Bob Cole is an enigma – a southern gentleman trapped in the body of a hulk. He can wrap his students in a verbal embrace in one instance and drop a string of four-letter words in front of them the next. But his sweeter side always prevails. During one summer break, he called my house about an internship opportunity and thanked my mother “for bringing me Anthony.” A classy guy, through and through.
– Anthony Lardaro
Class of 2003
I had the pleasure of having Dr. Cole for my Introduction to Journalism class. Although I didn’t stick with the major, Dr. Cole’s advice stuck with me. He told me I was an excellent writer, and he encouraged me to try news anchoring. Dr. Cole was my favorite professor! He baked cookies for the final with little A’s on them. He said no matter what happens, we all get A’s!
– Danielle “Tada” Tararuj
Class of 2007
Pen poised, I prepared to take notes as Dr. Cole lectured on the proper way to write obits. He explained we shouldn’t write “Mr. Smith is six feet under or pushing up the daisies. Simply write, the motherf—er died.” His quips, knowledge of the field and candidness made learning the dreary and mundane subjects enjoyable. I never missed his class. Congratulations, Dr. Cole! I cannot think of another professor more fitting of such a tribute.
– Dale A. Forde
Class of 1996
My favorite memories of Dr. Cole are in the classroom … whether passionately striding to the far left of the room to write an “a” on the board, then to the far right to write “lot” (a visual I still carry today in never, EVER writing “alot”) … to discussions of the Trenton paper wars, which are playing out in a whole different way in the Bay area today … to that classic picture holding up The Trentonian with the headline “Head Has Aids”… Dr. Cole had a way of penetrating our sometimes-thick skulls and making it matter. That same passion showed outside the classroom too, with time for independent studies, help for those making career choices and opening his home for student get-togethers. He got through and made a difference, like no other professor I’ve ever had. Thank you, Dr. Cole!
– Cindy Shine
Class of 1986
From freshman through senior years, and three years of Monday nights putting The Signal to bed, Bob Cole was my teacher and trusted advisor whom I could call about anything at ANY time. Bob inspired me with his commitment to solid journalism, the integrity it requires and the importance of telling a story effectively. Every day, I draw on lessons and experiences learned in his classes and during my tenure on The Signal. Thanks, Bob!
– Gwyn Jones
Class of 1982
“You buried your lead in the ninth paragraph.” That statement came from Dr. Cole after I handed in my first story for his journalism class in the fall of 1987. I felt like a failure, but he announced my mistake with such enthusiasm, you might have thought I’d won the Pulitzer. His words revealed a lesson – one I never forgot – that in order to succeed, you must be willing to learn. And I learned from the best. I became a journalist thanks to Dr. Cole and I am among thousands who will forever be grateful to him.
– Michelle Pucci Giles
Class of 1990
I sat down with Dr. Cole with some of my best writing clips and knew his red pen would go to work. It was OK, though, I encouraged his criticism. He helped my writing improve considerably by tightening my style and making me see a story in a way I had not imagined before. We had these meetings about five or six times, and I always left with his red imprints on the articles. The thing is, he took the time to help on Saturday and Sunday mornings in his Yardley home. A student was important to Dr. Cole no matter the day or time. But I think we all knew this already, huh?
– Craig Haley
Class of 1991
I will always remember – and admire – Dr. Cole for his wisdom, humor and encouragement.
– Bill Hawley
Class of 1992
Bob Cole played a very important role in my professional development. Aside from the required coursework, I learned more about journalism through him than I did in all my classes combined. Whenever I had a question, or needed professional advice, he was quick to respond with enthusiasm. He spent countless hours helping me polish my r?sum? and took an active interest in all my articles, both published and non-published. He even went out of his way to dig up some of his own work that he thought I would enjoy and learn from. I am truly appreciative to have had such a great presence in my education.
– George Goros
Class of 2005
Dr. Cole knew before I did that sports journalism was the job for me. He taught me to write, and more importantly, listen. I taught him that the idiosyncrasies of sports writing can be learned in the library before a writer ventures out to the field. Now, nearly a decade later, I remain indebted to him for his guidance and I wish him well.
– Debbie Waldeyer
Class of 1997
The first thing I ever wrote was put on Dr. Cole’s famous opaque projector as an example of everything not to do. I was crushed. The next thing I wrote was displayed as an example of everything you should do. He showed me how to fix my mistakes and write a better story. I have a career because of him and my life will be forever blessed by having him as a professor and mentor.
– Jen (Lobley) McAlpin
Class of 1994
In the spring of 1983, we were reviewing stories in Intro to Journalism and a story came up on the opaque projector that included the word “stated.” We got an intro to one of Bob Cole’s pet peeves. “You never need to change this up,” he said. “People don’t get tired of seeing the word ‘said.’ It’s what happened. Someone said something. You don’t need stated, noted or farted. You don’t need anything except said.” Usually things got a little less animated, once the lights went off and the projector came on. We were a little surprised at the intensity of this outburst. “All right,” Cole added, almost sheepishly. “If Moses comes down from the mountain again, he’s important enough to state something.” Then he raised his voice again. “But Goddammit, the rest of us have to just say it.” I’m positive that the first sentence of this recollection is the first time since then that I’ve written the word “stated.”
– John A. Lewis
Class of 1986
I will always remember Bob Cole as the grandfather I never had. In the fours years I have been here, Professor Cole has never passed by me without giving me a warm greeting and a friendly smile. Oh, and the hugs were always so great. He was never too busy to stretch out his arms and give me a hug, and his hugs always made my weeks a little brighter. One time in particular, I was in Bliss Hall, and I caught him in the hallway. As always, he smiled, and gave me one of the biggest hugs. At the time I was carrying a sweater in my one hand and he had hugged me so hard that when I pulled away from him, my sweater was stuck under his arm. Of course we both laughed and he just said goodbye with a smile. I will miss him and his funny words and thoughts, but I will always remember Bob Cole’s big heart, bear hugs and warm smiles that have changed my life. I feel lucky to have been able to cross paths with such a person.
– Melissa Hernandez
Class of 2006
When I came to college I swore I’d never teach or do journalism. I still vow to starve before teach, but because of Professor Cole I have a new appreciation for journalism. In a single day, he criticized my “f—ing boring” lede in front of the entire class and complimented my writing. I regret that I only had the opportunity to take one of his invaluable classes, but will never forget what I learned there.
– Michelle McGuinness
Class of 2009
Bob Cole was my journalism and American Lit professor way back in 1972-76, and he was instrumental in securing a position for me on a local magazine when I first graduated. I’d like to wish him good health and a happy, long retirement and to thank him for shaping my writing and ethics. I often tell people, especially college students, that Dr. Cole not only jump-started my career, he gave me the confidence and skill set to pursue a career in journalism. He handed me my degree when I graduated and said some very nice things at the time. I will never forget him.
– Patricia Viale Wuest
Class of 1976
I remember for three years going to his office and knowing for certain – a rarity, for me – that I was in good hands. It could be a kind word, a piece of advice or an anecdote, but Dr. Cole always made you feel better (and better prepared) every time you saw him. To have someone like him preparing you for a career was a gift; to have him as a friend, a blessing.
— Pete Croatto
Class of 2000
Dr. Cole impressed upon his students the fact that a republic cannot function without a free, independent and strong press, and that as journalists and editors we have significant responsibilities to our fellow citizens to live up to the powers granted us by the Constitution. He made clear that it’s a serious business: every day at work is a day of exercising civil rights, and not for one minute could we forget that.
– Scott Bowen
Class of 1991
I remember what Dr. Cole said in one of my first journalism classes at TSC: “No one is going to believe you like to write unless you start writing.” I took his advice very seriously and became a reporter for The Signal and wrote news for WTSR. Dr. Cole also helped me get my first internship at Ocean County’s Observer daily newspaper in Toms River, N.J. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and Dr. Cole’s guidance and help with my r?sum? are very appreciated! I still am employed today as a journalist. Thank you, Dr. Cole!
– Laura Fischer Baron
Class of 1996
In 1991, my freshman year of school, The Signal ran one of its more infamous April Fool’s editions, known as The Singal. Without getting into the specifics, many members of the Student Government Association found it offensive and suspended our constitution, but still allowed us to operate. I happened to attend a meeting with some SGA members and Bob Cole was there. I will always remember him explaining how liberal the First Amendment is when he stated that “they could have printed the entire issue with the word, “Motherf—er, motherf—er, motherf—er,” over and over again. All in the room tried hard to keep a straight face.
– Stephen J. Vetrano
Class of 1994
Ye F—in’ Gods!!! First Hunter blows his head off last year and now Dr. Cole is calling it quits … gonzo journalism is officially dead!!! Ah, the memories … at least the few I can remember. For those, Dr. Cole, along with the experiences and the knowledge that I only much later learned to appreciate – I owe you a long overdue thank you 17 years in the making. Thanks!!!
– Mike Fullen
Class of 1989
Back in the mid-’80s, all J-students were in fear of Dr. Cole’s evil overhead projector critiques. He’d do these anonymously, but we knew who we were. Once, he threw one of my half-baked, self-referential tone poems up there (we used typewriters back then). It began something like, “A strange breed of person haunts the basement of the Student Center on Thursday nights … ” Cole started reading it. Then he stopped and boomed, “This isn’t journalism! This is masterbation!” Once, infuriated too often by students continually mispelling “a lot,” he walked to the right side of the chalkboard and wrote “a” and stormed across the room to the left side of the chalkboard, where he wrote, “lot.” I’ve never written it as a single word again.
– Laura Italiano
Class of 1985
A year and a half after graduation from the College, I was involved in a car accident that totaled my car and left me with temporary amnesia. Help arrived on the scene in the form of a loud, rushing blur. The paramedics’ faces were undistinguishable and as these fast moving, serious sounding men and women hurried me into the ambulance, I began to feel terror creeping into my mind. Inside the thankfully quiet ambulance was Dr. Cole, smiling jovially down at me through his white beard and glasses. I was entirely relieved to see a familiar face. Seeing him there, I felt protected, as I did as a novice journalist investigating all the controversy and politics of my college years before. Along with the retrieval of those memories, came many more. It was Thursday, and I had lost control of my car and hit a guardrail. And Dr. Cole had somehow left New Jersey to become an EMT in Vermont. Boy was I ever glad. It became clear through our short conversation in the ambulance that the man was not actually Dr. Cole. But the relief that I felt as the memories of my college years flooded back helped me relax enough to face the chaotic hospital visit. I remember Dr. Cole as quite a character: hysterical, boisterous and passionate about his work. He has been a driving force behind the developing passion of his students for justice, honesty and truth. I know many people will remember his classes, his antics, his passion and his integrity. I remember Dr. Cole as an indispensable support and advocate for me as a writer and an individual. And although it wasn’t actually him in the ambulance, my memories of his support and care were, and so I thank him for helping me though one of the most frightening moments of my life. I wish him all the best in his retirement.
– Valerie Kellogg
Class of 2000
In my sophomore year at Trenton State College, I – at Dr. Cole’s urging – began taking his basic journalism class. Early into the semester, he lined up a part-time job covering high school sports for me at the Trentonian. The first few weeks at the Trentonian, all I did was answer phones, taking box scores and results. I never left the office. About three weeks after I started at the Trentonian, Dr. Cole asked me why he hadn’t seen my byline in the paper. I told him I had just been answering phones and they hadn’t let me cover anything yet. He mumbled “that’s horseshit” and stormed off. About three hours later, I got a call from someone at the Trentonian asking me if I was available to cover high school football the rest of the season. It was then I realized how much power the good doctor had over the Trenton papers.Well, 20 years later, I’m still in the business and Dr. Cole is to blame – I mean thank – for that. Anyway, thanks, Dr. Cole, for steering me into a business where I work nights and weekends and with a bunch of insane people. Enjoy your retirement.
– Bill Price
Class of 1988