The TCNJ community remembers Clayton Brower’s legacy.
Clayton R. Brower, 13th president of the college and namesake of the Brower Student Center, died on June 30 at the age of 99.
Brower’s first interaction with the college was in the 1950s, when he served as assistant superintendent of schools in Plainfield, New Jersey. Back then, he was in charge of recruiting student teachers. He met students up and down the East Coast and in the Midwest, but the ones from Trenton State College, he said in a 1981 interview, were “the tops,” and the campus community in general struck him as “close and cordial.”
He joined TSC in 1962 when James Forcina ’38, then chair of education, tapped Brower to take over the department. It was Brower’s first college position, and he found it better than being a public school administrator because “I could be much closer to students.”
Brower’s strong connection to students would become part of his legacy. Named president in 1971, he was a beloved leader and quickly became known as the “students’ president.”
“Clayton was the guy,” says Philip Tumminia ’64, a history major who was in the first course Brower taught at the college. “He helped me understand leadership, and how to treat everyone as an equal.”
Luckily for Tumminia, Brower’s kindness toward students didn’t end in the classroom. “I lived on campus,” says Tumminia, “so I wasn’t eligible for a parking decal and was getting ticket after ticket.”
Tumminia, a Lions football player, often talked sports with Brower, an avid Syracuse football fan.
“Clayton heard about my tickets and said, ‘Why don’t you park at my house?’” says Tumminia. “Imagine. He let a kid from Camden park an old Dodge in his driveway for a year.”
The college’s student center, which opened in 1976 and is often referred to as “the stud,” was named in Brower’s honor by a unanimous vote of the board of trustees in 1981, a year after his retirement.
In addition to his ties with students, Brower is known for prioritizing faculty research, increasing admissions standards, and positioning the college for its future success.
“He helped TCNJ achieve the select image it has today,” says Tumminia. “He will be dearly missed.”
“I met Dr. Brower on a few occasions as a student. He was always pleasant. I was just a common undergrad student, but a year or two after I’d met him, I was being introduced to him at a function in the student center when he interrupted and said, ‘No introduction needed, I’ve already met Mark.’ I couldn’t believe he remembered me.” — Mark Eckhardt ’79
“Loved Dr. Brower! I knew him as a student and then later as staff. I remember one weekend, seeing him just outside of the student center, which was closed. I stopped to say ‘Hello,’ and he sheepishly asked me if I could let him in so he could show the student center to his friends. I replied, ‘This is your building; of course I can let you in.’” — Leslie McCausland ’76
“There are few people like Dr. Brower. He was absolutely the right person at the right time for TSC — warm, generous of spirit, caring, authentic, and committed to doing good. TSC began its tremendous journey to becoming the best of New Jersey’s colleges under his leadership.” — Bob Parrish ’72, MA ’86
Picture: TCNJ Archives