My “Monmouth College” Path …
My early days at Monmouth College were potentially very gloomy times. By 1981 my home life was a bit rough.
I’d lost two young sisters in two car wrecks — only 3 years and 3 miles separated their tragic deaths. And my mother was wounded deeper; riddled with a horrid cancer that took her life even before I would earn my degree.
Her final request of me came in urging application to nearby Monmouth College. Her love at work one last time. For at Monmouth I found me. At a small seaside school in West Long Branch — only 5 miles from my Monmouth Beach home — I discovered who I was and what skills I had to offer.
The experience helped form me as a person. It’s hard to explain but it gave me a certain kind of resolve. I couldn’t wait to get to campus each day. That’s huge for an emotionally-scarred kid in his early 20s. My substance as a person forged at Monmouth endures today.
For certain my ultimate “education” was learning how to make and be a friend. Monmouth had good vibes back then — just like today I’m told — welcoming to debate and free of hostility. There was little or no bad conflict on campus when I attended. Seldom any political rancor between professors and students either. I remember administrators as hands-off in a good way — ideas would have an audience. Learning prevailed all around.
I also recall plenty of laughter between friends and general good cheer school-wide. Besides, even the odd drive-by today shows the classic Monmouth campus to be the forever green, great and gorgeous place it is. I still like to call it “College at the Beach.” I suggest a tour to the unaware — HERE.
The school began as “Monmouth Junior College” in December 1933. Launched out of Long Branch High School on Westwood Avenue, it included about 300 students in the evening. The college prospered and moved to its present majestic West Long Branch campus in 1956. Today, the magnificent Monmouth University (renamed in 1995) — with over 6,000 students set on 170 acres — is ranked among the top private universities in the nation.
I’m overwhelmed with Monmouth nostalgia upon hearing of the recent death of Dr. Enoch L. Nappen. My favorite college professor died in June 2023 at age 87. In all Monmouth University teaching annals — no one did it longer or better.
Dr. Nappen — a college professor right out of Central Casting — taught political science at Monmouth U. for 55 years. No faculty member in all school history ever served longer then Dr. Nappen. When I earned my BA in Political Science in May 1983 (yes, 40 years ago), he also was chairman of the department.
Born in Atlantic City with an encyclopedia-like mind, Dr. Nappen had been a US Army intelligence officer in the late 1950s. After military service, he’d set his sights on a career in law but turned to teaching. Good thing for his students. He began his teaching duties at Monmouth in 1960; the year I was born. The longtime Ocean Twp. resident went on to earn his doctorate from New York University in the 1970s.
“Politics is the art of the possible.”
Professor Nappen’s lectures mixed insights on government, politics, history, and law. He gave me a fundamental understanding of civics that I still use today. The knowledge he imparted — frequent tour-de-force orations on executive, legislative and judicial practice and power — was priceless. The truest measure of Dr. Nappen’s intellect was that while he talked politics frequently you never really knew where he stood personally on matters. He ably communicated all sides.
I sat in his lectures for three years as a “poli sci” major and the man never once referred to a note, paper or book (there were no computers then). He had it all in his head. An educator brimming with information and eager to share the knowledge. His instruction style made me into a superior note-taker too, a vital tool for my later on journalism career. Lean and distinguished, Dr. Nappen had command of a classroom. That classic professor’s cadence was there as well. His “this is important, dummy” plugs were memorable. I finally shined as a student — earning straight “As” in all his classes. The only time in my entire academic career.
Dr. Nappen was an expert. The wisdom he imparted to students about constitutional law and government — woefully lacking in today’s college world — provided a clear understanding and appreciation for our American nation. His was a “good citizen” builder. All of Dr. Nappen’s students can immediately spot when a politician or media person is full of crap.
Not a bad legacy at all. RIP — Dr. Nappen.
A couple other things about the wise professor …
• Dr. Nappen once told me that in his early days at Monmouth he recommended to college leaders that they start a law school there. After some early interest the idea faded and Dr. Nappen re-focused on his political science research and teaching. But even today the concept of a “Monmouth Law School” entices the mind. His son, Evan Nappen, a classmate of mine at Monmouth, is a practicing lawyer in Eatontown.
• It was easy to tell that Dr. Nappen had a passion for politics. But I’m not so sure he would like today’s take-no-prisoners approach. He did love the campaign game though and was an enthusiastic political memorabilia collector — appearing in People magazine in 1983 for some President Reagan era correspondence that he collected. He authored a book too, Warman’s Political Collectibles Guide in 2008.
• Excellence. Access. Ambition. Monmouth University Has All Three — HERE