Stuart Kaplan: 30 Years as KLC Advisor
January 18, 2011
Stuart Kaplan lectures
The second time Stuart Kaplan was “kidnapped” by KLC DJs, a group of students drove up to the door of his house and strongly suggested he get into their car. He wound up joining the merry pranksters on a road trip to Eugene for his first and only Grateful Dead concert. “Sure, I went,” the mild-mannered communication professor says now, laughing at the memory of the late-’80s adventure. “I had a lot of fun.”
(The first time he was kidnapped, he was spirited away to see the movie Ghostbusters.)
From the fall of 1979 through the spring of 2009, Kaplan was a constant presence as faculty advisor for KLC. But more than that, he was a mentor to several generations of KLC students.
Over the years, Kaplan played the role of consigliere and ran interference when necessary (note the “Naked Radio” incident mentioned in the main narrative), but always trusted students to make their own decisions. “My role was to be a sounding board for their ideas,” he says.
“Stuart was always out of our way when he needed to be, and in our way when he needed to be,” recalls Mike Lutz B.A. ’85, the station manager in KLC’s mid-’80s glory days. “He was a fantastic influence.”
And what did Kaplan get out of it? The reticent professor found he could loosen up a bit by consorting with students, who regarded him as more of a friend than an authority figure. “It was a chance to play against type, because I’m normally very reserved,” he says.
Kaplan retired last spring after three decades on the faculty, but is staying busy by catching up on home improvement projects and serving as president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.
Former KLC-er Jim Wilcox B.A. ’85 lives in Portland, where he owns a creative services company specializing in video, and still gets together occasionally with Kaplan.
“Stuart was always available,” Wilcox says. “You just knew that beneath that calm, still surface, he really did care about the students. Sometimes I still find myself thinking, ‘I wonder what Stuart would say about this?’ ”