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Miriam Orzech Oral History Interview, January 30, 2010

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´╗┐Group: Hi! This is Shannon Warren, and June Schumer, I am Ruth Mwandira. The Date is Saturday, January 30th, 2010. We are interviewing Miriam, Dr Miriam Orzech and we are at the home of Zeb and Miriam Orzech on Crest Drive in Corvallis Oregon.

Jean So thank you.. so I think what we are going to do is since you know Ruth is from Malawi and has an accent and she didn't want you to feel, she didn't want you to worry about you saying what, what, what if you don't understand her, Shannon and I are going to be the main people interviewing you.

MO: I am used to accents so does not bother me

JS: Yah yah, actually Ruth's accent is beautiful and very easy to understand. So I am not writing anything down, its all going to be recorded. So can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where you grew up and what your home life 00:01:00was like?

MO: First of all my name is Miriam but everybody calls me Mimi, all my life I have been Mimi Orzech and so feel free. I was born in New York City, Queens, Jamaica and lived there until I was about 14, went to public school there and all the rest of that kind of thing you know and then second world war was in full swing by the time I was 14. My father was in the army, he was a Physician and so he was in the Medical Call for many years and they never, he and my mother, his wife, never traveled west of really Washington Dc until the war was in full swing and he was transferred around the country to various places and at 00:02:00the end of the war he was going to be transferred to a place where he was going to be discharged so he asked to be sent to Seattle Washington where there is Fort Louis, Washington, big Base.

JS: Mm.. Mm ..mm

MO: and both he and my mother were very glad to kind of leave their all their extended family behind in the east so they went west and so we moved to the Fort Louis area which is south of Seattle and I went to school there. I had my first job as a 14 and a half years old, whatever I was. I worked as a waitress to the officers club for which I got paid and I was eh..very glad about that.


JS: Mm ..mm . How much did you get paid at that time?

MO: Oh I don't remember but it was minimum minimum kind of thing you know and ehh.. my parents, my father had a choice of where he wanted to be discharged and he was going to work for the Veteran Administration in the Hospitals and there was one in Seattle, there was one in Denver, one in Van Nuys, California and there was one in Portland. Well the weekend when he had to make the decision, they knew what Seattle was like and they did not want particularly to stay there although it was an okay place, Denver had a blizzard that weekend, they knew they did not want to go to Van Nuys California because that is kind of deserty.

JS: Mm..mm

MO: Hot! and not terribly pleasant so they made a trip to Portland where they had never been before. This was in January and there were roses blooming in 00:04:00January in Portland and my mother said we are home! This is it! She was an avid gardener and so was my father and he liked to do that too. So anyway that's where they moved to and I finished high school in Portland Oregon because the little town called Lake Oswego where they moved to wasn't big enough to have a high school at that time. It does now because I think it has 2. Anyway so graduated high school in Portland and then I went to Reed college which is also in Portland which a very good small and highly selective small Liberal Arts college. I went there for 2 years. I was not their greatest student and I got into a little political trouble and since my father was a federal employee he was very upset with some of the activities I got into because they were a little too political for him and so he said either you pay for your own way or you will 00:05:00transfer and so I transferred and went to Lewis and Clark for a year and I escaped from there which was ..

JS: Escaped--

MO: well it was sort of a big overgrown high school at that time. It is a much better school now and that's after my time and I went to Berkeley, UCLA California in Berkeley which is where I met my husband. And so it 's all down hill from there

JS: Ha ha ha.. and how many siblings do you have?

MO: I have one of each. An older brother and a much younger sister and we have together several--. and I have three children also and six at last count grandchildren and so had some real nice family. Our daughter who is the eldest one lives in this town where I guess helps to take care of her aging parents and 00:06:00our youngest son lives in Seattle and our middle son lives in Philadelphia or outside of Philadelphia. And so that's it in a nutshell.

JS: and so-- and..umh ..you said something about school and that there were some political--..what was it? and what was the time and what was the time like ..eh--?

MO: I started college, I graduated high school in.. 48 and so I went right into at Reed and at that time it was just the beginning of the start of the establishment of the State of Israel

JS: Ahhha

MO: And I immediately started hanging out with Israelis and got all involved. My parents were very reformed and they were also devoted to Israel but not to the extent of having their daughter move there which is the road based on me traveling. So


JS: They were not Zionist?

MO: --.well they were technically but not to having me go you know

JS: Right

MO: so me being a very obedient young woman I transferred and that's where I met Zev, an ex Israeli, not then but he is now and ..

JS: mhhh

ZO: now I am ex .. but at that time I was Israeli

MO: So that did not please them too much either but we fell in love and got married and that was 57 years ago, something like that

ZO: Yah in '52 and '09

MO: This is '10

ZO: and that's 57, very good

JS: wow! -- so What are some of your most positive memories from growing up from your childhood from those formative years?

MO: Well my family was always involved with the Jewish holidays. My family was always members of the local synagogue whatever that was and was usually reform 00:08:00and well you know we visited family, we had family in Brooklyn, and we had family all over the place, mainly in Brooklyn or others in Queens also, so we were tied in to that. I had a lot of Jewish friends because the area in New York where we lived was highly Jewish. And it was a good childhood ehh..very uneventful. We used to go to the Atlantic ocean which is as opposed to the Pacific ocean, you can swim in the Atlantic ocean..ha.ha.ha

JS: Mmmh

MO: and so we went there often when it got very hot in the summer and so made lots of trips to the beach and that was uneventful

ZO: actually if I may interrupt, many of the years of your growing up you were 00:09:00traveling around. Her father was in the army , much of the time both overseas 00:10:00and here most of the time they got shifted around, right?, maybe you want to talk about that for a moment

MO: yah.. well that took place in my.. during my high school years when I was.. I started high school in New York in Jamaica in a local community where we lived, that was in my freshman year and before that that year was over we had moved once, we went to Missouri. Talk about accents, I never understood the first words, any words everybody ever said to me the 6 weeks we were there

All: Ha..ha..ha

MO: It was a good thing we moved because I would have failed the whole freshman year. It was just like another language, I did not understand a word. They sure sounded funny. Anyway then we went other places, we went well in Missouri we were in Illinois.

ZO: How many high schools do you think?


MO: five or six, I have lost track, in the four years of high school so

JS: Wow

MO: You don't make very good friends in a situation like that

JS: Right

MO: We lived in Massachusetts, we lived at Fort Davis in Massachusetts, in Missouri as I said we lived in Illinois, we lived in Seattle or close to there. I think the tea is ready

JS: Ok. Ruth has a question. What were the major activities that you were involved in school?

MO: In Public school?

JS: yes..

MO: I always joined the clubs because that was the only way you could meet people when you were traveling around. I don't really remember much about the clubs but I usually joined like the forensics club, I don't know. You know I took things like Latin in high school because I wanted to be a doctor and that made sense then, I don't remember any Latin, you know, eh.. I wasn't too much involved, I was always too involved in getting settled and getting caught to what I thought was going on

JS: What dissuaded you from becoming a Physician?


MO: Maths and Chemistry

JS: ha ha ha

MO: Very simple answer

JS: Aha .So it sounds that you kind of answered what your family did and what your family enjoyed doing together and maybe eh.. you didn't

MO: My mother was a stay at home mum. Before the early years of their marriage, she worked in her father's hardware store and that's up where she met my father, I am not really very clear on that. And then after they moved to Jamaica and had children, she stayed at home. Aha funny remembrance, I was I don't know 9 or 10 when we lived there and my first boyfriend showed and showed up at that point. 00:13:00He was a very nice good Catholic boy and my parents were very understanding I guess assuming this was not a very long term relationship, which was not , we had lots of fun together. And there did not seem to be lots of problems as they are today between groups and religions and all that kind of thing, you know we just had fun together. So it was a very uneventful childhood until the war came and we started moving around.

JS: Umhh

MO: I was very upset when my father went into the army and when he was selected to go overseas. I was still in the 8th grade or something when something like that happened, it was kind of a trauma time

JS: I was going to get to that. What was the tenor of the country like at that time during the world war 2?

MO: Well once the war was declared, our war part of it declared..


JS: in 19--.it was in 19..?

MO: In 1941, I was very, the tenor was, people were very positive about the war and helping to make it a success on our side and so I participated in war borne drives where we. it amazes me now looking back on it because at the time they sent us we were going door to door, I was then 12 or something like that to collect money from people and have them fill out forms and I turned it in and nobody though anything strange about this, you know trusting these kids

ZO: this was the last war that you ever helped because since you have participated in anti-war demonstrations and one war after the next

MO: Oh yah..

ZO: there was Korea, Vietnam

MO: Yes, quite a few wars in between

JS: Protesting against the subsequent wars?

MO: Oh yes that's right but world 2 we were very much tied into that, very 00:15:00important to us. And you know I,..my family participated in food drives and we would collect fat and transfer it to a collecting place where they turned it into something rather that was useful and we saved tin cans and that got recycled. So all that stuff was going on very actively

JS: It was really a national effort at that time..

MO: It was..absolutely a national effort at that time. And schools were all involved in it and kids took part in it and I never remember hearing anybody who was against the war at that time

JS: Umhh

MO: But you know that time I was really tuned to politics at that time, I was young

JS: That was like a just war, that war was a just war

MO: yes, absolutely, I still call it a just war, right now, well I spend a lot time reading books about the holocaust, memoirs, remembrances, novels and all 00:16:00that kind of thing. I am reading one right now which is very horrible reading. Its about what happened in Poland to the Jews there, it was certainly not pretty. We didn't know about that at that time.

JS: What is the title of the book you are reading?

MO: "Sarah's Gift" Sarah is a woman's first name

JS: Ummhh

MO: She was a young 18 year older so when in ..39 when war broke out, Germans marched into Poland and how the Germans treated the Jews. Most of Poland including most of Zev's extended family was wiped out in that period

JS: a lot of my extended family as well were wiped out . The war touched a lot of people

MO: Yah

JS: So when you were at Berkeley, what were you studying at Berkeley?


MO: When I was at Reed I was doing Sciences preparing for pre-med. Right up at Berkeley I was a history major

JS: aha

MO: Medicine was not on the cards anymore. So I was a history major and I did minors in English and social I guess. I was always attracted to those fields, they were easier than Chemistry

ZO: And that's what your PhD is in.

MO:. yes the same multidisciplinary kind of thing

JS: so maybe we will move to some questions about your career and your eh.. oh! you know there are some questions here and I just want to go back to this question. Who were your childhood heroes?

MO: I cannot think of anything, my family was not into any sports, organized sports, no base ball. I don't remember a thing about all that stuff. I can't 00:18:00think of I had any. I read a lot of books and all that kind of thing, I remember Nancy drew and all that kind of thing

JS: Not any special case

MO: Well Preston Ozilot was a major part of my life. I remember how I felt when he died. You know I was really devastated

JS: ah..were you involved in any sports at all?

MO: No

JS: Okay

MO: In college you had to have Physical education so I took skiing lessons and other things, you know. The Skiing lessons at least to know that I would never be a Skier

JS: Ha..ha..ha. It sounds like you are a woman who you recognizes your strengths and weaknesses, you knew what you were good at and what you were not and you didn't


MO: yah and that's a correct statement

JS: Shannon, do you want to want to ask, do you want to move on to the career questions? EOP, SMILE whatever? There is those as a jumping off points I guess

MO: I want to give you something that will make it easier for you. I have a curriculum vitae

JS: Oh, ok

MO: [hands over some documents and CV] That's part of something else we would want to talk about . Maybe you can take a look at it and pass it around. The CV is the only copy I could find right now.

ZO: Would you like me to make a copy? Copies? Would that be helpful?--I don't know

MO: Would you like to take a copy with you?

JS: Sure. maybe we would put it in with your article and submit it together like 00:20:00for the Archives, for the OSU Archives

ZO: I am sure they have a copy of your CV

MO: Who knows--I mean I--.

JS: well they may not or maybe they do, I don't know but just incase, Ok ,thank you

SW: When did you go to Oregon State University?

MO: When? 1957, no '52, no '57

ZO: no.. no.. no '57, Sarah was born in '57 and you taught until then you taught high school in Pittsburg, California

JS: Oh..

MO: Not a very nice place, in fact they talk about prostitution ring in the 7th 00:21:00grade in the middle school that they had there in Pittsburg. I was fortunate in the high school, teaching in the high school

JS: There was a 7th grade prostitution ring?

MO: Yah and one of my --. Student I was really interested in, a student I was hoping to kind of to save in some way because he was always in trouble. One day the Police just came in and just hold him out of the class. He could draw beautifully and he would cover the whole chalk board with prehistoric animals and all kind of things, maybe whatever we were studying in history. He was very good. He was a nice kid

ZO: It was a rough town. It was a working man's town. Italian, half an hour from 00:22:00San Francisco and most of the kids had never been out of this town.. The parents certainly not. Many didn't speak English,

JS: kind of a rough environment..

ZO: Yah it was very rough

SW: What made you to decide on Oregon State to teach?

MO: well my parents at that time had settled after my dad got out of the army which is in lake Oswego which is right next to Portland, lived in the community of Portland. Ah mmm.. and my dad was a doctor so when I was pregnant we thought first we decided to come up and hang out there, convenient and so--

SW: What inspired you--

ZO: wait a minute you did not answer the question

MO: I did not answer something; what was the other part of that question?

ZO: Yah what made you decide on ..

MO: decided? .. no, he decided, he took a job .. he..he


ZO: They offered me a job. On the way up I left my CV. My curriculum vitae, coming driving up and I asked if they are any job opening. I wasn't really looking because we were at her parent's home waiting for the baby and they said no, no jobs. A week later they called and asked if I was still available. What happened was a married professor eloped with a graduate student, with a female graduate student and suddenly they had a job opening so they wanted to know and I said ok fine and we came down and that's how she ended up there

MO: --But when we got to town, we looked at each other, looked around and looked at each other and said two years maximum an we are out of here and that was 57 years ago

ZO: It was no very good town, there was no music, no theatre, in the middle of nowhere


MO: no place to eat--

ZO: Mimi was involved in many things and there was no black students, oh! I think there were some football players but everywhere, everybody looked the same and talked the same. In Eastern Oregon, everybody's name was the same. I mean it was a very--

MO: They were all Jean John, Jane, June--. I here had a lot of trouble with that

JS: do you mind if I asked a question? What? So it was a very bland white town when you started

MO: Absolutely

JS: Zev said you were responsible for starting some cultural activities here and so can you tell us something about that?

MO: Zev was also very involved in that. At that time we did everything together. 00:25:00The first thing we got involved with was the band and theatre

ZO: That's right

MO: which put on popular plays. It was all amateur. There wasn't anything else. It was at the Majestic.

ZO: That's what started and it started in our living room, I remember that

JS: mmm.

MO: and then I don't how we got started with the Chamber Music Society but..

ZO: that was just getting started and out of our college. At first it was OSU, now it is not OSU anymore, it is Corvallis Chamber of Music, I don't know if you are familiar with the Chamber of Music?

JS: Oh I am but just a little bit

MO: Zev became one of the Presidents of and..

ZO: I was also for a long time on the Board and so what else did you start.. there was the Jewish other services you started --


MO: Yah I started that which was a Jewish Zionist Women's organization philanthropic

ZO: Sunday school

MO: then we established the Sunday school. When we came to Corvallis, there were about 6 Jewish families and were number 6 and most of the 6 had young children

JS: aha

MO: and when they needed to start religious school training, there was nothing, so we started the Sunday school, we taught in it and I don't know one of us was Principal or something like that. And that moved eventually moved into Beit Am. Which is now our Jewish Synagogue community center now going on for a long time. And we had fund raising activities and the Jewish community itself was too small 00:27:00to really raise money from it. We could work but there was no money, we all paid by the University mainly, not very well but well put food on the table and we put on a luncheon to which we invited anybody In the community literary. And so we made blintzes, do you know what blintzes are?

JS: ohhh

MO: it is an egg pancake , something like a crest filled with either, mostly with sweet and cottage cheese served with jam over it and that was wildly popular and we had 600 people coming in town and just the Jewish community. Most of the Jewish community was waiting on the tables, pouring coffee and all that kind of stuff. So that was very popular for many years until we just got all 00:28:00burnt out because it was too much work

JS: Yah.. blintzes are too much work

MO: So it says you got your Master's at OSU and you got your doctorate at OSU so can you tell us about.. so were you a professor as well at OSU or you were the head of these programs and you started that program (EOP)?

MO: Ok.. Uh ..In what? Eh.. ..in 62 we already had I guess three kids by that time and we got a phone call one night from the Chair of the History department, he wanted to talk to me and I was tutoring on occasion mostly to athletes who needed that help in History. So some people in the History department knew me 00:29:00because of that and the Chair at that time said well, could you come in and teach for us next Monday? Whatever it was and I was like , almost immediately because there was a big surge in enrollment which caught everybody by surprise so all the departments were looking for other faculty members. So first I did not want to go. I said are you sure you of the right person I was very unsure of myself but he said yes. So with my husband kicking me in the back, say yes, say yes so I went and taught and I was an instructor for three years

ZO: that was before you had a masters

MO: I didn't have a masters, I had a bachelors, although it was from a very good school, it was from Berkeley, Uh.. mmm I found out how hard it can be to be an instructor in college though I managed alright, I had a good reputation. Anyway 00:30:00at that time then you could not get a higher degree above a bachelors in any of the social sciences. The only choice was to go to Portland which was about 90 miles then and it still is or go down to Eugene University of Oregon. And I wasn't about to start communicating 40 miles each way with 3 little kids at home so I did what was called a fairly new thing at that time a multidisciplinary degree. We had to put together 3 fields, one of which could issue a Masters and he other 2 whatever and so I did, I guess I did English because you could get a Masters there and History and Social or something like that. And so I got a Masters and I was teaching at the time in the History Department and I kept on 00:31:00doing that. Then a year or two after that a program called the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) was established. Pretty more disadvantaged and minority students to the University other than football players which is all they had at that time. If you saw a black student on campus, you knew it was a football player and not from Ghana or any other place

JS: Mmm eh huh

MO: so anyway they started that program. So I was right there with my Masters degree fresh and it was the kind of program I was very interested in, so I talked to the person that had been appointed the Director. He and I heated off 00:32:00and so he asked if I wanted to come and be the Academic Coordinator because he did not have any kind of degree and so I said yes and that is how I started my career in EOP where I was for I don't know for how many years, I have to look at the thing. And I stayed there for quite a few years I was very successful and the program grew

JS: Was that a rewarding program?

MO: And then a year or 2 after I did that, a program called the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) was established to bring more minority and disadvantaged students to the University other than football players, which was all they had at the time. If you saw a Black student on campus, you knew he was a football player and not from Ghana or any other place. So, they started that program so I was right there with my masters degree, fresh, and that was the kind of program I was interested in. So, I talked to the director, he and I hit it off and he asked me if I wanted to become the academic coordinator, cuz he didn't have any kind of degree, so I started my career in EOP where I was there. And I stayed there for quite a few years and was very successful.

JS: Was it a rewarding program?

MO: Absolutely. Very rewarding. I also would go on recruiting trips to Portland and other cities convince minority students to come. OSU didn't have a sterling reputation at that time; it wasn't a hospitable place for minorities. Lots of Black students would go to Howard or one of the traditionally Black in the East or someplace else or just not go to higher education. And it was hard to 00:33:00minorities to graduate from high school cuz those schools weren't particularly welcoming either. It was not a good place. Very conservative town. Not very progressive. So, anyway, I helped get all of those things going in the program grew so pretty soon they hired counselors, couple advisors to do these things including minority faculty.

JS: Yes, I was noticing a pretty diverse looking faculty

MO: There were Hispanics, a Native American, and Blacks.

ZO: You wouldn't find those in the school of education

MO: No, not for many years

ZO: It was pure white. And that's when we tried to get involved, get them involved in EOP. But anyway. Then Lonnie died, the director; he was Black fellow 00:34:00from Portland.

SW: Lonnie B. Harris

MO: Yes, right. He was the first director of EOP, hired me. So, somewhere along that line Graham Spaniar became the Provost.

ZO: No, long before that you became head of EOP. But your better talk about that. Something about the archives but nobody knows you were involved in it

MO: When Lonnie died, they had to replace him, obviously. And I applied along with a bunch of other people. And that time I had my PhD. So they started this search process and a bunch of people dropped out. Finally, they were left with 5 00:35:00and I was one; the only female only white people. There were 2 Hispanics, 2 Indians/Native Americans

ZO: One Black

MO: I guess there was a Black person

ZO: Black, PhD

MO: Anyway, they started another round of interviews with the 5 of us or 6 of us, both of the Black men who both had masters looked around Corvallis and said I'm not gonna stay in this town. They were out. One of the Indians said they could never match the salary I'm getting and they weren't interested--

ZO: Until you remained the only one

MO: Yes, I was the only one left.


ZO: The others for whatever reason said no thank you

JS: And you had already been staff of EOP?

MO: And then after that happened, there was this long silence. They didn't offer me the job, they just left me hanging. And then the president--

ZO: The president asked to do a new search

MO: Yeah. So, that led me to my first political action, I suppose, cuz at that time the Women's Movement had gained a political hold at Oregon State as well as all over the country and litigation became fairly obvious and feasible. I happened to be good friends with--at the time, there was a Hispanic lawyer who was the University lawyer here, we were good friends. So, at one point, I called 00:37:00him up and told him what was going on and asked him what do I have to do to start a lawsuit. He said "hold it, wait, don't start anything rash" That;s all I had to say. And then, "how can I start a suit?" A week or so later, I got a call from the president offering me the position. But first, before he was gonna make it official, he wanted to students in EOP to vote on whether they wanted me or not. Unprecedented. Unheard of to do that kind of thing. And I said I didn't think it was a good idea.

JS: So here you are, a woman with a PhD qualified to do the job you had been doing with years of experience


MO: Years of experience

JS: And they wanted to have the undergraduate students in the program interview you and vote on you?

MO: And vote on me. So, I don't know how that finally resolved itself but the president finally backed down. He called me

ZO: He called you and offered you the job with all kinds of hesitation. "I don't want to do this" and--

MO: And he kind of read me the riot act. "Everyone is going to be looking at you and looking at the program and I'm gonna be watching and we don't' want any problems in this program. It's a very important program and we want it to be ok. I don't think having a white woman be the director of this program is a good idea." He was very up front and very strong about it but he offered me the position and I accepted.


ZO: And then EOP took off.

MO: Yes, it took off. [Zev leaves.]

JS: Were there any other women on the faculty?

MO: Yes, there were.

ZO: You have to excuse me, and you may not think of it cuz it's not in your CV but the lawsuits.

MO: Yes, I was gonna tell them, I have some of the material here. As I said, the Women's movement on campus had a couple of very--[Jean goes to move car]--There 00:40:00were several very outspoken and assertive women leading these groups. We had meetings and talked about all the grievances that the women faculty had. We just decided to have a lawsuit to the University and the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was coming to evaluate the University. So, I have in here, one of the--this is the deposition that I gave sworn to by the lawyer representing the 00:41:00women. The plaintiff was Anna Penk and it was vs Oregon State Board of Education. I'll leave this with you to read sometime.

One of the things we had to do to make this suit go was, EEOC wanted us to do this, each of us had to find some male professional at the university with a job more or less comparable with the job I was holding and we would compare the years of experience the person had with mine, the salary, the responsibilities, the training, accomplishments of that person. We each had to come up with at 00:42:00least 3 such people. I did that and several other people did that. The upshot was that the EEOC found in our favor and all of us got raises as a result. And that happened not once, but twice. And I got a raise each time. Talk about being underpaid.

About that time there was a change in administration and a man by the name of Graham Spaniar became Provost. Provost is kinda the head honcho of the academic department of the whole university: Graham Spaniar. And he needed to have 2 00:43:00assistant Provost or Vice-Provosots and he offered me one of those positions. So all of a sudden, I was on a really upward projecton there. He was great to work for. I accepted. A white male took the other position and different responsibilities. I was put in charge of all minority programs at the University which included EOP and several other peripheral groups. One of the things I was able to do as a part of that position was begin the OSU Holocaust Program which 00:44:00was very dear to my heart. So, I formed a committee and we had the first program which was 4 days. Later, it became a 5 day program. It turned out to be a very good program and it's still going on. This was in the early 80s and it's got a very good reputation; draws 1,000 a year each time. That's also in the folder in here, called the OSU Holocaust. I'll leave all this with you temporarily anyway.


My main responsibility was this and several other things that had to do with minority students. The first thing I found out about going into administration, which was what I was, was that you do have a lot of time of on your hands. You don't have to fill up every single minute with busywork so I had time and I met a woman who worked in the Foundation Office and we became friends.

I was one day talking to her about my dreams for this and what I wanted one day to do was start an outreach program for public school student who were minority or disadvantaged and mainly rural because the big cities - Portland was the big 00:46:00city in Oregon at that time - tended to have programs for minority students, various kinds. But all the big corporation who were interested in hiring minorities were delighted to do things for the minorities in the big cities were they can gather them together at a time and give them a weekend of activities or whatever, enrichment activities, then when the weekend was over, they'd cut them loose until next year when they did another one. I didn't think that was a very good idea. I wanted to start a program that was recurring; a pipeline program. So, I talked about it with the scout and she said there was lots of money out there to do this kind of thing. I told her I was not a fundraiser and I didn't 00:47:00know how to raise money, I've always been employed and where would I get money. She said "I can show you," and she did. I started writing grants so I became kind of a poster child for grant writing and I was in the right place at the right time with the right kind of program and I was a good writer and had lots of help. So, grants started coming in. I set-up a program and that the SMILE program. The only thing about the SMILE program that's not mine is the name cuz somebody else made it up SMILE.

SW: What's it stand for?

MO: Science/Mathematics Investigative Learning Experiences.

JS: But it was it for minorities?

MO: Minorities and other disadvantaged students. And because the big cities, 00:48:00Salem and Eugene and Portland, had programs because they were so populous. I think when I came, Corvallis had 7,000 students or something, maybe it had gone up to 10. Anyway, we decided we would start this program in middle schools. Now, I was a high school teacher and trained as a high school teach but we knew we'd have to start these things in elementary level but I didn't know what to do with elementary school students. I'd been one myself but I didn't know how to deal with them. So, we started in the middle schools and we went to 4 communities that were rural, for the most part, isolated and didn't have any educational 00:49:00amenities: they didn't have a museum, high tech industries, and they were poor but they had significant number of minority students. And depending on what part of the state you were in, we had 2 in Eastern Oregon, way over toward the Idaho border and there were lots of Hispanics over there, mainly field workers and so forth. Then there was Chilaquen, which is almost down at the California border, and that was part of the Kalamath tribe. And the other one was Woodburn, yes, which is near Salem and there were a lot of Hispanics there also, Indians and some Russian elder who counted as disadvantaged even though they were white.


So we started a program in those 4 middle schools; 1 in each of those districts. And for each program, we hired 2 teachers in each school to lead SMILE programs. SMILE programs were limited to 20 students each ,they had to be minority or disadvantaged, had to want to be in the program when we talked about it (mumbles), they had to be good citizen students, not in any trouble and had to be reasonable students with a C average. Those were the only requirements. So we started and we had trouble getting Indian students and Hispanics, particularly 00:51:00girls because their parents didn't want their kids--first of all, OSU didn't have a good reputation, the staff I was able to hire was all white, I was white and we didn't have anything we could stand on. That took a lot of work and was slow going at first. None of the programs started out with 20 students, we were lucky if we had 12 maybe 14 but we worked at it. The program is spelled out in some of the history I have laid out here, but in a nutshell let me tell you what the program consisted of at first. We brought those 8 teachers - 2 from each school - to Oregon State for a preliminary meeting to tell them about the program, what was involved and what we wanted them to do.


And one of the first things we learned from these 8 teachers is that they didn't know what was going on in their school district. They didn't know what, if it was another middle school, what those teachers were doing. They never had time to talk with them; they were so busy dealing with their own students. And it was the same in every single school so we knew we had to do something about that. So we began planning teacher's workshops that's a major part of the program. Then, the program consisted of at the school's a weekly meeting, with students who signed up for the program with those 2 teachers and they would do something in science or math. Particularly, in math, they'd do some tutorials, remedial work cuz these students weren't the best and we tried to interest them in all kinds 00:53:00of career choices. First of all, completing middle school and going on to high school and we were able to fund in each school field trips for th students. Most students in these schools weren't going on field trips but we had enough money for 7. Mostly, they did them in their general area. Teachers would take them to a factory or a processing plant or something, whatever was there, even a mechanical garage were they would point out the science and the math that these people were using making a living from, that it was useful, that anybody could 00:54:00do it if you had the training. That was very important.

Then, another major activity during the years was a visit to OSU on a weekend. Now, that had all kind of problems and led to my enhanced or more urgent fundraising cuz we had to provide transportation. Another thing was none of the student had to pay anything to be in this program so we had to provide snacks for after school when they were doing their activities; if we were going to bring them to the university, which we did, wed have to pay for their transportation, we had to get them their, rent a bus or from Eastern Oregon, we flew them otherwise it was an 8 hours trip and for a 2 day weekend, would have 00:55:00turned into a 4 day weekend, 1 day to get there, 1 day to get back and 2 days to be there. So flying was a better option. Of course, it cost money. Then we'd have to pay the University for the rooms they'd live in, we had to buy their food, we also had to give them something, like a little gift. A lot of these families, the kids came from families that certainly weren't well off, they were coming here and weren't familiar with OSU or Corvallis and sometimes it was pretty cold. So the middle school kids were getting a t-shirt which was all the usual stuff people have on their t-shirts: a big thing with the SMILE program 00:56:00and the date, so I have them going back from '81, '82, '83. And, all things like that. So that's pretty much what we did the first year and it turned out to be a winning arrangement of activities.

JS: Is the SMILE program still in existence?

MO: Yes. I have been retired for 8 or 9 years and it's still going on with a different director, a Black director now and other staff. I don't even know all of them, there's been lots of turn over.

JS: Sounds like it's something to be really proud of, the program.

MO: It is. Oh, we even got an award from, not Jimmy Carter, uh, a presidential award. Big deal. Anyway, so that started and I guess the second year of the 00:57:00program, in the mean time--every year there's a whole list in one of these things of the companies that got on board cuz they liked it and were interested in doing this and were already worried, you know, "where's our minority employees gonna come from?" There not gonna come from nothing out of nowhere, they had to be trained and had to come through/from the school system.

By the second year, it was very apparent that we needed to start an elementary program to funnel kids from the elementary program to the middle school program. As I said, I didn't know much about elementary school kids and was contacted by the Kellogg Foundation, the cereal people, and I was invited to make a proposal 00:58:00from them and talk to the about the existing program and that we wanted to start an elementary program which had the same format. And they funded me for 3 years so we were able to start the elementary program and they did exactly the same things and the teachers did the same kinds of things that the middle school teachers were doing. Except, instead of bring the elementary school students to the University over the weekend - we decided that that probably wasn't the best environment for them - they were too young. 4th, 5th and 6th grade. But north of here and south of Salem, there's a 4H camp, existing 4H camp that was a year round camp with wooden bunks, was heated and all that. Had a pond, a little 00:59:00lake, a stream. It had a forest and meadows, all kind of things. So we decided, instead of having, what we were calling for the middle school students a "Challenge Weekend," where they had to create something and come back with that; we called that an "Outdoor Science Adventure" and that we could pull off and we did. It was again a 2 day weekend. We brought them to this camp, paid their way, fed them and hired chaperons and I'll come back to that in a minute too, it's kind of a sticky issue. And they did all kinds of investigations, they measured the height of trees using special instruments that foresters due, and they 01:00:00measured the water and tested for this and that bacteria, all that kind of thing. It was a big success, a rip-roaring success.

The problems occurred in the minority/white center, [?] especially the Hispanic families were very unwilling to send their girl students in 4th or 5th or 6th grade off to an overnight camp with white faculty and they didn't have any control of it. Very suspicious. And we had Hispanic parents come and visit for extended periods look us over, and some of them wouldn't let their kids come- the girls,- they let the fellas come, but not the girls. Then after that first experience, they girls came back and told them what a good time they had had and 01:01:00the safety, nobody got hurt, nobody got in trouble and it was a good experience. So things got a little easier, but they were still suspicious. The Native American parents, and they were scattered all over, they didn't want really anything to do with white man's education. What really was that gonna do for their kids? So they were very suspicions and that was an uphill battle, same kind of thing. One of the ways we conquered that, and other uncertainties and hesitations, was bring our whole staff to each of the communities for a 1-day program in which the students from that particular school also were there and the staff and the students would present programs for their families who all 01:02:00came and had a potluck, we always had food and presents. That was very successful, the parents really liked that. They could see their students, their own kids giving a lecture, talking to people, showing off, showing them off and they just enjoyed it.

JS: So you really increased Native American enrollment?

MO: Uh Uh. And then, umm after a couple of years and having both the elementary program and the middle school program we realized that it wasn't complete. We were talking about having a pipeline of student and if it stopped at the middle school it wasn't much of a pipeline so we had to have a high school program. And also by that time there was a lot or pressure to expand the program from these 4 01:03:00communities to 8 so we added 2 more Indian communities, another Hispanic community. I guess that's it anyway. So we had ??? and Ontario, which were largely Hispanic we had Pendleton, largely Native American, we had Chiloquin, largely Native American, we had Pendleton which was Umatilla, Chiloquin was Klamath, Grande Ronde, which was the name of the town and also the name of the tribe the people and also Siletz. Is that 8? I think so. Don't think I left anybody out. Umm now there were all rural communities, except for Woodburn, 01:04:00which was kind of a city but they were all isolated or they saw themselves as isolated. That was their perception. Umm, so that lasted until after I had retired with those 8 communities. There were waiting lists.

JS: Umm hmm.

MO: And there were waiting lists to get into the programs there was constant pressure from white families who said "why can't my kids join the SMILE program?" Well, if they were not disadvantaged in some way we couldn't take them. So the stock answer that we came up with was, well, this is a science program, science and math outreach program. Why don't you start your own science program for the rest of the students who want to join it? And in some cases there were schools who had had science clubs and because of budget cuts, funding 01:05:00and all that kind of thing, some of them just dropped by the wayside. So we came along and all of a sudden we were a successful program. We were doing exciting things, kids were talking about having fun and so some of the schools reinstated their own science programs. There were clubs so that was a good result that we didn't really figure on. So for the rest of the time, I guess, I was the director at that point, for 12 years and for the last 6 or 7 years, even 5 years, we had 8 programs going. They were all very successful. Now the director who took over after me has been able to add a few programs. Which was fine. But we stayed out of Portland, we stayed out of Eugene, because they didn't need us.


JS: I wonder how many children, how many disadvantaged children you brought through the program?

MO: Oh, I don't remember, but it's hundreds. Because we had 60, well for the 4 programs we started with, we had 4 elementary, 4 middle and 4 high schools, so that's 80 times 8 programs 160 in any one year we had 160 students and then as each class graduated we filled in whatever spaces we had and brought in a new 4th grade class and now there are college graduates from the program, we have doctors and some lawyers, we don't have a lot of scientists, but we have people 01:07:00who took science and math and graduated from the program who went on to college. And they were all over the place. And we did not require the students who were graduating to apply to OSU. I made very clear as director, that I didn't care where you went to college as long as you went to college or university . Then, the next phase of our program started. We did more fundraising. It became apparent, that these students were going to need scholarships to go on to college. And some of them, even though they graduated from the SMILE program, 01:08:00needed remedial work if they were going to be successful college students.

So we started a summer program for the graduates. And we called that our STARS program. Umm, and we raised money for it and then we'd start trying to get scholarships and we were able to get some. Not ay from our immediate graduates because they were just getting started. But we were able to get some and a lot of the relatives and faculty that were working with the program, in one case my own brother gave money to the program, so we were able to put together 3 or 4 hundred dollars and then we also made a real effort to go out to the high 01:09:00schools where the students had graduated from and brought financial aid specialists from OSU so the kids were able to get help with financial aid so that was successful and very helpful. So all of these different things that we did, made for a win-win situation. So it was very gratifying. And I had very little turnover in the staff both the staff and worked for me on campus, we had an elementary school coordinator whose job it was to meet with teachers and trouble shoot with them, one for middle and one for high schools. And that was a big help. And also very little turnover among the OSU faculty that did want to 01:10:00work with the program. The school of science was the first one that did want to get on board. The dean is not retired but he was very positive about the program. He help write the grants, giving advice, he was very very helpful. And then gradually, other individual departments came on board. We didn't have much luck with the education department at first and pretty much stayed away from there, they were not very supportive or welcoming. It's changed since then. 01:11:00Humanities and social science were not so interested in the SMILE program because... Forestry came on board, agriculture came on board, oceanography came on board.

JS: You started a groundswell of enthusiasm.

MO: Physics came on board. End of year reports from various deans from the various departments I just named of people, faculty, prospective faculty that they were interviewing, and uh, the subject of SMILE would often come up and these respective faculty members would get very excited and they wanted to know more about the program and could they work in that program, so that was a real 01:12:00talking point for us. And people came when they got hired at OSU and very often they showed up on our doorstep and they wanted to know how they could help. So we also had a very strong outreach program to the minority students on campus particularly if they were in engineering and by that time OSU had become enlightened, shall we say, and they were actively recruiting minority students, Native American, Blacks, Hispanics, so some of these students began to come and as soon as they showed up, we'd attack them. We'd say, "we really need role models, would you be a role model for our students?" And many of them said yes. 01:13:00So it became a very active program, is the only way I could describe it.

JS: Active, dynamic--

MO: Yes, yes.. ..A lot of life, a lot of passion going on. And when we'd have these weekends on campus or the outdoor science adventure, which was 30 miles away from campus, we would have lots of student, minority students as mentors, so by the time a student went through the whole program, if they were in it for 6 of 7 years, they were familiar with the campus, it was not a strange or frightening place they knew professors by name, they had fun with them, they did things with them, they knew students, umm, it was a real ice breaker in lots of ways. And it was the most rewarding thing I ever did. You know, I was a history 01:14:00major. I knew enough to stay out of the science and math. So I wrote the grants and in here there are some examples. I'll give you all the stuff as long as I get it back.


MO: Um and this stuff, some of it is quite repetitive.

JS: Shannon do you have any questions for Mimi?

SW: No, it sounds like you covered it.

MO: Let me see if I can find some things for you.

JS: Did you dig it out in anticipation of our coming?

MO: Yes, yes I did. It must be in here. We had Techtronix, we had the Kellogg 01:15:00Foundation, we had several government programs, umm I don't remember off the top of my head..

JS: National Science Foundation?

MO: Yes, NSF--..[papers shuffling] Let me go through this. I know I had a whole list . It's really worth looking at--. Anyway, one of the other things we did, and you have some copies of this, I see, is that we put out a newsletter. And when we had all these funders coming in, we had enough to hire a kind of a book 01:16:00keeper who could keep track of the funding and all and made sure that we didn't spend money on the wrong thing on the wrong grant and you know.. so we stayed clean. So she helped put this out.

JS: Well, Larry Landis mentioned the SMILE program and umm so I guess you are very connected with that. Well, that's your baby isn't it?

MO: Oh here we go. Our list of sponsors. And that's what I consider the most important thing I did. CH2M HILL, which is a local thing, Chevron, we got money from Chevron, and I went and talked to various tribes, the Grand Ronde did, to see if they would up some funding and they did. The Warm Springs tribes also 01:17:00did, HP did, Hughes Medical Inst, NASA, the space people, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NSF, Network of Engineering Resource Organizations and then there were private, the Ted and Doris Nelson fund through the Oregon Community Foundation, the Oregon Dept of Education. OSU funded my salary and half, no and also my secretary's salary, which was very helpful. Also the Eisenhower Foundation. Oh, and then we had some very interesting 01:18:00experiences. We had equipment donors. Umm, I guess it was HP. WE had American Power conversion that gave us a bunch of what the thing that you plug in to your computer to make that it doesn't----

JS: Surge protectors?

MO: Umm hmm. Umm hmm. They gave us I don't know, 24 or 36 surge protectors. Apple computer and HP. I think it was HP-- I got a phone call one day from Hewlett Packard. Was I interested in getting --they were putting out a new model of whatever they were doing.. And they wanted to get rid of all the current ones which were going to be outdated. They were perfectly good computers. Uhh, not 01:19:00computers, calculators. Would I like them? Ohh, would I like them? Of course!. I never said no to something like that. So, one day, umm, the people who do all the work, ground people or whatever, grounds people showed up with pallet after pallet of these things. Dozens and dozens and dozens of them because we wanted to give calculators to our kids. But these were all college calculators and the elementary kids couldn't use them, the middle school kids couldn't use them, most of the high school kids couldn't use them. What the hell were we going to do with all of them? And, the caveat was we couldn't sell them. Because we could have used the money.


JS: Yes, I'm sure.

MO: So we had to give them away. So we started giving these calculators away. And it took a couple of years. We gave them mostly to OSU students, some of whom became our mentors and that kind of thing, I don't know where else we gave them. We gave them to various deans to give to their students, which got us in good with them. So that was wonderful. They were worth thousands and thousands of dollars. So we got thousands of dollars of good will.

JS: Well, I think this is an excellent addition to the archives, You've created this program that is really, really, that has really probably improved the lives of so many people so many children, so many people.

MO: And we're still in touch with some of our graduates. That's nice, there have even been weddings that we've been invited to. And umm, I hired some very good 01:21:00science people, I don't know, do you know Molly Bloomfield?

JS: The name is a little familiar.

MO: She's a member of Beit Am. Okay, anyway, and she was a chemistry teacher teaching in Corvallis someplace. And she was a crackerjack. She'd even written a book. A training book for nurses on chemistry. And it was a very successful book. So I knew she was a crackerjack. Umm and she was very personable, and very good with kids so I tried to hire her. I guess when we were starting the high school program. And she was very leery about coming. She really wanted to teach in the high school. So she turned me down. And she went on teaching in the high 01:22:00school. So I don't know what I did for that first year. But the next year I came back to her and hit her up again. And this time she accepted. And she was a wonderful addition. And she created her own program I guess. A simulation on a fictitious town which had all kinds of ecological disasters - a fuel tank dumped into the river, fouled the river.. So we used that as our challenge weekend for high school students. Find out what was in that truck, identify it, what are the components, what are the components, how are you going to clean it up.


JS: What a great project and learning experience for the kids.

MO: They lapped it up. They loved it And since we had 8 programs in each of these districts, 8 in each level, we divided them into 2 groups always -- we had 4 high schools in each group one weekend and 4 in the other group the other weekend and did the same project. The middle school kids -- we had them build things. What do you call it when they have to build something -- they had to build a slingshot. And they all had the same equipment, identical kits. They had to build it, calibrate it, they had to test it, make it work and they also were evaluated. And at the end of each challenge weekend, each team of 6 or 7 students, we'd mix up the groups so the kids got familiar with each other, got to know each other, made friends, they had to present to a panel of judges who would evaluate them ad rate them so they had feedback, enrichment activities. 01:24:00Then when the weekend was over they'd come home. Until next year when they did another program. But didn't think that was a very good idea. So I wanted to start a program that was recurring. So I talked about this to this gal and se said, well you know, there's lots money to do this kind of thing. Well, I'd never raised any money. Where would I get it so I started writing grants so I became kind of a poster child for writing grants. And I was in the right place at the right time with the right kind of program and so and I was a good writer and I had lots of help. So, grants started coming in.

JS: Well, is there anything we left out? Anything else we should talk about?


MO: Well yes, there is something I wanted to talk about. This SMILE from the Univeristy of Rhode Island is a nationwide program. A friend of ours from Corvallis who's a botanist, told us one day and we'd like to meet him so we said we'd meet him and so this person came with his wife who happened to be a science 01:26:00teacher and we met her and liked her and told her about eh SMILE program and she went through the roof. Can we work with you. And I said "yeah."

She was quite a dynamic person and became part of our staff for no pay, which was wonderful and she did everything we did. The upshot is that she started her own program and boy does she have a cracker jack program. Rhode Island is small, no transportation problems. You can have morning coffee in one program and lunch 01:27:00in another place and be back home. Let me read you some of the sponsors. American Power Conversion, Arch Chemical, Ark right, Arnold Lumber, Clarion, Cooks in America, Fiore - I have no idea what that is - Norteck, the Rhode Island legislature, Southern Rhode Island Science Tech partnership, Stanley 01:28:00Bostich, Tech Industries, University of Rhode Island, United Airlines, all these are Rhode Island companies so it's a very industrialized state. So I have here 2 or 3 newsletters which they modeled on our program.

JS: I'll ask the archives if they would like copies. What do you most want to be 01:29:00remembered for?

MO: I think the SMILE program. It's been the most lasting and worthwhile activity. I don't have let me put it this way. I have lots of postitive memories about working at OSU but I also have some negative memories. The politics of a 01:30:00university is very often, not very nice. Umm. And I had some dirt done to me that I'm not all happy about and I'm not going to go into details about at a high administrative level it was not that one of my colleagues was back biting me nothing like that but it was playing politics and it was very unpleasant and once or twice I almost quit but I liked what I was doing so I didn't but I just thought I'd get that off my chest.

JS: Well thank you. We really appreciate it. It's a gift.


MO: Thank you for giving me a chance to talk about it.