Flashback Faculty Friday: David Freeman

In celebration of CSU’s sesquicentennial, the College of Liberal Arts asked emeriti faculty to share memories of their time at CSU. Their stories will be featured each Friday during the month of February. See all “Faculty Friday” features here.  

David Freeman

David Freeman, Emeriti Professor in Sociology

Years at CSU: 1967-2005
Department: Sociology
Academic specialization: Social development, social dimensions of technology, environmental policy assessment and social choice

1. Describe a memory you have of teaching at CSU.

By 1972 highly divisive Vietnam war issues were dominating campus life socially and academically. In the midst of all this I regularly taught S-460, Technology, Culture, and Society. Students were a vociferous bunch, polarized, and not the easiest to encourage to practice civil discourse. Among them were two especially articulate advocates each opposed to the other, each active in mobilizing students. One was fine young man in the ROTC program soon headed for Vietnam; the other was an equally fine character, majoring in journalism as I recall, who also went to Vietnam as a journalist. The officer survived; the journalist was killed. As I write this, tears still come to my eyes.

2. Describe a memory you have of the building you worked in.

By fall of 1967 I would be officed in the new Clark building then under construction. The Clark Building second floor B-wing, resting on stilts still seen today, had no northern A-wing yet in place to buffer the north winds. The northernmost end of the B-wing–looking out over a large deep hole destined to become the future A-wing basement area–was covered with nothing more than one thin sheet of plywood braced by a few studs and a sheet of canvas. That bad news was partially compensated by the fact that the north end office (now designated for the sociology chair) provided more space than the adjacent office to the south. I happy accepted the smaller office but had a lot more steady heat during cold months.

3. Describe a success you had while at CSU.

Good news: I had secured a position in a vibrant university. Bad news: I learned during the course of my first academic year that there were insufficient base budget funds to support all of the university tenured and tenure-track faculty. Solution: I, along with many other faculty, was expected to secure additional federal funding to cover significant CSU salary gaps during the 9-month academic years. Good news: I survived, published quality research that has stood the test of time, and had the privilege of teaching some wonderful undergraduates and graduate students. The biggest success was to develop and sustain wonderful working relationships across several departments in the liberal arts and other colleges.

David Freeman teaching in Clark
David Freeman teaching in the Clark Building

4. Describe a special moment, experience, or relationship you had while in the spaces of the Liberal Arts.

There were many. It was always special to help incorporate the work of a young sociologist in an interdisciplinary team in a way that made sociology central to the work of related disciplines–especially in the technical fields where the social implications are so immediate and profound. Sociology gains traction when it connects with, not only history, philosophy, economics political science, anthropology, other liberal arts, and technical domains. Problem: when members of any one discipline meets another each must learn much, improvise much, will be tested much, and advance knowledge much. Issue: can higher administrations find ways to support this kind of creativity especially in financially constrained times?