Q&A with former professor Diana Long
Posted on September 25, 2011 by Brittany Goldych in Perspectives
Diana Long is a graduate of Smith College and Yale, a former USM history and women’s studies professor and now an artist. Diana has a doctorate in the history of science and medicine and has written numerous articles on the history of medicine and gender. She has worked for Boston University, as well as the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and has done a fellowship at the National Library of Medicine in Washington, DC.
With such an impressive background full of academic achievements, it’s curious as to why Diana has returned, at age 73, to be a student once more.
The Free Press: Describe your time here, your thoughts on how USM has changed and how you have changed?
Diana Long: USM was more relaxed when I first came, although always scraping by financially. I always felt it was a privilege to teach students who (by and large) are transformed by the experience, as was I. USM has become more structured and conscious of its niche in the world of education and scholarship. It has done well to encourage the development of some relatively inexpensive areas of strength and help them flourish.
FP: What made you want to go back to school after your retirement?
DL: I wanted to take art classes and to do it in a framework. I didn’t do it for the degree, though I am in danger of getting a minor in book arts, and I didn’t do it to get a job. I just wanted to do it seriously.
FP: How was the transition from USM faculty to USM student?
DL: Surprisingly seamless, although I do live something of a double life at the school. I have remained involved with the women’s studies program. I keep in touch with colleagues and worry (some) about budgets and programs and the state of scholarship. Only slowly have I tuned into student hopes and challenges. Since I was a undergrad so long ago, this has been an education from the ground up. That USM has such a diverse age population of students is a big asset for the returning or retooling student.
FP: What made you pick art after years of history? Specifically then, why book arts?
DL: This was a surprising choice, given that my last art class was in high school. But I have always been very visual. My right brain was hungry for attention. More specifically, I had a constant stream of students in my office who told me that Rebecca Goodale’s “Illuminated Autobiography” was the best course they had taken. How could I resist signing up? Its multifaceted skills and profound questions hooked me, and I have taken or plan to take all of its courses.
FP: Do you have any advice for other non-traditional students who may be coming back to school after years of absence?
DL: Don’t be afraid to make your education into what you need and want. Get to know faculty who can write you letters of recommendation or at least know what [you're] aiming for and can help make it happen. There is definitely not a “one size fits all” at USM.
FP: Do you get more from being a student now, or was it more rewarding to be a teacher?
DL: What is the difference?