2014 Lycoming College Spring Magazine - page 18

ne of the longest serving faculty
members in the history of Lycoming
College, coincidentally, is a professor
of history. Robert Larson, Ph.D., who
was hired in 1969when theRev. Harold
Hutsonwas president of the college, gave
his last lecture onApril 16.
Well before he began teaching
courses such asConflict in theWestern
Civilization andEurope in theEra of
theWorldWars, Larson developed a
keen interest in the Indianwars in the
West after theCivilWar. He admits that
itwasn’t the hottest topic in theBronx,
which iswhere he grew up. But that
didn’t discourage him from reading
everything he couldfind in the local
When hewas 9, Larson came across
the book, “Fighting Indians of theWest”
byDeeBrown. It cost $10 and his parents
thought thatwas toomuchmoney to
spendon a book for a child.
“My nana [hismother’smother] got
it forme forChristmas,”Larson recalls.
“She said, ‘You can never spend too
much for a book for a child.’”
That book is still part of the collection
in his extensive home library.
Larson has always been interested
in history. Itmay have something to do
with the fact that he loves to travel and
see new places. He and hiswife, Kathy
Best, have toured throughoutGermany,
England, Scotland,Wales, Poland,
Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy,
France, Slovenia andCroatia.
History givesme a timemachine in
which I can travel to different periods in
the past andmeet new people,”Larson
Larson says that as his study of
historymatured, he came to see that
understanding the history of a people
is an excellentway to understand their
values and beliefs.While he agrees
this can be done through a variety
of disciplines, he also believes some
knowledge of history is essential to
gain such understanding. He says,
“Underneath all that, however, I still like
my timemachine.”
Teaching at one place for nearly a
half century, Larson saysmany express
wonder that someone couldwork at a
job for so longwhile others askwhy he
hasn’t retired earlier.
By JerryRashid
“The answer is very simple: Teaching
history at LycomingCollege is really
a lot of fun,”Larson said. “I find the
subject of history endlessly fascinating
and our students are really nice young
people,many ofwhom have become
friends by the time they graduate.”
Muchhas changed at Lycoming since
Larsonfirst began teaching. During
his first few years, he remembers the
college struggling to stay alive. Today,
it gives him great pleasure to see an
institution recognized as a national liberal
arts and sciences collegewith a strong
“Everyone associatedwith the college
is looking forward to an even brighter
future,”Larson said.
“Ifind thesubjectofhistory
endlessly fascinatingandour
studentsare reallyniceyoung
friendsby the time theygraduate.”
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