50:04 - Faculty interactions with students, and Bardolph's responsibilities as faculty class chairman
Partial Transcript: How's the faculty changed over the years? When you first came here was it largely female or was it--?
Segment Synopsis: Bardolph discusses changes to the faculty as the school transitioned from the earlier State Normal days to the Woman's College. He remembers early faculty members who had no PhD or significant scholarly record.
LD: This is Linda Danford, and I'm speaking this morning to Richard Bardolph inhis office in Jackson Library. It's May 14, 1991. Dr. Bardolph, can you tell me a little bit about your background and when you came to UNCG?
RB: I'm not sure how far back you want me to go. Maybe it is relevant, though,in part to say that my parents were immigrants from Holland. And we lived in a little enclave in Chicago peopled only by our kind of folks because the Bible forbids us to be unevenly yoked with unbelief, you know. So I had a very provincial and closely confined early background. Went to schools that were operated by our church through high school. The first day I spent in a public school was a university. And that distressed my parents because we have a 1:00perfectly good college that's maintained by our denomination, named Calvin College [Grand Rapids, Michigan].
RB: It's a very strict Calvinist movement I belonged to. It's called theChristian Reformed Church. It still has about 350,000 members. I say that because it has influenced my reflexes for the rest of my life. Students of the Calvinist tradition are familiar with that fact--that you can't get rid of it. It gets ground into you thoroughly at an early enough age so thatsome of my biases, I think, would be explained by that sort of upbringing. We were very poor folks and moved out of the little ghetto, the Dutch ghetto there in Chicago, to a greener, sweeter place called Roseland, which is also in Chicago but on the far south side. But there again we lived only with our own kind. But 2:00it was a somewhat larger--or more frequent interchange with the gentiles. [laughs] And then things moved fairly typically until--well, the Depression put a period to any expectations I would have of any education beyond high school. I went into the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC it was called, one of the New Deal agencies for people of our kind who had no means of support. It was a more compassionate way of offering welfare than just flat-out dole. And once out of there, I was--
LD: What kinds of things did the CCC do?
RB: We were engaged in reforestation projects. I was in northern Wisconsin, the3:00North woods near the Canadian border, just on the shores of Lake Superior. And most of the selectees, as they were called, were sent out to the farther west. My brother, for instance, went to Washington State, and there was a much larger concentration with reforestation projects out there, for obvious reasons, than you will find in Illinois or Michigan. Well, skipping over the next couple of years when I had no job, no prospects, nothing, finally lucked into a temporary job that enabled me to put away enough to provide at least a jump start to go to college. And it worked out precisely that way at the University of Illinois, though I lived in Chicago and the University of Chicago is, of course, in Chicago, and that would have been a much better college. But I didn't know that at that time. Nobody in my family had ever had a higher education except one 4:00uncle for whom I'm named who became a minister. But otherwise--and he would be the one--I would not go to him for advice for reasons I will not discuss. We were not on the same wave length. So once at the University of Illinois I was able to find little jobs and scholarships and fellowships that took me through to the PhD. And then my first job, and the only job I ever had, is the one I had here. I had little summer jobs and things like that. But the only so-called permanent employment I ever had was my appointment to the faculty of this college and was never tempted to leave it. I had plenty of opportunities to go elsewhere, but we liked it here. I might add that I met Dorothy at the University of Illinois where she was ahead of me one year in getting a PhD. And [she] taught there for a while, and then after I got my PhD, she was bound to 5:00stay there for another year because of the contract she had, so we had to postpone marriage. I came here and was alone as a bachelor for the first year, still in my twenties, and lived right on the edge of the campus with a woman named Mrs. Parrott, still living. It was immediately across the street of what is now the Elliott Hall, but was then on that site--we had a very large and I thought a very handsome building for the--what do you call those things? You know, hospital? Infirmary.
RB: Infirmary. Right. It was our second infirmary. It was a very splendid,old-fashioned building. It was converted to other purposes in the 1950s, about 1952, and the general understanding was that the government was using it for 6:00some hush-hush purposes and I never did find out what it was.
LD: This is at Forest? Is that what that is, Forest?
RB: Yes. And that explanation still persists. It was out of theuniversity's--not out of its hands, but it was not used by the university because it was supposed to be some high matters of strategy being worked out in that building. And I was a history major, history and philosophy. This was the second offer of employment I got during the summer after the, concluding the PhD, and there were two or three months it seemed I could look around. It was in the middle of the war. in which I was not involved. I had several brothers who were but the doctors thought I was not physically up to standing, up to the 7:00rigors of military service 'cause I have a congenital anomaly in the cardiovascular system. I am now seventy-six years old and look forward to another fourteen or twenty years. But at any rate, let's see, where was I going with that?
LD: Well, tell me what year that was that you came here?
RB: [Nineteen] forty-four, forty-four, yes. I was saying it was in the war andyoung men were hard to find. PhDs could get jobs, not very easily, because the other side of that coin was the fact that the colleges were largely stripped and were finding a hard time keeping their old staff employed. So there was in that sense difficult to break in to it, the profession. The first opportunity I had that came to me was somebody from Salem College exploring prospects at the 8:00University of Illinois faculty people. And I told them I could not be interested--and I tried to say this as tactfully as I could--in going to the South and particularly not to an all-girls' college. This is literally true. I'm not dressing this up or in any way, you know, emphasizing what was not literally the situation. And it wasn't long after that when I had this opportunity to come here and that also hung by a very slender thread. The then-head of the department here wrote an old college friend of his at the University of Illinois who happened to be the chairman of the department at the University of Illinois, Theodore Calvin Pease, and asked if he had a suitable young man to recommend. 9:00And Theodore Pease called me in and told me about this and said, "Now this isn't too bad a place to start out." He was familiar with the distinguished reputation of The University [of North Carolina] at Chapel Hill. And by that time we were the University--it was called the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina, and it was, literally, the liberal arts college for women in the University of North Carolina. At Chapel Hill, they were not yet accepting women except daughters of professors. They were gradually making little exceptions and finally beginning to accept them in considerable number. But still, the future of this campus still looked pretty good. And I was impressed by the fact that it had a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and was the only one of them--I think three, 10:00possibly four, I think it was just three campuses in North Carolina.
LD: There still aren't very many.
RB: There are five.
LD: Five now?
RB: And only two in the university system. Now that impressed me considerably.And, well, here I am. I came here on a September afternoon on a railway train and have been here ever since.
LD: What did you think of the campus when you first arrived?
RB: It was, of course, vastly different from what I was accustomed to atIllinois. There were--you know, in those days, Illinois was a world-class university. It still is. But its total enrollment at Champagne-Urbana was 7,200. That's not much more than half of what it is here now. But in those days the enrollment here was 2,400, and they were all undergraduates. So it was a smaller and more cozy little place and green, and it was a verdant oasis, especially for 11:00somebody who's coming from Chicago. I was not, in my youth, surrounded by birds and flowers except in the later years when we were living in Roseland. There was quite a lot of that there then too. But it seemed to me like a pleasant and sweet place. I wasn't thinking of staying here very long. But within a year--and Dorothy then came after my first year and she confirmed that impression, that it was very much the kind of place we would like to stay. And we did.
LD: Have you always lived on--in that same house on Tate Street?
RB: No, no. Lived in a house owned by the college. Dr. [Julius] Foust wassorely pressed for faculty housing in the 1920s because the campus was on the edge of the city. You know, by the time you got to Aycock there were people 12:00keeping cows out there and---
LD: That's where I live.
RB: Yeah. And we had a college barn where the milk--this was not, no longertrue in 1944, but it had been in the twenties and thirties. And produce and dairy products and so on supplied our dining halls, so that--back to the housing business. There weren't many houses around here yet. And Dr. Foust--it's an interesting story, I'm going to tell it sometime in the Alumni News--even before he had the money, contracted with a company in Bay City, Michigan, to build, I think it was six, it may have been eight, small pre-fab houses. He was encouraged and assisted in that little plot by a trustee who was a banker or 13:00somebody in the financial business in Winston-Salem who encouraged him to go ahead with this. He said, "If you get in trouble, I'll know how to handle it." And the deed was done. He built these houses, didn't have money for them and confronted the legislature with a fait accompli. "Now, let's be practical about this. We had to have some houses, and we didn't have any money, but we knew you would understand," you see. And that is, again, the way it turned out. Well, when I came here I was alone, I lived just in a room. But in the summer after I married, the university authorities went out of their way to find me a place in one of those houses. I think they jumped me over several older applicants who 14:00did not have families. They prudently, I think, thought it was worth throwing in as a little additional inducement that might hold, if this happens to be the right person for the job, there would be one way we could hold them. And that is the way it turned out. We lived there for five years in that little house on Forest--no, McIver Street, where the nursing school is now, at exactly in that spot. Right behind--this was a physics and chemistry department in the then-somewhat-smaller science building. It has been doubled in size, was while we were there. But then in 1950, when our family had grown larger, the house was no longer adequate. Besides, there was an expectation that they would be razed to make way for what is there now. You see, that was then in the future, but it was understood to be in the offing. And we looked around for something else and 15:00we bought the house where we are now. It was the parsonage of Saint Andrews Episcopal Church at the time.
LD: Which was located in a different place?
RB: Yes, yes.
LD: Where was it?
RB: It had an interesting history of its own. I don't want to clutter this--
LD: You don't need to get into that, but--
RB: It had stood vacant. St. Andrews was able to afford a somewhat betterparsonage closer to their church and we came upon it.
LD: Was it on the corner of Tate and Park [Streets]?
RB: No, oh no, no.
LD: Not that church then.
RB: No, no, oh no. The church is on Market, on West Market [Street], and it isbounded on one side by Tremont Street, I believe. It's just a block short of Our Lady of Grace [Catholic Church].
LD: Okay, yes, I know that's where it is now. Is that where it was?
RB: Well--yes, it was because I remember signing the papers. But it was not,16:00the church was not there at the time that house became the parsonage. It was given to the church by a parishioner whose husband had died and she and he had lived in a majestic place on Arlington. He was a distinguished constitutional lawyer named William Preston Bynum. He was an attorney for North Carolina in Hammer v. Dagenhart [247 U.S. 251 (1918)] and Bailey v. Drexel Furniture [250 U.S. 20 (1922)], which are two landmark Supreme Court decisions that stopped child labor laws in this country for another ten years until the New Deal came along. But he had died, and she couldn't keep up that place, didn't want to live all by herself. So she bought this place over on Tate Street and had a black family in the basement as her servants. And upon her death, the house devolved on Saint Andrews Church, and that's where we came in and have been there ever since. 17:00
LD: I see. What did you think of the students?
RB: I liked them. The fact they were all girls was a factor and--well, this isa delicate thing to say, and it has to be understood in the context of the larger environment. It was a marvelous place to be because of the homogeneity of that student body. And I must say I'll deny this if you misquote me but--
LD: Well, actually I know what you mean.
LD: Yeah, I do know what you mean.
RB: Yeah, it was marvelous. But it was something we couldn't keep, you know.There, of course, was one race, one sex, nearly all Protestants, and [it] had the kind of background that that sort of environment carried with it to a 18:00greater degree than it does now. I mean, if you ever look at the statistical group of all Protestants, they don't have in the degree that they did fifty years ago the ethic that went with it, you know, and the biases and the preferences of all kinds. It was a marvelous group. And there was still, in spite of the First Amendment, overtones of religious quality about the place. There were hymnbooks under every seat in Aycock Auditorium when I came there. And on Tuesdays we had--Tuesdays and Thursdays there were assemblies. They didn't call it chapel any more. But we would sing hymns, you know, and everybody 19:00knew them. I noticed that the selection would become more and more narrow. It was a kind of ecumenical hymns--"Rejoice in the Benevolent Father of All," that sort of thing. It was clearly less and less sectarian, but it was still, you know, religious in character. In fact, we had buses that took girls to church on Sunday mornings. You can't do that any more either. And I don't want to imply that I deplore the end of that sort of thing. I'm with it where we are now because I know that in a serious experiment in democracy, you've got to keep religious matters out. Those are private matters that need to be left entirely to individual choice and should not be, not only not imposed by the state, they 20:00should not even be promoted or assisted by the state. I can cite all kinds of constitutional decisions that gradually, case by case, built up to where we are now. And as you know, even maintaining a single-sex campus would be illegal because in a closer reading of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, you exclude people from this merely because they're females. And even though you give them something that's just as good somewhere else--well, I should have used males as the example. If you exclude males, you're violating the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause. So getting back to your question, we gradually lost that kind of a, well, homogeneity, and it was a unique constituency. And it was known from one end of the state to the other as 21:00a place where people could send their daughters. And they could send them with every expectation that they would come out improved [laughs], and they would not lose their religion.
LD: Were they serious students?22:00
RB: Yeah. It had still, I think, when I arrived, too much of an emphasis onteacher training. And it is--if you look up the statistics you'll find that, oh, even as recently as ten years ago, that far more than half of our students were still qualifying for teaching certificates. And of course, "serious" is a flexible word. I think it fair to say that there were larger proportions of students then than now who gave their academic work the highest priority. You hardly encounter any of them anymore. Maybe I'm being too severe, and after all, I retired eleven years ago and maybe I'm editing the years in between. But I will stand by that judgment, that their--the place of the, of academics in the life of the student was a much higher one than it is now for most students. To be sure, there are still the exceptions. There are still Phi Bets and earnest seekers. But I can't walk across the campus without feeling again this isn't the crowd I remember [laughs] from fifty years ago. They are not the same people. And well, there's more joy I think on the campus. I mean, I hear--it's louder, 23:00and especially the minorities. I think they revel in the opportunities. And I hate to say that because I'm constantly reminded of them because they live across the street from me now, and they're partying all the time, and they're having a hell of a good time here. And I can't help but wonder, when do they ever open a book? And are they really taking serious courses? And do they graduate? Do they get jobs? The answer--they get jobs because corporations are required by affirmative action programs to have a certain percentage of these people. My brother is among those that has--was in the position of having to hire these people. He said that in lots of instances he would prefer after hiring them to have them stay home and he would mail them their checks because they were utterly unqualified. I wonder if the college is turning out people like that in the name of equal opportunity. And it's unequal opportunity in a 24:00sense, with whites being the victims. Well, again, that's capable of misunderstanding and misconstruction, and I will deny any inclination toward reactionary or conservative opinion.
LD: Well, I think the partying is probably pretty widespread across the campus.Black, white, male, female, as far as I can see, it seems to be a fairly popular form of student activity nowadays.
RB: Maybe I should say again that the passage of years does things to yourperspective, and you edit out things that don't support certain conclusions you have reached and you probably attach a newer, greater importance to things that do confirm your own prejudices and preferences. But I will stand by the 25:00conclusion that students were more serious about their work. I don't think they were as smart as their analogs now. Students now come with a much broader base of information that they somehow got and a greater worldliness. You know what I mean. Yeah, they're more savvy.
LD: I would agree with you about worldliness.
LD: Do you think that's the same thing as intelligence?
RB: Well, you may know more about this than I do, but I have the impressionthat the competition for admission to colleges brings to the attention of our 26:00admissions office people with higher qualifications than those who qualified a long time ago didn't have to worry about how they looked to the admissions office. I may be wrong about that. I realize that this--there's some artificial stimulation of enrollment from some groups in order to comply with federal expectations and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I may be wrong, but they seem to be smarter, and I'm using "smart" in a somewhat unpleasant sense, you know. Quick, and--
LD: Less naive.
RB: Yeah. Smartass, that's what I'm talking about. Now I don't mean that as ageneral description.
RB: They were a more innocent and, you know, peaches-and-cream sort of a crowd.And they came from rural--after all, Greensboro or Charlotte, Wilmington, and so on, didn't account for anything like half of the population of this college. It came from the--we brought them down from the mountains and the plains. And remember that in the 18--in the 1940s, and for all I know that may be in some degree still true, the state of North Carolina was the most rural state in the union. There were far more farms per capita here, and that's where those girls came from. And they helped on the farms in the summertime. And they went to church on Sundays. And they would set forth on Sunday morning in high heels, very wobbly. You could tell that this was new to them. You know, they didn't 28:00seem yet to fit the general conception of what a college girl should look like. They were working somewhat-- in some degree--trying to attain that kind of status.
LD: Tell me something about some of the big changes, some of the big socialchanges that had impact on UNCG or Woman's College. For instance, when were blacks admitted and how did that, how was that handled?
RB: I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know the exact date. I think--
LD: It must have started slowly because many people are very unsure.
LD: But just in general, it must have been--
RB: Remember that the obstacle was legal barriers. We tend to forget that29:00long--even after the Brown [v. Topeka Board of Education] decision, there survived on the statute books lots of proscriptions, you know.
LD: Jim Crow legislation?
RB: Yeah. North Carolina, I think, had a justified reputation for beinglooser-- far less fundamentalist about preserving the old distinctions. But they were still here, and they were buttressed by law. The university--I mean, the college as it was then still called--the college did not have the option of admitting a black. If a black applied, they'd just have to send that application back. And it took a very considerable network of new legislation after Brown to 30:00make the transition. In fact, I say this with some, with some pain, in North Carolina there were elements--and they were very powerful ones--who felt that the best way to delay integration was to drag their feet, move slowly. And the result was that when you compare figures in North Carolina with those of a massive resistance state like Virginia where they not only talked about it but actually closed schools as a lack of--whole county systems were shut down rather than admit a black to a school--that was what was called massive resistance. Actually, North Carolina had fewer blacks in their schools than Virginia had ten 31:00years after the Brown decision because our system, our strategy was so much more sophisticated and judge proof. And well, what I'm trying to say is that it would not be fair to impute to the college the slow pace of integration. I would say that the great majority of people here on the faculty and the student body were much more hospitable to the idea of integration than was characteristic of the South as a whole. And we had to await legal modifications. But I think that it 32:00was true both here and at Chapel Hill that progress in that area proceeded more rapidly than it did in the deeper South and as frequently because it was anticipated that if we don't do this ourselves, it's going to be forced on us by, you know, federal troops or something. And we avoided confrontations. That's another example of the civility with which we proceeded down this path, you see. And it had the paradoxical result of slowing the, slowing the process. Well, part of the time when this was going on, I wasn't here. I was on leaves of absence three times in five years in this crucial era. I was--Dorothy and 33:00I--were in Fulbright [Fellowship] in Copenhagen the year of the Brown decision. And we rejoiced in it and were congratulated even on the streets of Copenhagen what was about to happen in the United States. People were really pleased in Europe. They felt that that was an anomaly, you know, that was just utterly inconsistent with the role that America had played. It was just a curious exception. And they felt immensely very--well, in '54, let's see, '54 to '55, that was '53 to '54 we were in Copenhagen. And I was back here for a year, and then we had another leave. I was out of touch with what was going on here. And the year before the Brown decision we were in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 34:00another grant, to go back in time here. So then there is a sense in which I was not involved. I got involved--there happens to be a book right there called the Civil Rights Record. That's one in which I traced--see, it's on the lower shelf.
LD: Oh right.
RB: Yeah, right. And that's an account of the changing legal status of blacksuntil 1970, when that was published. So I had looked into this matter very considerably ,but was not a participant. I was here, for instance, at the time of the sit-ins, and I've always regretted that I didn't get an invitation to participate in that and to be present. I would loved to have been the one white along with the other four or five blacks who brought off that marvelous 35:00achievement at the Woolworth counters. But I wasn't there.
LD: Was there a great awareness on the campus here during that time?
RB: Yeah, yes. And our students participated in the sit-in after it had gotunderway. There was a rather, I think--and I must be careful with this--it seems to me a fainthearted policy of the administration here.
LD: Which was who at the time? Was this [Chancellor] Gordon Blackwell or--?
RB: Yes, yes. And he had one, on one or two occasions he had mass meetings ofthe students at Aycock. We could get them all in Aycock, the whole student body was assembled typically on a, every Tuesday and Thursday, everyone of them except AWOLS, and their absences were reported. And this is all in the record, 36:00what Blackwell told them. And he was, I think, somewhat timorous, timid. Although, of course, he was under pressure, too, with state authorities to contain this thing, not to allow it to get out of hand. And he counseled patience, you know, which was getting to be a little tiresome by that time. We had been patient with blacks' separate status for 200 years.
LD: Was he afraid of violence?
RB: Yeah, I think so. Also afraid of offending what he understood to be theconsensus of the people of North Carolina. Remember, we're unique among the 37:00Southern states. It had, and for all I know it still has, the smallest percentage of people who are immigrants, first-generation immigrants, and the highest percentage of the old Anglo-Saxon background. And they were proud of that here. We were so very pure. One of the marvels to me is that it's now possible for people with Polish names to be elected to office in North Carolina. That was utterly impossible. You had to have an Anglo-Saxon name even if you had to trim it a little bit to make it fit. And there was an ethnic singularity in 38:00North Carolina that exceeded anything in any of the other Southern states. They were more civil, our people were more civil than South Carolinians, less arrogant than Virginians. It had also, you know, a strange history during the Civil War. This was the last state to secede. Kind of a sense of righteousness--of being a separate people.
LD: An independent sort of thing?
RB: Yeah. And there was a larger body of disaffected people during the CivilWar here than any other state, a larger resort to desertion from the Confederate army by far. In fact, it used to be regarded as the North Carolina disease in 39:00the Confederate Army when people left. And you know, I think it's to their credit.
LD: Yeah, interesting.
RB: Yeah, they were not--fewer of our people were really drawn or bought theargument that this was a battle for independence and the heritage that our fathers first won at Yorktown, and that was being challenged again by another and even more base enemy. They didn't buy that very much down here. It was much more widely thought of a rich man's war and a poor man's fight. And, well, that kind of ethnic "purity" that was still very much a part of the scene here in the forties. It's nearly gone now. In fact, Southerners are like everybody else now. 40:00
LD: There's been a real invasion of outsiders in the last twenty years.
RB: From Chicago, to come to teach at our schools.
LD: Or New Jersey or places like that.
RB: Yes, sure.
LD: When did Dorothy go to teach at Bennett [College]?
RB: She taught there for twenty years. I moved back from 1976--about '56.
LD: So she was at Bennett then while this was all going on?
RB: Yes, yes.
LD: That must have been interesting.
RB: Yeah. And in those days, you know, that was a kind of conspicuousdeviation--white folks to go over there.
LD: I imagine it was. How many white faculty members did they have at Bennett?41:00
RB: Oh, no more than they had to. They had to resort to that because theycouldn't get PhDs from the black pool. But there were--foreign languages tended to be taught by whites who were more of foreign origin. And I think when Dorothy came there she was the second PhD on faculty, the other being George Breathett who was a black member of the history department. They needed her more than she needed the job, but it was a very good marriage from the beginning. You know-- an example would be,--she was always elected faculty secretary. [laughs] Isn't that a strange thing? She kept the notes. Well, she's been a major voice in the faculty there and greatly beloved. They deplored her decision to leave, but I 42:00guess she felt sort of burned out in that the students there, too, were beginning to relax their enthusiasm for academics. Maybe on the plausible ground that there were larger issues than requiring polite learning that ought to move thoughtful young blacks. I distinctly recall that she said that the pleasure had gone out of it, and there wasn't any time at all [before] she got into other things, you know.
LD: Well, it was time for her to get into politics.
RB: Yeah, well, she didn't start with that. First, it was the neighborhood association.
RB: Yeah, the historic district thing. And then when she ran into difficultywith the YMCA and lost the fight with them, then the neighbors suggested--and she agreed--that if we can't beat them we got to get into the power structure 43:00itself. And she ran for office and it was like falling off a log, never any problem.
LD: No. Best vote-getter, I believe, in Greensboro's history, I'm sure.
RB: By the time, toward the end of her career, she was getting more votes thananybody had ever got for any public office in Greensboro. I mean, even the mayors didn't get that many votes.
LD: Can you tell me--?
RB: Let me make one observation, though. I have a feeling that I'm rambling,but I think you'll get more out of me that way if you don't put any restraints on that, and then you can later decide what's worth preserving, because one--and I don't need to tell you, I'm sure you've observed this. When people get older, everything reminds them of something else, and I think it better to let that flow go than to try to dam it.
LD: Oh, that's perfectly all right with me.44:00
LD: One of the things I wanted to ask you was when the decision was made, Iguess at the state level, for UNCG [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro] to become co-ed, did the university do anything to prepare for the men students when they came? Was there a feeling that they were just going to sort of come here and participate in the same programs, the same facilities that the girls had?
RB: I don't remember that. I really don't.
LD: But you don't remember any specific efforts being made to--
RB: You mean to--curricular and otherwise--to adjust to the new facts of life?No. I'm sure there was something like that. There must be other people who can be much more dependable resources for you than I would be. See, by--what was that, '60?
LD: Well, it was the mid-sixties, I think, '63, '64. It was right around inthere that the first men were admitted. There weren't very many at the 45:00beginning, were there?
RB: No, there weren't. And we had the feeling that we weren't getting the best,either. I don't know why they came here. And some of us were, whether we admitted it or not, hostile to the idea. I took a dim view of it myself. [laughs]
LD: After saying you'd never teach at a women's college?
RB: Yeah. But it wasn't long that I would have said I wouldn't teach anywhere else.
LD: Why did you oppose it?
RB: Men? Well, it's because I had such a good feeling about what the collegehad, was at the time. And we didn't need any major changes, I thought. And it, well, it's a kind of a nostalgia. It was such a, I thought, comfortable atmosphere here, and that these guys who were coming here were not typical even 46:00of the male students of the state. Of course, now, I'm on delicate ground there but I thought that if they were more like everybody else, they would be going to Davidson [College] or to [The University of North Carolina at] Chapel Hill, something like that. I've never stopped to take apart and examine the reasons I was rather cool toward the idea of coeducation. Well, one threat was that we would become a much larger school and I thought it was about right [not on tape when we had about 3,000. I still think so.
LD: I bet it was true.
RB: It was, it was, to [end] bring up again a point I've already made, it was akind of atmosphere that attracted a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. And when we were 47:00investigated for that purpose, it didn't take any time at all to decide this was a proper place for it.
[End Tape 1, Side A--Begin Tape 1, Side B]
RB: I remember, though, we in our particular instance--but we had a successionof little children, you know, we couldn't do as much of that kind of entertaining as we would have liked. But when I recall, what I remember at the time--and it's also reinforced by occasional contacts. I run into former students who tell me they were our babysitters or that they used to come visit with us. I'd forgotten that Doris Betts [North Carolina author], for instance, was one of our fairly regular--one of our regulars. We'd have her for lunch and she, I think, looked after the children. I keep running into people who tell me 48:00that. Jean Farley is another, who is one of the best poets we've turned out here. She was a prot�g� of Randall Jarrell [poet and English faculty member] who unhappily died very early, But she was our children's babysitter. They called her Rolly, they called her. Her name was Farley. And it was fairly easy camaraderie. I'm sure there was far more traffic of that kind of students in faculty homes than is the case now, though I could be wrong. I haven't asked anybody lately.
LD: Were you invited to eat in the dining hall?
RB: Yes, several times.
RB: Oh, yes. And they had a, the home economics people had a house, let's see,it's not there anymore, is it? Brick building, two-story house on Forest--I mean on McIver Street. Is that still there?
LD: I think it's still there, yeah.49:00
RB: Yeah, yeah, and they would give little teas and things like that and invitefavored faculty people. And Dorothy and I were always swamped with those invitations. We were always going to those things. And then they would have at-homes in the dormitories on a Sunday afternoon. I can't imagine faculty responding favorably to that sort of thing now, but it was the most natural thing in the world then. When we were invited, it didn't occur to us to say no, you know. We felt that that was part of our job, to foster this kind of fellowship of kindred minds. I think really was a very wise, far-sighted policy. But, well, the whole structure of the college favored that kind of thing. You know, we had the advisor system. I guess you still have advisors.
LD: Well, they do but there's some difference of opinion as to how well it functions.
RB: Are there still class chairmen, for instance?50:00
LD: That I do not know.
RB: You know, a person would be selected from the faculty to serve for afour-year span as a class chairman, and it would be out of the classroom and then would be a sort of a den mother for a whole year--I mean, for four years with the same class, would move with it up the ranks through graduation. And you'll notice that the college yearbooks usually [were] dedicated by the class that was graduating to that, to their current class advisor. And--
LD: I had not heard of that. I bet that's not done any more.
RB: Well, there were a lot of things that were built into the structure herethat reinforced the sense of community and that we were committed to a distinguished past in which service to the public and, you know, to mankind. It 51:00sounds corny to say that and you feel a little embarrassed talking about it, but that was a very real thing. The college song still somewhat ungrammatically reflects that. "In service we will do." [laughs] You know, they had to make it rhyme with "you" or whatever it was. But those were very real elements in the life of the school and deliberately worked at the cultivating of democratic values here. Again, I don't know. Maybe you, you're still connected with the school. Maybe there are some things I recall are still here, but I doubt it. For instance, we had what was called a point system so that no one student could sweep all the offices. You know, being editor of The Carolinian carried, say, eight points; being a member of the judicial board would be seven; and being on 52:00The Carolinian as a reporter would be, you know, some other number. Well, and there was a certain maximum. You could not--if you went beyond that you had to drop one of your offices. And it was kept pretty rigorously lean, you know. You couldn't have more than one or two major offices and a couple, a scattering, of little minor ones. And that had the effect of defusing these jobs, class chair--I mean, class officers and the whole business. And later, it seems to me that that system broke down under pressure to make all those things elective. And then as soon as men came, men got elected to all those things and women, for reasons I'll never understand, but troubled Freud, too. 53:00
LD: No one could understand why this is all of the sudden--because the men werenever a very large group on campus and still are only about a third.
RB: Yeah. And didn't turn in such a damned good job that it justified making--
LD: No. But they did almost immediately begin to sweep campus offices.
RB: Yeah. I was illustrating the fact that there were conscious efforts to--andthey were,--they had accompanying apparatus to realize and to foster certain values and inclinations.
LD: And you think that was lost--
LD: --when the men came?
RB: Well, I think that's claiming too much for one factor. But it was also afunction of the larger growth and the loss of that sense of community that had reached, I think, it's optimum when it got to about 3,000 students. It should have been capped, it should have been capped there. And then what would have 54:00been the ideal development was that once they hand capped it at three thousand and then the number of people clamoring to get in here would be so far in excess of the numbers that we could accommodate, then we could pick only the best. [laughs]
LD: That certainly would be the best of all possible worlds.
RB: And then we would continue to be as we were for a while, a verydistinguished woman's college, you know, in comparison with the better ones up in New England. It wasn't all that, you know, outrageous. I remember one time I encountered in the Alumnae News the report of a reporter who came down here from Christian Science Monitor in the twenties and gave a description of this campus as being, "hmm," and made a pretty good case. And I've drawn upon it and incorporated some of those insights in pieces that were done in the Alumnae 55:00News. That person recognized that--and she said it in so many words--she hadn't encountered any other college like this anywhere else. Who says that now? We are pretty good, I think, a pretty distinguished institution, but one of hundreds, hundreds like it. And that's not quite the same as being one of dozens.
LD: How's the faculty changed over the years? When you first came here was itlargely female or was it--?
RB: Yeah. It was in the process of transition. Females made the college, youknow. They were the principal cadre. I think of people like Gertrude Mendenhall and Viola Boddie and Cornelia Strong. In every direction you looked, those various disciplines were originally staffed by dedicated and very able women. 56:00Not PhDs, no significant record of scholarly production. All their energies went into making a good liberal arts college with certain values that transcend the merely intellectual.
LD: What departments were those women connected with? Can you tell me specifically?
LD: Cornelia Mendenhall was--
RB: No, Cornelia Strong--
RB: And Gertrude Mendenhall was also mathematics. They were all single women,of course. And somewhat humorless, I believe, maybe a little bitter. But I can't say too much in praise for their work. Viola Boddie, for instance--two D's--was our Latin and classics [professor]-- tough, really tough hombre--was feared by 57:00all the students but loved and appreciated because they knew that, you know, she was trying to elicit the best that was in them out of them. Never could be satisfied with second-class work. Was not--is not interested in things that were good, they had to be excellent. And that was true in lots of departments. But, you know, as time went on, and we were a part of the community of liberal arts colleges, we had to keep up with these other, more modern objectives. And then came the insistence of having a PhD. By the time I came, the history department had about ten people, I think, and about half of them were PhDs. You know, those were old people, the older generation who brought to their job a kind of 58:00experience that the newer PhDs did not have, so they were still very valuable and recognized as being so. But even the department head was not a PhD. In fact, they were rather more non-PhDs than people with doctorates when I first came here.
LD: Who was the chairman?
RB: C. D. Johns was his name, Johns. He was a man who had been a classmate ofTheodore Calvin Pease at the University of Chicago and got me my job.
LD: Yeah, right.
RB: He died in 1950--sudden heart attack. And from then on it's been people whowere--have doctorates who have pretty much been the--provided both the leadership and the rank and file of the history department. The history department was long recognized as the most productive department in the 59:00university from the point of view of scholarly production and participation in major professional associations and so on. Then it was, I think, replaced, I would say, I would admit, by the English department when it got into creative writing and we had people like Randall Jarrell and Peter Taylor and now Fred Chappell. It is nationally, you know, -noted. And the art department was also pretty impressive in the national context. Well, I'm wandering now.
LD: No, that's not wandering. What can you tell me about some of the majorfigures in--for instance, like Katherine Taylor? Her name often comes up in--
LD: Was she still around when you were here?
RB: Yes. She's still living.
LD: And her position was as--?
RB: It was different. When I came here she was an associate professor ofFrench. She was recently, you know, had been in the military service. She always wore her [U.S.] Navy coat for years after that. And then she was made by E. K. Graham [Edward Kidder Graham, Jr., chancellor from 1950-56]--a controversial figure, as you know--a dean of women, and I think her job description included the general supervision of the Elliott Hall. And that was her function until her retirement, as I recall, kind of dean of students. But then it became women 61:00students, and we had another functionary, I guess, was in the chain of command. After a while we had its--well, I think the person who is dean of students now is [James H.] Jim Allen, isn't he? A minister, and he was preceded also by a minister, and that suggests something of the origins of this sort of thing. But they became deans of students, these men, and under them were a dean of women and a dean of men, you see. But Katherine Taylor really was, for most of her last two decades I would say, in that slot, responsible for, oh, things like student government, seeing that it functioned properly. And that was in the days 62:00when, before the men came here. I don't know when she retired. Was it about '70, something like that?
LD: I don't know.
RB: And then--
LD: What about dormitory life? Was she in charge of that?
RB: Yeah, that's right. All the residence people reported to her. And theinteresting thing about those residence halls, and I think it also illustrates the sense of community that we used to have, these girls, if I may call them that, I don't intend to be patronizing--were frequently part-time instructors in some academic department and the other half of their job, or two-thirds of it, was their role as house mothers. And I don't think they were called that. I'm sure there was a more euphonious title than that.
LD: Resident, head resident or something.
RB: Yeah. And she would always have a student girl Friday who was a leadingstudent chosen by her peers in that residence hall so that it was a two-person 63:00team. You see, it would be Miss Hegel of the history department and the director of the residence hall, Gray Hall, whatever it was, and then some outstanding senior. And they would have house meetings and I was occasionally called on, and they'd be sitting there in their pajamas on the floor in the reception hall and so on. It was family. And they all reported to Katherine Taylor. She later became enmeshed in the conflict over Dr. Graham, and she bet on the wrong horse, to put it, you know, somewhat crudely. Maybe I shouldn't say it that way, but she was one of those who was in the circle of Dr. Graham's strongest supporters and they were in a minority of the faculty, you see. And friendships were ruined 64:00forever, were never repaired, because of which side you were on, and that very deeply--
LD: The campus really was split.
RB: Very deeply, right. Again, it was my good fortune to be away during all of that.
LD: What was the problem personality or was it policy?
RB: There's one thing I'd rather think about some more before I give you ananswer, okay? Some other occasion. Just for a short answer, I would say that it was partly personality, and it was partly a matter of a young man in a hurry, wanted to make some quick, conspicuous changes, you know. And he was encouraged in that direction by a small number of strategically placed faculty people in 65:00the English department and art. Gregory Ivy was a close associate, Marc Friedlaender of the English department, Victor Cutter in Biology. It was an awfully small group. There was a general feeling that they were running the campus and that faculty input was only window dressing. That's when the office of dean of--what do you call it? Talking about Mereb Mossman. She was plucked from the sociology department and put into an administrative role, which she, I think, filled brilliantly for the rest of her life. It was not just a, you know, casual position to name that building for her, the administration building. It 66:00was very appropriate, though I frequently disagreed with her about several things, and I know she disagreed with me even more. [laughs] But I make no effort to conceal my admiration for the intelligence and the vision and the strength she brought, you know, to the administration. And a whole succession of chancellors had to depend on her. When she retired it took several appointments to cover all of the, you know, the area that she worked by herself. And she gave it everything she had. She had no family, she was married to the college. And unhappily died just a year ago.
LD: Was she appointed by Ed Graham?
RB: Yeah. And you see, the only reason I brought that up was as an illustration67:00of what it was that drove a wedge between that small group and the university faculty at large. The creation of that office and the selection of its person who held it was not discussed with the faculty. It was just reported to us that this had been done. I think there were some vague attempts to make it appear that there had been some discussion. Some of us were called in, some of us who the administration felt, even if they didn't like us they needed our help, or they didn't need our opposition. And sometimes it would be some, what were apparent discussions leading to some of those changes, of which the one I'm 68:00currently talking about was the most conspicuous. But when it was all added up, it didn't amount to very much. I mean, it was true that a small group were running the place and that there was a great deal of unhappiness and that--word of that, of course, got to the administration in Chapel Hill. And then an investigation was conducted and some of us were interviewed for hours by trustees, et cetera. And finally, I forgot what particular form dismissal took, but I think he was asked to resign. That's the civilized way of firing. [laughs] And he bounced from one institution to another after that and died early, I guess, oh, early sixties. One of the last schools he was at was Hampton Institute, a black school in Virginia--but always as an underling. He was not 69:00president or anything like that. It was a sad story and I sympathize with him somewhat. His father was the president at Chapel Hill, you know, Edward Kidder Graham, Sr., during the war--World War I. Died in the flu epidemic when Ed, he was a tiny little boy. He grew up on that campus as a campus darling, you know, and that's not the best atmosphere for preparing people for life in this slaughterhouse of a world.
LD: And he was also the nephew of Frank Porter Graham [president of theConsolidated University of North Carolina 1930-49]?
RB: Yes. He had to fight off, you know, that image of being a relative. He hadto be his own man. And I think he tried too hard.
LD: Interestingly, Mereb Mossman survived the--for having been appointed by70:00him, she seemed to survive rather well.
RB: Yeah, well, partly because she was so deeply embedded into everything andnot because she grabbed for that power, but it just gravitated to her. There was a power vacuum that was filled by her, you see, and she just had become indispensable. I think that's not an exaggeration to say it that way.
LD: Do you think she was also politically astute? RB: Yeah. Yes, I think so.I'm trying to think of examples of that sort of thing. Just let it go at that. I think she was very skilled at handling people and getting her way when she was convinced it was the right way. But it would be only after a considerable and 71:00sincere attempt at discourse with others, you know, about it. She wouldn't make those decisions all by herself.
LD: She was noted for her ability to--her availability to faculty and herability to put in writing things which were discussed in her office.
LD: She at least is compared very, she compares very favorably withadministrators today who apparently will say one thing in their office and something else when it comes out in a memo.
RB: Yeah, I won't--
LD: But she must--I just think for her to have lasted as long as she did,having sort of started out in that kind of controversy, she must have had some considerable management skills.
RB: Skills, yeah. And there was a figure of speech that I heard often72:00invoked--there was an iron hand in that silk glove. She had a soft and conciliatory way of talking, but she was a tough, tough gal, I'll tell you, very tough.
LD: I've heard people accuse her of--I won't tell you who told me this--but shewas a woman hater and that she brought in a lot of, deliberately, as many male faculty members as she could. What do you think about that?
RB: I don't believe in amateur Freudian analysis, and it's easy to pile upinstances that seem to support that generalization. But I still reject it. It's coincidence. And there were several instances of women administrators who had 73:00her big support and vice versa. No, I don't buy that theory at all. But there--I won't conceal that a lot of people disliked her intensely. That's partly because in a position like hers, you're in a slot where you have the power to distribute certain plums, you know. And it is one of the failings of humankind that when favors are distributed, you can create one ingrate and nine new enemies whenever you give something. Follow me?
RB: I didn't invent that illustration. It was John Adams, our second president,who said that much better than I'm saying it now. He was, of course, bedeviled 74:00with the necessity of making all kinds of crucial appointments--you know, government was very new--and he hated the hell out of that part of his job. He said any time you give something you create one ingrate and nine new enemies. Also, well, there's another--maybe this is a philosophical tangent that's only a rather attenuated connection. We human beings tend to dislike those who are kind to us, do things for us. That's a terrible thing to say about the human race, but I was raised a Calvinist, and I take a very dim view of human depravity, an exaggerated view, but, in fact, it's been said that the one person that we hate even more is--than the person who has been kind to us--is the person who we have 75:00wronged. Think about that for a minute, you know. We do despise people we have wronged. Every time we see them you are reminded, you're reminded of your own mistake. Another illustration that sometimes used is, pick a man up out of the gutter, clean him up and get him all on the street again, he'll hate you for the rest of his life because you've seen him in that condition. Well, that job of hers, you see, puts her into lots of situations that are like that, that kicked in these facts about human nature. I wouldn't want that job or to be a dean of anybody. And a lot of the hostility and rancor that was felt, and that you will uncover as people really unburden themselves against her, is to be explained on 76:00the ground it would have happened to anybody who had that kind of set of responsibilities and that kind of authority legitimately vested in her. Part of it was legitimized by precedent, a broadening out from one to another precedent, and it becomes a part of her legitimate function.
LD: Let me ask you about some of the chancellors, which you have known many.
RB: All but one. The only one I didn't meet was [Charles Duncan] McIver. I goall the way back to Julius Foust, and, of course, he was retired by that time, but I hadn't--
LD: Oh, was he still here?
RB: Yes, he was--the last year or two he divided between Florida and here. Andone of the first persons that Mr. [Stanley] Jones brought me, brought to my attention was Dr. Foust who by then had long since retired, you know, an old man 77:00in his eighties and like King David, when he said that he was an old man, and he got no heat. It was an August afternoon, it was very, very hot, and he had a hot heater and a blanket over his knees. And his elegant wife, whom I liked very much, second wife, her name was Clora Foust. You'll encounter her, I'm sure.
LD: Her name was what?
RB: Foust. Became Clora Foust. Was Clora McNeill.
RB: Clora McNeill, yeah. And, well, she was hovering over him and looking afterhim. But I had an extended conversation with him. I guess it was early September. It must have been ninety-five degrees that day. And he told me that if I worked hard at it I might make a name for myself at this college here. [laughs] Well, that was the first one I met and every one thereafter. 78:00
LD: And then Walter Clinton Jackson succeeded Foust.
RB: Yeah, yes, that's right.
LD: So he had already been here for a while?
RB: Yes, he was here at the time I came. He was then called the vice presidentof administration or something of the sort. You see, the consolidation of the campus with the other two university campuses [University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University] occurred in 1931. And that was in the last two or three years of Dr. Foust's administration. It was a change, incidentally, that he resisted. He wanted the college to retain its independence. And he foresaw the shrinking of its role in the state and he was right. You know, it was merged with something else and you lose your identity. But Dr. Jackson had been here a long time. You know, he came here about, oh, I'd say, about 1913, it seems to me. He was a very young man and was in the history department. He was immensely popular, he made a lot of jokes in class. He could 79:00act out--you know, he's a real ham actor--of Andrew Jackson or people like that. That's the cheap way to get a lot of applause from the students. I don't want to run him down. He was a very good administrator, too, very good administrator. But his popularity, I think, was more--or rather less solidly based than his reputation as an administrator. And it was his responsibility, you see, to adjust to that new status of being part of the first three-campus system and defending or promoting this campus' claims to the goodies, you know, to the appropriations and things of that sort. And it was his responsibility to 80:00preserve the character of a liberal arts college for women. You see, it gradually began suffering from the attraction of Chapel Hill to women who formerly had no other place to go except to Greensboro, you see. But when, after consolidation, they began to loosen those rules. And I think I mentioned earlier that first they admitted daughters of faculty members at Chapel Hill and at State. They admitted them over there, so we lost some of our students that way, and that drain became heavier and heavier as time went on. By the time Dr. Jackson retired, women could just as easily get admitted to Chapel Hill as here, so it began to attract a different, specialized constituency, you know. It kind 81:00of--I don't know what the differences would be, but surely if you had one group who preferred to come here and another group who preferred to go to Chapel Hill, you had two different groups then--they had different motivations. Probably different kinds of backgrounds and different kind of parental authority affecting their decisions. That reminds me, though, in some of our earliest catalogues Dr. McIver used to include a paragraph in which he said that we didn't want any students here who were coming here because the parents wanted them to come here. And we didn't.
LD: That must have been a long time ago for him to say that.
RB: Yeah, you should read that. And he said in other words, of course, that thespaces here are limited and we don't need any people who are--other than those who are in dead earnest because if you're not one of those you're just taking up 82:00a space that could be much better be filled by someone who is serious. And he was flat out, you know, a kind of an ultimatum and he meant it. Those founders were really in dead earnest about creating something special here. And their influence lasted longer, much longer than their lives here. Now I'm getting off the question.
LD: Well, let's continue on. You said something about Ed Graham. How about[Chancellor] Gordon Blackwell? He wasn't here very long.
RB: No, he wasn't, and he did a lot of moving around. He appointed all kinds ofcommittees to investigate things, to see how they could be improved. Set up self study. Seemed to me I wasted an awful lot of time over the years he was here responding to those obligations. And I guess--you see, he had been a kind of a 83:00distinguished professor of sociology at Chapel Hill and they brought him here. And he had a sociologist mentality, too, I might add, which is not all good, but not all bad, either. But they put a lot of confidence in the studies and statistical verifications, coordinates and stuff like that. And, well, when he had a chance to get out of here, he took it to go to his own, old alma mater, Furman University. Isn't that in Greenville, South Carolina?
LD: South Carolina.
RB: Yeah. That's where he went. I guess he was here about five years. Then wehad Dr. [William Whatley] Pierson who was, had been dean of the graduate school at Chapel Hill. We had him twice in interims when we were between chancellors, and he served for about a year each time. And you see, after Gordon Blackwell, 84:00Pierson for a year, and then I think we brought in [Chancellor] Otis Singletary whom I had known for years before this in another connection. We were involved in the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship system. He was the chairman of his region, I was chairman of our region. I had about five states in the Southeast, and he had six states in the Southwest, and the others were New England and so on. So we had been--our paths had crossed several times on a continuing basis for several years. To give you an idea of how little faculty participation there was in these selections, the first thing I heard of his becoming chancellor was he was already appointed, and I didn't even know he was a candidate. And in fact, I 85:00happened to see him with his wife walking across our campus looking around, and it turned out that he had been given the offer and he'd accepted. And I had never even heard of this, nor had he approached me about it. Then as you know, when Gordon--I mean, when Singletary--was here, his tenure was interrupted by public service. He was off campus for quite a while with the Job Corps, was it? Something like that.
LD: Sargent Shriver.
RB: Yeah, which was a--I don't know whether he told you, but that was ahot-house environment in government. You hardly had a calm moment with that crowd. It was the Kennedys, wasn't it? Kennedy and Shriver, yeah. 86:00
LD: Although by the time he got the job, I think Kennedy may have already been assassinated.
RB: Oh, '63. Could be. But I think he got his stomach full of that kind ofadministrative and high ranking bureaucracy. But they were good years when he was chancellor. He was widely respected.
LD: Who administered the campus while he was on his leave?
RB: Probably Pierson, I guess. Oh no, Dean Mossman.
LD: I was about to ask--
RB: Sure, yeah. In fact, it was always said she administered the campus when hewas here and that he was smart enough to avail himself of that resource. Like reinventing the wheel to take any other course. That's rather vague in my 87:00recollection. I may even be absolutely wrong factually about her having--
LD: Well, the reason I ask, I was interviewing someone last fall, and she said,referred to when Mereb Mossman was chancellor. And I said I don't believe Mereb Mossman was ever chancellor, but she may have been referring to that period of time if she was in charge while he was gone, and that may have been she was a de facto.
RB: She was de facto, yeah, and not a de jure.
RB: Yeah. That reminds me of another little episode, and that--what fixes soclearly in my mind the fact that she was running the university in the absence of a regular chancellor--that she and I went to Chapel Hill, I think it was--it may have been Raleigh--one day for some kind of university business, and she drove the car. I didn't even drive a car. I didn't, never did drive a car until 88:00much later. Maybe by that time I had driven a car. But anyway, she was driving. When we got back, she stopped in front of the Foust Building, and I was sitting, you know, in the catbird seat, and she was in the driver seat. She stopped the car and got out, and the car started moving backwards, rolling down the street. And it ran over her leg, broke her leg right then and there. And I saw it happening, and I couldn't do a thing. I was just getting out of the car. And the car was rolling backwards, and it was about to smash into another car. And I tried, in my panic, to hold it like this, you know. Nearly induced a heart attack. And there she was. She just said, shouted, "Oh, Dick," you know. And I didn't, I didn't want to believe what was happening, but it was, it just ran over her. And it was her lame leg, the one that, you know, was crippled, you know, polio. But again, I never saw anybody so in possession of her, you know, 89:00of her wits. But she calmly was telling me what to do, you know. She was the calmest person there by the time--it was on the steps, at the steps of Foust.
LD: Of Foust?
RB: Foust Building. People standing around. And my heart fluttering wildly,wondered whether it was my fault in any way that it had happened. It wasn't, no matter how you looked at it. But she was just as cool as can be. And then the university decided to put her up in the Alumni House, and she lived there until she was completely recovered and that meant a couple of months. And she was running the university from there. I mean, she was really in control of everything. There may have been a day or two lost--
LD: But not much.
RB: --because of repairs that had to be made or whatever. But there she wasliving in splendor and girded with praise right there in the Alumni House. And 90:00never mentioned the episode again to me. I've had occasion to see her every once in a while, long before when I was chairman of the department. But she never referred to that little episode. [laughs]
LD: Otis Singletary was a very young man when he came, wasn't he?
RB: Yes, I guess so. Of course, that's easy to check out in Who's Who. I justdon't know what age he was. I didn't think [unclear]
LD: I believe he was forty when he was appointed.
RB: Well, that isn't all that young. McIver was twenty-nine.
LD: Really? That's interesting.
RB: Let's see, maybe McIver was--he was born in '60, wasn't he? So he wasthirty-one when the college opened. And he was sparking the movement for getting the legislature to pass it when he was in his twenties. I think he was, he was 91:00born in '60. Maybe it was a little later. Anyway, much younger than--
LD: Much younger than forty.
RB: Yeah. He died at forty-five. They're getting it wrong in all the [unclear].They say forty-six, but--
LD: He was forty-five?
RB: He died a few days before his forty-sixth birthday. I insist on calling it forty-five.
LD: You are an historian, so you should know. So then when Singletary left, hehad already brought [Chancellor] James Ferguson--
RB: Jim Ferguson, yeah.
LD: --here as an assistant administrator?
RB: As dean of the graduate school. And that wasn't much of a job in thosedays, I don't think. I guess Singletary had Ferguson in mind as a future successor to himself. And I was on the committee that selected Ferguson as the 92:00dean of the graduate school. And my memory is completely blank on how we went about it. But I'm sure the impulse for that appointment came from the chancellor and then we immediately reconfirmed his choice. And it was a good one. He did a good job as chancellor--I mean, as head of the graduate school. And then when Singletary left, a search committee in the modern mode was appointed. We had a group of--well, there was a faculty committee, and I was the chairman of that, incidentally. And then there was another group. Let's see, I don't remember how the wheels were within wheels there. But I believe that I was the chairman of 93:00the committee that had the final responsibility for making the nomination, and we did. But again it was a kind of a formal, I thought--[missing from tape] maybe I shouldn't say it that way, but I don't believe there were many other aspirants who could realistically compete.
LD: Did [President of the University of North Carolina System William] BillFriday play a big role in the choice of--
RB: No. I was not conscious of any pressure from there. I mean to say thatthere was pressure from closer by, but I guess that's what it amounted to. Well, let's leave it at that. Maybe later.
LD: That's interesting because he appears to have made the decision about94:00Singletary, at least according to Singletary, pretty much single-hand[edly]--on his own. He just happened--I was just reading, editing Otis Singletary's interview, and he said that he had come down to Chapel Hill, he was being funded by the--now, what did he say now? Carnegie--?
[End Tape 1, Side B--Begin Tape 2, Side A]
LD: But he appears to have just offered him the job sort of off the cuff oneafternoon, which is probably why you didn't hear much about it before it happened.
RB: Well, one reason then, now that you say this, that I didn't feel anypressure from Friday when it came to selecting Ferguson was that he didn't need to exert any pressure. He knew that it was going to be done anyway. That the impulse was coming from our own chancellor's office to move Jim Ferguson into that slot, so it wouldn't be necessary for Friday. It would have been unwise for 95:00him to appear to be intervening in something that was already a done deal.
LD: And Singletary was a student of Ferguson's, I gather.
RB: Yeah, at Millsaps [College].
RB: First-rate college. Yes, indeed. Is that near Jackson, do you know?
LD: I think it's close. My geography of Mississippi is not very good, but Ithink it's a little north of--maybe it's near Oxford.
LD: I think it's there. I think you're right. I think it's near Jackson.
RB: Oxford is where the university is, where William Faulkner was postmasterfor a while, and he quit. He said he didn't want to be at the mercy of every damned fool who had two cents in his pocket. That's what stamps cost in those days.
LD: [laughs] Yeah.
LD: Well, Jim Ferguson, then, you think was a successful chancellor?
RB: Oh yeah, yeah. The right man at the right time. And by the time of his96:00retirement, it was time for another kind of administration, which we have.
LD: By which you mean--
RB: By which I mean a modern administrator who, I think, took his doctorate inbusiness administration, didn't he?
LD: I believe so.
RB: Yeah. He was an undergraduate major in English literature, I guess. Butit's now, you know, big business--with enormous funding from various sources and proliferation of vice chancellors. I haven't seen an organization chart lately but I would be prepared to believe that it's the sort of thing that would never have occur to anybody in the years when I came here--a flow chart with arrows 97:00and things pointing, indicating the direction of responsibility, accountability, and so on. No, it's run like a big corporation now.
LD: Do you think that we're any more successful now at getting our share of the pie?
RB: Yeah, I think we get about what we deserve, or I probably should say, whatwe are entitled to given what--
LD: The demands are.
RB: --what the pie is. Yeah. I have not been convinced of the wisdom of goinginto doctoral programs in recent years. Enough PhDs are being turned out in this country. Twenty years ago when we were talking about having a PhD program, for 98:00instance, in history, I threw my not very considerable weight on the other side of that one. And most of us senior members of the faculty of the department felt a moral responsibility to cool the enthusiasm for adding doctoral programs here because it wasn't as if the country needed them. May be it changed now.
LD: Well, there's supposed to be a shortage coming up.
RB: Yeah, right.
LD: Toward the end of this decade, but it's not here yet.
RB: Of course, the time I'm talking about there were PhDs who were driving taxicabs and we didn't want to be a party to that. The case for the English department sounded different because of their identification with their writing program. And that was a unique asset the university possessed and it could make 99:00a better case for being a useful, socially useful step.
LD: What about the move toward athletic, expanding the athletic program?
RB: I'm not a dependable witness on that because I abominate sports [laughs],mainly because of the way it seduces people, you know, into enthusiasm that is much better extended on better causes. And I just despise the whole business. Now, we have a daughter-in-law who is coach of a girls' basket--volleyball so I make an exception--
LD: A very distinguished volleyball team, I might add.
RB: Yes, very good. And not only a good volleyball team, but her athletes alsohad a better than average scholastic rating, too. Maybe it's because that 100:00particular little sector in their sports complex here has met the criticisms that would be natural to a person like me, and I make an exception on that. [unclear]
LD: Well, Tere's [Tere Dail] a good bit more zealous about following up withstudents than a number of other coaches.
RB: Well, I regret the rising importance of athletics on our campus. But Iunderstand, too, you have to have it if you want to keep attracting students. It could make the difference in, sometimes in the case of some pretty good prospects for academic work here if they knew that there was a good academic--
LD: Well, I think in visibility it's one of the ways--
RB: It's not--yeah.
LD: --for good or ill, it's the way the university achieves visibility nowadays.101:00
RB: Yeah, yeah. And it influences the attractiveness of the campus not onlybecause there are some people who want to participate in athletics, but there are also a lot who want a school where there's--athletics are big and there'd be spectators and work up some fake enthusiasm on Saturday afternoon. And that's a legitimate consideration.
LD: Let me just ask you one other question that sort of bridges your history atUNCG, and that's about curriculum. How would you say curriculum has changed over the years?
RB: Well, we used to believe, you know, that a sound liberal arts education hadto have certain non-negotiable components. That conviction has slammed in our time. I believe we were dead right in requiring a course in modern European--it 102:00wasn't even Western civ[ilization]--modern European history of everybody who came through here. And at the time I became the chairman of the department we had forty-two sections of freshman history. That's a lot of it. And the enrollment, you know, was only a fraction of what it is now. If we had kept it up, we'd have 150 sections [laughs] or at least 100 sections. I still believe that that was among the best introductions to liberal education even though it has a narrow focus--it's only Europe and so on, but it had enough of the, you know, the materials of--to illustrate man's quest for answers to the big questions. You know, to read the previous minutes of human experience in dealing with the dilemmas that confront human beings is, it seems to me, an 103:00indispensable element of a liberal education. And as you know, now people can get through the university without a single course in history. I think they're--
LD: Well, they have to take Western civ[ilization].
RB: Now they have--everybody?
LD: I don't know. It's a requirement for College of Arts and Sciences.
LD: Now, maybe that's it.
RB: Six hours? Two semesters?
LD: Just, just--I don't know now. I don't even know if it's two semesters or one.
RB: Maybe I should drop in there sometime, see what's going on.
LD: It's a very problematic course because it doesn't appear to be popular withfaculty or with students--
RB: I just don't--
LD: --which it seems--it's puzzling to me because I would think it would be funto teach and fun to take.
LD: I wonder if it's because so many freshmen take it. I don't know. And104:00because it's a requirement.
RB: Well, and I don't want to conceal that I think that what is eroding thequality of liberal arts curriculum are these political pressures to, you know--that all cultures are created equal, and we should expose our people as much to Patagonians as we do to Puritans in Massachusetts. And also that in a course of American literature, you have to have fifteen percent of the writers should be blacks, forty-nine should be women. These artificial constraints, I think, are stifling the spirit of a kind of intellectual experience we used to 105:00try to give students out of the belief that if you give people a solid grounding in those areas they've, they have learned the intellectual virtues and methods, and that could be the basis for a lifetime of further learning and decision making. And I don't think that the, those current trends promote that object in a way that the older, liberal arts traditions did. I wouldn't take millions for what my undergraduate university education did for me. I'm not holding myself up 106:00as an example of the emancipated mind. But it would be like turning somebody loose who can't read or write into--I would feel that way--if I didn't know what I know as a result of my education. And it was that kind of thing, you know, basic courses.
LD: Did they take--they had a fairly standard first two years? Was everyonetaking about the same things?
RB: Yeah, yeah. Some choice in the area of science, different options.
LD: Or foreign language, but they had to take one?
RB: A foreign language, yeah, English composition, history of modern Europe.
LD: And then the second--the junior and senior year they were expected to be intheir major? RB: Yeah, concentrate in their major.
LD: Now when did that start to change?
LD: And what is the concept of general? What is general curriculum? Is it--doesthat term ring a bell?
RB: I'm embarrassed to say anything that's happened in the last ten years I107:00don't know.
LD: No, I was thinking earlier than that because I know that in many schools inthe sixties many of the requirements were beginning to be loosened, so I would say it was fairly longer ago than the last ten years. And wasn't there also a component of curricular change that was involved with Ed Graham?
RB: Yeah, but he was giving the right answers and using the right words, youknow. He was talking about education for values and preserving western culture and customs and familiarizing those of us whose responsibility it is to carry it on to know about its difficulties in the past. No, from that point of view, Graham's position was not seriously attacked by the majorities here. It was 108:00rather the way he went about staffing the new programs.
LD: In other words, without faculty input?
RB: Yes, in position of programs.
LD: Although that must have been not unusual in the fifties, you know, on othercampuses. I think--I forgot now, Gordon Blackwell in his interview was talking about certain staffing decisions that were made in Chapel Hill. Was Frank Porter Graham the chancellor over there at one point in time?
RB: Was he what?
LD: Was Frank Porter Graham the chancellor ever at Chapel Hill?
RB: No. Well, he was president of that, at that campus. I don't think he wasever called chancellor. 109:00
LD: Well, maybe chancellor is the wrong term but I--
RB: He was president of the university until he was appointed to the UnitedStates Senate.
LD: Well, Blackwell may have been referring to Graham or it may have beenanother president when he said that there were times when faculty appointments were made somewhat on the president's whim, you know, spur of the moment. And I know nowadays that that type of thing creates a tremendous amount of animosity--
LD: --when it occurs. But of course, now we live in a period where you havenational, you're supposed to have national searches--
LD: --which doesn't always mean what it--
RB: It almost never does.
LD: Yes, well, that's--but on the books. You know, nowadays there's procedure--
RB: These things are done by telephone calls. You know, you write certainthings that just to get into the record to prove that you're making an 110:00extensive--but then the decisions are made on top of them.
LD: You think that's still true?
RB: Oh well, it's not that simple, but that's the way it tilts.
LD: That certainly doesn't surprise me. Do you have anything else? This hasbeen a very long interview for you and I appreciate it. Do you have anything that you'd like to--I didn't ask you about Harriet Elliott. I was going to ask you about her.
RB: She was my next door neighbor for the five years that I lived there onMcIver Street and when she was in extremis, she'd had a stroke, massive hemorrhage. I had to pick her up off the floor all by myself and put her back in her bed.
LD: Oh boy.
RB: Some of the women who were visiting her at the time called me in a panic. I111:00was living next door. And they couldn't do this, and I could not do it again either because she was a large woman. But in grave emergencies you have resources you didn't know you had. But she was comatose at the time. She died a few weeks after that.
LD: And what was her position--?
RB: She had been--what was she called? Dean of students? She was always calledDean Elliott.
LD: Was she the dean before Katherine Taylor?
RB: Yeah, yes, that's right, she preceded her. And in a sense, Katherine Taylorsucceeded to her position. She came here as a young instructor from Illinois in history and political science, and she was for a time our political science department, such as it was. What political science we had, she taught. And then 112:00later she also brought in with her Miss [Louise Brevard] Alexander, who was trained as a lawyer and I think was a clerk of the court or something like that here in the county. And she was brought in and succeeded to those political science functions because Elliott was increasingly involved in administration. She was a very close associate of Dr. Jackson. And they two together ran the college pretty much in tandem. And she was also a very conspicuous figure in the women's wing of the Democratic Party before women could vote and therefore became involved in the woman's suffrage movement. And in the lean years of the Democratic Party those women couldn't expect much in the way of plums, but come 113:00the new Democratic administration of '32 she suddenly becomes important because she was one of the few women in North Carolina who had been active and energetic about fundraising and, I mean, there was no point in raising any funds in those--there was no political competition down here. But she was brought into the [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt administration for the cause of--Committee on Consumer Affairs, something of that sort. And she struck up an acquaintance with Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mrs. Roosevelt came here two or three times. In fact, I wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt at the time Harriet Elliott was so ill. She wrote back and said, "I will immediately write her. I didn't know this had happened." Somebody told me that a former student was in the Roosevelt Library 114:00in Hyde Park and had seen the correspondence between me--her and me. But she was a strong-minded, vigorous administrator. And very much a part of this tradition I was talking about of building a respect for democratic values and institutionalizing them here by having a student government and this point system I mentioned and always a week-long conference before the school year began, pre-school conference. In the old days it met at the Blue Ridge Assembly Grounds in--west of Black Mountain. It was really great. It was partly religious. You know, the YMCA, the YWCA [Young Women's Christian Association] was conspicuously involved in that pre-school conference. Those were the days. 115:00
LD: Are there any other individuals that you'd like to--?
RB: Let me think about those and let's get together again.
RB: And you may think of some things that you wish you had thought to ask orthat you might want to have clarified.
LD: Okay. I might call you and ask you to spell some of the names because I--
RB: Sure. Well, don't hesitate because my time is--I got lots of it. Any timeyou want to put some more on tape, I'll be glad to cooperate.
LD: Well. Thank you very much.
RB: I didn't think I was going to do this.
[End of Interview]