October 21, 2013
During the next three years Northampton Community College will offer a series of programs focusing on key moments from the mid-1960s that transformed American society as the Baby Boom generation came of age, including the civil rights and women's rights movements, student activism, the Beatles, the New York World's Fair, and peace demonstrations.
The programs will be coordinated by Dr. James Von Schilling, an English professor at Northampton who was just awarded the Kopecek Chair - a coveted three-year appointment that enables a faculty member to pursue an innovative project different from his or her usual teaching and course development responsibilities. Named for Dr. Robert Kopecek, a former president of NCC who valued intellectual curiosity and discourse, the chair enables faculty to conduct research and to engage students, colleagues and the public in exploration of a topic of interest. The chair is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and by private donations.
Von Schilling's project is titled: "The Sixties: A 50-Year Remembrance." Among the audiences he intends to engage are non-Baby Boomers, including the "Millennial" traditional-age students now on campus. "I look forward to them experiencing the 'experience' of these events through videos, photos, speakers, and actual participation," he says.
The Baby Boomers themselves are also expected to be involved. "I hope that these 50-year remembrances will influence how Boomers view their lives and legacy," he said, "and even refresh the spirit many felt when they were students and young teachers."
Von Schilling has taught English and humanities at Northampton since 1984. He also serves as Humanities Faculty Coordinator, supervises the liberal arts program, and is active in NCC's Hispanic Caucus and the Forum for Peace, Justice, and Conflict Resolution. He has been a mentor for the NEH and was the proposer and Project Director for three NEH Grants awarded to Northampton.
Von Schilling earned his bachelor's degree in English from Princeton University, a master's degree in education from New York University and a Ph.D. in American Culture from Bowling Green University. He is on the Board of Governors of the American Culture and Popular Culture Associations, on the editorial boards of their respective journals, and serves as their Area Chair for Baby Boomer Studies and for Journalism and Media Culture.
A resident of Somerville, NJ, Von Schilling is the author of The Magic Window: American Television, 1939-1953 (Routledge) and continues to research and write about American society, media, popular culture, and the Baby Boom generation.
Previous recipients of the Kopecek Chair are Earl Page ("Origins and Evolution of Popular Music and Its Impact on American Culture" - 2001), Sandra Del Cueto ("Mi Casa, Su Casa," The Role of Latin Americans in the World and in Local History" - 2005) and Vasiliki Anastasakos ("Educating Students for Peaceful Citizenship" - 2009).