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KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY
DEPARTMENT of Geography
...Making a world of difference

 

Geography Department History

The following account of the Department of Geography's history was first prepared as a narrative by, then senior geography faculty member, Mr. Lynn R. Sprankle.  The Kutztown University Department of Geography is deeply appreciative of Mr. Sprankle's efforts to put together this brief history and to allow us to post his work on the net.

This version of the department's history is now maintained by Dr. Richard S. Courtney.  Any comments or corrections should be directed to Dr. Courtney.

As I have been at Kutztown University since 1967, and have 16 years seniority over the next most senior staff member, it seems to be de rigueur that I include a few remarks about the department on my home page.

Geography has always been taught at Kutztown, but it was not until the early 1950's (still working on specific date) that a separate and distinct department was created. Josephine Moyer, who came to Kutztown in 1946, was the first chairman or Department Head as they were called in the early days. She began the expansion of the department in 1955 by hiring Max Slick. The department expanded to three in 1962 with the hiring of Dr. Herbert Rasche. The 1960's was the decade of expansion for both the institution and the department. The college was growing by leaps and bounds. A number of new buildings were constructed and the department grew from three to eight in 1967.

Dr. Moyer became ill and was forced to retire in 1965. Max Slick was tapped as acting chairman (prior to the collective bargaining agreement of the early 1970's, college policy required a chairman to have the doctorate). Max completed his doctoral studies and was made permanent chairman in 1967, the same year in which I was hired. The name of the department at that time was the Department of Geography, Earth, and Space Science. In 1969, Dr. Slick, after policy disputes with the then new President Stratton, resigned the chairmanship. As Dr. Slick was the only one with a doctorate in the department, President Stratton transferred the lone geologist on campus, Dr. Russell F. Kaiser, from Physical Sciences to Geography, and made him chairman of the new department of Geography and Geology. Dr. Kaiser chaired the combined department until he retired in the summer of 1974 when I was elected chairman. We hired a new geologist, but geology was spun off from Geography and returned to Physical Sciences and we went back to being the Department of Geography, which we have remained. I chaired the department until summer 1977, when policy differences with President Stratton caused my resignation. Harding Jones became chair in 1977 and guided the department until 1985 when Dr. Stephen A. Justham was elected. I now call this the "new" department because of the extensive personnel changes. The direction also changed. No longer were we inwardly oriented, but started branching out in many directions, probably too many at times. Research, publication, and professional presentations were emphasized. We still had a good teaching staff (we have always had strong classroom faculty), but now we had people who were generating a presence, statewide, regionally, and nationally. About half the department is usually off to the national conference where most present scholarly papers. Others are very active in state and/or regional activities. We have a very professionally active and visible department. The "old" department had been more heavily classroom oriented and very active in the state organization. Kutztown staff and alumni have held a number of high positions in the Pennsylvania Geographical Society. Dr. Justham was appointed Assistant Provost in 1989 and Dr. Robert N. Martin was selected to chair the department.  Dr. Martin continued in that role until May 1, 2008, when Dr. Richard S. Courtney was elected as chair.  Dr. Courtney continues to chair the department today.

Personnel records of the university are very incomplete, but I have spent a lot of time digging through the university archives and have gleaned some information which I will attempt to share. Obviously there will be some errors and I would deeply appreciate anyone who has knowledge of these things contacting me with corrections. Should you be interested in the history of the university per se, the booklet Beacon on the Hill, by Lee Graver is the best source. Professor Linda Lessig in Library Services has indexed this volume, but I haven't seen the index so can only call your attention to its existence. 

I am still working on the collection of information pertaining to geography and a listing of geography staff prior to the formation of the department. I would be grateful for any information anyone might have on this. Below, I have tabulated a listing of those who taught geography at Kutztown State Teachers College, Kutztown State College and Kutztown University of Pennsylvania from 1946 to the present. I'm sure there are errors, hopefully minor, for which I take full responsibility. 

GEOGRAPHY FACULTY 1946-present

This is an incomplete roster of geography faculty beginning with last hired. The symbol * indicates the individual was not in a tenure track position during that time. I have attempted to list the highest degree when the person was teaching at Kutztown. There have been several part-timers, but that is another project.  Faculty names in red were added after Mr. Sprankle's retirement.

Dr. Michael A. Davis, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2011-present*

Mr. James L. Rasmussen, ABD, University of Florida, 2008-2010

Dr. John D. Frye, Ph.D., University of Georgia, 2008-2011

Dr. Lindsay J. Spigel, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2007-2008*

Dr. Linda L. Martin, Ph.D., University of Kentucky, 2006-2007*

Dr. Mathias Le Bossé, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2005-2007*, 2007-present

Dr. Darren B. Parnell, Ph.D., University of South Carolina, 2005-2006*

Dr. Susan Marshall, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder, 2005*
Dr. Jonathan M. Herbert, Ph.D., Texas State University, San Marcos, 2004-2005*
Dr. Stephen P. Belbin, Ph.D., University of Manchester, 2003-2004*
Dr. Steven Schnell, Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2002-present

Mr. Michael S. DeVivo, MS, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1997-2002*

Dr. Joan Kendall, PhD, Michigan State University, 1995-2005
Dr. Anne-Marie d'Hauteserre, PhD, University of Paris, 1993-1995*
Dr. Richard S. Courtney, PhD, The Ohio State University, 1993-1994*, 1994-present
Dr. Robert Ramraj, PhD, University of Wisconsin, 1992-1993*
Dr. Alan Goldin, PhD, University of British Columbia, 1990-1991*
Prof. Karenann Voytas, MEd, West Chester State College, 1989-1990*
Dr. Natalia B. Barbash, PhD, Institute of Geography (Moscow), 1988-1989*
Dr. Lee H. Slorp, PhD, University of Illinois, 1987-1992
Dr. Richard C. Crooker, PhD, University of California-Riverside, 1985-present
Prof. Anthony Gregory, 1985-1986*
Dr. Percy H. Dougherty, PhD, Boston University, 1985-2006
Dr. Robert N. Martin, PhD, Indiana University, 1984-present
Dr. Stephen A. Justham, PhD, University of Illinois, 1983-2002
Dr. Robert C. Ziegenfus, PhD, Rutgers University, 1982-83*, 1983-present
Prof. Bruce Boland, MA, California University of PA, 1975
Dr. Roger A. Leestma, PhD, University of Michigan, 1971-1974*
Prof. Brook Towery, MA, Ball State University, 1970
Prof. William B. Conner, MS, Pennsylvania State University, 1969-1985
Dr. Mary Mobley-St. John, EdD, Lehigh University, 1968-1973, part-time 1973-1988
Prof. Allen R. Schutt, MEd, West Chester State College, 1968-1983
Prof. Harding Monroe, MS, Kent State University, 1967-1983
Prof. Lynn R. Sprankle, MS, Pennsylvania State University, 1967-1999
Prof. Harry McGroerty, MEd, West Chester State College, 1967-1968
Prof. Paul Kendall, MA, Miami University, 1967-1985
Prof. Robert F. Ensminger, MA, Rutgers University, 1966-1983
Prof. Harding Jones, MA, University of Colorado, 1965-1993

Prof. Gilbert J. Hunter, MA, Clark University, 1964-1966
Prof. Thomas E. Wolfe, MA, University of Pittsburgh, 1965-1967
Prof. Jacqueline S. Wolfe, MA, University of Pittsburgh, 1966-1967
Prof. Roland W. Batten, MS, University of North Carolina, 1965-1968
Prof. John W. Pawling, MA, Clark University, 1964-1966
Dr. Herbert H. Rasche, PhD, Harvard University, 1962-1964
Dr. Max H. Slick, PhD, Pennsylvania State University, 1955-1985
Dr. C. Josephine Moyer, PhD, Clark University, 1946-1965