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Interview with Robert Appleton, February 23, 2006 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Robert Appleton, February 23, 2006
February 23, 2006
Dr. Robert W. Appleton, professor of accounting, became the sixth faculty member of the Business Department at Wilmington College in 1967 and retired from UNCW's Cameron School of Business in 1999. In this interview, Dr. Appleton discusses the multiple changes in business education at UNCW through the years, such as the establishment, growth and development of the Cameron School of Business, receiving accreditation from the AACSB, and the growing role of computer applications and quantitative methods in the accounting classroom.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Appleton, Robert Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 2/23/06 (part 1), 3/21/06 (parts 2 and 3) Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 2 hours, 20 minutes Riggins: Hello. My name is Adina Riggins. I'm the archivist from UNCW, and I'm behind the camera interviewing today Robert W. Appleton. Do you go by Bob?

Robert Appleton: Bob, yes.

Riggins: Bob Appleton. A-P-P-L-E-T-O-N. Is that correct?

Robert Appleton: Correct.

Riggins: Spelling it out for the transcriptionist here. We will be discussing your life story, with a focus on UNCW. This is for Voices of UNCW Oral History Program, which we make available in the university archives. Dr. Appleton, thank you very much for being here. I appreciate it. Today is February 23, 2006. I always like to say that at the beginning of the tape. Dr. Appleton, can you start off by talking about where you were born and where you grew up?

Robert Appleton: Yes. Uh.. I was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and actually grew up there. Uh.. I attended the public schools uh.. in Nashville, and then upon graduation from high school I attended Vanderbilt University, also in Nashville, and graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, uh.. and then went on to school uh.. at Memphis State University, which is now the University of Memphis, also a Tennessee institution.

Riggins: Is that where you completed your graduate work?

Robert Appleton: Uh.. no, I finished my MBA there and then I went to Georgia State University uh.. to do my doctoral work.

Riggins: Okay. Were you working in the meantime? How did you ______?

Robert Appleton: Yes, I- I-- as soon as I completed my MBA at- at Memphis State, uh.. I joined the faculty at Wilmington College. Uh.. that was in 1967, and I taught here uh.. two years uh.. and then went back for a summer, uh.. or went to school for a summer, uh.. in Atlanta at Georgia State, and then I took a year's leave of absence and uh.. went back for 15 months uh.. to finish up my coursework at Georgia State.

Riggins: For a Ph.D.?

Robert Appleton: Yes.

Riggins: Wow! Well, let's back up for a moment. What did you study in your undergraduate years?

Robert Appleton: Uh.. my undergraduate degree was a- a general business degree. Uhm.. I didn't specialize, but just a- a broad business degree, and I think I had a-- I actually had a history minor. And then, unlike today's MBA degrees, uh.. my MBA was not a broad degree, which most- most uh.. MBA degrees nowadays are uh.. cover a lot of different subject areas, but mine was more specialized in accounting, and the majority of the coursework that I took uh.. in the MBA Program uh.. were accounting courses.

Riggins: You knew at that time that you would like to specialize in that?

Robert Appleton: Yes, yes, I knew that accounting was where I wanted to be.

Riggins: Are some people just-- they know right away they're accountants before they take the courses.

Robert Appleton: Uhm.. I- I think-- I think it's probably true, uh.. because I had no idea, didn't know what accounting was all about until in my undergraduate program I took uh.. a- a couple, well, one- one accounting course, uh.. or two accounting courses, actually, were required for that general business degree, and I- I enjoyed it so much, and it just sort of fit, and so uh.. I took two or three more courses at the undergraduate level and just thoroughly enjoyed them. And there were some friends of mine who just struggled through them, uh.. and so I think it, you know, it's just a- a, you know, if the shoe fits, wear it. And uh.. it just fell into place, and that's- that's what I enjoyed doing.

Riggins: When you finished your MBA degree, did you know you wanted to teach, or did you find that?

Robert Appleton: No, I didn't-- I didn't know for sure what I wanted to do. Uh.. unfortunately, uh.. I was-- I was actually forced into teaching uh.. because of the military situation. Uh.. it was right in the midst of the Vietnam era, and uh.. anybody who graduated from college uh.. would be drafted, uh.. and go into the military, and 95 percent of them were going overseas to Vietnam. Uh.. however, if you stayed in teaching, or if you went into teaching, uh.. you received an educational deferment, or an education-- an occupation deferment, uh.. because teachers were in great demand and were needed as much as- as uh.. as the military needed them. So I stayed-- went into teaching and stayed in teaching, and after the first couple of years I knew that that's what I wanted to do the rest of my life.

Riggins: Interesting. Wow! So you got into it through a different way?

Robert Appleton: Exactly.

Riggins: Was Wilmington College the first place you taught?

Robert Appleton: It was the first place I taught. Uh.. I had several offers, different locations, uh.. but, actually, what I did, I uh.. applied at Florida State for a teaching position. Uh.. none of these were answers to ads. I just blindly sent out resumes, uh.. cover letters and resumes, to uh.. several schools, and uh.. Florida State was one of them, and shortly after I sent that to Florida State, I received a letter from the academic dean at Wilmington College, who was Dr. Paul Reynolds, uh.. and he had uh.. earlier been at Florida State, and retired from Florida State, but they had forwarded my resume and- and letter uh.. to him--

Riggins: It's so interesting.

Robert Appleton: And it's really amazing the way things worked out. And he and I met in Atlanta uh.. over one of the holidays, like a uh.. I don't even remember, or a long weekend, I guess it was. And we met in his hotel room, and he interviewed me, and the next thing I know, he offered me a job at- at Wilmington College.

Riggins: So it wasn't a national search like they do today?

Robert Appleton: No, it wasn't. And it was very difficult uh.. very difficult to find uh.. people to teach accounting at that time, especially for a small school uh.. like Wilmington College, because there were-- well, the Ph.D. in accounting was very new.

Riggins: We were talking before about, it was hard to find--

Robert Appleton: Yes, it was very difficult to find people with terminal degrees uh.. in accounting, uhm.. and so I was able to get a job with just an MBA. Uhm.. and uh.. a place like Florida State was actually looking for someone with a Ph.D., so I was not truly a candidate for any position that they might have.

Riggins: So you accept the job sight unseen. You had never been to Wilmington?

Robert Appleton: I had never been to Wilmington, never seen the campus, uhm.. and I was the sixth member of the business- business department faculty. Uh.. there were-- I replaced uh.. a gentleman uh.. who had just finished his Ph.D. and had gone to Notre Dame to teach.

Riggins: Do you know his name?

Robert Appleton: Yes, his name is John Beverly, and I met him uh.. at a convention about 10 years ago. He uh.. introduced himself to me, or maybe it was longer ago than that, but uh.. he was interested in coming back and seeing what was going on at UNCW, because uh.. obviously things had changed a bit from 1967 when he left.

Riggins: Yes. You were the sixth business department faculty member. Who was the chair then?

Robert Appleton: The chair was uh.. E. Mack West. Uh.. Dr. West was uh.. a business law professor and a management uh--

Riggins: That's different from Charles West, who--

Robert Appleton: Yes, it is different.

Riggins: I noticed the two names, it was kind of confusing so.

Robert Appleton: Right, right. And Mack really was the original business school, uh.. or business department uh.. chairman. And we had uh.. as I said, there were six- six faculty members, because we had a business education program, uh.. and we had a major in accounting, and a major in general business, and I think we had probably a concentration in marketing, uh.. but that was about it. We had business education, general business with a marketing concentration, and an accounting major.

Riggins: And who were some of the other faculty? Was Dorothy Marshall--

Robert Appleton: Dorothy Marshall was- was the registrar at that time, but she was teaching. I think she taught a course. Uh.. Ruby Knox was here. Uh.. she taught uh.. typing, shorthand, business uh.. business education courses. Uh.. Deanna Sink was a- a young- young lady who also taught uh.. typing, shorthand, that type, business communications. Uh.. Ruby Knox. Ruby Knox taught uh.. the first accounting courses, uh.. the two- two sophomore level accounting courses, and also some business education courses. Tom Burke was here, and uh.. Bob Olson. And Bob was an economist, and Tom taught in the statistics area and marketing area.

Riggins: That Deana Sink, how do you spell her last name, do you know?

Robert Appleton: Uh.. S-I-N-K.

Riggins: Oh, just like the kitchen sink. And it's D-E-A-N-N-E, or--

Robert Appleton: D-E-A-N-N-A, I believe, Deanna. And she- she married while she was here, and I don't remember her husband's-- I don't remember her married name. She left-- actually, she left uh.. just before she married, and so I really never got to know him very well.

Riggins: Do you remember at all the meeting with Dean Reynolds in the hotel? Did he describe to you what they were looking for, and did he describe the college and the city, or--

Robert Appleton: Uhm.. yes, you- you know, it was a small liberal arts college. Uh.. there were, you know, the- the idea was not that we would have concentrations or specialties, or specializations in many areas, uh.. but that it would be, you know, a- a broad liberal arts degree. Uh.. and uh.. there was not a great deal of- of talk about growth or, you know, the expectations, because it was so new, and we'd only been a four-year institution for about four years, I believe, uh.. if that long. I don't remember when the first four-year class was. That may have been '64.

Riggins: I think it was right around '67--

Robert Appleton: Was it '67?

Riggins: Yeah, that's--

Robert Appleton: Seems like it was earlier.

Riggins: Or maybe it's '63. I get it confused, but I'd have to double check that.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, yeah. Uhm.. but we didn't-- I don't recall talking too much about, you know, the growth potential. Uh.. but we talked about the accreditation of the school uh.. through the Southern Association, uh.. not-- certainly not business accreditation, but just accreditation in general, that- that we were an accredited institution uh.. and that we were involved in, you know, in- in various athletic programs. Uhm.. but that's about all I remember uh.. about- about the institution. Uh.. and I think at that time we had approximately 55 total faculty uh.. in- in Wilmington College. Uhm.. and- and so many of the faculty at that time had come over from uh.. New Hanover High School or from the central office of the school system. Uh.. and it was a, you know, it was a real unusual situation, because it had just grown out of the local-- it had just changed over from a- a county-- uh.. community college to a part of the state system. It wasn't a part of the university system yet, but it was-- it was state funded. It- it get-- did get funding from the state rather than the county uh--

Riggins: Right, but it had, right, those unique origins of being very grass roots and starting from a school district in a sense.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, uh-huh. Exactly. And so many people were, you know, were formerly high school teachers uh.. that in many ways it had not achieved uh.. collegiate uh.. standing, Uh.. it had just moved up, you know, just sort of a- a post-graduate institution, a post-graduate meaning post-secondary uh--

Riggins: It was probably underestimated by the-- and I think that continues to this day.

Robert Appleton: Oh, I- I believe so, too, yeah.

Riggins: You know, by the other universities in the state, you know, the higher-ups. That's another story, but so that's an interesting way that you came to Wilmington College. When you arrived, what did you find here, or did you find in the college?

Robert Appleton: Well, the- the most interesting thing is, I arrived in uh.. in early August. Uh.. had a moving van coming two or three days behind us, uh.. and uh.. it was-- from that time, from the first of, or the middle of August until December, I did not go back across the Cape Fear River. I- I stayed on the Wilmington side that entire time. I never left Wilmington uh.. to go back across the river. And- and in December I went to visit relatives at Christmas, and I finally, you know, crossed back over the river to see the other side. Uhm.. there were five buildings uh.. on campus at that time. The three main buildings, of course, uh.. in the uh.. central part of the campus there, and then uh.. the gymnasium, which I guess is uh.. what's the name of it now?

Riggins: Well, yeah, it would have been Hanover?

Robert Appleton: It's not-- Hanover Hall, uh.. and uh.. and Keenan Hall, but not Keenan Auditorium. Uh.. but those were the only five buildings. Hoggard and I think we called them the administration building and the student union building. Uh.. I- I don't know that they even had names at that time.

Riggins: Alderman would have been there.

Robert Appleton: Alderman.

Riggins: And Hoggard had the--

Robert Appleton: And Hoggard, and what's the--

Riggins: James.

Robert Appleton: James Hall. Hinton James, yeah. But- but I don't believe-- I don't know that those two, that Alderman or James had names at that time. They might have. But those were the only five buildings. And everything-- uh.. all of the uh.. well, the majority of classes met in Hoggard, because uh.. the business department was on the second floor of Hoggard, and we had a suite of offices up there, and I suppose there were-- uh.. well, the nursing department, the biology department, and math department and business department all uh.. shared a- a small suite of offices. And we had one telephone that-- that we-- somebody had to get up and answer. Uh.. we didn't have have phones in our offices at that time. Uh.. and that was always a problem, because nobody wanted to get up and leave their desk and go answer the phone. And uh.. it was a- a very close-knit group uh.. to have math, biology, nursing and business all together in the same-

Riggins: All sharing a space.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: I bet there were some interesting stories. Math, business, not education?

Robert Appleton: Not education. Uh.. but we had some discussions that- that were really nice that- that when we grew, uh.. we missed those. I mean, I missed those discussions, because we got into uh.. a lot of philosophical discussions and- and academic type of discussions that so often we don't-- we don't explore any more.

Riggins: Really. It was-especially just with your department, and everybody has their own focus.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. We talk about academic types of things, but they're- they're narrowed down into just our area of- of interest and expertise, uh.. but when we had uh.., you know, nursing and biology and math, uh.. we actually talked about some of those things.

Riggins: Interesting.

Robert Appleton: And so it was uh.. it was-- that was a very good- good mix of- of people.

Riggins: You mentioned that you didn't leave the area where the campus was, so it sounds like it was very busy. Were you teaching-- was everybody teaching a lot of classes?

Robert Appleton: Oh, at that time we were on the quarter system, and we were on a five-hour uh.. quarter system. Now, by that I mean most courses were five-hour courses, which means they met five days a week. So the teaching load, the academic load, was three courses for fifteen hours, and I had a- a, you know, five day a week schedule, uh.. but I taught, you know, at 8, 10 and 12, something like that and had an hour between classes. Uh.. and we were on three quarters, so during the year I taught a total of 45 hours, uh.. and that was 9 different courses, so it was really tough, because I had to know everything about every-- uh.. about accounting.

Riggins: Well, yes, but also did you teach general business courses as well?

Robert Appleton: Uh.. no, I- I only taught the accounting, and I did teach a finance course. Uh.. but I taught uh.. 15 hours uh.. of accounting and finance every year for about 3 years. And it was-- it was really a load, because it was just, you know, it was nine different topics, and it was-- it was a tough load.

Riggins: Did you hear about the stories from the old buildings, either from the students or from the other faculty, about, you know, the origins downtown and the high school and everything? I know--

Robert Appleton: You know, not very much. Uh.. I knew about Isaac Bear-- the Isaac Bear building uh.. downtown, but I really didn't find out much about that uh.. being a part of, you know, New Hanover High School until a close friend of mine uh.. told me he graduated from Wilmington College in 1948, uh.. and he attended uh.. classes in the Isaac Bear Building. Uh.. and he's the one that had- had, you know, had told me, or has told me things about-- not a great deal, but just about attending classes there. But I found out something-- at one point uh.. several years later, I guess maybe 10 years later, uh.. I had an advisee uh.. who had a very unusual background. She- she came to me after being out of school for a good 10 years I suppose, maybe uh.. 15 years, but she had completed 2 years when Wilmington College existed as a junior college, but uh.. she was a black lady and had graduated from uh.. Williston High School, and she attended Williston College.

Riggins: Yes, we have very little in the archives about Williston College. We do have a couple of course catalogues, but--

Robert Appleton: It would be interesting to try to find her. I don't- I don't remember her name, but she attended Williston College and then Wilmington College, and then she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Riggins: Interesting.

Robert Appleton: Uh.. and she did get a, I think, a business degree with a- a concentration in marketing.

Riggins: And she got her credits transferred without (overlapping conversation).

Robert Appleton: Yes, yes. But when I looked at her, you know, as- as her advisor, I looked at her transcripts and I thought, "Williston College. I've never heard of such." Uh.. that was the first time that it had come up.

Riggins: Right. It was not publicized. It was basically a way to hold back integration. I mean, I've heard people say that, so--

Robert Appleton: Yeah, exactly. It was a segregated-- we were a segregated junior college uh.. or community college.

Riggins: Until you moved to the new campus?

Robert Appleton: Uh.. I guess so, yeah, because the high schools were segregated. Uh.. New Hanover was segregated, and Williston, and it wasn't till about 1965 or '66 that they integrated those, and I think Williston uh.. ceased to be a high school in about '69 or '70, somewhere along in there. And uh.. but- but Williston College didn't exist at that-- at that late a date.

Riggins: Right. Wilmington College was integrated ever since about--

Robert Appleton: Probably '64, when it--

Riggins: Sixty-one, I think, is when they--

Robert Appleton: Oh, '61?

Riggins: --formed the new campus. I'm not really, sure, but I believe it was then. I need to review my dates before I do all these interviews, but I think it was '61 that they moved to the new campus and there was an agreement that it would integrated. You probably always remember having African American students in your--

Robert Appleton: You know, actually, uh.. the first few years I taught, uh.. I suppose there were African American students, but- but very few, especially in business.

Riggins: Right, they weren't--

Robert Appleton: There were-- there were some in the social sciences--

Riggins: And education.

Robert Appleton: --and education, but- but in business there were-- uh.. I don't remember any until uh.. maybe the early 70s.

Riggins: Interesting.

Robert Appleton: Uh.. yeah, because it was-- it was slow moving. It was very slow to integrate and, of course, there were some things, you know, going on in Wilmington in '68, the Wilmington 10, and there were some, you know, some pretty rough feelings between the races uh.. back at that time.

Riggins: They may not have felt the business world was very open to them.

Robert Appleton: Right.

Riggins: So that's interesting for another discussion, but so it certainly was like a big family in a sense, at least for the faculty, it seems like, you know.

Robert Appleton: It really was, and--

Riggins: There wasn't a lot of antagonism, I don't--

Robert Appleton: No. And there wasn't-- you know, research had not become a part of-- you know, the teaching, research and service are three main focuses of- of-- for the faculty now, but research at that time was not uh.. was not as important as it became later.

Riggins: Was it encouraged? I mean, did the dean, or President Randall. He was there, I guess, only for one year when you were here?

Robert Appleton: Uhm.. one or two. I can't remember. He might have been here-- I don't re--

Riggins: He may have been there till '68, and--

Robert Appleton: But that was my first-- yeah, my first year was '67-68, and I guess Dr. Wagoner came in- in the summer of '68. I don't remember. And then or maybe '69, and in '70 we became a part of the university.

Riggins: Right.

Robert Appleton: But uhm.. you know, Dr. Reynolds was really the mover and shaker uh.. as the academic dean, uh.. because-- or the dean of the faculty, because he had uh.. you know, he was a biologist, and- and uh.. research was- was very important to him, but his concern was more for research in the sciences, uh.. and he really pushed for the chemists and the-- and the biologist and the physicists to have a research record, but even he didn't emphasize research as being real important in the other academic areas. Uh.. but as time went on, while he was still academic dean, you know, that changed, uh--

Riggins: Well, talk about that. When did that change?

Robert Appleton: You know, I don't-- I don't actually recall. Uh.. it was never mentioned when I was hired that research and publication was- was a part of my responsibilities. Uh.. my responsibilities were to teach, uh.. and that was it. Uh.. and there was very little in the way of publications outside of the general sciences. Uh.. I remember uh.. that Dr. Crews, who was the dean of uh.. dean of students at that time, uh.. was also a mathematician, and he was doing research uh.. in mathematics, uhm.. certainly not at the levels that is going on today, but he was-- he was one of the first ones. Well, he was writing his dissertation; he had not-- he had not completed his- his doctorate when I came, but he was working on his dissertation, and then got some uh.. some publications off of his dissertation. But there was just very little uh.. importance placed on publishing uh.. and- and research at that time.

Riggins: Well, when you went on for your Ph.D., was that encouraged by the administration or by-- at that point?

Robert Appleton: Oh yes. It was at that point, and that was like 1971 or '72 uh.. that I went back to school for that year, so I think it was '72-73 when I took a year's leave and went back to school. Uh.. it was very important uh.. that, you know, that- that we hire people with Ph.D.s at that time, and- and, basically, from then on when we recruited-- well, it was 1971 when it was really emphasized that we needed a Ph.D. in accounting. Uh.. we were hiring Ph.D.s in the other areas-- in- in both marketing and management, and it was also at that time that we were phasing out the business education program, uh.. but we were hiring Ph.D.s in those areas, and it was time for us to get a Ph.D. in accounting. So uhm.. Dr. Reynolds and I went uh.. and talked to uh.. three men who were uh.. really very helpful in- in uh.. in financial support. One was uh.. B. D. Schwartz, uh.. who had been mayor of Wilmington and a city councilman-- well, that goes with being the mayor at that time, uh.. and also he was on the board of trustees. And then uh.. Mr. Harry Cherry, who uh.. formed Cherry, Beckett and Holland, or was one of the originating partners of Cherry, Beckett and Holland CPA firm, which had its home here in Wilmington and is now a fairly major regional CPA firm. Uhm.. and, well, these two, uh.. I went and talked to along with uh.. Dr. Reynolds, and we convinced them of the importance of hiring a Ph.D. in accounting, and they agreed to fund uh.. that position uh.. with, you know, funds from their businesses. And I believe that they committed $l0 thousand at that time to fund the salary, or to help fund the salary, to hire a Ph.D., and uh.. and then uh.. I can't think of the attorney, uh.. I'll think of it in just a minute, who- who helped out as well, he was also uh.. on the board of trustees of Wilmington college, but we uh.. we talked him into helping us fund this, and it was then that we hired uh.. Norm Kaylor uh.. as the first Ph.D. uh.. in accounting. And- and so that- that worked out quite well, and we never expected him to last as long as he did, but it- it was great that- that we were able to- to hire him. And I remember Dr. Reynolds and Dr. West and I drove down to Augusta, Georgia, uh.. where Norm was the chairman of the business department there, and we interviewed him and- and subsequently made an offer to him to come to- to Wilmington College. And uh.. when he came up uh.., as I recall, he came up for a visit, and we didn't have travel funds to reimburse him for the visit, and he stayed with my wife and I, and we took care of his kids while Dr. Reynolds showed him around the campus and showed him around Wilmington. We just-- we just had no money to uh.. to do any recruiting, and- and the reason the three of us went down to talk to him at Augusta was we couldn't afford to pay his way up here, and it was an embarrassment.

Riggins: That's amazing. Well, you know, Beth Kaylor is a librarian with us, and I asked her for some ideas, and she said, "Oh, yes, he was on the committee, the selection committee," but it sounds like it was even more informal than that.

Robert Appleton: It was, it really was.

Riggins: So for her father, Norman Kaylor. And at that time, when he was hired, there was some talk about you taking some leave, or were you to get your Ph.D.?

Robert Appleton: Yes. It was-- it was-- I think he taught for a year, and then a year-- that next year, is when I took my leave to- to go down to Georgia State.

Riggins: And to do your Ph.D. in accounting.

Robert Appleton: Uh-huh.

Riggins: And how was that, being back in school?

Robert Appleton: Uh.. I-- it was very hard work. Uh.. I-- it- it was very interesting the- the way Georgia State taught their courses. The year before I was there, there were roughly uh.. 15 people uh.. in coursework in the Ph.D. program in accounting, and I remember one of the courses vividly. Uh.. the students conducted the class, and we wrote papers for every course. And when there were 15 students uh.. in the class, uh.. and our classes were generally three hours in length, uh.. three students would present one-hour papers at every-- at every class, so that meant that every fifth class you presented a paper. That was the year before I went. The year I went-- started in the coursework, there were three of us in the program, in the coursework, so that meant that every class period we had to present a one-hour paper. So I have never worked so hard in all my life, because these were 20 to 25 page papers, and that was two a week that we had to do for this one class in the history of accounting. Now I can't-- I can't talk too much about- about how boring the history of accounting can be. (laugh) I mean, I remember writing a paper about uh.. the beginnings of accounting up to 5000 B.C., and this had to do with from cavemen all the way up to uh.. 5000 B.C. when we were talking about uh.. methods of keeping up with the number of sheep, and the number of goats, and the number of cattle that- that people owned back then, and how it was traded, and or how livestock was traded and that sort of thing. Uh.. and- and I never worked so hard in all my life, but I learned so much uh.. about, you know, the history of accounting. And it was-- you know, it was very worthwhile, but I was worn out, and that was my first semester in graduate school.

Riggins: Oh, my goodness.

Robert Appleton: But the rest of the--

Riggins: Very intensive.

Robert Appleton: Whew! It really was, it really was. But uhm.. I- I learned so much about the computer, although we were-- we were doing uh.. punch cards uh.. and- and, you know, having to-- we were writing computer programs in FORTRAN, and that one year I learned uh.. FORTRAN, COBOL and BASIC uh.. programming languages, and those were the three that were being used, COBOL being the main business language. Uh.. and when I came back to Wilmington college-- no, I came back to UNCW, uh.. I taught-- I taught courses in programming in both FORTRAN and in BASIC, and it was the first courses in uh.. in programming, or in computer science, that I think had been taught.

Riggins: Really? Probably, that was out of the business department?

Robert Appleton: Yes, uh-huh.

Riggins: Oh, that's interesting. Yeah.

Robert Appleton: In fact, we had uh.. I think we made it a required course that everybody had to take two courses in accounting as well as that computer programming course.

Riggins: How did the students like that?

Robert Appleton: They did not like it. (laugh)

Riggins: I'm sure they found it very challenging.

Robert Appleton: Yes, yes it was.

Riggins: Back then, none of that, no. It was not easy, I'm sure.

Robert Appleton: No, programming was very, very tough, because you- you couldn't make mistakes. Uh.. I know that the first course-- one of the first courses I took, uh.. you would punch your cards, and you could only turn them in-- uh.. they only ran our- our programs every 12 hours, so you'd punch your cards and turn them into the computing center, they would run them, and if you had one syntax error they would give them all back to you and you had to find that syntax error, correct it, and 12 hours later you could turn your cards in again and they would run it in the next 12 hours, and it would take sometimes two or three days uh.. to even get your program to run. And, you know, if you made mistakes, whew, you had to pay the price.

Riggins: What did the programs do?

Robert Appleton: Uhm.. we did various things. We did uh.. let's see, depreciation schedules, loan amortization schedules. We would calculate interest rates on loans and then print- print a mortgage payment schedule or a loan- loan repayment schedule.

Riggins: It would print from the punch cards?

Robert Appleton: Yes. It would run through the uh.. through the central processing unit and- and then print uh.. from the CPU uh.. the results of- of what we had asked it to do. But it was really-- it was a chore, because it took several days to- to get a program to run, and you couldn't just sit down. It was not interactive. You couldn't sit down and communicate with the computer.

Riggins: Right, right. Oh, yeah. Well, you learned about attention to detail.

Robert Appleton: Yes, absolutely.

Riggins: Yes, that's for sure. Well, let's talk a little bit about the teaching. You started off not knowing if you'd like it or not, and it sounds like it was a calling for you.

Robert Appleton: Well, yes, it was. Uh.. unfortunately, uh.. I had had no training as a teacher, and I think that- that my reputation was that I was very, very hard, because I- I obviously gave very difficult tests, and- and but students knew they had to work hard, uh.. and I had, you know, some students who did quite well, but I evidently asked things that were uh.. very difficult. (laugh) And it was very challenging for these students. And as time went on, the more I taught, the more I understood, hey, I really didn't have to be uh.. quite that difficult, or quite that strict in- in adhering to, you know, no mistakes and that type of thing. And so I slacked off a bit and uh--

Riggins: It's probably better to start off that way than to start off too lenient.

Robert Appleton: That's true. And I think that's pretty well characteristic of really anybody who- who gets out of school. Uh.. they said, "Well it was hard on me, and I'm going to make it hard on them," and that was-- maybe that was our thinking, uh.. because I- I know probably that I-- uh.. it was a little difficult uh.. for them to uh.. make it through some of the courses, especially uh.. intermediate accounting, which is uh.. the accounting course that really uh.. separates the sheep from the goats and decides who's going to be an accounting major and who's not. Uh.. it was a very, very difficult course, but one of my favorites uh--

Riggins: To teach?

Robert Appleton: Favorites to take, as well as to teach. It was a fun course.

Riggins: Oh. How did you make accounting fun, or did you try to make accounting fun?

Robert Appleton: You know, uh.. it's very difficult to make it uh.. exciting, uh.. but telling a lot of stories along with, you know, again, the longer I stayed in it, the more stories I had to tell about, you know, things that- that had happened uh.. in my career, uh.. and clients, things that had happened to clients, and- and mistakes that people had made. Uhm.. and I tried to not be too serious uh.. in the classroom. Uh.. but then you had to be fairly serious, because it's a very serious subject, and you can't be slaphappy or nonchalant about accounting, because it-- just the nature of the beast. It's- it's a serious subject. Uh.. but I just tried to keep it light and uh.. and tried to enjoy. I figured if I enjoyed uh.. the classes and joked around, then- then students would, too.

Riggins: There's a better chance.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: What were some of the changes that came when you guys got the chair like Norman who was from the outside and who had a Ph.D.? What kind of changes did he start implementing?

Robert Appleton: Well, actually, from the time uh.. from the time I came uh.. in talking with- with Dr. West, Mack West, uh.. he was talking about AACSB accreditation. And Mack West was, I think, only chairman uh.. I think he uh.. he stepped down as chairman in '72 or '73, somewhere along in there, and- and Norm Kahlor became chairman, and it was Norm's leadership that started us really plunging ahead into AACSB accreditation. And, you know, it's really uh.. it's working toward that goal uh.., not really achieving it, that made us a better school, a better department. Now, obviously, once we achieved it, we had accomplished a great deal, but as we worked toward it, we became a better uh.. educational institution.

Riggins: And that's where the planning goes in and--

Robert Appleton: It's where the planning--

Riggins: AACSB stands for Academy of --

Robert Appleton: Uh.. it's the-- well, it used to be American Association uh.. of Collegiate Schools of Business.

Riggins: Right.

Robert Appleton: But I'm not sure it's American Association. Uh--

(tape break)

Riggins: We're back. We had a little interruption, but you were talking about, do you remember?

Robert Appleton: Yes, it was the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. Uh.. Mack West started talking about it, and then as-- when Norm became chairman, uh.. there was a very uh.. strong uh.. emphasis on working toward accreditation. So uh.. it then became more important for us to hire people with Ph.D.s, uh.. and so we-- our recruiting really uh.. went toward uh.. hiring Ph.D.s in accounting, and actually in all areas. And it was not just the business faculty. Uh.. the university as a whole, that was-- there was more emphasis placed on uh.. on research and publication. Uhm.. it was also uh.. at that point that-- a part of becoming accredited through AACSB is that we had to be a separate school of business. So it was about 1979, '78, 79 when uh.. we requested from the legislature and from the uh.. Board of Higher Education, no, University uh.. UNC Board of, what is it, Trustees?

Riggins: Yes.

Robert Appleton: Uh.. that we were granted permission to become a school of business. And that's when, you know, the school of education was formed, the school of business was formed, and the school of nursing uh.. was formed, and then the college of uh.. arts and sciences. We- we were four different-- four different divisions then. And Norm became the first dean, and it was at that point where we uh.. established three departments: uh.. the Department of accountancy and business law and, oh, the department of accounting, department of accountancy, actually, uh.. management and marketing, and the department of economics and finance uh.. were the three departments that were- were set up at that-- at that time. Uhm.. and we started working toward independence, uh.. autonomy as uh.. business units, or as- as departmental units, uh.. and it was quite an interesting time, because at that point we had maybe five members in the accounting department, and since that time we've grown to uh.. about 14 members uh.. currently. Uhm.. and that's when we really uh.. we really started feeling our oats. And we had become-- in 1970 we had become the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and that name change and the fact that we were called a university at first was laughable, because we were a college. We were a small liberal arts college. And, you know, when- when we were the University of North Carolina, I remember attending a- a meeting, uh.. and one of the professors at Chapel Hill said, well, we would have the meeting next year that the University of North Carolina would be glad to host that meeting the next year, and I said, "Which branch?" (laugh) And he was certainly embarrassed, and he was not real happy to- to accept the fact that UNCW was a-- was a branch as equal to uh.. UNC Chapel Hill. Uh.. but he had to adjust to that. Uhm.. and it was at that point that we started feeling our oats and feeling that we could mature and grow into a university. And we started diversifying, we started offering courses in uh.. computer applications and- and quantitative methods, and we uh.. started a new department in- in quantitative methods uh.. somewhere along in there, early in the early '80s. And I remember when we got our first eleven or twelve computers uh--

Riggins: Personal computers?

Robert Appleton: Personal computers, yes. We'd had a- a--

Riggins: Mainframe?

Robert Appleton: -- a mainframe prior to that, but now we had personal computers in our department and were teaching courses. And we- we started offering the MBA degree uh.. about that time, and I remember teaching a course in uh.. in Lotus-- no, it was-- I think I taught a course in VisiCalc and- and then Lotus, uh.. and- and it wasn't until much later that uh.. other spreadsheets came into being, but Lotus was the- the first big one.

Riggins: Right, Lotus 1-2-3?

Robert Appleton: Lotus 1-2-3. And uh--

Riggins: How did that change teaching in accounting, the fact that you could have automated spreadsheets __________?

Robert Appleton: It- it made things quite different, because uh.. we were now doing bookkeeping using computers, and that was just something that was unheard of before. In fact, I remember that in about 1970, uh.. Mr. Cherry, who I mentioned earlier, who was the- the managing partner of Cherry, Beckett and Holland, uh.. had started a computing center for their firm in Gastonia, North Carolina, and they were processing data for CPAs throughout the South, because they had offices in I think about five states. And they were actually processing computer data uh.. for a number of different accounting firms. And the result was, every month their clients were getting financial statements, and we just thought that was just absolutely amazing that they could get financial statements every month. Uh.. but, anyway, he wanted me to see what a computing center looked like, so I got the University van, and I took six students up to Gastonia to this computing center. And as we were going through that computing center, uh.. you've all seen-- everybody's seen the- the pictures in sci fi movies where they had the large uh.. tape drives and the wheels spinning, and they had machines all around the room. Well, this is the way this room looked. It had dual tape drives, or, you know, tape drives uh.. and machines all around the room, and the man who ran the computing center says, "In this room we can store 65,000 bits of information." Sixty-four K, basically. That room could store 64K. Now, I daresay I've got 64K in this watch today, but that was just so amazing that- that, you know, we could go and look at-- and it was a huge room. Uh.. and it was just--

Riggins: And actually that's a huge amount of--

Robert Appleton: It was phenomenal for them that they could store that much data uh.. and have it for so many different people. Uh.. it was like, you know, that was as much information as, oh, I don't know how many library books but, or several encyclopedias, sev--

Riggins: Well, a byte is a character, basically, so 64,000 characters.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, yeah. It was just a-- it was really amazing. But just, you know, when computer came into being then uh.. this is one of the things that carried over and, of course, we were using those in the uh.. in what was now the Cameron-- it was not the Cameron School of Business, but it was the school of business at that time. And we had moved from our Hoggard uh.. Hoggard Hall residence over to Bear Hall, because Bear Hall was completed uh.. in the mid 70s I think, uh.. and we moved in there and we just had a whole lot of room. I mean, it was just really nice. We had classrooms that uh.. that we could all-- all had our own classrooms, just about. Not really, but the accounting department had three different classrooms, and we didn't have to go to other buildings to teach. Another thing that was really interesting about the changes that were made then that uh.. I remember early teaching when smoking was permitted in all of the classrooms, uh.. and there were many professors who smoked while lecturing. Uh.. and it was no big deal. I mean, people flipped their ashes on the floor and put cigarette butts out on the floor and, uh.. you know, we had good tile and it didn't-- it didn't really stain the floors, uh.. but it's just so amazing that- that we actually did that, that we smoked in the classroom. Uh.. it's a wonder we all didn't die by the age of 35. (laugh)

Riggins: From all that second hand smoke, even if you weren't the one doing it, yeah.

Robert Appleton: Right, right. But nobody complained. It was just a- a way of life then. Uh.. and I remember when- when it was-- it became outlawed to smoke in the in the classrooms, uh.. and I think actually what happened there was uh.. King Hall was built, and Dr. Hulon [ph?] was chairman of the education, or he was the first dean of the school of education, and he made it a rule that there was no smoking in King Hall, so that was the first-- the first building that where smoking was prohibited, and then it slowly trickled down so that it was-- it was not done in many classrooms and then ultimately became, you know, the buildings eliminated it.

Riggins: When you divided it up into the departments in the school of business, did you have a chair for the department of accountancy?

Robert Appleton: Yes. Uh.. when we divided, uh.. I became the chair in the department of accountancy, uh.. Roger Hill became the chair in economics and finance, and I'm trying to remember who the first chair in management and marketing. I don't believe-- it might have been Steve Harper. I think it was. Yes, I believe it was Steve Harper, was the first chair there.

Riggins: Well, can you say some-- because I have interviewed some of the other business faculty, as well as other schools and departments from this time period, and I heard something about the salaries that were offered, and I know that some of the people who started teaching there did have their Ph.D.s, or were getting them, but they were really retired from the military, and so in some ways it's like, oh, no wonder they could afford to work at UNCW, because they were on retirement salaries.

Robert Appleton: Exactly, yeah.

Riggins: Figures were quite amazing, even in-- I can't remember quite the years, but salaries were quite, quite low.

Robert Appleton: There was-- oh, yes, they were. Uh.. I remember when I--

Riggins: Even in the mid-70s to early 80s, you know.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. I remember when I started, uh.. I- I had salary discussions, uh.. and my starting salary was $8400, uh.. and another school had offered me $8000, and so Wilmington College was $400 ahead, so I accepted the high offer. Uh.. but, yes, we did have uh.. and not just in Wilmington, but in uh.. in schools-- in Memphis State, for example, I remember that we had several retired military who had gone back to school uh.. while they were in the military and gotten advanced degrees, and when they got out of the military they were teaching. Uh.. and we had uh.. well, we had four uh.. at Wilmington College.

Riggins: Lee Sherman--

Robert Appleton: Uh.. yes, Lee Sherman, uh.. Joe Dunn, Tom Burke and uh.. Bob Olson. Olson was the original economist uh.. and they were all uhm.. Tom was a retired major. He- he-- uh.. the other three uh.. were- were colonels, and they had put in 20 years. So, you know, they weren't demanding a- a great deal of salary, and it was tough to compete. Uh.. you know, we couldn't get as-- for those of us it was our only source of income, we couldn't get a particularly high salary, uh.. but I- I believe that when we actually hired Norm, uh.. if I'm not mistaken, he started at $12,000 a year, uh.. and that was a couple of thousand more than anybody else at the university was making, uh.. and we were, you know, we were very happy to be able to hire him at- at that large salary.

Riggins: You were, yeah, grateful for that.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: To draw him in. Well, you mentioned also that you would have stories about clients, and that you had a relationship with this-- with an accounting firm. Did you work with clients, also, or just--

Robert Appleton: Yes. Uh.. the entire time-- you're getting a blinking light.

Riggins: Oh, yes. That means we're--

Robert Appleton: Out of tape.

Riggins: Well, we have about five more minutes, so perhaps we'll remember this question and take a break and--

Robert Appleton: Okay.

Riggins: --turn off the tape. Thank you for letting me know.

Robert Appleton: All right.

(begin part 2 of interview)

Riggins: We're back. My name is Adina Riggins. I'm the university archivist at UNCW. I'm here with Robert Appleton, Bob Appleton, right?

Robert Appleton: Yes.

Riggins: For the second part of our interview. Today is March 21, 2006. We're continuing to talk about UNCW, Cameron School of Business accountancy and the profession with the thoughts and conversation with Bob Appleton. Mr. Appleton, I think we started off towards the end of the last tape talking about how you had a private business as well as teaching at the university. Can you talk to me about that?

Robert Appleton: Right. I uh.. became a CPA in- in somewhere around 1970. Uh.. I wasn't a CPA when I-- when I moved here but uh.. I passed the exam the first or second year after I started teaching. And teaching helped an awful lot uh.. in preparing for the CPA exam. Uhm.. but after passing the exam.

Riggins: Sorry, we had an interruption there.

Robert Appleton: After passing the exam I uh.. decided that uh.. I needed to practice accounting so- so I worked for a couple of uh.. uh.. accounting firms here in Wilmington, uh.. one (inaudible) that was a regional firm at the time and has now really expanded and- and the other was uh.. Brand, Purdue, Joiner and Ryan [ph?] uh.. and at that time uhm.. Mr. Brand has just passed away uh.. in the previous year right at the end of tax season in the previous year. So, I went to work for them to get some experience in working for an accounting firm. And since that time, it's about the first couple of years uh.. that I worked for an accounting firm I uh.. I started my own accounting practice. And uhm.. really kept it on a fairly small scale. Uh.. I did, you know, individual and business tax returns and actually the first year I was here uh.. I uh.. got a doctor as a client uhm.. and he just left the day before yesterday. He was-- or yesterday. He came by and I've had him as a client for a little over 35 years. Uhm.. so, you know, the practice has expanded and in 1977 uh.. I went into partnership with another faculty member, John Zico [ph?] and John and I have been in- in partnership together uh.. since 1977. Uh.. I don't go to that office much anymore. I have a few clients that are still in the partnership but I have chosen to curtail my practice enough to keep, you know, fairly small and I have a clients here at home and a few that are uh.. that are, you know, in the partnership. Uhm.. but that's been very interesting and very helpful in teaching because I can relate things that have happened to my clients or things that have happened uhm.. as I'm dealing with clients and things that I've learned and it worked out very well to pass that on to students to let them know, you know, just what's going on. Of course, I don't pass the name of the client on but- but the experiences that I have had uh.. working with those clients has been really helpful uhm.. in teaching and passing on that information to students.

Riggins: What about just the idea of client relations? When you worked at a big firm did you have to do more of the formal kind of taking care of clients like entertaining?

Robert Appleton: No, actually at that time I was just working part time for those firms and- and I really was not involved in the-- in the development of clients. Uhm.. I was just strictly-- and it was my first year too in- in practice, so I didn't- didn't learn that development.

Riggins: Do you talk about that in your classes as well about how uh.. you have to kind of-- the people skills that are necessary to bring in the clients if you're at a management meeting?

Robert Appleton: Yes, yes, you know, we do talk about that but that's really more in the upper level accounting courses and over the past two years I have been teaching only at the uh.. at the sophomore level but early on I did uh.. I did talk about that.

Riggins: Oh, that would be interesting (inaudible).

Robert Appleton: In the, you know, in the tax classes I taught that uh.. about, you know, that development.

Riggins: Uh huh.

Robert Appleton: But in the past few years I haven't, you know, the past ten or 15 years I really haven't- haven't dealt with that very much.

Riggins: And I'm sure it was helpful too since you went right away into college teaching after your MBA.

Robert Appleton: Yes. Exactly and uh.. uh.. you know I learned a lot uh.. about dealing with clients. Uhm.. and then you know when I went back to school uh.. that was not something that in a Ph.D. program, it was not a practical sort of program. I mean the Ph.D. program was- was basically- basically about uh.. doing accounting research and- and publishing and writing and- and those types of things. Uhm.. the realities of accounting were not taught in the Ph.D. program.

Riggins: Oh.

Robert Appleton: Uh.. which is quite different from what I learned at an MBA program because the MBA program was how to become a CPA and how to work with clients and- and uh.. what you needed to do to become a CPA and- and that was not even related to what was-- what was being taught.

Riggins: Is there a demand now for Ph.D.s in business for college teaching?

Robert Appleton: Oh, absolutely because uhm.. well quite frankly the demand for accounting graduates is such that uhm.. you know people are flocking to that right now and I think we just recently got a report that- that accounting is one of the top uh.. demanded, most demanded uh.. degrees this year. That just came out yesterday I think and it's- it's uh.. quite interesting because that's a cycle that I learned about, you know, as I've taught over the 30-some odd years that cycle goes from uh.. the social sciences to business to the social sciences to business and it- it sort of bounces back and forth. And for a while there uh.. people in- in uh.. the social sciences, sociology majors and- and majors in uh.. in social work were in great demand whereas people in business were not for, you know, a period of two or three years and then it would come back and the business graduates would be in demand and I thought that was a very interesting cycle. And I'm not too sure what causes that cycle. Uhm.. it- it could be a political thing as much as anything uhm.. but be that as it may over the past few years uh.. accounting graduates are- are really in great demand. Now then that causes a demand for accounting faculty and it's a different-- it's really different because people who go into accounting quite often are not interested in the research necessarily.

Riggins: A different mindset.

Robert Appleton: Absolutely and uh.. and so to try to get Ph.D.s in accounting it- it sometimes becomes very difficult.

Riggins: We found that in the early days with uhm..

Robert Appleton: Exactly.

Riggins: With Norman Kaylor you guys you were happy to be able to recruit him.

Robert Appleton: Oh, we were ecstatic that we would get a Ph.D. in accounting. Uhm.. but it's very difficult to- to find those people and it's very difficult to keep them in Ph.D. programs. And, of course, what happens now is they become quite expensive. It's very difficult or- or very- very expensive to hire a Ph.D. in accounting because they're very scarce and they have been forever.

Riggins: More so than Ph.D. in finance or marketing?

Robert Appleton: Uhm.. I think probably not as uh.. finance is also in great demand and it is very difficult to find Ph.D.s in finance. Uhm.. marketing I think not- not quite as difficult but uhm..

Riggins: And there's also that operation systems.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

(interrupted by ringing fax)

Robert Appleton: That's a fax. Uhm.. but the other-- on the other side of that coin uhm.. I lost my train of thought right there.

Riggins: Oh, about well it's very expensive to hire a Ph.D. in accounting these days.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: There's a great demand for them?

Robert Appleton: There is a tremendous demand and-- but, yeah, I still lost it.

Riggins: Sorry.

Robert Appleton: The uhm.. I had a point to make about the Ph.D.s and the accounting but I can't- can't remember, you know, exactly what it was that uh.. that was important there.

Riggins: So there's a demand for research and that field also.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: Uh huh. Well that sort of goes on to my next question about how has the teaching of accountancy in higher education changed throughout your career?

Robert Appleton: Well, uhm.. past the '60s uh.. actually past the '70s into the-- into the latter part of the '70s, computers became an important part of business education. Now I don't mean the degree in business education which is a teaching degree but- but in business administration. We actually made a commitment to recruiters back in the-- in the '70s that- that our students would be computer literate. We better turn that off.

(interrupted by barking dog)

Riggins: We're back with interviewing Dr. Appleton. Please continue. We're talking about the teaching of accountancy and how it changed over the years.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, when- when computers started coming into uh.. the business world and became a very important part of the business world uhm.. we had to make a decision about whether to go with PCs or go mainframe and it was a tough controversy in- in the school of business. Uhm.. because Norm Kaylor you know wanted us to make the decision, wanted the faculty to make that decision and about half the faculty thought, you know, that uh.. the mainframe computer was the way to go that-- because at that time we were uh.. tied into the Research Triangle Park and we were online with them and- and it was a very, you know, very good way to go. Uhm.. but then some of us said well, you know, we think PCs are the way to go and personal computers were just getting started and fortunately we bought I remember eleven AT&T uh.. computers. Now AT&T doesn't make computers anymore, you know. You never hear of them. But- but we bought eleven uh.. AT&T computers because that's what we had the money for and we put them in the back hall of uh.. the back hallway of Bear Hall. Uh.. we didn't have a classroom to put them in and so we taught in that hallway.

Riggins: Were those hooked up to a mainframe or were they--

Robert Appleton: No, they were not hooked up to a mainframe.

Riggins: They were PCs.

Robert Appleton: They were PCs. Now we had mainframe capability. We had a computer room I think in Bear Hall at that time. Uhm.. and we operated a mainframe there and we actually taught programming. We taught Fortran and we used the basic language. Uhm.. I remember we used Fortran with a what five compiler and that didn't mean a whole lot but- but we had to-- it was like a different version of Fortran and uh.. we had what four compiler for a while and then they called the next one what five. So uh.. we taught uhm.. Fortran uh.. as well as basic language and uhm.. and then we switched over and we started teaching applications uhm.. Lotus 1-2-3 I think was one of the first, one of the first uh.. computer application courses that we taught or programs that we taught. And, of course, that became very uh.. you know very useful in accounting.

Riggins: That's right.

Robert Appleton: Everybody was using spreadsheet. Uhm.. and the we switched over and it was much, much later that we taught excel. We taught Lotus for many years uh.. and I remember in our- our MBA course uhm.. I taught uh.. the Lotus 1-2-3 and I had, you know, whew, I don't know 30 students in that class and we had eleven PCs, so it was very difficult to teach that course because we didn't have enough computers to go around. Uhm.. but nevertheless, you know, we-- we did-- we did teach the course in uh.. spreadsheets and they became a very important part uh.. as we moved on, you know, as computers became, you know, more and more useful in accounting uh.. spreadsheets were what we used and so we started teaching them, you know, in-- in the accounting 201 class and we added it as a part of the requirement to get out of the accounting 201, the first class. They had to know uh.. the application of- of you know the spreadsheet. We switched over from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel uhm.. I don't know ten or 15 years ago but it's become, you know, a very important part of that.

Riggins: Oh, yeah.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: And still probably taught in one of the early accounting classes.

Robert Appleton: Absolutely, yeah, it's taught in 201, which is the sophomore level course.

Riggins: All of the different calculations and how to use--

Robert Appleton: Yeah, we probably still don't teach enough of it uh.. it needs to-- we need to concentrate on it I think and- and uh.. have a higher level course or- or a more advanced course. I don't think it should be a higher level course but it should be, we should teach some of the more advanced uh.. uh.. topics in Excel in Excel spreadsheet uh.. so students will learn how to use it.

Riggins: I was talking to a library employee who is taking that class and there's a lab now.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: And that's where he-- that takes a lot of time because they're comparing assignments for the lab all using spreadsheet.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, we really.

Riggins: It sounds like you were ahead of the curve in so many ways with computers in the school of business.

Robert Appleton: It's interesting because there was some faculty who took to that and who were interested in computer and yet there was some faculty who and probably, I don't know which ones, but there are faculty who still to this day are- are not computer literate and who would prefer to continue teaching accounting without integrating computers and uh.. uh.. it's- it's quite phenomenal that- that people didn't, not everybody took- took to the computer world.

Riggins: And amazing because it makes it so much easier doesn't it?

Robert Appleton: Well not really. It adds, it adds a component to what you need to teach.

Riggins: Right, like for the accountants it makes it easier.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, yeah it's necessary.

Riggins: Right.

Robert Appleton: But it adds something to what you have to teach and it's- it's another, you know, another month of classes that you're adding onto that course. How do you add that?

Riggins: How do you have the time?

Robert Appleton: Yeah, how do you have the time to put that in? But it's uh.. it's interesting to see that there are ah, probably a 50/50 split in- in who integrates computers and who does not.

Riggins: Interesting even to this day.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: Well we were talking before the interview started about how we're in the midst of business week and you have some activities going on uh.. with business week. Now as a former faculty member can you talk some about business week, how it started, what it was like when it first started and what it's like now?

Robert Appleton: Yeah. You know, uhm.. I don't know that business week has changed that much except that uhm.. it went on I think you mentioned probably that we had so many activities and it really was a complete week, a whole week of- of activities, although we only had guest speakers for two days during that period. Uhm.. we did uhm.. we did have uh.. activities going on and I believe this year there is a softball game uh.. a student/faculty softball game and uh.. if I'm not mistaken it's probably Friday. Uhm.. but that was always a, you know, a fun part of business week uh.. that we'd get students and faculty involved in playing the game. And we had uhm.. the uh.. oh, what was it called, the kind of a game like uh.. somewhat like Jeopardy but uh.. it was a quiz show game uh.. that was played with teams of three students. Uh.. actually we had, you know, it was more like the old college bowl I guess because we had three- three students on a team and they competed to answer questions uhm.. and uh.. that went on for- for-- it may still be going on. We may still do that. I don't know. But business week for the longest time I would try to bring in uh.. our alums or our graduates who were in positions of- of leadership and responsibility uh.. in the business world and we'd bring them back and we'd talk about the transition or have them talk about the transition from uh.. the classroom and how difficult it might be or simple.

Riggins: Did they come to regular class time or would they--

Robert Appleton: No, actually we- we had two days usually a Tuesday or Wednesday or Wednesday, Thursday where we'd cancel classes and we scheduled these outside speakers to come in and speak and students would sign up for- for those courses or not for courses but for those uh.. sessions.

Riggins: Right.

Robert Appleton: Uhm..

Riggins: Is that still how it works?

Robert Appleton: Pretty much, yeah, except now uhm.. we don't use as many alums as- as we once did. We're using uhm.. we have a lot of speakers coming from public accounting firms and then a lot of speakers coming. Like, for example, we have a speaker coming from uhm.. uh.. one of the uhm.. main keynote speakers uh.. for this business week is- is a- a lady who was in the accounting department at uhm.. oh, what was the big telephone system, something Com?

Riggins: Oh, WorldCom.

Robert Appleton: WorldCom.

Riggins: Oh, yeah.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, she was--

Riggins: Okay, I read about that.

Robert Appleton: She was in the accounting department or is in the accounting department at WorldCom.

Riggins: She was a whistleblower.

Robert Appleton: She was a whistleblower and she's one of the speakers for- for business week. Uhm.. so it's a-- it's a-- you know it's a real mix of people who are coming and presenting things to- to our students so they can get a feel for the real world. I don't know that business week has really changed too much.

Riggins: And it hasn't. For some reason I was under the impression it had more.

Robert Appleton: Uhm.. I think it's pretty much the same thing. I'll tell you an interesting story.

Riggins: Is it a highlight for students? Do students respond favorably?

Robert Appleton: Uh.. yes because, you know, I'm not sure how important business week is to them. Uhm.. but uhm.. I think they get a lot out of it because-- especially if it's former students who come in and say, you know, I was prepared or I was not prepared or I didn't know what to expect graduating and going to work uhm.. but, you know, I think it's worked out really well that it's very informative for them. A quick uh.. story about business week, several years ago we had uh.. I invited-- yes I did invite uh.. a young man who was the uh.. uh.. head of internal control or internal-- he was internal auditor for uhm.. a company up in Raleigh, a company uh.. again that's one of those things that escapes me right now but it was--

(interrupted by dog barking)

Riggins: It's all right.

Robert Appleton: Is it?

Riggins: Yeah.

Robert Appleton: We can turn it off and I'll get Sean to take the dog. There it is.

Riggins: You're back.

Robert Appleton: Okay.

Riggins: So an interesting story?

Robert Appleton: Yeah, uh.. I invited this uh.. uh.. young man who was the uh.. head of internal control for uh.. or internal auditor for Northern Telecom in Raleigh and I didn't realize that he was-- that that's what his job was but I mean he had been a student for quite a while and he was an early student and uh.. at the time he came through I was teaching auditing, which I had no background in and, you know, of course I'd had a couple of courses in it but it was by no means my specialty. And so I taught him this course in auditing and all that internal controls and that sort of thing. And so he gave his presentation at uh.. at business week and I don't think he-- I don't know if he mentioned a particular problem that he had run across but uh.. when he asked if there were any questions at the end I asked him if he had had a uh.. any dealings with a fellow by the name of Appleton who was my cousin who had worked there.

(interrupted by fax machine ringing)

Robert Appleton: I'll turn this off.

Riggins: A busy person, I can tell.

Robert Appleton: You want to hold it because I don't know where this is coming from. Hello. So, Mark was this young man's name and I asked him about this cousin of mine and when I gave him the name he looked at me and he says "Oh, my gosh! Is he related to you?" And I said, "Yes, as a matter of fact." And he said, "I did all of the investigation on his case" and what had happened was I had this cousin who was sort of not completely of full mind or whatever but he had had uh.. some problems, some military-- he had been in- in the Korean War and uh.. had come very close to death and had had just some psychological problems and he had set up a company uh.. in such a way that he was able to embezzle from Northern Telecom and Mark, who had been my student, had done the investigation on him and this cousin of mine had embezzled something, oh, in the millions from Northern Telecom. He had sold-- he had set up a company and this company had sold parts to Northern Telecom. Well the company didn't exist and there were no parts.

Riggins: Oh, my goodness.

Robert Appleton: But he was able to sign for the receipt of these parts and then authorize payment to his company for Northern Telecom to make this, you know, as if Northern Telecom were receiving the parts and he was accepting delivery.

Riggins: Had you heard about this uhm..

Robert Appleton: I didn't know all the particulars.

Riggins: Really?

Robert Appleton: Uhm.. but I knew that he had-- had been sent to prison.

Riggins: Oh, my goodness.

Robert Appleton: And it's a cousin that I didn't really know very well but uh.. and he's- he's probably well today he's uh.. probably 75 years old. He's quite a bit older than I am. Uhm.. but anyway he served some time in prison for this-- for this embezzlement and then to find out that the young man that I had taught auditing to and taught him how to investigate or how to find these sorts of things I thought it was real interesting.

Riggins: Was coming back in--

Robert Appleton: Yeah, and he came back and spoke to them and he told them about this at business week how this guy did, you know, carried out these- these illegal actions and uh.. thought it was really phenomenal what he had done that Mark had actually caught him and uh.. got him, you know, they- they sent him to prison.

Riggins: Yeah, yeah.

Robert Appleton: And he also one of the things that he did just to give you an idea, I mean all this money that he had embezzled he used to buy weapons and uh.. he was somewhat nuts, you know. He had a house full of weapons, uh.. military, old military weapons.

Riggins: Just for his own?

Robert Appleton: For his own collection uhm.. and he-- millions of dollars in weapons and, of course, the FBI looked at this and they thought, hum, this guy's going to try to overthrow the government or whatever. You know it's just a- a real problem.

Riggins: Right, I mean--

Robert Appleton: And he ended up--

Riggins: Same last name?

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: Fortunately not the same first name right?

Robert Appleton: Right. But he went into uhm.. into his boss' office one day and he was not real happy with his boss. They were having a disagreement and he pulled out a hand grenade and pulled the pin on it and dropped the hand grenade in his boss' trash can and, of course, everybody scattered. Well, it was a dummy hand grenade but nobody there knew it. It was one-- I mean that's the type person that he was and the problems that, you know, it demonstrates the kind of problems he was having.

Riggins: Right. Well that brings me to another question I had which was the impact of scandals on teaching. Have there been more scandals, more publicity about the scandals? Well, for example, the big Enron issues really capped the 1990s and that boom in some ways.

Robert Appleton: Yes, it did uhm.. and these things actually happened after I retired and so I was able to dodge those bullets so to speak. Uhm.. but as I have taught uhm.. I have taught an MBA class in London the past three years and one of the things that we deal with there or that I talk about a lot is what's happened in Enron.

Riggins: Are you teaching British students there as well?

Robert Appleton: No, they're international students.

Riggins: Oh, I see.

Robert Appleton: Uh.. no Americans but they're from all over the world.

Riggins: That's very interesting to me.

Robert Appleton: But it's interesting to them. You know they're interested in finding out, you know, just what happened with Enron and I really am not that familiar with everything that happened in Enron but what I do know is the legislation that has come to pass uh.. that the U.S. Congress has passed uhm.. to curtail this sort of thing and-- well to curtail the problems that impacted on the national accounting firms, the Ernst, the fall of them and not Ernst but the fall of uh.. Arthur Andersen uhm.. and uh.. what happened to that accounting firm, which you know was- was one of the largest accounting firms in the world.

Riggins: Oh, yeah, so prestigious.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, yeah, and one bad apple, I mean one- one guy uhm.. gave in to the millions of dollars that were being shuffled around and- and thrown around and not that he got any benefit from Enron other than the fact that the Enron, the bill for Enron's accounting, I mean the accounting service he provided for Enron were like $400 million a year, so they were paying Arthur Andersen that kind of an accounting fee. Now, they controlled Arthur Andersen then because this- this audit partner was told by Enron, "Look, if you don't give us a clean audit opinion, then we'll take our business somewhere else." And this was going to cost Arthur Andersen, you know, a lot of money so that's where-- that's how the accounting firms got- got in trouble because this guy just couldn't give up the client. He didn't want to lose a $400 million client and cause the, you know, what that would do to- to Arthur Andersen period in Houston would just-- it's unfathomable what would happen to them.

Riggins: And what actually did happen of course was much worse.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, it did ultimately.

Riggins: Yeah.

Robert Appleton: And- and he's gone to prison because of it but uhm.. that's, you know, that's how the accounting firms got- got stuck or- or Arthur Andersen did. But there's been some legislation passed that we do teach now that's made a big change uh.. in the responsibility of accounting firms to their clients and uh.. that brings me to- to some of the things that are happening now uhm.. because of my recent appointment to the lottery commission uhm.. there are-- accounting firms are very limited now. They can't audit themselves, which they've never been able to do but they've got to be very careful if they can't do accounting work or uh.. set up an accounting system and then come back and audit that system. Another firm has to do that so that with the lottery uhm.. we may have two or three large accounting firms involved in the North Carolina lottery simply because the uh.. uh.. they can't-- they've got to be very careful about uh.. auditing themselves.

Riggins: Yeah.

Robert Appleton: And uh.. that's what-- that's what really had an impact on, I think on the teaching of accounting is it's clarifying that, you know, they have to be so squeaky clean in terms of not uh.. not watching themselves work or observing their own mistakes.

Riggins: But there's legislation now so that it's no question. This is what you have to do.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: No one else is-- if someone else is doing the wrong thing then they're breaking the law.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. It's- it's a really uh.. a touchy subject but it's-- what's happened is it's caused-- well all those people who worked for Arthur Andersen, other than one or two who got, you know, were uh.. were penalized or sent to prison, all those people are working for other big, sort of big, you know, big eight accounting firms and now we're down to about the big four, big three uh.. but every one of those partners with Arthur Andersen are now with (inaudible) or Price Waterhouse or Ernst & Young uhm.. or, you know, they've all merged, all go together.

Riggins: Right.

Robert Appleton: Uh.. so uhm.. it's an interesting situation now.

Riggins: Yeah, uh huh, and it's not maybe that they're bad people or anything.

Robert Appleton: No.

Riggins: It's just--

Robert Appleton: They got caught in a bad situation.

Riggins: Right.

Robert Appleton: And the work because of this legislation the work that accounting firms have to do has really increased so that now this is one of the reasons that the demand for accounting graduates is so high right now because the quantity of work that auditors have to do uhm.. for example if they set up a computer system or if they help in the design of a computer system then that firm can't audit, you know, the accounting firm that set up the system can't audit that system. Another firm has to come in and do that and- and that's- that's where the legislation has come in. And now that accounting firms are doing more systems work and audit work then you're getting, you know, just loads of accounting, accountants involved.

Riggins: Right.

Robert Appleton: Giving them jobs.

Riggins: Yeah, I see from the project that might at one point have needed 20 people might need 40 people now.

Robert Appleton: Exactly.

Riggins: Uh huh. Interesting.

Robert Appleton: And- and the income, the salaries that are being paid to- to these accountants is just it's amazing because it's- it's, you know, they're among the leaders in- in pay, compensation packages and uh.. they've always, you know, big you know partners in those firms have always gotten paid well but now that- that income level has just-- I mean we're not talking about $100,000 or $200,000, man, we're talking about $1 million.

Riggins: And yeah for a partner.

Robert Appleton: Yeah because the risk they can lose so much, you know, has been demonstrated.

Riggins: And are they still-- are accounting firms and consulting firms still paired up? I know Andersen had consulting groups.

Robert Appleton: No, they had to-- I think they had to really uh.. divide that, split that up. That was one of the- the things that the legislation uh.. required that they could not operate is was Andersen's-- was Andersen consulting and uh.. and Arthur Andersen. They had to split up.

Riggins: Well, I guess there's a lot more paperwork too with this.

Robert Appleton: Oh, yeah, yeah, huge, huge amounts.

Riggins: That is impressive. That is the impact that could explain a lot of things.

Robert Appleton: And unfortunately, you know, this did occur after I retired, so I haven't kept up with it and I'm not as knowledgeable about it as I probably should be but I know that when I-- when I teach this in the MBA course in London, Huron University, uh.. the students get into it and the things that they dig out that they, you know, they'll do a research piece on- on what's going on now and they really get into it and learn a lot about the pitfalls of accounting and how dangerous it is to put yourself on the line in so many instances.

Riggins: Well, yeah, like you say because, you know, you're working for these companies that have to make money. They want to turn a profit yet you are this accountant. You're this auditor. You have to reveal the truth.

Robert Appleton: You have to verify that what they're doing is- is correct and if it's not correct, you've got to squeal.

Riggins: Right, right.

Robert Appleton: And that's--

Riggins: And it's hard when you're facing your client with, you know, millions of dollars, not like your friend next door to you.

Robert Appleton: That's right, yeah.

Riggins: Just, you know, a good friend but this big corporate client with a lot of power. So that is really interesting. Someone like me who's not in the field--

Robert Appleton: Yeah, you're not--

Riggins: -- at all and just looking at it from the perspective of a general audience that really is influential and to me it might be interesting to students. I can't remember if I asked you about this on the last tape but what about the increase of women in the profession? Have you noticed that in your students as well?

Robert Appleton: Absolutely, yes. Oh, at the outset in the-- in the late '60s uhm.. there was, you know, very-- there were very few women in the profession and very few women in the classroom and I remember joking with- with some of my colleagues in- in education because back then everybody in education was female and all the-- all the students who were going to be teachers were female and all the students who were going to be accountants were male. And so we joked about that, you know, and- and I said "Well maybe I could do a guest lecture over in education you know.

Riggins: Yeah, right.

Robert Appleton: But uh.. now I think probably our students probably are 60 percent female.

Riggins: Really?

Robert Appleton: Yeah, the majority-- the majority of accounting students are females now.

Riggins: In the Cameron School of Business. That's not the case in every- every department.

Robert Appleton: No, I don't think so.

Riggins: So you think accounting has (inaudible).

Robert Appleton: But in accounting it's just--

Riggins: Why do you suppose that is?

Robert Appleton: Well, because--

Riggins: It takes brains, no, just kidding!

Robert Appleton: Well it does but also uhm.. they-- accounting firms are much more tolerant. There are a lot of women who are able to work at home. Accounting firms are providing that opportunity.

Riggins: Really?

Robert Appleton: For women so that they could-- or for, you know, for anyone.

Riggins: Yeah.

Robert Appleton: But- but women take advantage of that probably much more than men do. Uhm.. the travel--

Riggins: Is not as much?

Robert Appleton: -- is not quite as great a requirement now and I'm not sure why that would be but women are-- I think are more flexible and are- are able to travel more uh.. with two income families now uh.. and two profession families uhm.. they're not quite as against that idea of working out of town over a period for a period of time. But the travel is, you know, I don't know that there's any more or any less travel now but- but women have become more accustomed to it.

Riggins: Right.

Robert Appleton: And more accepting of it because that was one of the real problems early on.

Riggins: Really?

Robert Appleton: Yeah, that- that women-- married women, you know, especially newly married women really were, I don't know, it was looked down on that they would have to, you know, work out of town or on a trip and stay in a hotel with, you know, a team of auditors uh.. and they were on the staff and there might be, you know, two women and six guys on a trip and that was just-- that was a tough situation back 30 years ago but I think it's become more acceptable and uhm.. it's just, it's done now.

Riggins: No way around it.

Robert Appleton: That's right. That's right. And so the number of women, well I'm just amazed at the number of women, especially again getting back to the- to the uhm.. lottery commission and- and the number. Uh.. one of our graduates uh.. is the chief financial officer for the lottery commission.

Riggins: Really?

Robert Appleton: Yeah, she's a UNCW graduate and she runs the whole show and she told me the other day, she said "Oh, I just hired another UNCW graduate, another young lady who uh.. graduated about uh.. 15, 20 years ago uh.. who has been in state government for about ten years but- but she's head of financial accounting for the lottery commission and this was not anything that- that I did. I mean it wasn't my influence that got her on that but both of those women uh.. we just very good students and very good accountants and uh.. so they're there working now.

Riggins: Uh huh but did you find that as your classrooms begin to fill up with women uh..I don't know it changed somehow or uh.. they tended to be, the ones who chose accounting tended to be very interested in that?

Robert Appleton: Oh, absolutely and they're very good at it. Uhm.. I think they've paid probably more attention to detail. The women who have gone into accounting are more detail oriented than the men who go into accounting.

Riggins: Interesting.

Robert Appleton: Uh.. but it's necessary. That's a very important part of the accounting profession, especially in the audit-- well in any of the accounting professions, audit, tax, or small business development uh.. detail is- is one of the most important parts of it and women seem to have a knack for that. I don't think it's anything that's biological or there's any particular reason for that but- but they just uh.. they take care of things the details very well.

Riggins: That's good. What about the accreditation process with the AACSB that's the American Academy of Colleges and Schools of Business?

Robert Appleton: Collegiate schools of business, yeah.

Riggins: Oh, collegiate schools.

Robert Appleton: It's changed its name several times. It was the American uh.. American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business and now it's the American Academy. Uhm.. but I think I mentioned this in- in the first tape too that when I came here one of the first things I heard was AACSB.

Riggins: Right, right.

Robert Appleton: And I thought it was just really a dream that it was not really something that we could ever-- that we could ever accomplish but what makes a good program is working toward that. The accomplishment of it is not so significant but it's all the steps that you have to take, the research component for example as I've mentioned several times, we have no research component at UNCW, not at Wilmington College certainly not. And as we became, you know, when we became UNCW uh.. research was way down on the list of important uh.. contributions the faculty made in business. Now in the sciences and other areas of the school it was different. But in business it was not a real high priority but once we got this little drift that, hey if you're going to be one of the good schools, one of the top schools, one of the accredited schools in AACSB you got to have a research component. So, we gradually put that research in and- and it's become, you know, more and more important. Uhm.. and then quality teaching we didn't judge people. We didn't have student evaluations of faculty until the AACSB started creeping into our conversations and we said, "Hey, you know, our- our teaching has to be evaluated." And not only students evaluating it but peer evaluations as well and getting feedback on this and- and trying to improve and, you know, doing a better job. And all of that was a result of the AACSB movement. And we could still be doing all of those things and not be accredited working toward, you know, accreditation but not getting accredited and I think that's the one thing that we have to realize in these accrediting associations that self study, self evaluation, looking at what you're doing and saying "Is this where we want to be? Is this what we want to be doing or are there ways that we can improve?" And just- just that concept is what those accrediting associations have brought to us.

Riggins: Oh, yeah, I agree and the accomplishments are in the planning and the accomplishment of all the steps.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, it's the process and, you know, that's one of those things that when we started learning that, you know, we- we quoted uh.. President Bush #1 or paraphrased him and said, "It's the process, stupid," you know. It's the process that's important. The goal is- is not nearly or the achievement of that is not nearly as important as getting into the process and- and that self improvement.

Riggins: And it was achieved under Dr. Kaylor.

Robert Appleton: It was almost. He- he stepped down after he-- I mean he really implemented the whole AACSB, self study, and the work that was put into it was all done under him. And then uhm..

Riggins: You know it was after maybe--

Robert Appleton: It was one year later.

Riggins: 2001 or so?

Robert Appleton: Yeah, I-- I don't even remember, yeah, something like that.

Riggins: Yeah, I think so, soon after I got here.

Robert Appleton: Right.

Riggins: Now that I think about it, right.

Robert Appleton: And he uhm.. he decided to step down. He had worked really hard on it and when we-- it was-- and that probably had as great an impact on not-- our not getting accredited the first year uhm.. the fact that- that he stepped aside uh.. and I think he- he talks to that a lot, talks about that. I've talked to him about it that- that we probably, had he not stepped aside we probably would have gotten accredited but they were concerned about the leadership for the-- for the future and that we didn't have a- a dean to carry that on. But I really have to attribute the entire AACSB accreditation to uh.. Norm Kaylor, yeah, because he- he really put the time and the effort into it.

Riggins: Right, all right, so it was just you went through the accreditation process when there was an interim dean or something.

Robert Appleton: Yes.

Riggins: Yeah, right, well.

Robert Appleton: We went through it one- one year with- with Norm and- and then-- and then we went and John Anderson became the interim dean and we went through the accreditation process one more time or it was actually a follow-up review I think with a-- with a partial committee on a campus but it wasn't a full-- everything had been done under Norm's uh.. supervision and tutelage.

Riggins: And then it was achieved.

Robert Appleton: Yeah, the next year.

Riggins: (inaudible) now that's, I can see that with a change like that, so it's amazing uhm.. that Larry Clark is the second dean then really full-- well.

Robert Appleton: Well, no. Uhm.. Howard Rockness was in there.

Riggins: Okay.

Robert Appleton: For five or six years.

Riggins: Oh, I see.

Robert Appleton: And so John Anderson was-- well, Norm was there for- for 12 years.

Riggins: Right.

Robert Appleton: And then John Anderson for a year and then Rockness for five or six. I don't remember how long he was--

Riggins: (inaudible) Howard Rockness?

Robert Appleton: Howard Rockness, uh huh.

Riggins: He's accounting also, isn't he?

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: Uh huh.

Robert Appleton: And Joanne, his wife, is- is, you know occupies the chair of accounting uh.. in the department and uh.. then well Larry Clark is in the accounting department but he's an attorney. He's a lawyer so he would-- his- his uh.. appointment, faculty appointment is in the Department of Accountants and Business Law.

Riggins: Accountancy.

Robert Appleton: All of them but John Anderson have been-- have been--

Riggins: Have been accountants, that's interesting.

Robert Appleton: In the accounting, yeah.

Riggins: Would have them the leaders of the school, don't know why that is.

Robert Appleton: I don't know.

Riggins: Well I'd like to conclude by talking about what you have been doing in retirement and also in other parts of your life. You retired in 1999.

Robert Appleton: Ninety-nine, yes.

Riggins: Obviously it's 2006 now so that's been a long time.

Robert Appleton: It really has.

Riggins: What has been keeping you busy?

Robert Appleton: Well, I have uhm.. I went through phased retirement which allowed me to teach half time or teach one semester a year for three years. And then I continued to teach uh.. part time, two or three classes every semester uh.. since the phased retirement. In addition to that I've mentioned a couple of times that I teach at Huron University in London and uh.. that has just been great fun for me because I did take a year off uh.. in 1983 or '84 uh.. to teach over in London uh.. and so because of my affiliation back then I continued this affiliation with the-- the provost at Huron who was my chairman of the business department at Richmond College where I taught in '83. But, anyway, I go over and teach a graduate course, an MBA course, in uh.. financial and managerial accounting and it's an international school so all the students from all over the world uhm.. the first year I taught there I had uhm.. I think 13 or 14 students none of which were the same uh.. from the same country.

Riggins: Interesting for them.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. Yeah. And it was very enjoyable for me. They were very good students and uh.. there again, you know, two of my top students there were- were uh.. females uh.. one of them of- of all things uh.. one of them was- was uh.. a Palestinian from Jerusalem uh.. and uh.. her family owned a hotel and you don't usually think of Palestinians generally the Palestinians are the poorer class.

Riggins: Right.

Robert Appleton: In Israel but her family was well-to-do and uh.. she was a very bright student, very good student and- and then a young lady from Finland or maybe she was from Denmark, yeah. But uh.. she was Norwegian-- she was--

Riggins: Scandinavian.

Robert Appleton: Scandinavian anyway but uh.. she was just an outstanding student too. And then I had other students from all different parts of African and uh.. and Egypt and Saudi Arabia and it was just a--

Riggins: And you continued to do that after--

Robert Appleton: I do that every year. I'm not going to do it this year but- but uh.. I hope to get back at it.

Riggins: That's wonderful. How is that spelled, H-U-R?

Robert Appleton: H-U-R-O-N. It's the same as the great lake.

Riggins: Like Lake Huron.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: Huron University (inaudible). That shows that you are a lifelong teacher.

Robert Appleton: Oh, I hope.

Riggins: Once a professor always a professor.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. And so I will-- you know and then I have been appointed to the uh.. lottery commission.

Riggins: Who appointed you? Was that the governor?

Robert Appleton: No that was uhm.. our legislator and that's an interesting thing uh.. uhm.. Senator Julia Boseman.

Riggins: Oh, the new senator, oh, Julia, oh.

Robert Appleton: And I may have talked about that.

Riggins: Actually do you mind if I change the tape

Robert Appleton: No, go ahead.

Riggins: Thanks.

(begin part 3 of interview)

Riggins: Part two or take two. March 21, 2006. We're talking about how Dr. Appleton got involved and got appointed to the lottery commission.

Robert Appleton: Okay. Uhm... quite interesting it was such a surprise to me when the lottery passed uh... I was uh... pro-lottery. I was in favor of it. Uh... not a huge supporter but I thought it was a good- good idea to bring additional revenue-- whoops, can't call it revenue. Additional monies into this state governor-- government uh... for education purposes. So uhm... when it passed I was a little excited about it because I- I really didn't think it would pass. And-- (coughing) excuse me. I remember when I heard that it had passed I thought to myself boy that would be a great commission to be on. And in about two weeks, or maybe a week and a half, I got a call from Senator Boseman. Now, I hadn't seen Senator Boseman very much. Uh... I have seen her around campus once I think uh... in the past few years.

Riggins: Was she your student here by chance?

Robert Appleton: Yes.

Riggins: Yeah, really.

Robert Appleton: And when I was-- when I was appointed she called me and asked me if I would serve. One of the things that she told the press was that she had had me as professor uh... many years ago in accounting and she thought that my-- that I had very high ideals and I was honest and, you know, that- that type of thing. And so from that experience with me in the classroom uh... she decided that- that she wanted to appoint me to that- that position. And she was given one appointment uhm... because the uh... the uh... President of the Senate had-- let's see, had one-- two appointments and Speaker of the House had two appointments. And she was given one of those from the Senate, Senator Baznight [ph?] allowed her to have one of those because she was a strong supporter of- of the lottery and helped- helped bring it along. So that's how I got- got that appointment. And I really, you know, I- I taught her brother as well. Uh... he was in the MBA program. Uhm... but I didn't really know them well outside of class. But I mean I'm really excited to- to serve on the lottery commission.

Riggins: Is this commission will always be around so that there's an oversight for it?

Robert Appleton: Yes. It will- it will be in existence and we are-- we have staggered terms. Uhm... some were for one year, some for two and some for three years. So happens that mine was the three year term. I'll serve through uh... 2008. But it has really been an interesting mission and a very hard-working group of people. A very respectable group. I am very uh... just so impressed with everybody that's on the commission.

Riggins: Really?

Robert Appleton: Uh... particularly Dr. Sanders who is the uh... the chairman of the commission. He's a- a retired CEO of Glaxo and uh... he's a cardiologist. He was head of the uh... excuse me. (coughing).

Riggins: Would you like some?

Robert Appleton: No. That's what happened. I think it went down the wrong way. But he was head of medical school for the uh... yeah the medical school uh... Harvard Medical School for a while. And uhm... he's just a very prestigious individual and ran for Senate against Jesse Helm several years ago and- and lost in the primary. But uhm... he is absolutely just a so well organized and- and function's so well in that position and there are about three or four lawyers on there and then the uh... just wonderful people. Retired chancellor from uh... UNC Charlotte.

Riggins: And are you the only accountant or...

Robert Appleton: Yup. I am the only- only accountant. And that's why I-there-- one of the-- a part of the legislation was that there be a CPA on the commission and uh... she was given, you know, the chance to appoint the CPA that would serve. But I've enjoyed it tremendously. And it's been a lot of hard work getting started, uh... keeping us busy, uh... and uh... we meet uhm... well we had a meeting this morning. Fortunately it only lasted about ten minutes. Uh... but that was by me being on the telephone. But and it's been very nice to have-- to be able to meet that way. Uhm... everybody needs to know that that is an unpaid position too. Uh... like people think that if you're on the lottery commission you're making boo coo , bakoodles of money. But it is a...

Riggins: It's good to clarify that.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. Yeah. We get paid $15 a day uh... per diem for serving.

Riggins: (Overlapping conversation) travel?

Robert Appleton: Plus travel. Yeah. Plus travel.

Riggins: It's been a long time coming to North Carolina.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. I hope it's generate a lot of money for- for education. Because right now were waiting for the results of the court case. Uhm... it's possible that it'll get thrown out completely. Then we'll just wait and see what happens there.

Riggins: Explain for our-- if things proceed to the start of this year.

Robert Appleton: Oh. It-- we've got plans for next week. March 30 is going to be the first day of ticket sales. So uhm... yeah. We had-- in all of the machines we've got uhm... the report was this morning that we had roughly 4,300 retailers established set up with their machines in place and when we talk about machines were talking about communications satellite communication uh... for every one of them. And uh... there will be roughly 5,700 retailers uh... selling lottery tickets when they get- when they are all up and running. And uh... so we think it's just gonna-- it's gonna achieve all expectations because we estimated that there would be 5,000 retailers and it turns out we got 5,700. And so it was a pretty- pretty good estimate to start with. Yeah. And uhm... so we're really...

Riggins: Is it and all counties? Are there some counties...

Robert Appleton: Yup. It's in all counties. And the uh... this is a scratch-off tickets that will be sold uh... beginning March 30th and then I think in the end of June the uhm... the online tickets will be sold and if the uh... a bonus. What's the- the big?

Riggins: Oh right.

Robert Appleton: The powerball.

Riggins: Right. With other states.

Robert Appleton: Will-- yeah. The powerball will be-- will come in- in June I think. Unfortunately we already had-uh... there have been two powerball lotteries that have gone for over $300 million this year or within the past year and that's such a- a rare event that statistically it probably won't happen again while we are, you know, in this year. We would like for it to come about, you know, in after we get in.

Riggins: To kick off.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. That would be great to have a $300 million powerball. That sells a lot of tickets. But then another interesting thing factoid there is that 70 percent of the lottery tickets that are sold or 70 percent of the revenue that's raised from the lottery comes from scratch-off tickets and that's the- the small, you know, the $1 tickets were people just scratch them off and if they win $6 or win $10 or within $5,000, whatever, but it's instant- instant winning rather than waiting for the drawing. But 70 percent of the revenue is raised across the United States is raised on a scratch off rather than- rather than powerball or mega- million. People are looking for inter-- instant gratification.

Riggins: Yup. And entertainment.

Robert Appleton: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Riggins: You can give it to as a gift all or something.

Robert Appleton: That's true. Yeah. That's a great gift.

Riggins: Find out right away. That's very interesting. Well you've been busy with that in recent months. I understand also that you are a singer and a musician.

Robert Appleton: Yes. I am a-- and I don't know that I'm a musician.

Riggins: I think so.

Robert Appleton: Uh... thanks. Uh... I do sing barbershop and I have- I have been singing for about 15 years now. And uh... I have a- a quartet uh... and we sing, you know, special occasions for people and perform at- at different conventions and that type of thing. And we have a great time.

Riggins: And now do you lead that?

Robert Appleton: Well it's- it's-- no. Uhm... well I- I sing the lead part in a quartet but the other three guys in the quartet are better musicians then I. They are very knowledgeable of harmony and- and physics of music. Two of them are engineers and- and uh... one of them has been in barbershopping for all of his life it seems like. And so uhm... we are- we're called Station One Quartet.

Riggins: Is that the name?

Robert Appleton: Yeah. It And we have a great time.

Riggins: And who arranges the gigs and the people do they call just one of you?

Robert Appleton: People call uh... and- and I-- we have one- one of the- our members of the quartet that is responsible for taking care of the gigs.

Riggins: I know I've seen you perform at a event and the group where I was a member for a holiday party. It was great.

Robert Appleton: Great.

Riggins: And you must run into your former students all the time.

Robert Appleton: Yep. That's...

Riggins: And they say it...

Robert Appleton: And they say, "I didn't know you sang."

Riggins: Right. Right. Well I...

Robert Appleton: Surprise. Surprise.

Riggins: I didn't burst out in song in class very often.

Robert Appleton: Right.

Riggins: So that's... anything else you've been doing? What about travel? Maybe not as much lately.

Robert Appleton: Haven't been doing much travel because there's illness in the. Hope to get- get all that illness behind me in about the next month or so and- and uh... we have a new grandbaby so that's our first one. So that's really important for us. We'll be going up to-- up north, up in Massachusetts to see her quite a bit.

Riggins: Well before-- I also wanted to ask you about-- and I please let me know if I touched on some of this on the last tape or not. But the different leadership styles of the different chancellors cause you- you saw a lot or several chancellors come and go.

Robert Appleton: Yes. We did- we did talk about that. But, you know, uhm... I- I was not that close to what was going on with the chancellors uhm... or- or what they actually were doing. I had President Randall was- was here.

Riggins: When he started.

Robert Appleton: When- when I started. Yes. And- and I think he was only here for one year. And then uh... when Dr. Wagoner was hired there was a kind of a let down because everybody was afraid that because he would he had been uh... involved in public schools. And everybody was afraid that- that he would be uhm... you know, that we would be just like developing a public school system.

Riggins: Right. Yeah. I've heard of that. Some of the faculty wanted it to be like at a college, university. Dr. Randall was a college teacher somewhere.

Robert Appleton: Right. Right. Uhm... and so there was a little disappointment there I think and I wasn't really in tune to that. I mean I'd only been here a year when he- when he came on board. So, I didn't hear that much about that, that the fact that, ahh it's just gonna be another- another high school sort of thing or- or public school system. Uh... but...

Riggins: And they brought in Dr. Cahill. Maybe that was supposed to balance.

Robert Appleton: Yes. And but as Dr. Wagner did, you know, his-- he stressed or he worked very hard uhm... on funding from the legislature. And he was highly regarded uh... in his communication skills with the legislature. He really uhm... he could- he could really he could sell snowballs to Eskimos. I mean, you know, he was just a-- he was a very smooth operator. And uh... the people in the legislature were really-- regarded him highly.

Riggins: And responded to that.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. And so when it came to, you know, getting funding through advisory budget commission uh... he was-- he did a great job at that.

Riggins: And this was a time of huge growth. I mean-- well UNCW has always been growing, but during the seventies.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. Seventies and eighties we- we were of the fastest-growing school in the state and- and I think we continue to- to be, you know, pretty close to that. Uhm... but yes he and he did just so much in- in terms of uh... expanding the institution.

Riggins: Physically? And...

Robert Appleton: Physically and- and, you know, just well, in we have roughly 12,000 students I think 11,500 right now. And when I started there were 1,250 students in 1967. So, you know, I've seen it grow about tenfold. And it's just phenomenal. The growth that's occurred. Dr. Leutze was- was a more of a-a an active admission, uhm... a professor. He had, you know, served as a professor at uhm... at Chapel Hill. And was highly regarded as a teacher there. Uhm... but he also shifted some of the importance uh... to research or more importance to research. Dr. Cahill did that too when he came in uhm... as the uh... Vice Chancellor Provost. Uhm... but I think uhm... Dr. Leutze saw that as an-- more of an important component than maybe the other leaders that the university had. Uhm... and so, you know, I- I think that- that what we've seen is it's just been a- a really a-- the change has- has been gradual but it's so obvious to us. Even though it's a gradual change we can look back and see that, Wow. Was it gradual? It probably wasn't. It was a-- we made some huge changes, and huge strides in- in this school.

Riggins: No. I don't think it was-- it seemed gradual considering everyone was working so hard and getting things done but I think to this day things happen very quickly and we make it happen, the leaders on campus make it happen. So Dr. DePaolo came after you left. Obviously she came in 2003? I think it was.

Robert Appleton: Was it three?

Riggins: Yes. I believe so. And-- it may have been '02. I have to review that. And in any case she came in the year '02 or '03. I'll have to review that.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. I think you're right.

Riggins: Yeah. So, I know you've been kind of outside of things but what is your impression of her leadership style?

Robert Appleton: Well, I really don't know her leadership style. Uhm... I know that she ran into some difficulties uh... controversy uh... when she first came on board. But I think anybody coming in new is gonna face those things. And uhm... I think she's- she's worked her way into the- the university system and uhm... she's highly regarded I believe.

Riggins: Now has she been involved with the Retired Faculty Association at all?

Robert Appleton: She attends the Retired Faculty functions. Uhm... and- and is very helpful and, you know, giving us some- some leadership. Uh... and reporting to us. Letting us know what's going on and keeping us informed. That's one of the things that- that retired faculty is working on now is getting better communication between the retired faculty and- and the uh... the university. Because typically what happens when you retire you- you just kind of walk away and you kind of feel like you're forgotten.

Riggins: Right. Because everything in the private sector.

Robert Appleton: Oh sure. Yep. Yep.

Riggins: So the organization is moving on and doing things.

Robert Appleton: And John Anderson is working on that change through the uh... the School of Business Retired Faculty. So...

Riggins: I want to interview him as soon as possible but I know he's had some-- what kind of projects does he have got going just some more communication?

Robert Appleton: Mostly uh... seeing what the hopes and expectations our from both the retired faculty now, what they would like for the university to provide for them or what we could do as retired faculty what we could continue to do for the university. Uh... but keeping the communications lines open between the retired faculty and the university as well as looking. asking, talking to the existing faculty, the current faculty, and seeing what they could-- would like to get from the retired faculty. How could we help out to-- would they like for us to be a guest lecturer occasionally or come, you know, be involved in any way? What they're expectations are. So uhm... he's- he's working on- on that study to- to-- just did a questionnaire uh... to see, you know, what our feelings are along those lines.

Riggins: Right. Because he will be in the ranks ________________________ retiring?

Robert Appleton: Yes he just- he just retired. He's in phased. And I think this is his last semester of phased retirement.

Riggins: Okay. While I definitely want to talk to him and I saw some mention a little bit more about the Retired Faculty Association. Are you the current president?

Robert Appleton: I am the president of the Retired Faculty Association.

Riggins: Okay. You were drafted for that.

Robert Appleton: That's right.

Riggins: Or did you volunteer? I don't know. I'm not sure.

Robert Appleton: I did- I did say yes. Yeah.

Riggins: Yeah. Yeah. I know that's a pretty large group. One thing that's kind of nice about this area is a lot of retired faculty stay. Not everybody but...

Robert Appleton: Yes they do.

Riggins: A lot of them do.

Robert Appleton: A lot of them are- are around.

Riggins: I know you have at least two general meetings a year.

Robert Appleton: That's it.

Riggins: Yeah. And then what are the holidays?

Robert Appleton: Two- two board meetings. We have a- a May meeting and a December meeting and then uh... the Board of Directors meets uh... just prior to those- those meetings.

Riggins: And the December meeting as of course involved on a holiday luncheon also or- or that's separate?

Robert Appleton: No.

Riggins: Okay. So the general meetings this month doesn't involve that at all?

Robert Appleton: No. That's the May meeting uh... is during usually during final exam week. Both of them are during final exam week actually.

Riggins: For the entire membership?

Robert Appleton: Yeah. Yeah.

Riggins: What activity-- what event that you do have this sort of holiday luncheon though?

Robert Appleton: Yeah. Yeah.

Riggins: There's quite a few people that come to that.

Robert Appleton: Yes. We have uh... I think we had about 75 or 80 at this last- last luncheon. So uh... we're very happy to have- have participation like that.

Riggins: And it seems like the Cameron School of Business faculty are pretty involved.

Robert Appleton: Yup they are. They're very active in it and I was a little surprised that John was not there. I'm sure he'll participate more in- in that because he started this group, the Cameron Retired Faculty and there are 19 of us uh... still around I think. Uh... but we had about 12- 12 retired faculty at that- at that Cameron luncheon. And uh...John has not attended the- the whole-- all the retired faculty meetings. Because he just retired.

Riggins: Right. I think you remember when people are doing phase they sometimes-- I guess they feel...

Robert Appleton: You don't know where you are.

Riggins: Yeah. Yeah definitely. Definitely. I remember I interviewed Pat Janklow and when I did-- when he just-- - when he first started phase and I while I just interviewed him and he said, "Well, I gotta get back to work." You know? Do you _____________________ classrooms? His thing so.

Robert Appleton: Yup. Yep.

Riggins: So he can only spend so much time reflecting. But it's been real nice to talk to faculty and talk to the Cameron faculty that I have talked to. I-they're still more people I need to talk to. I have-- they told me last time I had talked to Lee Sherman. He had some great stories.

Robert Appleton: Right. Talked to Joe Dunn.

Riggins: Yes. And about business solutions.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. Lee was so-- he was the chairman of Business Week for so long.

Riggins: Right. Right. He did that for Norm. And reports talking to more people.

Robert Appleton: Bunch of interesting characters.

Riggins: Charlie West is....

Robert Appleton: You have-- have you to him?

Riggins: No. I have talked to him on the phone and he would like to set something up but he's going to Israel or something.

Robert Appleton: Oh is he?

Riggins: Yeah. So he says and May. I'll let you know when he gets back from that.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. Morgan's another one you ought to talk to.

Riggins: Okay.

Robert Appleton: Jack is now-- he's gainfully employed over at Miller-Motte.

Riggins: Oh right.

Robert Appleton: He's the head of the business program there I think.

Riggins: I know there's lots of other names. I've been referred actually Beth Kaylor, who's my colleague, she gave me some names and I've written them down elsewhere. But is there any other names that come to mind of people?

Robert Appleton: Well, Roger Hill, you must.

Riggins: Right. I'll definitely-- and I think he did talk about this last time some. Sheila Evans is...

Robert Appleton: Yeah. But she left- she's left the area.

Riggins: I did...

Robert Appleton: I think she's in Jacksonville.

Riggins: I called her at a local number and I did reach her.

Robert Appleton: Really?

Riggins: Yeah.

Robert Appleton: Oh. Well good.

Riggins: But she was busy. I couldn't set something up right away. So, but, you know, she was busy with her mother, taking care of her mother.

Robert Appleton: Yeah. Yeah that's right. She's...

Riggins: But she'd be great to talk to.

Robert Appleton: I'm trying to remember who else was there that...

Riggins: I'll look at-- was it your first tape I think you talked about some then. But, ________________. Oh. Decoe [ph?]. Dr. Decoe.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: He's on the list too.

Robert Appleton: He was not a long-term. He only taught for about ten years.

Riggins: Okay.

Robert Appleton: He'll be-yeah. It'll be interesting to get his point of view of things. If he will. And I'm not sure he will.

Riggins: He's quiet.

Robert Appleton: Yeah.

Riggins: That's an accountant.

Robert Appleton: Right. Right.

Riggins: Cause I don't know if that stereotype holds water. But...

Robert Appleton: Yeah. And he- he will keep things pretty close to his chest. I can talk about stuff that I probably- probably shouldn't talk about. Uhm... but he- he keeps things uh... real close.

Riggins: Well I think-- yeah. Yeah. I've had interviewees like that. If you need a challenge, you know, they are-- I can see they'd be great administrators but (overlapping conversation).

Robert Appleton: Yeah. I bet- I bet John won't do it.

Riggins: He won't?

Robert Appleton: No.

Riggins: You know who is like that? She did a good interview but she was very reserved so the interview was shorter than I like was Dorothy Marshall.

Robert Appleton: Really?

Riggins: Yes. She was very reserved. Very very close lipped. But she would say things like there are articles about me in the newspaper, you know, because she retired she was like the longest time employee because she started in 1949. So, so when she retired and, you know, with 43 years of service or something over 40 years. But she was very very reserved, Very...

Robert Appleton: Yeah I like that.

Riggins: Very professional in her-- I think she was so used to being like that but it was hard for her.

Robert Appleton: She's always been that way.

Riggins: Yeah.

Robert Appleton: That's the way she is. Very uh... proper.

Riggins: Yes. Yes.

Robert Appleton: Stately.

Riggins: Nice lady. And she continues to be very involved with UNCW. We're grateful for that. We'll thank you for your time. Any closing thoughts?

Robert Appleton: I don't think so.

Riggins: Well I really appreciate it. This will be a great interview and we'll preserve it in the archives and be sure to get you a copy.

Robert Appleton: All right.

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