Chris Petersen: Okay, today is June 6, 2019. We are in Fairbanks Hall with DickClinton who is an emeritus professor of political science at OSU and we will talk to him about his OSU experience, but we will begin at the beginning and talk about your childhood a bit. Where were you born?
Dick Clinton: In Cookeville, Tennessee.
CP: Is that where you grew up?
DC: No. I left when I was about 3 and went up to Akron, Ohio, during the WWIIyears. My father was an accountant and he went up there to work with Goodyear. After the war we moved down to Florida when I was in the third grade and I grew up in Orlando, Florida, when it was the size of Corvallis.
CP: Tell me about that. Tell me about the Orlando you remember from your childhood.
DC: It was idyllic. It was such a beautiful place. It was called The CityBeautiful. That was their motto. And it really was. It was just an absolutely idyllic place to grow up, and what has happened to it as a result of Disney World and so many people moving to Florida is just tragic. It is such a sprawl now that when you fly into the place at night the lights stretch literally from the Atlantic to the Gulf. It's just all the way across the peninsula. The suburbs have spread out everywhere and of course everybody has 2 or 3 SUVs, a lot of Hummers around, no ecological consciousness about anything, or political consciousness in any real sense. Most people only watch Fox News, so it's a no-mind atmosphere which makes it truly depressing to go back. I feel like I've seen the future and it doesn't work.
CP: Was it appreciably different culturally growing up for you?
DC: Different from now?
CP: Yeah. I mean, it's obviously a very different city but was the culture different?
DC: Yeah. I think it was a lot more neighborly and it was a small town and nowit's a huge metropolis, so it's got to be different in that regard. So many people coming to Florida from all over the place, the north in particular. That's their dream to live in Florida. Its Southern-ness is kind-of mitigated by all that. It's not as Southern a place as you might think in culture. But it's about as over-commercialized, mall-oriented, ubiquitously air-conditioned a place as you can find in the United States.
CP: Tell me a bit more about your parents and their backgrounds.
DC: Small town Tennessee folks. My dad went to Tennessee Tech, as it was calledat the time, Tennessee Technological University now, there in Cookeville, where he was born and I was born. If he hadn't gone to Ohio and Florida, I would doubtless have grown up there in Tennessee in that small town setting too. No telling how different my future would have been. Of course, even growing up in Orlando, it was about as un-intellectual a place as you can imagine. So, the fact that I became an academic is quite incredible. As a matter of fact, as I look back on all of this I want to title this presentation "An Accidental Life." It's phenomenal how much of a role accident and luck play in one's life. It seems that almost all my major turns in life have come about entirely by accident. That's a little sobering to think about.
CP: Sure. What were some aspects of community life that appealed to you in Orlando?
DC: Community life there I think was pretty much limited to church life foreverybody. Wherever your church was, your congregation was your community. I think that's pretty Southern. But I don't recall any community-wide activities or organizations. My dad was not a joiner. He was very much against secret organizations, in particular. I know the Masons asked him one time and he said absolutely not. But he wasn't in Kiwanis or Rotary or anything like that, but he was very active in the First Methodist Church. Anyway, we had no community-wide involvement that I recall. Everything was centered on the church back then.
CP: For your family included?
DC: Yeah, very much so.
CP: What else were you interested in as a boy?
DC: I was just fascinated by Native Americans. That was my earliest love and hascontinued to be one up to the present. I even married one! She's part Pottawatomi. I think National Geographic was what turned me on to that, just looking at those pictures as a very small child. It's amazing to me that I didn't become an anthropologist because I've always had a fascination with native cultures, but that did lead me into my Spanish interests because of the Incas, the Aztecs, the Mayas, that sort of thing. That was part of what got me interested in Spanish, I think.
CP: At a young age?
DC: Not that young. I'm jumping ahead a little bit.
CP: Was there any interaction with tribal communities growing up?
DC: None at all. None at all. The Seminoles had been pushed down into theEverglades. That was the only part of Florida they were in, which was a couple hundred miles south of us. Never met one and never got down there to their reservation or anything during my childhood. The other aspect of that love of Native Americans was my love of the outdoors and trying to emulate the Native Americans, which cost me a lot of mosquito bites because I had to do it the native way instead of the REI way. REI didn't exist then, but you could at least get some of that sort of equipment if you worked at it, and I didn't have any of that, so I spent many sleepless nights out in the jungles of Florida swatting mosquitoes because of no mosquito net or anything.
CP: Those were kind of your two preoccupations then at that age?
DC: Yeah, they really were. My dad was never interested in any sports. Thatrubbed off very much on me. I just had no interest in organized sports. I played at school, but as far as following them and collecting baseball cards and all that I had no interest. I really regret that now because every male I know in the United States can talk for hours about baseball and basketball and football heroes, and I have none. I'm a little left out in all that.
CP: How about politics?
DC: No interest whatsoever in that either as a kid. None. I did become studentcouncil president my senior year but, again, partly by accident. I was in a group that said we've got to run somebody. Why don't you do it? I said okay, and so I did. That was my only venture into politics.
CP: Tell me more about your school experience as a boy.
DC: All the schools I attended were public schools and they were really goodschools. I hesitate to say excellent, I'm not sure about that, but they were really good schools because back then the teachers were real professionals. They were largely women who didn't have other outlets at that time. Women with the greatest abilities that could be anything today, back then couldn't enter most fields, and they became teachers. We benefited from that. They were very well-informed, very studious, and very exacting teachers, and I think I got a pretty darn good high school education. In fact, looking back on it in recent years I think my high school education was about the equivalent of a college education these days, which is pretty sad.
CP: Was college something that you always had in your horizons?
DC: Well, that was something that was not a decision, it was something that youjust did. You went on from high school to college in the group that I ran with in high school and certainly my parents had always thought I would go on to college, and I just never considered that I wouldn't.
CP: Was school something that came pretty easily to you?
DC: Yes. I studied pretty hard, and I didn't run into any brick walls so tospeak in high school. Math was never my strong point, but I got through it all right. Then I got into Spanish in the 9th grade, and it was sort of like I had been a Hispanic in a previous existence. It came so easily and so naturally, and I just enjoyed it so much and immediately jumped to the top of the class when I was usually just a B+ student -- less than that sometimes because I was a goof-off, and they counted off for conduct back in those days. But in Spanish, man, it was one of the few things that just came so easily and was so much fun, and so I really did well in that and had a very good starting teacher there in junior high and a superb teacher in high school who was a fellow from Boston College whose doctor had told him he had to go down south if he wanted to clear up a lung problem of some kind, and he couldn't find a college position in Florida back then so he wound up teaching in high school. He was a real slave-driver, but a skilled teacher. He spoke 12 languages and was the only real intellectual that I knew the whole time I was growing up. His name was John Dietz, a German-American from Boston, so having been immersed in that atmosphere all his life, I'm sure he was a fish out of water in Orlando.
CP: Was there any engagement with Latin cultures for you at this point?
DC: No. We didn't have an immigrant population of any kind at all there at thetime. The Cuban Revolution had not happened yet, so we didn't have the Cubans. Puerto Ricans weren't coming over. Now Florida's full of Mexican migrant workers, but not then. Americans could still work in the fields and in constructions in those days. They can't do it anymore, apparently.
CP: So you finish up high school and you have college in your sights and you goto Vanderbilt?
DC: Again, almost an accident. My father was a Tennessean and, even though hewent to Tennessee Tech, I think he had wanted to go to Vanderbilt and couldn't afford it. So he just always pointed me toward Vanderbilt. Actually I applied only to Vanderbilt. I didn't apply anywhere else. Now I look back on that and I think how on earth? I got in the one place I applied to! The fall in Nashville was okay but then came the winter, and I nearly died when the leaves fell off the trees, having been in Florida most of my life. I had the most miserable freshman year I think any poor freshman has ever had. For one thing, I was running scared the whole time. Everyone around me had been a valedictorian in their high school class, and I was just overwhelmed by the whole atmosphere of a real university, never having been in any kind of intellectual setting before.
So Vanderbilt was a real sobering experience there for the first six months, andthen spring broke forth out of that dreary, leafless situation. It was such a magnificent reawakening of life. I was hooked on the change of seasons from then on. I wouldn't want to live anywhere where there wasn't a change of seasons. They're all so wonderful. That was another kind of accidental thing in a way. Who would think a change of seasons would make such a difference in your life? But it really determined where I was going to live from then on. I was never going to live in the tropics again.
CP: Was it Spanish from the outset for you at Vanderbilt?
DC: That was another funny one. I got there with the idea of being pre-med andwas going to take German. I signed up for German because back then a lot of the medical literature was in German. They said, well, we see that you took 3 years of Spanish in high school. How about taking these entrance exams in Spanish and maybe you can test out of the first year or two of your language requirement. So I took it. I made 100% on their entrance exam and I couldn't believe it. They couldn't either. They said that's never happened before so what's going on here? Did you have Spanish relatives? No. But that's how good those teachers were and so they said well if you take one term of junior level Spanish, that'll complete your language requirement. Then if you want to take German you can. I said okay so I did that. It was 19th century Spanish novel. I remember. It was a delightful class. I enjoyed it so much. I got an A, and that helped balance off the C I got in math. From then on I kept taking upper-division Spanish classes, even though I was majoring first in pre-med and then geology, and then my junior year I took some political science and really got interested in that, but it was too late to switch to political science. I already had a major built up in Spanish because it had all been in upper-division, and so I majored in Spanish and took mostly political science my last 3 semesters. Spanish really was a determinative factor in my life. It made such a difference in so many ways.
CP: What sparked the interest in political science?
DC: The teachers, I think. Again the professors were just very, very good. I hadnever really had much interest in politics of any kind. The international side began to grab me, and the professors just made it come alive and were so interesting. That got me more hooked on it.
CP: Is this where the Incas and the Aztecs come in?
DC: No, they had helped steer me into Spanish in the first place. Actually, Ijust gave a presentation at the Academy for Lifelong Learning here in town last year. They asked me to do something on Latin America. I had done two or three things over the years that were more historical or political and so I decided to do something personal, on how I became interested in Latin America, or How I Fell in Love with a Continent. That was the title of it. As I got to thinking about it, I was surprised to find it was not the Incas or Aztecs that got me into Spanish. It was the music. Of all things. I don't know how I came by them, two little 45 rpm albums, you know, two records in an album. I don't remember how I got those, but I used to listen to them all the time and wish I knew what they were saying. I loved the music and that music, I think, pulled me into the language more than anything else, even more than the Incas and the Aztecs! Although, it was certainly the Incas that got me going to Peru when I got around to doing that.
CP: You began your stint in the Marine Corps Reserves during the years in Nashville.
DC: Yes, at Vanderbilt. Of course we were in the Cold War in those days and thedraft was still around, and I didn't want to get drafted and be in with a bunch of other draftees that didn't want to be in. I figured if I was going to have to be in I wanted to be in something that had a little more comradery and that sort of thing. So I joined the Marines through the Platoon Leaders Class, they called it, which, if you're in college, you can join and go to officer school in the summertime and then when you completed your college degree you'd get your commission and go on and serve. So I did that and as it turned out I got a Fulbright my senior year, and I could not convince them to let me take the Fulbright and then come back and get my commission and go on in. They said take one or the other. So, with great agony at the time, I took the Fulbright. Again, a major crossroads in my life that I don't know how exactly I navigated because I was gung-ho at the time and very patriotic. To have gone through all the agony of officer school and then to come back as a private, in the reserves was not something I looked forward to, but it turned out to be a very good experience. I was in a rifle company in Tennessee one weekend every month and then every summer for a couple weeks at Camp Lejeune. I put in a minimal amount of time and didn't have to go abroad. I had the great good fortunate to be born so that I was halfway between the Korean War and the Vietnam War, so I didn't have to see combat anywhere, thank goodness. Anyway, I really value the experience that I had in there with a lot of fellow hillbillies from Tennessee who never finished the eighth grade yet were just sharp as they could be and witty and able to use language in such colorful ways. Every other word wasn't as it is nowadays just utter profanity. They could use language more imaginatively and they did. I really got a lot out of that I think.
CP: Tell me about the Fulbright. This was in Mexico, is that correct?
DC: No, my first time down to Latin America was to Mexico, on a RockefellerFoundation grant.
CP: This was summer of 1960?
DC: Yes. That was just for the summer, right. The Fulbright was to Peru, but inPeru, the seasons are reversed from up here and so after I graduated in June of '60 I had to wait until April of '61 to go to Peru when the academic year started. So I took classes at the Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey in the summer and taught Spanish back at Vanderbilt that fall. I took off for Peru a month early and spent 5 or 6 days in each country on the way down. That was a good experience to be in all those different countries, even for such a short time, and it led to another serendipitous life-changing coincidence.
The last place before I got to Lima was Guayaquil, Ecuador, where a friend fromVanderbilt was the vice consul. He hosted me royally and introduced me to two of his friends who were in the First National City Bank of New York branch there in Guayaquil. I had never heard of the First National City Bank of New York, not being very cosmopolitan. These guys were very sharp and personable, and they said, oh we have a good friend at the bank branch in Lima. Here's his name. Look him up when you get there. I did. We got to be, not good friends but we ate out together occasionally and went to the bullfights a couple of times. Anyway, that turned out to be a very determinative thing later on in the story that we'll get to at that point.
CP: Let's back up a step. So, you finish your undergraduate years in the springof 1960, study in Mexico for that summer, and then you decided at some point to become a graduate student as well. Tell me about that progression there.
DC: Well, when Sputnik beat us to the draw, they pushed the panic button incongress and they passed the National Defense Education Act, which was mostly for technical and scientific fields. But it also had a category of language and area specialties to get us more up to speed on those things as a country. With NDEA funding, Vanderbilt was trying to put together an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Latin American Area Studies, and I was interested in that. So, when I came back from Peru I started that program. After a year, however, the departments concluded they couldn't agree on the requirements for an interdisciplinary Ph.D. What they wound up agreeing was that they would offer a master's in Latin American Area studies. Well, we in the first cohort of NDEA students had already been granted the 3-year window to work on the Ph.D., and I was one year into it already. So, the best solution seemed to me to get a master's in history and a master's in Latin American Area Studies and use the whole 3 years that way. That's how I became a graduate student.
CP: Why history?
DC: I guess the faculty in history had drawn me in from the little that I'd had.It was a very good department and I really respected those professors, especially Alexander Marchant, and thought, I'd like to work with these people.
CP: So, we talked about getting to Peru and the Fulbright but what did youactually do once you were there for 6 months?
DC: That was a somewhat bizarre experience. The summer in Mexico had been myfirst introduction to Latin American culture and that had been such a delight. I had really cemented my love of Latin America with that experience but then when I got to Peru it was really quite a different ball game. Americans go to Mexico a lot but not many Americans went to Peru in those days. We were really strange creatures to the Peruvians. I was a foot and a half taller than most of them, so I really stood out. This was in the middle of the Cold War, and they were very anti-American in the universities, and very left-wing. The communist parties dominated most student organizations. I hadn't been there 6 weeks when the student union declared a strike on some issue and they walked out. They didn't go back the whole time I was there! I was left high and dry as far as my academic progress was going, but my cultural experience was enriched enormously because I traveled all over the country by buses and trains and got to know an awful lot of people and spent time in places I wouldn't have been otherwise and really got to know Peru and quite fell in love with it. It's my second homeland, mi segunda patria. The Peruvian friends I made opened my eyes to the domination of Latin American by the U.S.
CP: You ultimately wrote a thesis on Manuel González Prada. How did that comeabout? How did you isolate him as somebody interesting?
DC: The aprista party, APRA, the Allianƶa Popular Revolucionaria Americana, thePopular American Revolutionary Alliance, was kind of the grand old party of Latin America and had been founded in Peru in the 1920s, and González Prada's ideas were said to have been constructive in APRA's original platforms and perspectives. Having become familiar with the party and its sway and its potential for future influence, I was interested in this guy and started looking at what he had written. Some of the essays and poetry he had written were really penetrating and original. He was a fine stylist and that got me interested in him, too. So I looked into his work from a political perspective and tried to trace influences on the future of the APRA party.
CP: Was population something for you at this point?
DC: Not at all. Not at all.
CP: That comes later.
DC: Right. No idea about it then.
CP: You also went to Germany during this period of time for 3 months, to theGoethe Institute.
DC: Yes. That was a rich experience. I was saving money out of those monthlyNDEA stipends that I was getting, so I didn't have to work in the summer. I thought well, I didn't take German, and I'd always kind of wanted to. I'd heard of the Goethe Institute which runs government-sponsored schools for foreigners to learn German, like the Alliance Francaise, for French. They had these little schools all over Germany, either in rural or urban areas, and I chose one in a rural setting - a town called Murnau. That was one of the most delightful experiences of my life. It was just wonderful to be in that idyllic setting in Southern Bavaria with 95 other students from 35 countries.
CP: Well, 1964 arrives. You've finished up this double degree program atVanderbilt and you wind up becoming an international banker. How does this happen?
DC: Well, more plain luck. I was having coffee with a couple of my friends,graduate students in economics. One said to the other did you interview with that City Bank guy who's on campus? And the other said, no I'm not interested in banking. I said, oh, there's a City Bank guy on campus? He says yeah, he's interviewing in room so and so in such and such building. I said, oh I wonder if he knows my City Bank friend in Lima. I'll stop by and chat with him and see if he knows this guy and what's up with him. I did. We talked. He did know him. We had a nice conversation -- how'd you know him and what'd you do and so forth. That was fine. The next day one of the librarian assistants came down into the bowels of the library to my student carrel and said you have a call from New York City. I said, I don't know anybody in New York City. Who in the world could that be? It was the city bank guy. He says, hey, I talked to my boss about you and he'd like to meet you. How about coming up to the bank at our expense, of course, and let us show you around? I was so naïve, I had no idea I had been being interviewed, but that of course was his job as a recruiter, to find people. Well, I had never been to New York and here was an offer to go free. I thought, why not? So not wanting the job, not having any idea that I would ever join them, I had no worries, no nervousness. I was just absolutely at ease, which probably helped enormously in terms of the interviews that most people would've been anxious about. I had no idea of the way the process worked, either, that each person that you talked with was a higher rank and not by coincidence on a higher floor of this 40-story building on Park Avenue. By the end of the day I was with the executive vice president on the 40th floor, and he offered me the job at a salary that was more than any of my professors at Vanderbilt were making. I couldn't believe the salary, and I couldn't believe he was offering me a job as a banker. I had never done anything remotely related to banking or even business. Anyway, I was flabbergasted. I kind of stumbled around and said, well, I've been in this 3-year program. I have 2 years in. I'm working on 2 master's degrees. If I left now I would have nothing to show for 2 years of hard work. If I stay one more year, which is funded already, I'll finish these two degrees and have that to show for the 3-year experience.
He said, well, we'll be more interested in you next year than we are this year,so give us a call when you finish. I still didn't think I would ever do that, but I thanked him. In the course of the next year the prospect kept eating away at me. You know, what would this be like? What would I learn in this kind of setting? I never really thought of it as a long-term career but I thought of it as a very interesting experience to have and I didn't really have anywhere else to go at the moment, so by the end of that year I convinced myself that's really what I should do. I called them up and they flew me up there and I went all through the whole interview experience again and again they offered me a job and so I took it. And it was a great education. I was with them for 4 years. The first year almost was rotating through different departments of the bank and learning how each department operates, what they do, what banking is. They flew Harvard Business School professors down to the bank just to give my cohort specialized classes. Of course the very first thing they had me do before anything was to register at NYU to take basic accounting. That was a real come down. After work every day I'd have to get the subway down to the south end of the island and take this basic accounting course, which was a real downer after being in my 3-piece suit all day in the bank in actual contact with clients. Anyway, the whole 4-year stint -- real experience in the field seeing how big corporations operate from the inside-- was a very revealing, very educational process that has served me in well ever since.
CP: The corporate ethic?
DC: Actually, there were some ethics back then, although profit was, of course,the summum bonum. The greatest insight was simply the power that corporations and the extremely wealthy wield.
CP: What was it about you that you think they were attracted by?
DC: It wasn't just me. It was the whole group in that cohort. Only one personout of about 30 had an MBA. All the rest were liberal arts people, which was just extraordinary I thought. They picked us for our linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The fact that we had already lived in foreign countries, that we liked living in foreign countries, that we fit in well with foreign people, that we could speak their languages and so forth. That's what they were looking for. At one point I broached the question of why did they pick me to my boss, and he said we can teach you banking. We know more about banking than any business school. But we can't teach you all the other stuff that you had to spend many years learning before you got here. That's how astute they were. My cohort was the sharpest bunch of people I have ever been associated with. I mean they were really a brilliant lot, and they were fun. We just had a great time as trainees before we got spread out all over world. The bank had branches in 160 different countries at the time. We really were spread to the winds after our training experience, but that was a great time.
CP: So you were a loan officer in the Overseas Division. My understanding isthat you worked in Lima. You also worked in La Paz. What were you doing?
DC: Right. Well, it's commercial banking. You work with the public in the sensethat they're your depositors. They give you the money that the bank works with, but you're primarily lending to commercial organizations and so it's the analysis of the financial condition of the different companies that are applying for loans and also financing the international trade that they're involved in.
CP: This was '64 to '68. So this is a tumultuous period in world history.
DC: It was and I missed it. You know? I mostly did. I was out of country and itwas a very high-pressure job. I was working long, long hours and was really kind of cut off from world news and everything. I even missed the Beatles [laughs]. I missed so much of that period. I've always regretted that part, but you know that was the opportunity cost that I paid for a lot of other good experience down there.
CP: Well you made a decision to go back to school, North Carolina Ph.D.political science. How does this happen?
DC: Again, quite an accident. By the time I went into graduate school atVanderbilt I was already thinking that the life I wanted to lead was that of a professor. After 7 years there at Vanderbilt I had probably seen a little too much of the underbelly of academic life in terms of some of the animosities among professors and different things going on that were off-putting. I was ready to try something else, and that was part of what tempted me to accept the bank offer. But having seen the business world for 4 years, the academic world was looking pretty good again, and here's the luck: one day this young fella comes up to my desk there at the bank in Lima. He says hi I'm John Martz. I looked up and I thought to myself this guy looks like he's 20, 21 years old. And I said, oh, I read your father's book on Colombia. He said, oh that was my book [laughs]. I could not believe this guy looked so young, he had already written this book on Colombia, quite a good book too. He was a political science professor at Chapel Hill and was doing research in Peru for that term. We got to know each other and once he knew I had academic interests, he began to recruit me for UNC's program in Latin American politics. Again it was just pure chance that I met this guy who pulled me to the University of North Carolina.
CP: And in political science.
DC: And in political science, exactly.
CP: And population? Was that also his interest?
DC: No, and again that was a matter of pure luck. There was a guy, Eli Bergman,in our cohort of entering political science doctoral students, who had been with the Ford Foundation for many years. The Ford Foundation works at cutting edge kinds of issues. One of the good things about foundations like that is that they can do things that governments can't do yet because the problem may be too controversial or just not well recognized. So Eli had been working on population issues for some time. It was his influence, his thinking that really got me interested in population and seeing what a direct impact it has on development. Development was what I was really interested in, Latin American development. But development requires investment, and how can poor countries invest when they're spending all their revenue on their fast-growing populations? I was appalled that I hadn't seen this until Eli pointed it out to me.
CP: And this gave you the opportunity to go back to Peru, to study Peru more?
DC: Right, right.
CP: Did you do any teaching during this time?
DC: No, not during my early graduate work at UNC because I was fully funded by aNIH grant.
CP: Well, so you finish up the Ph.D., but you stayed at North Carolina. It's alittle confusing to me because it kind of seems like you had 2 jobs at the same time. Is that true?
DC: Yes, well, I had developed that interest in population and was moving alongwith that and the director of the Carolina Population Center, Moye Freyman, a dynamic, forward looking fellow, really wanted to push political science involvement with population issues, areas that had never been really integrated, and he became kind of my sponsor or mentor. Anyway, he was very helpful, and he offered me a research position at the Carolina Population Center. I told him I'd love to do that. But I don't want to sidetrack my political science career, so if I could get a joint appointment and teach in the political science department as well as do this I would certainly love to do so. He worked that out with the department. So they gave me the teaching position, even though they had a very strong incest taboo there at Chapel Hill because everybody wanted to stay at Chapel Hill. In this case they bent the rules a bit. I was there 5 years and taught full time in addition to the CPC gig and was publishing widely, and so I think they got concerned that I might sue for de facto tenure. I didn't know about this sort of thing at the time.
I found out about it later as an administrator that there were lawsuits aroundthe country from assistant professors who were not granted tenure in situations where they had performed adequately or more than adequately, and I think they were afraid that I might be in that kind of position. I was quite naïve. I didn't know anything about that and wouldn't have ever thought about doing such a thing. Anyway, at the end of five years they said we can't keep up this arrangement. Once more, good fortune intervened. A colleague of mine in that same cohort of doctoral students had come out to OSU, and he let me know that, again by pure chance the Latin Americanist here, Glen Dealy, was going on sabbatical. My friend strongly urged me to come out and take that guy's place for the year. He said, this is another world out here. You'll love it. He was a North Carolinian by birth and we had collaborated on several population related books.
CP: Who is this person?
DC: Ken Godwin. He later became a distinguished professor of political scienceat University of North Carolina Charlotte. Just died this year, most unfortunately. It continued to work out for me here because the fellow I replaced had gone to Oxford and he decided to stay on another year, so I had not just one year, but two years. By that time Dean Gordon Gilkey had decided that with my research and grant-getting background I could be of help to the faculty as a consultant, and he created the position of Assistant Dean for Research and Faculty Development for me to assist my colleagues with grant writing and things like that.
CP: So, you're originally hired into a standard faculty position and then Gilkeymoves you into this administrative position after a year?
DC: Right. So I did that, and then Gilkey decided to retire and David King cameon board, a very dynamic psychologist who had gotten into administration and had made himself a thoroughgoing professional administrator. He really studied it and was a great mentor in that sense. He wanted an associate dean, and Ken Godwin on the last day convinced me to put my hat in the ring for that associate dean position. I had not thought about doing it. I just didn't want to go that route. But Ken said look if you're around who knows what position is going to open up in the department here. By then I liked it here very much. I wanted to stay but there was no position in the department for me to stay in. Glen Dealy was coming back. So, I took the associate dean position and within 3 years of doing that the international relations person in the department (Austen Walter) retired. So, I applied for that position, although I had never been an international relations specialist. Just the fact that I had extensive international experience helped me get that position but I had to study the international relations literature on my own as I started teaching that. That was my main identity for the next 3 decades, since Latin American politics never had a very receptive audience here.
So, I wound up being in the International Relations/American Foreign Policy sideof things much more than in Latin American politics, which may be another luck feature but bad luck in this case because it really sidetracked my major career aims and preparation as a Latin Americanist. I didn't get to continue that in the way I would have, I think, elsewhere.
CP: Let's back up to your arrival at OSU. I'm interested in this big shift foryou, a different side of the country, a very different environment. What do you remember of your initial impressions of OSU and of Corvallis? Particularly having lived in New York City.
DC: I was just overwhelmed with the natural beauty of the state, and theNorthwest culture was so different. It seemed much more European than it was American, and it was so attractive. I just fell right in. I loved it. I loved the coast a great deal too. I'd go over there a lot and noticed a certain similarity to Lima's climate, particularly nights when the mist is almost a drizzle, not quite, but it's enough to get you wet. In Lima that's all the precipitation they get because it's in the middle of a desert. They had a name for that in Peru-it's garua. I don't know, everything about Oregon has always appealed to me. I just love this state. I'm a native Oregonian since 1976 [laughs].
CP: I'm interested in knowing more about the state of the College of LiberalArts at this point. It had only been around for 20 years, and so was still pretty new.
DC: Actually, much less than that. It was 1965 when it became a college, and Igot here in 1976 so it had been around for 11 years as a college. In the preceding years it had been the school of Lower Division or something like that. School of Lower Division. What an insulting name. There were no majors in Liberal Arts until 1965 when they were finally allowed. This was a direct result of opposition from the University of Oregon and in its power in the state holding us back. It was a classic bureaucratic situation that they didn't want competition from up here. I was quite taken aback by the inchoate state of the liberal arts here, having come from Chapel Hill and Vanderbilt before that. I just couldn't believe the tiny role that liberal arts played here in this university at that time, which thankfully has been somewhat corrected over the years, but at that time it was really still very out of balance.
CP: You're right in the middle of it. You're an administrator. So what is beingdone to try to grow the college at this point?
DC: I don't remember any particular efforts to grow the college, but one of theprojects the dean put me in charge of was developing a general education curriculum, and we worked on that for a year or so, the committee that we pulled together for that. I think that was a major contribution to the educational experience of OSU since it contributed to the initiation of the baccalaureate core. The engineers and aggies had to start taking a few things outside their specialties. As I said, I don't remember any direct efforts to grow the college as such. It was more an effort to improve the quality than the size. Also, we were getting more and more applications for open faculty positions, and among those were better ones than we'd ever gotten before. In just a few years we began to pull in some really fine young assistant professors in the departments of the college, and that in turn I'm sure helped the college grow as the quality went up. It went up significantly very quickly.
CP: Tell me about Gordon Gilkey.
DC: What a character [laughs]. Where we are right now is his old haunt, too,Fairbanks Hall. The art department became the biggest department in the College of Liberal Arts after he became dean. They had 50 faculty in the art department [laughs]. Political science department had 8. Sociology I think had 8 or 9. Economics had maybe 10. He was a cagey, wile-y old fellow who could project an image of such a bumbling sort of guy that was very disarming. I remember when he retired he took his print collection and parlayed that into two different jobs up at the Oregon Art Museum as curator of his own collection that he donated and then as some other full-time position. So he got paid two salaries, I heard. He'd say in his blustering way, I looked up "retire" in the dictionary and found it meant go to bed and I wasn't sleepy so I didn't retire [laughs]. That's the kind of thing he would like to say. He was a quite a character. He was much more astute than he let on. He couldn't have been more supportive of me, though, and I owe him a great debt, I think, in that he kept me hanging on.
CP: Who else was important to you in those early years?
DC: Dean David King, certainly, sadly he died shortly after he left here forGeorge Mason University as provost. Just a few years later he got liver cancer. It was such a loss to the academic world. He was really a go-getter, a fine man. I understand they named a building in tribute to him at George Mason.
CP: Did you have any connection with President MacVicar?
DC: Yes, everyone at OSU had connections with him. Boy, he had his finger ineverything! He was the biggest micro-manager I have ever known. Dave King and I we would split the promotion and tenure dossiers and we had to present them to him, one by one, and go through them, arguing the case for each person. My goodness, he was on top of everything in every one of those dossiers, and he would really give you a time sometimes in having to defend a person and his work and its importance, his worthiness for promotion. He was the last of his breed, he really was. John Byrne came in next and he put in a whole new management style, which started I'm afraid the trend toward top-heaviness that has exponentially increased since his time and is now perhaps, the major problem of this university. Of course, he did a great job, overall.
CP: Let's talk about your writing. So, you get here and you're still doing workon population. You write an essay in 1977 that I think was pretty influential: "The Never-to-be Developed Countries of Latin America." Can you tell me about that?
DC: That was a strange situation in that it was published in The Bulletin of theAtomic Scientists and paired with an article by a Nobel Laureate in agricultural economics arguing an optimistic vision of the future, whereas I was arguing a very pessimistic vision. As an upstart assistant professor, I was just delighted that they chose to publish it, and I was even more thrilled to see it alongside one by a Nobel laureate, even though we were at odds in our approaches and conclusions. But the article was kind of prescient in terms of the better understanding we have now of the limitations to and consequences of unrestrained population growth. I wasn't saying that Latin America would never develop. I was saying it would never develop like us. It could never be the energy-intensive, materials intensive kind of consumer economy that we unfortunately have spread around the world. It just doesn't work for most places in the world. I was saying this for Latin America, in particular, because of the incredibly fast rate of population growth there. A fast-growing population is automatically a younger population. The bulk of the population is young and that means you need to put most of your investment in your own population. You can't be investing in expanding your industrial sector and so forth if you're spending most of your revenue on just the basics for your population itself. So, that was the point of that article. One nice result of it was that I got a phone call shortly after it was published from a physicist up at Portland State. He said, are you really at OSU? I said, yes I am. He said I didn't know anyone at OSU thought like this. We became fast friends, indeed lifelong friends after that. Rudi Nussbaum was his name. He was a radiation physicist who did a lot of work on Hanford and on the problems of down winders. He was a holocaust survivor and just a fascinating, wonderful, amazing human being. Played piano in a chamber music trio in his home every week and was just a polymath in so many ways. His wife Laureen as well. She had grown up with Anne Frank. They were both hidden by Dutch families during the war, as was Rudi. That's one of the lucky things that that article led to, was getting to know the Nussbaums.
CP: Looking through your publications we see work on development, on humanrights, on the environment, and military involvement in Latin American politics. There's a point of view developing quite clearly here. How did that sharpen? Was that something that had been built at Chapel Hill or was this a little bit later? There's sort of an activist feel to a lot of the scholarship.
DC: I was initially radicalized by my first stay in Peru in 1961 when I foundhow hated the US was for its reactionary interventionist policies. I filled in a lot of the background for these policies at Chapel Hill. To return to the question of people who had influenced me, John Martz was certainly one and Federico G. Gil, a Cuban-American scholar who was kind of the godfather of Latin American studies at Chapel Hill was another. They were extremely influential. Major influences came from my colleagues, my fellow-students during those years. They may have had more overall influence on me than my mentors did. That certainly explains a lot of the direction my research took in the next several years.
CP: Was there any conflict between your openly expressed point of view and youradministrative responsibilities?
DC: Not overtly. I didn't have to curtail my views in my teaching or research,but I could certainly feel the difference in the two worlds I was moving in, in that sense.
CP: I want to ask about the political science department. So you joined itaround 1982 or so. You'd been an administrator before and then you become a typical faculty member, I suppose, in the department in 1982. Tell me about that department and how it evolved.
DC: I taught in the department every term since my arrival in 1976. I guess itwas similar to any small political science department at predominantly technical schools when I got here, and it was stretched to the limits trying to cover the different fields of political science with the few people that it had, which meant that a lot of us were teaching in areas that we hadn't specialized in as students. I've already mentioned being drafted into international relations, but it was largely true across the board. It's very different now since we have highly trained specialists in all of the different fields of political science. The other thing that is different now is how it's changed in the last few years with this School of Public Policy reorganization and all the focus on the master's degree in public policy and now even a doctoral degree in public policy, which sort of leaves the other fields of the discipline of political science on the sidelines. That has given the department a very different flavor, although I haven't been there for most of that time. I retired in 2004 and have been in various offices that they've been kind enough to provide for emeriti around the campus ever since, but not integrated in the department anymore. As I said before, it was a pretty inchoate operation back in the early days, just having moved into the era of giving baccalaureate degrees in political science. People had been teaching undergraduates exclusively, but that changed the first years that I was here with the M.A. in interdisciplinary studies. Things really changed markedly after that and brought us into the modern era, so to speak, of political science departments. Some very good people over there now. It's a good place to get a solid background in political science, I think.
CP: Were there any colleagues within the department that emerged as beingparticularly important to you, or were you kind of on an island? Because it sounded to me like you always wanted to push the Latin American piece a little bit and never had full success there so had to find a niche for yourself. Did you stay in that niche?
DC: As I said, I wound up more in the International Relations, American ForeignPolicy niche than the Latin American one, although I was the resident Latin Americanist in the department Glen Dealy had retired. I suppose that's probably my major regret was my main career thrust got sidetracked, and I didn't get to go on in Latin American politics for which I had such an extensive background.
CP: But as the resident Latin Americanist when Reagan comes along, I have tobelieve there was more focus on you as a subject expert in the region, is that safe to say?
DC: In Oregon, yes, but not to any greater extent at OSU. I did a great deal ofspeaking around the state, and I wrote a slew of newspaper opinion pieces.
CP: Did you feel like as Latin America was more in the news that people wereseeking out your point of view, or...?
DC: They certainly were during the '80s when Reagan was tearing up CentralAmerica. That was when the whole country got off track, during the Reagan years. And all that was compounded by the Cold War tensions. It was just another unhappy time in our relationship with Latin America and I was trying to point out that that we weren't living up to our principles as a bastion of democracy, human rights, and nonintervention.
CP: Let's talk about teaching. So, you have received multiple teaching awardsbut it sounds to me like you didn't have any actual training in teaching in your graduate studies, so you figured it out.
DC: Very few of us ever get any formal training in teaching. A Ph.D. isprimarily preparation for research. I suppose we learn to teach mainly by our exposure to good and bad teaching.
CP: Tell me about your approach to teaching and how you evolved.
DC: Well, having a background in History was a major influence- the crucialimportance of context and of what came before. At Chapel Hill I started a huge lecture course, called America in a Changing World. That was really an indicator of the way I was going to go for the rest of my career, which was less into the Political Science side of things and more into the sociopolitical-economic reality of conditions in the world from a very interdisciplinary perspective. Moreover, my exploration of the role that population change plays was increasingly getting me into ecological issues. Putting all those factors together, that's what really conditioned my approach to teaching. I wanted to get students to see things from all these different angles instead of from some narrowly disciplinary perspective. In that sense I was really fortunate to be here at OSU rather than at Chapel Hill, which is much more disciplinarily centered. By that I mean that you toe the party line of the discipline, not in any political sense but in terms of the currently fashionable approaches. The flip side of not being able to continue my Latin American politics specialty was that I was able to pursue my interest in a very broad-ranging approach to understanding the world instead of just understanding politics as such,
That's the way I taught the Introduction to International Relations course thatbecame my bread and butter and that's how I developed the book Finding Our Way Home: Personal Values and Politics in an Interdependent World. That was the textbook for the course, and I'm sure at a more orthodox political science department I would have been frowned upon for using my own book as the textbook for the class, particularly since there was no shortage of opinion and viewpoint expressed throughout the book and the class. But, again, I just came to the conclusion that students need that broader perspective, and they need to hear views that are different from the ones they've grown up with and they've heard in the media around them all the time. You can't articulate those views without saying where you stand. They want to know where you stand on controversial issues, and I was always willing to tell them, as long as I was up-front about when I was expressing my personal views. I justify it to some extent by the very term professor, which doesn't mean just teacher. It's someone who professes and you profess what you believe, and so I did a lot of professing all these years, and the passion of that and the fact that I was really, really involved and concerned I think is what helped gain me the following that I had. The students either loved me or hated me. Thank goodness a good many more loved me than hated me but there was a very stark difference in the reaction to me. There still is. In the Honors College class I've continued to teach every spring one of the students this year was a business college woman who just absolutely could not countenance the direction we were starting off in, and after three meetings she said, "This is communism," and just dropped the course. That was reminiscent of my early days. I hadn't had that term used on me for a long time. I was called a communist frequently in the old days, a pinko! That was a function of the basically conservative nature of American society, which is so far to the right in comparison to European Societies, for instance. What we call left wing here is near the middle of the road over there. Getting primarily Oregonian students, an awful lot of them from rural areas, in conservative parts of the state, I sure faced a challenge in terms of trying to get a better-focused view of the way the world works out there and what needs to be done to confront all those realities. That left me in a compromised position, in terms of being an objective, value-free political scientist, but it made me a more effective teacher in the long run, I'm pretty sure.
CP: How would you characterize the culture of activism on this campus over theyears of your association?
DC: Oh, that has really, really increased I'm very happy to say. That's a verypositive development. Activism both on campus and in town, particularly in town. I wish it were greater on campus as well. Corvallis has become quite a hot bed of activism. I think we have 50 or 60 different social justice and environmental groups here in town that are very active and that's a great thing. What a contrast to Florida. When we go back there and I talk to my old friends and see what's going on, I don't see much indication of such things happening there.
CP: Some questions about service affiliations. You were on the peace studiesprogramming committee for a number of years. Can you tell me about that?
DC: That was, again, a function of the Cold War and the power of themilitary-industrial complex, which has just grown on and on, and it gets even less attention today it seems than it did then, when it was bad enough. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, you would've thought that the military budget might have been reduced a little bit. Instead, it just has continued to grow, which just shows what an independent powerhouse it is in this society, a force unto itself that we're doing all too little to, one, call attention to, and, two, do something about. It's no exaggeration to say it is impoverishing the rest of the country. Our crumbling infrastructure and the low pay of teachers, and the low funding of public education and public health and all these other things all tie back into the fact that over half of our tax dollars go to the military-industrial complex. It's truly a sacred cow. It can't be talked about, and yet we've got to do something about it. In terms of the climate crisis, the greatest use of fossil fuel in this country is by the military, and you never hear anything about that. Don't get me started! The lack of the draft is another big problem in this regard because once the draft was ended the focus on the military and even our getting in wars just dissipated. People no longer paid attention to it because it wasn't affecting them directly. It is so dangerous for our democracy to allow our country to become polarized between the mass that have no particular concern for or interest in political-military matters that are affecting their lives and the small percentage of families that contribute people to the military because that's an economically viable outlet for them. That is so anti-democratic. That's the kind of thing I would decry in class and make a lot of enemies particularly over at the Naval ROTC unit where they considered me such an apostate. What's this former Marine criticizing the military-industrial complex for? I never got invited to a Marine Corps ball here [laughs].
CP: Tell me about the Center for the Humanities. You were on their board as well.
DC: What a great group that has turned out to be. That has been a wonderful prodto the rest of the campus as a whole. They don't serve just the College of Liberal Arts. They bring people in from all disciplines if their work relates to the humanities. They bring people from other parts of the country and the world in their resident program there, too. It was a wonderful addition to the intellectual atmosphere of our university and at the time it started was really an innovative thing.
CP: Did you know Peter Copek?
DC: Yes, I knew him fairly well.
CP: Can you tell me about him?
DC: Quite a character [laughs]. He was a fun fellow.
CP: He was the heart and soul of the Center for the Humanities during itsinitial years.
DC: He really got it established all right. But he was in a, I don't want to saycabal, but a small group of English professors that had a convoluted theoretical perspective on politics that was more literary than analytic-highly obscure and arcane like modern poetry. This approach becomes so opaque, so hard to understand that its practical usefulness is compromised. That was the only thing that bothered me about Peter. This bunch in the English Department was radical to an astonishing degree, and it seems they found me a menace, particularly in my administrative days when I was often referred to, jokingly, as the red dean. They, on the contrary, saw me as the enemy incarnate because I wasn't ideologically pure enough. I wasn't one of them. That was an unpleasant and I would say unsavory aspect of academic life that is probably very prominent on major university campuses but that had been unknown in the past here. It was one of the products of our improving the quality of our faculty because as these young Turks came in from the major universities with their preparation from those places, they brought their formation in that theoretical context: deconstruction, Derrida, and Foucault and all that sort of thing. The problem was that it was all so elitist and that it had no practical application. They did nothing on campus to promote or further progressive causes of any kind. They weren't active in the organizations in town that were promoting these issues. They were just a little in-group that loved to talk to themselves about things that nobody else could quite fathom in a parlance that nobody else could understand. I had very little patience with this as you might gather.
CP: The Pauling Peace Lectureship. I know you're proud of that association.
DC: That was my baby! An English Instructor named Eric Swenson and I promptedDean Wilkins to initiate it in 1982, and I put a lot into it over the years. I must say I'm distraught to see it discontinued in recent years. I was the chair of the committee 10 years or so and 3 years ago I resigned from that position. Since I turned it back to the College they just have not done anything with it. After 35 years it has now been dormant for 3 years, and that's a shame. Their thinking may be that it's got so little funding that they have to let the endowment build up some and not drain it each year as we had to do, but that was part of the ingenuity that went into running that show: to come up with good people who didn't charge an arm and a leg, who weren't on the major lecture circuit, getting $20,000 or more for a single speech. Finding people who cared to go to a campus and speak to the students about these issues without charging exorbitant fees was the real challenge of it I thought. We did that for all those decades. Never paying anybody that kind of money. I'm afraid they're just building up their funds so they can do that. I hate to see the lecture take that direction, but it's out of my hands now.
CP: A lot of high-profile figures brought in in that lectureship, perhaps nonehigher in profile than Noam Chomsky.
DC: Yes. He was probably the highest profile, although we had quite a number ofNobel Laureates.
CP: Were you part of bringing Chomsky?
DC: Yes, I was.
CP: Can you tell me your memories of that?
DC: I drove him down from Portland so I got a couple hours with him in the car,and that was a great experience. He was probably one of the higher priced ones that we had, but nothing like many started charging around that time and have charged ever since. He packed LaSells, I must say, they came from all over the state to hear him. That was wonderful. Another of the best ones was Grace Lee Boggs. Do you remember her? Did you get to go to that one?
CP: I do.
DC: I'm ashamed to admit that I had never heard of her, but I saw her on theBill Moyer's program one night on OPB, and I just fell in love with this amazing woman. She was 92 years old but as mentally agile and articulate as a 20-year-old. I immediately wrote and invited her to come speak and her secretary wrote back promptly and said she's not traveling much anymore at her age but thank you for the invitation. I was so disappointed. But the next day I got an email from Grace herself saying, "Oh, your invitation fell into my hands finally, and I see this is in honor of Linus Pauling. I was on a program with him once, and he was such a gentleman. I would love to be a part of a lecture series in his name. At my age, I need to have a traveling companion, would that be possible?" I said absolutely. We paid for two people to come, but her actual fee wasn't exorbitant at all, just an honorarium. She was a marvelous presenter. It was one of the few times we managed to pack the LaSells Stewart Center without great name recognition or anything. I don't know how that happened. We advertised it the way we always advertised it, and normally very few students come. She held them in the palm of her hand, and then she signed books afterwards. Then about 10:45, at night when it's all over, she says I could use a hot dog and a beer. So we took her down to Squirrels, and she loved that [laughs]. What a woman!
CP: That's great.
DC: She managed to make it to 100, but she died shortly after that.
CP: I want to ask you about a couple organizations that you've been connectedwith. The first is Westminster House.
DC: That was such a fruitful relationship back during the period of the Cold Warwhen sensitivities on campus, administrative concerns, in particular, were so high about controversial political things at a public university. There sat Westminster House right on the edge of campus, and they were just so cooperative and always happy to have their facilities used for campus activities that had any kind of progressive, social justice aspect to them.
CP: It's a faith-based organization, though, correct?
DC: They were. But they didn't require that anyone who used their facility havethat orientation. They were really a tremendous asset. I utilized them a lot because of that and then wound up being on their board, in compensation, so to speak. We were able to air a lot of views over there that were sadly just too controversial for this university during that Cold War period.
CP: The other was Project Vote Smart that used to be based here.
DC: Yes. That was a very promising organization, and it has fulfilled a lot ofthat promise, but not nearly to the extent that it should have in terms of utilization by the public. The idea was to make current political information, trustworthy political information, available to anybody just by picking up the phone (at the time) and asking any kind of a political, factual question. The data would be in the computer bank here and student or community volunteers could just access it and give the caller an answer. While they were here, the computer revolution was occurring, and fortunately some of the students who were volunteering with them were more advanced in that sort of thing than we older people were, so they started getting Richard Kimbrall, the head of the organization, more sensitized to the need to computerize these things and to get this whole thing online so people could just do it themselves instead of having somebody here doing it and then telling them on the phone. That has really helped them a lot in terms of the use of their information. But it is still gathered in the same way with student volunteers who come and work for a period of time and research the different candidates and office holders: how did they vote, who funds them, and what do they espouse and so forth, and that's really useful information that needs to be at the fingertips of every citizen, and it is now. Literally at your fingertips because you can go right into their website and find it instantly. It's a fine organization.
CP: Do you know the origin story of how it arrived at OSU?
DC: Yes. Richard is from Arizona and he actually ran for the senate when BarryGoldwater retired. John McCain beat him. Richard became a very angry, very cynical, very outraged citizen as a result of what he had had to go through as a campaigner- finding out what he had to do to get funding and the influence that funders have, and it sort of radicalized him. It really convinced him that the American people need to know about this and they need to know the real facts. That's why he founded PVS and he was looking for a place to locate it. He somehow or other came across the name of Independence, Oregon, and he thought, gee, that would be a great place to put PVS, in Independence. When he came up to look it over he also visited Corvallis, and he just found Corvallis a much more adequate, welcoming place, with the student's right here that he needed as volunteers to do the grunt work. So instead of putting it in Independence he put it here in Corvallis.
It was going well. He decided to move out to Wren, which is just the other sideof Philomath, where he had bought some property for it, but he incurred opposition in trying to expand out there- he wanted to build a library and a little research center. The neighbors complained about that and didn't want more traffic coming in, and that kind of soured him on Corvallis. About that time he found out there was a dude ranch for sale in the Montana Rockies and he went out and looked at that and decided that it would really be the ideal place for PVS. Because there he would be rewarding the student volunteers. Just being in such a beautiful setting and having access to all the outdoor activities that they had at this dude ranch would in itself be compensation for them and attract them to coming back. It did. He had no shortage of student volunteers I think for all the years they were there. Just last year they finally moved on because it did turn out to be a liability. It was so isolated, and that made it problematic for medical emergencies and that sort of thing, and then somebody got trapped one winter in a snowstorm on the road in. They had about a 15-mile gravel road into the place. That really scared him when that happened. So he decided probably it was time to pull the plug on that one, and they moved back to Arizona. Actually, he himself has moved back to Arizona, but the operation has moved to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Anyway, it's still ongoing but still not as popular or well-known as it should be. The American people need to know more about it, but he's never succeeded in finding a formula that gets the word out that this is there and you can trust it. It's free, it's fast, it's accurate, it's unbiased, and it's just a great source of information.
CP: You published a book with Brent Steel towards the end of your career,Environmental Politics and Policy: A Comparative Approach. Is this a textbook?
CP: Tell me about that collaboration.
DC: Well, Brent has been the driving force in the department ever since hearrived, and he's the one who really spearheaded the whole public policy approach that has really taken over now in the department. He's always had an environmental interest and is a prolific, prolific researcher. He's got his fingers in so many different pies simultaneously all the time. He approached me at one point about this textbook idea and said let's do this together. I said, well, since it's you [laughs]. I'll be happy to do it. And so we did. It hasn't been a terrifically popular textbook, I'm afraid, but it was a worthwhile effort. We get our little $15, $20 royalties every year. It's unbelievable how unremunerative it is to do a textbook anymore.
CP: Well, you retired in 2004 but you referenced earlier in this interview beingin class today. So this is 15 years later and you're still teaching in the Honor's College. Tell me about that.
DC: Right. I've taught a colloquium there every year called Adapting to GlobalInterdependence, which kind of condenses a lot of what I was doing in my International Relations class. We have become so radically interdependent globally, and very few recognize that. So much of what we believe and so many of our values were developed under conditions of relative independence when what we did didn't really affect others that much. We could be individualistic and materialistic and consumerist and all the rest. It was all right. Now we are so interdependent that what each of us does affects the whole world in some ways. It's phenomenal. Trying to adapt our institutions and our values to this new setting is what I was focusing on in that class, but that title didn't seem to have enough pizazz, and so I changed it this year to... well, let me back up one step. By sheer coincidence, in 2013 a young man here in town wrote a book with a colleague of his in England called Enough Is Enough, which focuses on the idea of moving toward a steady state economy, to get out of our economy of growth. We just reify growth. In fact, the economics discipline is totally built around the idea of growth. They simply can't deal with the idea of a steady state economy at all. Consequently the idea has not caught on very much, even though it's been around since the '70s. Enough is Enough by Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill, which really brings the concept down to earth and makes it very comprehensible and introduces every aspect of it in 14 easy chapters, it is a perfect orienting mechanism for my course. I built the course around that text since 2013.
This year I decided to change the name of the course from Adapting to GlobalInterdependence, which sounds too theoretical, to A Recovery Plan for a Sick Society [laughs]. That's the recovery plan, the steady state economy idea. We have got to go in that direction but the chances of our turning everything around to do that, given all the changes that are required, make it a very slim reed to pin our hopes on. Yet if we don't, we're lost, and so we need to think about it and try to figure out how to do it. This puts a heavy burden on the kids, I'm sure, to be confronted with all this. It's a pretty depressing situation, but the climate crisis has become so serious now, with the UN assuring us that we only have 10 or 12 years to prevent the worst from happening, and the biodiversity people coming out in that new report saying how severely we're impacting life on this planet. We're wiping out the base of the food chain on which everything else depends, and so we risk a huge collapse. And knowing how we operate, I'm afraid that's what it'll take before we really begin to make the changes that have to be made. That's the future if we have one. Intimidating as it is, it's great to be able to still get in there with those bright young minds and tussle with these ideas.
CP: A couple of concluding questions, the first is about Corvallis. You're anative-born Oregonian since 1976, tell me about what Corvallis has meant to you and how it's changed.
DC: Well, it's getting too big, unfortunately. I try to stifle the fear thatit's following the Florida model with so much growth, but it's nowhere near as fast here, and so that's the saving grace I guess. Oregon as a whole is going to get a huge influx of population I'm afraid as the climate crisis worsens and the southwest becomes uninhabitable. People are going to flood up here. But, you know, it's a paradise right now, and I just thank my lucky stars that I wound up here through all that series of chance happenings that brought me here. It's been a great life.
CP: And OSU-your assessment of where it's at now.
DC: It's never been better in terms of the quality of the faculty. There'simportant work going on in so many areas. It's really verging on becoming a great university, and I'm very happy to see that. But at the same time it has become so excessively top-heavy. The administrative structuring just has no end. The assistant vice provost for everything and all of the secretariat staff that each one of those has to have. We just don't have the revenue base in the state to support a great university that puts so much of its resources into the administrative side and in doing so undercuts the academic side. The sciences can still prosper under that kind of model because they get most of their funding externally, but the humanities have a lot harder time doing that and the social sciences, too. Funding opportunities just aren't out there for them as much as they are for the sciences and the engineering side of things. They depend on funding within the university. I'm afraid that funding is being siphoned off to the exorbitant salaries that administrators get, which again is distorting in terms of what the professoriate earns here. While that's been corrected to some extent since I retired, the compression was atrocious when I was in the trenches. As a full professor I retired making less than some of our assistant professors were entering at. As I said, they did make a correction on that a couple years afterwards to some extent, and some of my colleagues got a $20,000 a year raise, but it still doesn't really bring them up to the level of our peer institutions, and I think that's a festering problem that has spawned the recent union movement. I think on 8 different occasions while I was here unionization came up and was voted down. But it was voted up this time, and I don't think that's an accident in terms of this disproportion between the administrative and the academic side of things. There's trouble on the horizon here in that regard, from my humble perspective.
CP: Well, Dick, I thank you very much for sharing your humble perspective.
DC: Well, thank you for putting up with it for all this time. I mean I'mdelighted that you're interested in doing this kind of thing. I hope somebody someday will get something out of it.
CP: I'm sure they will. Thanks again.
DC: Thank you, Chris.