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Interview with William W. Woodhouse III, January 11, 2007 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with William W. Woodhouse III, January 11, 2007
January 11, 2007
Dr. Bill Woodhouse came to UNCW to teach Spanish in 1976, after having taught in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Woodhouse discusses his teaching and research interests over the years, his travels to Spain and writing about elections there, the students he taught and other topics relating to academic life at UNC Wilmington. He served on many committees at UNCW and on the first UNCW Faculty Senate. He also served on the UNC System Faculty Assembly.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Woodhouse, William Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 1/11/2007 Series: Voices of UNCW Length 60 minutes

Riggins: Hello, my name is Adina Riggins. I'm behind the camera. I'm the archivist at UNCW and I'm here today to interview a special guest that we have standing - sitting, rather - in front of the camera who will be sharing with us his memories about UNCW and his career. Please, sir, state your name for the tape.

William Woodhouse: My name is Bill Woodhouse, William W. Woodhouse, III.

Riggins: Thank you. Thanks for coming, Dr. Woodhouse. As we start this interview, I'd just like to say that for all the interviews in general I like to get some background information about our interviewees, not just their information about UNCW. So I'd like to start off and ask where were you born and where did you grow up?

William Woodhouse: I was born and grew up in Raleigh. My dad was a professor at NC State.

Riggins: Oh, okay.

William Woodhouse: I was one of the few faculty members that had ties to this area. My mother was from Wilmington and her family was with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and came to this area for that reason. My paternal grandfather was superintendent of schools in Bladen County.

Riggins: Really? So there were ties.

William Woodhouse: Yeah, just up the river.

Riggins: What was your mother's name?

William Woodhouse: Margaret Christian Woodhouse.

Riggins: Her maiden name was Christian.

William Woodhouse: Right.

Riggins: Oh, okay. And what did your father teach at NC State?

William Woodhouse: He was an agronomist. He was primarily in research, started out in pastures and evolved into a couple other careers with stabilization of coastal areas, sand dunes and that sort of thing, and then the creation of marsh areas for mitigation and construction projects.

Riggins: Oh, it sounds like his knowledge will be useful in this part of the state for sure.

William Woodhouse: Oh, sure.

Riggins: That's where he got his interest probably. Did you attend the public schools in Raleigh?

William Woodhouse: Right, Broughton High School in Chapel Hill, New York University junior in Spain program.

Riggins: Oh, okay.

William Woodhouse: And then I had a Woodrow Wilson fellowship that allowed me to go about anywhere I wanted to. At that time the University of Wisconsin was one of the top Spanish departments, which was my area of interest, and so I spent a number of years there.

Riggins: Is that where you got your graduate degree?

William Woodhouse: Right, Master's and eventually Ph.D. It took me a while.

Riggins: And Ph.D. in Spanish from Wisconsin.

William Woodhouse: Mmhmm. Right.

Riggins: What made you want to focus on Spanish?

William Woodhouse: Well my dad had a number of graduate students from South America over the years, and then NC State had an AID program in Peru, and although our family didn't go to live in Peru as a number of others did but that solidified the ties with the Peruvian agricultural community. And, as I say, those graduate students and their families were around the house.

Riggins: Oh. They spent some time around the house.

William Woodhouse: Yeah, so Spanish took on a reality for me that it didn't have for most high school students.

Riggins: So they made you more interested in learning the language.

William Woodhouse: Right, and I had long had an interest in literature in English, and so I kind of combined those two when I got to Chapel Hill.

Riggins: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Yeah, like you said, it made you interested in the culture as well as the language knowing these people.

William Woodhouse: Right, absolutely.

Riggins: Oh, okay. What did you end up sort of focusing on in your graduate studies?

William Woodhouse: Well, as a result of my junior year in Spain program, Spain became my principal area of interest and due to-- well I had to take courses in a wide variety of areas from medieval all the way up to modern and Latin American, but I was influenced by a series of professors whose work I admired, and so I ended up working on a satire in the golden age, the 17th century primarily, the poetry of Francisco de Quevedo, and I wrote my dissertation on his satirical sonnets.

Riggins: Oh. Was that not much studied at that point?

William Woodhouse: Well, it's very difficult poetry because there are allusions to things that nobody has any idea of basically what they were, and contemporary events and people have just gotten lost. They weren't necessarily particularly important. So I had to do a lot of detective work to try to track down what he was referring to, and I think it has been a fairly challenging area and probably discouraged a lot of people. Or maybe they were smarter not to get snared in something like this.

Riggins: So once you deciphered all that you were able to understand the satire like his contemporaries had, I assume.

William Woodhouse: Well, I think to a greater degree than had been the case previously, yeah, and I did publish some things on individual sonnets and a few things on satire terminology and so on of a more theoretical nature.

Riggins: Oh, okay. Yeah, that's probably helpful to others who wanted to go on and look at that area. What brought you to UNCW?

William Woodhouse: Well, when I started looking for a job, it was a period in which there was a super abundance of candidates and not many jobs, so even though one studies an advanced theory, really a satiric, oftentimes in literature the basic bread and butter is teaching language classes and that kind of depends on how many language students there are, which in turn depends on what sort of expectations the universities have for students, their students to take foreign language. And this tends to go in cycles, and this was a period when many universities, including UNC Wilmington, were cutting back or eliminating language requirements, and so I had a couple jobs, almost a couple jobs one at Cal State Long Beach in which they overruled my - the hiring of me because the department, they thought, needed an additional woman. That was not a condition of the original search but that was something decided by the president when my name got to his desk. And so then there was another job at Hope College in Michigan in which I was actually notified that I had the job and it was overturned over some dispute involving religious issues and so evangelical sort of place, Dutch reformed. So in the meantime, the chairman, I had been in the application process also here and the chairman at the time liked to do these things in the summertime when nobody is around. He could do whatever he wanted to and so it had drug on into the summer. And I was one of the few left in the available candidates, and UNCW was one of the few available jobs, and so I was delighted because my parents had a place at Carolina Beach and ultimately I was very fortunate because it was a place where I was able to share my parents' life in the latter stages and particularly in their terminal illnesses, and that would have been extremely difficult in retrospect had I been far away. It was - it's a really wonderful place to have a family and enjoy life.

Riggins: It ended up working out.

William Woodhouse: It did. It did, yeah.

Riggins: Though endless I'm sure during the job search, yeah, it felt like, "Will I ever find a job?"

William Woodhouse: Yeah. There were some downsides. I mean, they had just eliminated the language requirement and the department was completely demoralized and people were--

Riggins: Here at UNCW?

William Woodhouse: Yeah, yeah, and so people had gotten a little bit-- the veterans had gotten a little cynical about the whole thing and they were a little bit desperate and created courses like Spanish and French for tourists now just to try to generate some enrollment. And so it took a good ten, fifteen years for that to turn around and for language to once again to be required in some form, but at least to have a measure of esteem in the academic community.

Riggins: Did that reflect other areas in basic studies? Did they eliminate a lot of requirements at that time? Maybe there was a movement towards less requirements in general.

William Woodhouse: Well, the emphasis was on practicality. They said it's--

Riggins: Relevance.

William Woodhouse: Yeah, that students should be able to write a paragraph, which certainly I support, and the math, they should be able to balance their checkbooks. That's a quote. And then in language they said, "Well, people should learn computer languages rather than foreign languages" and of course ultimately that didn't prove to be something that is of much use for the average person. So anyway, that was the atmosphere.

Riggins: Interesting.

William Woodhouse: Yeah.

Riggins: And you came in the mid-seventies, seventy-five, seventy-six.

William Woodhouse: Seventy-six, right, mmhmm.

Riggins: I interviewed Rush Beeler last year. Was he the chair?

William Woodhouse: He was the chair that hired me, yeah.

Riggins: He's real nice and he's around.

William Woodhouse: I'm sure, yeah.

Riggins: Active. So who else was teaching Spanish at the time? Who made up the Spanish section, do you remember?

William Woodhouse: Well, Mary Bellinet [ph?] was the senior. This Cuban fellow, whose name I forget, had just retired and I technically replaced him, though, because there wasn't any expansion in the department. It was just a matter of they had this slot to fill due to retirement, and then there were three of the younger ones of us, Carlos Petith [ph?] and Terry Mount [ph?] and I were the brand new assistant professors and we all were, came within-- I was the third one but they had not been here very long. And so.

Riggins: Yeah, Dr. Prentiss [ph?] I haven't interviewed yet but I understand he has a restaurant now.

William Woodhouse: I've heard that, yeah, mmhmm, yeah. He was always into something, other stuff, you know, painting houses and a rental, kind of a slum lord and all this other stuff, yeah.

Riggins: Wow. And you think he made some more money with his side jobs than being a professor?

William Woodhouse: Oh, sure. Yeah, a lot more.

Riggins: Very entrepreneurial. I think the restaurant is doing well. Boleros, I think.

William Woodhouse: Is that it, yeah.

Riggins: I'm going to go there because I tried calling. I'm going to go there and ask to talk to him and say, "Hey, come in for an interview." He interviewed - I mean, he retired at the same time as Bill Lowe.

William Woodhouse: Oh, really, okay.

Riggins: In 1996, I believe.

William Woodhouse: Okay, that sounds about right.

Riggins: Right. When did you retire, do you recall?

William Woodhouse: Well, I did, I think it was three years of phased retirement starting in 2000 maybe, and then it had been two or three years then of complete retirement since then.

Riggins: Right, so two, yeah, starting in phased, was this usually about three years?

William Woodhouse: Right. It was half time. I taught spring semesters full time, had the fall off, yeah.

Riggins: Had you taught as a graduate student?

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, yeah. I was a TA except for the initial year with the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, and then I had fellowships a couple times on through but mostly as a TA, and then they had a custom that was constant of keeping one or two of the finishing graduate students on as instructors for a year and I ended up doing that for two years because nobody else wanted it and it was kind of a lot of work. They put you in charge of these whole courses, supervising TAs and it was-- I thought it was going to be a good deal because I would be close to my thesis advisor and I could make progress that would be more difficult were I far away. Well, he then left and went to one of the California campuses, and then became director of the California program in Spain, and then had a heart attack and was -. So I really, actually I never saw him again, so we had to do all of this by correspondence, and there were disagreements among the members of the committee and him, and it was a long drawn-out process.

Riggins: But he remained your thesis advisor?

William Woodhouse: Well, not officially because they had to-- somebody at Wisconsin had to put their name on it, but it was just the chairman of the department, yeah, for him. So in the meantime I was at the University of Minnesota as an instructor for five years, trying to get all of this squared away, and so at the end of that period was when I finished and started looking for a real job and came here.

Riggins: Oh, and also finished your Ph.D.?

William Woodhouse: Right.

Riggins: Was that after you came here?

William Woodhouse: No, it was that spring before I came here, yeah.

Riggins: So you were working on that while you were teaching?

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: In another state?

William Woodhouse: Yeah, it was pretty tough, yeah.

Riggins: Mmhmm. And you lived up north then for a good while.

William Woodhouse: Right, fifteen years between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Riggins: How did you like it there?

William Woodhouse: I loved it at the time. It was a big adventure and I learned to skate, cross-country ski and so on. I guess it would be a little bit tougher to handle now at my age and not being accustomed to it anymore. But I did go rabbit hunting in Maine last February and I'm okay.

Riggins: It made you think of the Midwestern days.

William Woodhouse: It sure did.

Riggins: Upper Midwest.

William Woodhouse: Yeah.

Riggins: When you came to UNCW in 1976, what was the university like then? What was the atmosphere?

William Woodhouse: Well, it was really a small isolated sort of place. A lot of the faculty at the time had just moved over from the high school, the Wilmington College phase, and this campus was pretty new. We were in Kenan, the building Kenan.

Riggins: Kenan Hall.

William Woodhouse: Right, and the students were mostly local students. There were very few. Now later on it became a very popular campus for kids from the Piedmont and all over, but in the early years they were almost all New Hanover and surrounding counties' residents. Pretty much the weekends were-- everybody went home. There was very little campus life on weekends and there - only a handful of bicycles on campus. It later became the mode of transportation as more and more buildings were built and the parking lots became further away and the dorms. There were just a couple dorms at that time. There was a huge percentage of students that commuted from their homes locally.

Riggins: Right. Were there a good number of non-traditional students? Did you see that?

William Woodhouse: There were quite a few, yeah. I was pretty much accustomed to that because at Minnesota we had what they call the extension division where night classes where there were a lot of non-traditional students. And so it seemed like there were fewer here in proportion but there were-- of course there was no special program. There were hardly any night classes. We experimented with that but it just didn't-- demand was not there. It was part of what we did but not a major part.

Riggins: This may have been before but I know Dr. Randall, after he retired he taught in the foreign languages department.

William Woodhouse: That's right, yeah. I'm in the departmental picture a couple years when he was still around.

Riggins: Right.

William Woodhouse: Fascinating guy really.

Riggins: Really, so you knew him as a colleague in your department.

William Woodhouse: Yeah, not well. I mean he was, he'd come around once in a while and I had several chats with him and he was a very fascinating and very competent linguist in terms of knowing how languages work and not just a specialist in a particular language which most of us were.

Riggins: What did he teach?

William Woodhouse: Well, he taught Arabic and several rather exotic languages I think. I couldn't testify as to the depth of his knowledge of all those languages, but what most impressed me was his understanding of the science of linguistics, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah, that must have been quite something. You had, you offered Spanish, German, French, Arabic.

William Woodhouse: Right.

Riggins: Because of Dr. Randall.

William Woodhouse: Exactly.

Riggins: So you mentioned some of your colleagues who you knew there and we've interviewed a lot of them. Mary Bellamy, for example, was she real helpful since she had been there so long? Was she, did you get to know her pretty well?

William Woodhouse: Well, yeah. The problem was that she had come from the high school side of the equation and I think kind of resented a little bit the younger Ph.D. people and so she was sometimes a little bit difficult in the courses that she had been teaching and she didn't want to share that with anybody else. So we weren't prepared to stay at a campus like this without, just waiting around for somebody to retire. And so there were some conflicts that we -.

Riggins: Right, because you had to have the courses.

William Woodhouse: Right. Later on there became things like there were multiple sections and everybody got to do a lot of things that they wanted to do, but in those early years we had very few students and the advanced classes would have just two or three students in them, and then by the time I retired the advanced classes had twenty-five or thirty students, so it was a completely different ballgame. And with the advent of the minor system, being able to minor in Spanish, that attracted a lot of students trying to get that. Not all of them were stellar students, but they were in the classes, so the numbers ceased to be the issue that it was early on.

Riggins: Right. I can imagine. It was a battle. Speaking of battles, do you remember participating in the basic studies discussions?

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, I was a member of the Shinn Committee. You probably heard of that.

Riggins: No, I haven't. General Shinn?

William Woodhouse: Right. It was almost the first year I was here, very close to it. As a result of the turmoil of the previous years that included the elimination of the language requirement, then Dr. Shinn proposed to Dr. Wagoner that there be an evaluation of what basic studies should involve. And so there was-- I don't know how they came up with the membership, but there was a cross-section of almost all the departments and we met, you know, a couple times a week, and there were all kinds of subcommittees and it was a huge amount of work. It was sort of like the Iraq study committee. It was kinda -.

Riggins: I see. To advise the chancellor.

William Woodhouse: Right, but then not very much of it was actually taken all that seriously because there were too many toes to be stepped. Oh, and -.

Riggins: Turf battles?

William Woodhouse: Right, exactly.

Riggins: What about with the senate? Did, um - ?

William Woodhouse: I was an original member of the senate from the foreign language department, and that was pretty exciting. We accomplished a great deal, I think, in the transition from the full faculty meeting type thing. It was kind of a zoo and then having a representative senate. I was on the steering committee. I was secretary of the senate one year and ended up representing UNC Wilmington and the campus at the faculty assembly in Chapel Hill.

Riggins: Oh, you did that, okay.

William Woodhouse: Yeah, so that was very rewarding. You really got to see how things work and have your opinions taken seriously and considered. I enjoyed working with Rory Carroll [ph?] and several of the other vice presidents that were assigned to the committees that I worked on there.

Riggins: In the assembly. I interviewed soon after I got here Thad Dankel.

William Woodhouse: Oh, you know.

Riggins: He was on the assembly, too.

William Woodhouse: Right, that was before me, I think. He was one of the first ones. I went with-- I overlapped with Eddie Olshefsky [ph?]. Eddie and I traveled together a lot to those meetings. And then, let's see who else? Betty Jo Welch and, hmm, I'm sure there were some others that I can't remember now.

Riggins: That brings up a good point that in those days, especially the early days soon after you got here, it seems like you got to know people from other departments.

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, it was amazing. That was one of the really positive aspects because at Minnesota it was such a huge place and I didn't even know the people in French. It was a different department and if you happened to know somebody it was just because they were introduced to you. There was no systematic likelihood of running into anybody in French unless you were on a committee with them or something like that. But here there was the custom in the old dining hall over here of the lunches. I forget which day of the week it was but maybe it was every day. I don't know. But I went a couple times a week and got to know a number of the people that way. And then, of course, the committee work was very intense. Once the senate established the university curriculum committee and the college curriculum committee with the reorganization, all of that became very active and so you got to know people in just about every department that way.'

Riggins: I've heard that about lunch, too. When I interviewed Dr. McLaurin, he came in '76 also.

William Woodhouse: Right, yeah.

Riggins: Right about then.

William Woodhouse: Yeah, maybe the following year. Whatever year I came, he came the following year. We were neighbors and our daughters were friends.

Riggins: Oh, all right, yeah. Well, he talked about going over there for lunch.

William Woodhouse: Right, uh huh.

Riggins: That was quite a nice group and that it really had more of a community. It certainly doesn't happen now at Wagoner.

William Woodhouse: I would imagine no.

Riggins: I don't think it's a regular thing at all.

William Woodhouse: Well, there was a particular room that was for the faculty lunch thing and it was very regular and, of course, the location was much more convenient and the campus was a tighter structure and everything was closer by then.

Riggins: Sure. Well what did you teach? Did you teach all areas?

William Woodhouse: Well, I did. Basically beginning language was a big deal particularly early on. I was kind of instrumental in the department in implementing the idea of a placement test. As I say, the demoralization of the faculty that existed when I got here people said, "Well, it doesn't matter if they had two years of high school Spanish, no, let them start over again." It doesn't - that generates enrollment. But it also generated a lot of ill will because the students were being hit over the head with the same stuff that they took in high school and they ended up with very little because they weren't advancing beyond what they already had. And so on the one hand they liked it because they didn't have to hit a lick, and on the other hand it was not satisfactory because they weren't making any progress or getting anything out of it, so it ultimately created a lot of resentment. And so finally we were able to, a couple regimes down the line, get a placement test going originally for Spanish and then for French, and we were able to get some teeth into it where, eventually, where there were penalties for going back and taking courses that you didn't belong at. And so that helped a lot with getting students into the intermediate where they could really do something, and that was a very positive evolution of things.

Riggins: It sounds like it.

William Woodhouse: Yeah. I had gotten-- well, originally it was just sort of an assignment, but when I was at Minnesota I taught the civilization course, Spanish civilization, which is kind of an illegitimate child in foreign language departments because it involves history and art and music which really aren't disciplines that we're necessarily trained in. Most of us are either literature or linguistics people as far as our doctoral training. But the civilization course kind of picks up where students, particularly in Spanish or French they don't have the opportunity to study the wider cultural experience in English at most campuses. And, of course, all of this is done in the foreign language. So anyway, I got interested in that and then finally armed wrestled from Mary Bellamy her lock on that course and so I taught that on a regular basis my full career. It was kind of a-- it was not a career enhancing move because it's not an area that lends itself to helping your publications because, you know, you're dealing with something where you're more of a consumer and trying to figure out what the historians have had to say about it, but yet you're not an historian, much less a music critic or an art critic. I had courses like on those subjects in Spain and am pretty well versed in that but as a consumer, sophisticated consumer perhaps but not a scholar. And so anyway that was-- but I enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the things that I did was to try to move that course from just reading about summaries of the various periods, you know, what happened in the Renaissance, what happened in the Golden Age to a text oriented course where I had selections of actual documents and portions of memoirs and historical documents that gave the students a better feeling for the spirit of why things happened, the state of mind of the Muslim leaders during the re-conquest and that sort of thing.

Riggins: Was it a one semester course or two semesters?

William Woodhouse: One semester.

Riggins: So all of--

William Woodhouse: Yeah, each of us had a real challenge because the Latin American people have to cover the whole continent in one semester, although on a lesser chronological basis but in Spain you've got all the way from the Case of Altamira, 15,000 B.C. all the way up to as far as you can get and a lot has happened. When I took the course at Chapel Hill, you got to the Franco regime and that was the end of it.

Riggins: Right.

William Woodhouse: And, of course, this was one of the things that I became very interested in and specialized in and did some presentations at conferences was the whole evolution to democracy in Spain. I was very fortunate to be in Spain the summer of '77 when they had the elections for the constituent assembly and I really hadn't foreseen. I mean political activity was so limited in my experience due to the nature of the Franco regime. People talked about it but there wasn't any public discourse and so all of a sudden you had these political campaigns and the Communist party.

Riggins: Wow!

William Woodhouse: So I abandoned my library research project and began to take pictures and then in later years videos and traveled around and attend political rallies and sort of document the whole process and then ended up going back again in '79 for the real elections and in '82 for when the Socialists won all the way. The last one that I covered was in '99 I guess.

Riggins: Did you write about some of this?

William Woodhouse: I did. I did summaries for Hispania, the Journal of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese and presented at conferences of the same organization and some others, special conferences on the election process.

Riggins: Uh-huh. Oh, yeah, it sounds like fine experiences. The first time you had no idea.

William Woodhouse: I hadn't really given it any thought.

Riggins: But it became a good way to learn about the political system and that would probably be interesting to the students here.

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, very much so. It was a fun thing to do. I gave presentations on campus after each one of those by and large. Then like everywhere else by 2000 the campaigns had become largely oriented towards television but everything was kind of improvised in those early years and it was so much more interesting because there was actual give and take and you could actually get in to see all of these things. The last go-round I had a lot of trouble getting into events because they - I didn't have any press credentials and so they didn't want to let me in and I had to really beg and argue. I ended up doing it successfully but I could see that this sort of approach was going to run out of gas.

Riggins: Wow! That sounds really interesting. That seems to happen a lot when you get into a faculty position and your interests start developing into ways you had no--

William Woodhouse: Right, exactly, yeah.

Riggins: -- had no thought that it would go in that direction. What about study abroad opportunities did that come up? I know I interviewed Dr. McNab and I know after he came he pushed for that too.

William Woodhouse: Right, exactly. No, it was not encouraged in the early years. There was a huge obsession with FTEs and to actually take a student and send them somewhere else was just against their religion. And so, yeah, after Jim McNab became the - the atmosphere changed considerably and we started participating and sending students to a variety of programs and the consortium with Charlotte and Greensboro or somebody else. I actually applied to do that semester but somebody else got it. It rotates to UNCW every, I don't know, seven years or something like that. I know Dr. Stephens [ph?] did it a couple years ago. I haven't kept up with it since then.

Riggins: Right, right. So it became-- and I guess with Dr. Leutze also it became --

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, it became respectable as did foreign students. I mean when I got here they didn't want any foreign students because they said, well, it would take, they would take the place of somebody from Columbus County or something and so it took a long time for that mindset to fade away, and, so, yeah, it became a much more healthy environment. Of course, another relationship that I didn't have anything to do with but with Ecuador there was a very nice relationship that evolved with a private university there and they send students and our students go there. It's a fine program.

Riggins: I didn't know about that. How did your department evolve over time? I mean it grew bigger I suppose.

William Woodhouse: Oh, yes, yeah, yeah. Well it, I guess the biggest impact was maybe when Jim McNabb got here and there was a different regime, even though I think still for a long time the French seemed to control the chairmanship and it made it difficult even though there were section chairs sort of but it was kind of hard to overcome sort of the competition between the languages in many cases. But I think Jim brought certainly a more professional approach to the chairmanship and departmental business and things were not done in secret anymore and there was more of an inviting atmosphere to express opinions and so forth. All of that's evolved very favorably with Dr. Lapaire and on down to the present. I think that was one of the biggest improvements in the collegiality area was this more open atmosphere.

Riggins: More like what you think of as a university.

William Woodhouse: Exactly, yeah, and particularly those of us that had come from somewhere else where we'd see sometimes the good and sometimes the bad and we kind of knew what, how it was supposed to be anyway. But that was the biggest evolution and then also the placement test. I think that brought about an increased shifting from the 101 students that didn't belong there into the intermediate. Once they got into intermediate many of them would go on for another semester and take civilization or a literature course or something. That was very healthy.

Riggins: Yeah, it sounds like it. I already - I asked about some of the committees that you were on or it came up but I didn't ask I guess officially.

William Woodhouse: Uh huh.

Riggins: Do you remember some of the other committees that you served on and some of the work that was done?

William Woodhouse: Well, I think-- I remember most vividly the curriculum committees in the various forms the university curriculum committee and the college curriculum committee and some of the things. That was where the basic studies package got put together and it was in some cases modified after I was no longer on the committee but anyway it's always kind of a political struggle whether this counts or the other counts or you know how to get everybody a little something so they'll vote for it and all this. It's -

Riggins: And the college curriculum committee would have been the College of Arts and Sciences?

William Woodhouse: Right, exactly. That was after the reorganization with the schools of business and education and the university curriculum committee was the whole shebang.

Riggins: Yeah. It does sound like things were probably hard fought I guess because there was so little to fight over it makes people, I mean the funds were never amazing here.

William Woodhouse: Right, no right, yeah.

Riggins: Compared to the growth and the demand.

William Woodhouse: Yeah. Yeah, I guess I was on some other committees. The last committee I was on was the curriculum, the computer committee and that was pretty interesting in the early times because it's hard to imagine now, back then this was something that was brand new, unheard of, and nobody really knew what we were doing at least on the faculty. You had some, the nerds over in Alderman that knew how to wire stuff but they didn't know what the computers were good for. We had the VAX. Did anybody ever talk to you about the VAX?

Riggins: Oh, I remember myself the VAX but the VAX here?

William Woodhouse: Right, yeah.

Riggins: Where was the VAX?

William Woodhouse: Well, I'm not sure. We used dumb terminals in various places and I had a VAX account but not of the early ones. The early ones those people had, all they had was their last name. Then the next wave you had to put your initial in front or after your last name.

Riggins: So you had that?

William Woodhouse: Yeah, I had that but there were people that hang on. There were even women that were divorced and married and they kept that original name because it didn't have an initial and that was a sign of the original.

Riggins: Oh, yeah, well there are still people like that. John Anderson in business do you remember him?

William Woodhouse: Mmhmm, oh yeah.

Riggins: I think he just retired but he was Anderson, yeah, to this day.

William Woodhouse: Exactly, yeah.

Riggins: And he was like the only one, you know?

William Woodhouse: Right.

Riggins: Of all the Andersons.

William Woodhouse: Exactly. Well, the humanities were kind of the last area to get involved in computers, and I know that the secretaries had these trash '80s so you had to give everything to the secretary and they would type it up and put it on a real floppy disc, you know one of the big ones. And then I know in the mid-'80s, Andrea Deagon came back from New Zealand with a MAC and that was the first real computer that anybody in foreign languages had and so we were all fascinated by that. And so we were able to eventually get some, I don't know how, to buy a MAC classic on a cart that you could roll up and down with.

Riggins: Wow!

William Woodhouse: Yeah, it always sat out in the hall because somebody could get--

Riggins: So that you can use, share it.

William Woodhouse: Yeah.

Riggins: I don't know if MAC used the DOS prompt.

William Woodhouse: No, it's its own operating system.

Riggins: Right, okay.

William Woodhouse: That was the original faculty machine and then we got another one I think, another classic, and then there was a professor in French that came from Princeton with another. It wasn't a classic but it was a similar type and so I actually became for a time the departmental computer guru, not really knowing that much about it, but I was ahead of most of my colleagues at the time.

Riggins: They would ask for your help with it?

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: Word processing.

William Woodhouse: Mmhmm.

Riggins: In those days like in WordPerfect or, well, I guess MAC was different.

William Woodhouse: Yeah. We used, well, there was Apple Works had a word processing component and then somehow I got onto NYSYS which was when I bought my first MAC at the university bookstore the representative recommended that and I still use it. I mean I love it. I like it a lot better than Word. Eventually other faculty members got DOS machines and so we became pretty heterogeneous on that sense but then what really was a great disappointment for me, I was on the computer committee and we talked about the question of the different formats and it was everybody's. It was the faculty's feeling that this should be respected that people had their own stuff and that there were applications that worked better in one or the other and that every once in a while somebody would say, "Well, you know, let's get rid of-- make it all MACs or all PCs." Well, the university, curriculum, the computer committee wouldn't go along with that so the administration went out and appointed an ad hoc committee that actually did the deed. They said, "Okay, if you got a MAC we're not going to take it away from you but you won't get any support. You won't buy anymore." And so that was about the time I decided I was going to retire. 'Cause I thought that was--

Riggins: Well, people who have used MACs, and I've used it up and down, depending on what was available, but the people who are really into MACs, I think, appreciate it because it doesn't get obsolete as, quickly right?

William Woodhouse: Well, I use a PC a lot now for just for practical reasons but when you're just moving the cursor over something you don't have to click. Sometimes it will just do something because it's hovering there and that just drives me insane. With a MAC you've got to actually click and so I'm always having to go back and close things that I didn't want to open and stuff like that. Word is just a huge pain. I mean it wants to move things around. You can't get things to sit where they're supposed to, and -- I don't like it at all. I mean I guess if you get used to it and that's all you've done you can probably eventually learn how to make it work, but it's so much less intuitive than NYSYS on a MAC.

Riggins: NYSYS, I hadn't heard of that one. I've heard of Claris Works.

William Woodhouse: Right, I've used that. Yeah, it's a California. They started out as Paragon Software was the company, in - I forget the - somewhere on the coast, Salerno Beach in California. But like so many things it was just gobbled up or pushed aside as everything became kind of a monopoly anyway eventually.

Riggins: Right, whether it's better or not who knows?

William Woodhouse: So that was kind of a sour experience with my last and I declined to continue on that committee because if they were going to bypass the committee then they weren't interested in faculty opinions. I know one of my daughters is at NIH and have - they cultivate the mixed environment where they have MACs and PCs and nobody tells them. It's just whatever they're used to and just do the job. Get on with the job. There's none of this obsession with making it uniform. I think that's a much more healthy environment.

Riggins: Mmhmm. What about using the Spanish diacritics and things in the early days; were you able to do that?

William Woodhouse: Oh, that's much easier on a MAC, than - Oh, it's such a pain on a PC. I've done it with both and you got to know what the code is. There are certain numbers. With a MAC you use the option plus another key just like on a typewriter and so you hit that and then the vowel appears with the accent mark and, it just, it doesn't even slow you down.

Riggins: Uh huh, uh huh.

William Woodhouse: And the option N then you get the tilde on the end following and a piece of cake.

Riggins: Was it exciting the first time you used it to make up tests and things?

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, no it was a real discovery because we used to have to type-- well originally you had the ditto where you had to type everything and if there was a mistake you had to cross it out and, it was, everything looked terrible. Then came the Thermo fax where you could type a regular page and then run it through a machine and it would make a ditto so that you could white out and do anything, get your original text clean and then it would appear perfectly on the Thermo fax and then you'd run that in a ditto machine and make the, you know, blue copies.

Riggins: Yes, yes.

William Woodhouse: And so that was a big improvement but then with the computer, of course, all kinds of things. I mean just I mentioned the civilization text that I edited and so on. I never could have done that without a computer because it was just too complicated and there were footnotes, vocabularies and trying to make a vocabulary and then put the vocabulary words in italics. That was something that was all made possible by the word processing.

Riggins: Did you use slides in that classroom?

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, very much, yeah. I have a huge collection of slides from well the political campaigns in the various regions and historical stuff. And then we had some collections of slides in the department that were purchased commercially but a lot of them were pretty bad photography and I used largely my own. Eventually I got around to almost everything.

Riggins: Really?

William Woodhouse: Yeah.

Riggins: Do you have an interest in photography? Are you an amateur photographer?

William Woodhouse: Well I'm not an expert or anything. I do still a lot of photography and it's all digital now but it's so much less expensive than to have to take a roll of slides and get the prints made or the slides developed. You know, it really, you know, it runs into money. In those days I didn't mind it because I needed the slides for the classroom but I don't have that need anymore so I -

Riggins: I guess by the time you left were you using the PowerPoint slides?

William Woodhouse: Right. Well, the problem was that we had classrooms that had PowerPoint capabilities and others that didn't and so you never knew exactly what you were going to end up with so you had to be prepared to use the overhead projector or the computer depending on which was available. When they built Leutze, I guess they kind of ran out of money at the point when they were going to put in all of this stuff, you know, and so there was on classroom that had full service or maybe two but with scheduling classes you never knew exactly what you were going to end up with. So with the civilization I did get a lot of lecture type stuff where I could get them. Instead of writing it on the board I could project it and then show the slides also that way. But in, for the regular intermediate classes it would have been nice but I never knew where I was going to be so I pretty much used the overhead projector until the end. I'd give the students an exercise and then with the spaces and then they would write. Everybody would write in their notebooks and then certain ones would write on the transparency and then we'd put them on the screen and correct them, so I had to stick with that. And it was very useful because you can't really do that with a computer. I mean everything's already packaged, you know.

Riggins: Yeah, that's right.

William Woodhouse: And I wanted the students to feel participating. Well they were participating in the exercise and not just sitting there drinking it in.

Riggins: Right and using other senses, tactile.

William Woodhouse: Exactly, yeah.

Riggins: I remember, overheads were still used quite a lot I think throughout the late '90s.

William Woodhouse: Yeah. Well it's so hard. Those machines have been stuck away somewhere for the most part of gotten rid of for the most part. That it's hard to - yeah, the only teaching I do now is with the Coast Guard auxiliary and we're down at Cape Fear Community College. I had a chapter on tides and tidal currents that I was teaching the other night and I wanted to be able to fill in the worksheet as we went rather than just showing one that was already completely done and they're just sitting there looking at it because I've had them do it and then I would take their lead and make sure step-by-step that it was correct and sure enough there was no machine available but our unit has one. I had to get it from somebody, and so.

Riggins: Oh, boy.

William Woodhouse: Yeah, it makes life a little more complicated.

Riggins: Yeah, yeah, I can imagine. Well so what are you teaching then? What are you teaching the students there?

William Woodhouse: Well, we do a safe boating course for the general public. I participate in that usually the chapter about the buoys and coastal navigation on the water or the introduction to navigation. And then we do an advanced course that's basic coastal navigation and then advanced coastal navigation and the tide chapter was in the advanced coastal navigation course.

Riggins: How do you like that being in the classroom again?

William Woodhouse: Oh, I enjoy it. I've always enjoyed it. I mean I've been doing this for 20 years and so I've always enjoyed it.

Riggins: So you enjoy doing it.

William Woodhouse: Yeah.

Riggins: Do you have a boat?

William Woodhouse: I do, mmhmm, yeah.

Riggins: What do you like to do during retirement? It sounds like a boat keeps you busy.

William Woodhouse: Right. Well, I do the Coast Guard auxiliary activities, patrols in the summertime and member training. We take people out. I did two night navigation exercises in December so it was pretty cold but we got it done. And then I do some fishing so I enjoy that in the warmer months.

Riggins: Yeah, I see you have your fishing hat there.

William Woodhouse: Yeah.

Riggins: Baja tackle.

William Woodhouse: Yeah, we picked that up in Tucson, Arizona.

Riggins: Okay.

William Woodhouse: The closest place to fish is Baja, California and so there was a tackle shop that specialized in it.

Riggins: Any traveling?

William Woodhouse: I do. I've been to Spain and Mexico several times and then not here in the last couple years. I had some health problems. I had to have a hip replacement and rotator cup surgery and stuff like that. You get laid up for awhile. But I'm in pretty good shape right now.

Riggins: Yeah, how do you feel? Is it like new?

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: That's great. That's what I've heard.

William Woodhouse: It took a while. It took a while but it's as good as new. So I've done some traveling within the United States. I went to Maine three times last year fishing or hunting, something, and headed back up there at the end of February to do some ice fishing and snowshoe hare hunting.

Riggins: Sounds fun.

William Woodhouse: So last summer we trailered the boat down to the Keys and snorkeled out on the reefs.

Riggins: That sounds great.

William Woodhouse: That was a wonderful trip, yeah.

Riggins: Wow! Yeah that sounds great and you had your boat there traveling with you.

William Woodhouse: Right, right.

Riggins: It has been a good area to retire in?

William Woodhouse: Oh, it is, very much so, a lot of stuff to do and the weather is good most of the time.

Riggins: Right.

William Woodhouse: Yeah but I enjoy just seeing new areas and doing different things.

Riggins: Has there been anything I've forgotten to ask you about because we're coming up on an hour and I could certainly put in another tape. Let me think here. Are there any closing thoughts? It's been great to get your memories from your time here. I know it goes by fast.

William Woodhouse: Yeah.

Riggins: Well actually is there any other people, for example, that you knew? You talked about quite a few people already but people that you knew throughout, at UNCW that stand out as being influential to you?

William Woodhouse: Well, not so much in my area of scholarship or teaching but I had some wonderful colleagues along the way in other disciplines that were very helpful to talk about things and compare notes. Thad Dankel you mentioned in math and Brooks Dodson in English, Jim Sabella in anthropology, Jim and I are neighbors now. And of course he's in phased retirement.

Riggins: Yes.

William Woodhouse: He came the year before I did and we're only a couple months apart in age and we share other interests such as fishing.

Riggins: What about the library did you use the library much here?

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah. Jean Huguelet was a good friend of mine and his wife and let's see who else? The reference staff and the interlibrary loan people I guess there was a lot of change. I don't remember specific names but they were always very helpful.

Riggins: Louise Jackson.

William Woodhouse: Oh, yeah, Louise of course, yeah, right.

Riggins: Everyone knows Louise.

William Woodhouse: Right, right.

Riggins: She's quite a legacy.

William Woodhouse: I'm getting pretty bad about names, you know.

Riggins: Yeah, well, it's been a while but no that's good. Well I'm glad you like the library. We always try to keep up our foreign language section. We actually had a leak about a year ago over some of the Spanish and French books.

William Woodhouse: Oh, no.

Riggins: So we're working on replacing them, we, yeah, so we lost a good number but we're replacing them. We have trouble with our roof.

William Woodhouse: The flat roofs, yeah, oh that was.

Riggins: But I'd like to thank you for coming in today and, perhaps, we'll take a break and if we decide to we'll continue onto another tape or if not.

William Woodhouse: Okay, well thank you for having me.

Riggins: Thank you.

William Woodhouse: It was a pleasure.

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