The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Emery Castle Oral History Interviews

Three life history interviews conducted by Chris Petersen.

October 14 - 15, 2014


“A Midwestern Upbringing”  October 14, 2014  Location: Castle residence, Corvallis, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In interview 1, Castle discusses his rural upbringing in Kansas, his early education, and a bout with typhoid fever that he suffered during high school. He then describes his military service as a radar operator on B-17 aircraft during World War II. From there he recalls his university training in Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University and Iowa State University, including the research that he pursued and faculty mentors who were important to him. The session concludes with Castle's memories of his parents and the paths that their lives took.

“Shaping the Direction of a Field and a University”  October 15, 2014  Location: Castle residence, Corvallis, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

At the beginning of interview 2, Castle briefly notes his first professional job at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The remainder of the session is devoted to Castle's association with Oregon State. He recounts his arrival in Corvallis, the duties of his initial position, and the research that he pursued, including his authorship of a successful textbook, Farm Business Management: The Decision-Making Process. He also reflects on the culture of agriculture in Oregon, his memories of August Strand, his involvement in the creation of a graduate program in Agricultural Economics, and the broader evolution of this field of study.

Castle likewise discusses his work with Extension and Experiment Stations, important faculty colleagues, his participation in the Faculty Senate, his first administrative posts, his interactions with Jim Jensen, and his work with the Water Resources Institute at OSU. The interview concludes with a detailed discussion of Castle's experience of co-chairing the Commission on University Goals and the recommendations that were issued by the commission.

“From Corvallis to D.C. and Back”  October 15, 2015  Location: Castle residence, Corvallis, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

Castle begins interview 3 with some final thoughts on the report issued by the Commission on University Goals and the impact that the report made at OSU. He then moves on to a description of his years as Dean of the Graduate School at Oregon State, his recollections of Robert MacVicar, and a research project that Castle conducted in Yaquina Bay.

A major topic of interview 3 is Castle's tenure as an executive at Resources for the Future. He describes his decision to leave OSU for the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, notes important colleagues at RFF, and recounts the work that he completed there, including his successes in shoring up RFF's financial well-being. He also reflects on the difficulties of influencing public policy at the federal level and shares his memories of social life during his decade in the nation's capitol.

Castle next recalls the circumstances that led to his return to OSU in 1986, his leadership of the University Graduate Faculty of Economics, and his disappointment over its decline and dissolution. He also recalls his involvement with a rethinking of Extension at OSU, his memories of John Byrne's presidency, and his sense of Paul Risser's and Ed Ray's years leading Oregon State. The session concludes with Castle's reflections on his love of roses, points of pride from his research work, and thoughts on the future of the Land Grant mission.