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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…?”

W. Clarke Pfleeger
W. Clarke Pfleeger admits that when President Edgar Bunce invited him to become the second music teacher at New Jersey State Teachers College at Glassboro, he had never heard of the school or town. Still, he accepted the offer and joined Florence Boyd to teach music, intending to stay one year. To the immeasurable benefit of hundreds of students, Pfleeger stayed for 41 years.

With a full course load of 17 semester hours and a starting salary of $3,000, he began to transform the music program. At first, he lived with his wife, Lucille and children in the veterans’ student housing.

At the time, all elementary school teachers had to teach music. Many fellow veterans—seasoned by war and not inclined to study music—presented Pfleeger a challenge but he won them over. “I was a great sports fan,” he says. “Because I went to their games and took interest in sports, they made an effort for me, which included learning to play the piano and sing in front of the class.”

Pfleeger completed his doctorate at Columbia University, earned full professorship and taught evening extension classes in South Jersey’s public schools as well as managing his faculty duties, teaching and conducting. Under his direction, the music department grew from four to 26 full-time faculty in 20 years.

A viola and violin specialist, Pfleeger held the department chair for more than two decades. But perhaps the most obvious evidence of his dedication to music education is Wilson Hall, the construction project for which he and then-President Thomas Robinson fought with state bureaucrats for years.

Music, drama and physical education programs competed for space in Bunce Hall and Pfleeger hosted recitals in his home, so he knew well the need for a building dedicated to music education and performance. In those days the state controlled all construction on campus and seldom accommodated requests for improvements in aesthetics or form.

“ While we went back and forth to Trenton fighting for the building, Dr. Robinson once told me, ‘I want just one beautiful building. [After Westby, Bosshart, Hawthorn and others] I’m tired of all these boxes!’” When Wilson Hall opened in 1972 it satisfied Robinson’s and Pfleeger’s wishes. The 900-seat Pfleeger Concert hall is named in the music champion’s honor.

Pfleeger remains a sports fan who follows Rowan’s Profs well as the pros. But music fills his days, too. “I try to go to as many concerts as I can,” he says. “I love the music.”

Alumni can help keep the music program strong through support of scholarship funds and other investments. Donations can be made in honor of retired faculty or as unrestricted gifts to the music program. Call Anne Hagan at 856-256-5402 or visit the Rowan University Foundation.

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