By Thara Babineau
This December, Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) Academic and Student Affairs Dean of Arts and Humanities Lore DeBower will be retiring. On August 27, 1972, DeBower accepted her first teaching position at 4Cs: a “temporary, one-year contract” to teach French. As a young grad student and aspiring librarian at the time, DeBower planned to stay at 4Cs for that one year only, to have professional experience to put on her resume. What she did not plan was to fall in love with teaching and for her one-year contract to become a 45-year-long career where she built much more than just an impressive resume.
“I had no inclination that I was going to be a French teacher,” said DeBower. “It wasn’t a plan, and that’s not unusual in life, I think. I taught and discovered I really liked it.”
Born in Boston, the oldest of 10 children, DeBower may not have planned to become a teacher, but some early life experiences may have been influential in her choosing a career in education.
DeBower’s father was a professor at Harvard, a research chemist and biochemist, with a career that required travel. As a young child, DeBower’s family relocated as her father’s work dictated.
“When I was 5, my father took a sabbatical year in Stockholm,” said DeBower. “I went to school there. The first language I learned to read and write in was Swedish.”
When DeBower’s family returned to Massachusetts, they settled in Melrose and she further developed an interest in schooling.
“After my first day of school in the United States, after we came back from Sweden, I came home and I arranged the chairs and made my brothers and sisters sit down and play school,” recalls DeBower.
She went on to graduate from Melrose High School and after graduation, moved with her family to Albuquerque, New Mexico. DeBower attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN for two years, followed by two years at The University of Grenoble in France, and ultimately earned her B.A. in French and Comparative Literature at the University of New Mexico. After marrying, she moved back east to earn her M.A. in French Literature and Ph.D. in Medieval French Women’s Studies at the Five College Cooperative at Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, and UMass Amherst.
While DeBower was working toward her Ph.D., her husband was studying for his M.A. in teaching and interning at 4Cs. They spent the school year at DeBower’s family home in Woods Hole and from there she commuted to Amherst.
“In 1972, I was offered a job at 4Cs,” said DeBower. “My husband was here teaching Spanish. They offered me a job teaching French because the person, to whom they had (originally) offered the job, decided against coming.”
That serendipitous occurrence set the course for the next 45 years of DeBower’s career, allowing her to expand her talent and passion into avenues of education beyond that of French alone. DeBower has taught English Composition, Humanities, and Foundations in Writing. Before becoming Dean of Arts and Humanities, DeBower served as the interim Dean of Arts and Sciences, and the Department Chair of Arts and Sciences. DeBower also served interim Dean of both the Business Department and Department of Online Learning. Presently, DeBower oversees 4Cs Hyannis Center, which houses the Adult Education Center and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
Through the years and these various roles, DeBower has shared her knowledge and support with what she estimates to be about 10,000 students. One of earlier ones was Dr. Laura Seabury, who took DeBower’s French class in 1988, and has since gone on to become DeBower’s colleague as a professor of nursing at 4Cs.
“It was one of my favorite classes,” said Seabury. Seabury was a nursing student at the time, and her clinical schedule conflicted with DeBower’s French class. “Lore allowed me to make up days that I was in clinical, she taught me in the language lab on different days, so I was able to continue to learn French and be successful in the nursing program.”
Seabury is not alone in her recognition and appreciation for DeBower’s devotion to her students’.
“Although her work as a dean keeps her very busy, she always has time to talk with faculty members and students,” said James Kershner, a full-time professor of writing at 4Cs. “Even when we disagreed, I knew she had the best interests of the students in her heart.”
Although DeBower made students first priority, faculty members benefited from the knowledge and support she offered, as well.
“Lore helps you become a better person,” said Caren DeCristofano, DeBower’s longtime administrative assistant. “Because of her I have become a lot more confident in my skills.”
Colleagues came to know DeBower as someone who manages to be both personable and professional at all times.
“Besides being my boss, she is also my personal friend,” said Kershner. “I knew I could always go to her for good advice.”
DeBower’s friendship has also been interwoven into her professional relationship with her most longstanding colleague, Nancy Willets, who began teaching at 4Cs in the same department as DeBower back in 1983.
“I had just moved to Cape Cod and knew no one,” said Willets about her start at 4Cs. “Lore was a friend to me when I first walked through the door.”
Willets friendship with DeBower grew when they traveled together, especially during a trip to France.
“When anybody thinks about Lore, they think about France and they think about travel,” said Willets. Indeed, despite the expansion of DeBower’s career beyond teaching French, her heart remained in that language and culture.
“The really exciting thing was taking students to France for immersion language programs, for culture programs,” said DeBower.
DeBower works with Academic Programs International and CISabroad setting up internships, semesters, and short-term programs for those students who wish to study abroad. She devotes an hour and a half each week to teaching a Conversational French class and helps run The Foreign Film Series on campus, which she describes as being the highlights of her week. Another highlight of DeBower’s is music. She is both a music director and church musician, as both an organist and a member of the choir. In addition, DeBower directs the Solstice Singers, a group of musicians who dress up in Renaissance costumes and perform twice a year in her hometown of Woods Hole. She plans to continue with all of these cultural and musical pursuits in her retirement. DeBower’s retirement plans also include volunteering with 4Cs Educational Foundation, and traveling to visit family, many of whom live outside of the United States.
While she enjoys retirement, DeBower said she will be missing her colleagues, but that she hopes they will be joining her on some future travels. Of course, she knows her plans for retirement are subject to change.
“You think there’s a plan, a straight line,,” said DeBower, “but it goes up and down, in and out, and all around.”
In 1972, Lore DeBower took a job at 4Cs to build her resume. Next month, she will retire from a career through which she built a legacy.
“I started teaching here (4Cs) because my Ph.D. advisor said, ‘it would be good to have that on your resume’,” said DeBower. “The rest, as they say, is history.”