The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Katy Barber Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Janice Dilg.

November 12, 2015


“OSU in the early 1990s”  November 12, 2015  Location: Hoffmann Hall, Portland State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Barber discusses her upbringing in Portland, emphasizing her educational and social experiences at Jefferson High School. She then recounts her initial entry into college, recalling the term that she spent at Reed College and the circumstances that led to her transferring to Oregon State University.

The bulk of the session is devoted to Barber's memories of her undergraduate years at OSU and campus culture at Oregon State during the early 1990s. In this, she describes her academic progression within the American Studies program, the impact that Bill Robbins and other OSU faculty made upon her, and her earliest notions about pursuing a graduate degree. She likewise reflects on the racial unrest that pervaded OSU during her years in Corvallis, and her experiences of feeling marginalized as a female student. Barber also notes her memories of the city of Corvallis and of the OSU library, her social activities, the impact on OSU of the passage of Ballot Measure 5, national events of consequence during her undergraduate years, and jobs that she held while a student.

The session concludes with thoughts on Barber's continuing collaboration with Bill Robbins, her work with the OSU Press, her scholarship as a faculty member at Portland State University, and her sense of OSU's current direction.