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Sam Stern Oral History Interview

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Sam Stern Oral History Interview


In this interview, former OSU professor and Dean of the College of Education, Sam Stern, provides a brief historical overview of his family heritage, tracing his roots back to Poland and Russia. He then moves on to his childhood in both Detroit and Urbana-Champaign, and the experiences he had growing up so closely involved with a university. In this, Stern pays homage to the individuals who had the most profound impact on him growing up, and notes how they influenced his decision to follow in his father’s footsteps in studying Technical Education at Eastern Kentucky University.

The interview then transitions into adulthood, and Stern sheds light on his undergraduate experience, the student teaching that ensued, and ultimately his first job after graduation as a
middle school teacher in Philadelphia. Stern likewise reflects on the graduate courses he took at the time, and how they eventually opened the door for him as a professor at Oregon State University.

As the interview shifts to OSU, Stern provides insight into the state of the School of Education, the relationships he created, and his role within his department. His relationship with Forrest Gathercoal emphasized in particular, as the two collaborated to publish Stern’s first book. He then moves on to his first sabbatical in Japan at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the successes he had there, and how the experience led to a second stint as an endowed chair lasting three years. Stern adds that the time he spent in Japan opened many doors, and goes on to describe other experiences he had teaching at Harvard and at an MBA program in Greece.

From there, Stern again returned to OSU, this time as the Dean of Education. He reflects on his approach to being Dean and the difficulties that come with the position, and sheds light on many of his projects, most notably the renovation of Education Hall. After he retired from the position of Dean, Stern remained closely involved in the university, and he describes what this entailed, noting also his current research project on the Bernard Daly Fund. He concludes the interview by praising his wife – Beth Rietveld – as a fellow administrator and educator, and by sharing his thoughts on the direction of the university moving forward.

Sam Stern (b. 1950), came to Oregon State University in 1981 and served as Dean of Education from 2002-2011. In addition to his administrative work, Stern spent many years conducting research in Japan while still a member of the OSU faculty. His book, “Corporate Creativity: How Innovation and Improvement Actually Happen, co-authored with Alan Robinson, has been translated into ten languages. He retired from OSU in 2016.


Sam Stern


History of Oregon State University Oral History Collection (OH 03)


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries.


June 10, 2019


Chris Petersen


Born Digital Video




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Chris Petersen


Sam Stern


Stern residence, Corvallis, Oregon

Original Format

Born Digital Video



OHMS Object

Interview Format


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