Faces of the Mount
Name: Lew Dauber
Weekend College Professor
“I am 66 years old now, so about 8 years ago I was in my late 50’s. I hadn’t been to college. I graduated in 1972 with a degree in Dramatic Arts from UC Berkley. That was enough education for me and I never really thought that I would go back to graduate school. But I was doing shows in Ventura College. I had some friends there and I developed a living history shows for a grand opening of a new library. I did a lot of research and scripts for these things and I really enjoyed it. I was able to perform, but I was also writing the things and many of the faculty there encouraged me to join and apply for the job at Ventura College. But you have to have a Master’s Degree in order to teach at the college level and I didn’t. So, they told me ‘Go back and get one.’ My blood was up to do it and I’m a working actor still, but more so then. You have to leave yourself Monday-Friday for auditions occasionally and you do jobs and plays and all the stuff that actors do.
So then, I started to look at weekend colleges. There just aren’t that many. At my wife’s encouragement, she went to a theater to see a movie and on a table on the way out were some advertisements for the Humanities program at Mount Saint Mary’s. She picked one up and said, ‘You ought to look into this, Lew… You got the brains for it and you like to read and you like to study.’ She was very encouraging. I thought about it. I never thought of myself as a good student 30 years ago. To sit in the library for an hour and that kind of thing I couldn’t do it for very long. I did very well at performance classes in undergrad. But it’s been 30 years and you change, you know. I went to the wine and cheese greetings, wine and cheese is big at this school! At any rate, I went to one in particular that I remember for prospective students. I asked if I could sit in a class and Dr. Millie Kidd was very gracious. I thought this was interesting and fun.
All of a sudden I hear, ‘Lew! Lew!’ and it was an old friend of mine. Her name was Nancy McCook. She had been a very successful casting director for 25 to 30 years. I had worked with her for several years in the past and then she had disappeared. She retired from her casting business and went to college. She was in the Master’s Program and was also working at the school. We had a big reunion. She said, ‘You know, you really ought to give this a try because it’s made such a difference.’ I said ‘okay I’ll give it a try.’ I applied and to my surprise they accepted me.
As I said earlier, I was nervous about being the oldest guy in the class, but no one gave me problems about it. I discovered that with 30 years of experience comes a lot of knowledge. I turned out to be a much better student than I was then. Humanities was the perfect match for me, because an actor really lives a humanities life, in a way, in a very real sense. There’s so much involved in it. There’s physical movement, music, you have script, you have to be able to work with people, sell the show. All of the elements have to come together and that’s a big part of what humanities is in an academic sense. I made that connection when I began studying.
The first class that I had turned out to be a terrific class. I was thinking about it this weekend. It was a class by Dr. Jane Lingua, a wonderful teacher. It was a course on Darwinism and she herself is a scientist. She was able to explain things that I was never able to understand so well. It’s a real talent.
The thing is that people really do change over time; in fact, we are changing constantly. Now, it’s often difficult and fearful accepting that, and I think that is where we all need a bit of courage. I was having difficulty seeing myself doing graduate level scholarship, and I was afraid of being the “old fool” in the class. However, with the support of my wife and the encouragement of the good folks on the Humanities faculty, I was able to locate enough confidence within myself to take the plunge. And I’m glad I did!”
Photo by: Tamara Murga