The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Tony Van Vliet Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Janice Dilg.

November 14, 2013


Antone Cornelius Van Vliet was born in 1930 in San Francisco, California. Attracted by the idea of playing basketball for Coach Slats Gill, Van Vliet enrolled at Oregon State College in 1948. Though basketball did not work out, Van Vliet enjoyed a successful academic career as an undergraduate, majoring in Forestry and completing his bachelor's degree in 1952. Following Army service during the Korean War, Van Vliet returned to Corvallis to accept a teaching position in the Forestry Department. He remained an employee of his alma mater for thirty-five years, completing a master's degree in Forest Products in 1958 and taking a sabbatical to earn a Ph. D. in Wood Industry Management from Michigan State University in 1970. During his time at OSU, Van Vliet received two teaching awards, the university's Mosser Award and the College of Forestry's Aufderheide Award.

From 1963-1971, Van Vliet also served as the OSU Extension Service's first Forest Products Specialist. In 1971 he began his affiliation with the university's Career Planning and Placement Center and in 1978 he assumed the directorship of the center, remaining in that position until his retirement from OSU in 1990.

In tandem with his OSU career, Van Vliet also spent twenty years in the Oregon legislature. A moderate Republican, Van Vliet was elected to represent Oregon House District 16 in 1974 and was subsequently re-elected nine more times until retiring from the legislature in 1995. A tax policy specialist and a noted supporter of education, Van Vliet served on the Joint Ways and Means Committee from the 1979 session through the 1993 session, co-chairing the committee in 1991. He also served on the Emergency Board (1977 through 1991 sessions); the Governor's Public Lands Advisory Committee (1979 through 1993 sessions); and the Joint Data Processing Committee (1977 through 1991 sessions).

Following his retirement from OSU and from elected office, Van Vliet remained active in community affairs. A former chairman of the board of Oregon Public Broadcasting, Van Vliet has also served on the Oregon Board of Higher Education and on the state's Environmental Quality Commission. Van Vliet was likewise a member of the Corvallis Riverfront Commission, a group who successfully advocated for the reinvigoration of the city's downtown riverfront district through passage of a bond measure to beautify the area and improve access to neighboring local businesses.