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Dick Clinton Oral History Interview

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Dick Clinton Oral History Interview


In the interview, Dick Clinton recounts the rich and adventurous story that is his life as a student, researcher, educator, and administrator. Clinton begins with the story of his boyhood, highlighting the early influences in his life which played a part in him becoming a Latin Americanist. Next, Clinton relives his years at Vanderbilt University, both as an undergraduate and post-graduate student. Clinton details how his experiences shaped him coming into adulthood, and the many ‘accidents’ that contributed to his success throughout his career.

Clinton then describes his time spent at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as both a Ph.D. candidate, as well as his transition into the professional world. From there, Clinton explains his transition to Oregon State University, first as a Latin Americanist, then Assistant Dean for Research and Faculty Development, before ultimately serving as the international relations specialist in the Political Science department for the following 30+ years.

In discussing the OSU years, Clinton provides the listener with a firsthand perspective of the growth of the university and, specifically, the Liberal Arts. He concludes with his take on the current standing of the university, and his fondness for OSU and Corvallis as a whole.

Born in Tennessee and raised in Florida, Richard Lee Clinton had varied interests throughout his childhood, but his introduction to Spanish in the 9th grade served as a catalyst that would later fuel his passion in Latin America studies. Studying at Vanderbilt University, Clinton excelled in the Spanish program, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish in 1960. During his time at Vanderbilt, Clinton also joined the Marine Corps Reserve, serving from 1958-1964.

Once graduated from Vanderbilt, Clinton spent time abroad before returning to the university’s Double Degree Master’s Program, which he completed in 1964, focusing on Latin American Studies and History. From there, Clinton came into contact with a First National City Bank of New York associate and became a loan officer in the company’s overseas division, spending time in both Lima and La Paz during his four-year stint as a banker from 1964-1968. Clinton eventually found his way back on campus, this time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Ph.D. candidate. After completing his doctorate in Political Science, Clinton transitioned into a dual position with the university, working as a researcher at the Carolina Population Center and as professor in the Political Science department.

After five years at Chapel Hill, Clinton found new employment as the Latin Americanist at Oregon State University. Clinton filled this position for two years, until the school’s previous Latin Americanist returned to Oregon State. Due to Clinton’s strong research and grant writing skills, College of Liberal Arts Dean Gordon Gilkey created the position of Assistant Dean for Research and Faculty Development, slotting Clinton into this new role. Clinton later transitioned from the administrative ranks in favor of a faculty position within Political Science as the department’s international relations specialist, which remained his identity at the University for the next 30 years. A celebrated educator, researcher, and author of nearly fifty publications, Clinton retired from OSU in 2006.

Note: The published version of the transcript that appears below may diverge from the interview video due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Special Collections and Archives Research Center, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.


Dick Clinton


History of Oregon State University Oral Histories and Sound Recordings (OH 03)


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries


June 6, 2019


Chris Petersen


Born Digital Video




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Chris Petersen


Dick Clinton


Fairbanks Hall, Oregon State University

Original Format

Born Digital Video



OHMS Object

Interview Format


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