By: Celia Catlett
Marjorie and Bernard “Bernie” are a dynamic couple, and they parlayed their energy and intelligence into useful and interesting careers. Both born in New York City, they met at Cornell University when she was an undergraduate and he was working toward his doctorate in sociology.
Marjorie went on to get her master’s in education from Boston University. Hired at Middlesex Community College, she initiated a course to teach parents how to choose a preschool. The class went from eight to 35 students and then developed into a two-year Early Childhood Teachers’ Training Program. She founded a second similar program at the Minuteman Vocational Technical School in Lexington, Massachusetts. When asked to teach a trilingual first grade (French, Spanish, and English) in Lowell, she discovered that most of the pupils were Cambodian! After that adventure, she enjoyed teaching science from kindergarten to fourth grade for a number of years.
During this time, she was also busy with two sons, David who is now a professor of humanities at Wake Forest, and Michael who works in Atlanta’s City Planning Department using computer applications for geographic information systems. Looking back on it, Marjorie says that she wonders how she managed it all.
Bernie also has brought a creative force to his work in academia. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Colombia University, crossed the country to get his master’s from Washington State University (where he enjoyed riding a motorcycle through the rolling hills of the area) and then it was back to the East Coast to pursue his Ph.D. in sociology from Cornell University. He has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, at the University of Illinois (Champaign/Urbana), and, for the greater part of his career, at Boston University. He has written a number of books, from textbooks like Social Research: Strategies and Tactics to a book entitled Worlds of the Future, which combined fiction and nonfiction.
He founded and directed the Sociological Imagination Group in 2000 and has just finished collaborating with three co-authors on Invisible Crisis: Toward an Interdisciplinary Scientific Method, a book that they will use for a textbook for their Academy for Individual Evolution (www.individualevolution.org). Its focus is on how each individual can evolve. Interaction versus isolation is the key concept in their approach.
But life has not been all work for the Phillips. They enjoy classical music and jazz, art and travel, the latter two well combined in some Japanese art in their apartment. In the seventeen years they were on Longboat Key, they became involved in the local arts culture. They are readers and film lovers, and, by the way, Bernie would like to find a ping-pong partner. As I said, they are a dynamic duo.