Listen to the interview (42.1 MB)
M Mark; David Avallone
MacAlister arrived at Bard as a veteran in 1946, in the wave of students going or returning to college after WWII. With housing at a premium, he recalls being "installed" in a converted dorm in the weightlifting room of the gym, right next to a punching bag.
He remembers choosing Bard because of its adherence to the educational philosophy of John Dewey that he had found in his Greenwich, Connecticut high school. Recalling memorable classes, he talks about taking Modern European History with Dr. Felix Hirsch, who he describes as a 'severe taskmaster,' but who later became his senior project advisor. He also remembers a poetry course with Ted Weiss in which MacAlister selected a Wordsworth poem to share with the class, resulting in a classmate saying to him in wonder, "Bob, you know, you have a heart!"
MacAlister: "I worked as a dishwasher, a sodajerk, a landscape gardener, delivered newspapers, stoked furnaces, etc., but I was one of the first people in my family to go to college so my experience at Bard literally opened up a whole new academic world for me."
He further remembers serving in the Navy and spending his eighteenth birthday in Okinawa; and at Bard, spending his field periods at work for the State Department. In his career as a headhunter for the international non-profit community, MacAlister reports that he draws heavily on his interdisciplinary experiences at Bard.
Felix Hirsch, Preston, Heinz Bertelsmann, Ted Weiss, Harvey Fite, Irma Brandeis, International Student Conferences, Willy Frauenfelder, Stone Row, Red Hook, The Bardian, Leon Botstein, Old Gym, Kappa House, Ludlow, Chris Magee, '50
McAlister, Robert, "Robert McAlister, '50 (BardCorps)" (2012). Oral Histories. 27.
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