Claire Mokrauer-Madden: Bill, thanks for taking time out of your busy day for me to interview you.
Bill Sheasgreen: No problem, I'm glad to do it.
CMM: I understand that you moved to London in the 1970's. What prompted the move?
BS: I was going to Cambridge to write my PhD. I arrived into Heathrow with all my luggage, and I planned that day to go directly to King's Cross train station to catch a train up there. But as soon as I came out of the underground station at King's Cross I came face to face with why the area around King's Cross had such a poor reputation. The area has since been rejuvenated, but back then I was shocked by what was in front of me. I turned right around and headed back into the London Underground, heading for the Piccadilly Line to go back to Heathrow and fly back to Canada. But part way along the journey I had a revelation. They called out that the next stop was Gloucester Road and I remembered that famed early 20th century Egyplologist, Howard Carter, the man who found King Tut's tomb, had lived in that area. I decided to alight there and pay homage to his home.
CMM: Didn't you have a lot of luggage with you?
BS: No, I'm a very practical packer. I brought enough clothing so that I could get by without doing laundry for about 2 weeks. I had also ordered my Cambridge University uniform and had a few sets waiting for me at my halls of residence.
CMM: That sounds reasonable. Is that why you have been toying with the idea of uniforms for Ithaca College London Center students?
BS: Partly. The rest of the reason is that American students, whether they are 2, 12 or 21 go to school. In Britain only children go to school. As more mature students they attend college and university. But when our American students arrive here they say that they are going to school. As you have noticed about the school children passing down Harrington Gardens on their way to school, they all wear uniforms. As our students believe that they are also attending school, and we want them to have as much exposure to cultural immersion while studying abroad as possible, I believe the ICLC should begin having uniforms for students.
CMM: I see your reasoning, but I can't imagine that will go down well with the students or with our colleagues back in Ithaca, NY.
|One possible version of the uniform for faculty|
BS: No, you're right, I have received no support for this idea. Nonetheless, I continue to keep the innovative ideas coming. And Professor Hrkach has agreed to trial my Uniforms for Faculty idea.
CMM: Anyway, getting back to your move to London, what happened once you found Howard Carter's house?
BS: Well, after a short wander I found it at the end of Harrington Gardens. I had passed up and down both sides of the street and knocked on a few doors, so by the time I found the house I was feeling pretty well acquainted with the area. I decided that if South Kensington had been good enough for Howard Carter, it was good enough for me. So I moved there. I worked on my PhD remotely so that I had as little contact as possible with King's Cross station and eventually began teaching at the Ithaca College London Center down the road on Harrington Gardens.
CMM: Thanks for taking a few moments to answer my questions. I hope that in time you get over your fear of King's Cross! Do you think that one day there will be a blue plaque at 35 Harrington Gardens marking your career, just like Howard Carter's?
BS: No worries there! I put in the application in 1983!