David Cotter is a professor of sociology who specializes in the area of inequality with emphasis on gender, work and family, and rural poverty in the United States. He joined Union in 1995, and he teaches classes on schools, religion, wealth and poverty, community and research methods.
“I live with my wife, Ruth, and our dogs in an 1840s farmhouse on the line between Ballston and Charlton, N.Y. We’ve been slowly fixing it up for the last 15 years. Our recent college graduate son also lives with us and our daughter is in Boston. I like to hike, bike, hunt, snowshoe, cross-country ski and camp. I play guitar and mandolin and sometimes sing. Probably my most memorable trip was after college graduation. Three friends and I piled into a Honda Civic and went backpacking in Alaska. Taking a self-propelled cable tram across a river in the Wrangle-St. Elias Park-Preserve was a real highlight. The four of us have remained friends since. In fact, my wife arranged for all three to surprise me, and a class full of students, on my 50th birthday. After they all sang ‘Happy Birthday,’ I chased my friends out and finished the last five minutes of class.”
FIRST APP YOU LOOK AT IN THE MORNING:
Either email or Facebook (much as it pains me to say either of those).
ONE BOOK YOU HAVE READ MULTIPLE TIMES:
I first read "The Handmaid’s Tale" for a women’s studies class in the spring of 1987. I’ve read it at least a half dozen times since. Every time it looks and feels differently prescient.
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED:
“90% of a good finish is in the prep work,” which I probably heard first from my dad while building furniture. It’s advice that works for many situations.
FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS:
I have two: The Beuth House parlor on Fridays at common hour when we have Minerva Jam Sessions, and the Kelly Adirondack Center.
Oatmeal with banana, orange juice and my third cup of coffee.
I have a lot of them. I listen to everything from hobbies to work, but “School Colors” is probably my favorite. It chronicles moves to integrate two school districts in New York City.
ONE SKILL YOU WISH YOU HAD:
I wish I could read music. I’ve tried, but I think I’m inhibited by my mild dyslexia (when they tested me in elementary school they said I shouldn’t be able to read even though I’d been obsessively reading since preschool).
LITTLE KNOWN FACT ABOUT YOU:
I’ve been slowly fixing up the mid-19th century timber framed barn on our property. Every few years, our summer project has been to dig out and replace a 30 or 40-foot section of the foundation and 8”x12” sills. To do that, you have to build bracing to hold up the structure in that section while you dig a deep hole under it, and then fill it in with concrete and timber. We’ve finished all but the west side of the barn (that’s the plan for this summer). It’s a race between gravity, wind and rot.
THREE DINNER PARTY GUESTS (living or deceased):
I don’t really have a list in mind, but it would be a bunch of friends around a campfire. Some good conversations would be had and after a while, some music would happen.
The Grateful Dead in the spring of 1981, when I was in 9th grade. I probably saw them two dozen times after that.