I MMA C U L ATA MA G A Z I N E * W I N T E R 2 0 1 5
In the fall of 1965, when Sonny and Cher topped the airwaves,
moviegoers flocked to watch
The Sound of Music,
and the Dune
Chronicles captivated America, Jim Mooney arrived on the campus
of Immaculata College. Fifty years later, Mooney is still going
strong, teaching a full class load, and serving as chair of the English/
Communication Department and as advisor to
“People at Immaculata are just a little nicer, and they treat people just
a little better than other places,” he stated. He noted that after you’re at
Immaculata for a while, you forget that not all places treat people as well
as Immaculata does. “It’s almost like you have to go away from campus
and then come back to appreciate it anew.”
Occupying the same office that he was first assigned, Faculty Center
#30, Mooney has taught American Literature every year for 50 years.
In addition to the literature classes, he has enjoyed teaching linguistics
courses. As many faculty members can attest, there is a real need for the
teaching of basic grammar. He appreciates how instrumental the IHM
Sisters have been in education. He remembered seeing the textbook
Voyages in English,
co-written by Sister Donatus MacNickle, IHM, that
was the quintessential grammar textbook used in grade schools.
As an educator, Mooney has noticed dramatic shifts in college
education over the years. The focus of education is now career training
rather than liberal arts, and he acknowledges that that is a significant loss.
“There is a core canon of knowledge that all educated people knew,”
he stated. “Now parents want to make sure their educational investment
will help their son or daughter become well-trained and employable.”
According to Mooney, in 1965, education was content-oriented as
opposed to skills-oriented. “The pendulum has swung so far in the
opposite direction,” he said. “It’s an entrepreneurial market now.”
Asked how Immaculata has changed over the years, Mooney’s first
response was the most obvious one: IU became coed. But after further
reflection on his campus experience and having served under five college
presidents, he said, “When I first arrived, there were two dining halls: one
for the IHM Sisters and one for the lay faculty.” Now, the Immaculata
community “breaks bread together” at multiple locations across campus.
Also, for his first semester of teaching at Immaculata, Mooney had at
least 30 students in each of the five courses he taught as compared to the
9:1 undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio at Immaculata currently. He also
stated that at one point, Humanities was the largest major at Immaculata,
while now Nursing is the major with the highest enrollment.
After over 40 years of educating women, Mooney admits that he found
it “peculiar” at first when the school became coed in 2005. “It was a big
adjustment,” he said. Since then, he has noticed that the caliber of male
students just keeps getting higher each year. He laughs when he says that he
has to compete with the guys for “talk-time” during class.
At some point, he’s not sure exactly when, “Mooneyisms” began. He
coined the term for his students’ sake. He wanted to differentiate his
personal opinion from fact so the students would know the difference,
so he has labeled his “bizarre ideas” as Mooneyisms. If the students don’t
remember anything else from his class, they always fondly recall his
However, those Mooneyisms almost never had a chance to be invented.
“I never intended to become an educator,” he laughed.
His dream job, like many little boys, was to play center field for the New
York Yankees. Once he realized that wasn’t happening, he enrolled at Kings
College, earning his Bachelor of Arts, and then attended graduate school
at Niagara University, completing his master’s degree in one year. He was
bitten by the “teaching bug” one night when a faculty member, who was
feeling ill, asked if he would cover his class the next morning. The subject
for the class: Shakespeare’s sonnets. The rest is history.
50 YEARS AND STILL GOING STRONG
AFTER 50 YEARS TEACHING AT IMMACULATA,
MOONEY STILL “FEELS THE LOVE.”