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Title:
Interview with Claude Farrell III, April 3, 2007
Date:
April 3, 2007
Description:
This interview covers Dr. Claude Farrell's career at UNC Wilmington from 1972 until the present day. Dr. Farrell developed the economics curriculum and designed many courses. He summarizes his collaboration with other UNCW economists Denis Carter and Woody Hall. Dr. Farrell and Dr. Hall established the Center for Business and Economic Development, which tracks economic indicators and forecasts the economic outlook for the southeast NC region.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Farrell, Claude Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 4/3/2007 Series: Voices of UNCW Length 52 minutes

Riggins: Good morning. My name is Adina Riggins. I am the archivist here at UNCW. We're in my office in the university archives at Randall Library to conduct an interview. I'm very pleased to have a special guest here today who has agreed to talk to me as part of my Oral History Interview Program. This is a great program where we capture the memories and stories and contributions, really, of faculty at UNCW. Today is April 3rd, 2007. Dr. Farrell, can you please state your full name for the tape?

Claude Farrell: My name is Claude H. Farrell, III. And I came to UNCW in 1972, and I'm now in the phased retirement program where you teach one semester and you're off the next.

Riggins: Oh. So you have been here a while-- 1972. I didn't realize that you came that long ago. You came soon after Dr. Hill then.

Claude Farrell: Shortly after Roger came, and I came the year that-- there was a building other than the three main buildings at the, you know, sort of the center of the campus. And I was originally in Bear Hall in an office about the size of a small closet.

Riggins: Really?

Claude Farrell: And of course when I went on phased retirement I was in Cameron Hall, and my office there was larger even than the department chair's.

Riggins: Oh, how did that happen?

Claude Farrell: Well, I was department chair at one time, and I got it and then the next department chair wanted to stay in their office, so that became sort of the department chair's office and I got to keep mine for the whole time I was over there.

Riggins: Well, that's pretty good.

Claude Farrell: So it was a really neat office.

Riggins: Had windows and-- ?

Claude Farrell: Oh, definitely had three windows and-- really cool.

Riggins: Well, that's pretty good. So that was over in Cameron. That was an improvement then over the--

Claude Farrell: Bear.

Riggins: -- Bear Hall closet?

Claude Farrell: Yeah. But at the time I was, you know, one of the few that had an office by myself. Most people shared offices.

Riggins: Right. Huh. Was Roger Hill over in Bear Hall?

Claude Farrell: Oh yeah. Roger was there, and shortly after I came, a couple of years after that, Woody Hall and Dennis Carter came. And we had some times-- Norman Kaylor was first as chairman of the School of Business, then he became dean and everything. And of course Bill Wagoner was chancellor back then. I liked Bill, got along with him good. He did a good job while he was here. So did Chancellor Leutze. I thought he did an excellent job. Chancellor DePaolo, of course, I haven't gotten to know her as well as the others, but nonetheless, she appears to be doing a fine job as well. So we've, at least while I've been here, been fortunate to have such good chancellors.

Riggins: Good leadership. Yes. It's true. Now let's back up a little bit and may I ask where were you born and where did you grow up?

Claude Farrell: I was born and grew up through my high school years in a place called Elkin, North Carolina-- sort of northwest of Winston-Salem, 2,000 people, last census the population went down.

Riggins: Really?

Claude Farrell: So I grew up in the proverbial small town. It was one that was extremely supported, the school systems and athletics, by the community. And Elkin still is that way. It has excellent schools and an excellent athletic program. If you don't believe it, they won the 1A state title in football this past year.

Riggins: Really?

Claude Farrell: Yeah. So you know, I mean it's small but there's a lot of pride-- classic hometown. I mean just classic like you'd see in the movies. So I grew up there. I got an excellent education. And then my parents moved to Raleigh. My daddy was in politics. He was a lobbyist, and he got-- he originally ran a five and ten cent store, and then he got involved in politics and then when we started to become a lobbyist, naturally we moved to Raleigh. But then after that I went to Guilford on a basketball scholarship.

Riggins: Really?

Claude Farrell: Yeah, and flunked out there. They used to give you money to buy books then instead of getting the books for you, and most of us on the basketball team wouldn't buy books. We'd just blow the money, and we never went to class. The most memorable thing I did at Guilford was two things-- not to brag on myself-- but they had a-- I was exceptionally good in math, still am. And Elkin was extremely strong in math. And they had a rule there if you made a hundred on a test, on the final, you got an A in the class. So all the math classes I would never go to a class-- didn't turn in one homework, made As, made a hundred on the final. And they would come up and they'd say, "Mr. Farrell, what are you doing?" Because they just couldn't believe I was doing that without cheating.

Riggins: Right. It's seems like a gamble, but I guess you felt--

Claude Farrell: Yeah. Well, I was cocky and confident.

Riggins: Yeah, rightly so or not.

Claude Farrell: And I was making Ds and Fs, of course, in everything else and was making a D or something in Spanish and had the standardized tests for nationwide Spanish for high school, undergraduate. And I made the highest score in the nation. And the Spanish teacher, of course, couldn't believe that either. And since I didn't have a Spanish book and all I got was just what I picked up. I did go to her class. She was a pretty cool lady.

Riggins: Right. But you didn't do the homework or whatever, so you didn't get a good grade, but you were learning something. Yeah.

Claude Farrell: Right. Right. So you know, but nonetheless, I flunked out and my parents still lived in Raleigh. Of course I had a little beer belly and stuff like that-- well, I don't even drink or touch alcohol now or anyone else, and I wouldn't advise anyone else to. But they said, "Son, you're going to school one place." Back then you could get in one place if you flunked out of another one. They said, "You're going to live at home, and you're going to keep yourself on the narrow, and you're going to go to NC State." So that's what I did, and I got a degree at State. Then I went ahead and ended up getting my Ph.D. in economics with a minor in statistics at NC State.

Riggins: Okay, so you stayed there.

Claude Farrell: Yeah. But after I got out of undergraduate school I spent six years in the Air Force. I was a 90-day wonder.

Riggins: What is that?

Claude Farrell: Officers' Candidate School. I went in, got to be an officer in the Air Force, lived at some time in every state in the U.S. except two-- 48 states.

Riggins: Really?

Claude Farrell: Mmhmm. And everything-- I was primarily on a missile combat crew. You know, the holes in the ground where they had the ICBMs and stuff like that? Well, I was on a combat crew, and we sat in a hole in the ground. And if we'd ever gone to war with those babies, I would have been one of the people guiding them in on their targets. And I know where we were targeted-- we finally figured it out-- was we were targeted, it had a target in Russia, our ICBMs. And you're talking about some crazy times and everything. There were some crazy times. There was this one guy that was really, you know, he was the commander of the crew-- this other crew. And if you were gonna launch, there'd be this "Sky bird, sky bird, this is drop kick. This is a red dot four." Red dot four was baby you better get ready to go. So we wore guns and had the go-code [ph?] around our neck. And we got-- you'd go down to the count T30 trying to hold it. And that was where they'd tell you the number sequence and you had to check it against the go-code you had to make sure it was right. So we recorded one of those things and hid them, and we were changing crews and this real nervous guy, you know, was coming in. We cut that baby on and played it, and right after we changed over and you'd put the documents over each other's neck when you changed over, right after we did that we put that on and I've never seen anybody-- I thought the guy was going to-- I didn't know what he was going to do. And I was out on another combat crew and one guy went nuts. It was during a big crisis, and we were out there a week and hadn't seen the sun, and he went nuts, pulled his gun out and started shooting and all that stuff. And it was crazy.

Riggins: Oh. It sounds - it sounds like it. What led you to join the Air Force?

Claude Farrell: Because I didn't want to go to Vietnam and be on the ground.

Riggins: Uh-huh. So you enlisted. Were you in-- as an officer then?

Claude Farrell: Yeah, I went in Officers' Training Program.

Riggins: Training school for 90 days. That was a whirlwind, and then to what level were you or rank did you-- ?

Claude Farrell: I was a captain. If I had stayed in I would've been a major instead of a captain, but I was getting out and so they didn't go ahead and promote me.

Riggins: Sounds like you didn't have any intention to make a career of it. It was--

Claude Farrell: I liked it while I was there, made some wonderful friends, and wasn't married and everything. I married a wonderful lady when we were both 29. She was Linda Ford, and she actually lived here at one time and taught in the public schools here. She was teaching in the public schools here when we got married.

Riggins: Really? So she's wasn't from here, but she--

Claude Farrell: No. She, believe it or not, was born-- I mean grew up and went to school in Elkin with me. And we were the same age, were in the same class. The only time we ever dated was we went to a prom. And then later on we ran into each other, her parents moved to Raleigh about four or five houses from where mine lived. So we happened to see each other, and six months later we were married.

Riggins: That's from - that's from Hollywood there.

Claude Farrell: Isn't it.

Riggins: Yes. So you were friends in high school, and then met again and she had been working all those, as a teacher-- so um, that's something--

Claude Farrell: You've probably got enough background.

Riggins: No, that's a good one. I actually do want to ask you about your father being a lobbyist. He must have had a lot of talents in that area, you know, to find himself in politics.

Claude Farrell: Oh, he was a real smoothie. Don't let anybody kid you. And he was a real smoothie, and he was a lobbyist for education for a long time, and then he was a lobbyist for Jim Hunt's team when he was governor. And Jim Hunt and other politicians spent the night in our house on many occasions. I fondly remember cooking out for the politicians when they would come by and, you know, and then daddy would take them to the Angus Barn in Raleigh, which of course is still there. For the people that know anything about Raleigh. And occasionally he'd get me to go along or mother or both of us when they were going to-- whoever he was entertaining was bringing their family. So you know, it was nice. Yeah.

Riggins: Right. And were you the only - the only child or-- ?

Claude Farrell: No. I've got two brothers, one older, one younger.

Riggins: Uh-huh.

Claude Farrell: And they-- we still stay in touch. My older brother lives in Winston-Salem and my younger brother in Greensboro.

Riggins: Okay. Yeah. So all in the state.

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: Well, when you were pursuing the Ph.D. in economics, did - were you planning to go on to university teaching, or what pursued you - prompted you to get the Ph.D. or go for the Ph.D.?

Claude Farrell: I didn't know what else to do.

Riggins: Yeah? You know you were good at this and-- ?

Claude Farrell: Yeah. Economics at the graduate level is just math. That's all it is. They tried to get me to get a doctorate in math at State, the people in the math department, because I'd go over there and I would just sit in on these courses. Finally they quit letting me do that. They wouldn't let me do it, and so I started auditing them, and I kept acing all the tests, and they wouldn't let me take tests. So you know, they said, "If you want to get any more out of us Farrell, you're going to have to get a Ph.D. in math."

Riggins: Yeah. We want to get some credit for teaching you things.

Claude Farrell: And you know--

Riggins: But you weren't as interested in that or you ____?

Claude Farrell: I wasn't as interested. I mean I had job offers when I came back from being in the military, but none of them interested me. And I said, "Well, I think I'll just go back and talk to one of my old professors at NC State, a Dr. Bartley." And he said, "Well," said, "let's just line you up with some courses and you might want to take a couple of undergraduate courses just to get back in the swing and then, you know, along with a graduate course or two right at first."

Riggins: Mmhmm. So it was pretty informal back then.

Claude Farrell: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Riggins: You know, no formal application or anything--

Claude Farrell: Oh, yeah.

Riggins: Oh, you - ?

Claude Farrell: Oh, yeah. But it was nothing compared to what the application would be today. Or the scrutiny.

Riggins: Right. I see.

Claude Farrell: I was just a good student as an undergraduate.

Riggins: And they knew you'd been - ?

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: Well, and you had a minor in statistics, so obviously you liked those.

Claude Farrell: Yeah. And after that I went, I had went to a post-doctoral program at the University of Chicago, and State was and still is a real free market conservative economic bent school. And of course, the University of Chicago is the epicenter of that for the universe. So I really became a quite-- that just reinforced my conservative free market economic views. Roger Hill used to say, if anybody came into the department and said, "Do you have any conservative people here?" And Roger said, he tells them, "I just want you to meet somebody." And so--

Riggins: Because you were pretty classical in economics.

Claude Farrell: Yeah. Yes.

Riggins: Free market, anyway. So you enjoyed the post-doc. You said it was - ?

Claude Farrell: Sure.

Riggins: Let's - were any famous people there at the time?

Claude Farrell: That's when Friedman and people like that were there.

Riggins: Milton Friedman.

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: Yeah. So that was your--

Claude Farrell: My hero.

Riggins: You read his work?

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: Well some of--

Claude Farrell: Another rather famous-- he was known as the king of supply-side-- is Arthur Laffer. And Arthur and I were quite good friends when I was there.

Riggins: Who was that, the-- ?

Claude Farrell: Arthur. L-A-F-F-E-R. Laffer.

Riggins: Oh, okay. Well, some of that - once you got into economics at an advanced level, was it always mathematical? Because I think of some of those theorists as not being mathematical.

Claude Farrell: Right. Right, right. Well, there was a history of economics, which did not have as much math and some courses like that-- but most of the non-math-oriented courses, particularly at State, it's a very quad-oriented, and still is, program. It was very math - heavy math-oriented. And statistics, sometimes-- I found out when I started writing a dissertation-- I knew-- mathematically, I understood statistics backward and forward. At times I just didn't understand the statistics, what it was saying.

Riggins: Oh, okay-- what it was trying to do? Yeah. Well, what did you do after your post-doctoral?

Claude Farrell: Well, I thought I'd come down here, and my wife wanted to come down and said we could rent a place at the beach. And I said, "Well, we can go down there for a year." And here I am.

Riggins: That's funny. You just-- you came here and--

Claude Farrell: Well, actually--

Riggins: Was there a position here?

Claude Farrell: Yeah. And Roger was-- we had a very informal program in econ at that time. We didn't even have one. And he said, "Claude, if you'll stay here I'll let you just take the whole econ program and set it up." I said, "Well, I'll stay here and do that a couple of years, three years, something like that." Then Woody Hall came. And Woody and I started working together on studying the local economy. And we used it as sort of a test community you might say, and it allowed us to get publications and things like that too, which were good for academic points. And so what we ended up doing was setting up models where we tracked and forecast the local economy.

Riggins: And that generated a lot of interest in the community?

Claude Farrell: Yes. We became known as the economic experts of Southeast North Carolina because we ended up studying several counties, not just the coastal, which was-- still is-- New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender. And the-- by the way, New Hanover hadn't got that much more room to go, as we all know every day as we travel around, Brunswick particularly has an unbelievable economic future, and Pender slightly less so.

Riggins: Why is that? Less - ?

Claude Farrell: Well, Brunswick has a lot more infrastructure-- water, sewage, things like that; whereas, Pender has very little. And so Brunswick is moving on; whereas, Pender is now just beginning to get some infrastructure. So Brunswick's got a lot of plums that Pender might've got.

Riggins: If they had done things differently?

Claude Farrell: Right. Well, see Pender is right on 40 and Brunswick isn't. And you-- with I-140 now it's-- they'd just as well be because you get right over there without going through-- using anything but four lanes. But Brunswick is more advanced than Pender.

Riggins: Right. Right. And was that - is that somewhat due to the decisions that the local officials made?

Claude Farrell: Definitely. You can chalk it up totally to that.

Riggins: Uh-huh. 'Cause, uh -

Claude Farrell: Yeah. When I say they're more advanced, I mean economically. Pender, as a matter of fact, usually has the highest educational scores in the region. And I live in Pender County. It's a lovely place to live. A lot of people that work in New Hanover want to live in Pender, and so they've invested a lot in schools-- not that they don't have problems getting enough money, the school board.

Riggins: Uh-huh. Right, right. Yeah. How did you and Woody Hall collect your data? Was it, uh - ?

Claude Farrell: To begin with, we went out and knocked on doors. And finally we got people lined up, and then they started just sending it to us. And there are still a couple that Woody has to go get it from, but you know, we did that. And it was just getting out there and letting people meet you and things like that.

Riggins: And then you would get, you would analyze - ?

Claude Farrell: Yeah. The models that we initially used and the computer programs we initially used were ones I brought back from being up at Chicago.

Riggins: Really?

Claude Farrell: Um-hmm. Then we went far beyond that and the computer system went far beyond what I had brought back, but Woody and I set up the original computers, the programs, not the computer hardware. But we implemented the original software that Cameron used in the Cameron School of Business, which was then just the School of Business.

Riggins: Really? Was using a mainframe...? Was it a mainframe computer?

Claude Farrell: It was the first PCs from Radio Shack.

Riggins: The first PCs.

Claude Farrell: We set it up for that, and boy back then there were errors upon errors upon errors in the programs. And they would drive you nuts.

Riggins: You had to write your programs, or tweak them, or - ?

Claude Farrell: You had to tweak them, you had to re-write a lot of them. The person who set up the mainframe was John Anderson.

Riggins: Mmhmm. Yeah. I talked to him last year. Uh-huh.

Claude Farrell: Yeah. And so-- but Woody and I did all that, and I think we made some contributions that were rather important for not only the Cameron School but the university, or I would hope so. We were good ambassadors for the community, we gave public talks whenever anybody invited us and things like that.

Riggins: To different civic organizations?

Claude Farrell: Civic, professional.

Riggins: Mmhmm, mmhmm. And what was the name of your center?

Claude Farrell: Uh, well, actually, they're still the Center for Business & Economic Development.

Riggins: Yes. And it's still in existence. Yeah. Center for Business & Economic - um -

Claude Farrell: I guess that's the name of it now. It might've changed.

Riggins: Well, let's talk about what the university was like in general when you came. You talked a little bit about the buildings. There was - there were more than three buildings on campus when you arrived?

Claude Farrell: Four.

Riggins: There were four.

Claude Farrell: And one of them was brand new. That was Bear Hall.

Riggins: Bear. Okay. Right. And then -

Claude Farrell: Right across from where we are.

Riggins: Mmhmm. And that's where business started out, right?

Claude Farrell: Right. Well no, there was a business department. Mack West was chairman, and when I came it was the first year he stopped being chairman and Norman Kaylor became chairman.

Riggins: Oh, okay. Was he still on the faculty?

Claude Farrell: Yes.

Riggins: What was he like. I've heard a little bit--

Claude Farrell: Mack?

Riggins: Yeah.

Claude Farrell: Well, he's dead now. He was a fatherly figure. He had white hair and this type thing, and he was like a stern fatherly figure. He didn't take any crap or bull. Excuse my language, but I don't know if you mind "crap" being used on there.

Riggins: No. Not at all.

Claude Farrell: But I liked Mack because he was a straight shooter. Joe Dunn was another person there. Joe-- retired military-- Joe was a nice guy. And then there was Norman and Roger and a guy named Bill-- I can't think of his last name. He didn't stick around very long. He left and there wasn't anybody in economics then but me. Roger was teaching finance.

Riggins: So when you came you were, you were the only one in economics.

Claude Farrell: After one year.

Riggins: Pardon me?

Claude Farrell: After one year.

Riggins: After one year-- oh, because this other fellow was there, right.

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: And you had the opportunity to build the program?

Claude Farrell: Right.

Riggins: What was that like?

Claude Farrell: It was fun.

Riggins: Yeah?

Claude Farrell: I can't - If we went through a catalog of econ courses, you wouldn't believe the number of them I started, created and things like that. Because-- I mean it was just from scratch, and I created the foundation classes, most of them and then a huge number of the electives.

Riggins: And was there a - was there a major in business administration in general and then eventually a major in economics came about? But that wasn't right away, is that right?

Claude Farrell: No. The department was originally the department of economics and business. And then it became the School of Business.

Riggins: And how did things change when Dr. Kaylor came onboard? Was that any changes, or what was his leadership style like?

Claude Farrell: Norman was sort of a casual, persuasive type fellow, very nice, fun to be around. We had a lot of fun. And we did - things were rather loose then, because I mean there was just a few of us and we'd have a lot of fun kidding around and playing tricks.

Riggins: Oh, yeah? I wouldn't have guessed that.

Claude Farrell: And stuff like that, and we were probably about the most un-faculty-like bunch of any you'd ever see.

Riggins: That's funny. I would not have guessed that. Yeah. So he - but he was a persuasive type, so he could get his point across.

Claude Farrell: Oh yeah, very good. He wasn't like Mack West. Mack-- there wasn't any persuasion to it. This was it.

Riggins: It was top-down. Yeah.

Claude Farrell: Yeah, and strictly a military style. Norman, you know, he liked to get agreement and things like that. And I was rather outspoken and used to give him a hard time.

Riggins: Just about your opinions, about different things?

Claude Farrell: Mmhmm.

Riggins: And one thing-- I talked to Sherman Hayes. You knew Sherman right?

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: And told him that you were coming up to be interviewed, and he said, "Well, ask him about, you know, the arguments between economics and finance." I said, "I didn't know there were arguments." But I guess they are, not arguments, but differences between those two fields or competition for resources or something.

Claude Farrell: Well, there's always-- back then there was always competition between units for resources. It'd be the department of economics and business versus another department. Within the departments there'd be the various parts, components. There never was enough money to go around, never is. And so there's always competition, but Roger and I never had any big problems. And one time-- I forgot what Roger did, but it really hacked off me and Woody and Dennis. And we did something to him, some trick and, because Roger-- when he was department chair Roger had a bad back, probably still does. And he'd have to lay down on this straight board bed, and he had it in his office. So we did something to that and sort of got even. But I'll just let it go at that.

Riggins: That's interesting. Right. Wow. And I didn't know that Dennis Carter's field was economics. Because he went into administrative -

Claude Farrell: That's what Dennis got a Ph.D. in.

Riggins: Okay. Because he went into the general college and then other things.

Claude Farrell: Dennis became Leutze's boy. Dennis-- I don't mean that in a derogatory sense. When there was a problem, Dennis took care of it. Because Dennis is one of the nicest persons you'll ever meet, and he's very persuasive, very nice, does not make people mad-- did not, still does not. And he could persuade people to do things and get the appropriate outcome from the chancellor's point of view.

Riggins: So he did.

Claude Farrell: But I liked Chancellor Leutze a lot.

Riggins: Right. He had an interest in the region too, so that may have been, was that-- ?

Claude Farrell: He - he was always extremely nice to me and, as far as I know, Woody too. And he-- but I really like him and I liked Bill Wagoner when he was chancellor a lot. And I think both of them were here when it was their time, so to speak. Bill took us through, you know, the initial years of establishing the university. And then Chancellor Leutze took us through the really strong growth years. We're still growing, but not at the percent rate increase we were back then. And Chancellor DePaolo-- I don't know her as well as I did the other two, but that's understandable because I'm not over here like then.

Riggins: Right. Yeah, yeah, it's different.

Claude Farrell: Not involved in the politics.

Riggins: Mmhmm. Yeah. Like you had been.

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: Well, it sounds like you've got-- you taught a lot of classes that you created. And what were the students like when you first came and how have they changed?

Claude Farrell: Well, students come in cycles. Mmhmm. They - you get extremely poor students, you get extremely good students. You get students that are interested in having fun, you get students that are only interested in learning how to make money. And they come in cycles. You don't get a class that's split up-- you never do. And for when they would be, "We are interested only in grades and money," then those two seemed to go together.

Riggins: Interesting.

Claude Farrell: And, "We want the best grades we can get. We want to be able to get the best job we can get. We want to be able to make the most money we can." It wasn't just in one department. It would be the whole School of Business. In some ways, it would be the whole campus.

Riggins: So they were motivated professionally, not so much academically, or...?

Claude Farrell: They were motivated by money, the prospects of money.

Riggins: Uh-huh, yeah. When was that going on? When was, maybe?

Claude Farrell: Well, it's hard to say because over all the years I was here we'd go through these cycles where part of the time that and part of the time totally uninterested in money, let's have a good time, I'll get by. But you had excellent students in both groups. They had pride.

Riggins: Right. I know you were known as, and are known, as a good teacher. What was your teaching philosophy or approach to teaching?

Claude Farrell: Well, I used the lecture approach. And in order to write slowly on the board, I would never use overheads or things like that or computer-generated graphics-- because if I did that I would just be going, "vuh, lu, lu, lu, luh." So I always stayed slow.

Riggins: You had to work on speaking slowly? Is that it? Because you tend to speak fast?

Claude Farrell: Yeah. And I always took time for students. My door to my office was never shut to a student. They had-- now I had office hours and everything, but I always told the class, "If I'm in my office, then you're welcome to come in." And I told them, you know, "If you just want to come in and shoot the breeze, that's fine. But if you flunk the class, I'll laugh with you and everything else, but I'll still give you that F."

Riggins: Right, even if you're friendly. Right.

Claude Farrell: Yeah. And I had a rule that if you missed the final exam and you had no excuse you got an F in the class. Now, if you missed a test, then-- and you didn't have an excuse beforehand-- all these excuses had to be beforehand-- then you got a zero on the test. And two of my all time favorite students missed a test in one of my classes. I gave them both zeros-- they flunked the class.

Riggins: Yeah. Well, that's important. They have to know the consequences.

Claude Farrell: Yeah. You know, I tried to instill in them that going to class, being responsible-- it's like having a job. When you get up in the morning and - "I don't feel good. I feel like sleeping." If you've got a job, that's not going to hack it-- you call me up the night before and say you don't feel good, I'll say, "What's wrong?" You say, "Well, my stomach's a little upset." I said, "I'll see you at the test tomorrow." So they knew I wouldn't fool around. But I loved class. I loved my students-- still do.

Riggins: And how about those students who weren't majors-- did you teach general students as well as business majors?

Claude Farrell: No.

Riggins: Okay. You mostly--

Claude Farrell: I never did-- we have cleared a couple of classes for general students in the School of Business, but I never taught them. And well-- I'll take that back. I did teach this class called "Survey of Economics," Econ 105. And as a matter of fact I created it. I didn't even remember it-- for non-business majors.

Riggins: Right. Like people, maybe people-- like political science, people--

Claude Farrell: Yeah, got a lot of poli-sci in there, because they wanted to be lawyers but probably just weren't smart enough to major in econ. I have to get a dig in here.

Riggins: Uh-huh.

Claude Farrell: And-- no, I didn't mean that. But econ has always been favored more than poli-sci by law schools.

Riggins: Really?

Claude Farrell: So any econ they could get they would get. They'd usually take that. We had it fixed so that Survey of Econ was the only prerequisite for public finance, specifically so we could get poli-sci majors in the public finance class, or let them in.

Riggins: And that was a class in the business school, public finance?

Claude Farrell: Yeah, well, as the econ.

Riggins: Okay.

Claude Farrell: It's called public finance, but it's an econ class.

Riggins: How did you make economics interesting? Because, you know, a lot of people, they hear "economics" and they either get intimidated or turned off or something.

Claude Farrell: Well, the real world examples. I loved rock-n-roll, I still do. A lot of rock-n-roll, a lot of NASCAR, a lot of sports. People used to say-- they'd come to my class, particularly in graduate school, because the first 15 minutes would be a sports run down of the week. The next 15 minutes would be a run down of the major events of the week, and then we'd have the rest of a 3-hour class.

Riggins: Wow.

Claude Farrell: In grad school.

Riggins: This was in which grad - the MBA program?

Claude Farrell: Um-hmm.

Riggins: Okay.

Claude Farrell: I created the original econ classes there.

Riggins: For the - for the graduate program?

Claude Farrell: Mmhmm.

Riggins: Okay.

Claude Farrell: We had two of them.

Riggins: So you're in involved in everything from the ground up here. And was there a macro and micro course, macroeconomics?

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: Did you teach both of those or just --?

Claude Farrell: Oh, originally.

Riggins: Yeah. Originally.

Claude Farrell: And then I ended up specializing more in the macro, which is about inflation and unemployment and things like that.

Riggins: And I understand you had the-- you became chair at one point. How long were you chair, do you remember?

Claude Farrell: Hmmmm. Well, I guess it was about four years. It was a hectic job. There are always-- academicians are people with big egos, as I am espousing, and they-- it's like trying to herd a bunch of cats.

Riggins: They all want to go their own way.

Claude Farrell: Exactly. So you know, Roger probably told you the same thing. It, it was-- being chair had its moments, but it's more of a chore than a joy.

Riggins: Mmhmm, mmhmm. Yeah, I can see that. I guess one part that you were probably involved in as chair and as a member of the department was bringing in new faculty. There were a lot of hires, it seems like, in your time there. Who were some of the people that you remember coming in and recruiting?

Claude Farrell: Well, I remember Dennis and Woody more than anybody else coming in.

Riggins: They were the first ones in - ?

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: They probably helped out a lot too.

Claude Farrell: Yeah. Then Kevin Siegler was a notable-- he's in Finance. And Bill Sackley.

Riggins: Yeah. They're all still there.

Claude Farrell: Yeah. And Rob-- well, Rob, Chris Dumas. My favorite one we've ever hired is Pete Schumann. Luther Lawson, you know, was there too. Luther was chair when we hired Pete, and he wanted to hire somebody else. And I just would not let him, 'cause Pete-- I knew Pete. Pete went to school here, got his degree in econ, went to NC State, got his Ph.D.

Riggins: Really?

Claude Farrell: Went to Richmond and taught there-- where Richmond is academically and money-wise a much more prestigious school, took a salary cut to come back here. And he-- this is no joke-- as far as I know, he's never gotten a student evaluation that wasn't aced.

Riggins: Wow.

Claude Farrell: And he's an excellent researcher. So he's my-- I consider him my hire. And he's my proud - he was my pet when he was here as an undergrad. He sort of followed my path a little bit, and you know.

Riggins: And he's doing great. So that's interesting, you fought for him. He was - he's in economics?

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: And so the two-- economics and finance are together, but in a number of bigger schools I would think they're separate departments, is that how it works?

Claude Farrell: Mmhmm. Well, there are a number of reasons it's that way here, money and things like that.

Riggins: Do you think it will stay together? Or - ?

Claude Farrell: Probably. Bill Wadman's another old-timer. Bill's a nice guy, and he and I have a lot in common, but Bill's not one to come in your office and plop down and chat. Things like that. Although, you know, we had plenty of long chats out in the halls.

Riggins: Right. Yeah, that's just not his-- he's more, more serious or-- I don't know.

Claude Farrell: No. A little more introspective or whatever.

Riggins: Uh-huh. And then there's someone-- Kristin Howell. She was finance, right?

Claude Farrell: No. She was econ. Yeah.

Riggins: Oh. She was econ. Okay. So we're trying to reach her too, but she's a little hard to reach for interviews.

Claude Farrell: Yeah. Well, Kris would be a good one to talk to.

Riggins: Well, what was your life like as a faculty member? Did you have to do a lot of committees even in the early days, or did that increase as time went on?

Claude Farrell: Oh boy, in the early days it was worse than it got to be because there weren't as many faculty members. I was in the faculty senate from the time it started, and I was in-- you know, UNCW committees, business school committees. It was just one committee after another.

Riggins: And how did you like the committee work? Did you prefer teaching to committee work, or - ?

Claude Farrell: Yeah, but I enjoyed the debate, the give and take.

Riggins: Uh-huh. Yeah. You didn't shy away from that?

Claude Farrell: No.

Riggins: I can see that. What were some of the memorable, your memorable service for the university? Did you serve on the faculty senate and did you like that?

Claude Farrell: Oh, I loved that. That was a lot of give and take.

Riggins: That was a lot of fun?

Claude Farrell: Yeah.

Riggins: Important issues came up during that time-- were you involved with like RPT?

Claude Farrell: Yeah. I was chairman of RPT committee one time. I was chairman of the committee that re-wrote the RPT document at one time. That was probably my most important committee.

Riggins: What was that like, your switching over to more of a research focus at the university? I know that Dr. Kaylor really pushed for that to begin to work towards the accreditation. That was really necessary. Did that change, I don't know, the way things worked there? Like when-- I guess when he recruited as the years went on he told them right out that it was going to be - research was going to be almost as important as teaching.

Claude Farrell: Right. But not quite as.

Riggins: What about now? Is it about the same, or - ?

Claude Farrell: Well, some people are hired for research, others for teaching-- but unless you get a minimum number of articles in reputable journals, you aren't going to get promoted period.

Riggins: Mmhmm. Or get tenure?

Claude Farrell: Yeah. More importantly, you will not get tenure.

Riggins: Right. Right. And it wasn't always like that. So how did that change the life in the department. Were people supported for their research activities?

Claude Farrell: There were more funds available, you were expected to do more research, period. And when the transition came, you either had to do it or you weren't gonna get tenure.

Riggins: So it was just the way it was.

Claude Farrell: Do or die.

Riggins: Yeah. And I guess as the school grew the number of students certainly have since grown.

Claude Farrell: When I came here there were maybe 1,200 students or a thousand at the most. I got to stand up for a minute.

Riggins: Oh, sure. Let's turn off the tape.

(audio off, audio on)

Riggins: Thank you Dr. Farrell. We're going to wrap up the interview. I'd like to ask for your closing thoughts about what has UNCW meant to you, and what stands out about this institution and about your time here?

Claude Farrell: Well, UNCW means everything to me. I loved it when I was teaching here, I loved the students, I loved the faculty I worked with. I just totally loved everything about it. And so I have no regrets that I ended up staying here. I had a-- you know-- wonderful environment and wonderful colleagues to work with. And so it was just, I could not have asked for a more pleasant or enjoyable lifetime of work.

Riggins: Isn't that interesting. I know we're grateful that you're here. You had - you didn't think you would necessarily stay that long.

Claude Farrell: No.

Riggins: You thought maybe--

Claude Farrell: A couple or three years.

Riggins: You thought maybe you'd go on to somewhere else or you wouldn't like it as much?

Claude Farrell: I thought I'd go on to a bigger, more research-oriented, prestigious school.

Riggins: Right. Right. But you liked it and--

Claude Farrell: I liked it and I stayed. I was given opportunities that I wouldn't have anywhere else.

Riggins: Well, I thank you for your time. This has been a real contribution, and I took notes. So I know of other people I can talk to and interview.

Claude Farrell: Okay, Adina.

Riggins: So thank you for coming in.

Claude Farrell: Thank you.

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