What ever happened to
They often seem as permanent a part of campus as the dome on Bunce. Then, one
day you return to campus for a reunion or a football game, and you realize
your favorite professor has moved on, just as you have. Rowan Magazine offers
glimpses of former educators today to answer What ever happened to
To work productively, to love others and to play and have fun. Those are the three major ways that a human being can have a full life.” This belief, based on psychoanalytic principles, has guided Dr. Aaron Bender, who started when very young on the first one.
At 8, Bender shined shoes and delivered newspapers. At 11, he started working at a florist shop, arranging bouquets and corsages. “I became quite an accomplished florist by the age of 13,” he explained. “[The job] gave me a lot of confidence as a young kid, which helped me throughout life.”
With a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and a master’s and doctorate from New York University, Bender joined the social studies department at then-Glassboro State College in 1964.
“But I already had some teaching experience before coming to Glassboro,” he said. “I had a total of nine years in New York public schools, both high school and junior high school.” Bender then spent five years teaching social science and history courses at New York University.
While at GSC, he spread his love of history to students in courses such as western civilization, American history and European intellectual history. He also added courses. “History was largely written from men’s perspectives, leaving women’s roles very much downplayed and not understood,” he explained. And that is where Bender stepped in, creating courses that focused on women in American and European history.
For three years, Bender headed the former social studies department, which included several subjects. Believing that the subjects needed their own departments to grow, Bender helped separate them and served as history department chair the first year. Fortunately, no obstacles stood in his way. “Everyone involved was favorable to the change and then-President Chamberlain wanted the development.”
Bender was not only a professor but also a student at the Philadelphia School of Psychoanalysis, completing the program in 1981 and becoming a part-time psychoanalyst. “It [psychoanalysis] was an old love of mine,” he said. “I always loved the idea of it.”
After Bender retired from teaching in 1991, he did not stop working. He keeps busy as a psychoanalyst in his two offices, one in his Cherry Hill home and one in Philadelphia.
A member of the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, he spoke alongside his son, Lawrence Bender—a producer of the film, “An Inconvenient Truth”—at the group’s annual meeting in New York City in October. The discussion focused on psychoanalysis and global warming. “I talked about unconscious defense mechanisms of people that make it hard for them to fully be aware of global warming and its effects.”
Bender also spends time visiting his four children and five grandchildren and has enjoyed travel in many countries including Ireland, Israel, Greece, France, Japan, Sweden and Denmark. “I was in Norway when the famous paintings—‘Madonna’ and ‘The Scream’—by Edvard Munch were stolen. I had seen them a few days before,” he said.
Despite his busy schedule, Bender manages to find time for himself. Reading poetry since high school, he decided to try writing it after taking a poetry writing course eight years ago. “I have written poetry ever since,” he said. “I write a whole range of subjects, but not traditional poetry.”
Also an avid Scrabble player with impressive top scores in the mid 500s (considered above average), he attends a Scrabble club every Saturday. Other hobbies include swimming and reading.
A hard worker, a loving father and grandfather and someone who takes time to play and have fun, Aaron Bender has had—and will continue to have—a fulfilling life.
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