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Title:
Interview with Robert Tyndall, February 16, 2006
Date:
February 16, 2006
Description:
This is the first in a series of interviews with former Dean and Vice Chancellor/Associate Provost  Dr. Robert E. Tyndall. In it, he discusses his childhood and adolescence in Durham, North Carolina, his time as principal at Lyon Park School, and serving as Associate Superintendent of Durham County Schools. He also details his career as Dean of the Watson School of Education at UNCW, where he initiated the CAPE consortium, formed the committee that created the Masters in School Administration Program, and both advocated the construction and conceptualized the design for the Education building.
Phys. Desc:

Riggins: Today is Thursday, February 16, 2006. My name is Adina Riggins. I'm the interviewer for today and our interviewee is Dr. Robert E. Tyndall, who is currently serving as Special Advisor to the Provost and Associate Provost as he transitions back to his faculty appointment after eighteen years as a Tier I administrator.

Robert Tyndall: Vice Chancellor and Associate Provost.

Riggins: Vice Chancellor for ITSD and Associate Provost, but today he's going to talk about his years prior to that in the field of education and at the Watson School of Education. Welcome.

Robert Tyndall: Well, thank you. It's good to be here. I'm looking forward to it.

Riggins: We like to start these interviews with some basic background information to get a sense of who you are. Please tell us where you were born and where you grew up.

Robert Tyndall: Well, I was born and grew up in Durham, North Carolina. If you ever look at a map of the city of Durham you'll see that there's an inner city area of Durham called East Durham which is, as most people when I was growing up would say, right near the mills and the railroad tracks. That's the way you knew where it was. It's the downtown area with low income, from mill workers to people who worked in sort of common labor jobs; people who worked as house painters, warehouse floor workers, telephone switchboard operators, that type of thing. So it was distributed from lowest middle to lower income. There were also sections with names like Marvin’s Alley –which was the inspiration for the song Tobacco Road, Edgemont and Few Gardens Few Gardens which was basically the housing project area of Durham. So you can get a sense of what it might have looked like or been like to be in that area. During my childhood the streets were dirt and twice a year the city would spray oil on the streets to keep the dust down. You could always tell kids from that section of East Durham because they had oil on their clothes. To this day some of the streets are still unpaved. I have really interesting and vivid memories of it all. There were some tough times but there are also so many good memories.

Riggins: That's where you grew up.

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, that's where I grew up. My mother went through middle school, or what we call middle school now, and never went to high school. My dad was in the Second World War and was wounded but came back. He was a complex man who recited long poems learned in Europe, kept to him and was distant in the way that many men who have experienced war tend to be. He did not finish high school either. They both died very young. My dad died when I was 12 and my mom when I was still a young man. So I ended up doing what a lot of kids in that period did, which means that I kind of hung out with relatives and at pool halls and worked in an A and P store, loaded shelves at small stores, stacked tobacco at Roycroft Warehouse---best roasted peanuts in town and hotter than hell--- was a janitor of a church and sold clothes at the Young Men’s Store while I was finishing my high school career in Durham. I remember I once had a job when I was 11 or 12 as a lime thrower. I bet you don’t know what that is. You would crawl under a house, usually a low and damp space, and drag a bag of lime behind you and throw it out in a cloud of white until the dirt was covered. It was a way to keep the moisture down and prevent rot. I got paid a quarter for every 30 lb bag. Can you imagine such a thing today? By the end of the day each kid was as powdery white as if he had been rolled in flour.

Riggins: Hanging out with the relatives, you probably felt grateful but you also felt like you didn't want to be a burden. Was that what was going on?

Robert Tyndall: Yeah. In a lot of those low income families, you know, for some families the kids were more of a burden probably. It was never discussed, but you felt it. I never lived with a relative but would drop by for a while and they would appear and then evaporate. You had people who had a lot of problems of their own, had health problems or a lot of issues with employment and money in that period of time. Yet, everyone seemed busy. Somehow people moved on but I don't know exactly how all that happened. My early need to stay busy probably had more to do with my parents than I realized—when your parents die when you're fairly young the texture fades. I mean, I wasn't a small child when my mother died but I think your memories do get blurred and there are certain ghosts of your childhood that always stay with you but remain vague and undefined. I was 16 when I was basically on my own. You don't exactly know how your family influences you, so I'm sure there was more of a hand in my life than I realized, but my memory is that I was sort of a self-parented child in many ways. I remember being responsible for taking care of myself, being responsible for making my meals, ironing my clothes, doing my homework, having a job very, very young, getting myself to school, getting home from school. I played sports or got involved with projects or whatever I did because they were working whenever they could. Mom worked night shifts after my dad died so I would be getting home when she would be leaving and she would be sleeping when I was leaving and it was the same for my brother and sister. There was probably a lot more going on for an uneducated, working mother with three kids than I could have ever understood. As I said, at that time my father had already died and she was also taking care of her mother and at times her two brothers, both of whom had a lot of alcohol health problems and at one time or another all eight of us lived in a very small, 900 square foot house-- so you can imagine. (Laughs) It was kind of an interesting way to grow up. I have vivid memories of sleeping under the window fan to feel the fresh air move and hear the night sounds-muffled conversations form porches, laughter and voices full of anger. To this day I cannot sleep without the sound of a fan and moving air.

Riggins: Have you got any siblings?

Robert Tyndall: I have one brother and one sister, both older. We did not have much time together and after our mother passed we seldom saw one another. We often went 10 to 15 years with no contact.

Riggins: (inaudible)

Robert Tyndall: So basically my memories are about mostly about being active, doing a lot of things, being away from home, being at school, staying at school late—really being very, very active in high school in particular. I was in everything, and probably drove my teachers and principal crazy because I was always around, you know. I was always doing something. I was lucky to have some great friends. One of my friends, Bobby Lockamy, was so important during my early years. I did not treasure him as much as I should have until becoming a man.

Riggins: Did you go to Durham High?

Robert Tyndall: I did, I went to Durham High School. I went to East Durham Junior High School-later renamed Holland Holton Junior High School, and Holloway Street Elementary School, which is right near the center of town. I had some great years at Durham High School and still have a lot of friends from there, a good experience in so many important ways.

Riggins: The high school at the time, right?

Robert Tyndall: Yes. In the late '60s, early '70s, Durham High School was really considered to be one of the better high schools in North Carolina. We were about 2200 students I think, a very diverse curriculum, and great sports and academics. I mean, during my time there we won state championships in football, basketball and baseball and always did well in track and that type of thing and so I was very much immersed. I had reasons for not wanting to go home and school became my outlet. We won numerous academic titles and produced magnificent plays and musicals. I was in student government. I was the freshman and sophomore class president and later was student body president. I was Chief Marshall, head of the Senior Prom Committee, Chair of the Representative Council, won numerous superlatives and was “Best All Around.” It all sounds so ego driven now but I admit I needed it. I think it is safe to say that I needed a lot of validation. I was on about ten school committees and I was a co- captain of two of the sports teams at the junior level. Never was a very good athlete, but I loved sports and was just always around so I guess they just wanted to give me something to do. Durham High was for me a place without boundaries. We had so much talent and great teachers and the poor and the wealthy never seemed to notice class lines. It was obvious, but it was never mentioned. Naturally, some of us felt out of place at times and we knew that we were different as Fitzgerald would say, but it never felt cruel. I do remember not being able to attend functions like the National Student Council Association because I could not pay for the bus ticket or room and I remember borrowing money to buy a blazer for senior class pictures, but I did not feel that I was less of a person. A lot of that—the atmosphere of acceptance-- had to do with one of North Carolina’s greatest principals, Dan Cagle. I did not know until much later the impact that he had on me.

Riggins: Were you the oldest in the family?

Robert Tyndall: No, I was the youngest. I have a brother and a sister who are older. By the time I was in the teen years they were already pretty well out of the house and away. My brother went to Vietnam and fortunately he came back, thank goodness. He was a helicopter pilot there and was highly decorated. But it was a typical inner city southern family where parents often die young and the family becomes fragmented and you get focused on doing what you have to do to get to the next thing and to get up and out, you know, just keep things moving. Some kids don't go that way, other kids do not.

Riggins: It happens again and again I guess. Some people survive better than others.

Robert Tyndall: Yeah. I was fortunate to have a lot of good teachers and a lot of good principals and people who took an interest in me. I am sure some of it was luck, but some of it was that inexplicable part of life that allows on child to see a kaleidoscope in an oil stained road and another to step around and pass without noticing. In many ways teachers and principals they became my surrogate parents. In addition my neighborhood was full of unusual people; at least I was sure they were unique when I was 10 or 12. There was Howard Mullins who could walk the length of the narrow football side yard with five or six kids hanging from him, Danny Woods who was always doing something dangerous with hatchets and knives and was frequently rushed off to see a doctor at the clinic and Barbara Jean Hall who represented everything our young minds could imagine a woman to be—of course she was also a child.

Riggins: Was Durham High integrated then?

Robert Tyndall: It was but in the first stage. In fact, when I was student body president there we had never had African American students on the student representative council or student government and as student body president you got to actually name certain members to the student council committees. The McKissick family name was a very well-known name in the Durham area. Floyd McKissick was born in Ashville and attended Morehouse College and later graduated from the University of North Carolina Law School. One of his children was named to the city-wide student government association and then there were other individuals—two boys who were very, very bright young men whose last names were Massey and their father was an academic leader—and we got them involved and both became school leaders. But this was just as Durham High School was really adjusting to the impact of the 60’s. For a long time—many people don't know this—the inner city of Durham was a  predominantly poor white working class area with a few upper class neighborhoods like Hope Valley and Forest Hills on the edges of town, but predominantly low-middle class or lower class working families who lived in the inner city. At one time Durham also had one of the most affluent and educated Negro communities in the south in the inner city. The city of Durham going through the same phases that many southern cities experienced in the initial stages of integration, coupled with the movement of a lot of the commercial buildings to the outskirts with suburbanization. You had this kind of exodus of people who were moving to the newer housing and to the newer neighborhoods and that was compounded by the displacement of students due to integration and what was going on there, and you had a tremendous turnaround in the composition of the school system in Durham over a very short period of time. Many affluent whites and blacks had already exited and the large inner city homes where they had once lived were re-populated by several low income individuals under one roof. There was no single cause, but a combination of factors altered the landscape. This pattern soared across the south driven by new opportunities, population growth, and social and political changes. About the time I left there, after having been an administrator in the Durham City Schools---principal and Deputy Superintendent, Durham City was a predominantly inner city African American poor school district, about 96% minority. Of course, now this has begun to change again because the districts merged, which happened quite late around 1992 or 93, and some areas in the city have been successfully revitalized.

Riggins: When did you graduate from high school? Sorry to ask you a date.

Robert Tyndall: Oh, that's quite all right. I graduated in '66 and at that time I was already working some in Chapel Hill. As I said, I worked at a church over there, having one of those fancy jobs—I was a custodian (laughs)—and I was doing a little bit of that and so I was coming back and forth from Durham to Chapel Hill that year. I also worked at Pizza Hut and the bus station in Chapel Hill at some point. We used to thumb in those days. I know it's hard to believe but I used to thumb everywhere I went. I thumbed to Topsail Island with two friends when I was 15. Later in college I would thumb to places like New York City and New Orleans. My parents never owned an automobile and I never had an automobile until later in life and so everywhere I went I walked, took a city bus or just stuck out my thumb and went and there was no problem. I never had any trouble fortunately, thank goodness. So I would go back and forth.

Riggins: To get to work?

Robert Tyndall: Yes, to get anywhere I needed to go, and after a while I lived in the church, in the back of the church with some other really interesting people. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I crashed at the church and crowded in with Bland Simpson who is quite well known today as an academic, writer and a musician. It was his room, but it felt like a mini-hostle.

Riggins: What church was this?

Robert Tyndall: This was the Methodist church right on Franklin Street adjacent to campus, right in the heart of the downtown area which is just what a young kid who is totally on his own needs… to crash right across from all the bars. Yeah, (laughs) right down from the planetarium. Oh, I loved the set up and probably spent too much time among the poets ad artist on Franklin Street. I had another one of my high school teachers, Mrs. Ross, to thank for that passion. In addition to the creative types, I loved the planetarium. When I was in high school they used to have docents that gave tours and guided people and I used to do that a little during the summer months at Morehead Planetarium, loved it. I thought I was going to be an astronomer at one time when I was growing up and I think I would have enjoyed that. I was one of a handful of students who could tell you all about the Zeiss projector there. I think that there was just something about the solitude, you know that beauty of being under and with the stars and outside at night. There is something wonderful about the quiet and still distance of space that touched me. Well, the one thing I wanted most as a kid was a telescope. I just remember passionately wanting this telescope. They used to have lots of downtown pawn shops and I remember my mother kind of saving up money and collecting a few things to sell and one day we went down and picked out this telescope and that was a really big deal. It was a big deal to get that and I used to spend night after night, no matter how cold, just looking at planets and stars from the small lot near the house and plotting constellations and doing that kind of stuff. It was fun and yet somehow spiritual. So anyway, that area on Franklin Street held great fascination and I think that's sort of what led to me to going to Carolina, going to Chapel Hill was my tie with the church, the planetarium and hours walking around campus. It was not uncommon when we were 12 to 14 years old to ride our bicycles from Durham to Chapel Hill and even Raleigh. Hard to imagine that today isn’t it? We road all the way to Raleigh on I-70, over 15 to 18 miles each way, to sit in the new legislative building because it was beautiful and air conditioned. We were easily inspired to take road trips.

Riggins: You probably felt like you were living on campus even before you started school there.

Robert Tyndall: Yes, I already knew the area, liked it a lot. I had some wonderful teachers, a Martha Patrick at Durham High and an assistant principal, Mr. Hallford when I was in junior high school that really took a lot of interest in me. Dan Cagel, who was my principal at the high school, really paid attention to me. That was back in the days when if you were student body president you had an office next to the principal's office and you learned what it was like to see how things worked. They don't do that anymore (laughs). They steered me toward college.

Riggins: That wouldn't be a bad idea to start up again.

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, it was kind of… added status. That was his idea, it would add a little status to the idea of students being responsible and taking some ownership and being part of the administrative team. I actually met with the administrative team periodically and planned things with them—or that’s what I thought. It was a great learning experience. I learned a lot from that. And so they were pushing me, “go to college, go to college, go to college.” Mrs. Patrick caught me in the hall one day and said.” I signed you up for the SAT to be given the on the UNC campus” and I took a bus over and took the exam. I did not really even know what the SAT was. So much for prep time! Fortunately I got good scores. I got into Carolina and loved it and was there for my undergraduate degree. I did an undergrad degree in English and then did a master's degree in English with an emphasis in teaching (MAT) and then I went to UCLA for a while and did some advanced graduate work out there and came back to Carolina for my doctorate. And that was while I was working full time, got married and had two children. There was a lot of stuff going on in life. I would generally get home between 10:00pm and 12:00am in those days, between work and study. It was a continuation of my night habits, being a person of the night that has followed me until this day.

Riggins: When you were an undergraduate, you worked full time.

Robert Tyndall: Yes, I worked full time as a undergrad, worked full time as a graduate student, never lived on campus in a dorm, always had little apartments or crashed in the church or, you know, found somewhere to be the whole time and had jobs like cutting and tying up produce in the A&P store, unloading trucks at the overnight trucking company out on Interstate 85, working in the Pizza Hut on Franklin St., the church on Holloway St. or Franklin St., basically anything I could find and work into my schedule. I mean, you know fancy jobs (laughs) but it paid the bills. I can truthfully say that after 10 years of college and no outside help, but a small scholarship for two years, I finished my degrees with no student debt.

Riggins: What were some of your early connections that lead to your education path?

Robert Tyndall: Well, this is the interesting twist I began to have some contact with people at UNCW early in my career and I'm sure if you talked to some of the folks in the school arena at UNCW… some of them are aware of this because I had crossed paths with people like Eleanor Wright and Andrew and Hathia Hayes long before I ever came to Wilmington. Roy Harkin, the founding dean of the School of Education, became a dear friend. I knew him before I ever came here. And I started knowing several of them very early in life, particularly Roy. Dr. Harkin had taught at UNC and been Associate Dean there I think. I was in school at Chapel Hill and I was doing a little teaching while in school and building some networks with people like Roy. You used to be able to teach on what was called a B certificate in those days. In retrospect we called this-humorously “collateral entry” as opposed to today’s “lateral entry”… laughs... You could go over and teach some courses before completing your education degree and I was teaching in Person County at the high school every now and then I'd teach a course or two in Durham. I thought it was very ironic that they always wanted me to teach things like quantitative math and science but my field of study was English- anyway (laughs) that was back when there was less monitoring of out- of- field teaching as you might imagine because the districts were growing so fast in those areas that they desperately needed teachers. I started teaching at the end of my sophomore year I think. If you had a good academic record and you seemed like, you know, you wouldn't do anything too untoward or criminal (laughs) they'd bring you in and give you a shot. I was a teacher at a couple of places in Durham as well Brogden Junior for a few years. One day I was in downtown Durham and I was just walking along the street and I bumped into my old high school principal, who was then the Associate Superintendent for Personnel in Durham City, named Dan Cagle. He asked me to come and talk with him. He said, "I've got a challenge for you. I wonder if you'd like to be a school principal." And I said, "Well, this is really flattering," and he said, "Well, before you get too flattered, we've got a building that we're going to condemn, and a school that we're going to close, and we need somebody that is expendable so we need somebody we can let go without a big fuss so you're only going to be there about six months," and I said, "Oh" (laughs). It wasn't quite as flattering as I had thought, but he had known me from high school and he knew that at least I had a little bit of leadership skill and really enjoyed that type thing- particularly a big challenge. I also desperately needed the money. Today, people would laugh at the amount but it mattered to me then. So I got involved and I took the offer and became principal at Lyon Park School having just before I turned 25—there’s a long story there, a wonderful story of that school. It was a school that was once called The School in the Woods. By the time I arrived there it was right near the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance building in downtown Durham (laughs) but just because it was once a little ways out of off Main Street they considered it to be in the woods when it was first established. It was one of the earliest schools that served predominantly African American students in that area and it had a marvelous story with people like Pauline Fitzgerald Dame and Pauli Murray associated with its history. Pauli Murray was a magnificent woman who was the first ordained African American Episcopal priest in America. She was a Dean of Brandeis Law School, she was an adviser to two different presidents, but she grew up being known as the granddaughter of Pauline Fitzgerald Dame, but I don’t think they were actually blood relatives. Pauline helped run this school-- you know, did all kinds of things like bring soups in big vats to serve on the stage in the auditorium because they didn't have a kitchen. Perhaps it is true that we live our adult lives trying to get back to and discover our past. The Lyon Park experience shaped the rest of my career, great teachers in a world of poverty, drugs and violence. These were strong teachers who were firm and compassionate, smart but humble, it was an amazing group of people and I still remember the eye rolls when their new kid- principal was first introduced. In some ways it could have been a school in the woods in the sense that it was in its own world in many ways. Lyon Park represents to me what the American story is about, with all of its beauty, triumphs, struggles and tragedy blended together. Obviously all of this was going on before I got there and so when I was named principal I became a small part of the story.

Riggins: Had you done your master's degree yet-?

Robert Tyndall: Yes, just finished but I hadn't done my principal certification. I had completed the master's degree but had not completed the principal certification. I was working on that and, at the time was the youngest principal in NC. There were a group of quality teachers there and most were very senior to me and I was the first white administrator to ever work in the building and it was fascinating. I am still haunted by that school because it was such a wonderful, richly textured experience to be in that school. It was the kind of school where you were surrounded by houses that were up close- right on top of the school. I could sit in the principal's office at night and literally look out my window and I was looking in the windows of the houses next to me and people would be looking at me and I'd wave or they'd wave and I'd watch. I could go to another window and look out and see people having dinner and walk to another room and see, you know, the drug people on the corners and the house of ill- repute just up the street. It was beginning of the fading of this really poor inner city black community of its special history, the good and the bad but the stuff of life. The school had survived for a long time. It had been there about 75, 80 years by that point and they were going to condemn it. The names of veterans like Mamie Alston, and Dorothy Morrow and the young new teachers like Betsy Walker, Sandy Southwick and Ann Frank have stayed with me. Together, we collectively lived the past, present and future of that school.

Riggins: --Did they want to make it commercial or build a new school there?

Robert Tyndall: Well, I don't know that it was that so much as they just figured it was obsolete and they needed to bus those kids out somewhere else and close the school down. There were no mean spirited people involved. It was considered to be more of a practical consideration and a response to the pressures of integration.  I think what happened with me was, I was so idealistic and so naïve that I was incredibly open to talk with the teachers and the parents and the students about how to turn this into something, for the time that it was going to be there, special. It was one of those experiences where, as the teachers realized that I was very serious about doing what they needed because they'd been so neglected for so long and the kids slowly became less suspicious of this white guy, and you got to remember this is back in the early '70, you know, like '72 or so. We were still wearing bellbottoms, long hair and I had a mustache and, you know, weird, weird time (laughs) and they were looking at me, going, "Who is this character?" (Laughs) I often think about how I got to arrive at that moment in time. What may have started as my ego and my needs to always go beyond quickly turned to a sense of obligation and humility. The experience moved and transformed me and more importantly it changed the world for some of those kids and inspired or renewed many teachers.

Riggins: What student ages were in the school?

Robert Tyndall: These were kids that were all in the age group from first grade up through seventh grade. There was an unofficial pre-school because the younger kids just kept showing up. We actually did things like get teachers and parents together and paint this rather large school. We bought farm land and had the kids grow their own vegetables. We created a shop where you could come in and make furniture for your house and you'd pay for the materials only but you had to bring an adult with you so it was a way to get adults in. We built reading lofts in every room, had extended tutoring for all students, added rooftop gardens and art centers and the place was constantly in motion.

Riggins: All in six months?

Robert Tyndall: Well… The story is, it was supposed to be condemned in six months but it became so dynamic and the people got behind it and we reactivated the athletic teams and we built a rooftop garden and an astronomer observatory. We built a little observatory on the roof of the building. We got the Durham Arts Center to locate one of its rooms in the building. We did the whole downstairs of the building as a book theme. The teachers and all got together and created themes for the semester and one year they did The Yellow Brick Road and they actually put yellow bricks and dirt and forest things the length of one hallway. We got a train cabooses donated and delivered to the building and converted it into a reading center. We took all the seats out of the auditorium and built circular reading labs shaped like mushrooms that were made from large cable spools about four feet high and twelve feet in diameter. We carpeted them in bright colors. The kids could go up into the lofts and train and they would sit with the teachers and have reading sessions. We created our own radio and TV station that broadcast to the community.

Riggins: How did you get the money for this?

Robert Tyndall: Well, that's kind of the mystery of it all. I probably could never tell you how all that happened. I remember teachers in that school coming in and saying, "I met a guy the other day who knows a guy who's got a train caboose and I asked if we could have it," and I'd say, "Well, how would we ever get a train caboose here?" And then somebody else would say, "I know a guy who's got a crane and a trailer, I mean he works with a heavy lifting company and he's got a crane and I think he might be willing to bring it over for us," and then somebody else would see somebody who worked with the telephone company and we would get large cable spools and other equipment. And when we took all the auditorium seats out to make a multi-purpose center, we literally went in with our own tools and took them out. We got people to donate carpeting to carpet this 8,000 square foot area. We had people who liked to do flowers or owned farmland. I mean it was just the old barter, co-op mentality of the '60s, '70s kids trying to, you know, build a place where learning and life intersected at every turn. The best thing that happened is that it became a very successful school and we won numerous state and even national awards and later the school was embraced by Duke as an endowment school. I wrote some 800,000 dollars of funded grants. The teachers that were at Lyon Park then I would meet again by chance 10 or30 years later would always say “I'll never forget Lyon Park, I'll never forget that experience.” We used to go to this retreat area outside of Durham called Quail Roost and it was a beautiful estate that used to be owned by the Watts Hill family since the 1800s. They gave use of the property, which including a mansion, several cottages, pool, tennis courts and so forth to several groups. At one point it was run by the Learning Institute of North Carolina.  It had a grand main house and all these little cabins with fireplaces and we have training retreats out there all the time with teachers and they'd allow us to use the space. There was a long developmental story tied to what happened at Lyon Park but I guess for me, what it did early in my career, was that it built this notion that if you can create a vision with a group of people and you can create systems to deliver that vision and you are incredibly tenacious about it, you just work it, work it, work it, that it's incredible what those people can make happen. They can make really great things happen. Obviously you've got to have good teachers who are technically qualified and know what they're doing and know their content but sometimes just having that's not enough. If there's not some passion or something that really connects with people's lives, it just comes off flat. Obviously, if you have all the enthusiasm and all the glitz and all that without the content or the skill, it also comes off hollow (laughs) so putting the two together was wonderful. Terry Sanford is a name you probably know. He was a great NC governor, US Senator and the President of Duke University. He was president at Duke during my time at Lyon Park and I'll never forget being in Lyon Park School, this young principal in this rundown building that we were trying to repair and paint and fix and I decided to go see the President and get him involved. This is how naïve I was: I thought, “I walk by Duke all the time. I think I'll go see the president and ask him why he's not helping.” So I went over to Duke, went to the Allen building, told the secretary I was there to see the President and she said, "Do you have an appointment?" And I said, "No, but I'll wait until he can see me," and I sat there for about three or four hours. I came back two days later and waited about four hours and as he was coming out of his office he saw me and he said, "Are you the person who has been waiting so long here to see me?" And I told him who I was and why I was there and, if you know Terry Sanford you will not be surprised to hear that instead of saying, "You need to make an appointment young man," he said, "I'm going out right now, I'm having a late lunch, you want to go?" And I said yeah. This was the first of many conversations we had about education over the years. We became very, very close friends and he got the Duke Endowment and Duke’s Department of Education behind this school. He introduced me to Jim Hunt, who was then running for Lieutenant Governor. I'll never forget one scene about two years later. There was one day, I'm sitting in my office and there's Craig Phillips, the State Superintendent of the Schools; Jim Hunt, the Lieutenant Governor and future of course future Governor; Terry Sanford, the President of Duke and future U.S. Senator; and a former governor, a guy named Tom Oliver who was a major corporative executive—all sitting around in this dingy little office with stick down carpet squares on the old wood floors. My carpet was those little tiles you stuck on the floor and it didn't seem odd to me that we were all there. You see, that's just how brave ignorance and passion can make you. I thought, well, of course they would be here, this is important, we're doing some important stuff here, they need to be here and they need to help me and these kids. I'm sure they looked back on it with real amusement because I didn't know any better. Now I'm just so humbled by (laughs) the fact that these people came, you know. It was quite remarkable.

Riggins: You had been part of a team-did you see them as part of the team?

Robert Tyndall: Right. I just viewed them as part of the team, how arrogant (laughs). To their credit these were all men of commitment and passions of their own and they mentored me for much of my life.

Riggins: You're fortunate-- what did the teachers think?

Robert Tyndall: Oh, the teachers were just stunned. I mean they would see these people coming out and go, you know, “isn't that President Sanford?” (Laughs) and I'd go “yeah, he's over here to help us with the school, he asked me to ask you all what you need in terms of funding to help with the science equipment.” And they go “oh.” and he would help us. Over the next few years Duke faculty got involved, the department chair, Lucy Davis, spent considerable time with me and several studies that were important to us were conducted at the school. Dr. Coie, a psychologist at Duke, did some major work on social status and social isolation among students.

Riggins: --like okay-and they would help?

Robert Tyndall: So it was quite remarkable and I was so fortunate that all that happened but again, people ask how does something like that happen, and maybe this is my poetry background but to me, asking how an organization becomes something magical from something ordinary is… it's like asking how does a poem mean and what gives it its meaning. It's a little bit technical and a little bit inspirational a little bit creative instinct and magic. You don't quite know how it all happens or what makes it work. Such experiences are not reducible to a diagram in an org. theory text.

Riggins: It's an interesting comparison between a poem and an organization and I know your graduate work, at least what Sherman Hayes told me, is that your focus was organizational theory-

Robert Tyndall: Yeah. A lot of emphasis but it's striking in a way, if you think about it, because the same elements and senses are present… if you look at the structures beneath the surface of things that connect one thing to another whether in architecture, art, language or physical forms –if you take an ecological approach. What are the structures in language—the spacing, the sounds, the rhythms, the use of words that give poems meaning?—it’s very much like the same way you look at organizational systems. I was so blessed in college at Carolina to have such excellent professors like Jack Kasarda, Bill Self and Phil Schlechty. These three, among many excellent faculty, had a profound impact on the way I thought about leadership and organizations. Bill Self was the Dean and a practical, focused and honorable man. I still use an acronym from Dr. Kasarda to describe the interplay of people, organizational structures, environments and technology systems,” POETS.” Phil Schlechty was a mentor to me for 25 years. I spent hundreds of hours with Schlechty talking about what made schools great and how the profession could be transformed, knowledge work, schools as part of leaning ecologies and countless other topics .He was to me as John Adams might have looked, a short, rotund man with a cartoon voice, walking back and forth under the moonlight on my patio—his stage, so intense with cigarette smoke trailing in great clouds and talking as fast as anyone could possible listen for hours on end. He lived about five houses from me in Chapel Hill and I had the benefit of many a glass of bourbon and late night conversations. I miss it. From them I learned to  ask: what are the elements and systems that you can dance with that energize, inspire, allow people—not just the principal but allow all of these people—to become leaders in that organization? How does that happen? My poetry, combined with my organizational systems preparation, made a good mix. At the same time I was exposed to these great organizational minds, I was surrounded by talented poets as diverse as James Dickey, Carolyn Kizer, Nicanor Parra, Norman Podhoretz, and many others. So it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me- this experience with Lyon Park—because, as Dan Cagel told me later,“You know, we let you do all those things because to a large extent, Bob, it was an example of a city that had given up on this particular community and this school and so no one really seemed to care at first. We had lost energy and the plan was to condemn the school and it would just go away. And then when it all started happening, everybody was sort of surprised at first and then when parents came back to talk about not closing the school—hundreds of parents showed up—and said ‘we're not going to close this school.’ We knew something special was happening.” Kids showed up and the grandparents came. The school became a symbol for the community- of its history and pride. This is where my love of Pauli Murray, who had by this time become this really wonderfully famous, successful woman, took hold of me. She came back to Durham to the school auditorium to talk about “The School in the Woods” and her mother and its history and her grandmother and brought other people with her from that era who were African Americans and who had achieved enormous things because of the education they had gotten, the foundations in this little school. So it kind of connected the past and the future and all those people together in a way that, you know, golden moments like that can't last forever obviously, but they can endure beyond one’s lifetime. She looked at me, this out of place young, principal, and she said to the group. We must see with more than our eyes. Look at all of us here connected in our dreams living together in our past -our present and our future.” She took my hand as she left the auditorium and said, “You are our Moses and you cannot tire. You must push on through the wilderness.” I can hear her voice just as clear as it were still that day. I was young and naïve, but I felt the full weight of her words.

Riggins: How long were you there?

Robert Tyndall: I was there for three and half years. Tracking time is one of those things that I'm not really so good at. My wife always laughs because I'll pass a building here in Wilmington and say, "Well, how long has that been there?" And she'll say, "Three years." And I'll go, "Oh." So, you know, sometimes I miss the dates but it was close to three or four years and then they moved me to another school and I became a Deputy Superintendent of Schools in Durham City very early, still in my late 20s, and I wrote a lot of grants, got a lot of programs going there. So that was a good experience for me as well because it gave me the perspective of the district. In fact, I'll never forget: one day the superintendent came in and said, "We need someone to help write a response to implement details related to our response to the court order to finally resolve the desegregation lawsuit against the Durham City Schools," and because I had developed good relationships with the black community and mainly because I had grown up in the same part of Durham where these communities were, I was involved. It was a time of tensions—fires in the black sections of town, National Guard in the streets with live ammunition and fear and anger on the faces. To smell the smoke, hear the anger, feel the press of the mobs moving against one another, hear the speeches calling for riot or calm—this cannot be learned from a text.

Riggins: Was the community integrated when you were growing up or-

Robert Tyndall: It's interesting question I remember segregation. Even as a child I knew the barriers were there. I saw my father push a black man away who started to sit near me and he went to the back of the city bus. Yet, in my day to day experience there were always black kids and families and people of different and mixed races in the neighborhood, playing ball, at the corner market and on the walks to school. We were insight of one another, but we knew we were different. I longed to know more and I felt a mixture of fear and curiosity.

Riggins: Tell me more about this time and how it played out day to day.

Robert Tyndall: Well, you'd see blacks and they would look at you a certain way and you would often think about that look later trying to make sense as a 10 year might out of something so large. I mean there would be small hillside stores back then where you'd walk up dirt roads and buy candy, cokes and pour peanuts in them, or get your mother some bread or cigarettes.  You know, the images- if you can imagine those days --when they didn't have many of the city streets paved in Durham and so they would bring these trucks through, filled with oil, in the summers and spray oil on the streets to keep the dust from blowing. I mentioned this earlier but, I just now remembered how it was when the light began to dissolve into the night and you could still catch a glimpse of your friends in the dim light but the black children would fade and just be voices that sounded very close. You could hear the feet sticking in the oil. I'd rather had dust in the air personally because now you had this light film of oil all over everything. You'd see all these white kids and black kids after school walking maybe 10 feet apart or maybe on opposite sides of the street but all walking up to the same store and then going in, one after the other, taking their turn buying soft drinks and candy and whatever they did or sandwiches or whatever. The older white men looked on angrily as the black kids now entered the front. So you always saw one another but there was a space. So as a child I always remember, you know, being in the same areas of town. Blacks lived across the street from whites in many areas of East Durham. I rode the city buses just like, you know, anybody who didn't have transportation and I did notice that one day blacks stopped sitting in the back of the bus. After that day, which passed without discussion in my world, they were sitting in a seat here or a seat there but they still sat together and we sat together and so there'd be a row of three or so whites and a row of three blacks and another row of two women and another grouping, you know, but we were always a part of one another’s lives and we listened to conversations at night from our separate front porches. We played sports against each other. We worked in the same warehouses and we played in sandlots and in people's backyards. We played basketball with one another. We played football with one another, but when I walked home near a black student we were in separate spaces-- together.

Riggins: Just depending on the situation and the people. If you were friendly to all kinds of kids they were friendly to you so-

Robert Tyndall: Yeah. I don't remember the vitriol and the hatred and all. It came later. It wasn't there so visibly as a part of my early childhood. I don't know how much of the visible pain came out of the deep roots of the South and kind of spilled out in the 60s. I don't know how much of that was fueled by the media moments—that helped flame those kinds of situations. Clearly, there was racism, there was hatred. I mean there were always those people who were driven to hate but it wasn't a part of my day to day life. I don't remember people saying, you know, really derogatory things about blacks as is so stereotypically represented in canned novels and film. I mean, I had aunts and my father had eight brothers, I think, and all were working class people and most all of the men had been in the service. I never remember hearing racial slurs and that type of thing. It just wasn't part of my life. No doubt it was all around me but, somehow I like many poor whites and blacks, I was focused on survival and what came next.

Riggins: You know not to hang out with those kids if there are kids talking that way-

Robert Tyndall: My relatives were of course part of the world they grew up in but they had suffered much during the war and returned to fight for their families, but I do not remember any of them as mean- spirited people who spouted hatred. They worked, they passed blacks on the streets, they even pitched in to help one another when it was beneficial and they lived their lives. I did not use racial slurs nor did I hear them outside of pool halls or the mills.

Riggins: I need to get back to the superintendent asked you to write up this response to the court order-

Robert Tyndall: Yeah. So this was back in the period when Durham City was being forced to confront separate and “unequal” (emphasized) education and resolving a long standing court order… the judge who was a federal judge had given the board of education 72 hours to finally resolve this or as I remember it-be sent to jail. That was 1970 I think. I was called into a room with a bunch of other people a few years later to address many of the unfolding logistical issues. As I recall this was the result of the Alexander vs. Holmes case from 1969. The NAACP filed suit calling for all Durham City elementary schools to be integrated immediately. The response from Durham City had been pending for 15 years as of 1970.  In retrospect, I suspect that I was there a few years later because I was “of the community” and perhaps because I was the junior person and still expendable. There had been and at times and continued to be really angry crowd of people in the streets and it was just a really turbulent time from 1969 through 1973 or so. I remember two or three deaths as a result of tensions in the streets, there were fires raging, the national guard was deployed at one point and lined the streets of downtown Durham with live ammunition and it was a very tense time and I remember how they would bring people in out of what's called the Fuller building, which is where the school administration was then; that they'd bring people in on several occasions with state police and they'd bring you up the back way, usher you in so you didn't have to go through the crowds to go up to this room to sit and try to work on this… resolving the continuing  issues of numbers, racial mix and transportation-- logistics that shifted annually.. And there was an attorney there that sat in the room with us, a couple of other principals, an assistant superintendent. I was part of a small team that planned the closing of some schools -how ironic- and school attendance boundaries.  The attorney had already done a great deal of work. I took the notes and wrote the summaries. I still have strong memories of all those sounds over those years and you could see people, you know, there were some houses burning and you could see an orange glow off on the horizon and you're sitting in there, working on this document and trying to reach some resolution as to how you're going to respond to the continuing logistical demands of implementing the response to this court order. The response, when it finally came, was swift and pervasive. So, I guess you could say I had a lot of very powerful experiences early in my career. I guess that range and depth of early experiences is at the center of what I'm saying. (laughs) That was just one part of it. I stayed there for a while and then decided after I'd been Deputy Superintendent that it was time that I'd get my doctorate, so I went back to a lesser job in the county system--lesser job in terms of salary, certainly not a lesser job in terms of what I was doing—but I went back to a principalship in Durham County while I got my doctorate. Again, I was so fortunate to have been invited to a district that had one of the most charismatic, dedicated and forceful educators I have ever met, Frank Yeager. He was a former Secret Service Agent on the Presidential protection team and was part wise counselor, cowboy, humorist and leader.

Riggins: What school did you go to first in Durham County?

Robert Tyndall: Oak Grove, which was out on highway 98 there, while I was finishing up my doctoral work. As I said Frank Yeager was the superintendent and one of the great figures in my life—what a wonderful man—and he brought me over to the county and insisted that I get my doctorate, you know, he said, “you've got to finish this,” and helped me in a lot of ways while I was doing that. So that was a good experience. I did some of the same kinds of things at Oak Grove and another school. I mean, they were totally different in terms of the details of what actually happened, but similar in terms of building a community, creating a sense of pride in the school, getting the teachers, students and parents really engaged in the work. If you ever meet Toni Hill, one of my most striking memories of the kind of teachers that were in (laughs) Oak Grove School, and this is a totally true story. We had this big Christmas event which of course today you probably couldn't have but it was a Christmas event and out on the lawn we had bonfires and choirs and all types of deserts and hot chocolate and we had hung white muslin over the sides of the building, large sheets of it, and we took the artwork of the students and were projecting it as slides in really large blocks up on this white fabric that was encasing most very large school building so that you could see it from the highway. So as you were driving along you'd see a painting done by a student in and it was a maybe 20 feet by 10 feet on the side of the buildings and they were being projected every 30 seconds or so throughout the night. A large crowd had gathered for hot chocolate and caroling and all of this. But the Christmas tree that was on top of the building fell over just as the kids were supposed to sing. And so I was thinking, “Oh, what are we going to do, what are we going to do,” and then all of a sudden I noticed the tree jerking and going up, then it's back up, and we have the songs. I found out later that Toni Hill, who has one leg—she has an artificial leg and one natural leg— had climbed out of the window from the third floor of the building, gone up this little raised area in the middle of the roof and, with another teacher, had grabbed the ropes and pulled the tree (laughs) back up because she said she just couldn't bear the thought of these children looking up to the top of this school to sing these carols and there would be no tree there. Now, that's unusual. (laughs) That's the kind of rare teachers who taught there.

Riggins: --ownership and energy?

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, but they were all, I mean, they all had this spirit inside of them and this commitment. It was something that we built upon or released that kind of spirit and teamwork to accomplish something wonderful together. Some wonderful, wonderful stories like that while I was there and then I became associate superintendent of Durham County Schools and did that for a while, and if we have enough tape someday I'll tell you the story of Frank Yeager being taken hostage by a principal and making the cover of Newsweek. He was the only superintendent of schools that I am aware of who was ever abducted by a principal at gunpoint. (laughs) Now I've got your attention! I'll have to tell you that story later. (laughs)

Riggins: I wonder if I was in school then because the name Frank Yeager sounds familiar. He was superintendent for a long time?

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, for quite a long time. He went to Owensboro Kentucky after he left Durham as superintendent. He was memorable character and a great superintendent. He developed talent in his principals in a way like I've seldom seen anyone else do—a very talented man. In 1977 I was in a meeting speaking to a group of teachers at one of the county schools near where the superintendent was addressing a group of teachers to let them know that their principal was leaving. In truth he had been pushed out due to numerous indications that he was becoming emotionally unstable. As I was giving my talk I heard several sirens off in the distance but not far away and knew that there had been some terrible wreck on the highway. The sirens grew increasingly loud and passed by the building I was in and the cars grew in number and were coming from every direction. After a few minutes a teacher, who looked deeply troubled, handed me a note and during a question and answer session I looked at it. It said, “The superintendent, Dr. Yeager, has been taken hostage and you need to call this number”—and a number followed. As it turns out the principal had hidden in a closet in the room where the superintendent was speaking and came out with a pistol, shotgun and knife and took the superintendent and 30 others hostage, you know, teachers and others. He made them all lie on the floor and during a four hour ordeal he taped the gun to the superintendent and threatened to kill him and to cut of the hands of some of the teachers while he quoted scriptures intermittently. I learned latter of the tears and terror and the heroism of Frank Yeager who used his Secret Service training to diffuse the situation. He appealed to the principal’s love of children and the principal’s concern for his family to gets all of the hostages released and eventually either talked him down or overpowered him, depending on the version you believe. Based on conversations with Frank, it was more of a calm and steady de-escalation process.

Riggins: He was there in the '70s and '80s?

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, and this was when I started meeting people from Wilmington by the way, while I was in Durham County, because I was running all of these projects and I was connecting with universities and I was getting lots of students to come out and work and help me work with the kids and at one time from UNC Chapel Hill we had 60 + student interns all assigned to one my school. They were all assigned there because the professors and the dean had decided this would be a really good experience for them and so we had rotations in groups of 20 interns almost all the time in our building working with the teachers, and the students and I started meeting people from Wilmington as well at that time. Roy Harkin, who was dean at UNCW and several faculty from UNCW, Duke, and UNC were hired as consultants.

Riggins: At the same time you were working on these major school improvement projects??

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, and so he and I got to be friends when I was doing all this and he was sending students up and a professor named Norm Ellis who was a department chair at Wilmington was also engaged.-

Riggins: And they were interns, not traditional student teachers or-

Robert Tyndall: Yes, we were serious about creating a new model and utilizing all of the resources around us. There were interns, student teachers and faculty in our schools daily. At one time we had more than 14 faculty from the three universities, 150 student teachers and students who were in training to become principals or teachers interning in select schools, and we worked out an agreement with Phil Schlechty—to place his students with us. Phil was developing this really unique school transformation for learning model and had all of his students come out to our school. Several future principals, a superintendent, a university President and a state VP of the Community College system in North Carolina and other future university leaders were interns in the schools where I worked.

Riggins: That's a great resource you tapped into-

Robert Tyndall: Oh, yes and the schools benefited greatly.

Riggins: -This is a mini-history of education in North Carolina.

Robert Tyndall: Well, I know I need to bring this to a conclusion but it's so interesting to reflect on all of this. I haven't thought about some of these details in a long time. When I left Durham and I went to Moore County as superintendent of schools and that was in like '84 or so, it had some of the wealthiest and poorest areas in one school district of any school district in North Carolina. It had Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Whispering Pines, all the golf resort areas and many poor rural areas.

Riggins: Sanford?

Robert Tyndall: Sanford's not in that district but it's not too far away. Moore County is a big county and had some of the richest and it also had some of the poorest regions. (Laughs) You always had to remind yourself where you were, one minute you'd be speaking to the chamber at the Pinehurst Country Club and the next minute you'd be out in a doublewide trailer somewhere or giving a talk to a church group. I mean it was quite a challenge-- (laughs) All of these groups had legitimate concerns and were due equal respect, the key was hearing them and getting them to hear one another.

Riggins: Your experience in Durham helped I think-- I thought when I was at Jordan High School in Durham there was a lot of variety, a lot of people with a lot of opportunities and a lot of people that really had very few opportunities at the same school.

Robert Tyndall: I think that's very characteristic of many districts but this is something particularly characteristic of southern cities and communities, the way they changed and evolved as industry shifted.

Riggins: It's very patchy, big, fancy houses for a couple blocks, then just normal houses, then even less fancy so--

Robert Tyndall: There's been so much written about life in poor regions of the South, so much of the expensive property was once in the cities due to proximity to transportation, goods and services and as the city grew it forced people to the periphery. As affordable transportation opportunities appeared with cars and improved roads, some people started commuting to work in the inner city. E. W. Burgess wrote extensively about this “zonal hypothesis” and these transition patterns. I mean, it was like we folded people in and out over decades. At one point in time the more affluent you were, you know, the closer you lived to the transportation hub so you were near the bus or the train stations and all where the goods came in and then as short distance transportation became available many these people moved out. They left these huge houses that became multifamily dwellings for the poor. Later, as you're seeing now, those areas become attractive again due to the revitalization of the cities. You see this pattern all over the South. I certainly saw it in Durham and to a lesser degree in Moore County. The impact was lessened in Moore County because of the presence of the large golf resorts, but the impact was still visible. Moore County was a beautiful county in many ways but it was a very politically divided county, and—I think this is right—I believe it was 51% Democrat and 49% Republican registered voters at one time and, you know, they really were active politically. They really went at each other. So as a superintendent you were always walking on eggshells trying to get something done. And my first year there we passed a bond issue, which is I think the first time this had happened in North Carolina, that a first year superintendent passed a bond, and they'd been talking about getting one passed for many years before that. So that was a very successful thing for the district, but in some ways it further polarized the county. There were a lot of politically conservative people who were affluent, who lived in Pinehurst, who supported the bond and always supported the schools so they didn't fit the media stereotype.-- you know, some people just assume if they are this political stripe or that political stripe they you will vote a certain way but a lot of the poor people in the surrounding areas had voted against it because of the half cent tax burden, even though the vast majority of the property taxes used to support their children would be paid by retirees in the resort areas- but it passed, and it passed by the smallest of margin. I was still driving people, in my own car back, and forth to the polls, picking them up to cast their votes to vote (laughs) right up to the last minute. Over the next few years we did a lot to improve education, strategic planning, implement accountability models and improve facilities. With the election in 1988 the board shifted and I was on to new challenges. I came here to Wilmington the year of the “Great Snowstorm.”

Riggins: I've heard about that. I wasn't here then. That was in December.

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, it was right in that period of time. In fact, it was right before Christmas and we had just gotten in our house and we still didn't have the pictures hung and all that kind of move-in stuff and we had 14 to 18 inches and in drifts over two feet of snowfall which I thought was wonderful (laughs).

Riggins: Did you go down to the beach to watch the snow? I heard a lot of people did that.

Robert Tyndall: I wish I had but it was right there at Christmas and we were trying to leave for Christmas Eve to go to my wife's family's home for Christmas so we, you know, just kind of made our way out of two feet of snow and of course once you got 50 miles outside of Wilmington then it was fine and you could drive easily, but here it seemed like we were going to be stranded forever when we first saw the snowfall levels that morning. But it was so beautiful. So I came here because, as I said earlier, I'd met Roy Harkin and I'd met Norm and I'd met Andy Hayes and some of those folks who were doing research as a part of what I was doing with my school programs up in Durham City, Durham County. I was being courted by a school district in Missouri and Roy offered me a consultancy until that was finalized. When they heard that my board had turned over and bought the last year of my contract I got a call the very same day from Roy Harkin, said, "How would you like to come to Wilmington?" I left Moore County on December 31 and started at Wilmington on January 1,

Riggins: Your board was holding an election?

Robert Tyndall: They had an election earlier which included School Board seats in Moore County and they threw out enough members to change the power on the board, you know, and it was really over two issues. Some of the people didn't like the fact that the bond had passed while others were excited about the possibility of improved facilities. There was another group there that did not want to see the district invest money in the performing arts, and that was something we were very much in favor of and that was very popular in certain areas of the district. So they had an election and the school board shifted and it resulted one of the most wonderful experiences for me in a weird sort of way. The board convened, they passed 32 commendations for me and raised my salary in October and the new board bought the balance of my contract in December. I use to tell all of the new school administrators each year that I had a bumper sticker on my car that said, “Stay Packed.”

Riggins: The new board made the decision?

Robert Tyndall: Yes, and I still get Christmas cards and birthday cards from some of those folks. But it was a political disagreement and they saw me as kind of the pivot person who had helped these things happen. Naturally, I made mistakes and in hindsight I can see a number of places where communications broke down and I could have done a better job. I was fortunate to have a truly moral board member, sue Black, who helped me navigate. Yet, when you are working with people who do not like one another and have longstanding grudges that go back 20 to 30 years, it is not easy to keep the peace. So I came here with an appreciation for the type of people who worked at UNCW but with the idea that I was only going to be here a short period.

Riggins: Harkin was the Dean?

Robert Tyndall: Harkin.

Riggins: Harkin—I interviewed him as well—he called you up and he said-?

Robert Tyndall: “Bob, I have known you and your work for some time--would you like to come here?” And it was, I mean, the same day so I left Moore County December 31st and I actually started on payroll here January 1st, which was great because I also had part of my contract still left from there that they were still paying me on which helped. It was a big a salary decrease for me at first, but that changed quickly.

Riggins: Did you sort of know you would stay here when you came?

Robert Tyndall: No, I came here just as a guest lecturer while I was in the finals of a search for another superintendency. I had strong assurances that I would be named superintendent and later actually got a behind the scenes offer. Roy brought me one day and said, "You know you should be in higher education helping to improve preparation programs and partnerships." Would you like to come teach some and we'll put you on tenure track and keep you busy. I knew he was right and I said great.

Riggins: Get some money.

Robert Tyndall: I was honored to be invited and I needed time to reflect on the prior 20 years and how quickly they had passed. I mean UNCW had some top flight people and was well respected. I have mentioned some of them but Grace, Ann, Paz and so many more should be interviewed. I came in here and did my initial work teaching and building a collaborative and about a few months into it one of the department chairs changed and it was just before I was supposed to sign because I got an informal offer for the superintendency I mentioned. Just before I was supposed to make a decision Roy took me to dinner and said and I have told you what he said, “You know that you belong at a university. Why don't you stay here and be department chair or associate dean at some point if the faculty will support it?”  And I knew he was right and I was thrilled. So they convened the faculty, not just the senior faculty and Rodney Earle, who was Chair of the Faculty Senate, was my chief faculty advocate and the faculty embraced me. Roy and or Rodney convened the group three times over the next two years and they unanimously passed a recommendation to Roy that I stay as a faculty member and later as department chair, associate dean, professor and dean.

Riggins: Chair of specialty studies?

Robert Tyndall: No, at the time the department was called Design and Management. So I did that, again with the idea it would be kind of short term, maybe they'd do a search. While I was doing that, trying to reorganize several programs in the department,  Roy came and said he was going to create an Associate Dean position next year and said, “I want you in that role.” I now know how much of my career was shaped by Roy Harkin and I owe him so much. I wish he were still alive and we could have one our long talks. I wanted to do something in the area of building a regional consortiums and outreach and fundraising and grants, etc., which they weren't doing very much at all, and he knew I had experience in those areas. So I said yes, I was excited by the possibilities and we started the CAPE Consortium which was one of the most successful and fun things I've ever done. CAPE was the Consortium for the Advancement of Public Education and became a14 county regional partnership including school districts, community colleges and several businesses. The way we set it up was, every member unit paid dues into the consortium based on ADM and UNCW put in $75,000 and that gave us a foundation of funding to actually run the consortium. We then collectively sought outside funding and grants that became the base for collective action. We would have a set of common projects agreed to by the CEO board for multi-year projects like teacher development in math or trying to recruit more people in special education, connecting technologies, or whatever the priorities were. Those resources were applied to common themes to serve the consortium’s region. At the time this was an innovative and powerful idea. So while I was Associate Dean I was also Executive Director of CAPE and we brought in about $12 million which got it off the ground and everybody was really very pleased with it. Chancellor Leutze really liked the consortium model and helped me get special legislative base funding of $350,000 a year for operating costs. Then I was getting ready to leave again and by this time I had done some academic work here, taught, done some publications, articles, etc., and was an Associate Professor with tenure and I had another decision to make. My wife Patti and I were talking about what I should do next and if I were going to seek a new job outside of the university. We both knew the answer.

Riggins: A superintendent job?

Robert Tyndall: Another superintendent job had come open and the Board Chair was personally recruiting me. Jim Leutze was now getting the nickname Fireball Leutze, and I had known Jim from Chapel Hill, and he called me one day asked me to talk with him. We met out at what is now the Oceanic Pier, and he said, "Bob, I can't guarantee you this because obviously the faculty will have a major voice in this and it has to be approved by and recommended by the faculty and so forth, but I would certainly be receptive to the idea of your becoming dean." He said, "Roy Harkin has approached him about stepping out as dean in another year, and I've talked with Roy, and Roy said he would strongly urge me to consider you. I know you and I'd like you to consider the possibility." After another faculty review process, Jim required the vote of the entire senior faculty, I was approved as a professor before they would allow me to submit my name for dean. For dean the chancellor asked for a vote of the entire faculty. Again, the faculty recommended it unanimously and I became dean when Roy retired from the role. It was an amazing experience and such an honor.

Riggins: It's so interesting. You didn't plan for a career in academics--

Robert Tyndall: I never did but that's how I got to the deanship. I knew then that it was a bit unorthodox. That was a long windup, wasn't it?

Riggins: That's a great background.

Robert Tyndall: But that last part, I didn't give it the attention I should have because, you know, when you say you prepared papers, I mean, it's an ordeal. Anyone who goes up for professor or Associate Professor or goes up for tenure knows it's extremely labor intensive so there are hundreds and hundreds of hours put into it at each stage. I was fortunate that at that time the faculty and the Chancellor were on the same page and were looking for someone with high energy, who respected the world of ideas, had been a practicing school administrator and was committed to building true partnerships. I have always been active in leadership, professional and public groups.

Riggins: Preparing your portfolio and then you had to get approved by-several groups?

Robert Tyndall: You to go through several review processes from the department, to a school wide review, to a faculty review committee at the university level and from there to the provost and from there to the chancellor and the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors for both promotion to full professor and appointment as dean.

Riggins: Back to the board of trustees finally.

Robert Tyndall: Right, to the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees and then the Board of Governors.

Riggins: Youngest Dean?

Robert Tyndall: Well that I do not know but I doubt it, but young for a dean and on a fast track. I was 41 when I was Interim Deana and 42 when I was the dean. It would never have happened without the right mix of faculty and strong advocacy from Roy Harkin, Rodney Earle and the chancellor.

Riggins: When you're a Dean you have to have already achieved tenure obviously.

Robert Tyndall: Right. I don't know of any cases where someone becomes a Dean who is not a tenured professor and so this was kind of the benchmarks that was set out and I've always been a workaholic, you know, I really have, and I don't say that with any pride because it's not the best thing to be but whenever I look at something and say, you know, “that would be something I think would be an honor to do and it would be challenging and I'd like to do it”, and then I'd just go after it—the ghosts of my childhood come back to haunt me. So I mean it was 16 to 18 hours a day, every day, for whatever time it took to get those things done. And, you know, I'd say this too, what a great tribute in retrospect to the faculty of that school because, you know, there are a lot of places where people would have been resistant… just the sheer idea of an outsider, a practitioner, coming in at that time, you know-

Riggins: It was still kind of new for them.

Robert Tyndall: Well, I mean, the school had been there for a while and the faculty was a mature, good faculty. I think they were secure in their own right, they weren't petty or jealous, you know? From the time I first engaged that faculty, Eleanor Wrights and the Grace Burtons, Carol Thomas, and Louis Lanunziata and Marcee Rabb, Saul Bachner and Roy Harkin and Andy and Hathia Hayes, I mean they were all receptive. It wasn't what you see in some schools where there's this competitiveness and kind of back room stuff or resentment. Roy had built something special.

Riggins: --Betty Stike?

Robert Tyndall: Oh God yes and Calvin Doss. All these people were very open. They welcomed me, they invited me in, they would come and talk to me and say, “We all hope you'll consider this- we need somebody that's has administrative experience- we've got to go to the next level. They would invite it and they would have ideas about what we could do to develop our students and help the region. So we built on that that kind of community and I attribute a lot of that to Roy because that's the way Roy led. You know, as Dean Roy was a true scholar first of all, he was a true scholar and a lot of people don't know that, an incredibly well read man, very literate. He and I spent as many hours talking about poetry, literature and history as we did talking about education. I spent a lot of evenings out as his house by Masonboro Sound, you know, talking about a novel he was working on or a poem that I was working on or a play that he had just seen or whatever. He was a very literate man and so as a result, he really embraced the faculty and the students. He invited people in. He was an incredibly generous man with everything: his time, his money, his energy. So he set that tone and it allowed someone like me, who could have been perceived as an outsider and a friend of the Dean and Chancellor to be subject to a lot of resentment. At least they didn't express it to me if it was there, (laughs) you know? And Jim Leutze was the same way. He would say, “you're going to have to earn this but I will support you and if you get to this point, I want you in this role,” so he honored the process which I respected but  at the same time said if you get here you'll have my support, which was very encouraging. You like to know that before you start. So that started my tenure as Dean in 1991 and I stayed there until 2000 as Dean and we did a lot during those years, I mean a tremendous amount. It was not always without conflict or periods of turmoil, these are part of any organization where there are strong beliefs, great passion and significant change. Some grieved for the “way it was” and others wanted faster rate of change and growth. The school did grow fast and the five new academic programs, consortia, Onslow Partnership, PDS, Model Clinical, etc., were part of a period that set the school in motion  toward what it became by 2000. In 2000 I served as Dean, Vice Chancellor and Associate Provost during a transition period.

(crew talk) (tape change)

Riggins: I'm back for take two with Dr. Robert E. Tyndall. My name is Adina Riggins and this if February 16, 2006 and we're continuing our interview with Dr. Tyndall and we're going to pick up with the Watson School of Education years when Dr. Tyndall began as Dean. Excited, ready to go?

Robert Tyndall: Yes, OK. 1991, as I said, is the year I started there as Dean. I was very fortunate, obviously, to have people like Carol Thomas who had been at UNCW, and Carol's still the mainstay in my judgment and I'm sure if Dean Barlow were here, she'd agree.  So she was here at the time as part of my team and Brad Walker, who is still a highly respected professor here. And I think he just became a department chair again over in the School of Ed. I named Brad to a Student Services Assistant Deanship. He was excellent with the students and so well loved—still is. Brad has won numerous teaching awards at all levels.

Riggins: It's critical to have people with the right motives who will help you.

Robert Tyndall: Yeah. Well, and the right kind of people. Karen Wetherill was added to the leadership team a little bit later. She was a talented teacher mentor and developer in the New Hanover County Schools and brought all of those skills to her role in the WSE.  Karen was Assistant Dean and I brought her in to help us out with the professional development programs, outreach programs. She'd been a successful teacher and teacher evaluator and she could talk with and nurture teachers and students from a place of support and confidence. So we brought her in to help us develop CAPE, PDS and other programs. Karen developed into a strong grant writer. She was a part of the team and we had a series of department chairs that came in and out during those years. Obviously, the Hayes's played a part in both departments at one time and another and served in leadership roles as department chairs. Hathia was over in the Curricular Studies area and Andy was in Design and Management and research, very smart and dedicated people. I mentioned Rodney earlier and all of his help. So I had good experiences with great people.

Riggins: Is Rodney retired?

Robert Tyndall: No, he's out at Brigham and Young University in Utah—a big guy with a booming voice who was from Australia, great accent. I mean he was an interesting guy to be around. Basically, here are the memories that kind of flow when I think about that period. My first memory is thinking about how difficult the transition was for me to follow Roy. Roy Harkin had been a friend, was a friend, and is still a friend --even though he's deceased. It was difficult in a lot of ways to follow him as Dean having known him since I was a fairly young person—having known him as a professor and as a writer and a mentor and as a Dean. So that was tough, and I remember knowing that he was still on the faculty and the pressure that that creates when you know that there are things that need to be changed; that now is the time for a major growth transition period for the school but you are very sensitive to not wanting to communicate in any way a devaluing of what came before. It's very difficult at times to respect and maintain the legacy of those early years, of those people we talked about while moving forward with some urgency. I created most of the pressure on myself and Roy made it all so easy. We shared the values of respecting the past while engaging the future. It’s not just rhetoric—Roy and the faculty did build much of the foundation of our program and our values. They created all that and help me to build upon their legacy and we are the better for it. And so you come in knowing the work that came before and you want to honor it, but you also know that it's time to look forward and to think about what comes next. What are we going to do, need to do, now? I always believed that the School of Education, if it functioned the way that it should-the way we envisioned it, that the image that we should have burned into the deep recesses of our minds was the faces of the students in the public schools. When you thought about your job and you thought about what you were doing, you should be looking through the faculty and through our students in the program and see the students of our students. If you think of it that way: rather than that the focal point is not our students that are in the teaching Ed program, then you have a different sense of obligation and accountability. The focal point is the students that are in the public schools or the private schools that our students are going to teach, it changes your sense of the mission of the school. You start thinking that the purpose of the school of education is to produce the best, most talented, dedicated, professional, passionate people you can to do some important work that's out there. And it's not just about how they perform on our tests and how they perform in our classes and what they do here. So, my philosophy from the very beginning was that the faculty of the School of Ed must have a reverence for the teachers who are in those real environments and that this shouldn't just be lip service. We should really understand how hard and important their work is. Having seen it so close and personal as a principal and a superintendent, I knew what it was about. It's physically demanding, emotionally demanding, sometimes it's violent, it's dirty at times, it's tearful, tragic… it's a physical and emotional rollercoaster and yet it is also fulfilling and rewarding beyond words. To be a teacher in one of those schools, and to try to live in that world as a professional and be at your best all the time is incredibly important and demanding.

Riggins: And it's important to convey that to the students but not to demoralize things but to be realistic and say, "I honor you for doing it, there are problems that you're trying to make better."

Robert Tyndall: I agree fully. And, you know and they seem to know there's certain type of work that they're meant to do. I think that some of the great teachers I've met in my life knew that their work is what they were supposed to be doing. Somehow they know that. And so they're able to go into those schools and they're able to work with the kids that are having problems and those kids that are masking everything with, "I'm the perfect kid, and I'm doing great, and I'm performing well, and my parents love me, and I'm making straight A's.” They knew that the child that seems to have it all may also be equally vulnerable and fragile as the other kids that show that they are struggling. These great teachers don't fall for the bluff, you know. So for me, I guess, when I first came into the School of Education, I wanted the orientation of that School of Education-- in our attitudes, value sand behaviors to be consistent with what we said we valued. As I looked at the language of the School of Education I knew that there were those who truly believed that language. They weren't just saying it. I know Eleanor Wright did. I know Roy did, Andy, Hathia, Carol, Karen, Brad, Grace—I could go on, and all those people lived what we said. I know they believed it. But what I looked for as a leader, as an administrator is-- are the behaviors in the daily routine of our life as an organization consistent with what we espouse as our values? And I'm trying to determine if there is visible evidence of that, can I see it, is it tangible? So what kind of things would I see if we lived our values? If the faculty here really held school teachers in high regard and accorded them a certain reverence and respect, then their interactions would show that. We would invite challenge, act with urgency and listen to and respect their work. If we really believe that the schools “out there” are where the real action is, then our language structures and processes would reflect this belief. The evidence should show that our students can succeed in these complex environments? There should be evidence that we as faculty are present in school settings, watching these master teachers teach, learning about the difficulties and rewards of their work first hand. We would want to touch, smell and feel and all of it. In all honesty, I didn't see that expressed throughout the organization. I didn't see that. Early on, I had a lot of head butting with some of the faculty. Much of the tension was as much about their trust level with me as the bigger issues. I saw some of the faculty doing this type of work-the work we were describing-but I would have to say—and it was true of Schools of Ed all over the country and it's probably true today—that many people are attracted to the environment of higher education for two or three basic reasons that do not always match up well with what is requires. Some are attracted to the fact that it is a place that invites independence, it's comfortable and insular, it's “intellectual” and it's self-directed. A professional school that is dedicated to practice, however, must also be, service-oriented, outreach-oriented, embedding its work in their work- focused out there. But it is easy to get caught up in the life of a campus. It's very easy after a while to say the right things, hide in your office and focus on the faculty’s needs. It's very easy to come to work in your shorts and your flip flops and your sweatshirt and teach your class and go home and life is good. For me that was painful to watch and it was never enough. It wasn't the work I was meant to do. And so I was always gravitating to the faculty who were energized and who said, "Let's do something with our lives that matters. Let's engage teachers in the public schools in a way that shows them that their work is important and that what they're doing can have an impact. Let’s learn together and find a way to spend more time talking about and doing poetry, history and art and less time going through checklists. The most powerful message we could ever give to the students in our program, is for me as a faulty member or Dean to go out to a public school and be a student of a master teacher, in front of my students. That's a powerful message.

Riggins: Sounds very hands on.

Robert Tyndall: It really is and it doesn't mean that you don’t value research, theory and scholarship- quite the contrary, you value it more because it can make a difference in the knowledge work that you are doing. You have to have validated practice, deep and broad knowledge and expertise to avoid doing damage. We need to have courageous conversations about the stuff we do not understand or that may embarrass us to talk about. For example, “How is it that this particular teacher who can walk up to this 245 pound African American kid who's already got a bad attitude about life, and he's wearing his hat in the auditorium, and he's making loud comments to the girls, and this little 118 pound white woman can walk over to him, take his hat off his head and tell him to sit down and say, "What are you doing? What should you be doing? I'm going to be coming to see you at the end of the day. I want to talk to you. We need to get straight.” The kid responds to her and says, "Yes Ma'am." And nobody else in the world could get away with that except maybe his teacher or his grandmother. What is it?  What has she got?

Riggins: And you've seen that?

Robert Tyndall: Oh, I've seen it yeah.

Riggins: Was it a UNCW student?

Robert Tyndall: No, I've seen it over at New Hanover High School, Durham High School and many other places. I've seen teachers who have that ability, who could go into any situation and not be offensive, but who could do something that changed everything, something that had I tied to do he would have probably knocked me into next year. But there's something about that person, their presence and non-verbal language and so I would say to our teachers, “Let's figure out what it is. It doesn’t mean we can all have “it “, or will ever have it, but at least I want to know what it is and how to find people who can communicate from the heart and establish trust and respect in such unique ways.” We can learn from this combination of love and standards communicate through a single glance or voice tone.

Riggins: Maybe it's different for each person, like you said. If you're the teacher you would have had a different approach with that child but just because she's a female and small, doesn't mean she can't do it.

You started a number of initiatives that people still talk about. Can you tell me about CAPE?

Robert Tyndall: Yes, to find opportunities that lead to invention requires luck, patience, a discerning eye and good antenna. In many ways that was what CAPE was all about. CAPE was the Consortium for the Advancement of Public Education and it was an ecological, systems approach to improving education. One of the reasons I started CAPE when I was in the School of Ed was that it was to enhance and build on some of the outreach programs that Roy and others had started. CAPE took these foundations and invented something far more powerful. We leveraged talent and energy and we understood that public schools were as much a part of improving the school of education as we were about helping with the improvement of schools. We created situations where we'd bring public school teachers into our teams or we would join their work teams and they would be treated with respect. I mean, I can't tell you, it would break your heart sometimes to have public school teachers come up to you with tears in their eyes, thanking you for having a meeting in a nice setting where they got lunch provided and could talk about their work and they knew that we knew that their work was important. And they'd send you notes saying, "It was so wonderful that you cared enough to have serious conversations and listen to us—and, with a smiley face, we actually had desert." And you're going, "God, we've got to help one another." I mean, I would ask them “What were the number one things that are frustrations in your professional life.” Teachers would say things like, "You know, if I could just have the freedom to use the bathroom when I need to, that would be important. If I could get access to a copier when I need to copy something it would make life so much easier. If there was a phone that I could use to make a phone call during school hours and I could connect with parents and manage emergencies in my personal life." And you're going, "Wow, wow." That's something that's not in our make-up here at the university. We don't understand that. But that's real and in the reward scarce world that they were dealing with. CAPE was all about creating venues where teachers could talk about ideas, they could be with other scholars, and they could work on redesigning their work. There were brilliant English teachers or Math teachers—and they'd say, "This is the first time in years that I've sat around a table with a Math’s scholar and been talked to as an equal, treated with respect, you know, provided with books to read, given a graduate assistant to help me do research, given students as interns to assist me, have a faculty member come to my classroom as a co-equal to co-teach my class and not to evaluate me." And it just changed the relationship. So the bottom line in all that was I started with the premise that the relationship with the practitioner and the theorist and the academic should be such that they realize that they should both live in one another's worlds and that school reform was just as much about reforming schools of education as it was about reforming public schools. Ideally, what we might learn from efforts to reform would lead to the courage to transform schools and schools of education. It would force us to see that to connect to transformation work would require a total redesign of how we did our work in universities. We always talk to them about what they can do better—full of our confidence and arrogance-- when many of us could not approach the quality of what they do. We often talked about how they could reform, improve learning and create a wildfire of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge that had energy and power, but we never invite them in to tell us how we can do that, reform or how we can improve and identify what we're doing wrong and where we're not being helpful. We never did that until CAPE and the work with Schlecthy, Judith Warren-Little, Tom Byrd, Carol Twigg, and a host of others who came to UNCW during those years. And one of the things that happened in the early years of that new organization is that we did get at the heart of many of these issues. We actually brought faculty in, sat them around a table—we called it “fish-bowling”—and the teachers would submit topics for us to discuss. So they'd sit in a circle around us and we discussed the topic and at the end of it we'd turn to them and they would talk about our conversations and what we said and what they thought and how they responded to it or how it was practical or impractical or what their experience showed versus what the research showed. And it was a very different world for them and us. They'd never had this type of working relationship with professors. CAPE that was something that I thought was very important and it always excites me when I think about the sheer energy and power of it all.

Riggins: And it was agreed- did you select a group of teachers? We have actually all the papers in archives, I'll have to look through it and somebody else is arranging it, but there was probably a process of getting teachers involved and getting principals to sign off on it.

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, that's right, and we would have formatted things, sometimes we'd say, “During this particular cycle CAPE is going to be looking primarily at teachers who work with handicapped children, who work with literature, or this cycle, secondary math teachers. The CAPE Board would identify the focus of our collective efforts over a three year period and we would concentrate our energy and assess our results.  We'd have continuous cycles like that, we'd embed faculty in with groups of teachers. Brad Walker, Karen Wetherill, Marty Kozloff, Roy Harkin, Eleanor, the Hayes and so many others invested so much time and energy—over many years. Karen worked with me over hundreds of hours to make this something special.

Riggins: Noel Jones?

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, Reading Recovery was a special program and no one was more committed to helping children get the essential reading skills that they needed that Noel Jones and Barbara Honchell and the Hathia and Andy. Reading Recovery became widely known. So that’s one good memory I have, creating a different way of thinking about our work and seeding innovation and creativity which was plentiful among the faculty and equally plentiful in the schools and community colleges.

The other thing that we did is we said—I actually got the faculty to vote on this but we are not doing it anymore and maybe the time has passed I don't know—we actually voted as a faculty that you could not go beyond three semesters without doing a semester rotation where you were actually working with teachers in a public school--even if it meant teaching your classes out there. This could  mean actually meeting the class that you taught in a public school and inviting teachers to audit, co-teaching with a teacher in a public school, doing research with a teacher in a public school, or site-based leadership development—but you couldn't go beyond that third semester and be considered for a merit increase. It's the healthiest thing we ever did. I remember at one faculty meeting asking “Anyone who has not worked in a public school in the last year, raise your hand." A third of their hands went up. “Anyone who has not worked in a public school in the last five years, raise your hands.” I got up to ten years and there were still hands up of people who had not actually spent any consecutive days in a public school. And I said, “That’s just unforgivable, that's unforgivable.” I need to point out that several faculty had always worked in and around schools and had great reputations and some who were not working in or with schools were doing valuable work and were working hard, but we needed to send a message. Our work with schools could not just be by personal choice, it needed to be institutionalized as important. So I knew at that point ,when they made that commitment, that we would all be going out to schools, spending time in schools, living among the real end result of what we were preparing professionals to do—we were making a statement. So those things were very important. The other thing was the professional development system, and you probably heard about that, but this is about the true story of how that was about. There's a document that's about this thick (indicates 2 inches) that outlines the Professional Development System model. I actually went out to Karen Wetherill's father’s house, he had a beach place out at Wrightsville Beach, and we went out there and for three consecutive days I dictated and Karen collected and helped refine my thoughts. She was very astute, she would ask questions and say, "Here, you said this, that doesn't seem to match what you said here," or, "Did you really mean this when you said that?" The core of the model was that it was not about professional development as “workshops and training”—though that was inside the framework—it was about a systems approach to improving education and blurring the traditional boundaries. It was more like a double helix than a linear diagram—structures, systems and processed were intertwined in an effort to create a system to improve the profession of teaching.

Riggins: You were creating the program.

Robert Tyndall: Right. It was about, I don't know, 70 pages that outlined the guiding principles, connected research to practice and touched recruitment, induction, socialization, continuous progress, professional culture, norms of competence and working on the main thing—“knowledge work. (Schlecthy)” We looked through the eyes of our faculty and students to see the eyes of our students-students to experience “schooling” through the student lens.

Riggins: That's a bit in your head that you needed to put down.

Robert Tyndall: It was in my head, but much of “it” was put there by my mentors and in retrospect I think so many of my ideas were “in their heads.” Maybe I and others in some small way also helped them to think more clearly. It was a system that dealt with sociological principles related to how this professional development model might work, the pedagogical principles of why it needed to work, what the interns would do, what the teachers would do, what the faculty would do. And then we brought all that back and argued about, it on and off, for about two years. But that's why it was called the Professional Development System. Once the basic structure was in place I went to the legislature and got them to give us a continuing funding budget of three hundred and seventy five thousand a year and then Jim Leutze put in seventy five thousand. We established a board and brought 14 school districts, seven community colleges and ten businesses in all of whom paid dues based on ADM. PDSs folded into CAPE as one implementation arm. So we created a budget with mutual investment and stewardship built into the agreements. The original partnership agreements were substantive and required commitments that were taken seriously and required some risk taking and joint funding. So that's something else I think had a major impact on our region. For one project we committed shared class space, shared faculty, raised funds for technology and got a 4.7 million dollar grant from BellSouth to build out a fiber optic network and connectivity to a network of sites. As new faculty come into the school we stewarded them and transferred the philosophical orientation and shared our view that our real work is “out there” and reform is as much about reforming the school of education as it is about reforming the public schools. This may all seem strange. When people talk about creating a professional development school, they're usually talking about having something on campus where they bring some kids in small number and the faculty would have their student interns teach in that setting and they could evaluate and develop them. That's a very different model, and the message in that model is, "We'll bring you here. You come to us and we'll put you in this uncontaminated setting. We will maintain our role as the professor." The other model is much riskier. It says "I'm going to try to do my work in a real classroom with real kids and in partnership with master school teachers. I will attempt to help you demonstrate that what I say works in my university class--works. And I'm going to fail sometime and you're going to see me fail and I'm going to know you saw me fail. Now we're peers." This is hard stuff. It's complicated, being a good teacher, and it goes way beyond something that's, you know, wholly technical or prescribed. It's artistry, it's instinctive, it's skill and craft, it's entertainment, it's knowledge—you need to have all these. But if you're in an antiseptic environment where you're always the professor, you never know that. And we've got professors who've never been in the crucible of practice and  have never taught or administered in a public school classroom, and probably have spent little time there since leaving high school. This was an effort to give our work meaning and to address what concerned us. I don't know where they are with this approach now because it's very labor intensive--very labor intensive. During this nine year period we also created the Early Childhood Program, MIT Program, Reading Masters, reauthorized MSA , Model Clinical, Razor Walker, Center for Research and Innovation, the Onslow Partnership and three other new academic programs. It was a time of great energy and the faculty did extraordinary work.

Riggins: Did all of this require a lot of new faculty?

Robert Tyndall: Absolutely

Robert Tyndall: We brought in some great people to complement the team like Mahnaz Moallem,  Edna Moray, Jeremy Dickerson, Robert Smith, Rich Huber, Maurice Martinez, Marty Kozloff, and many more. One of the humorous stories about my time as Dean is that I actually “kidnapped” the Ed leadership faculty and sequestered them in a hotel for several days and told everybody—obviously I couldn't make them stay—but I told them if they left something awful would happen. The state of North Carolina decided to eliminate all Masters in Ed Leadership and make every university reapply. And this happened like 1996, maybe. We had some real talent in this area with people like Norm Ellis, Bill Johnston, Andrew Hayes, Roy Harkin and a strong writer in Carol Thomas worked to create a unique MSA Program that tied the humanities, business and leadership together.

Riggins: It was the Masters in Educational Leadership?

Robert Tyndall: Yes, Educational Leadership.

Riggins: And that was for?

Robert Tyndall: People who wanted to be assistant principals, associate principals, principals or assistant, associate or superintendents. Many programs had become obsolete and Jay Robinson, whose name you've heard, his bust is in the hallway of the new School of Ed building, led an effort to mandate reapplication and authorization. We all resisted at first but Jay was right. Jay and I were friends. Jay was the superintendent in Kannapolis, North Carolina for a while and then became Superintendent in Charlotte Mecklenburg and later Chairman of the State Board of Education. He was also a Vice President of the UNC system and he was a member of our Board of Governors. I mean he's done a lot for education in North Carolina. He was one of the people pushing for this overhaul of education leadership programs to make them more relevant and tied to results in schools. He and Phil were the brains behind the CMS Plan and Jay lead the North Carolina ABC Plan at the state level. He was convinced that Ed leadership programs were no longer relevant. He said, “They are not teaching people how to be principals or know anything about leading a school. They don't know anything about organization or finance, or budget or politics or anything. They know all this abstract organizational theory.” He was very upset about it. So they did it, they actually said, "They're all gone." Our program was closed. NC State's program was closed, Chapel Hill's was closed-- all thirteen programs were closed. Next, they said, "Now, you can all reapply, but we're only going to have six programs." There were thirteen originally. So they closed all of them. So the sentiment was, why Wilmington should even bother, I mean we're not going to get one because there's Chapel Hill and there's NC State, you know, they have an inside track and ECU has a dean who will be a VP at GA soon. So the thinking was “Others are going to get one and we will be left out.” Finally we talked about it, and I got Roy Harkin, who's a good writer, and I said, "Roy, we have got to apply for this, I need your help." And Roy said, "OK. Carol Thomas said OK, I got Carol in who had the best mind for blending details I have ever seen, and then I got Bill Johnston who was the department chair and he said he would help if we really thought we had a chance, but he didn't think the politics would support us. So gradually we got this group together and then we got the rest of the faculty that we needed.

Riggins: Karen Wetherill, was she there?

Robert Tyndall: I don’t think she was there for the actual writing. I rented hotel rooms away from campus and brought them all there and said, "We're going to be here for three or four days until we write this and we're going to start from scratch, and we're going to have three debates going simultaneously. The debates were over, “what are the expectations of a classical Ed Leadership program?” We have another column that says, “What is essential for people to have the knowledge, the insights and the capacity to actually lead a school?” And the other one over “what are the basic technical skills that are required of a principal or a superintendent in today's world?" And so we had three different groups writing these and then we'd argue across them saying, "Yeah, but if we do all the theoretical stuff we want, which is important they need to know those theories and the origins of them, then they won't know how to do a budget, and if they do all this stuff over here, they're not going to know anything about leadership, and they're..." And we went back and forth and we ended up in my mind, and in Jay's mind, with what turned out to be a really innovative Ed Leadership program. It was the only program of its type in which you actually were expected to read classical literature to be a school administrator. There were actually hours required in the humanities in the college of Arts and Sciences that you were required to take to be a principal. You had to know something about world history. Again, you had to know something about language and literature. Roy Harkin was very knowledgeable in those areas so we said, "Roy, you could teach that, couldn't you?” He agreed to coordinate a program with scholars from Arts and Sciences. Then we had people who had been administrators, like Marc Sosne, who we brought in later, Richard Thompson and Jay, and of course I'd been, and others, and we said, "Here's what you got to do to be a superintendent. They can tell you all they want about it, but if you don't know how to handle space, time, money and people, you're dead. Now what does it mean to handle space-- do you know what a bond issue is, do you know how to politically pass one, do you?" So we put that in the program, then we had the organizational stuff. You have to be able to use language and symbols to create meaning, leverage talent, negotiate the micro-political and anticipate the external driving forces that knock schools around. We came out of there at the end of four days with a program that we submitted and it was the first program approved by GA and the state. Not only that, they gave us additional funding for it, we were able to hire new positions. Jay Robinson took it around the state saying, "This is the best Ed Leadership program I've seen in my thirty-eight years as an administrator."

Riggins: Jay Robinson, where was he from again?

Robert Tyndall: Jay was originally from the mountains of North Carolina, but he had been superintendent in several places. He was chairman of the State Board of Education, Vice President of the UNC system for all sixteen campuses and Chair of the state Board of Education. He was a force in education in NC.

Riggins: So, you had to come up with a proposal, you did that and it was accepted?

Robert Tyndall: We did it and it was accepted.

Riggins: Did they change its name; it's no longer Master’s in Education?

Robert Tyndall: It was a Master’s in School Administration. I liked Ed Leadership better than Administration, but anyway, that's what it became, and of course a few years later, we drafted a proposal for a doctoral program. We got that all the way to permission to plan, but then GA put a moratorium on new doctoral programs. Recently, Dean Barlow and John Fischetti and a faculty group prepared a plan to submit an Ed.D. request. It sounds like a powerful new program with some unique features. So one thing has led to another and now it looks like we're going to have a much needed doctorate in that area as well. We're very proud that we kept the masters’ program alive. We came through SACS accreditation, twice, I think, during my tenure, once with five national commendations, which was quite good. One of the commendations was for our leadership model. That level of recognition had never happened at Wilmington before. Over nine years we won numerous national awards. We won the National Distinguished Teacher Education Program Award from ACTE for the work on PDS and Hathia’s work in the Model Clinical Program. Noel Jones also stands out as a professor who was so committed to helping kids, particularly underprivileged kids, to read with confidence. He would drive any dean crazy, but in the right way, always pushing to expand and improve the Reading Recovery Program that is still going strong today.

Riggins: For what program did you win the Distinguished Teacher Education program award?

Robert Tyndall: This was for one of our professional development programs. Our Model Clinical program director, Dr. Hathia Hayes, had a lot to do with our recognition. She was the driving force behind it. So we got those pieces going and that went very well. We revised the secondary science program while I was Dean. The reason I say all this is, a lot of times I'll read things and it will say that I was the outreach Dean and I think, well, we did a lot on outreach with Karen, Diane, Patti and others, but I don't want to short sell what we did academically because our people did a lot of hard work during that period and I think all total, it ended up being four or five new degree programs and several new certificate programs got going, and we also started the first off-campus outreach degree programs in Onslow County, which is still the largest outreach effort and the only fully off-campus degree programs offered by UNCW. We started an accelerated enrichment program for principals during that period and the ASCEND Partnership with community colleges and the CAPE Teacher Scholars Program and the HOME (Hallmark Opportunities for Minorities in Education) Grown initiative and CAPE Junior Scholars Program. There were a lot of things that went on academically. So those are important parts of the history of our school.

Riggins: I know our Education Librarian, Kathryn Batten, has for years been active with Onslow County, working with the teachers.

Robert Tyndall: Yes. Well that was another one of those things that just started as a "Let's do it" and people said, "Well, you know, we don't have any presence down there. East Carolina controls that market. You're never going to get in." So we set up a meeting with the general of the base at the time, General Livingston. He was the most decorated living marine. I remember that about him, because I walked in and he had all these medals, I thought, "My God, I wonder what this guy's done?" So he was there, Chancellor Leutze, who was great to work with on these projects, was present. Ron Singletary—a dear friend who was superintendent of Onslow Schools was there and Ron Lingle—president of Coastal, a good friend and great leader, also attended. And we all sat together and created this program. Ron Lingle said, "If you'll create this program, I know it'll be quality, I know you and UNCW." He continues to give high praise to Chancellor Leutze for his commitment to invest the best faculty at the university in the program and not follow the model used by some campuses that use the junior most faculty or adjuncts. He had high regard for our faculty. Ron Singletary said, "If you'll create it and you produce graduates, I'll offer one hundred percent of your graduates a job in Onslow County who graduate with a B or better. I can't guarantee they'll take the job, but I'll offer every one of them a job upon graduation." And he did. He offered every graduate a job. I don't know if he still does or not. He hired those that would accept because he thought they were quality applicants and he had such needs due to rapid growth and high turnover in a military community. He said, "Give them to me." So those students were told when they entered the program that if they performed at a high level they would have a job offer before graduating.

*Riggins: Were many of these students former military?

Robert Tyndall: Some of them, yeah, and the idea was to pull them into other occupations as a transition out of the military. Cathy Barlow, the current dean, is doing even more regarding engaging the military community. That process of developing the relationship, building trust and growing interest was important to the success of the overall effort. We also started some of the first online courses during that time in the School of Education. We were the pioneers in distance education, both in video conferencing which we have in one of those centers in this library, right down the end of the hall, don't know if you've ever seen it but it's a wonderful facility. We started online courses on the web and set up 12 interactive centers across campus.

Riggins: This is learning online?

Robert Tyndall: Yes. So that was actually started by the School of Education originally. We pushed for the “Blended Mode University Model” and received three national awards and over 8 million in funding for these efforts. UNCW was the lead in the Fiber Net Project, Vision Carolina, Regional Point of Presence Project and several GA grants. So we had a lot of good things going in that regard that I'm very proud of and I think so many things went extremely well during that period. We also started the Razor Walker Awards. I have to talk about the Razor Walker. I'll try to go on and on and on, but the Razor Walker Awards was probably the most fun I had as Dean. Because I kept going to all these awards programs, and they were wonderful and I kept seeing all of these people get awards for sciences, and get awards for research, medical breakthroughs, or get awards for the Living Treasure Program and all that, and in the humanities. And there was nothing better that really captured what we were after in education. And so we created the Razor Walker Awards to recognize people who took risk for their convictions and “walked the razor’s edge.” To this day, people think that's somebody's name and ask about Dr. Razor Walker. I have been in offices of senators, CEOs, mayors and leaders in all walks of life and seen the award on the wall.

Riggins: I was going to ask you who is that?

Robert Tyndall: It's a strange name and that is what is so much fun about it. I wanted a title of an award that people would go, "Uh..." And so I thought, OK, I want to give an award to people who at personal and professional risk have done something on behalf of youth. When they've taken a stand that could be damaging to them professionally, or personally and that they have "Walked the razor's edge," and they've walked that razor's edge in their professional and political life and it could have been very dangerous for them. And I want to be absolutely sure that it doesn't matter, their social station or their political viewpoint when we give this award. And then we created the categories of the arts, public service, leadership, medicine and law. We sought nominations for these awards and the first year we gave them, I'll never forget it. The ceremony in the early years was different than they are now and I think Kathy's new vision of it is a good one. Mine was not for the same purposes. The way the award was originally started was to say when you're in the business of working to improve lives, you have to acknowledge the contributions that other people make to the work that you do. And there are a lot of people who do things in such ways that they're never known about. The first year we gave these we had it in an intimate setting in Kenan House, we’d do the foyer of Kenan House with round tables, table clothes, candelabras, violins, pianos—I mean, it was first class. We invited 70 people.

Riggins: Dr. Leutze opened it up?

Robert Tyndall: Oh, yeah, and Jim would pull out all the stops, I mean he and I together would go to private companies and they'd have good wines, champagnes, fillet… and we would bring these people with their families, we'd put them up at the Hilton, BellSouth would provide limo service to bring them to Kenan House, I mean it was well done. And for some of these people, like the first year, there was a lady who lived in the mountains of North Carolina, outside of Weaverville, who grew strawberries for a living and after she stopped growing them to sell she created a fund to buy books for preschool kids in Appalachia Mountains. And she was averaging ten thousand dollars a year, in selling strawberries, she would go buy the books, she would drive up in a truck herself carrying them back and forth and she would drive through these remote areas of Appalachia and distribute these books to homes up in the mountains. We had a janitor at New Hanover High School who had been cited by over a thirty kids for helping them with drug issues and with abusive parents and he had gone to court on their behalf. He had sought a restraining order against an abusive father. One of the things I loved about him was that teachers wrote about him and said that when it rained, he always came out to their cars with an umbrella. Isn't that a wonderful story? And made sure that he walked them in and he went back and got their stuff. And they kept saying, "You don't have to do this." And he said, "I wouldn't do it if I had to." You know, great stories like that. So you had the strawberry grower sitting next to the person who gave ten million dollars to create the Pack Place up in the mountains of Asheville, up on the parkway. You had the janitor sitting next to the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Ben Ruffin. Jim Hunt was in that first group to which we gave awards. A Boy Scout leader who started a scouting troop for non-ambulatory children who were bedridden-- I mean, so it was wonderful, you know, and then you'd have doctors there who'd created the measles vaccine at Duke University, he was there. A lady who did blown glass art work attended. You had a lady who started a small clinic in Beaufort, North Carolina, and ran it for thirty-seven years out of her house and was one of the first people to serve blind children... remarkable stories and so for us, the idea was to make it intimate and personal and to have their families there with them and you could just see—and I know this sounds strange, but just to see some of these people walk into Kenan House.

Riggins: Did the people like Jim Hunt get an award also?

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: There was a class of awards in leadership, the arts, child advocacy, etc. I have the brochures in archives so I'll have to look at it again.

Robert Tyndall: Yes, it was a wonderful experience and I just really like the fact that it is still going on. I just liked that wonderful intimacy of being able to hear their stories and sit at the table and say "tell me about you," and see this guy, and his mother crying because she's so proud he's getting this award and the Chancellor giving it to them and so forth. It's now probably much more beneficial to the School of Ed quite honestly, but it's like three, four hundred people and it's in the Holiday Sunspree ballroom and the program does so many good things.

Riggins: You were the force behind the new school of education building-- right?

Robert Tyndall: Me , Jim Leutze and Mark Lanier. This building was another one of those things that, first of all, it was obvious we needed it. We were crammed into King Hall. We had thirteen offices over here in the library, we had to spread out, and we couldn't accommodate what was happening. We had grown dramatically—the school is still growing dramatically, but we doubled during the time that I was Dean in enrollment and when Roy Harkin was there, they grew. I mean Carol Thomas has a stat that showed we grew three hundred and sixty-five percent in certifications and licensure-only students. They're probably growing faster than that now. So it's always been a very growth-oriented program. But, you know, as I started thinking about this building, it was not on the list to be built, it was not on anybody's radar, and this is one of the things that is a credit to Jim Leutze. I called him and said I wanted to talk to him about something. Jim's style was very open and social in the way he dealt with things. So if you called him and said, "I want to talk with you" he'd say, "Well, come on over to Kenan House later today ," and this did happen quite often, "come by Kenan House." You'd have, you know, a glass of wine, you'd sit in the living room or on the porch and he talked with you. And so I came over and made this big impassioned plea about we needed a School of Ed building, and it needed to be pushed up on the priority list, and it needed to be so-and-so. And he listened; he didn't say a whole lot at that time. And later he got back with me and said, "Well, let's not talk about a building right now, let's talk about what the program needs are and what the need to produce teachers is for southeastern North Carolina and for the state, and I want to hear you talk about how the School of Ed's going to meet those demands and then we'll talk about a building." And so we went back to the drawing board, we came back and said that the School of Ed is going to double its enrollment again and it's going to become the second largest producer of teachers in North Carolina that all came out of those discussions and I thought that was great. He was setting the benchmark and saying, "OK, we'll work on this, but you have to work on that." So once we got that all done and he was on board with that, we then came back and said, "Let's go for this building." And if you've never done anything like this, it's an amazing process because there are hundreds of buildings on his list. Some of them have been on there for ten years and there are campuses all over the state competing with one another. So to come up with the idea of a building that's not even on the list anywhere, get it on the list and in a year, move it from not on the list to the number one priority, and then to get the legislature with the help of Mark Lanier, who did such a great job in that area, to give you almost two million dollars of planning money in 1977 to design the building,- which commits them then to build the building- is huge.

Riggins: When you had these discussions, you had to draw up statistics, do your research, and talk to people?

Robert Tyndall: Right, we had to show demand, we had to show where the areas were that needed growth the most, what programs were served, what the growth patterns were for school districts in North Carolina, particularly in our region, what they were in areas like Special Ed, elementary, secondary. We had to get letters of support from superintendents saying why this was important, you know, a lot of background work like that. We had done some of that work but we hadn't done all of the planning and justifying that needed to be done. In 1977 when all this was happening we made presentations almost every night. When Chancellor Leutze took it to the board of trustees he said, “s "This is our intent, this is what we're going after," I was sort of charged with him to be the person to push this. I immediately started lobbying for the planning funds. Jay Robinson, whom I mentioned earlier, made trips with me to the legislature. We hosted fifteen socials in one month, just to give you a feel for it-- trying to build support. I had board of trustee members come to concept meetings, we had meetings at Bellamy House, at the Coastline Inn, at the Hilton, in Raleigh or wherever to try to push this forward. And meanwhile, Mark was working the legislature behind the scenes, saying, "We're going to need this building and how much we think it's going to cost." From the very beginning in my conversations with Jim Leutze, I said, and I knew this instinctively, I don't know how, I said, "I don't want to look at any School of Ed buildings.” I want to look at art galleries and train stations, and that's what I want to look at." To his credit, that didn't seem to bother him. He said, "OK, so let's see what you come back with." So I went and visited several art galleries in Washington, New York, Ashville, Atlanta and I visited several train stations in those same cities, and took pictures of them.

Riggins: Why train stations?

Robert Tyndall: I was looking for something that captured the idea of a grand gathering place but that—this is going to sound strange—that psychologically connected the past and made people feel comfortable, while at the same time you were planning for something that was very futuristic. So to me, maybe it's because I grew up in the inner city near trains and there were always sounds of trains circling the city when I was a kid, but the image of people meeting, crossing each other's paths from different parts of the country and the world-- going their different ways, you know. It was a symbol for ideas, commerce, goods and information- sort of captured metaphorically. It aligned with a place of education, a place where people gathered to share and exchange ideas, disseminate them and so forth. But I also knew it would have to have the kind of scale that we wanted because I remember, there's a letter that I wrote, I don't know if Eleanor put it in the archives or not but I wrote it in 1997, that described what this building was going to look like. I still have a copy of it if she doesn't have it, but it was a letter to Jim Leutze and then he and I met and talked about it. And in the letter it says things like, "This has to be a tribute to the profession of teaching, which is often the weak stepchild on a university campus. While we build this building we have to raise the standards for entry to the School of Education to be higher than any other admission standards for any other academic department on campus in terms of GPA," which we did. People don't know this but the average GPA when I was Dean of the School of Ed was 2.75 minimum for entry, the closest on campus was 2.2. Our average SAT scores as a whole were higher than average SAT scores of UNCW. We raised that bar and we said we want highly literate, intelligent, content capable people to go into teaching. And we don't want to portray the role of, “if you can't do this, become teachers.” We've got to get out of that mindset. And so the quality of those students changed dramatically. We were also pushing the teaching fellow scholarship program at that time. Now the School of Education is the largest giver of scholarships of any unit on campus. We give two million dollars in scholarships. But the teaching fellow scholarship is  solely a merit scholarship and we give two million dollars of those and principal fellows scholarships.

Riggins: The money is from somewhere else?

Robert Tyndall: It's outside money just like any merit scholarship would be, it's just provided by the state of North Carolina.

Riggins: So merit scholarships are generally privately funded?

Robert Tyndall: Well, merit just means the conditions that qualify you for it. You know, there are some that are needs scholarships, or some are given to select recipients as determined by the donor. There are scholarships where a donor will say, "I want to give this to a young woman who's from Whiteville who had two years at a community college, etc...." (Laughs) But merit is strictly an objective performance criterion based award and then the money can be of any type. We are very proud of these students as we scholarships very rapidly in the School of Ed.

Riggins: I think you've probably told the chancellor about that.

Robert Tyndall: Oh yeah, I keep reminding, I keep saying, "Don't forget our scholarship programs-- while always arguing for more.

Riggins: Is the building part of the scholarship effort?

Robert Tyndall: It certainly ties in with the idea of excellence, vision and the importance of teaching and how it should be valued.  If you look at that building, you'll see the structural steel at the top of it, you'll see the marbleized looking columns down the side of it, you'll see that large open like place where you'd come into a place like Pin Station with the large foyers. And then we added the modernized large glass frame windows and the atrium, and I insisted on this atrium. I had more arguments over putting that atrium in that building than you could imagine. It makes the most powerful statement about imagination. Everybody (except Chancellor Leutze and I knew to pay attention to him) kept saying you can't put that atrium in there, the physical plant, the state designers, the insurance people, business affairs office, you can't, you can't, you can't do anything like that and I said, "You're telling me with all the glass buildings that are in Miami and are all along the coast and in hurricane zones, that there's no structural glass that we can find that would meet the wind requirements so we can put glass in this building? That's crazy." So finally everybody, you know, gave in and so now you see it there. In the letter I mentioned I describe floating balconies on either end of the entrance. It describes stone and marbleized coverings, the atrium, the patio, and the reflecting pools. We finished the design of this building with Joddy Peer, who was a magnificent architect. Trip Beecham and Joddy Peer did a great job. It was Joddy’s idea to add an element that was breathtaking to me. He said, "Well now, Bob, you're trying to blend the historical and the modern," and he said, "I've seen a stairwell at the University of Virginia. It would be fantastic to recapture that stairwell, the grand sweep of it down this side, bringing it into the foyer on one side and the elevator on the other." What a great addition, I don't know if you've seen that, but just a beautiful touch. All of this creates an image for donors, perspective students and faculty that says, “Here teaching is valued.”

Riggins: And it was used in the television show.

Robert Tyndall: Just beautiful and that added so much to the blend of the two. But I always use the term, "an ecological approach," where you brought the outside in, the inside out, integrated technology throughout the building and yet it still had “a certain old space feel,” but it was in a modern environment.

Riggins: The train station is great because so many are so beautiful, like Grand Central Station.

Robert Tyndall: Grand Central's another one I went to, beautiful, beautiful setting. But I think we went through most of the initial design work with the program team and the preliminaries were in rough renderings by 1998 or so. I chaired the design committee. I’m trying to think who else was on that design committee; I know Anne Crawford, Karen Wetherill, Carol Thomas, Bert Browning, Eleanor Wright, Karen Schaffer, Hathia Hayes and Grace Burton were on the committee. The Star-News endorsed the building as major priority in 1998 on May 11th which we really appreciated because there was a lot of confusion among the public. They thought this was going to be a local tax building for some reason. They didn't understand it was coming out of special state appropriations, not out of property tax dollars. So they helped us a lot by running that endorsement. And so during my last year 1999-2000, I was Vice Chancellor and Dean. Jim named me Vice Chancellor and Associate Provost for Information Technology Systems to create that new division. So I had a transition year where I did both and that's when we completed all that design work and set up the visitors' program.

Riggins: What an example of doing many things at once.

Robert Tyndall: Yes, the building is now built based in large measure on the design that we agreed to at that point. Few structural walls were changed, no significant dimensions of any spaces were changed, little of the infrastructure layouts were changed or the exterior profile.

Riggins: So that shows the planning money saves money.

Robert Tyndall: Absolutely, absolutely.

Riggins: Because then you have to go in and work the contractors and it gets delayed.

Robert Tyndall: Well the faculty participated as a whole because we had this room that was called the storyboarding room and every day, every idea about the drawing would go up in that room and it'd be places for people to put sticky notes up saying what they did or didn't like about every piece of every drawing.

Riggins: The entire faculty?

Robert Tyndall: Yes Kathy Barlow picked up after the basic elements were agreed to and shepherded it from the conceptual through construction. I got to work with the conceptual and creative elements, but none of that matters if the vision is not carried through to completion. Kathy  had to work with all the designers, contractors and sub-contractors to make sure they actually did all that we had planned and that it came off the way we envisioned it and that they didn't cut corners..

Riggins: What about the Legacy hall?

Robert Tyndall: The Legacy Hall was a part of the original plan, but it was called the Legacy Wall and it was a reflection area, like a Japanese garden where you could be quite and consider the work that had come before and the challenges that you as a faculty member or student faced. It included a kiosk where you could call up the name of a teacher from your county and hear their life story and their contributions a s a master teacher. And there was going to be mountain stone on that wall with water running down it. And it would an area for reflection. Kathy took that notion and turned it into the entire area to be a legacy hall- with the little theater venues, and the museum and all of those aspects which I think has really been well received. A lot of people really seem to love that. So that's the story of the building, and I was delighted to go over while it was being constructed and now to see it there.

Riggins: And hand it off to Kathy.

Robert Tyndall: No, Kathy was a part of the handoff to the community, the campus and the students and faculty. I mean, she had the grand opening, wonderful ceremony and she invited Roy, Jim Leutze, Jay Robinson’s wife and me and recognized contributions which was very nice.

Riggins: All of the former Deans were there?

Robert Tyndall: Yes, because Roy obviously had a hand in bringing us to a certain point, we took it to the next point, Kathy's now moving it to the next level. Somebody else will come in and hopefully improve it yet again so…

I've probably gone on way too long.

Riggins: No not at all, I really would appreciate those official documents.

Robert Tyndall: Yeah, you can have them. I've been asked so many times about when certain things happened and Mark Lanier and Jim Leutze are always my reference point because Mark keeps all the official records, so I could go to Mark and say, “when did this Star News editorial come out?” Jim always helps me to remember who was involved with us along the way. He is sort of the father of the modern UNCW campus. So the files include a chronology based on Jim’s, Mark’s,  and my and reviews of all the dates of everything that went on with the process.

Riggins: Mark is organized, right?

Robert Tyndall: Yes—in his own unique way. Step in his office one day the significance orf the words “in his own unique way” will become clear.

Riggins: He's an organized person but has his own system –right?

Robert Tyndall: He really is.

Let me say just a few closing comments about Rosemary DePaolo. Doing this IT thing has been unbelievable for me because it's another opportunity to apply the creative side of organizational development and the challenge has been to see if we could create, out of thin air, an entire division of a university with all of the ongoing permanent budgets and positions and buildings needed--we just built another building, two of them in fact-- in the IT area and manage our resources to the benefit of faculty and students. And we've got another one we're on which we are now working. We work with partners in all the other buildings and programs. So the buildings is now come on board, the division has been created, infrastructure has been improved dramatically and Chancellor DePaolo gave me the freedom to implement a comprehensive plan.

Riggins: Is the Hoggard extension one of the new buildings?

Robert Tyndall: Hoggard and the Tech Support Center. We did both those buildings together. They're part of one complex. And that division has grown to be a major part of the university. When I took over the division, 60% of its operation was on one-time money. Now,100% of operations are on permanent money. We've created the AV Media Department, the Client Services Department, the Application Services Department, the Enterprise Central Computing Services Department, and the Web Development Department. All of those pieces are in place. So I feel very good about where we are but there are so many challenges on the horizon. Since Rosemary has arrived, she's been here three years now, a lot is happening. She has initiated our first comprehensive strategic planning process. She has some important ideas about “campus as a community,” international engagement, a residential push and diversity. One of the nice things about this is this process requires you to think systemically and to see connected processes. This whole new energy and all these new plans are compelling and exciting. When I went in to talk to her about stepping out of that role—she was very gracious, I mean really, really nice, and she said, "Why are you doing this?" You know, "What is wrong with you? We've got so much to do." And I said—the answer goes back to something that I said the very beginning of this tape--"People know the kind of work they are supposed to be doing. The kind of work I'm supposed to do next, wherever it is, will continue to be on the invention side of things. I will have been in the VC role for eight years. We've come far with the help of the Chancellors and with the help of the Cabinet and the help of the Trustees, and the university staff has been fantastic over there. We've got one of the best IT staffs around. And so now there's something else I'm supposed to be doing.

Riggins: It might involve inventing something for someone else?

Robert Tyndall: Who knows who knows? I might become a street person downtown and hand out cards with poems on them.

Riggins: Well, we'll certainly look forward to talking to you again.

Robert Tyndall: Great—it has been a pleasure and has forced me to stop and think.

Riggins: One more question about ITSD. I know you headed up on another division for a while.

Robert Tyndall: The Division of Public Service. I did that as Acting Vice Chancellor while I was still Vice Chancellor and Associate Provost.

Riggins: Did they find their director?

Robert Tyndall: Yes, they've hired a new Vice Chancellor earlier, Steve Demske. He's doing a great job over there.

Riggins: So you did that for a while, but there's a lot to talk about with ITSD, but we'll wait.

Robert Tyndall: We will do that some other time.

Riggins: We'll get some historical perspective on that, that's always helpful. Well, thank you very much for your time.

Robert Tyndall: It's been my pleasure, I enjoyed it.

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