ideas with the new faculty that we’ve gotten, so I’m thrilled with the new faculty we have.



RUDOLPH:  That sounds exciting.


FINKELSTEIN:  It is. And that’s not to devalue the seasoned faculty because they’re terrific too, but the new folks I think are just going to give us a little push.


RUDOLPH:  Are there any questions that you think I should have asked you so far that I haven’t asked you? I’m going to go on to some other questions.




RUDOLPH:  How did your role as a faculty member, department chair, division chair, dean, prepare you for your present position?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, you learn at every level that you work. You learn at each level, so I think you learn that no day is ever really fully planned. What you think is your schedule never ends up being your schedule. You have to be very adaptive; you have to be open to just about everything. I think you also learn that when you think you’ve seen everything, you haven’t! [both laughing]


RUDOLPH:  What are some of the goals that you made for yourself and the college as Senior Vice President of Massasoit?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, for myself I decided to go back to school at a more advanced age than most and complete a doctorate, and that’s something I always wanted to do because I had been in a doctoral program and hadn’t finished, and I regretted not finishing that first program. But, I knew that there was no way that I could do it in the traditional manner because of the hours that I put in, and I decided to go online to finish my degree. And it was a three-and-a-half-year process—it was very time consuming. It was a degree in leadership for higher ed. through Capella [University]. Wonderful program, very rigorous. My day was very long because I’d usually finish by midnight, get a couple of hours’ sleep, and then spend all weekend, every day off, doing research and writing. I don’t regret it in the least; it was probably one of the best things I did for myself. I used to always try to push others to do things, and I’d say, “Oh, well there’s no time for me to do it.” And then finally I said, “You know what, I’m going to make the time.”


RUDOLPH:  I think that’s a good goal. And I’m going to follow that up with a question that I had [for] later on, but I’m going to ask it to you now . You were probably the first person here at Massasoit to do a doctorate online, I would guess—


FINKELSTEIN:  Or one of the first—


RUDOLPH:  One of the first, and colleges are certainly going in that area. We certainly have started and have a number of online courses. How has that affected you in talking to faculty about it and talking to Dr. Wall about it in the college in general. Does it change how you see we are going in that way?


FINKELSTEIN:  Yes it does. It most certainly does. I realize that you can’t have just one type of learning opportunity for a student—it’s not going to work for all of your students. We have so many students that are at college that work full time or have family commitments, and we have to be flexible in our delivery system. That was one of the reasons I wanted to have a Sunday program. I thought about it, and I said Maybe we can work out some sort of a way of a student completing either most of the degree or all of the degree just on the weekends. Unless we are flexible, we’re going to lose our students. We have to be flexible in the times we offer classes, the way we offer classes, the delivery methods. So I think that experience in graduate school for me showed me that yes, you can do a program online; it takes a certain type of learner—it’s not for everybody. You have to have some self-discipline; you have to have to be able to give up your social life, because there is no social life, at least for me there wasn’t for three-and-a-half years. But it also gave me an appreciation of online learning because before that I thought, Well, you know, maybe it’s not quite as good as face-to-face. I found it to be as rigorous as face-to-face, and in some ways more so because you have to be self-disciplined. And it gave me also the opportunity to meet people from across the country. If I had gone to a face-to-face program, for instance at UMass Boston, I would have met just people from the Boston area or from Massachusetts. I had learners in my courses and in my colloquiums, and we had three face-to-face colloquiums or seminars where we met for a full week in different parts of the country. I got to meet people from Minnesota, people from Chicago, people from Denver—I’m still friendly with a lady that was in my class from Denver—from California. So I learned a lot about what was going on in their states, and it gave me a broader perspective of higher ed. across the country.


RUDOLPH:  So it helped your position here as well as your own learning at that time.



FINKELSTEIN:  I think so.

RUDOLPH:  A vice president’s job is a busy one. And as a senior VP, you are the second in command here. Could you give us a picture of what your average—now you already told me that it’s not average—[both laughing] —and that it changes daily. But if we were going to follow you around, where would we be at eight o’clock in the morning? Would we be at coffee with that person over in Canton or—


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, I have had days where I’ve started at Middleborough, gone to Brockton, and ended at Canton. There are days that I am in Boston; there are days that I’m on the road in Worcester. I spend a lot of time in my car going from place to place. But it’s really hard to describe a day because you may have a day all planned out. Usually I get up at around five- five-thirty in the morning, and I go through my emails, and I take a look at my calendar for the day to try to figure out what I’m doing all day and when I can fit in this or that. And very often will get a sudden phone call or an email that so-and-so is coming to campus—you’ve got to just change your whole schedule. Like we got a call last week; we were going to have a meeting with the [Massachusetts] Secretary of Education, so I changed my whole schedule around; and then unfortunately, he couldn’t make it, and I had to cancel what I had planned. So there is no one day—there’s no set pattern for what a day looks like. You know, you could think you’re doing one thing and end up someplace completely different, so you’ve got to be flexible; you’ve got to be flexible. And I try as much as I can to get around. Sometimes I feel like I’m locked in my office because the days that I do have just Brockton commitments, I try to get a lot of paperwork done because a lot of reports and things like that need to get done, but then I feel I’m not out and about visiting people. So I try to make it a point to go to at least another building every day. I park my car in different parking lots, so it forces me to go through this building or that building. If I park in the faculty lot, I usually then go through T building or Science building in the morning; you know I’ll pop in and say hi. If I’m able to find a parking space, and it’s more often in the summertime or during the breaks, in the student lot, then I’ll go through H Building and say hello to folks there. I walk around this building. I try to get over to B Building. So, if I park in the admin lot, I go through [the] Student Center, say hi to the folks in counseling. So to me, it’s important to do management by walking around.


RUDOLPH:  Well I noticed that you were at our meeting for the Academic Development the other day—




RUDOLPH:  —so you attend a lot of meetings?


FINKELSTEIN:  If I can—it’s hard. If there is a particular program for instance– and I’m talking about a full program, not changes in course descriptions or whatever—I’ll try to attend the curriculum meeting or senate meeting. I don’t get there as often as I’d like because very often I’ll have it on my schedule and then I get yanked because I have to be at another place. Fridays—I really feel badly I miss a lot of the first Fridays, but most of my meetings are on Fridays off campus. The state-wide CAO [Chief Academic Officer] meetings, collective bargaining meetings—I’m on a state-wide collective bargaining team—they’re on Mondays and they’ve done alternately one Friday in November. So it’s very difficult to get to a lot of these functions, but I do try if I’m here on campus, even if it’s for part of the time. I started at an Academic Development Committee meeting the other day and then got yanked out because we had a respiratory therapy accreditation that was going on.


RUDOLPH:  So it’s hard with commitments on campus, commitments statewide, and commitments at the highest level in Boston.


FINKELSTEIN:  Yeah, but even if it’s for part of the function, I’ll try to. Yesterday I was thrilled; I went over to hear the students with the Gala essays—and just very, very moving essays—they did a fabulous job. Twenty minutes, I was able to get over there then come back because I had another meeting here at twelve-thirty, but it gave me an opportunity to go over there. So I do try to make them if I can. Funny, the ones I usually have the best luck at going to are evening meetings or weekend meetings because I don’t have the commitments that I have during the day.



RUDOLPH:  Everyone else is home.


FINKELSTEIN:  Yeah. [laughing] I make it a point to try to come in at least one Saturday and one Sunday a semester as well, just to say hello to folks because you don’t get a chance necessarily to see them and just to see if everything’s going well on campus those days. So, I do that and, I hang around a lot in the evenings. People see me walking around at six, six-thirty at night, and I say hello to them. I sometimes stop by the evening office to say hello to the AODs [administrator on duty] and the evening secretary. Because it’s really important that people see you out and about. But it’s usually at odd hours. [laughing]


RUDOLPH:  At odd hours.


FINKELSTEIN:  At odd hours.


RUDOLPH:  I see you as a role model to women faculty.


FINKELSTEIN:  Thank you.


RUDOLPH:  And to staff as well, like me.




RUDOLPH:  After all, how many females have made it through the glass ceiling? How do you feel about that?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, I don’t know if it’s really a glass ceiling. If you would’ve asked me back in 1978 if I would’ve ever thought I’d be the senior vice president at this college, I’d have said, What, are you crazy? I saw myself in the classroom. And that’s probably still my first love—I love being in the classroom. But I’m very pleased that we have a lot of opportunities now for professional development that we didn’t have years ago, and I see a lot of faculty and staff availing themselves of that. You know, the Eastern Nazarene program that we established on campus—I’ve seen so many of our staff go through those programs. I have a few staff people in my own area now that started doctoral programs online. So, usually they come and talk with me, and we sit down and we chat about the pros and cons and the types of programs they’re going into; our new CIO is going through a program right now—one of his staff members. So I think that probably gives me the most pleasure seeing other people develop professionally. And nothing gives me greater pleasure than when I see a person start off in one position and move up.


RUDOLPH:  Well, thank you. Thank you for that. Are there any questions that perhaps I should have asked or some comments that you’d like to make about—


FINKELSTEIN:  No, I could talk just about the college. I’ve never had any regrets that I’ve worked here since 1978. This has kind of been my home.


RUDOLPH:  Yes. I think it’s said by a lot of people who work here that it’s a great place to work.




RUDOLPH:  Do you have any other stories that you’d like to tell us about?


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, I have other stories, but I’m not sure whether it’s something that should be in the archives. [both laughing] There’re so many different stories about people here and some of the wonderful things that have happened here, so it’s hard in an interview to go through them all, but I can say that I’ve never met a more committed group of people in terms of working with students, whether it’s staff, whether it’s faculty, whether it’s administrators. I see probably the finest teaching and counseling and commitment to students here at this college. I tell people that every time I go to a state-wide meeting.


RUDOLPH:  Well, that’s probably a tribute to our administrators as well.


FINKELSTEIN:  Well, yeah. I mean our deans—they work really hard—and the directors.


RUDOLPH:  They do. I want to thank you for this wonderful opportunity to –


FINKELSTEIN:  Oh, thank you.


RUDOLPH:  —do the interview with you, and I just think you’ve been very nice to do it and patient and kind with me.


FINKELSTEIN:   Oh no, thank you.


RUDOLPH:  I thank you very much.


FINKELSTEIN:  Thank you, Jennifer.


[End of interview]Transcribed and Edited by Beth Stewart

Barbara Finkelstein - Oral History Memoir
Barbara Finkelstein - Interview