Professor Michael Aaron Rockland founded the American Studies Department at Rutgers while serving as Assistant Dean of Douglass College (1969-1972). Earlier, he had another stint in academic administration when he served as Executive Assistant to the Chancellor of Higher Education, State of New Jersey (1968-1969). This followed years in the U.S. diplomatic service as a cultural attache at embassies in Argentina and Spain (1961-1968).
His overseas experience has since included senior Fulbright lectureships in Argentina (1971 and 1988), Uruguay (1982), Peru (1985), and Norway (2003) He has lectured overseas in twenty-five countries.Three of his books, Sarmiento's Travels in the United States in 1847 (Princeton, 1970), America in the Fifties and Sixties:Julian Marias on the United States (Penn State, 1972) and Un Diplomatico Americano en la Espana de Franco (University of Valencia, 2011) are related to his foreign experience. Sarmiento's Travels was chosen by Book World as one of the "Fifty Best Books of 1970."
Two other books sprang from his interest in ethnicity: The American Jewish Experience in Literature (Haifa, 1975); and a co-authored book The Jews of New Jersey: A Pictorial History (Rutgers, 2001). Four other books sprang from his interest in mobility: Homes on Wheels (Rutgers, 1980); Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike (Rutgers, 1989), which he co-authored with Professor Angus Gillespie and which was recently named one of the ten best books ever written about New Jersey; a book of personal adventure essays, Snowshoeing Through Sewers (Rutgers, 1994); and The George Washington Bridge: Poetry in Steel (Rutgers.2008)
Rockland is also a novelist. A Bliss Case (Coffee House,1989), was a N.Y.Times "Notable Book of the Year." A recent novel is Stones (Hansen Publishing, 2009)
Dr. Rockland has also written extensively for popular magazines such as Philadelphia, Adventure Travel, Explorer's Journal, Big, Preservation, and especially New Jersey Monthly, where he has long been a regular contributor. In addition, he has done considerable work in television production and filmmaking, including a three year stint (1978-1981) as cultural commentator on television's New Jersey Nightly News and co-writing the script for and acting in the P.B.S. film Three Days on Big City Waters (1974).
Michael Rockland has won five major teaching awards: The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching (1991); The Warren Susman Memorial Award (1997); the Mary C. Turpie National American Studies Association Award for Teaching and Programmatic Excellence (1997); the Rutgers College Teacher of the Year Award (1998); and the Rutgers University Scholar-Teacher Award (2003). He is also the recipient of the Douglass College Medal for service to that college.
Dr. Rockland received his B.A. in Sociology from Hunter College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. He also studied at the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State (1961-1962 and 1967-1968).