The secret lives of Lawrence professors

Kayla Wilson

Government professor, pre-law advisor, and diet soda enthusiast Steven Wulf likes to wander. His meandering affected his professional life, helped him pass three days of his honeymoon, and now gives him an opportunity to commit Band E’s with his three-year-old son.
Wulf explained that his interest in government “came from my older brother and the Soviet Union.” Much like those in the Soviet Union, young Wulf was bullied and grew attracted to the idea of the weak being protected from the strong and how “those who could protect you could really mess you up.”
His relationship with philosophy developed independently. “It came from having a long walk to high school in the era before the Walkman,” he stated. He went on to say that this time to think was the most important part of his education, where he wondered “how we know what we know and stuff like that.”
His college career was marked by some figurative wandering. At Cornell, he originally decided to major in agricultural economy. “It was a cheap way of getting a business degree,” he said. “My plan was to become very rich very early and then retire young and do what I really wanted to do, which is hang out and argue.”
After a “Draconian in a good way” writing advisor told him to find a job where he could do that before he was old, he decided on a career in academia. “It’s a hard job to get, but it’s fun.” Unable to decide between history, philosophy, and political science, he ended up making a decision because he is “not very good at languages.”
After school, he knew he wanted a job at a liberal arts college and at the time there were only four jobs open in the country, one of those being Lawrence. He hadn’t heard of the school before the job interview and mistakenly asked a student about their good hockey team, to which the student replied, “No, that’s St. Lawrence.”
Currently, Wulf is finishing a book titled “A Philosophical Theory of Citizenship,” slated for release in May from Lexington Books. “This started as an article,” he said, “but it was too long to be published in a journal, so instead of making it smaller.I made it into a book.”
With two young children, Wulf has little free time, but when he gets the chance he like to explore, going to flea markets, open houses, and area businesses. “I take my three-year-old and wander,” he said adding “It’s amazing the things you can get. There’s a bank near here that has cookies, they bake them fresh every morning. I know where all the bathrooms are in town. If you have a three year old no one asks questions.”
This seems like an extension of his younger days, when he and his friends would don janitor jump suits and explore, enjoying the clearance their outfits lent to their activities. “If you act like you belong, no one will ask questions.”
When he isn’t finding secret elevators and passages, Wulf likes to cook, becoming obsessed with one thing until perfecting it and then moving on. “At one point I was making chicken cutlets in various reduction sauces a few times a week for months.” His biggest challenge has been pad thai, but he has three tips: more water to the sauce early on, wide noodles, and no skimping on the oil.
All of his reading at the moment is work-related, but he did mention a favorite book: George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia.”
“I’m interested in political systems collapsing,” he gave as his reason.
Wulf only has time for two hours of TV a week, but some favorite shows include “Family Guy,” “The Office,” “Big Brother,” “Top Chef,” and “America’s Next Top Model.