Geoff Klinger: DePauw Then and Now

After graduating from DePauw in 1988, Geoff Klinger eventually came back and became a professor at the University. I got to talk with him a little bit about his experiences as a student and compare them to students' experiences now.

Her Campus: Thank you so much for meeting with me! Would you tell me a little bit about your experiences when you were a student here at DePauw? What was your major, were you Greek, what did you do for fun?

Geoff Klinger: I was an economics major, and I was Greek. I was an ATO, and my experience rushing was different than it is now. Rush happened during orientation week, instead of in January. At the time I lived in Mason Hall—I actually picked the same house as my roommate. On bid night, a bunch of guys came over from ATO and threw my stuff in trash bags and moved me into ATO, except they gave me a closet for my things, and I had to sleep in the cold dorm. That made me wonder if I could change my mind and go back to my dorm in Mason. I’m glad they deferred rush, because I think I was rather disoriented going into it, and now I have mixed feelings about Greek life. Sure, there are benefits like friendship and philanthropy, but also downsides like excessive drinking and partying. The University’s made efforts to control that, but there’s still concern for the safety of women, which is a problem, and I’m not sure of the solution. I guess in college I was a pretty serious student, and I didn’t do much for fun, but we did a lot of “country runs” just to get off campus. I’m not sure that’s something people do anymore, but we went to places like Cataract Falls and the Jumping Bridge. I also studied abroad a few times. Once in Haiti around 1986 (although this wasn’t DePauw-sponsored, my dad was a minister and we went as part of the church) as part of a construction group, and I was actually there during a revolution that was going on, which was quite an experience. I also studied abroad at the University of Essex in England my junior year. I strongly encourage everyone here to go study abroad.

HC: What do you think the biggest differences are in your experience as a student compared to students now?

GK: Students today seem to be remarkably overcommitted. This creates concurrent stress, and I see in not just colleges, but in elementary schools too. There’s competitive pressure and students seem a lot busier than they used to. There’s also not as much community spirit. At 11:00 on Thursdays, we always had convocation hour, and everyone went to East College to listen to a speaker. The speaker’s topics were incorporated into the classes throughout the day. Now, any given night we have five different competing speakers. Mealtime was also sacred. At ATO, we ate lunch and dinner all together, and things didn’t interrupt that.  

HC: Tell me a little bit about who was president during your time at DePauw.

GK: Bob Bottoms was our president. He was more of a detached president than our last president, Brian Casey, was. Brian Casey was a people person, and we have a very different president now. Casey used to hang out with the students and visit the Greek houses. I suppose my experience with President Bottoms was fairly positive, although I didn’t know him well as a student. He did a lot of important things for DePauw, built a lot of buildings, and brought in a lot of money and increased the size of the faculty.

HC: How did you make the decision to come back and teach at DePauw after you graduated?

GK: DePauw did a lot for me, particularly the debate team. Now I’m essentially doing my old debate coach’s job, since he’s retired. I wanted to give something back to my alma mater, since DePauw did so much for me.

HC: What hasn’t changed from your experience as a student here to now that you wish you’d seen change?

GK: I think there is still too much uninhibited partying at DePauw, and even though there has been an attempt to diversify campus, we haven’t really come together as a diverse group. I’m not sure that Greek life has exactly helped with that. I wish we were able to come together more. I also wish the campus was less Greek; I think that would help a lot of the other problems.