New humanities dean steps in at Monmouth U.

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

JEFF GRANIT staff Stanton W. Green, new dean of humanities and social studies at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, hasn’t had much time to unpack but found a moment to talk about his plans for the upcoming school year.JEFF GRANIT staff Stanton W. Green, new dean of humanities and social studies at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, hasn’t had much time to unpack but found a moment to talk about his plans for the upcoming school year.

WEST LONG BRANCH — Baseball came into Stanton W. Green’s academic life as a sort of second career a decade ago when he saw a call for papers for a symposium on baseball in American culture.

His research as a college professor for about 20 years until that time had been primarily in archaeology, with digs every summer at Balloy Lough in southeastern Ireland, near Waterford.

He and a professor friend from the University of Sheffield in England would bring their students together and, with other students from Ireland, they would delve into Ireland’s prehistoric past.

But Green, who has just arrived at Monmouth University as the new dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, was finding his life changing. He said in the mid-1990s he was moving more into administration and a bit out of teaching, plus his children were growing up, and it was getting harder to schlep the family across the ocean.

"So I started thinking about doing research closer to home," he said, when he saw the notice of the symposium in Phoenix, Ariz. "It was during spring training. I said, ‘This is kind of interesting. I know I can write a paper on this. I’m an expert in baseball. I’m an anthropologist. I’ve thought about this topic a lot and we’ll get in a couple of spring training games while I’m there.’

"So I sent in an abstract," he said, "and they accepted it.

"I met a tremendous group of people out there who do very serious research on baseball," he related. "And what could be more fun than to do serious research on a subject you love so much? It’s the ultimate combination. It’s kind of everything coming together."

Green moved on to attending an annual symposium on baseball in the American culture held every June at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., where he has presented papers and selected others for presentation. He is now working on a book about Willie Mays.

"My interest really is on Willie Mays, as he was one of the first people following Jackie Robinson into the major leagues," he said, referencing Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier in 1947. "He made it in as a teenager — he was signed as a teenager — so he was one of the first black ballplayers to play his entire career pretty much in the major leagues. So he was able to play during his prime. He is considered one of the top five ballplayers that ever played the game.

"He represents a lot of things in terms of the impact integration had on baseball," Green added. "He also was very much dedicated to civil rights, although people don’t know that much about it."

Green said that in his past 10 years of researching baseball in the culture of America and the history of baseball in America, he’s given and published quite a few papers including two that were published by the Baseball Hall of Fame. He said that as an anthropologist he approaches baseball within the context of society.

"I don’t just write about baseball itself, although I’m a baseball fanatic. I love the game of baseball," he said. "But as an anthropologist, my interest is how baseball gets into American society — the way it reflects American society, the way it’s changed American society."

He’s particularly interested in the role baseball played in the way-early 20th-century immigrants who came to this country, especially boys, assimilated into American society.

For that work, he said, he has been really inspired by a photo he has of his father playing stickball in front of the tenements on the Lower East Side of New York. He explained that he is a second-generation American, his father was a first-generation American and his grandparents — who were of a German, Polish, Hungarian background — immigrated to America around 1915 or 1918 from Europe.

"My father was born on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side, right near Stanton Street, which is where my name derives from," he related. "My mother was born on the Lower East Side too."

Green said that in the picture of his father playing stickball, he looked like a typical American kid.

"He was probably 16 or 17 years old," he said. "You’d never know that his parents, my grandparents, probably didn’t speak much English. They would speak Yiddish, or Hungarian, in the household. But he looked like a kid out of ‘West Side Story’ — you know, the Jets. That’s what he looked like. He had become an American kid so quickly and a lot of that is portrayed in the playing of baseball — stickball and baseball."

Green said he anticipates he will be teaching two or three courses in baseball next year, but will forgo teaching this year in order to have the time to familiarize himself with the faculty, the many disciplines he oversees and to implement some changes.

Green, who earned his undergraduate degree at the University of New York at Stonybrook, and his master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts, all in anthropology, came to Monmouth University from Clarion University, a state school, in western Pennsylvania. He was dean of arts and sciences for 10 years there, and last year served as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. Before that he taught for 18 years at the University of South Carolina where he was a professor of anthropology and chairman of the anthropology department for his last five years there.

Green said he was aware of Monmouth when he was growing up in New York — in Brooklyn, Queens and then the suburbs of Long Island after being born in Manhattan — and was following sports. He said he was attracted to his present position "because the university, I think, is really poised to go to the next level. There’s a new president, the university is in great shape financially, and it has a strong faculty and strong student body." He describes Paul G. Gaffney II, the president, as "a very charismatic, visionary leader" who "really sets the table" and has pointed him in certain directions.

"I intend to enhance all areas of the humanities and social science," Green said. "That’s what I was brought in to do, and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing."

Green said Gaffney told him he wants him to place a high priority on developing the arts.

"So I’ll be doing that for sure," he reported. "He has a great interest in theater and music and visual art. And there’s great potential here. It’s already a good program and has even better potential."

Related to that, Green said he’s working on ways to better exhibit the university’s permanent art collection.

Green, who strums a little guitar, also wants to bring in folk music to add to Monmouth’s concert repertoire. He particularly wants to bring in some Irish and English folk musicians he has gotten acquainted with over the years of his digs in Ireland.

Green also is working with a brand new program at Monmouth called "Marine and Environmental Science and Policy," which is jointly administered by the School of Social Sciences, which falls into his bailiwick, and the School of Science and Technology.

Gaffney, a retired Navy vice admiral and former president of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., made bringing marine science on campus a priority.

Green also pointed out the addition of courses in Arabic, Hebrew and Portuguese this fall.

"It’s not hard to figure out why American students have to learn other languages," he said. "We live in a shrinking world, and live in a world where we have to try to understand it better, and languages allow you to communicate."

And that’s just for starters.

"I’ll be working in all areas in the humanities and social sciences to make them all better," he said. "I have good ideas. There are good people here, and there are good programs."

Green also plans to continue pursuing his research and interest in baseball.

His team? The Yankees!

"I’m a Yankees fan — been one all my life," he reported. "I like the Mets all right. They came along a little bit later in my life. My first baseball game was at Ebbetts Field, seeing the Dodgers. I’m guessing it was around 1955, shortly before they moved to L.A.

"I’m one of those people who never forgave them for leaving the city."