Graduate School Flew By and I Return to NEAI
I Knew When to Hold Them and When to Fold Them
For the second time in less than a year, I loaded my 1969 Mercury Comet until it was full and off I went. The drive to Phoenix was uneventful though a south-west directed short cut from Gallup New Mexico bypassing Flagstaff proved interesting. What started out as a lonely state road became a desolate back country road on which I drove fifty or so miles through open range during which I did not see a trace of civilization; just a steer ever once in a while. The terrain continued very flat for a long time and I kept waiting for the mountains to appear when suddenly the panorama was filled with mountains that were not just in front of me but also below me! It was then Ponderosa pines through the mountains to the desert floor.
My Phoenix apartment was in a small complex of about ten converted motel rooms within walking distance of the Arizona State DBA classroom building. I enjoyed the complex swimming pool and was surprised leaving the pool by my shivering as the 110-degree heart evaporated the water from my skin.
Classes began and I did nothing but study as my bland diet and no alcohol left little to do. I was taking an economic course using the same Price Theory book I had used at Marietta College and Northeastern University only this time I was responsible for the mathematics footnotes. Upper level economics courses contain little theory beyond that taught in Economics 01 and 02; just more math applied to existing theory. We had a paper that was a pain in the pooper because it requiring very specific footnote procedures required by the “academic world.” The typed paper with grammar improvements and footnotes all done by expensive professional serving graduated students.
My Investment Analysis course was much more interesting. We had to do a well-designed paper applying the basic theory used to determine the value of a company’s stock. I knew the math being taught so little work beyond the paper was required. It was the most interesting course I had taken since the disastrous marketing course taken my last year at Northeastern University. There a teacher who did not teach and counted class participation was the problem. Here a brand new University of Indiana Ph.D. was trying to enhance his reputation by giving only three A grades to a class of about fifty graduate students was the problem. Two of the A grades went to career changing professional financial analysts. I did not get the third A grade. The teacher did not like my conclusion that my stock was overvalued because its price/earnings ratio was substantially over twenty to one. He said the 20-1 rule was old fashion. This was 1971, the market was too high and it was about to take a ten-year nosedive. A twenty-one PE ration for the market as a whole is today and will be in the future an upper limit for entire stock market. He might have had a newly minted doctorate degree but his knowledge of economic history was very limited. So was Alan Greenspan’s. Fool me once your fault; fool me twice my fault.
Summer session two proved to be a very short term. I was unhappy because my planned three-year degree was turning into five years as more than one department wanting to use my teaching services. I was cheap and could teach many courses so they wanted to extend my stay. I had chosen Arizona State because most DBA students finished quickly and apparently, others had done the same thing so all of us were in for a longer stay. Unhappiness turned to disperse as I spent an hour in the graduate student lounge listening to more experienced graduate students chatting about academics getting tougher and preparing to defend their thesis and oral exams was becoming a more psychological trying experience. They were not happy and while I had heard of such war stories from afar, but now, it was a prediction of my next three years. I went back the next morning and listened again and on the way home, I bought a bottle of scotch. The scotch and I enjoyed the day and by evening’s end, my career at Arizona State was over. The next day I slipped a note under my advisor door and did what one does when leaving town. The following day’s drive north to Flagstaff was the most beautiful drive I have ever taken; my ulcers were over and my experience in this arena was completed. There would be other arenas.
Returning to NEAI
Upon returning to NH, I asked President Harrison Thyng about returning to NEAI. This was quickly accomplished as the General ordered the Dean, a former light colonel to find my replacement other work. The faculty greeted me with open arms, as did returning second year senior students
I decided my years of sacrificing were over and rented an apartment at Royal Crest, which was the newest most expensive apartment complex in south Nashua. I paid cash for three rooms of new furniture. Having spent much of the savings accumulated for use during three years of graduate school on furniture, I began looking for September teaching overloads at NEAI and other college. These would fill my evenings and summers and supplement my average teaching salary.
Once classes started, I was very pleased with my decision to leave Arizona State. One reason was my surprise birthday party and it was really a surprise. I had never had a party of any kind. Jane who taught the non-quantitative business courses and had been my business department teaching partner for many years had planned the party and I am grateful though it would be my last party. I had thought about giving myself a fiftieth birthday party attended by my Kingston childhood friends. I never put it together. Parties for individual were not a family tradition. My sister had wanted a party for het 9th or 10th birthday but mom said no! I was embarrassed when her friend Phillip showed up all dressed up for a party went home with no cake.
My two years at Royal Crest ended when former Newton and Marblehead roommate Dick needed a Salem NH roommate. The added 15 minutes at morning rush hour commute over the Hudson Bridge would be a pain but two years of living alone had become boring. Boredom continued as we were both busy and only socialized with an occasional beer.
However, change was at hand as I was about to make a substantial career change and become a college administrator.
And Now the Rest of the Story
Applying MBA decision-making theory to my earning a doctorate degree would have quickly ended such thoughts. Beginning with the facts, I was not academic enough to complete graduate school without a lot of work and anxiety. I wrote poorly and remembering basics took a lot of time. I would like to think I had the analytical ability but a doctorate like all education is about academics and that I did not do well. Like so many high school graduates today, I continued my education to be more successful and I could not see any alternatives. However, I did not look!
No advanced degree limited me to teaching at junior colleges with little security. As it turned out the teacher, who replaced me at NEAI was the renowned educator Donald Fagan who taught at NEAI for over twenty-five years. I would like to think I was as good a teacher/educator as Don was but then I got into administration, then into writing, and my abilities to help students maneuver through life began to fade.
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My Hollywood look came during a LA visit to my parents.