The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Larry Roper Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Janice Dilg.

November 7, 2014


“Intervening the Isms at OSU”  November 7, 2014  Location: Valley Library, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Roper discusses his upbringing in Akron, Ohio, his earliest exposure to higher education, and his decision to pursue a career path as a university administrator.

From there he recounts his arrival at Oregon State University, his initial impressions of the region, and the state of OSU during an era of severe budget cuts. Roper then describes his initial activities as both an administrator and a teaching professor, the progression of his leadership style, his contributions to the OSU "Campus Compact," his heavy involvement with national professional organizations, and the innovations that have been deployed by Student Affairs during his years as Vice Provost.

Roper's memories of OSU presidents with whom he has worked are of particular note: during the session he reflects in detail on his contacts with John Byrne, Paul Risser, Tim White and Ed Ray. He likewise shares his thoughts on the continuing importance of the land grant mission at Oregon State.

The next segment of the interview focuses, in depth, on Roper's perspectives on diversity issues at OSU. In this, he notes the role that he has played in mediating hurtful situations; speaks in particular of his involvement with the "I, Too, Am OSU" campaign; discusses his personal experiences as one of the university's first African American upper administrators; and details changes that he has observed within Corvallis during his years in Oregon.

As the session nears its end, Roper shares a few of his more light-hearted memories, including his involvement with a university-wide "Dancing with the Stars" competition. The interview concludes with reflections on his decision to retire from the Vice Provost's office and the gratitude that he feels towards his colleagues at OSU.