Dr. Chris Rasche
What do you remember about the first day of classes?
There were lots of funny things that happened over the years, though nnaturally now many of them are hard to remember. We had to laugh in the beginning because so many things went wrong.
When the school first opened, the phones did not work properly, the "sidewalks" from the parking lots to the buildings were made of pine bark nuggets and were sometimes adventurous to walk on, and there were lots of wild animals around. They put vending machines with food in them down between Buildings 3 and 4 the night before classes began so everyone would have food since there was no food service and bears come in from the woods and tore all the knobs off trying to get into them! I suppose that isn't really funny, but it was exciting!
Dr. Chris Rasche
Criminal Justice Professor
What have you done during your time at UNF that you are proudest of?
I am very proud of having created both our undergraduate and graduate criminal justice programs, as well as the minor in women’s studies (which is now gender studies). Academic programs, from which hundreds of students have graduated, are (I hope) lasting contributions.
Biggest changes in your personal life while you have been working at UNF?
What have you learned from students over your years at UNF?
I always learn so much from my students — too much to summarize in one little paragraph!
What were you doing just prior to coming to UNF?
Finishing my dissertation in graduate school.
How have students changed over the last 35 years?
When we all first arrived, students were older and were only upper-division and graduate students. They were mostly very respectful and paying for their college education themselves. It took a while for UNF to get the younger, traditional college-age students. The older students have not changed all that much. They are still glad to be here and want everything they are paying for! But, as most of my academic colleagues around the country have noted, many of the younger college students seem somewhat less respectful, and have a shorter attention span, than they use to in the past. However, Aristotle thought the young people of his age were disrespectful 2000 years ago, so maybe it is just an age thing on my part!
How has college education changed over the last 35 years?
More emphasis on technology these days, but otherwise the basics are the same; trying to figure out how to pass along knowledge.
What was your favorite year at UNF and why?
I don’t know that I have a favorite year. I can think of reasons why every year had good things and why some years not so much.
How would describe the physical growth on campus over the last 35 years?
How will you keep UNF in your life and heart after you retire?
I am not sure I could get it out if I wanted to. UNF is so deeply imbedded in me now that I can hardly imagine retiring anyway.
What special relationships have you formed with students as a result of your tenure here?
My former students are working in criminal justice and public service agencies all over Jacksonville and the state of Florida. I am surprised to run into them sometimes!
What are the biggest challenges on campus today compared to the biggest challenges on opening day, Oct. 2, 1972?
Today, the biggest challenging on the first day of classes is always finding parking. On October 2, 1972, my biggest challenge was that it rained really heavily and I lost all my keys on the pine bark pathway between the parking lot and my first classroom. I got somewhat soaked and felt intimidated trying to make a good impression to my first class on the first day. As I told the crowd in my presentation on the 25th anniversary, I was fortunate in that one of my students was a surfer who had come to class in his bathing suit (with his board!) and he volunteered to go out in the pouring rain to look for my keys. And he found them! But what an inauspicious beginning!
How did you find out about the opening at UNF?
An advertisement for position openings.
What made you decide to come to UNF?
I decided to come to the job interview mostly just for the experience, but then I was really impressed by the people I talked to and what they wanted to create here. It seemed like it would be a good experience for a few years — little did I expect to still be here three decades later!
What kept you at UNF for so many years?
I did not know that I would be so interested in and good at program building, but creating the programs in criminal justice and women’s studies turned out to be very interesting. That sort of administrative work took me away from research more than I would have liked, but I enjoyed it and am glad to have contributed to the University’s academic programs.
What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed at UNF?
How big the place has gotten! We used to sort of know everybody, but that is just impossible now.
Is there one event that’s most memorable for you during your time at UNF?
Only one? You must be kidding!
What the best thing (or things) about working at UNF?
I got to do a lot of different things over the years —teaching, research, service, administration — and was highly supported for most of it most of the time.
What people do you remember the most during your years, and why are they so memorable?
Get a bunch of us oldies together in a room and we can start remembering folks — there are too many to just name one or two. Some are long gone now, such as Barbara Hargrove, who chaired the Sociology Department at one point early on, Betty Soldwedel from the College of Education, both of whom were kind and wonderful mentors to me.