The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Clara Pratt Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Janice Dilg.

August 4, 2015


“Bridging Eras and Disciplines at a Changing University”  August 4, 2015  Location: Pratt residence, Bend, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Pratt discusses her upbringing as an adopted child, the development of her interest in gerontology, the roots of her association with OSU, and the leadership role that the state of Oregon assumed in the 1970s by developing long-term care programs for its elderly citizens. She then details the growth of the Gerontology program at OSU during her years as its director, including the program's collaboration with other campus units to develop coursework, its efforts to engender interest in gerontology among the undergraduate population, the constant push to find new sources of funding, and colleagues who were important to the forward development of the program. Pratt also reflects on the approaches that she has taken to teaching over time.

From there, Pratt shares her memories of her tenure as OSU's last Dean of Home Economics. She describes the funding crisis that led to the merger of Home Economics with the College of Education, and the difficult series of decisions that she had to make in addressing the college's chronic budget woes. She likewise details the unwinding of the merged College of Home Economics and Education, the creation of a new College of Health and Human Sciences, and the many players with whom she worked in propelling these significant institutional changes.

Pratt next discusses the health problems that led to her departure from OSU and the difficulties that she has encountered since leaving full-time work. She likewise shares her perspective on the characteristics of an effective administrator, the current state of OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and her memories of the last graduating class in Home Economics at OSU.

As the session nears its conclusion, Pratt discusses her involvement in the early conversations surrounding the branch campus that would ultimately become OSU-Cascades. The interview ends with an overview of Pratt's participation in the Healthy Start program and Pratt's expression of gratitude for her career experiences at OSU.