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Interview with Thad Dankel, October 17, 2001 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Thad Dankel, October 17, 2001
October 17, 2001
A videotape interview with Dr. Thad Dankel, professor of mathematics and statistics at UNCW. This interview was conducted during Dr. Dankel's first year in the phased retirement program. A videotape interview with Dr. Thad Dankel, professor of mathematics and statistics at UNCW. In tape 1, Dr. Dankel reflects on the people he has known at UNCW since his arrival in 1971. He discusses his involvement in the UNCW chapter of the American Association of University Professors and in the Faculty Assembly. He discusses the ways that UNCW and his department have grown.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Dankel, Thad Interviewer: Lack, Adina / Reese, Melissa Date of Interview: 10/17/2001 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 60 minutes

Lack: Good afternoon, today is Wednesday, October 17, 2001. My name is Adina Lack and I will be conducting an oral history interview today along with Melissa Reese who is Library Assistant in Special Collections. I’m archivist and special collections librarian and we are interviewing Thad Dankel. Full name, please can you say it for the record?

Dankel: Thaddeus George Dankel Jr.

Thank you and welcome. We’re happy to have you here.

Lack: What we’d like to do is speak to you about your insights about the university and what you have observed in your time here. I’d like to start off by asking when you came and what brought you to teach here at UNCW.

Dankel: I came in 1971 to join the Mathematics Department, as it was called when I was looking for a job. I had finished graduate school and taught at Duke for three years and it became clear that that was going to be a temporary job so I sent out lots of applications to different schools and interviewed several places. I liked this one the best partly because I grew up in the south on the coast in Georgia actually and even though Wilmington seemed quite remote, it was hard to get here, there was no I40, it was quite an effort to get here even from Raleigh-Durham. Even though it seemed quite remote, it was familiar with the pine trees and the topography, the beach, and it felt like coming home in some ways.

It was also clear the university was going to grow because there’s no other school within quite a distance and the school had just become part of the UNC system. The state seemed interested in its future so it looked like an interesting place to be.

Lack: It seemed like it was kind of familiar in some ways because of where you grew up. What were your first impressions when you came to visit or to have interviews? Did you think that this was a backwards place?

Dankel: As I said, it was hard to get here. You followed US421 much of the way, but it seemed like there was a lot of very thinly populated areas between here and there so once you got here, you realized, well this is a place that’s been here a long time. It’s a city, has a history and the campus was appealing to me. The Georgian architecture I’ve always liked. Some people feel it’s too uniform or too conventional. I think it’s handsome and I like the unity of the architecture.

The campus felt good. I remember going out for lunch with the late Fred Toney who was department chair then and Fletcher Norris who was a new faculty member. This had been in the spring of ’71. Fletcher is now in phased retirement in the Computer Science Department. But the two of them took me out to lunch at Faircloth’s Restaurant which no longer exists. This was a rickety old house on the intercoastal waterway right at the bridge from the mainland over to Harbor Island, much closer to the bridge than the Bridge Tender Restaurant is now.

And they had wonderful crab cakes. I remember it was sort of a jury-rigged affair. You had to go out onto the porch to go to the bathroom for example. It was good seafood and that again was familiar.

Lack: It was appealing.

Dankel: Appealing, right. Overall it was the best offer I had, I thought. I was glad to come here.

Lack: You’ve stayed for a while.

Dankel: Right.

Lack: You arrived in ’71, it’s now 2001.

Dankel: Thirty years.

Lack: Are you on phased retirement?

Dankel: I’m on phased retirement, just beginning this year.

Lack: This is your first year. Oh I see. Well I was wondering once you started working here, what was it like? You were in the Mathematics Department. Did they have a chair there who stayed chair for many years? I know it’s not typical now as much.

Dankel: Actually the first chair was Dr. Adrian Hurst … Hurst Drive is named [after him] right down here at the south edge of campus. I believe he started when the college started. He was still in Wilmington and active when I first came. He was not teaching, but he came to our social functions. He founded an award for math students that we still give every year, the Adrian Hurst Award.

Fred Toney was chair then. He had been named chair, I’m not quite sure how many years before, but not a great number of years before. And so he was the one that hired me. Fred remained chair until his death, untimely death at middle age, in the early 1980’s. He died of cancer at a very early age so that was a painful period for the department.

Then after two searches actually, we found Doug Smith to become chair in, I believe, 1983 and he was chair until quite recently. Dr. Wei Feng is now chair. I believe this is her first or second year. I’ve lost track of the exact dates. She was interim chair for a while. We were trying to decide whether to hire somebody from outer points or somebody from within. That’s all been in the last few years.

Lack: It sounds like Dr. Smith was chair for 15 years or so.

Dankel: Yes, he was chair for over 15 years.

Lack: Does that happen as much anymore or are they more on a rotating basis now?

Dankel: Well I think, my impression has been that it’s been a department-by-department arrangement negotiated with the dean. It’s generally thought that the more mature the department or program is, the more feasible it is to rotate chairs; whereas when something is developing, then strong, continuous leadership seems more necessary.

Lack: That does seem to be how its gone because I know Jim McGivern was chair [of the Philosophy and Religion Department] for 20 years almost.

Dankel: Quite a long time. I remember when Jim retired, I think Doug Smith was the… retired from the chair, I think Doug Smith was the senior department chair in the College of Arts and Sciences. The university has been growing so much really through the whole 30 years I’ve been here that new programs and departments have developed. For example, computer science became a program in our department in the mid-70’s and then finally in, I guess, mid to late 80’s, it became its own department necessitating a new chair of course.

And other programs and departments have been added so new chairs are needed then. As departments grow too, they take on more responsibilities and more people. The job gets bigger. I think people may decide that it’s time for somebody new. Kind of a mutual decision.

Lack: I understand now, it’s called the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Dankel: Right. For a while, it was called, for quite a while, it was called Department of Mathematical Sciences to recognize mainly computer science, but also statistics as being in there with mathematics. And then when computer science split off, we renamed ourselves the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Lack: I know, well you’ve worked with me on the project of collecting scholarship. We have collected your papers, your articles and we make an effort to collect all faculty members’ research papers and articles for the archives and it’s really interesting to see how the nature of scholarships has changed and grown surely over the lat number of years. That’s one thing that’s always hard to keep up with is how many times a department’s name changes. I’ll look at it and I’ll try to figure out maybe when the article is written based on what the name of the department was (laughter). I have noticed that…are there graduate students now?

Dankel: Really I think the development of graduate education here is an interesting story. Sometime in the mid-80’s, we were more or less going to get graduate programs for teacher training and what I’ve been given to understand at the time was that it was through the leadership of Dean Dan Plyler, who was the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, that broadened the scope of this to mean that we were going to get degrees in a number of disciplines in the arts and sciences and not just education degrees, but degrees that were suitable for teachers, but also for others.

So mathematics was among the first group of departments in the Arts and Sciences that had a Masters’ program approved. I think we started teaching graduate students in 1989 along with chemistry and English and history. Let’s see, who else would be in there? Biology of course, and I’m not sure, but maybe we’ve always had both biology and marine biology degrees. I may have left somebody out, but those are the ones that come to mind. I think a little bit later the MBA degree came in and I think there’s a Master’s in accounting as well. I’ve left out some Arts and Sciences degree programs. I don’t mean to, but those Arts and Sciences all came in together. Of course there are also graduate degrees in education, M.A.T. degrees which are somewhat in tandem with the discipline departments and then degrees within education themselves.

Lack: I think it’s always interesting how graduate students in departments shows a new, different side. How many graduate students come in do you think?

Dankel: Well, I was graduate coordinator from around ’95 to around 2000, it was a five year period and I had been involved with planning the program and serving on the group we called Graduate Advisors which worked on really all aspects of the program from reviewing applicants to planning curriculum. So I’m pretty familiar with the history of that. The first year, we only had three graduate students, but fairly quickly we got up to around 20. Not all of them were full-time. We’ve held fairly steady, around 20 graduate students from at least the mid-90’s on to current times.

It’s been interesting in that we’ve had quite a few graduate students from the People’s Republic of China through contacts with our Chinese faculty to a great extent. And then as we’ve gotten alumni of that Masters’ program, they have been instrumental in bringing other people over and financially supporting. We have a nice fund that these Chinese alumni have contributed generously to for the support of international graduate students. So that’s been an important component of our viability as a program.

Mathematics is not a very broadly popular subject, I mean for people to major in (laughter). And I’m pretty sure we’ve always been the smallest graduate program. In fact, there’s been times when administration has questioned whether we should continue. I think it’s safe to say without those international students, and we’ve had students from Mexico and Costa Rico, there must be some other places too that I can’t think of, some other international students, without those international students, I don’t think we could have survived. As international programs have taken off here, it’s always amused me to get these questionnaires in the mail saying are you doing anything internationally.

Lack: I know, we just gone one.

Dankel: Yeah, they say are you doing anything international. Well, mathematics is inherently international and the people we have among our students and our faculty are probably the most international group on campus in an academic….

Lack: To say mathematics is inherently international, that’s so interesting. It’s like a universal language if you can speak it. You can speak it and be Chinese or Russian. That’s interesting. Thinking of mathematics, I suppose you probably have been asked about math phobias (laughter) and things like that. I know I experienced that when I was younger.

Dankel: Well for a long time now, every semester I have several students, nearly always women, that I refer to the Student Wellness Center and I used to know what they did for them over there, but I’ve kind of lost track as personnel has changed over there, what they do when these students show up. Especially I think in the 70’s as part of the feminist movement, the syndrome known as math anxiety became identified and popularized because it was retarding women’s academic progress and closing a lot of doors too.

And so I’ve read about this and I’ve observed it on a continuing basis, that women are very uptight about the whole thing in some cases, not always, but in some cases. It’s because they get conflicting social messages about how they should relate to mathematics, you know, don’t worry your pretty little head about it versus well you know, you can do anything a guy can do. And so it really becomes a source of anxiety. So I’ve sent people over to the Wellness Center. I know what they used to do is give them meditation tapes to help them try to stay calm.

Lack: Really? And that helps.

Dankel: I think it did help some people who took it seriously. A lot of times just talking about it, I think, helps because women often think that they’re the only person in the world who ever felt this way. A lot of people feel this way.

Lack: Well I mean it is interesting, that is part of teaching a subject, is realizing that for some people, not just women, but you know, they’re so bright and they do well in school and then all of a sudden, throw in a math class. This happened to me when I was younger and it can -- I think -- partly be the age, that just certain times in a child’s life, they’re not really meant to learn math. That’s what I think.

Dankel: Well that’s the advice they get from the society, especially in puberty. Fathers start worrying about, well they stop pushing their daughters to do well in math in junior high school a lot of times whereas they’ll keep pushing their sons. In America we have a very peculiar mythology that’s present nowhere else in the world, something about some people have math minds and others don’t. It’s sort of in the genes whether you can do this or not.

Lack: You’re not so sure.

Dankel: It’s absolutely false. I mean no other country in the world believes that. And it shows in things like international math testing, you know, when we’re trailing Hungary and Malaysia and places like that (laughter), given all the resources we have, you know, there’s got to be a reason for it and a good part of it is that we excuse people from working on it because of this false mythology about some people can’t do it. Everybody can do it.

Lack: Wow, that’s inspirational. Maybe I’ll take a class from you.

Dankel: Well, c’mon, we can always use another student.

Lack: I just know when I was young in junior high, I really didn't like math, but by the time I went to college, I did fine. That’s part of my theory is that maybe certain times in your life, you’re not into it, but other times you do well. Well that’s a whole other thing. So mathematics and psychology…

Dankel: Well mathematics is a big head game, you know. It’s all in your head. Psychology is definitely relevant.

Lack: Did you do your graduate studies at Duke?

Dankel: No, I was an undergraduate at Duke and I was a graduate student at Princeton actually which really transformed or strongly shaped my ideas about how one learns mathematics because it was a very high-powered sort of place. There were lots of very talented people there and they told us the first day that we got together as new students, we don’t care if you come to class, but you have to come to tea.

Lack: Really?

Dankel: There were no class grades. There were no required classes. There were classes, but…you knew you were going to be examined on some basic subjects and you were responsible for knowing those. Typically there weren’t any classes in those, particularly you were supposed to learn those undergraduate…we basically taught ourselves that material or reviewed it together. The classes were about the professors’ research and every day all the graduate students and faculty had tea for an hour or so and you were encouraged to go up to the great men and ask them these questions, whatever you were concerned about. And there was a lot of one-upmanship and so on among the students.

Lack: Was your department coed?

Dankel: Not then, although my first wife, who I married after the first year of graduate school, was one of the very first female graduate students at Princeton. She’s a faculty member at Rutgers now. So I was involved in, actually I was involved in negotiating her admission because she was on a Fulbright in France when I was a first year graduate student. We were going to get married the following year. And so I was talking to the people on campus about her coming there. Of course now Princeton is a fully coed institution from freshman on through to graduate students, but it was just beginning then.

It was a great place to learn mathematics because there were a lot of well-known people there and a lot of the world’s best mathematicians came through there. There was also the Institute for Advanced Study which was closer to the graduate school where the dorms were than the math department actually. So we went over there for events, lectures and things. I think those of us who were involved in it, and I was very involved in it because I wanted to keep my head above water and I was planning to get married and all this, really, really learned a terrific amount, largely from one another, but also from all the people that were there, professors, visitors, post-doctoral people.

So that was a great experience and after that I came back to Duke and taught for a while, but the Duke Math Department was moving into a mode where they weren’t going to tenure anybody. It turned out they didn't tenure anybody for about a decade so I was asked to move on along with many others it turned out. That’s how I got interested in UNCW and came down here.

Lack: Right, after spending time there. Well I know from some of our past conversations that you’re involved in some campus organizations. I just would like to know which ones were interesting to you. Were you involved in the AAUP.

Dankel: Yes, I was involved in the AAUP mostly at the local chapter level, although I did go to a number of state meetings. American Association of University Professors.

Lack: So on the local level meaning the campus?

Dankel: Right, the campus organizations are called chapters. Even in those days, even in the probably mid-70’s, there were over 40 dues-paying members of the UNCW AAUP Chapter. The campus was in transition in terms of faculty, the internal relations of faculty. When I first came here, there were probably only 60 or 70 faculty and they were in the mode of having, you know, one big Christmas party for everybody. This doesn’t mean go over to the Chancellor’s and be there from 8:00 to 8:30 and drink a cup of tea, shake two hands and leave. I mean this was, you know, a planned party with all sorts of games and everybody participated. Very collegial.

Knowing everybody and whenever the faculty met and they did several times a year, everybody met together. But the place was beginning to grow so rapidly that it was clear that that wasn’t going to be able to continue. On the other hand, there wasn’t any campus- wide regular communication channel like for example the campus communicating. There was nothing like that. And one of the things the AAUP did was to begin an AAUP chapter newsletter. I know we talked about that and you’ve got many copies of issues of that. That was the first campus wide organ of communication among the faculty.

We also did things like have parties for new faculty . We also tried to provide counseling for faculty who were having some kind of difficulty with…professional difficulty.

Lack: Was it a combination social and service towards the academic…

Dankel: Yeah, I’d say that was fair. AAUP has mainly been concerned with campus governance and the tenure system in its history.

Lack: So is politics involved too?

Dankel: Well I’ll give you an example of one issue. I mean in a public institution, politics is always an issue. And budgetary matters are always in the hands ultimately of the legislature and so all that’s political. But policy things like the great increase in hiring non-tenure track faculty. AAUP tried to make that an issue. Later I was involved in some of the self studies. We just finished a self-study last year and I’ve tried to steer clear of that one, but I was involved in previous ones. Back in 1990, I was chair of the faculty committee for the campus on the self-study, the SACS [Southern Association of Colleges and Schools] self-study.

Lack: Okay, 1990…

Dankel: Well 2000, I tried to keep out of the way. In 1990, one of the things in our self-study report was how we had so many part-time faculty who didn't have a place to meet with students. They didn't have a mailbox. They didn't have a telephone much less an office. I think that’s gotten better in the interim. But AAUP had raised this issue on the national level before and I had been reading their literature, academe I think is their publication. I think you get it regularly here in the library. It had discussed this phenomena, some of the problems at least. So AAUP raised our consciousness, you know, about this as a potential problem. It turned out it really was a problem at that time. I think now it’s not as much of a problem that people have, that so many people lack offices and mailboxes and things like that. I’m not aware too much of that if it exists.

Lack: I can see it being, if that were to be the case, that that was going on, it would be not a good thing.

Dankel: Yeah, if a faculty member doesn’t have a place he can meet with students, that’s a real inhibition to an education. It’s still a problem from the point of view of attracting people into a career because traditionally tenure has been part of the deal that the people accept pay lower than at least some other, some would say many other, comparably educated professionals and part of the conversation is, you get tenure so you get to undertake long-term projects without the fear that you can be fired next year if there isn’t some bottom line payoff in the short run. And so to the extent that the tenure system is undermined, then that aspect of the career possibilities erodes and maybe the profession erodes.

Lack: The idea of having too many part-time, so many part-time non-tenure track professionals is addressed as not always being good. It can be good for the bottom line, but not necessarily, it can provide some people jobs, but it might not be very fair in the long run.

Dankel: It may not attract, it makes the profession less attractive. What it does provide is flexibility. People were so concerned about financial agencies of one kind or another and what has turned out to be continual declines in public support of education that, you know, around the country various programs have been cancelled and then what do you do with tenured faculty in those programs. So it’s easier to head it off, not to have so many tenured people. This is the administrative flexibility they’re talking about which makes sense especially from an administrative point of view. So it’s not, you know, a black and white issue.

But this is the kind of thing the AAUP would naturally concern itself with. It also concerns itself with things like due process if people are having adverse judgments or sanctions against t hem. Do you they have fair hearings, rights of appeal and those kinds of things, accountability.

Lack: Were you a chapter officer?

Dankel: I was the president for some years and I also went to a number of state meetings. Jim McGivern was really understood to be the spiritual leader of the AAUP.

Lack: Yes, we got a lot of things from him.

Dankel: And McGivern really was the person, he was Mr. AAUP and if people had difficulties, they knew to go to Jim’s office.

Lack: For some support, moral support…

Dankel: For advice and support.

Lack: We’re going to talk to him in December probably.

Dankel: Well you know, he’s a very discreet person and he’s also a modest person.

Lack: You have that too.

Dankel: Well in his retirement party they had last spring, they asked me to speak and because of our AAUP work together, I said something like you know, there’s always strains about professional relationships especially in a rapidly growing institution and everybody knew to go to Jim’s office if they were in some kind of trouble.

I’ve sat in there with him and mainly just listened to people and he, through his personal experience that he can tell you about, he had a certain authority and a certain wisdom about all this that people respected a great deal and he helped a lot of people in a very quiet way. He is an extremely valuable person to have around. And we all learned a lot from him. He was behind the newsletter and he was a state officer. I guess he’s retired now so he’s probably not anymore, but he’s there in spirit.

Lack: Sure. In a little bit, I’d like to look at the Fledgling [yearbook], but I’d actually like to just take a quick break if you don’t mind and we’ll continue in just a moment.

We’re back and during the break I spoke again with Thad Dankel and there’s just a lot of interesting groups that you’ve been a part of and I’d like to know a little bit about your work with the faculty assembly, what the role of that body was and what you did with them.

Dankel: Well the faculty assembly, the UNC Faculty Assembly was founded by then president Bill Friday. Soon after the system was formed and expanded to 16 campuses, which was in the early 1970’s, and if you watch Bill Friday, even on his television program, you know that Bill Friday is one of the great listeners of the world. He …[unclear] to get faculty perspective on issues affecting the university as a whole and each of the 16 campuses has a number of delegates which they elect. I think the terms are three years.

Then the number of delegates varies from two to five, I believe. I was not involved at the very beginning, but I was involved by the mid-70’s when the university was under a lot of scrutiny from the federal department HEW about whether the university had sufficiently eliminated the messages of racial segregation. So this was a very stressful and high stakes kind of experience, grueling kind of experience. HEW sent people to all of the individual campuses and interviewed people. This went on for quite some time.

One of the things that Friday talked with us about would be the, was this ongoing scrutiny and tack they were taking. Also about that time, the code of the University of North Carolina was being drafted and the assembly had a chance to debate provisions of that code and suggest changes to the Board of Governors. So it was a very interesting key period in the life of the university.

In those days, I was involved with the Professional Development Committee of the assembly. It has about a half dozen standing committees, governance and welfare. Professional development is one. We were inventorying what different campuses were doing to help their faculty to continue to develop as scholars and teachers, but within the very significant restrain in the University of North Carolina system that there is no contractual sabbatical system. It really hampers us in recruiting because most people expect that there will be a sabbatical every seven years or so.

Lack: This is when you were involved, there was no ….

Dankel: Well it’s still the case. There’s no routinely available sabbatical in that it’s available to all faculty on a periodic basis. Now there are programs such as our research reassignment program that are locally based and funded somehow out of local initiatives.

Lack: On all the universities or at this one?

Dankel: Well at UNCW we have such a program. Just because I know that the faculty interest in this has always been very high from my work in the assemblies, it’s really a matter of life and death. I mean if you spend all your time cheerleading for your subject in front of students and none of your time sort of going back to the wells to get replenished and updated in your knowledge and your own learning, then you run out of gas. You lose your effectiveness as a teacher.

Lack: True, I agree.

Dankel: I think administration has also been interested in this, but we don’t have that vision that many American academics enjoy of every seven years having either a full year off at half pay or half year off at full pay. It just doesn't exist. So one of the ongoing concerns of faculty and administration at the University of North Carolina has been trying to compensate for this and the faculty Professional Development Committee of the Faculty Assembly has helped over the years by sharing ideas across campuses and gathering information, writing reports, submitting reports.

I served for two stretches of time in the assembly, one in the 70’s and one in the late 80’s to early 90’s and the second time, I was also in the Professional Development Committee and was chair of it part of the time. We did a study of how much faculty members spend their own money on their professional development just to show that we, you know….

Lack: I’d like to participate in that as a librarian, especially in times like these.

Dankel: We found that typical faculty members spend at least hundreds of dollars out of pocket every year, not to mention time, but just money, on his or her own professional development. We also had a system wide professional development conference where people came together and presented programs on their different aspects of professional development. We had some national experts. So this was one aspect of the assembly’s work.

The Professional Development Committee sort of got drafted to spend one year studying evaluation of teaching because it was coming from the Board of Governors. It was in the works that there be mandated evaluation of teachers. It’s actually turned out to be of untenured teachers, the way it turned out. So we spent a lot of time studying the best practice in evaluating teachers and trying to advise about how the policy might incorporate certain features and so forth. I think the assembly works well when there is a genuine collaborative effort to tackle problems. Occasionally I’ve felt that the general administration wanted to use the assembly to endorse some program or resolution that they had gone off and figured out on their own.

For example, some years ago we were looking, the university general administration was looking for an issue to convince the legislature that we were trying to improve things and so they looked at all these surveys of recent graduates about different aspects, about how they were satisfied with different aspects of the educational experience. You know, mostly more than 90% of people were satisfied with everything about their education except I think only 85% were satisfied with advising.

So the administration seized on advising as something we were going to have to tackle and improve and came to me simply and said now here, do this mea culpa about how we’re not doing a good job on advising. It sort of rubbed me the wrong way. There have been initiatives about improving advising and I don’t deny that they were helpful. It’s just that I don’t think that the collaborative spirit was the same on that one. So it depends, it’s a two way street about how this body works.

One of the most valuable things about it is that it provides a forum for communication between faculty leaders on all 16 campuses and so you find out what’s going on all the campuses and how they’re dealing with something that maybe you’re trying to deal with. A lot of that happens just standing around in the hallways during breaks talking to people. Going out for meals during the assembly meetings.

Lack: Is it for teaching faculty, do administrators go?

Dankel: Well as you probably know more than most, defining a faculty member is a hard job. Librarians for example, whether they’re faculty or not is always…

Lack: That’s still a debate that’s raging.

Dankel: That’s right and so one of the hard problems of implementing the charter of the Faculty Assembly is trying to get a count of how many faculty members there are on each campus which determines how many delegates they get. But it is supposed to be for faculty members and typically I don’t think, you may have department chairs, but probably they’re aren’t people above the department chair level for delegates to this thing.

There are a lot of administrative officers of the university on the staff of the president of the university who participate in the work of the committees and in the sessions of the assembly giving reports on various issues about benefits or relations with the legislature, whatever they’re concerned about, programs, academic programs. Oh, one of the things the assembly did was to study the calendars of all the 16 campuses and compare them and see how close or different they were in length and who was shortest and who was longest and eventually I think our local calendar got some number of days longer. The study was going on when I was in the assembly and the final changes came after I left so I’m not quite sure, you know, whether there was a mandated minimum number of days or what. But again it was the faculty assembly that carried out the study.

Lack: I can see that that would be very interesting.

Dankel: Yeah, it’s an interesting body and it’s a valuable part of keeping the university running.

Lack: You were a delegate in the mid-70s.

Dankel: And in the mid-80s to early 90s. I think the second term was two three-year terms and I’ve lost track of how many years I served back in the 70’s.

Lack: Do you have records still of your time? I guess maybe that was kept, the secretary keeps the minutes for ….

Dankel: Well I think the, I know the Board of Governors’ minutes come to the library here. The minutes of the assembly, that’s a good question. Professor Richard Veit here of our English Department is the current chair of that assembly and you could ask him about that. I think having some archives of the assembly would be a good idea. We’ve had other chairs of that group from this campus, for example Kathleen Kowal of Psychology and the late Betty Jo Welch, Speech Communication. They were also chairs of the assembly at different times in the past. We’ve always felt like our voices were heard which is a good feeling.

Lack: Would you meet in Chapel Hill?

Dankel: In the Faculty Assembly. UNCW has always had effective representation in the Faculty Assembly.

Lack: Well we have some time left on this tape for sure so I would just like to come around and actually appear on the camera for once. This is a UNCW yearbook from 1972, known as the Fledgling and before Dr. Dankel came by, I just wanted to get an idea of what he was up to then. Here is his picture. You can zoom in on it. We’re not super professional here, but we try. In Dr. Dankel’s right hand on the top right corner…

Dankel: Should I point?

Lack: Yeah sure.

Dankel: In case you can’t recognize me (laughter) from this picture.

Lack: I don’t know if I would, but I’m not, I don’t know, I’m not too good at recognizing people.

Dankel: There was a lot more hair and it was a lot darker.

Lack: Just flipping through this, are there any memories that jump out at you, things that kept you busy on this campus at that time or any people that you would recommend that I talk to because this oral history program is sort of getting off the ground.

Dankel: It’s really too bad that Richard Deas just died. He’s next to me here, Professor of Music and most important figure in founding the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. Someone who’s on this same page, Will S. DeLoach from whom Deloach Hall is named, I believe is still alive, but he lives in Florida and he’s been very generous in his support of the university, setting up scholarships. If he’s still around and the people in the Chemistry Department can tell you, I think talking to him would be a very good idea if you can arrange it.

Jack Dermid in Biology is I believe still in town. He is a very fine wildlife photographer and has done the pictures for a number of standard guides for birds and reptiles, amphibians and things like that that have been published by UNC Press, and knows all about wood ducks.

The reason I know these people is when I first came, the faculty would eat together in a room behind the main dining area which was in Westside Hall. I came the first year Westside was open, the cafeteria was upstairs. And we had this room in the back and we would eat there, and Will Deloach was regularly there and Jack Dermid. Isabel Foushee is still around I believe. She was in English. And of course Carol Ellis is still on the staff here. Well on this same page I believe, Jim Dixon may still be in town. He is retired chair of Political Science. Of course Joanne Corbett just retired a couple of years ago in English.

Lack: These are good names for me since I’m a newcomer to Wilmington and UNCW.

Dankel: Saul Bachner just retired. He would be an interesting person to talk to in Education. Louis Adcock is somebody…

Lack: Yes, we know him, but go ahead, he’s a good person.

Dankel: Have you talked to him?

Lack: No, but he’s on my list.

Dankel: Louis had his organic chemistry lab right down the door from my office when I first came here.

Lack: You saw a lot of him.

Dankel: And smelled a lot. Walser Allen I believe is still around Wilmington, a history professor and Syed S. Ahmad retired very recently. Bob Appleton is still around. I just saw him the other day from business, former chair, I hesitate to say, one of the departments in the Business School. I better not say which because I’m not sure. Are we still being taped here or not?

Lack: I’ll check that. Well you know, that was good timing. We do have about seven more minutes.

Dankel: Barbara Greim actually was on the staff in the Math Department here when I came and in the latter part of her career ending just a couple of years ago, she was the interim chair of computer science. She became a computer scientist in…she also was active in the faculty assembly. Hildelissa Hernandez still lives here, but travels widely to see her children. She and Vicente, Vicente died a few years ago, were Cuban refugees and they were on our faculty for a long time. Roger Hill I think is still around.

Lack: Can you imagine now going through, well if we had a yearbook, and knowing all these people from all these different departments. I mean, (laughter) nowadays they know people in their department because we have gotten so large which of course has pluses and minuses.

Dankel: You should definitely talk to Dan Plyler who was a biology professor and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Really he was vice-chancellor I guess, is that right? No, I think he was dean when there was just one dean is what I’m driving at.

Lack: Oh, one dean in the whole….

Dankel: Yeah, under the vice-chancellor before there were deans of education and nursing and business. I believe that’s right. I better not say for sure. He was certainly in charge of most of the faculty for much of the time (laughter). Terry Rogers is still active here, Jim Parnell I imagine is still around town. He would be interesting person to talk to because of his work with birds as a biologist and has been instrumental I believe in reestablishing the pelican on the Cape Fear River. And of course Dave Miller is still here. He’s an administrator in charge of summer school. I think he maybe just stepped down from that.

Lack: This is going to keep me busy. No, it’s good.

Dankel: ________ is still active here on the History staff.

Lack: He looks very young there.

Dankel: Terry Rogers I think is still around town anyway. I’m not sure whether he’s retired. And so is Doug Swink. I mean he’s a very colorful character.

Lack: I have tried to contact him. He’s kind of busy, but I’ll catch up with him.

Dankel: Well he’s always busy. He’s my neighbor actually. I see him out walking his dog.

Lack: Well if you can put in a good word about this experience.

Dankel: I’ll put in a good word.

Lack: Because he was interested. I happened to catch him and he was still doing some theater and he said that things should calm down and I should call him later on. So that’s neat. I would like to talk to him.

Dankel: Well Alan Watson is still active on campus.

Lack: He doesn't look much different, does he?

Dankel: No, he’s well-preserved (laughter). Charles Cahill is still around and so is Marshall Crews. I know you talked to him. Tommy Brown is actually the _______ now. This man is still teaching. He began teaching in the public schools in New Hanover County in the 1940’s if you can believe that. He’s been teaching a very long time in different ways. He’s still teaching three classes.

Lack: In mathematics?

Dankel: Yes, he’s ______ mate, so you might want to talk to him.

Lack: And it looks like he was Dean of Students Affairs for a while.

Dankel: Yeah, he was Dean of Students, I’m not sure what his title was. Marshall Crews has every title in the book. He was also mathematics, math professor. So this does bring back memories especially of people.

Lack: What strikes me when I talk to people is just how, the fond memories that faculty members have for other faculty members of that time period. There really was such camaraderie then it seems like, not that it’s disappeared, it’s just a very different kind of thing.

Dankel: Well your associates don’t range across all the departments like they used to.

Lack: Well I’d certainly like to get together again and Melissa who is interviewing as well, had to leave, but I know she really enjoyed it also. So I hope that when we continue our conversation, we can cover some of the things that we haven’t gotten to yet about life at the university. Like we were saying before, so much history is in people’s heads and that’s why oral histories are so important to just get the word out into spoken form because we don’t have all the information here in the archives that tells the story of the university. So that’s why oral histories are such a valuable addition. Thank you very much for your time and I’ll see you next time.

Dankel: Thank you, I enjoyed it.

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