I would like to know something about your background.
Al: So, you came back to Gary?
Lance: Yes, when I was in the fourth grade, we came back to northwest Indiana and moved into the little town of Wheeler. That's where I grew up and that's what I call my hometown. My mother's family was from there, and I grew up in Wheeler, graduated from Wheeler HS in 1958, and then I went to Earlham College in Richmond Indiana. Earlham is a Quaker school where I graduated in 1962.
Al: I know Earlham well; my daughter graduated from Earlham several years ago. After graduation, what did you do?
Lance: I went into the Peace Corps. When I was a senior, President Kennedy announced the formation of the Peace Corps. I didn't have anything better to do. So I went into the Peace Corps. I was an English literature major, and didn't have any great job prospects. I didn't want to be a teacher, particularly. They sent me to Borneo, the country of Sarawak actually. When our group got there we were the first group there. That was in the summer of 1962. In fact, there weren't that many Peace Corps groups in the world at that time. However, I did teach school there in Borneo. It was a British Crown Colony, but shortly after we got there, they were granted independence. The country of Malaysia was formed, which included the states of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and North Borneo (now Sabah). Singapore left that federation a number of years ago and is totally independent now.
Al: Did you teach English?
Al: After your stint in the Peace Corps, what did you do?
Lance: I traveled awhile. I spent about a month in Greece looking at the antiquities and then went to London where I had some British friends from the Peace Corps. I had been to London before. I had spent four or five months in Britain while I was at Earlham at the University of London. After that a friend and I bicycled around youth hostelling for about six weeks in England, Scotland, and Wales.
Al: Did you finally come home then?
Lance: Yes, I came back home and went to work at Gary Hobart Water Company. I had worked there every summer when I was high school and college. They fortunately hired me. I got back late in the summer and they let me work the usual 90 days. I earned a little money. I then decided to go to Arizona then to California to see some other people that I knew there. On the way out there, my draft notice showed up at my house in Wheeler. I spent two years in the Army, one year in Korea, and the last year at Fort Lewis, Washington. My first daughter, Valerie, was born in Longview, Washington.
Al: What did you do after you got out of the Army?
Lance: I went to work for a newspaper, because one of the few things that I could really do well was write a plain English sentence. I worked for the Longview Daily News for awhile. The owner, John McClelland, was on the board of the Associated Press, which was kind of neat. He was well known in the publishing circles as a good publisher and a pretty aggressive guy. He had a good newspaper there, I thought. However, we had one daughter at that point and decided that we were a long way from family. So we decided to move back to Wheeler, which we did. I worked at The Daily News for about 1 1/2 years.
Al: Were you a reporter?
Al: Where did you go after Calumet College?
Lance: I went to St. Margaret Hospital and worked there for five years in public relations and development before going to St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown Point for eight years. From there, I came back here. I have been here since 1994. Originally, I was just the Director of Development, but the President wanted to restructure things. As a consequence, he set up a level of vice presidents and made me one of them.
Al: Now that we have this overview
of your work life, I'd like to go back to the Peace Corps and have you
reflect upon its value.
The Peace Corps does that. There is a huge misconception about what the Peace Corps was about. I think people thought I was going to be wearing a sarong and living in a grass hut while I was over there. That is not correct at all. We were middle level technical people who had some skills to bring to underdeveloped countries, and we could help them with education, civil engineering, water systems, healthcare, and a lot of other basic needs. I said I was an English major, but I didn't have any educational program so I didn't know really any educational techniques like a typical professional teacher would learn. But, I was there and spoke English to them and that was important. It was probably the first time those children had heard a native speaker at any length.
One of the great pleasures was teaching my 5th grade class. I had gotten there mid-year and had them the whole next year. I moved up to the sixth grade with the same kids. At the end of their 6th year, the students are tested to see where they are educationally. They have to pass the test to be able to go on to a public secondary school. It's like the system in Britain. During my first year, only four or five of the 6th grade kids passed the test out of a class of 30. The next year, 10 passed the test, and I was also able to get 4 more into the mission school. They were really bright kids, but they didn't do well on the test and there are no takeovers. I thought that was pretty good, and I was very happy about that. They are great people. The Malays are all Muslim and they were very friendly and hospitable.
What were your accommodations like at Sarawak.
Al: Where did you get your drive to help others?
Lance: I don't know; I was never very "churchy." Actually, I still am not. Certainly Earlham helped me, I guess. It supported that idea. I don't know what else; I really just enjoyed doing it. I didn't get this way, though, until after college. I never thought about it much, but I liked the adventure part. But having been in the Peace Corps made me feel pretty good. Maybe my concern for others just of kind of built from there. I haven't had any big transformation, epiphany, or anything like that that caused some great conversion. I've never been particularly interested in money. I mean, I need money. We all need money to take care of ourselves. I'm also not driven by power. I have a natural stewardship thing in a personal kind of way.
Al: It's interesting that you are so driven toward this outreach without
any great epiphany. Did someone sit you on his lap and say this
is how you are going to run your life?
Al: It just intrigued me...you don't see very many people our age that are so left of center and concerned about the needs of other people.
Lance: Well, right. There's a lot of suffering and strife in the world. More than we should have, for sure.
Al: I was reading Tom Friedman's book, Longitudes and Attitudes. Travel is critical to true understanding. We had for most of our history two oceans protecting us. We thought that we didn't have to know the rest of the world. We possess a high level of ignorance about the rest of the world. Thomas Jefferson said if you want democracy you have to have an educated electorate.
Lance: Yes, America's ignorance is mind-boggling.
Could you give my web site readers your message about Calumet
Al: To which conference does the college belong?
Lance: We are in the Chicagoland Athletic Conference and compete pretty well with the other schools. Actually, most people would not have heard of them. They are pretty small schools around the area....Cardinal Stritch, which is in Milwaukee, Moody Bible Institute, Trinity, Judson College, Purdue Calumet, IUNW, and Purdue North Central. We play them and are getting a pretty good rivalry going with some of the local universities even though some are 10 times bigger than we are. We feel we have a very competitive team.
What is the student population?
It is interesting to listen to you about Calumet's mission. What
you said about global societies parallels what you are saying about
your college students. The rich
schools perpetuate richness just like our society perpetuates
Lance: Diversity. It's interesting that you should mention that. One of the reasons I like living around here is because of the diversity. That is one thing I should have mentioned about this college; we actually have the highest number of minority students both African-American and Hispanic of any college in the state. We look more like the region than any other local college. We are more diverse than any other college in Indiana. US News and World Report rates us as the most diverse college in the Midwest based on our student body. We are pretty proud of that and, again, it reflects marginalized people having a chance to get a leg up.
Al: Whites, also, can learn from diversity.
Lance: Yes, that is the other part of it. What I find pretty interesting, and I don't know why it is, but it is typical of human beings. We stereotype other human beings. I don't care who they are. I remember when I would be riding in our car with my folks and all of a sudden someone would go roaring by us. If the car had an Illinois plate, my parents would say, "Oh those crazy Illinois drivers...." I used to live a block away from the state line in Hammond, IN. On just the other side of the street, people lived in Illinois. It struck me as odd that the people across the state line were "different" than us. Come on. That's really goofy. It is pretty easy for a human being to stereotype people, especially when they look different. I think it is hard to get people to understand that it is better to celebrate differences than to back away from them. I don't know how you will ever solve that other than saying, "let's celebrate our diversity."
Al: I would like to wrap this up
with a question that Gene Siskel use to use in his interviews. When
he was still alive would always ask his interviewees about movies
that they liked. He thought their answer would reveal something
about them. Give me one or two movies that you liked.
Al: Why did you like Lawrence of Arabia?
Lance: Ummm...it's British! That is in its favor, to start with. When I saw the film, I didn't know anything about the person, but I thought the guy was quite an adventurer. I thought about reading more about it. Whatever he did was pretty remarkable. Oh, he was trying to help some other people, sacrificing his health, safety, and career for people. He was trying to help the Arab people because he felt that they had been mistreated and misunderstood. I do like those kinds of stories. There are more than their own lives that they are worried about. They are concerned about others, and I guess that is an attraction.
Al: One last thing, if you had the opportunity to write your epitaph, what would it be.
Lance: Something like, "He never gave up; he kept trying."