Humor, said 19th century British historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle, is”the finest perfection of poetic genius.”


His high opinion of the art, one supposes, must be attributed to its result: a smile, laughter and a twinkle in the eye. And if Carlyle is correct, West Virginia Universitys poet laureate of joke and punch line must surely be Joe Gluck, former dean of students, who has coined a new word.


A man who collects jokes and humorous stories and shares them by mail, he can often be found during the lunch hour at Hatfields in the Mountainlair, reciting jokes to acquaintances. Moreover, hes a story teller with a treasure-trove of anecdotes about his own experiences.


Also an English graduate of Bethany College and a one-time reporter with the Associated Press, Gluck is a word lover. In fact, his bookshelf contains at least a half-dozen dictionaries.


So; it follows that Dean Gluck would combine his love for humor and his interest in words to coin one that will appear in the next Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary edition.


The new word,”humoriosity,”was needed, he said.”If you consult an unabridged dictionary, you will find listed with the noun �€~humor,�€~humorousness.It is comparable to �€~generousness,which became �€~generosityand �€~curiousness,which moved on to be �€~curiosity.�€~Humorousnesshas the same problem as �€~generousnessand �€~curiousness:they come off the tongue awkwardly,”he said.


Gluck retired in 1980 but still maintains a small office in Purinton House, where he counsels students. The 86-year-old clergyman does not take things seriously, which of course is licensed by his age and the fact that he was dean of students during the 1950s-70s, a period he describes as”exciting times.”He got involved in humor because its a good relaxer and relieves stress. This was needed, he said, while he was WVU s chief disciplinarian and was burned in effigy during 1970s campus demonstrations. Also, it has a theological aspect.”If God made us in his image, then, of course, he has a sense of humor,”he said.”As anthropologist Margaret Mead pointed out, were the only species that can laugh.”


Gluck was born in Ritchie County. After graduating from Bethany, he earned a divinity degree from Yale University in 1942 and studied at Oxford. A Navy chaplain, he served in the South Pacific during World War II. He came to WVU in 1946 as coordinator of welfare for student veterans. He became assistant director of student affairs in 1948 and later became dean of students. He claims to have known more deans than any other academician �€80, since Bernnie Schultz was named dean of the College of Creative Arts last fall. The Mountainlairs Gluck Theater is named in his honor.