CHRIS PETERSEN: Ok, today is June 10th 2019, we are with Sam Stern, who is theemeritus Dean of Education at OSU and a former faculty member. And we will talk to him about his experience at OSU and his broader life as well - we're here at his home in Corvallis. I'd like to begin by asking you about your early years and where you were born.
SAM STERN: Sure. Well happy to do this talk with you today. Thanks for comingover. I was born in Detroit, Michigan, on December 25th of 1950. So seems like a suitable birthday for a nice Jewish boy like me. I was born at Women's Hospital. And Detroit is where I spent the first decade of my life, pretty much in the city, so yeah.
CP: And how did your family come into being in Detroit?
SS: So, my parents each, my dad and my mom - I brought their photographs overhere, these are photographs I keep in my study - my dad and my mom were each the first to be born in this country in their families. And so in the case of my dad, his parents, my grandparents, emigrated from Eastern Europe, in what would have been Poland in the 1920s. And they really came recognizing that the situation was going to be difficult for Jewish people in that part of the world. And when they came, my father was born in America - all of his siblings had been born in Poland. My mother's experience was similar, although her family had come from Russia, and so my background is Eastern European - Russian and Polish. But the borders changed, but it's that general region.
My dad's family immigrated to New York - New York City, Staten Island - andright after high school he went into the war where he was a mechanic. And when he came out of the war, the production was so big in Detroit that he wanted to try it again working as a tool and die maker hence this photograph from that era. He's probably 30 years old in that picture. He turned out to be precision machinist before he started to go to night school - more about that. My mom's family immigrated to Canada because at the time, there was a period where Jews were not permitted into the major ports in America. But they came into Canada and then crossed the border so, reminiscent of the movement of people over different times and immigration controls. So her family was in Detroit, my dad was working in Detroit, that's where they met. My father, with the GI Bill, started going to night school the year I was born, and he didn't stop until he got his PhD. So he ended up taking a position at the University of Illinois. So when I was 10, we moved from Detroit, literally in the city - we were poor - but our life changed. My dad became a professor at some place that's a lot like OSU, except bigger. And I mostly grew up there. So growing up - universities - they were what I knew. So not much of a surprise that that's what I ended up doing.
CP: What did your dad teach?
SS: Education. So I truly followed in his footsteps. When I was uncertain whatto do - and I was quite uncertain. I simply went into the area he went into, which was technical education, teaching people about technology. In his case, he had worked in the field. In my case, I went through it more academically. So when I came to OSU I taught in what would have been known as industrial education, or vocational and technical education - the very same field my dad was in. CP: Let's back up a bit. I'm interested to know about Detroit and growing up there.
SS: Yeah. So yes I lived in the city, and, you know, I was a happy kid. I have ahandful of memories. We lived close to my mom's family. We were very involved in the Jewish community there because it was just part of the family activity. When we moved away we became less involved. So I went to Hebrew school after school. You know, where I went to school there weren't so many Jewish kids so I had that sense of being different but never felt that I suffered anything for that. And one memory that sticks out that I mention is that I always remember being with my dad in a car, and we passed this one spot in the winter where all of these men - they were men - were standing outside. And I said, "Why are they there?" And my dad said, "It's day labor, they're just standing out there, waiting to get picked up to work." And I said, "Well, why would they choose to do that?" You know, in my kids-mind I naively thought that you just decided what you wanted to do and you did it. And so, I extrapolated they must've decided the thing to do was to stand out there in the cold. And my dad was explaining to me that it's not quite that straightforward. And for some reason that story has stuck with me. I haven't been back to Detroit much. Circumstances have not brought me back. My mom's family-there were six girls that grew up-only one left now. My parents have both passed away. But they - everyone left, you know, everyone left. So there's not much there, yeah.
CP: Was this the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, or -
SS: Oh yeah.
CP: Ok, so you moved to -
SS: We moved to Urbana Champaign in 1961. I had not yet turned 11- I was born in'50. And my dad started teaching there. We lived just about smack bang in the middle of campus. We rented a home. So I had the experience of growing up, at least for the first year or two, right in the middle of campus. I wasn't quite 11. And my parents tell this story that I would march across the street - there was a fraternity across the street. My mom was a very talented athlete. She was a US champion of table tennis, she danced with Martha Graham, she was very athletic. And her being a high level table tennis player, I'm a pretty good ping pong player just from growing up in the house. I would go across the street and promptly beat all of the young men in fraternity at ping pong. I was like 11 right so, [laughs] you know, we lived right smack in the middle of campus. We moved just blocks away from campus, kind of like where I live now in relation to OSU. So I was really connected to campus. At one point, I was delivering newspapers to various campus buildings as a newspaper delivery person so I was connected to the campus at a really young age.
CP: What were your interests as a boy?
SS: I thought about that as I saw your questions and they've stuck with me. Youknow, I've always been interested in physical sports kind of stuff, making things, projects, music - these were things I like. My dad did a lot of travel. He got involved in international education, helping to develop technical education programs overseas, working in India in particular in the 60s. Eventually did a multi-year project - I spent time over there - we travelled extensively as he worked on projects. So I was really interested in international things, not surprising that as my career unfolded I sought opportunities to pursue international work.
CP: And I'm guessing school was a point of emphasis in the house?
SS: You know, it was. But I never felt pressured at all, and I wasn't a starstudent. I was a good student but it wasn't something that there was - it didn't feel like a push to me, or my sister, I think.
CP: Was college an expectation?
SS: You know, unspoken certainly. We all lived the experience of our parents, mymom and dad. My mom went on and did her masters and taught as well. And we were surrounded by students - graduate students would come to the house, so yeah, it certainly was, but not a push on what to study. As I mentioned I didn't have a firm idea and I just came back to my father's experience and thought, ok. I sometimes jokingly, when people ask me about it, I say, my parents did the heavy lifting - they did this, and it's a great story - and I just tread water. I started at the point they rose themselves up to and I just thought this is fine, yeah.
CP: So as an undergraduate you studied industrial education, and you did so atEastern Kentucky University -
CP: How did this happen?
SS: Yeah, it was a really unusual choice. As I said I was uncertain on where togo and what to do. And there were two people that were influential. So my dad I've already talked about - the other person I haven't mentioned. So this other person who was such a prominent mentor for me was our neighbor, two doors down. And he was, he and his wife, were my parents closest friends. He was the Dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois. He had been one of the very first Fulbright Scholars in Japan after World War II. He had three daughters and no sons. And I was in the neighborhood, we would visit, I would go camping with his family - our families were close. And he - and my dad - were just tremendous influences on me when I was a kid. He had been in the very same field, technical education. So there's lots of roots into becoming a Dean of Education - you could be a background in this type of education or that. So he and my dad both had similar backgrounds. They were so prominent in my life that I thought well there you go, that's what I'll do. And they both recommended this program because it was such a strong program in this area, and they at the time and they were right. I had - it was a very different experience for me, you know, it's about an hour's drive from Lexington so, it's a little bit rural. I student-taught in Lexington, in the time, a relatively newly integrated high school. But that's how I came about to go there. In this room that you walked through there's a piece of furniture that I built as part of the work I was doing while I was there. The furniture's still there so, yeah.
CP: So you decided to do this because you don't really have any other idea onwhat you're gonna do, and then you get into it and I gather it's captivating.
SS: Oh, it's captivating. You know, I don't mean to say I got into it simplybecause I didn't have any other idea. Nothing else was as prominent, and this attracted me. I liked creating things, I had worked in summers as a carpenter, builder. I liked teaching, I had taught tennis. So, you know, my mom was a high level table tennis player - I became a tennis player - I still play tennis, playing at noon today. And so as a kid, 13 or 14, for the park district, I was teaching tennis. I later in college worked teaching guitar. So music, sports were always part of - teaching was there. So teaching, creating things, came together with this field. Once I got into it, I liked it more. So yes, I was there kind of from '68 to '72 roughly, graduating I think in '72.
CP: And the industrial piece?
SS: So, you know, in those days that terminology meant - I mean you wouldrecognize it as what you might think of it as shop class. And so, in those days, the word industrial was used just to cover that field, as you know, it doesn't really conjure up the images of a shop class I suppose. But that's what that was.
CP: Tell me more about your student teaching experience.
SS: Yeah, I mean I remember many aspects of it. It was high school and it was anintegrated, relatively newly integrated - I think they had gone through some consolidation where a high school that was predominantly, or entirely, black, and a high school that was entirely white, where - those districts were consolidated, the students were coming together for the first time. And I was with them in a class that wasn't a class where you sit down in a chair with a book, you know they were up moving around, cutting things and making things, doing things. And I was in a student teaching position, so neither the teacher nor a student. I was all of 21 years old, or 22, so relatively close in age to the students themselves. It was a positive experience. I had a good teacher I worked with, students were great to be with. Again, it was another experience that reinforced the idea that I was doing something that I liked, and that I was equipped to do. So it gave me confidence that I could walk into a situation. And I needed that when I went out for the next steps, so yeah.
CP: And this being a newly integrated school was a non-issue?
SS: I'm sure there were issues but there weren't any that rose to the levelthat, you know, caused me to be aware of in a certain way - I just know that it was something that was in the background. As I was being placed I was told this, the teacher would tell me this. The kids meanwhile seemed fine. [laughs]
CP: So at this point what is your ambition? You've finished up your degree, andyou're moving onto what?
SS: So at this point I'm partnered. And my partner at the time is wanting to goto graduate school in Philadelphia at a school that fits her real well. And there's a program in Philadelphia Temple that looks like it would fit me real well. But I figure I'll teach and so she can go to school. And so I'm looking for a job and, that is to say teaching what you would recognize as shop or technology education as it became known at the time. And I'm able to get a job at this junior high school that is just on the edge of the city - just outside the city line, very blue collar neighborhood. It's a pretty good size for a junior high school, a thousand, more maybe, 1200. And a wonderful school, you know just dedicated teachers, really progressive and hardworking in principle, great place for me, I was really lucky. And so I started teaching and I taught both woodworking and I also taught electronics. And it just was a great situation. I was faculty sponsor, or advisor for two clubs: the amateur radio club in the morning - every morning an hour before school - and the juggling club in the afternoon. I taught kids how to juggle - thousands of kids how to juggle. And so this was a place where almost every teacher was engaged with the kids outside of the subject. So I've got a photograph here of what's called a QSL card, this is what you send when you make a contact. And you'll see this is me here. [gestures to photograph] and my very, very close friend who taught social studies. The two of us worked with the kids in the mornings, it was a great experience, a great school.
CP: Sounds like it was a fairly seamless transition then for you.
SS: You know, it took me months. It seems longer than it was looking for thejob. When you're looking for a job I'm sure there's anxiety, right. But once I got there, boy, I was happy. And there were challenges, but I felt so fortunate, and I was reluctant to leave. So I mean I went to graduate school at night, every year. But when the time came that I finished my doctorate I was not in a hurry to leave. It was a great place.
CP: I have great admiration for junior high school teachers. It seems likethey're working with kids that are going through perhaps the worst period of their life [laughs] year after year.
SS: Yeah, for some reason, you know, it really worked for me, and those werereally good years. My buddy Dave, who I sponsored the amateur radio club with, he stayed, spent his career there, and we've stayed in touch. In another version of my life, if I had stayed there it would have, I'm sure, been a happy career.
CP: And tell me about going to school at night, as I say, again following theball that your dad set, it sounds like.
SS: It is. You know, I didn't even think about starting. It just felt like whatI was supposed to do. This is when you weren't required to do a master's degree. You wanted to take some additional credits to keep up and to move up a little in the salary schedule, but there was no push. But I just felt that was what I was supposed to do. So I was taking several classes a term, and I would take public transportation - the Broad Street subway if you know Philadelphia. And I'd go down at night, and I come back on the subway. Took classes every week, wonderful faculty. When I was doing my masters I was conscious of I'm gonna go on and do my doctorate so I was, you know I was kind of designing the program so that it would work. I think I finished my masters in '76, and immediately started working on my doctorate.
CP: And did you decide to do the PhD just because it felt like the natural thingto do, or did you have a broader vision for what was going to come after that?
SS: No, as I was doing my graduate work I, probably even while I was doing mymasters I'm sure, had in mind the goal of teaching in a university so that was there, the whole time. And it was an EDD. So the distinction primarily is that the EDD enabled you to complete your residency by a combination of taking some time, full time, but it didn't have the full residency requirement of the PhD, which, because I was teaching and working, that was the route for me. I did the coursework, took the comps, worked on the dissertation, all the time teaching, except for taking some time off to accomplish that residency requirement. And I think I finished in '80 and began my job search but remained at the junior high school for probably one year as I was beginning to sort out job possibilities.
CP: What was your dissertation topic?
SS: So it related to a movement that had started in the 70s called CareerEducation. And it was a movement that was intended to help kids learn about careers. But it's very difficult for a new subject area to work its way into the high school, or the junior high school curriculum - its set. And so, math and science and English, the fine and the practical arts - art, music, shop, all that - these are traditional placeholders. Something new doesn't pop in there easily. So instead, career education was thought to be infused. The attempt was to get it to go in and be a part of everything - what are careers in science, what are careers in English, what are careers in history or social science - it's very difficult to do. So I did work to evaluate what were thought to be essential components of such an infused program. The Department of Education had identified fifty programs representing each state that were thought to be excellent, and so I did analysis of what was going on in those programs. So it was about career education and it involved a level of evaluation or assessment.
CP: So after having been so closely involved with hands-on shop style teaching,you're now moving in the direction of research a little bit. Did you feel drawn to that? Did that feel captivating to you because it's a very significant change?
SS: From the very beginning it felt very comfortable, and it was something Ienjoyed doing, and it worked really well for me, so you know.
CP: So you finished up your PhD in 1980 and you mentioned there was another yearthere where you're still -
SS: I think so, because I started at OSU in September of '81, and so my hunch isthat I taught that full year back at the junior high school.
CP: How did OSU happen?
SS: So, when I finished - during the time I was doing my doctorate, I wasengaged with the profession. I was going to the national conferences, I was giving some papers. And I learned about openings, and I began to interview. And it may have been the time, it may have been what was going on, but as it turned out, I had interviews and was offered four positions. OSU paid the least and had the heaviest teaching load, it's the one I took [laughs]. So, you know, it was the only land grant university - I had grown up around a land grant university, I identified with that mission. It had doctoral programs specifically in my field. It is in a beautiful, beautiful part of the country. When you put all of those things together, despite the fact that it paid the least and had the heaviest teaching load, it seemed like the place for me, and it turned out to be right.
CP: So what was the situation you came into? Now the School of Education hadmerged with Western Oregon State College at the time.
SS: Not yet.
CP: Or they were soon to do so?
SS: Yep, different person, different time. I came in at the end of the time, soif you were looking at eras or times. So I showed up in September of 1981, and I had no idea that I was arriving with a Dean and who was a lame duck, who had a vote of no confidence by her faculty - who had essentially been relieved of her position. And the faculties' morale was at a very, very low point. And so I arrived and went to the first faculty meeting which was held at Peavy Arboretum here. And I can remember to this day - you know I'm a generally happy, optimistic person. And of course, first day in the job, essentially, I'm happy there even more. And yet, as I walk to meet people, they are at a low point because they're not sure what the future's gonna bring. You know this Dean that has been there is leaving. She's quite unhappy with the faculty who've just told her they don't trust her as a leader. It's a remarkable situation, and they don't know who's gonna be our future leader. It's just hanging in the air. So it was on that very day when Forrest Gathercoal, who was a senior faculty member just walked right up to me with a big smile and said, "I'm so happy to meet you, I've always wanted to work closely with a person in your field. I've had in mind that there should be some writing about law and ethics as it relates to technical education because technical education is closer to touching the world." And I said, "Wow, well let's do that". And we did. But his enthusiasm just stood out even more so because it was against this backdrop of people being unhappy and their morality at a low point. That Dean remained only for less than a year, and our new Dean was Bob Barr, who came in from Indiana, and he is the one who worked with the then chancellor of the state system to bring about the merger of Western Oregon and OSU. Combined as a merged unit, it became the largest preparer of teachers in America for that period, so that was just after I arrived.
CP: How was that received?
SS: You know, this happened - there are some stages to the cycle of a personbeing Dean. And early in that period there's some push for things to happen that are associated with whatever thoughts or things that the Dean may want to advance, and so this occurred in that time period. As it turns out there were several things that Bob Barr as Dean was advancing but this was one of the very early ones. So, you know, my sense is that among the faculty there's this hope that these ideas will grab on and be truly effective, and do good things. So there was a good feeling of trying to make this be as good as possible - really hard to do - mergers and - across institutions, among universities and colleges appears to rarely work, I mean nationally. It just is a difficult thing. The nature of a culture - it just permeates everything. So every now and again, you know, in our history there's been a lot of conversations: should PSU combine with OHSU, should this combine with this, should Eastern become part of OSU. Each of these ideas has got lots of challenges associated within and we had those challenges. I mean I remember the committee service where we'd work together to make choices - but our framework for making those choices was so influenced by our campus culture that we were approaching it with different views. Those are good people, I mean really good people, but they're seeing these things differently because of where they came from. A lot of challenges, you know.
CP: On a practical level, how was it organized? Was it OSU responsible forpieces of the curriculum, Western others, or?
SS: No. So, there was a strong attempt to have us work together, rather thanseparate, to basically tune the business of teacher preparation. Teacher preparation is something for which there is external accountability. So the programs themselves are approved by a state entity called the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission, and so the unit is a unit. So they couldn't' say that OSU is responsible for this and this, and Western is this. We became a single unit. So we had to have a truly together approach to how we did that, because that's how we were accountable.
CP: And students were driving back and forth between Corvallis and Monmouth?
SS: That was tried to be minimized, so they'd be doing a program at one or theother. Same thing is true by the way for the program at Cascades and at Corvallis for teacher education or counselor education. So when you look at these and how they are approved there has to be some integrity to the curricula to the points of assessment across these two, because they're approved as a single program. The students aren't going back and forth, but still the program has got some commonality.
CP: Tell me more about Forrest Gathercoal, an important colleague of yours.
SS: Again, you know I mentioned early that I had these strong mentors in myfather and our neighbors, name is Rupert Evans who was the Dean of the College of Education at Illinois, living just a few doors from me. Little would I know that later I would do that same type of work here. So when I landed at Oregon State University, here I had incredible mentors yet again, two in particular, you know, Forrest Gathercoal and Warren Suzuki, and I'll say more about him later. So Forrest Gathercoal became a mentor. We met when I arrived, literally. He said to me on that first day, the basis of the idea for this project he'd always wanted to do. And he said to me, "I've described this to every other person in technical education; nobody has been interested." I practically fell over myself with interest. I was like, can you imagine being a brand new faculty member and somebody wants to write with you, I was like "Ok!" [laughs] So he was quite the character. I don't know if you've come across him in any of your other work but he had been a teacher of music. His family was deeply involved in music. Two doors from here is the Corvallis arts center - its right here - it was started by his mother, Marion Gathercoal. And his father, Paul Gathercoal, was a builder who built most of the homes that are in the area of the Linus Pauling, formerly the Linus Pauling Middle School here, by Garfield. So they were a prominent Corvallis family. He taught music and something happened - I'm never quite sure what - he and I talked about it. But that caused him to want to better understand the legal issues of students and teachers so he went to law school. And so he specialized in schools, and he taught the courses related to school law that are taken by future administrators or teachers. So we worked together, and it turned out to be my first book. But we did it in the form of - essentially each chapter we had written as an article. So we did a series, a journal published a series of our articles. We then turned them into a book, it was a very happy collaboration, and we were very close friends, yeah.
CP: So this was obviously a major point of emphasis for you in terms of yourresearch early on. But there were some other things that you were doing as well that flowed more directly from your earlier background from what I can gather, some writing and building technology and computer skills, vocational education, and also vocational education in rural areas. And that latter bit, I think, is your first connection to Linn-Benton Educational Service District. You had a relationship with them over time, it sounds like?
SS: Yeah. You know, the early part of my career, what I knew - having grown upin the business, been around my dad, around the universities - what I knew was that to be a full-fledged member of the community I needed to write, and to share the results of what I was doing and that that's part of what you did as a faculty member, it wasn't only teaching. Teaching I loved. It was wonderful. And so I hit the ground doing those things, and some of it was very opportunistic. When an opportunity presented itself that was intriguing I just pursued it. If something else would've presented itself I probably would have pursued that, so when Forrest Gathercoal said "Do you wanna write about the issues of law and ethics as it relates to your field?", it's not like I had done work on that before, but it was an opportunity. And of course, I understood I'm supposed to write, I'm supposed to share the results. Here's an opportunity. Much of the work you're describing now, is like that.
And so I came to OSU at the time when computers were just beginning to be used,and as a form of technology - here I am in the field looking at technology, well my goodness, that would be something to write about. So that opportunity presented itself and I just went there. It was particularly difficult for rural areas to offer strong programs. It was a problem. And part of what we did was to identify problems and try and help people think about them. So it was kind of an opportunity. It did establish a relationship with the educational service districts, you know. Oregon has a structure where we have a 199 school districts, just a huge number of school districts. And they are so rural, you know, right by Lakeview and Lake County, where I'm working now, the Adel school district last year had two students and five school board members, so that's more school board members than students. They're administered by the educational service district. They have the same-old teacher. There's no administrators so the ESD is particularly important to rural districts, and has a really interesting history. So yes, I did develop those relationships in that first part of my career, which was essentially six years or seven years. My work - I have to say was opportunistic. I look for opportunities and I did them. I mean everything is in a blur, you know, you're teaching heavy load. Sure it's an expectation that you write, but I had a bigger expectation of myself to do that because I knew that was what I was supposed to do.
CP: What was your own interest in computers at that point? Had they been acontinuing interest?
SS: Definitely emerging. So I always remember, you know, I came at the time whenfaculty were just getting the very first personal computers and it was like a prize possession. And so I was fortunate. Faculty at the time - that was something that happened but literally the year or so ago before it wasn't. And so I was fascinated and really enjoyed puzzling out how to do things. I mean, this was the very early word processor programs, were awfully crude by today's standards. I literally typed my own dissertation on a typewriter, and my computer analysis was done on punch cards. So I had been a graduate student in the earlier era. I started as faculty member in the beginning of the personal computer era.
CP: What was the adjustment like to the heavy teaching load? You're teachinguniversity students now as well?
SS: So, I had been a junior high school teacher, teaching all day. The teachingload at OSU was very heavy at the time, but the amount of time wasn't the difference. Cuz I basically would go to school early, you know, had my amateur radio club early and I would stay late. And so I worked a long day - contact time, a lot of contact - all of that time was contact with students. So when I came to OSU, the challenge was much more logistical, organizing myself with new content, new colleagues, new processes, new ways of doing things. The students were wonderful. They were my age or older. You know, our field was one where lots of people went and did work - like my dad did - then decided they want to teach, and they come back and they're experienced, they've worked as builders or technicians, and now they're going to be teachers. They're not your average student. They were amazing people, and just a joy to be around. In my first years, I taught exclusively undergraduate technical kind of coursework. Gradually I began working to more graduate work, more curricula, or educational history or what have you, but my early years were all technical. Gradually that shifted.
CP: So the book with Gathercoal came out in 1987, 'Legal Issues for IndustrialEducators', and that, I gather, is also the year you made your initial connection with Japan, is that correct?
SS: Yeah, I mean to be fair that connection was made when I was a kid and thismentor of mine lived two doors away. So he was a strong influence on me when I was growing up. He had been in Japan after World War II as a Fulbright professor. And had talked to me about Japan, taught me how to play the Japanese board game "Go." I became fascinated with Japan. Because I had grown up at the a university I understood what a sabbatical was. So I went to OSU knowing full well that the first opportunity I'd take sabbatical and I would go to Japan. I already had the plan. When I started at OSU, after my first year I promptly started taking at staff rates Japanese. I went through the entire sequence and would go register at Gill. These were the days when you went to the tables and registered. After a few years, the department chair -Sally Malueg was the department chair - she came to me and said, "Sam, these classes hardly have any students, you don't have to register and pay staff rates." That may have been $15 at the time. And I said, "Sally you don't understand, I need to have the motivation and the grade to push through these classes." So I was there with a bunch of 18 year olds or 19 year olds. I would've been 30-something, and so I began at OSU with the intent to leave on sabbatical and to go to Japan.
CP: And what was the opportunity that arose?
SS: So, in that case I created it, I suppose it's somewhat different from themore opportunistic research that I had been doing. Because I had started planning this thing - over a six year period - I didn't realize that the world was moving around me and Japan was ascending. In those days Japan was a little bit like China is seen today. Their economy was accelerating and had not yet reached a low point. So right exactly at the time that my sabbatical came, they were seen as this just truly ascending world economic power. The study that I imagined, again - this wasn't something that I created - was to try and understand their approach to technical education, technical training within companies, outside of schools. So this was a project that I envisioned. And I began working really hard to attract funding to support the research to my idea. So I had the idea, I needed to sell somebody else on the idea, and the cost of living in Tokyo in those days was very high relative to the cost of living in Corvallis as an assistant professor. And I was married and had a young son who was 4, 3-4. 4 when we went. So I was very fortunate, I got funding from the Tektronix Foundation, and I got funding from the Japan-US Friendship Commission which administered the war reparation fund in support of cultural and scientific affairs. And I had my modest sabbatical funding. So I went for a year. And even more fortunately than any of the support was the fact that my former neighbor, who had been there after the war, wrote on my behalf and arranged for me to be a guest faculty researcher at the best possible place for me to be. It's their equivalent to the MIT, Tokyo Institute of Technology. So, the top of the Japanese college system are the national universities. They have national universities, and the very best are Tokyo, Kyoto and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. So the very best students came go there.
By constitution, all national universities are required to have at least threemajors in Japan: engineering, science and education. Because those three are thought to be so important to the national interests that they should not be left only to the private. In Asia and Japan, 25% of the students attend publically supported institutions like the national. And 75% are in private, exactly the opposite of America where 75% of students attend publically supported institutions. So this question of what's important to the national interests is a really critical question. And of course I find it really interesting that education is on that list because education is never - in higher ED isn't always treated so well in America. So even this university, Tokyo Institute of Technology, that only prepares engineers and scientists, has a strong faculty of education. That's where I was placed. Best possible place for me to land, best by far. And I was placed in this group - a small group of faculty that was headed by an extraordinary researcher, just extraordinary. And Professor Sakamoto, who became yet another, you know, important mentor in my life, that's how I got there.
CP: Japan, even for somebody with some training on the language, I have toimagine there's an adjustment there. Had you ever been there before, and what was the adjustment like for you?
SS: So yes. I had never been there. You know, while I had been in differentparts of the world, visiting as a young person, I'd never been to Japan and yet it seems so odd to me now when I think about it, how had I spent all of these years planning to go do this and I'd never been there? So I remember so clearly just landing there with my wife and my son, David, and met by some of the students in the laboratory where I was to work. At one level, it's just incredibly different from my experience in Corvallis. Fast forward to today, and it's the place in the world outside of my home, where I feel most comfortable. It's really lucky, I was scrambling for financial support for the research, writing proposals everywhere, and since my proposal involved technology, the research- I had written a proposal to the American Electronics Association. So in Japan the electronics companies were just at the head of the world - the Sony's, the Panasonic's - at the time, they were the top. So the American Electronics Association, they were interested but they couldn't give any funding so they said to me, we can't financially support your research, but we have this NSF funded project for advanced language study for PhD students in electrical engineering who are in Japan doing internships in research labs, but there's hardly any of them there. So given the fact that you already have some language ability, we already have the funding, we could just slip you in there, and nobody would notice. They were in their 20s, I was in my 30s. I always remember the person who was head of the office in Tokyo, Yoshi Hongo, was very supportive of my work. So I ended up in advanced language training. And that pushed me over the edge to achieve a level of fluency that allowed me to interview people, have conversations and work in Japanese - not in the written language but in the spoken language.
And so with that language help, with the network that developed through thisfortunate placement at the university, we as a family started to become fully immersed. Our son, went to the local kindergarten, where he was the only non-Japanese, we became immersed in that community. Years later, when I would walk through that community, shopkeepers would yell out, "David kun no otousan [Japanese]" - "Oh look there goes David's father!" I was identified through him. [laughs] That was the first year, so that was '87-88, it was a one full year experience. And we came back, and I knew the work was excellent, you know. I had spent time actually embedded within companies and so I really had a good immersive experience. So it was a real positive experience.
We came back in '88, and shortly after coming back, I got contacted by theuniversity. And much to my surprise, what they had said was Japan as a country had not permitted the major companies to create endowed professorships in the country of Japan. They were creating them in America all over the place. I should say not allow them to create the endowed professorships at national universities because they were so sensitive to this separation between companies and the endeavors at the national universities. The law had changed, and the organization that represented all of the major companies, the Japan Management Association, had a close relationship with the Tokyo Institute of Technology. They wanted to create a Chair. Not only did they want to create an endowed chair, but they wanted it to be occupied by an American. Now their concept was, not a chair for life, but a chair for three years. They would do it three years, it would be named, and there would be research focus. And furthermore, they decided the suitable person should be me. They knew me. Certainly I was the safe choice, right? I spoke the language, people knew me, the university wanted me.
I remember thinking well this is not possible, I just got back. Our family, wewere about to have another baby. And the university, you know, how are they gonna let me go again? So I always remember my wife said, well sure, I mean that could work. And then I went and I talked to George Keller. George Keller at the time was the Vice-President for research and just real supportive of me even though my work was - I was doing it as an assistant professor then and by that time it was associate professor, tenured. You know, I talked about what this was, George said, "Sam, the limit for an unpaid leave is two years, but all you have to do is to apply for a two year leave and then while you're over there apply for an extension. Don't worry about it." [laughs] He said "it's too good of an opportunity to pass up." And he said, "You'll be doing tremendous research, and the university will benefit from that." And he said one more thing, and he said, "Sam whatever you do, don't let your retirement lapse, you're being funded through Japan, run enough money through OSU to cover at least half of your salary, and that way every year, you'll still have your appointment at OSU, your retirement will be intact." Well here I am today, retired, and thank you George! [laughs]
That's exactly how I remember. So I went back, I was there from January of 1990.And yes I did extend but I came back after two and a half years so I could resume being on faculty in the fall of '92, and also the work I was doing had reached a natural point of completion. So what that means is between '87 and '92 I lived in Japan for three and a half years out of a five year period.
CP: And the work in this second phase was on creativity?
SS: Yeah it was, yeah. So in a sense, they had the topic and it seemed like suchan unlikely area for me. I can remember, you know, saying to them "well this is pretty silly. There are experts in the world in this field, and I'm certainly not one of them." And they said, "Well, we know you and we know the work you do and you're the one we want to do this." They were so convinced that I said "well, if that's going to happen, then I need to bring myself up to speed." And they funded a project where essentially I took, I suppose it was half a year, and I went everywhere, basically bringing myself up to speed in the field of creativity. And I had worked within companies. I was exploring technical training, and education, which is connected to human resource and development very tightly in Japan, the whole field of developing talent. So they're thinking, well my goodness, creativity is part of talent and you worked in this area so just move over and work in this area. So the experience between my first experience in Japan - I was a visiting researcher with just whatever funding I could scrape up, I had a desk in the common kenkyushitsu [Japanese], where all the students, on either side of me were students, seniors in their undergraduate engineering program, or maybe they were master's degree students. We became very close, we're friends to this day. We see each other whenever I'm in Japan. They are now in their fifties, then they were in their twenties. But when I went back, everything was different - same senior professor who was my mentor. But now, I had a budget I couldn't ever spend. I mean, Japan was at the peak of its wealth, I had a secretary, I had research assistants, I could go anywhere in the world, I had the support of the association that represented every major company in Japan. So if I wanted to interview someone, all I had to do was say I want to talk with the President of Sony or whatever it was. I mean, it would happen. So my job was to dream up the study, because whatever I could dream up would be done. So that's what I did.
CP: So you came back and reestablished yourself as a faculty member at OSU?
SS: I did.
CP: But you also went to Greece at some point?
SS: Oh yeah, well there were a lot of opportunities. So the work in Japancreated a tremendous amount of information about creative activity in Japan that ranged from creative improvements to creative innovations. And so through interviews I had firsthand knowledge of things that occurred that were creative at all levels. And it took working with another collaborator to bring this to light through writing, which ultimately led to a book on what we called "corporate creativity." As a result of that writing, and eventually the book, lots of opportunities came. The book was well-received. It was translated into eleven languages. It just struck a chord at the time. And so those opportunities translated into whether it was giving talks, or teaching. I taught in Greece for seven springs. It's the perfect time to be there. My class was roughly three weeks, it was in an MBA program, these were mid-level managers, wonderful people. And they had a short course on creativity. It was during that time period I also taught at Harvard, in the Department of Economics at Harvard. They were interested in Japan, my world of thinking about what you might think of as human capital. Gary Becker won the Nobel prize for his work on human capital theory in '92, so this was all the rage in economics. Japan was all the rage. Henry Rosovsky, who was head of the department and provost, had done work in Japan. So each of these opportunities came up because I had been identified with this work. So during that period there were a lot of these. I did ones that worked out. But I was also reintegrating myself back into the faculty, in a unit that had undergone almost unbelievable change.
So we've been talking about my experience in Japan from 1987 to 1992. Wellduring that period there was a lot going on in my home unit, even though I wasn't home [laughs] - so I was gone. One quick story, I was in Tokyo living there in the period of 1990-92, and that's the period during which Ballot Measure 5, the property tax limitation, passed. And the effect of that property tax limitation was to pass financial responsibility directly to the state. So prior to that, roughly 10% of schools operating budgets came from the federal government - today it's about the same percentage. Of the remaining 90% prior to 1990 in Oregon, local taxes covered about 75%, the state 25%. Well that flipped because the local taxes revenue was capped. So that put pressure on everything else the state spent money on. And school expenditures became the lion share of what the state's paid for, which is the situation today. But in the transition, there was a lot pain in higher ed. And so at the time John Byrne was president, a wonderful president. And the provost, the first provost OSU ever had, was Graham Spanier. And Graham Spanier led the effort to try and think about how to make cuts. Unfortunately these cuts were made disproportionately to only a small number of units, journalism being one of them. This home is where Fred Zwahlen, the chair of the journalism department lived. So cuts were made heavily in education- education was cut essentially in half. So the fact that they went from roughly 50 to 25 - and this all happened while I wasn't here. So one day I'm in Tokyo and I'm going one place to another on the train system. And I see that there are some Americans who are puzzled about what to do. So I walk over and I say, you know, "Can I help you?" and they said, we're trying to get to so-and-so, and I said, well you want to take this train and that train and whatever, and they said, "Oh, so do you live here?" And I said, "Well no I actually live in a different part of Tokyo." And they said, "No, no we mean is this where you live?" Well I said, "No, I'm from Oregon but I've been living here", and they said, Well we're from Oregon too! Oh! We're from Portland." And I said, "Well, you know, I'm from Corvallis." They said, "Do you work at the university?" And I said, yeah, and they said, "Well our daughter goes there, well what unit do you work in?" And I said, "Oh, well, I'm in the College of Education." And they stopped and looked at each other as though - then they said, "Well we were afraid to tell you, but it closed, maybe you didn't know." [laughs] Of course it hadn't been closed, but the word that went out was that it essentially closed. So I could see these two people thinking, I wonder if anybody told him it closed. [laughs] It was during that time period that so much was happening for the unit, I came back and wanted to reintegrate myself and to see what I could do as part of that faculty of education. At the same time, my research work was still kind of exploding, with lots of things associated with it.
CP: This period of time brought about a different type of merger.
SS: It did. It did, and that merger happened right around the time that I cameback, and so I found myself in the midst of it. So education at OSU, as we've been talking about, had a hard time finding its footing. So the Dean who had been involved in helping to create this merged unit with Western - didn't work - it was destined not to work, it really was, so that came apart. And also that Dean's period of time began to come to a close. And unfortunately that came towards a close right when we were looking at this catastrophic budget situation. And so not only did the unit get cut in half, but it was pieced together with the College of Home Economics. And parts of the unit were sent out to other places, notably the department of science and math education which went over to the College of Science. So there's lots of, you know, disruption and movement right then. This happened in the bienniums, so 1992, '92-94, these budget cuts hit. And in total it resulted in shrinking the college by half. As a unit we merged and became the College of Home Economics and Education. The unit of education became a school within this combined home economics and education unit, so that's the situation I found myself in when I returned - when I resurfaced. CP: Not a happy situation.
SS: Again, you know, my memory was one - well there was lots of unhappiness butI was more along the lines of, here we are, what can we do to make this work? And I have new colleagues, they're wonderful people when you get to know them. I can remember marching over to the graduate school and volunteering to serve as a grad rep for departments in home economics. I figured I know how to get to know people - you work on committees with them. And so I was a committee rep for each of these areas and the faculty got to know me. And I got to know what their thinking was. I thought I'm just going to figure out who these people are because together we got to do stuff.
CP: Home Economics was doomed - it ceased to exist not that long after.
SS: They also were in that same situation. And this is the point at which TimWhite, in particular, is imagining a future where home economics and the units that are in there are better placed together with what had been thought of as health and physical education. Together they can move into a new world that looks much more at health - that was a vision. And as mergers go, it was as successful as one might be. The run up to that took some time. And there was this nagging question, the tail on the dog. The nagging question was, well if we do that, what in the world happens to education? [laughs] I was like, "Oh, that's a great idea...now wait a minute, isn't there something else in there?" [laughs] We weren't the first thing they worried about, and so Paul Risser was the president, and Tim White was provost. They set in the motion of an educational design group, and we were so very, very fortunate. We had this incredibly talented faculty member who I knew before he came here. He came out of this field of technical education, his name was George Copa. And just amazing talent - had been department chair at Minnesota. He'd come to OSU and joined our faculty - I actually chaired the search committee that hired him. And he headed up this design committee and engaged the larger community of people interested in education in Oregon. And really put together a plan for a new way of thinking about a future unit of education, tremendous work. I think the work he did was sufficiently compelling that they- the Dean, and the president, and the provost - set in the motion to the search for a Dean that would head this unit. And their vision was that it would be a school, as it was at the time, remain a school but headed by a Dean, so that Dean could be part of the leadership group that education would have a seat at the table. So this part of me that wanted to reintegrate myself into the faculty, return, be connected at OSU, help build education, was sufficient for me to seek that position, so that's what I did. So that's when I applied to be Dean, then actually became Dean and helped move us from a school back to a college, helped create a different approach, the education double degree for parent-teachers which sill thrives today, helped refurbish our building, Education Hall, and happily help bring science and math back into the college. And that's when I stepped down, in 2011/12.
CP: So let's put a pin in that, we'll return to that in a second. I have a fewspecific things I want to ask you about that precede that moment in time chronologically. And the first is a service appointment that you were on from '94-96, the President's Commission on Hate Crimes. This is a period of time where some pretty unpleasant things happened on the OSU campus. So I'm wondering if that was a specific reaction to that or if this was something else? Your memories of that service appointment?
SS: Yeah. So I very much wanted to be on that commission, and I wrote to Johndirectly. And yes, there were some very hateful things that were happening on campus. But there's something in particular that happened to me that triggered my recognizing that responsibility in myself. So I don't know how well known this is. But in the 80s - I wish I could pinpoint the date - so it was fairly early in my career. I'm quite certain it was before I went to Japan the first time. In those days, the communication with the outside world for a faculty member happened through mail and through these little phone messages that would be left for you. The email hadn't really taken off. And so I remember picking up my mail, and I opened up the card. And the card was a birthday card for Hitler, and it was sent to faculty who had Jewish-appearing names. I have no idea how many other faculty got them. It was not something that was publicized very much at the time. And I can remember how I felt at the time. And so it awoke in me that responsibility to be involved whenever there was a situation where someone was hateful to any person or group based on who they were, you know. That could be by race or religion or by sexual orientation, could be anything - but to be hateful based on your membership in a group. I felt that I had a personal responsibility then to help. So yes I probably was not somebody that was thought of to be on that commission, but I actively lobbied to get myself onto it. And yeah, that's how that happened.
CP: You mentioned the book that you wrote with Alan Robinson in passing but Ithink we need to talk about it in a bit of depth because this was a big deal, the book. 'Corporate Creativity: How Innovation and Improvement Actually Happens', you mentioned in passing that it was translated into eleven languages. It's a suggestion of impact. Tell me more about that project.
SS: It was a great project. And again, I was really fortunate, you know, mywriting has always been with collaborators that have been amazing. Both Forrest Gathercoal and Alan Robinson - perfect collaborators. You sometimes hear stories of collaborations that don't work so well. These were both amazing. So Forrest and I became lifelong friends. Alan and I are lifelong friends. We just exchanged emails the other day. We would often get asked, how did we meet each other? He's a professor of business who had been a doctorate in theoretical math. He used to joke with me and he used to say that in the world of business schools, he's thought of being on the edge of business because his training is mathematics. And he said "as I've come to know you Sam, I can't imagine that you're in the world of education, you must be on the edge or just past it." [laughs] So people would say to us how did the two of you ever meet? He's at the University of Massachusetts. I'm at Oregon State. And we would simply say, well we met in the middle - we met in Tokyo, which is kind of the middle the other way around. When I was in Tokyo, on the second time, I was talking with an executive at Toshiba. And he said to me, "There is someone here, an American that is asking a lot of the same questions you are. You should meet." He introduced me to Alan, took us out for lunch, and we knew immediately. We knew immediately.
We began working, we began hashing out the idea. He had been investigating theworld of improvements, and how unexpected improvements were quite creative. I had been investigating creativity more on what you might think of as the larger creative examples. The two of them together, made a very holistic view. We began conceptualizing a book, and expanded from Japan, to look at examples throughout the world, building on this large base that I had in Japan. We spent five years roughly. And when we got to the last year of writing, his wife, who's a professor of mathematics at Holyoke, she had a project where she could get herself here in the summer to work with the mathematics department. They moved their whole family to Corvallis - actually Philomath - so we could write non-stop. And so that's where we were pulled out finishing the book. Wonderful publisher, Berrett-Koehler, tremendous publisher, worked very closely with them. Book came out and did really well. We had a tremendous review in Business Week at the time, they had taken two books on creativity, and one of them they just lambasted as not very good. And they used ours as the example of the very good one. It was really, from our perspective, nice review. Quickly, it kind of spread around the world with translations, in that it came out in '97. The book with Forrest came out in '87, so it was 10 years later. And right away, in the first several years it was published in these other languages, and so the two of us were travelling and speaking or having invitations constantly. I purposely began to back away from it, and began to look at how to pull myself in to the college. Alan accelerated his consulting, and his engagement, maintained his teaching, and kind of followed that theme through. I stepped away from it, and I'm happy I did. It was a tremendous writing experience, and in particular working with Alan and working with the publisher were really positive experiences for me.
CP: Another one-off question, what do you remember about the earliestconversations about online learning at OSU?
SS: Oh, sure. Sure.
CP: It's such a big deal now.
SS: Yes, it is. So prior to what we call Ecampus, there was a unit that wasContinuing Education. So OSU's always been involved in bringing education to others away from campus. I was involved in satellite and video work that was done prior to the current - you know the person, Larry Pribyl, who just retired after forty years. He's the person who would hold some of that information. Ecampus was created, but it built on quite a history of OSU reaching out and trying to connect with learners elsewhere. So I was involved at every stage, from almost the time when I first came here, you know. I used to go out and teach in person. I began what we first did satellite, and then video work. Our community college leadership program - I came back from Japan in '92 and immediately into teaching the very first class in our off-campus community college leadership program in the fall of '92. So that program was a wildly innovative program. The doctoral program for community college presidents and leaders, held off campus, and I taught in it continuously as I reintegrated into... the idea of being. So the person who worked so hard to create that program was Chuck Carpenter, he had been hired by President MacVicar who was president when I first came. He had been hired specifically by president MacVicar to work with community college leaders and to help prepare them because Chuck, who had done his doctorate at the University of Texas in community college leadership himself had been a community college president. President MacVicar envisioned that OSU should have a close relationship with community colleges. But somebody who's risen to the level of a Dean or a vice-president at any community college can't pick up and go full-time to a college. The opportunity costs could be too huge. They enter the community college system with a master's degree, so Chuck's vision of a part-time doctoral program was out of step with the academy -it just couldn't happen. Ironically it's how I did my doctorate but - so I had quite an affinity for that idea, but it did get through. The idea got through, right when I was coming back, and so I worked, in that part of my career, teaching and advising in that program. That was a form of distance education. Eventually that moved to what's called hybrid: one-third face-to-face, two-thirds online. So through my career, I've always worked as an individual faculty member then as an administrator of course. Our programs had a fairly large part of the portfolio built on distance programs or now, Ecampus programs.
CP: 2002 you become Dean. So you went back for a while, the college, the school,whatever it is at this point.
SS: A school when I started so it was a School of Education headed by a Deanwhen I started as Dean.
CP: You've gone through a lot of ups and downs, and there's this report that'sbeen put together. Was that completed before you became Dean? It seems to me that this is a guiding document.
SS: It is. So the report, which was a report of the educational design group wasfinished - I'm sure it must have been finished in 2001, somewhere around there. But the results of that report required some action, and one of the actions was to start a search for a head of the unit. And it really was a guiding document, and it was helpful as we started. And also helpful was the advice of George Copa himself who had headed up that team, and had lobbied and encouraged me to think about becoming the Dean. So yes, I started in March, which is a kind of crazy time to start because as an administrator, spring is just nuts. You've got all of these things happening, you've got everything from personal evaluations of everybody, the culmination of the promotion and tenure process, the preparation for the end of year, and the budget closing. Spring is a tough time for an administrator, again that's exactly when I started. Well one of the first things I did after the spring got over is - I remember having this thought, been involved in education my whole life, and I always know there is something to learn. So I found a week long new Deans program, and I went to school on being a Dean. [laughs] I went to a new Deans seminar in the summer once I got through that first spring.
CP: And the report itself, what was the first thing that you started to dig intoin terms of these recommendations?
SS: You know, the recommendations were very general. And one of therecommendations that was important is that - the report argued almost the obvious, but it wasn't obvious to all - that for the preparation of teachers and education to survive, there'd have to be a different way of thinking of the structure of these units that had gotten away from the unit of education. So when I started, I was really conscious of three major issues, or three goals. One of them was trying to find a new way to think about how we prepare teachers that would be less expensive, that would bring the units together in the preparation of those teachers, and would result in OSU preparing more teachers and us being a stronger unit. So that's one goal, but it had all of these aspects, so that was one. The second one was, as a unit, we had been underneath the home economics and education, and have never developed a relationship with our alums and with donors, with the external world. And I wanted to energize the donor base. At the time - I'm sure it's not much different now - education alums are 15% of the total. Well, if you're running around with a couple hundred thousand alums that means there is a lot of education alums. That's a lot of people. A third goal was that - the faculty morale was heavily influenced by the fact that it looked they were walking into a prison every day. They had to go through this chain-link fence into this dark and dingy building. The conditions couldn't have been worse. Could there be something to improve our physical environment?
So, I tried to do something quickly in each of those three areas, so almostwithin the first six months, I set into motion this idea that I had, which came from Japan. So in Japan, at this engineering university where no one went to be a teacher. They were preparing a surprising number of teachers, because they had this program where somebody who was an engineer could take these additional courses and could graduate both an engineer and teacher. So in my head, I was well aware of the OSU's experience with international degree. They had created the footprint or the pathway for a double degree. So I said lets have an education double degree. This quickly [snaps fingers] imagined - it would be easier, all of a sudden I could attract all of these students. When you got to choose one thing, it's a small pool. When you get to choose more than one, it's a bigger pool. And my goal was bigger because the unit had to be bigger to survive. It took a while to get that. Creating a whole new approach to something at a university is not the easiest thing in the world. But we set that into motion quickly. On the environment, I had a former student back in the days when I taught technical work at OSU, from the early 80s, who had become the head electrician at OSU, wonderful guy. He worked in facilities. He was a favorite student of mine, and I had to call him and I said, "I've just got to do something with the building, it's so dark in here. Can you figure out a way to just make it brighter and cleaner, nicer-looking?" And he said, sure. So we had new lights. [laughs] And I remember faculty coming in and just kind of going, [acts shocked] just looking around. It was easy to do and didn't cost any money. But that eventually led to the refurbishment of the building and some success in fundraising leading up all the way to multi-million dollar gift, the refurbishment of the building. And then finally, we were able to bring science and math back in, which strengthened the unit even more so. So each one of these different themes got started in the first six months or a year. Just as I mentioned, for a Dean, there's a little window when you can get some things moving before too many people get unhappy with you, so you want to get those things moving quickly.
CP: Did College Student Services Administration come to pass during your time orwas that already in existence?
SS: Oh it had been in existence since the 60s, it started when Joanne Trow wasDean of Students and then the vice-president for student affairs. In the position before Larry Roper. Larry Roper came after her, and so the program had started - when I began the program actually was housed temporarily in the Graduate School - they had been in education, so lots of things moved around. I actually was advocating for it to come back to the college, it did come back to the college, and became a part of the suite of programs that worked with higher ed, one of them was this community college leadership program. So faculty who worked with college student services administration at the time also worked with community college and vice versa. So yes, that was one of our programs virtually during the entire time I was Dean. They actually didn't leave the college until after I was Dean. And then are now with Liberal Arts, but I'm not current on their current situation.
CP: And the School of education became a College of Education again in 2005.
SS: Yes. And I started that in motion pretty quickly but it took a while, and Iworked with our provost, Sabah Randhawa at the time. And it's a Category I style of change, to give the unit reorganization. And so we moved back to a college. So that, in a sense, went all the way back to the situation before our merge of the College of Home Economics with Education, we finally returned to the 1980s' position we were in. We had been a college at one point, so yes.
CP: What was the import of that?
SS: Well, for me in particular I was really interested in us having - so, as aschool, because we were headed by a Dean, we were represented at the table with other Deans, from a budget standpoint, we were permitted to maintain some fund balance, which colleges are able to do. So the biggest difference was really in our interaction with the external groups, where to be a college among other colleges assisted us in our interaction with external groups. To be a school with other colleges affected our relationships both internally and externally. So I wanted very much for us to be at the same level.
CP: I want to make sure we give the Education Hall renovation its due, becausethis is an important thing. This is a crown jewel building and it's in a very prominent location and it was wrapped in a chain-link fence for quite a long time, and now it's not. Now it is completely different, on the inside especially, and a real source of pride, I have to believe, for you and for the college.
SS: Yeah it is. When I started, Education Hall as it was named, was number oneon the list of buildings to be demolished. So that was the plan, they just didn't have enough money to demolish it. [laughs] The temporary solution was the chain-link fence, which cost $300,000, and it was there for 20 years. Temporarily, it was only going to be for a few years.
CP: And this is because the building would fall apart in an earthquake, is that correct?
SS: So the limestone - the building is basalt on the first floor. It was builtin 1902. And by the way, Bernard Daly, who was the subject of my retirement research, was secretary of the Oregon Agricultural Board of Regents, and recorded the minutes of the dedication of the building of Education Hall. So I felt like I was circling myself as I was reading the minutes. So the building was built in 1902, and the upper three floors are limestone, it was the last limestone removed from a quarry here in the mid-valley. And it was not high quality limestone. And it was also, as I was told, oriented on the building incorrectly, so the water could permeate through the sheets of the limestone and cause it to degrade. So because of that, it didn't have seismic integrity. And there was a study done that showed that in a worst case event it could collapse. So having that knowledge required the university to do something - collapse going outward. So the something to be done was to create a netting out of the fencing so that it would stay within that fencing and not causing any harm as it fell.
That was the situation when I started as Dean, my first step putting in betterlighting. They wouldn't do any maintenance, that's why. So because it was scheduled to be demolished, they stopped maintaining it, so it was just getting worse [laughs]. It was a pretty sad situation. So I began to talk about the 100th year anniversary. So there's a moment that Ed Ray always remembers. When I retired Ed Ray told this story. So Ed Ray came and he met with the Deans. It was the first meeting that he had with the Deans, and he's talking and he's saying these things. Then I raised my hand and I said, "Ed I don't know if you realize but we already have a building at OSU that's named after you." And he looks at me and he says, "What are you talking about?" And I said, "Ed Hall, it's the building that needs a lot of attention." [laughs]
Yeah so, I was persistent and we had a dedication or some kind of a celebrationof the 100-year anniversary. It was in my first year. So it was in the fall - I think I have a photograph of the dedication - the chancellor of the state system, I cannot remember his name - he's English, he was English. His mother was visiting, and he said to me that everywhere he brought his mother, she saw all of these beautiful facilities, and she kept saying to him, "I can't understand why you're saying you need money everything I've seen looks gorgeous." So he decided to take her to this celebration because our building was so decrepit. So he showed up there with his mother! There were like thirty people, Paul Risser was away, and so his wife Les was at this celebration, talking with this chancellor - oh I forget his name. Anyway, so he went back to Salem, convinced that the single building in the system that needed the most attention was Ed Hall. So the building moved number one on the list, to number one on the list to be rebuilt. Today, when OSU wants to get money from the state for bonding, they look at their priorities. So, you know, it's really important that we have the - arts and education complex right now is our highest priority, and they raised half of the money and then they went to the state. Back then, the chancellor said, "Your highest priority should be Ed Hall," and, of course, OSU is saying, "Well, we're not sure that's our highest priority," - I'm imagining that's what they said. And they said "and besides, we haven't raised any private money." And they all go "this is what you want to do." So we got bonding authority for roughly $14 million of bonds.
And of course I'm really excited until Mark McCambridge tells me, "Sam, all ofthat money is for the exterior and seismic upgrade. So the inside will look exactly the same way it looks now." And Mark McCambridge had a wonderful way of being blunter than blunt, a really great guy - sweet, blunt. So, I thought well I just need to raise some money and figure out how much, you know, we need to redo the inside. The worst thing that could happen was to redo the outside and have the faculty walking in to the existing inside. So OSU was just beginning a capital campaign, and we had hired a new head of the foundation. I started this before the new one, but Mike Goodwin had come from Georgetown and several other people. I talked to them and they said, you know, "we can't make this one of the priorities. You could work at this but it's not one of the priorities." I get it, it's clear and understandable. So I started working on it. And little by little, $100,000 gift here, $200,000 gift here, and started to add up - once again I'm talking to Mark McCambridge and I don't know how much I've raised. Mark says, "Well that's great Sam, you could probably paint one or two of those rooms that would remain exactly the same," [laughs] pointing out the gap between where I was, and the roughly $5 million I needed to get to. And Mark's saying to me, by the way Sam, we have to spend that money, we gotta start, those bonds, they gotta go. Well, to Mark's credit, behind the scenes, he was working on my behalf with Ed to delay the start to give me a chance. So, meanwhile, he's telling me, no way we're going to extend, but actually he's doing everything he can. And I'm starting to have more success in the fundraising.
There was one beautiful story, this moment, I had worked with architects whodonated their time to doing a design pro-bono. We didn't have any money. And Fletcher, Farr and Ayotte, FFA. And we told them, what we want is to maintain the historic exterior and have a modern inside. We want those two things. And they created a vision with an atrium in the middle. Well if you create an atrium, that's a lot of money. And I really loved the idea. Plus I figured if we blew open the inside, there is no way they can leave it the same. [laughs]
So one day, I get this letter in the mailbox. And it's from not an alum but thehusband of an alum. He writes and he says, "My wife passed away. I want to make a small gift in honor of her memory. I don't know what but just something." So I called him and I said, "You live in Salem, so why don't we have lunch?" I mean I didn't know if it was going to be $50 or $500, but I was trying to meet with everybody and talk to everybody. So we met for lunch with my foundation person who worked with me, wonderful guy. We didn't have a full-time person. We weren't big enough, but this guy was great. In the course of the conversation, you know, we narrowed down and he said, maybe $50,000 or as much as $100,000. So, with my foundation person, I said - well you know what, I told him the biggest priority was the building - I said, "Let's work up some ideas that are some things that we might name in honor of your wife. And we'll show them to you and you can pick one that seems to fit. And we'll meet again, in a couple of weeks." And so, Tom says, the foundation person, "probably just right for a conference room or something." I said, "Look I really need the atrium." And he said, "Well, what would that cost?" So I talked to the architects, $500,000. Tom says, "Well, you can't show him that, that's way beyond what he talked about." I said, "What difference does it make? I'm sure he'd say no." So even we had three ideas, three kind of pictures. Conference room - the other one, maybe it was a classroom - conference room, classroom and the atrium. He didn't talk about the conference room or the classroom, all he wanted was the atrium. That's what happened. He said, my wife just loved light, she often brings light into the house, so the atrium is perfect. Tom's over there, rolling his eyes. So then, I went to facilities because they had already been moving ahead with the design based on leaving the interior as is. And I said, "Oh by the way, we have to do an atrium. We just got a half million." And that just kind of turned the tide.
The whole time I had been working with Joyce Furman, whose husband was a CEO ofa major company in Oregon. And Joyce was real supportive and I got to know her husband. But they had given a couple hundred thousand. But their capacity was very large. She was our alum, he had not gone to OSU. She passed away from cancer sadly. And Bill and I still saw each other, and I would stop when I was in Portland. Ultimately that resulted in, I guess, in total giving to the building maybe $3,000,000. And ultimately that got us to the total amount. But nobody ever thought it was going to happen. And it was never a plan to happen. If the chancellor hadn't been there with his mother, any one of those points, that building could have been demolished. And a square - they already had a vision of a box building, cheaper to put up a new building so it was almost gone.
CP: And you mentioned math and science education coming back in. That is,towards the end of your run as Dean. That sounds like that was a -
SS: That was a key. I wanted that very much, very very much. So if you back upto the 1992 period when we were being taken apart, and there was no money. The Dean of Science, Fred Horne, at the time said that he would support science and math ed. So they made a home for it. And it became a small department within the College of Science. And very successful - very good faculty and wonderful. And being apart from the college, they created their own way of doing things, as you might imagine. And over the years, because I have this goal in mind, I worked with the Dean, Sherm Bloomer. And I worked with the faculty, and just trying to think about how that could happen. And it did. Now, it was not just as I was leaving - it was a couple of years before, and it's part of that, the department head of science and math ed joined me as the Associate Dean for the college. That's Larry Flick. He ultimately became the dean after me. Now they're searching for another dean, so I'm a good two deans removed. So happily, I can stroll through campus and almost no one knows who I am. [laughs] I can go over to Dixon every day. So I'm in campus at Dixon or the library most days. So yes, I really felt that, the building, and science and math ed coming back, I could stop and feel that some things had happened. If you talk to my wife Beth, she would tell you that when I started, I imagined I'd only do it for a few years, which was true. I imagined I would try and get in there and do some things. And get back to what was a pretty active research life. But it turned out to be a decade, almost - much more than I expected.
CP: I have a few concluding questions that we'll get to here in a second. Butyou mentioned Warren Suzuki earlier and you wanted to talk about him.
SS: Oh thank you. Thanks for cycling back. I wouldn't want to do this withouttalking about Warren. I've been fortunate my whole career and it's because of other people. And Warren is very, very prominent among them. Warren Suzuki was my father's graduate student. And his doctoral advisor was Rupert Evans, who lived two doors away from us. He left the University of Illinois and went on faculty at Ohio State, and then came to Oregon State, in the 70s. When I came to Oregon State, I didn't realize he was here. He had babysat me. [laughs] So can you imagine - we're talking the same faculty -- it was like, eight faculty, he's one of them. We've seen the faculty members. And he's somebody who's known me since I was a kid. And just an outstanding mind and presence, beautiful person. So we were not only really close in our friendship, but to have him - I'd write an article and he'd read it and offer comments and help - a true mentor. So his wife, who I also knew when I was a kid, had suffered a horrible disease, similar to Parkinson's, which affected her physically and her ability to communicate. And so when he retired, he was a full-time caregiver. They moved to Hawaii. I visited them there when I was visiting donors - we had several donors in Hawaii. And then he developed a brain tumor. They both passed away. But such an important mentor to me.
CP: The Bernard Daly project.
SS: Yeah. This is what I work with every day now. And it's something I've beeninterested in for 40 years, since the very beginning of my time at OSU, but took a while for me to get to. I arrived at OSU -- really the first person I met on the faculty was Forrest Gathercoal. But shortly afterwards, I met somebody who was on the faculty, named Dan Dunham. He had been the very first associate commissioner for education in the Carter administration when the department of education was formed in the cabinet level. And his field was vocational and technical education - he was the associate commissioner for vocational and technical education. He had grown up in Lakeview, Oregon. And when we met each other in maybe '82 or whatever, he told me the story about how he grew up in this remote ranching town and there was this unusual scholarship started in 1922 that allowed most of the kids to go to college, and that he, Dan, my friend, had gotten the scholarship. And in the back of my mind, it just stuck there -- this idea. And then later when I was a Dean, we profiled these three young women who all got the scholarship and all went to OSU, and all went on to remarkable careers. And I started thinking about it. A hundred years' experience at helping kids go to college - it's like a natural experiment. What an amazing thing to study - I should study that. But I was busy. [laughs] You know, I was working as dean, everything was happening.
And when I became dean, when I negotiated my contract, I didn't negotiatesalary. One of the things I negotiated - actually I'm gonna tell you two of the three. So one of the things I negotiated was an exit sabbatical. I said, "I want to stay on faculty, due for sabbatical. I want to go on sabbatical, not funded by the unit. Fund this out of somewhere else so it doesn't penalize the unit. I wanna come back to faculty, but I need a year to get away so the new Dean gets settled and nobody knows where I am." Easy thing to say yes to. Tim White was provost. So the other thing is really funny. I was well connected at the University of Illinois and other universities because of my background there. And the Dean of Education there was somebody I knew well at the time. She's an African American woman, very successful Dean at Illinois. When she left being Dean, at age late-50, she enrolled in law school -- very unusual woman. I called her, and I said "I'm about to talk to the provost about becoming Dean and I probably can ask for some things. What should I ask for?" She said the neatest thing - she said "Sam, you tell the provost that you don't have any experience and you don't know much. And that to do this job, you need to have a standing lunch meeting with him for the first year once a month. And he will say yes so quickly, may not even think about what it means." She said, "It's hard to get one-on-one time with a provost and you'll have it every month for a year. And the benefit of that is worth more than anything, I shouldn't have to explain." So shortly after, I'm in that meeting. And I said, "These are the things I want." And it was like three things. One of them was this - we're gonna meet for lunch once a month. Well, he said yes so quickly, I hardly got it out of my mouth. And so true to his word. You know, you'd finish one of these meetings and all the deans are trying to get a sentence in, talking with the provost. And I really didn't care -- I had a whole hour out for and a half him, right. [laughs] So once a month, we had these lunches. And it was all because of her - I wouldn't have thought of that.
But I had that sabbatical and I had two projects. One was the Daly project whichwas here in Lakeview that I was beginning to work on. I had been back and forth to Lakeview and learned about some of the history of this unique guy. In a short sketch, he and his family escaped the aftermath from the Potato Famine in 1864, he was five years old. They immigrated to Selma, Alabama, because the Port of Mobile was one of the last ones blockaded. And if you were poor and Irish, you could not come in from New York and Boston because they had created their own immigration laws before the country began to create them. In 1882, when the country created the first national immigration restrictive laws, they found the state laws unconstitutional, that this would be a matter of for the country. So if you were poor and Irish, the only way to get in was through the South. And so that's where they went. Somehow he found his way to Ohio, or somehow he went to college at Ohio Northern, then medical school at University of Louisville. Found his way to Oregon where he became a doctor, state representatives, state senator, member of the OSU, then OAC Board of Regents. And astonishingly became very wealthy. He died having never married in 1920 when an estate worth about $1,000,000 dollars that he left almost entirely for fund - for the youth of Lake County to go to college. It's America's oldest continuously operating place-based scholarship. And a tremendous area to study to learn something about how we might think about funding higher ed today.
So when I retired, I began to delve more into it. I also wanted to get far awayfrom OSU so the new Dean would get settled in. So I went back to Japan and went to Paris. That was four months in Tokyo at the same university I've always been at. And I was four months at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. And I had to work on a more official project than the Daly Fund. So I worked on a project of the continuing education of licensed professionals: teachers, doctors, and lawyers, really interesting work. So that got me going on the Daly project. I returned on faculty and taught, worked with some doctoral students, had in the background began working on this project about Bernard Daly. And so today, in retirement, it's a writing project for me. And my goal is to have a book out in time for the 100 year anniversary of the awarding of the scholarship which was 1922. So 2022 is my deadline. These are great retirement activity for me and I take a little time every day to work on it.
CP: You've mentioned a few times, in this interview, your wife Beth. That isBeth Rietveld, who is a consequential person of the history of this university.
SS: Absolutely. So I always tell people, she is the talented administrator inthe family. So together, we have 70 years of experience of the university - it's kind of 35 and 35. [laughs] So that's right. And her career, as you may know, was involved in student services through first, Dixon Recreation Center, and then Women's Center for so many years. And her involvement in advancing the causes associated with women's issues throughout the campus and larger community. She retired when I went on that sabbatical. In her position, sabbatical wasn't available and so for us to go overseas, she was able to retire. We moved overseas and worked. And she's now, in retirement, very active in quilting and mosaic work. As you look around here, every quilt you've seen is a quilt which is made for or the mosaics. They're mosaics that she's made. So she's very involved in arts. But yes, we share that common history of the university.
CP: My last question for you. This is on the future of OSU. Where do you see OSUas being positioned right now, as it looks towards the future?
SS: You know, I have a tremendous affection and love for OSU. It's a tremendousplace. And it's not to say that we don't have challenges and issues. But it's just a great place - a lot of wonderful people. I'm very optimistic about the future for OSU. And even with a lot of things that are happening, we've been experimenting with structures. We've been experimenting a lot with the unit that's called E-campus, the distance delivery. You know, there are a lot of good signs. Maybe experiment isn't the right word, but we've done work to increase our engagement with students from throughout the world. We went through a period - we used to have 10 or 11 percent of our students from other countries, and then it dipped tremendously below 5%. And it was when Sabah Randhawa was our provost and we became engaged with this organization, INTO, to approach a different way to interact with students. These are all good signs. And I think they're gonna prepare us well for the future. We've been unusual in that we've had long-serving Presidents and Deans. We kinda have a culture of people in administration, sure, and other people come and go in shorter periods. But I remember, I went over to see Tim White when was President at Idaho, and he was looking at the education unit. I met with there deans, if there were 10 Deans, 7 of them are interims. I mean, we've never been in a situation like that. And so there's some good signs. And I think we're well situated. I think there's gonna be a lot of change ahead in higher ed. I think this next generation, next decade or two, there will be big changes. Right now, we're seeing a tremendous decline in the demographic of high school graduates. It's like a wave coming - you could see it. People are having less children - that started a while ago. High school graduating classes are smaller. And that's changing the dynamic of students that are coming from high school in the US, in Oregon and nationally. So we have it more locally and we have it countrywide.
At the same time, the funding picture in increasing reliability on tuition can'tsustain the large scale tuition increases which we experienced through the 2000s. That's gonna change. We're in the midst of that change now. There will be greater and more different accountability of institutions of higher ed as the federal government begins to connect the money that they spend on the loans to the institutions - that's assumed state take those loans for. That's our future - all of those things. But I'm optimistic about how OSU is positioned.
CP: Terrific. Thank you very much for this.
SS: Yeah. Thank you.
CP: It's been wonderful. I really appreciate it.
SS: Pleasure to talk with you.