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Interview with Arvid Anderson, March 6, 2003 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Arvid Anderson, March 6, 2003
March 6, 2003
In this tape (Tape 2), Dr. Arvid Anderson talks about the the contributions made by marketing faculty to the department's success. Dr. Anderson was involved with the sister city program in Wilmington, and worked with people from Wilmington's sister city in China, Dandong. Dr. Anderson concludes by discussing his retirement a bit. He also talks about the difference between graduate students and undergraduate students, and comments on the role of the professor to guide the student to "read something they otherwise wouldn't have read."
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Anderson, Arvid Interviewer: Lack, Adina Date of Interview: 3/6/2003 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 58 minutes

Lack: So Dr. Anderson you were just telling us about how the marketing department built up again soon after you got there and I imagine you were involved in some of this recruitment of people. You probably were on some of the committees and all that. Then it was such a hot faculty and strong faculty and times were such that they were being lured away including the chair. The chair of marketing was …

Anderson: Well when you say chair, see we had moved and it was the Department of Management and Marketing and the chair was in management.

Lack: He had gone too, right?

Anderson: The person I’m referring to here is Dr. Latham. So we had him in there. When Latham was hired at the same time, actually maybe a little before, a month or a couple of weeks, Dr. Vince Howell and Dr. David Bojamic were hired. That was pretty big breakthrough. After that, Doug Hoffman comes in. Doug was a friend of Vince and David just to give you an idea.

They were hired and then some people…one person I hadn’t mentioned was Tom Baker. By the way, they had hired more people since then and I don’t know who they were or even what the situation was. But for example, Vince and Tom and James are still there in the marketing area. So they represent a fairly formidable team.

Lack: Were you there when some of these people left and were you there when a new round of recruitment began?

Anderson: Yes.

Lack: And you were mentioning during our brief break that somebody was coming for an interview, but there was a problem.

Anderson: Right, this person was coming from the Midwest and he was going to be interviewed for the chair. So he calls and says he didn't see any reason for him to come here because he’s already been offered a job as a chair somewhere at a salary which was significantly higher than what we were able to offer. So you see when you’re putting together things, you have to work between levels and try to find individuals who can then be compatible. It’s a challenge.

As we go through things, one of the things that happened that started with Dean Kaylor, we had John Anderson move in as interim. See individuals have changing goals or shall we say people above them change. Dr. Leutze came after Dr. Wagoner. Dr. Wagoner is a very gracious fellow and D. Wagoner’s talents were very good for very localized type of university growth and expansion and participation of people.

Dr. Leutze brings a different dimension. He’s thinking at a different level and the whole faculty was going to a different level. So you have to match talents with where this university is.

Lack: What the university needs at that time, certainly.

Anderson: Then go out and secure funds.

Lack: With your background in international business, did you teach some international business courses?

Anderson: I taught an international marketing course. I taught that here and I taught it in England. I taught it the University of Nebraska, the University of Texas, the University of Florida.

Lack: What would you do to get students interested in that topic? Would you show commercials that were filmed in…because I think it’s so interesting, the commercials that are shot and shown in Japan for example as compared to the United States.

Anderson: Well it’s a tough course from the standpoint that you’ve got first all of the things that are going on in marketing and then you have all of the world so you can get lots of examples. You could get very bogged down for example as you said in Japan or somewhere else. Somehow or another you have to take a little bit of this and a little of that and put it all together so that you’re starting the person off in a particular area. There’s always something current going on.

The fascinating thing is right now a lot of people are talking about the global economy. One of the things I was talking to them about was you have to remember that those people over there are studying the same thing as you are. They want to work where?

They either want to work in their country or they want to work here or they want to work in the other countries. By the way, these people are coming from all over the world.

They did something on Sixty Minutes the other evening about India and the computer people there. It was about…they were talking about their engineering school which they feel is taking in more than engineers in the computer area than Yale, Harvard, MIT put together. When you sit back and you think, oh my word, well India has a billion people and they’re starting these youngsters out before they get into grade school on a quantitative program and they’re tracking these little rascals. They select approximately 3000 to go into the program.

They feel that of those 3000, if 200 of them stay in India, they’ll be happy. So that means there are 2800 who are going outside India and they’re all very bright and they all speak English. So what I’m trying to say is the competition for positions are where in the world, they’re great and they’re studying the same stuff, the same books and to boot they’re throwing in a foreign language.

The fellow who just won, you’re familiar with, the America’s Cup, a Swiss, boat one, moneybags won the thing because you don’t win unless you have a lot of money. It just so happened that he’s also a sailor who won several gold medals in the Olympics. But my point is that here’s a very wealthy man coming from where, from Switzerland who now puts together a team and wins, the first time a European wins. It’s fascinating in terms of where the competition comes from.

Lack: Perhaps, well in India too, there’s a real incentive to go into computing. It’s a way out; whereas here perhaps, it’s a free market if you will and students may choose to major in something else that’s _____, perhaps if they aren’t of a technical vent, will make them more money even than computing or they want to go into business or they want to be a physician. Whereas there, there’s a real incentive. It will be interesting to see where that goes.

Anderson: It’s all very fascinating, how the changes occur. When we were talking earlier about these Chinese wall hangings, which are terrific, I was talking to you about Dan Dung. See that was in infancy. That was at a point in time when trade with China was at a bare minimum. Now as I understand it, all of these ________, 85% to 90% of them are coming from China. So the geopolitics of it come in to create a situation where it says hey there’s change.

Lack: Let’s talk about the sister city program. What was the Wilmington sister city?

Anderson: It was Dan Dung.

Lack: D-a… I know it’s a translation but…

Anderson: D-a-n D-u-n-g.

Lack: Were you involved with this while you were teaching here?

Anderson: Right, as a matter of fact I carried the stuff off the truck and put it in their display area. I cleaned the rooms so they could put their things in there. I even had them out to my house for dinner.

Lack: Is Dan Dung a port city also?

Anderson: It is a port city, it’s right on the __________, it’s across from North Korea.

Lack: Did you know Dr. Shinn, Dr. Gerry Shinn when you were here? He was in Philosophy and Religion. You would have liked him, philosophy and religion, very internationally minded. He operated the Museum of World Cultures. The campus museum without walls where we have exhibits. Anyway he left probably around when you did.

Anderson: I think I remember the name.

Lack: He’s a really interesting person.

Anderson: It was a program and in retrospect I can see where there were some imbalances. That was a much larger city than Wilmington. So they came and had all their stuff. It wasn’t as big a market. They were trying to establish and trying to make connections, but it was difficult for them to do that. As I said, we were embarking on a program.

We had a sent a group over to Atlanta. One of the things we were going to see about was the marble which I mentioned was very beautiful. They also had bicycle tires. I remember they had some jade objects. There was one other item. So they had returned and had gotten some idea on prices and had gotten some ideas on what colors of the marble people wanted. Then came Tenneman Square.

Lack: What did that do? Did that make people in Wilmington didn't want to continue?

Anderson: Right, yeah. There were individuals who spoke before the City Commission that we shouldn’t have any dealings with these people and I think the mayor was very reluctant to have any more dealings with them also. It turned out that we were the only sister city relationship that broke up. Of course there were those who spoke about it saying how else are you going to communicate with people. If you stop talking to them, how can you ever learn.

We sent a delegation over there. I didn't go along, but they reported back that they had walked around. There was a place in Dan Dung where you could go to converse in a foreign language and people where there, people came from outside of the city, the Chinese came in there to practice their English on the individuals who had gone there from here which I thought was really phenomenal.

Of course we now have arrived at a point where the idea of breaking up or anything like that is totally ludicrous. I think there’s still some connection with this sister city. We are also a sister city with one in England. In my opinion, the sister city phenomena to make it really work requires knowledge of what’s taking place over there and how things match up with stuff that’s here. In other words, I’ll buy this from you, who would buy what we have?

Lack: I think of sister city experiences in terms of cultural exchange, but there’s also…

Anderson: Somebody’s got to pay the freight. It’s called advertising. So the T.V. isn’t free and the cultural exchange isn’t free. Somebody’s putting out some money. It’s kind of hard to do this.

Lack: So that’s where you got involved.

Anderson: In part, actually as I said, some of the things I did were just to talk to them. Then I got into the nitty-gritty of trying to set up a program by which they could sell their stuff.

Lack: In Wilmington.

Anderson: Right or somewhere. They had an office downtown. I remember going down there and they lived upstairs. They were fixing a meal and it was fantastic. They were all in there patting, making all sorts of stuff. “Dr. Anderson…”

Lack: So they would try and sell certain products, I guess they were looking for wholesalers to sell retail.

Anderson: Hopefully, they didn't really have a plan. See they went through that and then the next group or the next wave so to speak had plans, plus we had Americans that were ready to go over there. The rest is as they say history because we see ships and the ships are for example here in North Carolina. We find what, that textiles are overseas. So shirts and blouses and pants etc. which were made here are now being made where? They’re made in China and Singapore, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, etc.

Lack: And it’s inexpensive for us to buy, that’s for sure. I mean it can be.

Anderson: And see what’s happened in North Carolina happened to the New England states and the middle Atlantic states before then when those mills moved on down. For example where I grew up was Reading, Pennsylvania and there was a place called _______ and there were the Berkshire Mills and others. Vanity Fair was there and maybe still is. See, they’ve moved. There’s a movement of certain kinds of things, activities that move from here to there. So the economy changes.

Lack: It certainly does. Well how has your retirement been? I have here that you retired in 1995 or thereabouts. Have you been traveling?

Anderson: Well we did some and we also had some rounds with health matters. I have diabetes. I also had a quadruple bypass in ’98. My wife has had two operations. She had an operation on a valve and she had uterine cancer which was caught very early, thank goodness. The valve was worked on with what’s called microsurgery which we’re very fortunate to have a location of it in Greenville. East Carolina University there is one of the few people in the world that does it up there. It’s amazing. So we did that, went through that sort of stuff. We traveled here in the U.S.

Lack: And you’re settling here in Wilmington for your retirement?

Anderson: Yes, sometimes I think I should be elsewhere.

Lack: When it’s so hot?

Anderson: Not necessarily, but it’s just that we have been quite a few places and lots of pretty places, but this is also a pretty place. So I’m just a sucker for a pretty place.

Lack: Going back to the university for a bit, when you came was there an MBA program in place?

Anderson: It was in place, it was starting. I think the first class graduated after I was here. It is an MBA program that they put together. There are different kinds of MBA programs.

Lack: And this is one example. Did you teach in the program?

Anderson: Yes.

Lack: You taught marketing courses? That was a different experience. How did the students compare with the students elsewhere, the MBA students? I guess a lot of them were working, right?

Anderson: Yes, which…for example, teaching MBA’s and Ph.D.’s at Nebraska and at Florida, these were in house meaning they weren’t working. They were going full time. They were day students. There would be a night class periodically. In Nebraska, one of the graduate classes I taught was at night. So it was different group, different mix. I taught graduate students also up at ECU.

It’s hard for me to make a comparison because we’re talking about…when you have grad students, you cut off the lower group. Then you have students who are supposed to be self motivating whereas when you’re teaching undergraduates, you have not only the upper group in terms of ability, but you also have lower and you have motivation where you’re trying to motivate them to reach their potential. You don’t really have to do that with graduate students.

If you have to do that with graduate students, then there’s something wrong. Then the question is why are you doing this. There are some that really do need that. Just about all of your graduate students have the abilities to do lots of things.

Lack: Did you enjoy teaching them? Did you enjoy them?

Anderson: Yes, it’s different. They all need shall we say some, I don’t want to use the word enlightenment, they all need to look at things a little differently. So you have to present them with different views and hopefully I can do that.

Lack: Well it sounds like that’s the purpose of higher education, one of the main purposes.

Anderson: But with undergraduates, what you also try to do is get them to read something else after they’ll left the course. So there’s a difference in that respect. It’s not intentional, but it’s just the way it is. It just works out that way.

I’ll close by saying this, I taught for over 38 years and in that period I taught probably over 12,000 students. One of those students from Arlington State College of all places, which was a night program, a young man who worked his way through high school let alone college, went on in the financial markets to have an equity amount of over 20 million dollars. He communicates, we communicate every now and then. I don’t know about all of the students.

Lack: Do you hear from others?

Anderson: From time to time. I just talked with one yesterday in the grocery store. The marvelous thing about higher education is that it opens things. It opens things to everyone who participates and we don’t know where they will end up and that’s the marvelous thing about it. It has really nothing to do with the background from the so-called legacy. I was reading about George Bush’s legacy to go to Yale. He turned out to be a terrible student, but he got to be president.

So my point is that we set up things and say that these individuals can make it and those can’t. But we really don’t have a good measure on that. It basically comes out from within the individual. What they have to do is just attain whatever this position is and it can be self-induced and it can come from some of the brightest and the best of the faculty. It really is from within in which these people can be a success.

Lack: What do you see as the role of the professor in helping that emerge?

Anderson: To guide and that’s all, just to guide because many of them can read better than the professors can read and have understanding, have a broader understanding and can see opportunities.

Lack: A great note to end on, thank you.

Anderson: Thank you for putting up with me.

Lack: This was enlightening. It’s exactly what we’re looking for, to get the history of your department and your experience in teaching. Thank you.

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