The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Sylvia Moore Oral History Interview

March 31, 2015 – 10:00a.m.

Video: “Building a Foundation for Women's Athletics at OSU” . March 31, 2015

Location: Moore residence, Corvallis, Oregon.
Interviewer:  Janice Dilg

1:47:40 - Abstract | Biography | Download Transcript (PDF)


Janice Dilg: So, today is March 31st, 2015. I'm here with Sylvia Moore at her home in Corvallis, Oregon. My name is Janice Dilg and we are doing this interview as part of the OSU Sesquicentennial Oral History Project. Welcome, good morning.

Sylvia Moore: Thank you very much, welcome to you.

JD: Thank you. So, it's always kind of nice to just begin at the beginning, so if you would give just a brief history of your family, kind of who your family and siblings were and your growing up, early growing up.

SM: I grew up just south of Seattle, Washington, living in Auburn and Des Moines. My mother taught in Federal Way, my dad was a salesman. I have a younger sister, five years younger than I. I guess I was what you would call a tomboy growing up, but I hope they don't use that term anymore. But there were more boys in our neighborhood than girls and I could outrun most of them and shoot baskets better than they, and then they got to play and I didn't. There was no organized competition for girls. And then I got into physical education classes and that was fun, and I thought well, I might like to do that, and my mother really didn't think that was a good career for me. She didn't mind my being a teacher but she thought I should teach music or history or some other academic subject.

So, when I went to the University of Washington, I started out as a double major in music and journalism. My sophomore year I saw a class that I really wanted to take in physical education that said it was for majors only, so I went over to the department and said "could you waive that requirement?" and they said "no, that's really for teaching majors." And so at that point, after an hour of talking with these people and really enjoying them, I said "okay, I'll become a physical education major." And my mother didn't discover that for about another six months when she opened one of my grade slips and said "these are very strange classes for you to be taking, and you're taking a lot of hours." I said "yeah, I want to graduate on time, so I have to take twenty, twenty-one hours with this major change, and I am going to become a physical education teacher."

So, I graduated from the University of Washington in 1963 and taught in the Renton school district for a couple of years, then came down to Oregon to go to grad school at the University of Oregon. And I was just finishing my thesis and getting ready to take my comps and orals when I got a call from someone up here at the university in Corvallis saying "you've been recommended to us as a potential instructor by the folks at the University of Washington." And I said "well you know, I've got my job in Renton waiting, Oregon has offered me a job, I'd really, I don't have time to drive all the way to Corvallis."

Now I'd been in Eugene for almost a year and I had no concept that Corvallis was only forty miles away. I thought it was like Seattle and Pullman. Why would you build the two major universities so close together? So, I came up and really liked the people, liked the campus; the atmosphere was just open and friendly, and so I thought "I'll stay three years," and after three years I thought "ah, three more years, I can have a sabbatical and they'll help me get my PhD," and long story short, thirty-three years later I retired.

JD: So, I want to back up just a wee bit. When you were talking about just kind of the neighborhood kids and that you excelled over many of the boys in your skills and abilities, was there any outlet for that as you grew up through high school?

SM: Just PE. The girls got the gym, half of the gym, one day a week, and the boys didn't like that, but they agreed that that was going to happen, and so we had a Girl's Athletic Association where we played some organized sports. Now, basketball was very different then. We played six-on-six, half court, you were either a forward or a guard and you couldn't cross the center line, so you could either shoot or you could play defense, and you could only dribble the ball twice. It's really amazing to see what the game has evolved into these past few years, once women were given the opportunity to play regular basketball.

I think the success of the current OSU women's team and drawing crowds of seven to eight thousand and making the NCAA tournament speaks to the fact that there are a lot of young women who have abilities and who are really competitive, and I think that's probably what separates a lot of the participants, and are really getting an opportunity now that didn't exist when I grew up in the fifties and sixties, and really didn't exist until the late eighties, nineties. Programs were coming, but they hadn't really achieved equality yet.


JD: And you must have had some pretty serious interest and abilities in music, if that was part of your double major.

SM: I did. I was offered several local scholarships as I was growing up. My mother was a piano teacher in her spare time, and so I had to spend time at the piano learning to play. I played the clarinet and French horn, played in the UW marching band when I was in college. But it didn't excite me as much as trying to provide opportunities for women who were coming after me to get involved in the kinds of things they really loved, regardless of what those were. And for me, that avenue was physical education and athletics.

JD: And so, you mentioned briefly your job in Renton, which was at a junior high school—

SM: Correct.

JD: I believe, McKnight Junior High School. Talk a little bit about what PE was like and what that first job for you was about.

SM: In those days, you wore uniforms to PE classes. They had these wonderful Amelia Bloomers, they were one-piece, baggy gym suits that had your name in them and that you had to make sure were taken home at least once a week to get washed. There were after-school activities, but again it was only a partial gym and it wasn't every day of the week. That first teaching job, I was told that I was going to coach junior high gymnastics and I said "you know, I'd really much rather coach a team sport, I don't really know much about gymnastics." And the reply was "do you want to work here?" And so, taking that as a very broad hint, I said "okay, I'll coach gymnastics."

And my younger sister was a gymnast, a very, very good gymnast, and the Seattle YMCA had a coach named George Lewis who had several Olympians and top, or lead, performers at the Seattle Y. And so, I started going with Marsha to her practices, and I'd watch the elites and then I would work with the little kids. So, that's how I got started and how, when I came to Oregon State, I also got gymnastics and started the first competitive gymnastics program in 1967, '68, a year after I came.

JD: And were you just a PE teacher? Did you teach other subjects at the junior high school?

SM: No, I was just a physical education teacher.

JD: And I noticed that you also had what I would call maybe an administrative role as chair of the girl's phys. ed. department at that time?

SM: No, I was not the chair.

JD: Okay.

SM: I was one of three instructors and I was the most junior of those instructors. So...

JD: And this was all-girls PE?

SM: Yes, yes. It was not co-ed at that time.

JD: So, it must have been a large school.

SM: It was. Renton was a very large school district. They had two junior highs and a high school at that time. Now I think there are probably seven or eight middle schools and three or four high schools. It borders the south end of Lake Washington, and Boeing is located there. Their first plant is located on the south end, and the first couple of years I taught, four of us rented a four-bedroom, three-story house right on Lake Washington for 37.50 a month a piece. I'll never forget that. It was—I had a boat, one of my roommate's friend's brother had a boat, and so our place became Party Central. And we finally had to put out a can and say "please donate to the gas fund," because I think I made forty-eight hundred dollars my first year of teaching. That was '63, '64.

JD: Yeah, those inexpensive rents also have to be balanced with—

SM: Balanced with what you made, uh-huh.

JD: -- what earnings were at that point in time, as well. And so, that was just part of the year and then you did a variety of kind of recreational director jobs?


SM: Yeah. I worked for the Seattle Park Department in the summers and was park supervisor at several different Seattle area parks until I came down to—I did that through college and into the first couple years I taught and then I came down here to go to grad school.

JD: And what spurred you to go to grad school, and how did you choose U of O?

SM: I talked with people at the University of Washington about grad programs that were of good quality, and Oregon had an excellent graduate program with some really good people, and it was reasonably close. I could get back home to visit, as it was just a four-hour drive, and so I decided okay, that's where I'll go to school.

JD: And what was the coursework like at that point? What were you going to learn and what was the expectation of what you would do with a master's degree in Physical Education?

SM: Well first of all, it was kind of a union card to get into college teaching, was for something that I thought would be really nice to do. Secondly, we took—my emphasis was in history and sociology of sport, and so that's what I did my thesis on and what quite a few of my courses were. It's standard graduate coursework, forty-five hours and a thesis and you take statistics and all of the supporting kinds of things that you need to be able to do research. And I had a good academic background. As I said, my mother was a teacher; doing homework was never an option. And if I got in trouble, I got in trouble again when I got home.

JD: So, you mentioned that you had been recommended. Do you know how the people at OSU heard about you when you were at U of O?

SM: I recall Ruth Wilson, who was chair of the Department of Women's PE at the University of Washington, and she knew that I was going to grad school and recommended that I might be a good fit. So, Erma called me and the rest is history.

JD: And do you remember much about the interview? Who you interviewed with, or the things they were looking for, the questions they asked you?

SM: Well, they asked me about my teaching background and what I wanted to do in the future. It was the chair of the department and a couple of the other instructors, or faculty members. It was a fairly low-key interview. And I, as I said, I really enjoyed the campus and the people. I enjoyed the interview.

JD: Do you remember what you said to them about what your future ambitions were?

SM: I told them that I wanted to be a faculty member, that I wanted to continue my research interests, that I wanted to provide opportunities for young girls and women to participate in highly, not just competitive, but vigorous kinds of activity for health reasons. Thinking back to the twenties when girls were actually banned from much participation, thanks to the American Medical Association and the president's wife, Herbert Hoover's wife, whose name I don't remember, coming out with all this research that said that you would destroy your ability to bear children if you got into hardcore physical activity. Now, anybody who's kept a house knows there's some pretty hardcore physical activity involved in that. But women couldn't run more than four hundred meters, that was—it was yards in those days. They hadn't gone to the metric system for track—because a woman had fainted at the end of a mile run,. And you know, a lot of guys had passed out too, but nobody seemed to think that was going to be a problem.

JD: That meant you'd been giving it your all.

SM: That's correct.

JD: So, what was the department like then? What was the size? I know that it's had several name changes over time.

SM: It was called the Department of Women's Physical Education. There were eighteen faculty members, all women. The only male in the building was the equipment manager, custodial overseer, and it was a very tight-knit group. We had about a hundred and fifty young women who wanted to become teachers. And I think a lot of young women who liked physical activity get to know their junior high, senior high PE teachers very, very well. And so, that often spurs them to want to pursue that kind of career. I know that was true on my part.


At that time Physical Education, six terms was required of all enrollees at OSU, including passing a swimming test, if you were going to graduate. So, that was two years' worth of activity, classes that everybody had to take. And the physical education curriculum was fairly science-based, a lot of anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, those kinds of things that give the underpinnings to proper technique involved within exercising, what is now called sport science.

JD: And where was the department located and where did many of the classes take place?

SM: The department was in the Women's Building, which now is the Office of the Dean of Health and Human Services, is what it's called, I believe, and Exercise and Sport Science is what they call the Physical Education department. A rose, by any other name; it's still basically the same kinds of things, but using more current research. For example, one of the big things when I was first teaching was you always stretched and did a lot of flexibility things before you really got involved. Now they say—and it makes a whole lot of sense—you need to get the blood circulating, get the muscles warm so that you can get the maximum value out of your stretch. So, that makes a whole lot of sense, and those are the kinds of research changes that have occurred.

JD: And what were the facilities for both female students at the time who were in the phys. ed. program? You're talking about all the different kinds of classes and the swimming that they had to take, where were the facilities for that?

SM: They were all located in the Women's Building. As you enter that building, you will notice that the steps are very wide and very shallow, and that was so women could be very ladylike in climbing the steps to the lobby. At least that's what Dr. Eva Seen, who was the longtime chair of the department—[coughs], excuse me; as I said, my hay fever is being a lot of fun this summer, this spring. There was a grand lobby. The building was actually designed by a very famous architect and had lovely wooden floors, lots of marble, very much a twenties building. And the gym was directly off the lobby. Then there was a small activity room on what would be the north side, and then the dance studio on the south side, and upstairs there was another small activity area, and then the swimming pool.

And it was strictly for the use of women. The men's building, Langton Hall, still held their swimming classes in the nude at that time. And so, certainly women couldn't go through there, and to even get to the swimming pool you had to go through the men's locker room, and couldn't. So, they finally, when they decided that the men could wear trunks and the women could swim there, they had to put a ladder down from the balcony so that the women could access that pool, as we had combined men's and women's physical education in the early seventies. And so, then they began to share those facilities. The athletic facilities were strictly off limit.

The first woman to ever really get to go on the track at other than the scheduled physical education class, which was where the track team did their work, was a young woman named Joni Huntley, and Joni had cleared over six feet in high school and went on to be an All-American high jumper for OSU and then to the Olympics. So, one of our very early, very successful young women. And later, her sister came to school and was a leading volleyball player, Sandy. And it was really fun to watch the prowess of these young women develop and grow and get to so much of a higher level.


JD: And so, how did that, those changes start to happen, even if it was just for an individual like Joni Huntley? If women were prohibited from the field, but then how does someone go about seeing her skill and at least making a single exception, if not starting to change attitudes?

SM: Joni's high school coach knew Berny Wagner, who was the men's track coach at OSU, and asked him to take a look at what Joni could do. And so, he started working with her. Jim Barrett was the men's athletic director at that time, and Jim almost got us into a huge mess, because on the word of Berny, he offered her a scholarship. Well, scholarships were illegal for the women until 1978. Our national organization, the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, wanted to stay away from, quote, "the evils" of men's sports, and they felt that scholarships just took away from the amateurism of girls' sports.

Now, growing up at the University of Washington, they had initiated what was called a sports day or a play day, and on weekends you could travel to another school with a group of girls from your school and you could actually compete, but as you walked in the door, you were given a red card or a green card or a yellow card or a blue card, and then you had to go find people from other schools with that same color. And so, you competed as a mix of schools on the same team instead of with your schoolmates. And then afterwards you always had punch and cookies, because the emphasis was still on the feminine graces and still on play for play's sake, not for achieving what you were capable of achieving.

So, that was my background and something that had really frustrated me. The fact that the University of Washington had come up with that idea really blew me away, and I wanted to take groups of women who were a team, not who were a mishmash of a lot of different schools and who didn't have the faintest idea what anybody's abilities were.

JD: Who was making up that interesting set of rules?

SM: Women themselves. We can...we can very easily discriminate against each other, and that's a hard thing to say.

JD: Sure.

SM: But based on our belief system and based on the values that were inculcated in us as we were growing up, that the woman's place is in the home, it's getting okay to go out and work but being a homemaker and a mother and supporting your husband is very, very important. And those are important, but they do not override the fact that the husband should also support the wife and should share in some of the home responsibilities, and that if a woman chooses—and that's what it's all about, is choice—she should be able to do what really inspires her and makes her feel good about herself.

JD: And do you think there was an element of the women in the AIAW kind of knowing that they wanted more, but this was what would be acceptable at this point in time? Or...

SM: They wanted more. They were afraid of some of the excesses of men's athletics. Jim Barrett, when he resigned, said he was resigning because of "that god dammed Title IX and women's athletics." And that's a direct quote. Jim later became one of our best supporters, established a scholarship for women gymnasts at OSU, and I'm not going to say he overcame the error of his ways, but through the process of education and through getting him involved in a women's gymnastics multi-team meet, through his Away Travel business and those kinds of things, made a big difference in his attitude, when he really got to know people. Because men's and women's sports were kept really separate for a long time.


The women, when I was first at OSU, got to use Gill Coliseum one day a year for a basketball tournament that they played cross court, instead of length of the court, so they weren't regulation courts. They had to bring their own balls, they wore pinnies, not uniforms, with the numbers on them. When I started out coaching, the young women bought all of their equipment: shoes, softball gloves, leotards, you name it. There were a few balls provided. They sold See's suckers to raise money to go to tournaments, they washed cars, they collected coupons. They were part of Recreational Sports funding for quite a few years, and that wasn't enough to allow them to do travel through the—to the various schools in the Northwest College Women's Sports Association, which was the Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon amalgamation of schools.

One of the fun things about it, though, at that time, was that Oregon State and what was then Oregon College of Education were on an equal footing. It was you recruited from within your student body. You didn't go out and actively recruit. Now recruiting is a whole different process, and it can start in early high school, maybe even as early as junior high, according to the NCAA regulations. So, it's a whole different world. There are mostly good things, but there are cautions that I think we need to be aware of, in terms of sometimes boosters get deep pockets. I don't think that's happened very often in women's sports, but it's a possibility and it's one of the things I think we need to think about. But to me, the main concept that I embrace is that women are getting to achieve their potential, whether it's in chemistry or athletics or music, whatever their charge is.

We still need to get more women involved in sciences, but a lot of us learned in grade school and junior high that you didn't have to really be good in science. That wasn't—girls weren't going to do, they weren't going to be engineers and those kinds of things.

JD: So, your—it sounds like there was some little changes that were going on, or maybe fairly big changes, when you're talking about women athletes traveling to tournaments and things. So, where was that switch from "we'll go and you'll get cards and you'll compete with each other and it won't be all that intense" to what you're talking about?

SM: There was a little bit of it in the late fifties, early sixties when I was at the University of Washington. The class that I wanted to take that turned me into a physical education major was a field sports class, including a game called field hockey, which was more of an eastern game. And I played competitive field hockey for twenty years after I graduated from college. I played first for the Seattle team and then for Eugene. They had club teams and we traveled all over, at our own expense, to compete in tournaments and games and those kinds of things. So, the opportunities were beginning to be created. AAU had some opportunities. I played some AAU basketball while I was in Seattle, and that was fun; five on five, run the whole the court, I played both offense and defense.

So, they were beginning to happen there in the late fifties, early sixties, but the big catalyst was in 1972 when Congresswoman Edith Green and Senator Birch Bayh from, I believe it was Maine, I know it was one of the New England states, got together and offered a bill that enacted a legislation called Title IX. It basically said that in no aspect of education shall there be any discrimination between funding for programs involving men and women, or women or men, and that federal funding could be withdrawn if such an incident was proved. Well, that was a big stick, but nobody thought—it said education, it didn't say athletics, but athletics are part of education. So, when they discovered that that was included, then there was an outcry and some of the other Congressmen and Senators woke up and it was delayed for three years before it was finally published in the Federal Register, which is when it can then be enacted as law.


And then lawsuits delayed it for another three years, and in the meantime, the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women was providing national championships, regional championships that you had to qualify for, just like you do for the NCAA, and women were beginning to travel across the country. They still had to go with hand out to ask for additional funding for those kinds of things. The first scholarships were provided because a young woman in Florida said "I can beat my brother in tennis, he's got a scholarship, I can't have one, what's fair about that?" And that's a paraphrase, but that was the essence of what she said. So, AIAW began to allow scholarships, began to allow some limited recruiting. The NCAA said okay, I guess we've sued, football can't be excluded, we have to accept the inevitable; we're going to merge. And my thought at that point was that's kind of like the fox guarding the hen house, but okay.

So, the NCAA began offering women's championships in 1981, and they paid for you to travel. So, that was a huge incentive to a lot of university presidents who had been pulling up out of their budgets to provide the women the opportunity to go to national championships. We stayed as an AIAW institution one more year. We had a young woman named Linda Parker who had come to Oregon State as a freshman six months pregnant, assured us that it would not be a problem, had the baby in December, was back in the gym in less than a week, and was an All-American on floor exercise by the end of the season. That sort of gave some credence to the idea that this wasn't going to affect childbearing; it might make it a little easier.

Anyway, the reason we did that was because she was receiving funding through some university—through federal funds, the Pell grants. And NCAA limited the amount of Pell grants that people could have, and because Linda now had two children, she needed that full Pell grant to survive. So, she was due to graduate in another year, so we stayed with the AIAW for that extra year. Then we merged with NCAA.

JD: So, what was your specific involvement with, between OSU and AIAW and then maybe your role behind the scenes, or perhaps in front of the scenes, with the decision to go with NCAA? And was that a choice? Did some colleges decide not to do that?

SM: University presidents did that. They wanted to see their programs come together. My role, I was the first women's gymnastics coach at OSU. I coached for nine years and then took a sabbatical to go back to grad school and begin my PhD. I came back to teach in the Physical Education department. Pat Ingram was our first women's athletic director, she lasted for two years. Sandy Neeley was our second one, she lasted for two years, and at that point I was asked if I would take over as acting director of women's athletics for a year. I did that, had a lot of fun, I really enjoyed what I was doing, and so I applied for the position, but my director said that I would have to resign tenure if I wanted to stay in athletic administration, and I told him I didn't like it that much. I was not going to resign the tenure that I had worked so hard to earn.


And so I went, the president hired me for his office to coordinate the accreditation self-study that we did in 1980. And they hired a woman named Nancy Gerou to be the women's athletic director. She also lasted two years. The positon came open again, I decided I was going to apply and hopefully I could become the first woman who could last more than two years in this position, because it was a high-stress position. They merged the program after two years, so I did stay in athletics longer than two years, but I didn't get to be women's athletic director but for two years.

JD: So, what was the issue about you needing to give up tenure in order to take that position? Was that a common—

SM: I have no idea.

JD: --request of male athletic directors?

SM: Well, this wasn't a male athletic director. This was a male physical educator who didn't really believe that athletics was part of a strong physical education pyramid. We had what was called the pyramid that started out with basic instruction and then went to intramurals, and athletics was a very skinny peak of the pyramid. And there were a lot of physical educators, male and female, particularly the older gentlemen, that really believed athletics was too excessive and put too much importance on competition and didn't look at the life skills that might be able to be developed through those programs. They'd sort of given up on what athletics could be. And I hadn't, but I also had worked too hard to receive tenure, and I wanted to keep that tenure.

JD: There were certainly lots of changes going on in general in society during the sixties and seventies, lots of cultural upheaval, and it struck me kind of around this story and that also, I think in 1972, there were salary adjustments that were made to try and create some equity between male and female faculty. Can you talk a little about just how sort of those larger upheavals that were going on in the sixties and seventies played out on the OSU campus?

SM: OSU was a fairly quiet place. The only protest that I remember was when our football coach Dee Andros asked one of his black athletes to shave his beard, because he wanted clean-shaven young men, and there was a protest in the quad. Other than that, the contrast between Oregon State and the University of Oregon, for example, was pretty dramatic. Remember OSU started out as an Ag. School, had a very conservative approach to things, tended to attract that kind of student, both male and female, and the University of Oregon was the liberal arts school, because in the thirties when we were going through the Depression, the state had split off and put emphasis on engineering and sciences here and on liberal arts and languages and other kinds of courses at the University of Oregon. So, it attracted two different types of people. And I think that's maybe not quite so dramatic today, because both schools have developed programs in some of the overlapping areas, but it's still a distinction that the two universities possess.

JD: Well, and it also seems as if, on the one hand you're advocating for the female student athletes and more opportunity and new attitudes, both within the university and in the larger realm, but there's also kind of a personal element of female faculty members at universities at that time. Can you talk a little about that dynamic of sort of pushing for change on multiple fronts at one time?

SM: Yeah. You know, when I first came to Oregon State, I heard all these tales about President Jensen's wife and how faculty members were expected to attend events wearing gloves and hats and heels, and that was when Robert MacVicar and Clarice came, things were very different. He ran a very tight fiscal program and budgets were tight within the departments. He kept a large reserve that would be doled out at the end of the year to departments who had shown some exemplary work and who had need. He was a fascinating man, and somebody that I think had a huge impact on Oregon State in its development.


He was followed by John Byrne, who had been a professor of oceanography and then had gone back to head NOAA and then came in to provide leadership, and John had a very much more laissez-faire, relaxed style, by and large, than did Dr. MacVicar. So, I've seen the evolution through presidents, and that has made a huge change, I think, in the culture that is OSU. Huge emphasis today on research, partially because of the funding that research provides, partially because OSU aspires to be a top-tier institution, and that's part of how you get there, is by having lots of research grants and federal funding and those kinds of things.

Society as a whole has changed. I wasn't really part of the Vietnam sixties, I was busy teaching, going to school, wrapped-up in what my goals were and not really that much involved. My younger sister was more involved in those kinds of things. I think the five years difference between us, she was a little younger and it hit her a little more dramatically than it did me. My leadership style was such that I wanted to be involved directly, and by working with programs, I had that opportunity. And I was more focused on change in areas that I felt I was able to affect than I was on changes in the broad spectrum, because I felt the specific targets would ultimately melt the barriers to broader targets. And I think that, in essence, has happened, is continuing to happen and will continue to evolve.

Life today is very different. When I was doing my PhD work, I took computer science as a language. Unfortunately, I broke my leg and the computer lab was on the fourth floor and I couldn't get to class, so I had to switch. But in those days, you had punch cards; a computer filled a whole room. I was the only person in my statistic class that had a handheld calculator. I mean come on, now you've got computers that you can hold in your hand. Your iPhones and other cellular phones are essentially mini computers, and you can do things on them that you wouldn't have dreamed of being able to do in the seventies. It's changed the way we communicate.

It's opened up some things that I think are really good; there's instant messaging and emails and ways of keeping in contact with people, posting on the various social media, but I think it's taken away a little bit from the face-to-face. And for me, being able to sit down and talk with somebody openly and honestly about what your expectations are, what you hope you'll achieve, what their expectations are, so you get that give and take that doesn't necessarily occur in a printed communication. You know, I enjoy reading what my other friends are doing and I can keep track, but I miss being able to say "hey, let's go to the ocean. Let's get half a dozen of us together and go over to Newport or down to Waldport and Yachats to do some crabbing," those kinds of things. Everybody's so tied up in what they're doing. And I watch students walking down and they're not looking where they're going, they're busy emailing and texting, doing all of those kinds of things that are wonderful things to have, but please don't forget talking. That's important too.

JD: So, let's explore a little bit more when you became the women's athletic director. And as you're talking about technology, talk a little about what facilities were like, how you got in touch with students, how you arranged to participate in meets.


SM: Well, I mentioned that we had the Northwest College Women's Sports Association, so that was the coaching and administrative communication. Facilities and equipment were very different in those days. The idea of women having a practice gym of their own, such as was created two years ago here at OSU, was not even in the thinking machine. When we started out and moved to Gill Coliseum, the women had one locker room, and so the fall sports got it in the fall, the winter sports got it in the winter and the spring sports got it in the spring. We got a second locker room but it also happened to be the football practice visiting team locker room for them. So, whenever OSU hosted a home game, we had to move out of that locker room, take everything that we had out so that the visiting football team could use it.

We had a shower room where they—it was a big U. They hung a curtain to the wall between where the solid wall was. I probably don't have to tell you how ineffective that was, when the men were showering on one side and the women were showering on the other side. And with the curtain, you couldn't tell if anybody was there, although if you'd listen, you could hear the water. So, I had to go to the president and say "we need to build a permanent wall with a door in it that can be locked so when a bigger group of one sex or the other needs to shower, they could do so in privacy." They didn't put doors on the bathroom in the women's locker room. I had to again say "you know, maybe guys don't mind, but the women do. They would prefer a little bit of privacy." So, we got doors on the bathroom stalls in the bathrooms. Just the little things like that. Now, each team has its own locker room, and they're very nice locker rooms. When students from my era come back and get a tour, their eyes get really big and round and they say "oh, I'd like to start over."

A lot of them went on to become teachers and coaches, a lot of them didn't. Or they changed careers. But the loyalty of Oregon State alums is really fun to watch and I think a lot of it had to do with the smaller classes and the intimacy that we had with all of our students, not just our athletes. You know, but the women get the opportunity to—first time we used Gill Coliseum for a gymnastics meet, I had to con the wrestling coach into helping us carry the floor ex. mat down to Gill Coliseum, with the promise that they could then use it for their next wrestling tournament. And that was great, because Dale Thomas was very frugal and had to stretch his budget, and that allowed him to do some things and allowed us to have access to Gill Coliseum.

When we wanted to anchor the floor, the uneven bars to the floor, we had to do some midnight kinds of things and we had to be off—the basketball coach was afraid that if the ball hit one of those metal discs, it would rebound in a strange way and affect the outcome of a basketball game. So, even today the floor place for the uneven bars are off, just off the basketball court. So, there was some discourse, some dissent, and yet some incredibly helpful males and females as women's sports began to evolve and as they began to realize that this could be an asset to their students, to the university and to the alums.

JD: And I think for a lot of people the 1970s, and even the 1980s, are going to seem kind of so long ago. And you mentioned, I think it was the male athletic director, Jim Bennett?

SM: Jim Barrett.


JD: Barrett, excuse me, and kind of how his view of things morphed over time. So, you're there at the beginning, there's people who are saying "that damn Title IX," kind of how did you help move the conversation along so that people didn't just stay locked in that "we're digging our heels in," to get to that place where people could see the benefits?

SM: I found supportive people in Beaver Club, I tried to keep as open a communication channel as possible with my male counterparts. It wasn't always smooth sledding. We talked before this interview started a little bit about 1981 when a diverse group of sport women, who participated in a lot of different sports, is what I mean, actually filed a lawsuit with the pro bono service of a couple of attorneys out of Portland, and that resulted in the conciliation agreement, which set a timetable for the women to reach certain levels of equality in terms of funding, provision of uniforms, shoes, all of those kinds of things that had been provided to the male athletes but that the women were still purchasing on their own in the early eighties to mid-eighties. That made a huge impact.

A second impact was made when a lot of our administrators today had daughters who participated in competitive sports. They may have coached their daughters in competitive sports, so they got to learn about those kinds of things. That was something to talk about. Seeing that community people would come to watch women play, that made an impact. So, there were so many variables involved that you can't just pinpoint one thing. And I wasn't always really popular with some of my male counterparts, because I did have a tendency, if they wouldn't agree with or at least compromise with what I wanted to do, I had open egress to the president's office, and that allowed some direction to come from the top, as to how we might change. That has mellowed today. I find it really interesting that some of the people who would walk across the street when they saw me coming are now good friends and very communicative with me, and realized that it was the stress of the situation more than fixed beliefs that couldn't be changed.

JD: Well, and I think it's probably cliché to say change isn't ever easy, and these were pretty upending changes that people were asking for, that what women were asking for, and just, I think the asking, the fact that these women students went and hired lawyers and said "this is the only way that this is going to happen," that there kind of has to be a balance between legislation, lawsuits and connecting on a human level with people, explaining why this makes sense. And so, I'm assuming, were you in touch with these women as they were kind of formulating their plan, or how did that come about? What was the, kind of what was motivating, what were the straws that were breaking their backs, I guess?

SM: I had, well lack of locker rooms, practice facilities, funding for travel, meals on the road. I mean, when I took a team out, I'd say "okay, you get four dollars for dinner" or "you've got five dollars for breakfast and lunch, and if there's any change, I get it back, and if you go over, that's your problem." That didn't occur. I remember on my first NCAA Women's Basketball National Championship trip being absolutely astounded that we were each given a hundred dollars for food for the day. And generally there were some planned luncheons or dinners or something so that that money could really be stretched out and you got to take that home when you were all done. I'm not sure what the per diem is today, because we're talking what, a hundred bucks was, that was a lot of money twenty-five years ago, or even fifteen years ago, what with the way costs have gone up.


So, I had lunch, going back to the original question, several times with several of the young women, different women at different times, and they would ask me questions and we would talk about ways of trying to communicate what your requests are, what your needs are, what kind of timelines you would like to see established, how you feel about getting into the hierarchy of major and minor sports, because that's what's going to happen. Some sports will get better funding than other sports and some of you will have to continue to fundraise. And over the course of a year, I met with them with President MacVicar once; I met with their attorneys once, just to talk about where they were and what I was hearing, because I wasn't involved in athletics at that point. I was not even teaching, I was working as an administrator.

And the university came out with what they called the conciliation agreement that did in fact rank sports by category, set some goals in terms of participation. At that point, Oregon State had more men than women. That isn't the case today; there are more women than there are men, which is why they started a woman's track program before they began to bring back the men's track program, because track's a great sport. You get three sports out of it; you get outdoor cross-country, then you get indoor track and then you get spring track and field. So, you count those numbers three times, and that really helps balance things in a hurry.

But it's been exciting to watch the growth, to watch the current emphasis of our athletic director, Bob De Carolis, on lifetime kinds of experiences. The young athletes raise funds, but it's to travel to underprivileged countries in the summer and help with projects there to improve the quality of life. That's a really—it's called Beavers Without Borders. They have programs built-in to involve the students within the administration and in decision-making. They've really expanded the concept of making not just athletics the focus, but the whole broad spectrum of why you're here in the university and how you gain life skills through doing a lot of different things. I find that truly exciting, because that's a huge, huge change from what athletics was back in the seventies.

JD: And while we're talking about kind of this period of the early eighties, that was also the time when the men's and women's intercollegiate athletics were merged into one.

SM: Correct.

JD: And you were pretty involved in that process.

SM: I was involved with that.

JD: And that had taken a while as well. It was proposed several years earlier, but by the time it finally happened, maybe talk about that process and how that came about.

SM: We moved to Gill Coliseum in '82, I believe it was. We had one office downstairs that we had to house everybody in, then Air Force ROTC moved out of the upstairs and we were given that office and we didn't have any money to fix it up and it was in pretty poor shape, because it hadn't really been kept up well. So, my promotions director and I went down to a paint store and we said "how'd you like to donate some paint? We need to paint this room." And we started taking down partitions and so on, and then the next week after we got this all done, I went to Cliff Smith, who was our Vice President for Finance and Administration, said "I just thought I better let you know that I want to paint the ROTC," he said "that's fine, just don't take down any walls," and okay, it's better to ask for forgiveness now, because I've already done it. So, I said "we're a little late on that, Cliff. We took down all the partitions already and got some screens that can be moved and allow us to have flexible space up there." So, he just grinned and laughed.


But that was the start of it. Now, women's gymnastics is in what used to be the athletic director's facilities, women's basketball has a beautiful suite of offices, all of the sports have their own separate office space that will house their assistant coaches and give the gymnasts a chance to come up. They have locker rooms that have computers so they can work. They have, if they're having problems with a subject, they have access to tutorial services that are also available to the general student body, but there are some specifically targeted at athletics. Again, that's part of the trying to develop the whole broad spectrum of skills that one needs when you go out to work and have to interact with other people.

JD: And at one point, there were two athletic directors for each gender, and then that merged as well.

SM: When we merged the programs, I became the deputy athletic director, which was in essence supposed to be the number two person. In reality, nothing changed. Dee still did all of the men's athletic programs, I still did all of the women's athletic programs. In 1985 when Dee retired, I was named the acting athletic director, and as the first, and at this point, still the only woman to run the total programs. And we began to see some diversity then, and as males sometimes would do female sports and women would supervise male sports. That's very much the norm today. But it wasn't always well-received, and—

JD: Can you give an example or two of that?

SM: Well, after we hired a new athletic director, he came to me and said "you know, we have really similar skills, I think you should think about doing something else," and I said "I don't want to think about doing anything else." But after three months of sitting at my desk with nothing to do, I did go to the president and say "I am no good at sitting, I need something else that I can do" and went back to work in the president's office for a year and then moved down to the Stewart center to do conferences and special events and turn that into a fiscally sound venture. And that's, I did that the last ten years. So in essence, I had three careers at OSU: teaching faculty, university athletic administration and finally university administration.

JD: In your short stint as the interim athletic director, you did do some interesting work with the renovation of Parker Stadium, which is now Reser Stadium, talk about kind of how you got involved, and you were always seeming to take on new challenges, and that seemed like a rather unique one.

SM: I get bored easily. I like to look for new things to do. We were starting to look at the expansion of Parker Stadium at that point, and what they wanted to do was build additional facilities for the football program, as well as a space in which to entertain Beaver Club people and other important visitors. And so, in meeting with the Beaver Club, we came up with the concept, which I had to approve at that point, of adding Valley Center to what would be the north end of the football complex. And we commissioned a model and developed it, but by the time it started coming to fruition, I was gone.


JD: And you also, you mentioned that you were the first, and perhaps still the only?

SM: Mhmm.

JD: Just general athletic director for a whole university?

SM: No, not for—for this university.

JD: For this university.

SM: Yeah. There were, I was about maybe the third or fourth woman to hold that position. A couple had held it on a permanent basis but hadn't lasted. It's not common today, but there are probably twelve to fifteen of what they call Division 1 institutions with women's athletic directors. There was one at Stanford recently; there was one in Washington, Barbara Hedges, who was the women's A.D. at USC. One of the Yow sisters in North Carolina, I believe it is...

JD: And since that was still pretty much a rarity when you held that position, what were some of the reactions that you received, inside or outside of the university?

SM: Well, I'm not a good golfer. Part of it is a vision problem and the ball seems to move when I swing at it, but I went to golf tournaments. In the summer, they have these big caravans where athletic staff goes around with boosters and meets boosters in various other communities throughout the state and there's usually a dinner or something like that. So, I believe we were in Astoria and one of the gentlemen, whom I knew through Beaver Club, came up and said "boy, I've never kissed an athletic director before" as he leaned forward and gave me a big bus on the cheek. And I just kind of laughed it off because that wasn't something that was big enough to create a problem, but it still spoke to the difference that women were perceived to have.

JD: And what where athlete's reactions?

SM: Didn't have any problem with the athletes. And again, I think that's because they were younger, more amenable to change, had grown up with girls and women competing around them, and it was becoming more of an accepted reality. As long as it didn't affect their budgets and what they could do, well it was okay.

JD: But that was, and still remains, I believe, a point of friction.

SM: It's a valid concern, it really is. There's only so much money to go around. But maybe, in a way, that's a good thing, because if you had all the money in the world that you needed, you might get into some excesses. You might lose focus on, you know, "this is preparation for life, this is not life itself." Hard to tell.

JD: Well, and I have a sense as you're talking, even when there were limitations and there wasn't even any idea of equity between women's and men's sports, there seem to be a certain camaraderie between the athletes as well as the coaching staff, kind of "we're all in this together," or...

SM: I always said the training room was the best developer of equality, as the men and women were going through their rehabs and getting taped and seeing that each of them had the possibility of needing the same kind of care, because they were doing the same kind of thing. And they, you know, it's hard to be formal when you're sitting on a tape table having your shoulder strapped or your ankle taped or whatever, in your shorts and tank top or t-shirt. You get to talking. When you're sitting in the whirlpool or the ice bath, you're both doing the same kinds of things. And so, that broke down a lot of barriers.

When the training room became co-ed, that really helped. The women had had one trainer for nine sports. Now all of the sudden there was at least a student trainer with a head trainer overseeing them, and sometimes a fulltime trainer, certified trainer working with the programs. And they would talk among each other about best treatments for different kinds of things and how they were handling situations. All of these communication face-to-face kinds of things, I think made a huge difference. Now you see male athletes at women's games, you always saw women athletes at men's games, but now both are crossing the road.


JD: And you spoke earlier about attendance at women's athletic events, can you talk a little about sort of how that grew and changed over time, or perhaps a kind of a seminal event where you felt like we finally kind of made it over a hurdle?

SM: It happens when the public perceives that the competition level is good and that there is a chance to beat or be on a par with other institutions. The last time the women drew big crowds was in 1995 when they had basically an international team. They had Tanja Kostic and Anette Mollerstrom from Sweden. They had Boky and Tina Lelas from Romania and a local from Albany, actually from Brownsville, Dionne, made up their starting five. And they were a fabulous team. Boky could pass the ball, Tanja could post down and Anette could nail the threes. And Anjanette Dionne was just everywhere. She was a point guard that really knew what she was doing. Seven- to eight thousand people.

Program went downhill, crowds dropped off until Scott started bringing it back. And this year they were competitive again and the games were fun to watch and the skill levels were there. They passed the ball, they spaced themselves, they did the kinds of things that you expect in a quality kind of entertainment. And in essence, that's what they're doing, is entertaining a crowd while they're learning.

Gymnastics, early on, drew good crowds. And we really work at building that kind of image and having quality teams. From Mary Ayotte-Law, whose parents got her into gymnastics because they couldn't keep her from bouncing off the walls and they had to have something to contain that energy, to our current crop of outstanding young women. That program has always been ranked in the country's elite, since the late seventies on up, when they started having access to the kinds of opportunities that they really had to go out and earn.

JD: So, as you're speaking very knowledgably about basketball, I know that in addition to your multiple coaching stints, you were also an official in multiple sports. Talk a little about how you got involved with that and kind of how you learn to officiate all these disparate sports.

SM: Well, a part of our education at the University of Washington involved taking some officiating classes and then taking what was called the Division of Girl's and Women's Sports - which set officiating standards for girls and women in those days - tests, and I'm a good test-taker, I always have been, and so I would do very well on the written and on the practical. And I graduated from the University of Washington with national rankings in volleyball, basketball and softball. When I came to Oregon State, one of the things that you did as a traveling team was bring your own official. So, when I wasn't actively involved in something else, I would travel on weekends with the various sports teams. And by now I'd added gymnastics and track and field to my repertoire, so I had five different sports in which I could officiate. And then I added field hockey, although I never reached a national level on that, only a regional level, because it was set up by a different organization. And it took a period of time.


Anyway, that's one of the things I miss. If you knock the ball out of bounds, the player would indicate that to you. So, you didn't have to—if you hadn't seen it, you didn't have to either confer—there were only two officials in basketball, for example, not three, and in volleyball you had volunteer lines, people calling the lines, so you had to pay attention to that. It was just something you did. And the players were coached to be totally honest. Now what you see on the court is "who, me? I didn't do that. I'm innocent." I miss that part of it. But that's part of competition, too. You know, you hire somebody—and you did it for free, you officiated for free, there were no salaries.

One of the highlights was recently at a women's basketball game. A woman came over to me and she said "I'm sure you don't remember me, I wasn't a PE major and it's been fifty years, but I took your gymnastics officiating class and I officiated for twenty years all over northern California and southern Oregon and everybody told me how good I was, and I just wanted to thank you." And that really made me feel good, that this had been an experience that this woman had carried with her. And it also made me feel good that I was so recognizable from when I was in my twenties.

JD: So, I guess I hadn't realized that you also taught officiating, in addition to officiating yourself.

SM: Correct.

JD: And so, did you have a favorite sport that you liked to officiate, or were there just elements of all of them? Because it was really quite broad. Indoors, outdoors, team, individual?

SM: I always had a preference for team sports, even though I became noted as an individual sports kind of person, because those were the sports in which I excelled. In gymnastics, I do not have any sense of any kinesthetic awareness when I'm upside down. I'm great when I'm right-side up, but ask me to do a handstand and I don't know which way my feet are. That was a sport where the cliché "if you can't do it, coach it" really came to fruition. But I enjoyed officiating gymnastics. I probably liked basketball the most, because that was a sport that I really wish I could have done well in or had the opportunity to compete at these kinds of levels.

Softball, when I was in junior high, there was a club softball program I wanted to get involved with and my mom took one look at the women that were there and said "uh-uh, they're too rough and tough, you're not going to do that." So, I didn't do that. Later, I found some really—that there was some really nice softball programs, but it was past the point where I could develop the skills to play those. So, officiating it was fun.

JD: But field hockey you did play for a long time.

SM: I played for a long time and I officiated both at the university and club level.

JD: What position or positions did you play in field hockey?

SM: I was a center half and a wing half. It's a lot like soccer. Those positions have changed a bit today, but you have eleven players on the field, from a goalie up to your forward line, and I played defense as well as offense. That's why I liked the middle line, because I got to go both ends. That's probably why I still continue to do agility today with my dogs, because I get to do physical exercise, I get to run with my dogs and I drive my instructor crazy, because if a dog, my dog breaks a stay, I just go ahead and let him run. And I am told, on more than one occasion, at every competition that my instructors have, "you can't do that, he'll keep breaking the stay," and I said "yeah, but I want to have fun, too."

JD: Why not?

SM: So, physical activity has always been an important part of my life, and sharing that passion with other people and having other people get the opportunity to really do what they want and excel at what they want, or just do it recreationally, if that's what they want, is important to me.

JD: Mhmm. [Coughs] excuse me. Just one sec. Perhaps sort of a tangential part of your history is that you also did a lot of judging.

SM: In gymnastics, uh-huh.

JD: Mhmm. And how do you become, I guess certified, or what's the process and perhaps some of the meets that you would be a judge at? I believe you did that nationally?


SM: I judged the, what was it called now? The Emerald Cup in Eugene, which was a national competition qualifying women to the national championships. I did that a couple of times. I was fortunate in that I knew Dick and Linda Mulvihill at the—they had come out from the Midwest to establish what was called the National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics in Eugene and had developed some really fine international, as well as national, competitors in their gym. Dick passed away a couple years ago. His kids are running the program. Linda serves as an advisor now for them. But I judged, like I said, it was standard procedure for schools to bring their officials. I couldn't judge, obviously, if Oregon State was involved, so I had to go, because I was coaching then, I had to go to other schools for that.

But I like evaluating things, I think that's part of the teacher in me, and that's what officiating really is, is looking at skills and assessing whether they're being done right or wrong, and that's true for every sport. I probably did more in gymnastics because more people knew me through my coaching in that sport. But you know, I just liked to be involved in sports in a variety of ways, whether it was my own participation, whether it was from the sidelines, whether it was trying to steer a direction in which something was going to go, those are things that I enjoy, that were a passion when I was in my twenties and that are still a passion fifty years later.

JD: And it seems like you have to have a fairly large skill set and a fairly large tool box in order to move from sort of being an athlete, what you need in the classroom as a teacher, what you need as a coach, what you need as an official, and then as an administrator. Is that true, or do you have kind of a way that you approach all of those different aspects that have a common thread?

SM: You have to go back to when I was a child, and while my mother wanted me to be a lady, she got me chemistry sets, she bought me cap guns, bought me a BB gun which I proceeded to shoot at a target in front of our new bedroom chest, and it was a cardboard target, that wasn't good. But, if I expressed an interest, I was given the opportunity to follow that interest. That was a big part of what led me, and I think what led many women of my generation, to do the kinds of things that they did and to have that broad set of skills. Our education programs were based on diversity. They required us to take officiating classes, they required us to take skills classes, to take theory classes, to understand the history and the background of what was going on. My senior year at the University of Washington, I was part of an honors program that did research, which made my master's program a piece of cake, because I'd already been there and done that.

That kind of diversity and that broad spectrum of life skills that you developed leads to success, which is why I find it so uplifting that that's the way they're pursuing programs for both men and women in athletics today, as well as in a lot of the academic programs. They have outreach programs and internship programs and externships and all kinds of things that people get to do that prepare them for what they're going to face when they no longer have their nice inner sanctum of university life, or high school life, whichever it may be.


JD: You also talked just briefly about working at the LaSells Center, and you spent many years doing that. I wanted to give you an opportunity to kind of expand on what that experience was and the changes that occurred during your tenure there.

SM: The LaSells Stewart Center was originally supposed to be like the Hult Center in Eugene, except they built the Hult Center first, so then they decided they'd better modify because the mid-valley couldn't support two three-thousand seat auditoriums at that time. And so, they built a beautiful theater-type, orchestral kind of room that seated about twelve hundred people. They built some auxiliary rooms that could be used for meetings, and what they didn't do was have any catering facilities built into it, which was difficult. There's a small room in the back of the Stewart Center that has a refrigerator and some counter space for caterers who come in, but no way to do food prep or anything like that.

I went there in the late eighties and spent the last ten years that I was at OSU there. It was not making any money, and so my charge was to try to increase the revenue end of it. I was helped by the fact that an endowment had been set up for maintenance, so we were able to hook that into things. I got very involved with the Convention and Visitors Bureau. In fact, I chaired that for several years here in Corvallis. And we used that avenue to attract a lot more conventions groups and meeting groups and make OSU a target destination. The big thing we were missing was a close hotel, so I developed the original RFP for a university hotel at the site that the Hilton Garden Inn now is located. We had some appeals from motel owners on 9th street, so I had retired by the time it finally came to fruition, but that became an important component, because people want their speakers and their delegates to be able to be within walking distance, and that enabled that to happen. They wanted them to have access to restaurants; that's built into the Hilton Garden Inn.

During that time, I took on some university marketing on a miniscule budget, twenty-five thousand to start with. I think we got it up to fifty thousand. Now, I hate to even hazard a guess as to what we spend on marketing, but it's huge and they've realized that you got to give people information about what's going on. And when they hired the first fulltime marketer, I went back to doing just the conferences and special events for the university. I was involved with the founding group for Da Vinci Days here on campus, because at that time I was on the Chamber of Commerce Board and got that kind of community involvement going. And that, again, was part of what I was doing at the Stewart Center, was getting involved with community groups so they would bring their groups to campus, because not only did we have the Stewart Center, but there were a lot of other facilities on campus that we could access.

We changed the rule that you could only use university catering and allowed the use of outside catering. That helped greatly enhance our visibility and our attractiveness to people. University catering now is a sound organization, but back in the day, the food was geared at students, not at visitors, so that was something that had to change. We started charging faculty groups for use of the Stewart Center. That was a change that was not real popular with faculty for a while; till they got used to it and realized that everything has a price. You got to at least break even on providing facilities for faculty and make your money off outside groups coming to visit the campus.

We went after high school groups and we still host the national choir and orchestra and band festivals here at OSU. We host smaller school basketball tournaments, and that again, the research shows us over and over that if you can get a high school student on your campus, they're very likely to come back as a student. So, those are things that I worked on during the last third of my career. First third is as a faculty member, second third is as athletic administrator and final third as a university administrator.


JD: So, you've been talking about some of the community groups that you were a part of, and certainly with any university there is a relationship between the school and the town. Maybe go back a little to what that relationship was like, or your early impressions of Corvallis and how that had changed by the time you retired?

SM: Well, Corvallis was pretty small when I first came. I had a difficult time finding an apartment. Housing was tight, as it was here recently, but with the expansion of student housing it's, I think, about to be overbuilt. I had several places that told me they wouldn't rent to a student, and when I insisted I was a faculty member, they said "you're still too young." When I first came to OSU, I'd turned twenty-three about a week after I got here, so I was pretty young. And I'd tell people that I was only twelve so that I don't seem as old as I am now. Anyway, it had very much a small-town atmosphere. It was very enjoyable. Ninth street ended way before it ends now. Timberhill didn't exist; this was very rural, not even part of the city when I bought this place.

But it's grown and the university has grown. And unfortunately, they didn't anticipate some of the problems that having more students and limited lack of space on the campus, because you're boundaried by those physical parameters, to house students. They did, in the sixties and seventies when Robert MacVicar was here, one of the things he did was buy-up a lot of property around the university, and they've been able to use that to some extent, but I don't think we've been in the property-buying mode for quite some time now.

Today, Corvallis is still a small town but it has some big town problems with parking and students living very close to neighborhoods, and that creates noise problems because students are wont to have parties.

JD: Exuberant.

SM: Yes. So, I've seen a lot of changes, and yet in some ways it's very similar; same kind of stores, a few more national markets, but Corvallis isn't an easy place for anybody to build, because of the very strict land use planning process. It's a process-oriented town. It always has been, but it seems more distinct in that category even now, because it wants to maintain its atmosphere, and yet it wants to have all of the perks that—for shopping and those kinds of things for the people who live here. That's made it a pretty exclusive little enclave, and if you try to go out 99 or Highway 34 between seven-thirty and nine o'clock or late afternoon, traffic jams, because people can't find places to live or can't afford to live in this town. So, hopefully we're going to work to change that.

JD: We've talked quite a bit about Title IX and women in athletics, but I know in 2012 there was, it was the fortieth anniversary of Title IX. There was an event that occurred, and maybe you can talk about that event a bit specifically and then perhaps sort of the changes that you've seen.

SM: That event was put together by the athletic department, spearheaded by Marianne Vydra, who is the Senior Women's Administrator at OSU, and brought back athletes from the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, and in those days women didn't get letters. They didn't start earning letters until the eighties, mid-eighties. They didn't get letterman's jackets, they didn't get bars on their letters, because they didn't get letters, and they awarded letters to these women who had competed for OSU, who had represented us at national championships after earning their money to get there. And it had a tremendous impact on these young women, some of them not so young anymore. It meant a lot to them, and so the effort continues. That was actually the second one that we had done. There are three of us who were around here in the sixties and seventies that serve on the steering committee for that. And there's another one planned in a couple of years.


Women are hard to find, because they get married and they don't notify the Alumni Association or the Registrar's Office that they have a different name. So, tracking down some of these women has been a real challenge. And it's an effort that's still being pursued and something that I will never get a hundred percent but maybe we can get up to fifty percent and let them know that this opportunity is here and we'd love to have them back on campus and love to have them see what is available now. Not to turn them green with envy, but to be proud of the pioneering role that they played and the impact that they had when they struggled, to help the women of today.

JD: And since you've seen a lot of that arc of change of what women's athletics was before it was very competitive to what it is today, you've kind of alluded a few times that there's a lot of change and maybe some is great and maybe some of it you're a little uncertain about. Maybe just talk a bit more specifically about where you see women's athletics and the changes that have occurred.

SM: One of the things that does concern me a lot is the year-round specialization in a specific sport and the demand that that takes on bodies and the injuries that they may not know about now but will have in fifteen or twenty years, because they pushed themselves and they regard themselves as indestructible. When you're eighteen, nineteen, twenty, you can do anything. When you're forty, you begin to realize "boy, my knees hurt. My back hurts." And those, one of the things research has shown us is that participation in more than one type of activity really helps develop all of the muscle groups, gives you the kinds of cross training that will help you get through each sport, not just the one sport.

I think our last three-sport female athlete here was Shannon Miller, who was the daughter of Ralph Miller and played volleyball, basketball and tennis for OSU. Great athlete. And through her I got to know her father, who has always seemed like this tough old curmudgeon sitting on the sidelines, but who really had a heart of gold when you got through the crust. And Ralph was very helpful. In fact, when I was hiring a basketball coach in the early eighties, a woman named Hatsue Aki Hill, Aki disappeared. I lost her for two hours. I couldn't figure out, you know, she had another—I'd said "take a walk by yourself around the campus, be back here." Well, she wasn't back there. Finally found her in Ralph's office, and they'd been sitting for three hours talking basketball, and it just was one of those interesting intersections where, again, you were bridging the gap between the men and the women.

I'm hoping that the emphasis on life skills, the cross-training, the other kinds of things they are doing with certified athletic trainers now, helps prevent some of the problems that I see the kids in the eighties and nineties had, or will have. I can remember a coach letting a gymnast go back out on the floor even though he knew her back was bad, because she wanted it. Well, sometimes you've got to be an adult and say "I'm sorry." Those are the kinds of things that worry me the most. I don't want people to become so specialized that they forget the broad picture and then forget that athletics is only one part of life, that there are lots of other things to do and that being as broad-based as you possibly can, whether it's doing a multitude of sports or in the offseason, at least getting some other kind of activity. Those are important things for you when you are going to be twenty, thirty, forty years older.


JD: And you were talking about earlier women athletes, receiving some recognition at these Title IX banquets and how important that was, and you've received a few awards yourself, a Woman of Achievement Award from the OSU Women's Center as well as a Beaver Award; talk a little about your reaction to acknowledgement of many years of effort.

SM: Obviously, it's always great to be appreciated and to be recognized for what you have tried to do with your life. That's really all they mean. They're important as symbols marking what I hope was progress, for both the university and for women in sports. I think I got the Beaver Award—we started what they call a concours d'elegance, which is a classic car show designed to raise money for women's scholarships back in the eighties. And those are the kinds of outreach events that I think led to an award such as the Beaver Award, because I was espousing the university to a broader community, as well as having devoted most of my adult life to working at this university.

So, those are nice but what's important is the people and what they think and what impact you may have had on their lives and they have had on your life, and that's really what the long-term goal is. Sometimes you lose sight of that, but that's what motivates me in looking back, and in looking forward. I'm not ready to quit making differences.

JD: Well, I was going to say, since your retirement, you haven't exactly sat still. And maybe you can talk just a little about some of the things you have been doing since you were regularly on campus.

SM: For a while there, I thought my life had pretty much gone to the dogs. I was raising dogs, I was president of the Heartland Humane Society board, I was president of the local kennel club, I was showing dogs. I've kind of broadened back out again and gotten things a little bit more back in perspective. I still do a lot of agility with dogs, and I still contribute to animal organizations. I think that's important. I've lost several dogs to cancer, and that's an organization that I really—canine cancer research. Now I'm trying to get involved in some other things. Well, I've also been involved with a certain organization called Zonta International, our local Corvallis chapter that works on issues affecting the status of women and children and trying to enable people, not just locally, but nationally and worldwide, to have some major improvements in their lives. That's a broader perspective.

The past couple of years I've been involved in trying to sell my property and find a new place to move to. I think I've pretty much done both of those, at least within the next couple months, but I bought the new house, now I got to sell the old one and move on from there. I've got some great friends from throughout the years, as well as new friends, and that keeps me going and I get involved in things that they are doing and causes that they support. So, it's all about keeping busy. And in retirement, it's about choosing what you do, not necessarily having to do what has to be done. So, that's the fun part.

JD: Well, and I know that you are still quite connected to OSU as a season ticket holder for some sports, so maybe we'll end on just talking about sort of your ongoing connection with OSU. And we've been looking back, but perhaps if you would look to what you see as the future for OSU?

SM: I see OSU continuing to grow, to make its programs even stronger, not just in athletics, but in the academics and graduate level. We already have internationally known programs in a variety of fields that I think are important. We have access to some of the best oceanographers in the world with the Pacific ocean right here and our research facilities on the coast. We have wonderful engineering programs. I love the fact that some of our athletes, I think there were three or four women basketball players who are engineering majors, and that speaks to two points; one, that women are beginning to move forward in fields that are nontraditional for career choices, and two, that there's a balance of academics and athletics, which I think is an important concept to have.

I will always be involved with OSU. They paid me for thirty-three years, but more than that, they gave me a purpose, they recognized that I could do some things and allowed me to do them. That's always important. They may know you can do something but they may not give you the chance. So, I don't intend ever to move from Corvallis. And if you live in Corvallis, OSU is part of your life, and even more part of your life if you work there for a long time, or even a short time.

JD: Well, these have been wonderful recollections, and on behalf of the project, I thank you for taking the time to share them.

SM: Well, I thank you for the opportunity to do so.

JD: You bet.



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