Prof. Paul Van Riper '38 Still Teaching at Age 91
August 27, 2007
August 27, 2007, Greencastle, Ind. - "I enjoy doing it ... as long as I don't have to do too much," says Paul P. Van Riper, a 1938 graduate of DePauw University. Now 91, Van Riper is still teaching part-time at Texas A&M University, and today begins an undergraduate, upper-level public administration course, reports the Bryan-College Station Eagle.
"Van Riper graduated from DePauw University in Indiana with a degree in history in 1938 -- in the midst of the great depression," writes Holly Huffman. "His uncle, a corporate lawyer in Chicago, warned him that businesses everywhere were failing ... Van Riper went to the University of Chicago, known for its political science department, he said. After already having written an undergraduate honors thesis, Van Riper wasn't interested in crafting another for a master's degree. So the young graduate student entered a political science doctoral program."
After his studies were interrupted by duty in the service, Van Riper earned his Ph.D. in 1947 and then "spent four years teaching at Northwestern University and then another year as a civil servant in the Army before taking a job at Cornell University," where he taught political science for two decades. In 1970, he was wooed by Texas A&M. "I liked it because they just set up a new political science department," says the professor. "I would be the first department head. I could design the department as I pleased."
State law required Dr. Van Riper to retire from teaching full-time at age 65, but three years later returned to the classroom on a part-time basis and has been at it ever since. He plans to teach one course this semester and another in the spring, and then call it quits.
"Paul Van Riper has forgotten more than I've ever known," says fellow A&M political science professor Ken Meier. "What he knows is just absolutely incredible. Students are really fortunate to have somebody with that amount of expertise."
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