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Interview with John W. Myers, June 12, 2008 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with John W. Myers, June 12, 2008
June 12, 2008
Dr. John W. Myers discusses his career as a professor of art history in this oral history interview. He taught at UNCW from 1980 until 2009. (His last 3 years were part-time as part of the phased retirment program.) Interview covers his time as chair of the multidisciplinary department of creative arts (art, theatre, and music). Dr. Myers participated in study-abroad programs, teaching students in Britain and Italy. From 2002-2006, he served as associate director of University Honors.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Myers, John Walker III Interviewer:  Riggins, Adina Date of Interview:  6/12/2008 Series:  Voices of UNCW Length  100 minutes


Riggins: Hello. My name is Adina Riggins. I'm the university archivist, here. I'm standing behind the camera, here in University Archives, welcoming a special guest to the archives. In front of me is Dr. Myers, who will be introducing himself shortly with his full name. He will be participating in the Voices of UNCW Oral History Project, which the archives is coordinating. Today is June 12th, 2008, Thursday morning, and I'm very pleased to begin the oral history interview, and to welcome you, Dr. Myers, to the office.

Myers: Thank you.

Riggins: Please state your full name for the benefit of the tape.

Myers: First of all, I have to say: it's not fair that you're not on camera, as far as I (laughs)...

Riggins: That's why I have this job.

Myers: Well, I'll give you my full name; I don't use it very often, but it's John Walker Myers II.

Riggins: Oh, yes.

Myers: And I was born in Rochester, New York, and raised there, went to high school there, down near the old Kodak Park, on Ridge Road, down in Rochester.

Riggins: Did you say you were born in Rochester?

Myers: I was born in Rochester, yes.

Riggins: Upstate New York.

Myers: Hm-hmm.

Riggins: Where it's cold.

Myers: Where it's cold, but it can get as hot as it is down here in the summer because we're so close to Lake Ontario that the humidity and the prevailing winds come across the lake. So, it can get very humid in the summer, and up into the '90s. So, it's not that much different. And I've always hated humidity. So, I grew up in it, and what did I do? I came down here, and settled in Wilmington (laughs).

Riggins: No western states. And you went to school in Rochester, throughout?

Myers: Yes, through high school, and then, for my undergraduate degree, I went to Hobart College, in Geneva, New York, from 1960 to '64, and...

Riggins: That sounds like it was probably a very pretty environment.

Myers: Oh, beautiful, just beautiful. Right, the college is right along the lake. And then I went, for my master's, to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. And before I left to go to graduate school, I was engaged (laughs). And then, my future wife and I were separated for a year while I out to Wisconsin, and she finished her degree at Buffalo State. So, we had quite a year apart, actually, and we were married the following April, during spring break. And...

Riggins: When you were still a student.

Myers: When I was still a student, and she was just finishing up her senior year. And we had a week's honeymoon, because that's all spring break was. And I went back to Wisconsin, and she went back to Buffalo State. So, it wasn't until...

Riggins: To finish her...

Myers: Yeah, to finish her degree. And it wasn't 'til uhm we were both finished with that year's work that we came back together. And, I actually went to her graduation, and heard Robert Kennedy as the commencement speaker. That was quite a privilege. So, then we packed up all of our wedding gifts in a little U-Haul trailer behind the car, and went out to Wisconsin to begin our lives.

Riggins: That's a great story. At Hobart, did you major in Art History?

Myers: No, I had a checkered career as an academic.

Riggins: That's always [inaudible] to hear.

Myers: My (laughs) my undergraduate degree was in European History, with an emphasis on Ancient History and Ancient Languages: Greek and Latin. I began a degree in the Classics, a master's degree in the Classics, at Wisconsin. And changed to Art History, with-- gosh, I can't remember; there's two or three credits of Art History that I'd taken at Hobart, under my belt, so I really had to start, you know, from scratch.

Riggins: So that you could have the broad, you know, the Modern and everything.

Myers: Exactly. Exactly. But the chair of the department at Wisconsin worked with me, and what I did was I took two or three undergraduate classes and a graduate seminar each semester. Took me a while to finish that degree, but finally I did. So...

Riggins: Did you have funding that covered some of that undergraduate...

Myers: Oh, no. Well, I did have funding. The funding was my beautiful wife, who taught and supported us while I was doing that, so... (laughs).

Riggins: That's what she did in Wisconsin.

Myers: Exactly.

Riggins: She was teaching then.

Myers: She was teaching. She taught, I think, everything from second grade through what would have been, but wasn't called that in those days, middle school, the middle grades, while we were there. And then I got a Danforth teaching internship at Earlham College, in Richmond, Indiana. And so, we moved there for a year; I hadn't finished my master's thesis, and so I sort of learned how to teach, supposedly, at the college level. They threw me right into the classroom, so I was teaching classes and taking seminars involved with the teaching internship. So, we were there for a year, and our first son was born in Richmond, Indiana. And, from there, I went to the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, where I-- that was my first teaching position; I taught there for four years. And then, it was presented to me that unless I went back for the PhD, you know, I had a couple more years at SUNY, and so I applied to the University of Delaware, and went to Delaware for my doctorate. Now, my master's was in Italian Renaissance Art. So, I went from the Classics, to the Renaissance, and then my doctoral work was in American Art.

Riggins: Really.

Myers: Before 1900: Colonial through 1900. And my dissertation was on a 19th-century American landscape painter, romantic landscape.

Riggins: Which one?

Myers: Aaron Draper Shattuck. He's not that well known, and I haven't made him any better known, other than through my dissertation. But several articles have been written on him by others since I did the dissertation. And but he was a contemporary of Asher B. Durand, Frederick Church [ph?], uh.. John Kensett. Uh.. he and Kensett were-were friends. Kensett was sort of his mentor, and he knew the others because he had a studio on the 51st-- I think it was 51st Street-- artist's studio, where all of the major American landscape painters of the period had their studios, their private studios, so...

Riggins: Oh. That's interesting.

Myers: So, I ran the gamut from Ancient to Modern, really.

Riggins: Is that unusual for a start?

Myers: I think it is, I think it is. But I also felt as though it put me in a really good place, in terms of getting a job, because I had such a wide, a broad experience.

Riggins: In scholarly [inaudible].

Myers: Yeah. And, in fact, I think it helped me get my job here.

Riggins: Well, let's talk about that.

Myers: So, we came from Delaware, here.

Riggins: Newark, Delaware?

Myers: Newark, Newark, yes; it's pronounced "new ark."

Riggins: How did you like graduate school, getting your PhD?

Myers: Oh, I loved it. I would rather be a student the rest of my life. And, since I had a wife who loved to teach, she helped support us while we did that and raised a family. We had our second son in uh.. Delaware. And so, we had two relatively small children. I think they were.-- what? Six, five, and seven when we moved here.

Riggins: A young family. That must have been a challenge for both of you, working?

Myers: It was a challenge. And then I taught continuing education at Delaware, to bring in a few more pennies to help support us. But, you know, after I taught for four years at Plattsburgh, that helped me get a job-- I had teaching experience-- get a job here. But I think what they were looking for here, at UNCW, was someone who could teach the full gamut, because I was the only art historian in the department, here, for ten years.

Riggins: So, when you were hired, you were the first art...

Myers: I was the first art historian, yes. Before that, the artists, studio artists, had taught, you know, the courses. And, of course, you still hear about students of Claude Howell.

Riggins: Yes, yes.

Myers: Who loved him as a teacher of Art History. And uhm.. Anne Connor [ph?], who's our senior member, now, in the department, also taught Art History when she first came here.

Riggins: And she was here when you...

Myers: She was here, actually; she became a tenure-track faculty member in 1974, so she's been here a long time (laughs).

Riggins: Yes. When did you come here?

Myers: Uh.. 1980, 1980.

Riggins: That's amazing.

Myers: And I was basically hired to teach the survey courses, the introductory courses, and then whatever upper-level courses I could fit in that, you know, at least, I had some expertise in.

Riggins: They must have welcomed your arrival.

Myers: Yeah. It was very nice. The department was very welcoming, and very supportive, and one of the great things about it was that the faculty then in Studio, and, even today, have a-- I don't want to call it a sympathy, but have a respect for Art History. And you don't find that in a lot of combined departments, or in departments that are separate: where you have a Department of Art History and a Department of Art.

Riggins: What was the department called when you joined?

Myers: (laughs) The Department of...

Riggins: Creative Arts?

Myers: Creative Arts, right. And it encompassed Art, Theater, Music, and Communications Studies.

Riggins: And Art History.

Myers: Well, and Art History, but I was considered a member of the Art Department at that point. And we were all crammed into Kenan Hall.

Riggins: Kenan Hall.

Myers: Yeah.

Riggins: Was Claude Howell there?

Myers: Well, actually, I was hired the year he was retiring. And he was not terribly interested in meeting any of the candidates, I don't think, because he wasn't really ready to retire. But what happened was that three new positions were approved: two in Art, one was in Drawing and Painting, and that was filled by Connie Hobbs [ph?]; and the other was in Cultural Ceramics, and that was filled by Steve LaChoir, Stephen LaChoir [ph?]; and then me, in Art History.

Riggins: So you came in the same year.

Myers: We all came in the same year, and years later, [inaudible] Claude didn't really want to have anything to do with the department, or the university, and so he hunkered down in his studio in his apartment, and he painted, which was great. But a few years after I came, we were introduced, and he was wonderful to me, but at one point, we were talking about the department, and he said, "You know, John," he said, "when I retired, they had to hire three people to replace me." He said it with this little smirk on his face. In many ways, it was true because he not only chaired the department, but and he taught Studio, and he taught Art History. And he was, in a sense, the major art historian in the department. So, he taught a number of different levels of Art History, as well, different periods.

Riggins: And his students talked a lot about him.

Myers: Yes.

Riggins: When you were there, you still knew people who had been his students.

Myers: Oh, yes. Yes.

Riggins: Yeah. But he continued to be involved with St. John's.

Myers: He continued to be involved with St. John's, and then did he not give at least part of his library to the university? I thought he'd given...

Riggins: Yeah, in Special Collections-- I don't know if he did this while he was still working, but he gave his collection on art: North Carolina artists.

Myers: Oh, yeah, absolutely. That was an important thing that he began, that I understand is still...

Riggins: A lot of people still contract us. We have the index text to it online.

Myers: Hm-hmm.

Riggins: And it's great. He was very meticulous about that.

Myers: Absolutely. And that's what's great about this new project that Sherm Hayes is working on to do the digital exhibit. So, that kind of continues that tradition.

Riggins: Yeah, the North Carolina, and, specifically, southeast North Carolina...

Myers: Yeah, yup.

Riggins: Legacy, but I know. Claude knew all kinds of things about North Carolina art.

Myers: Well, I remember I-- when I came from my interview, there was a room-- he had sort of a complex of offices. He had one that was sort of a personal studio, and one that he used as an office, and the other was the slide room, and had originally been the library, the Art Library, before all of the departments combined and moved everything into Randall. And he had-- I saw all the notebooks that he had from the North Carolina Archive, Art Archive, that he had begun.

Riggins: It's all in Special Collections.

Myers: Good.

Riggins: It's all stored safely in acid-free boxes and folders.

Myers: (laughs)

Riggins: I don't know if you remember a French professor...

Myers: Rog Speiler [ph?]. I thought about him today because I saw his interview when I accessed the archive, and looked at some of the interviews.

Riggins: If you saw his interview, you might have seen that we talked about how the first time he met Claude Howell was in Paris.

Myers: Oh, really?

Riggins: Yeah. And he wasn't working at UNCW, or living in Wilmington at the time. But it made a lasting impression on him.

Myers: Yeah, yeah. Well, Claude was really very good to me, because he actually invited me up to see his studio, and to use his personal library. So, that was great, and some of the books that were in his library were actually sold at a sale of some of his personal things that were given to the museum, St. John's Museum. And I bought a few of the books from his library, so I still have a couple of those. And I've given some to this library, actually.

Riggins: Some of them [inaudible]...

Myers: With his signature in them, you know.

Riggins: You'd mentioned, then, that it was a lively combined department when you started.

Myers: Absolutely.

Riggins: And what was it like, the life of the department? How many classes did you teach, what were the students like?

Myers: I'm trying to remember if I actually taught four preps the first semester I was here.

Riggins: You probably did; yeah.

Myers: I know eventually, I was able to get it down to three, and then the other thing that was a little bit hard in my first year was that I was completing my doctoral dissertation the first year I was here. I had two more chapters to write, and a conclusion.

Riggins: That's seems to be the pattern: you move, and you still have-- but it's a motivation to finish, I guess.

Myers: It was. I was very motivated to finish, because I was actually hired only as an instructor, and told that if I finished that dissertation in my first year, I'd be put on tenure track as an assistant professor. So, I had great motivation to do it. And I would sit in my office, which was right next door to the Theater scene shop, and there was no sense in closing the door, because it didn't make any difference. And I always like to leave my door open. So, many afternoons, I would sit there, working on my dissertation, with all the racket from the Theater scene shop: sawing, pounding, students talking, yelling to one another and so forth in the hall, because they didn't have enough room to really build scenes in the wings of the SRO Theater, the Black Box Theater. And they didn't have room in it to build anything, so they'd move the saws out into the halls, they'd be hammering sets together while I'm trying to write my dissertation. So, I really learned how to concentrate.

Riggins: Yeah. And the Theater professor at the time was another legend, right? Who the Theater professor who was very well known?

Myers: Doug Swink [ph?]?

Riggins: Yeah, Doug Swink.

Myers: Yeah.

Riggins: He was still there, right?

Myers: Yeah. Yeah, Doug was great. Doug was great. Right? And Terry Theodore [ph?] was there, and uh.. Ann Fitzgibbon [ph?], who actually taught Acting. She was the principle Acting professor. I'm trying to remember who else was there. Oh! The same year I was hired, uh.. Dennis Sporre was hired to be the chair of the department, and his area was Theater.

Riggins: Dennis...

Myers: Sporre, S-p-o-r-r-e. And, in fact, he served as chair of the department for ten years, and then took another job as a dean, or an associate dean-- I can't remember which-- at Ball State University. And (laughs) when he had decided to take that job, he came to me and said, "John, how would you like to be chair?" (laughs) And, so, he supported me to become chair of the department, and that's in 1980-- or, I'm sorry; 1990 was when I became chair of the Department of Art, Theater, and Music. Communications Studies had since moved along, and become its own department.

Riggins: Art, Theater, and Music.

Myers: Yup.

Riggins: That's lots of variety there.

Myers: Lots of headaches, as well, but (laughs)...

Riggins: Each of them has such different needs.

Myers: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It was quite a job, and I did that for six years.

Riggins: But now, I guess, they're together again, in the Cultural [inaudible], but not all in one department.

Myers: Not all in one department, no; they're all separate departments, which makes so much more sense.

Riggins: More resources, when you divide them.

Myers: Yeah. Yeah. So, you can imagine trying to juggle a budget for three different, distinct disciplines with different needs. It was fun. It was fun.

Riggins: Well, making sure you're not giving anyone the short shrift, and...

Myers: Exactly, exactly. And there, I have to say that my biggest help, when I became chair, with so little experience at doing that kind of thing, was Caroline Simmons [ph?], who was dean then.

Riggins: College of Arts and Sciences.

Myers: College of Arts and Sciences, and she was my mentor my first couple of years.

Riggins: Gave you advice on how to...

Myers: Absolutely, absolutely. And was very generous to the department, in terms of getting us the things we needed to keep us up and running.

Riggins: And how long did you remain chair?

Myers: Through 1996.

Riggins: That's a pretty long time.

Myers: So, six years. Yeah.

Riggins: You did your time.

Myers: I did my time. At that time, they were doing three-year periods for chairs, so since, it's become four, I think, for the most part.

Riggins: And you were in Kenan for the whole time.

Myers: Kenan the whole time, right.

Riggins: Until the time you went to honors, I guess.

Myers: Until I went to honors, and that was-- gosh, when was that? 2000, 2001. 2001. So, I went back to the faculty in '96, as a professor, and then I went into honors.

Riggins: Were you glad to do that, to go back to teaching?

Myers: Yeah, I was; yeah. Yeah. It was great. I mean, I've found that that's one of the things that I think has been great about UNCW is that they encourage and support faculty to go into administrative positions. And, after ten years of teaching, and six years as a chair, you know, it was good to go back to teaching for a time. But it gave you that interval that let you kind of refresh and renew. So, I was ready to go into honors when I moved into honors, and that was a great way to sort of end my full-time career at UNCW.

Riggins: Let's talk some more about the teaching. What did you find when you started, as well as throughout your career, about your students and their interest in Art History? Were there more and more majors as time went on, or...

Myers: Actually, there was no major until I became chair in 1990. So, for ten years, I was essentially serving the Studio program, and students were required to take both of the surveys, and at least one upper-level class. So, that's what I did for ten years. And then, when I became chair of the department, I sort of had a little negotiation with Dean Simmons, at the time, and I said, "You know," I said, "with me gone, you really need to hire someone else to cover the Art History." I said, "But one of my dreams has been to actually have a major in Art History." And she was very supportive of that, and hired-- or, gave us two positions, two Art History positions. So, that was sort of the beginning of the Art History program, Art History major.

Riggins: So, you were involved in the search? Did you chair the search committee, or someone else?

Myers: I can't remember if I chaired those committees or not, but, you know, they were people from within the department who sat on the committee, and I certainly was in a position to advise, since I was the art historian. But, at that point, we had kind of got some support, and, of course, I taught one class each semester. So, we had two and a third art historians to get started with.

Riggins: Who were the other two? Did they stay?

Myers: Oh, gosh. No, they didn't stay. They didn't stay. I'm trying to remember.

Riggins: Oh, it's all right. A detail.

Myers: Yeah. Well, I'm trying to remember the sequence, but, ultimately, while I was still chair-- I'm trying to think-- I think maybe we were only able to hire-- we advertised two positions, but were only able to hire one; we didn't succeed in hiring the second one. And then, in the second year, the dean gave us that position again, and that was the year that we hired Kemille Moore, who is still here. The first art historian that I hired left, after several years.

Riggins: So, she was the second one.

Myers: She was really the second that I had...

Riggins: But you were third in your department, really, number three art historian.

Myers: Number three art historian; right. So, she has since gone onto larger fields. Unless-- you know, we can always hope she'll eventually get tired of administration, and come back to the department, but she's doing a fantastic job as the dean of University College right now.

Riggins: And she was still teaching. I don't know if she has lately, but she...

Myers: She tries to teach one course a year, which is not very helpful, but we love it when she teaches.

Riggins: I guess that's something for her.

Myers: Exactly. And the funny thing is that she interviewed for the position the first year, and we on the verge of hiring her, although she says she was upset that we didn't offer her the position. But, I think if she remembers correctly, she'll recall that she decided to stay for another year, in-- yeah, she was out in Washington State: Seattle and Bellingham, Washington. So, when the opportunity came to hire that position a second year, we jumped on it, and remembered her as one of our prime candidates, and asked her to apply again, and she did.

Riggins: Different memories, different sequence of events.

Myers: Exactly.

Riggins: So, 1990 was when you started the major, and that's also when you were in the midst of the chancellor search. Do you remember that?

Myers: I do, yeah. I do. And, so, Jim Leutze was hired the same year I became chair of the department.

Riggins: What was that like?

Myers: I'm trying to remember: I guess it was a year later that Marvin Moss [ph?] became provost.

Riggins: I'd have to check.

Myers: Yeah, right, exactly. But that's close. Yeah. That was great. I mean, he came on campus, and really shook things up. So, and he was always supportive of the arts, very supportive of the arts. He was the one that initiated the summer arts festival, which we called "Summer Arts Fest," and made me the director of it, which (laughs)...

Riggins: [inaudible]

Myers: Yeah, no, that's what I said, many times.

Riggins: Friends like you, you don't need enemies. Summer Fest-- I think I've seen the folders for it, but can you tell me about it?

Myers: We tried to have events in both Art, Music, and Theater, and we did it for two summers. And we had chamber music festival, and we that took a week out of the festival, and we had special exhibitions in art, and the Theater faculty then actually took on some summer plays, and had classes for students. And I think they put on two productions each summer.

Riggins: In the Kenan Auditorium, or indoors...

Myers: I think one of them was in the Black Box Theater, the SRO, Standing Room Only Theater; and the other one was in Kenan Auditorium.

Riggins: That was a nice way to reach out to the community.

Myers: Exactly, exactly.

Riggins: Tourists, maybe.

Myers: I can't remember: was it first year or second year I did it that? I desperately wanted to put on-- and I was, quote, the producer-- I desperately wanted to put on A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. And we hired a director from off campus, from another university, and she came, and she desperately tried to put together a cast to do A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Riggins: From the students, or...

Myers: Well, students or community; it was out in the community, and she didn't succeed in getting together-- we couldn't get together a cast. So, she said, "Okay"-- I wish I could give her credit; I can't remember her name-- she said, "Okay," she said, "I wrote a little, kind of, variety show. It'll be kind of like vaudeville, and we'll have people sing and dance, and maybe even do some scenes." And so, she actually wrote this over-- I mean, we had, like, three weeks to get this thing ready. And so, she spent a week writing it, and we had a number of interested actors from the community and from the university. And (laughs) so we put this thing on in Kenan Auditorium. And it was amazing; the result was amazing.

Riggins: Probably very energized by the originality of it.

Myers: Exactly, exactly. So, that was fun.

Riggins: Did you get to know Dr. Wagoner, since it was a semi-small place when you started?

Myers: Not really very well. Not really very well.

Riggins: Just saw him?

Myers: Saw him, but he was sort of up there in Alderman Hall. But, you know.

Riggins: But you got to know Dr. Leutze?

Myers: Dr. Leutze and Dan Plyer, who was dean-- who was dean then, College of Arts and Sciences, and he was wonderful. He was also very supportive.

Riggins: Yeah, it's great to have people like that on your side, or on the side of professors.

Myers: Exactly. And Marvin Moss as provost was also very helpful. He was able to get us funds to renovate-- at least partially renovate Kenan Hall, which those of us who inhabited the building came to call "the slum." You know, it was built in the '60s, and nothing had been done to it.

Riggins: Oh, yeah. It was one of the early buildings.

Myers: Hm-hmm. It was one of the...

Riggins: After Alderman, Hoggard, and James, there was Kenan.

Myers: There was Kenan. Is that order? Because I was not sure what the order was. I knew that the four of them were fairly contemporary.

Riggins: Yeah. I'm not sure what was first, but I know that that came very soon after.

Myers: (laughs)

Riggins: Kenan Hall used to have, basically, lots of faculties.

Myers: Oh, yeah, I know. Psychology, Philosophy, Foreign Languages were in there before I came.

Riggins: And, was Education there, too?

Myers: I don't know whether their Education was there or not. But I don't know how they fit everybody in there, whether they were small departments at the time or not. We were bursting at the seams with Art, Theater, Music, and Communications Studies.

Riggins: Right, and those were your offices. Were your classes there?

Myers: Classes were there, too. Communications Studies had a small classroom on the second floor-- actually two: two small classrooms. And their offices were no bigger than closets: no windows, you could barely get a desk and chair in them. And then, Art, Theater, and Music were downstairs.

Riggins: When you came, I guess the faculty was changing a lot, and there were probably more people from outside and from the north. But did you still feel like you were in a southern world when you were at university?

Myers: Oh, I did. I did. Yeah.

Riggins: Did they take to you kindly?

Myers: They did, although...

Riggins: They thought you talked funny?

Myers: Absolutely. I had some funny experiences with students who would come up to me after class and say, "I didn't quite understand what you said, Dr. Myers." And, by that time...

Riggins: Did they think you talked fast?

Myers: They thought I talked fast, and I can't come up with an example, but they just didn't understand the pronunciation that I gave to some words. And, I thought, "Well, you know," I came from Rochester, which very broad "o's" and "a's". Broad vowels. But I'd spent, like, six or seven years out in the Midwest. And so, when I came here, I felt I had Midwestern, sort of a Midwestern accent, and had lost some of the "aaahhh."

Riggins: When you were mentioning Communications Studies made me think of another legendary professor, Betty Jo Walsh [ph?].

Myers: Oh, absolutely.

Riggins: Everybody just thought the world of her.

Myers: She was just...

Riggins: [inaudible] like a southern lady.

Myers: Yes, she was a southern lady. Though I never had any run-ins with her, you know, when she was angry, she handled it in a very quiet, very measured way. I thought of her as the iron butterfly.

Riggins: Yeah, but you knew she was...

Myers: I knew she meant what she said.

Riggins: She meant business, but she was not wild. Interesting.

Myers: No.

Riggins: Everyone had such high regard for her, and some of the female faculty that I talked to said that she had been a debutante.

Myers: She was a beautiful woman.

Riggins: She had been a beauty pageant contestant.

Myers: I'm not sure about-- I knew she'd been in-in beauty pageants, and she was absolutely beautiful, even, you know, as an older woman, she didn't lose that.

Riggins: Some of the faculty thought, "I'm not going to get along with her," or, "She's not a real professor," but then they just became best friends.

Myers: And the students loved her. The students worshipped her. Yeah, and-and we were all so sad; it didn't matter what the discipline was in the building, everybody came to love her.

Riggins: She passed away quite...

Myers: She had cancer. She had cancer. Yeah, she had a bad struggle with cancer. Another person...

Riggins: She had been a leader in the faculty, too.

Myers: Oh, yeah. Absolutely, in the Faculty Senate. Another person, in Music: just got a scholarship in Music named after him. Bill-- terrible. I can't remember his name. But, he also died of cancer, and both of them were just wonderful role models because they continued to teach, they continued to put their students first. Adcock, Bill Adcock [ph?]. Bill Adcock.

Riggins: He was ____ Adcock's brother.

Myers: Hmm. And he was great, too. I mean, towards the end, he just would not give up teaching. And, towards the end, between classes, we actually had what you would think of as a fainting couch in one of the Music offices, and between classes, he'd go in and lie down, take a nap, take a break, then he'd go back to teaching. So, talk about dedication. Both of them were that way, both of them.

Riggins: It's inspirational to be around that kind of energy and dedication.

Myers: Yeah.

Riggins: And, what about the impact of I-40 coming out? I think that must have been sometime right around-- after 1990?

Myers: Hm-hmm.

Riggins: When I-40 connected Wilmington to the rest of the state?

Myers: Well, we thought it was great. You know, I can't think of anybody, at least at first, wasn't happy to have it because it was-- particularly for those of us in Art, it was such a circuitous route to get to Raleigh, to go to the North Carolina Museum, going up through 421 [ph?], and through Spivey's [ph?] Corners, and la-di-da, and all that stuff, that it-- that just improved our lives greatly, because we could more easily take students to the North Carolina Museum.

Riggins: And you used to take students before?

Myers: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So, I remember once going on a bus, up 421, with a busload of students, and-- oh, man (laughs).

Riggins: That's a long trip.

Myers: It's a long trip. Yeah, it's a long trip. So, yeah. I think at first, everybody was happy to see I-40 come through, and then, even those of us who were originally interlopers (laughs) that had settled in-- I always call myself a transplanted Yankee because I've really come to love Wilmington and North Carolina. But we began to see it as not such a great boon after a while (laughs). And, of course, it also, I think, provided impetus for the growth of the university, which, when I first came here, was, like, somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 students, most of whom-- it was a, you know, bedroom university, because they went home. I think there were three dorms on campus, the three original dorms, but when I got here, but most of the student population were transient; they came from Jacksonville, and from Burgaw, and from the surrounding communities. So, that was a big change as we began to grow.

Riggins: As the I-40 came in, did you see more and more students from all over the state?

Myers: From all over the state, and from outside the state; yeah. Yeah. It actually was good because, you know, the diversity that it provided was great, in terms of background: city kids with students that had been raised in rural areas, and so forth. It provided for great interaction, I think.

Riggins: And there was a while when we were known as "UNC by the Sea."

Myers: "By the Sea," yes.

Riggins: And that was a semi-official moniker.

Myers: It was. We were, and I think we probably still are, to a certain extent, thought of as one of the party schools. You know, ECU, and UNC by the Sea. Go surfing.

Riggins: Party schools.

Myers: Yeah. Yeah.

Riggins: I don't know about now.

Myers: Get accepted, go down and take a few classes, and go surfing (laughs). So, the beach was a big draw; I think it probably still is, but certainly, our reputation as a university has increased greatly.

Riggins: Definitely. I think it's definitely harder to get in than to other schools.

Myers: I wonder. I know there were a tremendous number of applications this year. In the years I was in honors, we always had, you know, twice as many applications as students we could accept. And some of them were, you know, really good.

Riggins: Interesting. I didn't know that students had to apply to honors.

Myers: Yeah. We can get into that.

Riggins: To get in as freshmen, they have to apply?

Myers: Hm-hmm.

Riggins: Well, one thing I did learn, speaking of honors, when I spoke with Marvin Moss, was that there wasn't an honors program until Dr. Leutze, and that was one of the things he wanted to implement.

Myers: Hm-hmm.

Riggins: There were ways you could get departmental honors, but there was no honors program.

Myers: Right, right. And...

Riggins: That was something that came about in the early- to mid-'90s.

Myers: Hm-hmm.

Riggins: What about departmental honors? Were there some in Art History?

Myers: Actually, yeah, there were some in Art History. And that's the way the program started; it was departmental honors. It wasn't really an honors program with students who were in honors from the beginning, but it was students who were in their junior year, end of their sophomore year, who were encouraged to apply to do an honors project in their discipline, within their department. And that, of course, is still a very important part of the honors program. But we have-- now, I speak as if I'm still in honors-- we have what we call "university honors," and those are the students who begin in their freshman year with an honors seminar, and, well, they have requirements to take honors classes. And then, we still have department honors. So, university honors students do the departmental honors; that's their senior honors project. And then...

Riggins: And that's required.

Myers: And that's required. And then, any student on campus with-- it may have changed, but it was 3.2 GPA, could apply to do departmental honors, the senior honors project.

Riggins: For the university honors, how many honors seminars are they required to take?

Myers: Like I said, I feel like I'm still part of honors, but I've forgotten most of those things.

Riggins: Is it just a certain number?

Myers: It's a certain number of three-credit courses in honors, taught as honors sections. Most of them are basic studies classes. A lot of basic studies classes are offered as honors sections so that if you're successful in getting into honors as a freshman, then you get to take those courses, like, you know, Intro to Biology, with-- or English, you know, the big English Literature classes, with only 20 students, as opposed to close to 100, or, you know, somewhere between 50 and 100. So, that's one of the plusses of being in honors. And then, there is an interdisciplinary seminar, Honors 210, which would encourage two or more faculty to become involved in teaching the class, and bringing their expertise from their special disciplines into the course. Though, it's not impossible for a single person to teach one of those courses, as long as there's an interdisciplinary aspect. And then, the others are-- what are they called? I can't remember the number for them, but, anyway, they are more hands-on; they're one-credit courses that may last only eight to ten weeks into the semester, and usually they have a fall or a spring break component to them, so that students not only-- their field trips are encouraged, and getting your hands dirty in the particular discipline, and then, usually there are a number of field trips, spring break field trips, you know, when Alela's [ph?] mom does one in Marine Biology, she takes students down to Belize, and they scuba dive among the coral reefs, since that is her specialty. And so that's a wonderful opportunity, and it's offered to those honors students who take those courses.

Riggins: That's amazing. It's impressive, the amount of travel that is offered. Well, how did you get involved in honors? What were your positions in honors?

Myers: Well, the position for associate director came open. Bill Atwell [ph?], who was the first associate director, decided to go back to the classroom, in English, and so the position was advertised, and I applied for it. And I remember: Kate Bruce [ph?], who was and still is the director, came over to my office and sat down with me, and we had a conversation. And a couple of days later, she got back to me and said, "I'd really like you to take the position," so I did. And, actually, the associate director is involved in every aspect of the program, but one of the main responsibilities is putting together the core schedule for each semester, working on publications associated with honors, sitting on the honors counsel, and teaching a course each semester in honors. And, as a rule...

Riggins: Had you done that before?

Myers: No, I had never taught an honors course before, but I had always wanted to; I just never had found time for it. We were so busy, as art historians in the Art Department, that we didn't have room for it in our schedules. So, when I became associate director, you know, I went to the chair of Art and Art History, and said, "Okay, now, you've just got to make room so that we can have some honors courses in Art and Art History." And so, that was when that started. And I was the one who usually taught them, but I had to teach one course in-- well, the first course I would teach in the fall, each fall, would be one of the Honors 110 freshman seminars. And then, in the spring, I usually taught one of those hands-on, one-credit courses, and then, I was supposed to teach a course in my department. As many times as I could, I got that course to be also an honors section of Art History Survey, or something like that. So, basically, those were my teaching responsibilities.

Riggins: How has the honors program evolved, and what do you find special about the honors program, as it's evolved?

Myers: The students (laughs). I love the students. It was such as great opportunity. And I, you know, I cast no aspersions at the general student population, but, as a whole, the honors students come better prepared; they are more interested, as a whole, in what you have to teach them; they want to participate, so you can do a lot of student-involved things; they accept the challenge sometimes better than the majority of students in the general population. So, it was great to have students who really were dedicated. And, of course, a lot of time they weren't necessarily that much better prepared, but they were driven. They had been the students in high school who had gotten, you know, straight "A's," who took that seriously. One of the things that we found, and I assume they still find this to be the case, is that honors students-- and I don't want to say this so it sounds like they're all that way, but-- many times, are interested in the grade. They want that "A." They want that "A." So, you know, they're dedicated to strive for that grade.

Riggins: Right, and that can be a blessing and a curse.

Myers: That can be a blessing and a curse, yes. Because they expect to get that "A." And when they don't, you hear from them. So, it was...

Riggins: And, even if they get the "A-"...

Myers: If they get the "A-"; yeah, exactly. But actually, that was one of the positive experiences, I think, of being in honors: was that they weren't afraid to come and argue with you, and talk to you about how they were doing in the class, and what they needed to do to get that "A."

Riggins: It sounds like most professors, not all, would love teaching that population. However, weren't there still challenges in recruiting faculty to teach because they felt that their department wouldn't support them, or...

Myers: Yeah, there were-- there were a number of times that you would invite somebody-- and that was part of my job was to invite somebody to teach a class in honors, in a particular discipline, because we wanted to have a broad representation across disciplines in the university. "I'm willing, but you'll have to talk to my chair." And that was-- you always had to go to the chair. And then...

Riggins: And how did that go sometimes?

Myers: Sometimes it was hard, and sometimes it-it wasn't, but many times, the chairs would say, "Well, I can't help you this semester," you know, "I have somebody on research reassignment, or-- you know, "who's gotten a grant," especially in the Sciences, "who's gotten a grant that pays for part of their salary, and so they're only teaching one course, and I've got to cover the rest of their courses." So, that's the hard part; it's mostly the mechanics, rather than the willingness. And, you know, when I was in honors, I saw greater desire on the part of faculty across campus to teach in honors.

Riggins: As time went on?

Myers: As time went on, you know. And we just had to be persistent with chairs, you know? "Well, if you can't do it this semester, you promise me that you'll try to do it, really try to do it," you know, "next semester."

Riggins: And then, you'd have to phone...

Myers: Then, you'd have to phone them up, and say, "Remember, you remember, you said..." Yeah. But I consistently had chairs who saw it as something that was of great value for their faculty to do. And they were very supportive. And, even if they were hard-pressed, they many times would say, "Yeah, I'll let so-and-so teach."

Riggins: Because they could see it...

Myers: They could see it as something that-- you know, in a way, it's, again, kind of taking a different tack in a class, such as an honors class, that gives faculty new insights in how to deal with their regular classes. And, you know, faculty saw that, and chairs, also, could see that.

Riggins: They have just a couple of minutes left on this tape.

Myers: Okay.

Riggins: I would like to switch to another tape, and ask you some about your research and your publishing, because I know you said you were publishing in honors, too, in that field?

Myers: Well, not really (laughs). I participated in conferences, in honors conferences, so there are [inaudible] honors conference papers and things that I did that might be considered part of a research agenda.

Riggins: I also know that before you left honors, you gave to archives some work that you've done in terms of exhibition programs, and also, some of the work about the Bouguereau [ph?]. I can't remember if you had written some of it.

Myers: Actually, I didn't write anything about Bouguereau, but I was involved in that whole process of getting that painting, you know, restored, and part--

Riggins: Working with Dr. Leutze on that.

Myers: Yeah, and getting that exhibited. So, it's...

Riggins: I would like to get some of that on tape, because I did have questions.

Myers: Yeah, I mean, my part was very small; I was just sort of there to be their historian, but the idea was not mine (laughs) [inaudible].

Riggins: Since you experienced that historic moment when it was revealed, I'd like to hear about it.

Myers: Sure. Sure.

Riggins: So, thank you, and we can just take a break.

Myers: Okay.

Riggins: And then, if you don't mind, go onto the next tape. Thanks.

(tape change)

Riggins: I'm back. This is Adina Riggins in the background and we're back for tape two of Oral History Interview with Dr. John W. Myers, and we're continuing to discuss your career here at UNCW. Today of course is June 12th, 2008. And we were finishing up on the last tape talking about the Honors Program and where that took you, not away from Art History but in conjunction with Art History; you were doing some work in Honors and how you really enjoyed that. And then you ended up staying there it seems like. You started there in about 2001 or so and then when you retired you stayed there.

Myers: I retired in 2006. I was there for four years; I remember I was there for four years. So count backward.

Riggins: Yes, yes. And we're here in the library, which is where the Honors Program was held.

Myers: Also I should add, because I think this is an important part, I said I hadn't been involved in Honors before. That was not true. I was the Honors Director of the Study Abroad Program.

Riggins: Really?

Myers: In 2000, I think; which is one of the reasons that Kate Bruce was so interested in my application for the Associate Directorship. So I did, yes I did teach Honors before I came to Honors. And that was in Swansea.

Riggins: Did you? Okay.

Myers: And that was a wonderful experience.

Riggins: So that Swansea program has been going on for awhile then.

Myers: It has. And I don't remember the first year it started but it was back in the mid to late-nineties. It must've been after I stepped down as chair, because I know one of the earlier directors of that program was Rob Nathanson in Music, and I didn't even know he'd done that until I applied for the position and had a chance to talk to him.

Riggins: And that program accepted Honors students.

Myers: It accepted Honors students. It recruited students from the program here but it also was advertised among all Honors programs throughout the United States; kind of a blanket invitation to apply for the program was sent out. And the year I did it I think I had 15 students and I think only four of them were from UNCW. The rest of them were from all over the United States.

Riggins: All different schools.

Myers: Yes.

Riggins: And they all took classes together?

Myers: Actually the whole idea of the program was to-- there was an internship involved in their discipline that they were supposed to complete during the month of January, and then the academic term at the University of Wales, Swansea began at the end of January, and then they were supposed to take-- they could Basic Studies courses or if there were courses that were offered that could be transferred back to their major, they took those courses.

Riggins: So they were with the rest of the regular students.

Myers: They took courses with the student population...

Riggins: Oh that's great.

Myers: Swansea. And the only thing that-- well not the only thing-- but they had the internship, which the year I was there lasted the whole semester. So they had to, once a week, they went to participate in their internship. I remember one student was interested, well he was interested in marketing. He was a marketing major from his university, so he went and worked at one of the department stores in Swansea. Another was interested in Ancient History and Archeology, and he worked with somebody from the-- I can't remember the full name-- but the Trust in Swansea and he went out and explored Roman ruins and Celtic ruins. So it was a great opportunity for them to do that kind of thing. But then I taught a two-credit seminar which the year I taught it wasn't much different from what others had done but was the History and Culture of Wales. And so we took fieldtrips. We went to visit-- oh gosh, now his name's just gone out of my head, the famous Welsh writer.

Riggins: Oh, Dylan Thomas.

Myers: Dylan Thomas. We went to Laugharne-- I can remember the name of the town he came from-- and visited his house in Laugharne. There was a museum actually in Swansea, the Dylan Thomas Museum, we went to that. We went to the Welsh Museum of History and Culture which is outside of Cardiff, and we went to Cardiff and the museum. So we did things like that. And then we read A History of Wales, which is the most brilliant history I could've selected, but the whole thing was new to me; I didn't know anything about the history of Wales so I was learning right along with them. And so we would read a chapter and then we'd get together to discuss it. But the best times were when we got together and went on little fieldtrips. But we met, for that course, we met in my apartment and usually had potlucks. So that was fun too, that was fun too. And a number of the students who were accepted into that program weren't actually even in Honors but they sort of filled out the group. And I remember we had some money dedicated to a fieldtrip for the whole group and we went to Stonehenge and Bath; and so we got around quite a bit. That was fun. They lived in the Student Village, which in the UK they call a self-catering situation. They have kitchens in houses that have rooms and they share baths and so forth; but co-ed living conditions, and they all got together and-- you could cook your own food but usually what they did was they got together and they assigned meals, and so you would cook for the whole house on certain days. So that was a great experience for them.

Riggins: And that is typically one of the popular study programs. People have a good experience with them.

Myers: Have a great experience. Even though Wales often in- from January through March, the end of March, can be pretty harsh. The year I was there they had what we would think of as a spring thaw, here in the States, that lasted from February through the middle of March, and by the end of February, just as they do here, the daffodils were in bloom and the spring flowers were coming out. So it was really quite beautiful. But you can spend that spring semester in Wales and not see the sun more than twice in the whole time. But we were very lucky, we had good weather that year.

Riggins: But the students-- that's part of the whole charm, they got into it. Did they have trouble I would think with those Welsh accents?

Myers: Actually no. It's a wonderful kind of lilting accent. It's somewhere between Irish and Scottish and they're all from a Celtic background. So no, it wasn't that hard to understand.

Riggins: Wow, that sounds like a great experience. And your wife probably enjoyed that too.

Myers: Well she was teaching full-time, but she was teaching year-round school. So she had three weeks off in sort of at the beginning of spring, and for two of those weeks she came over and we traveled. So that was nice. But most of the time I was a bachelor.

Riggins: Right, right, on your own. So that sounds great. So you came back from there and that was your first experience with--.

Myers: First experience with Honors, yes, first experience with Honors.

Riggins: Made you interested.

Myers: So it was not a hard decision to apply for that position and then to jump at the chance to do it.

Riggins: They had you onboard.

Myers: Exactly.

Riggins: That's really neat. Well I wanted to also ask you about this history of Bouguereau painting, which is the famous painting that was rediscovered in the Kenan House after being just-- people were not aware of what--.

Myers: Well it was-- yes, it was part of the collection of paintings and art objects that the Kenan's had collected on their various trips to Europe, in the 1800s. And it's really interesting because I can't recall having seen it, and I've been to Kenan House before it actually was rediscovered.

Riggins: They may have moved it or not had it in the public part.

Myers: Well it hung for years right where it hangs today in the main sort of solarium and entrance hall to Kenan House.

Riggins: It was dark.

Myers: But it was very dark and so when it was picked up to be in the 19th Century Art Show at the High Museum in Atlanta it was conserved-- it was cleaned and conserved-- and I think that was part of the deal in letting them borrow it.

Riggins: The article you that you gave me, I believe before you left Honors, said that the director of the High, I think he had been to Kenan House and when he was conceiving of this topic he said, "Well what about that one in North Carolina?" And so that's how it all got rolling.

Myers: Uh-hum, uh-hum. And it is an exceptional painting. And actually that exhibition was done during the tenure of Dr. Wagoner as chancellor.

Riggins: Oh okay.

Myers: Yes.

Riggins: Oh it was?

Myers: Yes, because I remember a year or so after that exhibition took place-- and I'm pretty sure I'm right about this-- that I went over to visit with Dr. Wagoner because there'd been a request for a slide of it, an image of it, from-- I think it actually was a professor at an English university had written me and said, "You know, I'd really love to have an image of this to use in teaching." Of course there weren't any slides of it. So I went over to visit with Dr. Wagoner and he had to take the-- it was a color negative, out of the university safe and he entrusted it to me and I took it to a local photo shop and they made several slides of it.

Riggins: Oh wow. [Unintelligible].

Myers: Then I started using it actually. Up until that time I had no way of dealing with it. And it's an exceptional painting, it's really a beautiful example of the artist's work.

Riggins: I can't remember the title of it.

Myers: It's "Young Woman Defending Herself From Love," is the English translation.

Riggins: Yes, yes. And the study of it is in the Getty Museum.

Myers: I didn't know that, I didn't know that.

Riggins: It's much smaller. I saw it in the Getty, and that is-- like if you look online and do some research it'll stay the study is there and then some places it'll say Private Collection of North Carolina for the actual painting.

Myers: For the actual painting.

Riggins: Yes.

Myers: Yes, well and of course it was during Dr. Leutze's time as chancellor that it was loaned to the North Carolina Museum; it was on sort of semi-permanent loan to the North Carolina Museum. And I don't know why it came back to North Carolina.

Riggins: Why it came back to--?

Myers: Why it came back-- I'm sorry, why it came back to Wilmington and Kenan House.

Riggins: Well because it's was owned by--.

Myers: Well I know, but I thought it was on, as I said, semi-permanent loan to the North Carolina Museum, basically because the Leutze's were concerned about having such an important work in Kenan House for insurance purposes and so on. But now it's back.

Riggins: Yes, it was back when he was chancellor too, and then it was at Cameron, when Cameron opened.

Myers: Right.

Riggins: So it's gone on--.

Myers: And then too you must have a poster. Have you ever looked at the posters of it?

Riggins: I have many.

Myers: Yes, yes, because--.

Riggins: They did that.

Myers: And that I think was part-- it was part of a campaign by Advancement to raise some money for the Art Department actually at the time, and it was during the time that Tony Janson was the chair. And he was the one who actually gave, I think, several lectures on Bouguereau and on painting of the 19th century. I was not involved with that. So as I said earlier, my involvement was really quite minimal. I didn't write anything but I did get that slide made for-- and then I had several other requests in later years for images.

Riggins: Well in terms of your career you went to conferences and presented on ______________.

Myers: Uh-hum.

Riggins: Was there certain associations that you were most active in?

Myers: Yes, my favorite, all-time favorite, is the Southeastern College Art Conference, which is an association of states in the southern region: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida. They were the main ones at the beginning and we sort of spread west a little bit. But that has become a very important organization for art historians, and I became involved in that relatively early on, and went to Chattanooga, Tennessee was my first meeting, to give a paper on Ashadik [ph?], on my dissertation artist. And I gave another paper on him a few years later. And then my-- actually the last paper I gave at CCAP. But I was involved; I was the secretary of the organization for three years and then I served two terms on the board of directors, and then I was involved with the conference, the annual conference that was held at Chapel Hill with Arthur Marks, who was then the chair of the department at Chapel Hill, and he and I put together the Art History sessions for that program. So I really was involved; and I haven't been to meetings in several years. But the last paper I gave there was on Minnie Evans.

Riggins: Oh yes, you had spoken on her.

Myers: Yes. As a result of that paper I was invited to write an article on Evans for the Southern Quarterly, and I think the library has a copy of that.

Riggins: Of the article.

Myers: It should at least have a copy of that journal.

Riggins: Journal-- they should.

Myers: You might have two or three years of that journal and then that may be all. But I think that the copy with mine is in there. So I did write that article for Southern Quarterly.

Riggins: That's quite an amazing story on Minnie Evans.

Myers: Yes, yes, and I've given that lecture a number of times at Wilmington. I did it at St. Johns when they were still in the old building. And I've actually, I've used that lecture in one of the hands-on classes, seminars, the one-credit seminars that I did in Honors, which was Wilmington culture; it was on Wilmington culture or culture in Wilmington. So we looked at art, theater and music in Wilmington and I just, I said, "Okay, here's an example of somebody who has had a great deal of influence." And so I gave that lecture in my class as well.

Riggins: On that list of questions I always include the question who else should I talk to for this Oral History Project? And this may coalesce with the question on who was influential to you? You can answer one or the other or both of those questions. But I always like to ask interviewees who are some people I definitely should not forget, and if I've already interviewed them that's fine.

Myers: I think you've interviewed most of the people that I've said were influential in my life.

Riggins: I haven't interviewed Dr. Leutze yet. We're working on it.

Myers: You're working on it, huh?

Riggins: Yes.

Myers: He's a little hard to pin down.

Riggins: Yes, he's busy.

Myers: Well that was the funny part about my doing this interview with you. It was almost a year ago to the day, in May, the beginning of May, that you'd asked me to do this interview, and I kept that email among the emails in my inbox.

Riggins: Flagged.

Myers: Flagged for the whole year and finally I said, "I've got to contact Adina and do this." And it was like May 7th I think that you-- the original email was dated May 5th.

Riggins: Oh that's funny. That's wild that you'd do that. Good follow-through.

Myers: It was follow-through, right.

Riggins: Yes, it takes awhile. But that's great. That's why I guess you did well in administration, detail. Are you detail-oriented?

Myers: Yes, I am, yes, I am detail-oriented. But I can't tell you the number of emails that I've deleted that I should've saved.

Riggins: Oh that's good you got it. We get so many.

Myers: Ah, let's see. Have you interviewed Caroline Simmons?

Riggins: No. I have talked to her.

Myers: I think she'd be real interesting for the years that she was Dean of Arts and Sciences. She'd have a lot to tell you.

Riggins: Yes, I have spoken with her and she seemed real interested but then we just kind of-- I couldn't get up with her again. But I know she was psychology also. Is her area psychology?

Myers: Yes, she's a clinical psychologist I believe.

Riggins: And Dean. So that's good. I can tell her that you suggested her name, and then that sometimes provides an in.

Myers: Well let's see. Kate Bruce.

Riggins: Well yes. Folks who are not retired.

Myers: Ready to retire yet, okay.

Riggins: Even people on phased--.

Myers: Put her on your list though.

Riggins: I will.

Myers: Because wow, she has been so important in bringing Honors up to the level that it's at today. Well let's see, who from my period is now retired? Walt Conser in Philosophy, Religion. He's on the verge of retiring I think, if he's--.

Riggins: Well I don't know if he's officially--.

Myers: Not officially? No.

Riggins: I know him. He's also a good person to talk to.

Myers: Oh gosh.

Riggins: Definitely people in Art and Art History. Sherman interviewed Tony Janson I believe.

Myers: Oh good.

Riggins: Because he knows him. And I've seen Tony around.

Myers: Right. I'd like to read his interview.

Riggins: Yes. I don't know if it's been transcribed yet.

Myers: Oh really?

Riggins: It needs to be, but I think it was lengthy.

Myers: Yes, I'm sure it was, I'm sure it was.

Riggins: Yes, he's really interesting.

Myers: Fascinating, a fascinating person in terms of not just his time here but his whole career.

Riggins: They cover it all, all that.

Myers: Gosh.

Riggins: And is Steven O'Quire [ph?] retired or is he--?

Myers: Steven O'Quire has been retired for 10 years, yes. Yes, he left to devote his time to his art.

Riggins: To sculpture? Is he a sculptor?

Myers: Well actually I think he still does sculpture. I haven't talked to him in a long time but he also, when he left, was working in the area of conservation, particularly of Native African artifacts. And he was working with-- what's his name, is it Charlie Davis? You would know him because he's done things here at Randall, but I can't think of his name. Maybe not Charlie but it's Davis, isn't it, his last name?

Riggins: Is he an artist?

Myers: He's a dealer.

Riggins: Oh okay.

Myers: He's a dealer.

Riggins: All right, yes, I know.

Myers: But he and Steve O'Quire hooked up many years ago and Steve is doing conservation on a number of the things that he was getting ready for sale.

Riggins: I haven't interviewed him yet.

Myers: Steve O'Quire would be- he'd be great. Yes, he'd be great, if he'd be willing to do it.

Riggins: Right, yes it sounds like he'd fit in. A number of people went on to different careers and yes, tracking them, getting them. But even the folks who are retired sometimes will-- many iterations of calls, not that they don't want to do it but there's just things going on, and maybe at first they didn't want to do it but now they're coming around and--.

Myers: Right. Well when you first asked me I thought well what'll I talk about? And here we are right into this second hour of--.

Riggins: I know if I wanted to check-- let me just see. We'll skip the committees, unless you really want to delve into it. You did a lot of service, I'm sure.

Myers: I did a lot of service, yes.

Riggins: With the Honors and with Honors Council.

Myers: Uh-hum. I was on the first revision of Basic Studies curriculum, on that committee. I'm trying to think of people I served with on that.

Riggins: I find that Basic Studies kind of went away. Not entirely, but I know when I went to college-- I graduated in 1990 and I was under the old way where we hardly had any-- I didn't go here-- but we didn't have very many requirements and I think there was a phase, maybe in the late '70s or so, where they said students should be able to assemble their own schedules outside of their majors. And I liked it because I had like maybe-- I had to take, for example, two courses in Natural Sciences, but they weren't lab courses and I was able to count Psychology and Physical--.

Myers: Because I remember in the '60s it was a very strong thing. We had lots of requirements in Science and Literature and History that we had to fulfill, and one was like a two-semester that could be two-year, the second year was optional, in Western Civilization, sort of like the Western Civ that they teach here; History 101 and 102 I think.

Riggins: Yes, well even now.

Myers: But yes Basic Studies was in place when I came and then in the, it was like the mid-'80s I think, we did a revision of it, that was much less contentious than the current one.

Riggins: Well at one point foreign language requirement went away here. Was that before your--?

Myers: Gosh, I can't remember. I think it's always been in place, at least one semester, since I've been in Fine Arts.

Riggins: Wow, since you've been involved.

Myers: Since I've been involved.

Riggins: So it must-- it was probably in the '70s when the--- because I've talked to folks in Foreign Languages. I don't know if you remember in German, a professor in German, Bill.

Myers: Oh I do. I knew him quite well as a matter of fact; can't remember his last name.

Riggins: Bill-- I'll think of it. But he spoke about the challenge of getting students in courses when there was no foreign language requirements, and they just weren't successful in getting that to be a requirement.

Myers: Right, right.

Riggins: But yes, so you were on the first revision in the early '80s.

Myers: I think it was early '80s, yes.

Riggins: Yes, yes. Well I know it just seems like-- no comment, no comment.

Myers: Well they're still trying to get the next iteration of it through.

Riggins: Basically when Chancellor DePaolo came she basically said let's do it and so that's all--.

Myers: We've been working on it ever since.

Riggins: Yes, five years.

Myers: Yes, other committees-- I've served on just about every committee you can imagine. I was in the Faculty Senate and--. Can't remember any of them.

Riggins: Oh yes. It's the way you conduct business around here. I used to think, oh it's just so time consuming and it's so hard and what's the point? But now I realize that that's really what you need to do because you need people, you need a committee, because you need people who are invested in it and not just one person. I had to learn the hard way because-- or not the hard way; I've learned, okay, if you have a committee and you have different people speaking up, it's better than just one person.

Myers: Exactly, exactly.

Riggins: So you need to do it, at least in this environment; it's different I'm sure in other types of businesses.

Myers: But I will tell you that as much as I enjoyed serving on committees, since I've been in phased retirement I have not missed not serving on committees; although I was on one, I volunteered to be on one, to hire our most recent position in Art and Art History, which was another art historian.

Riggins: Oh really? You served.

Myers: So I served on that committee. I was kind of ex officio but--.

Riggins: Yes, let's talk about your phased retirement. That's a program where you teach basically half the year.

Myers: Half-time. Well you can do it in one of two ways. You can teach what amounts to four preparations in one semester, which I've not wanted to do since I came here; since I experienced that when I first came here. Or you can teach two classes each semester and teach the full year. Now some of the Science faculty who are very involved in their labs and still very active in research like to do it all in one semester because they get dispensation for running a lab and therefore teach fewer preparations, I think-- now I may be wrong about this but this is my suspicion-- and they like to do it all in one semester. And then they have second semester or the other semester to really devote to their labs and their research without having to teach classes. For me it was never really that appealing. So and if I teach a double section of a survey class, that counts as well. So it works out. So don't publish this until after I retire because then the Dean might say, "Well I don't like that. He's got to teach two preparations."

Riggins: No.

Myers: So it works out for me. I worked it out with my Chair so that in the fall I generally teach two preparations and in the spring I teach one, a double section of a survey. And so that makes it palatable. And I wasn't really ready to be away for a whole semester. So it's been an interesting experience doing this. Next year's my last of three years.

Riggins: Wow. So you started in 06 I guess.

Myers: Yes. It really has been helpful in letting go.

Riggins: Different though.

Myers: Well, because you can be as involved as you want to be. So for the first year I went to every Faculty meeting. I was willing to serve on departmental committees. I didn't do any advising except sort of casually. If a student wanted to talk to me that was fine. And this past year I went to fewer faculty meetings, and I served on this one committee. And next year I've pretty much made up my mind that unless it's something that is of great importance I'm probably not going to go to any faculty meetings and I'm not going to serve on any committees. And we'll be hiring another position, hopefully somebody to replace me, next year, and I said, "I don't know if I want to be involved in that." So it's a gradual sort of letting go, and that's been a good thing, because I think it would've been really difficult to just quit cold turkey. And as it is, I-- phased retirees do not have an office.

Riggins: Oh. See I didn't know that.

Myers: They do not have a computer, unless there is a part-time faculty office for the department, and then you throw in your lot with all the part-time faculty and set up office hours and get to use the common computer, if you want to. So I bought myself a laptop as soon as I retired and I carry that back and forth with me.

Riggins: Where do you do office hours?

Myers: Well my Chair has been very generous. He has, in the new building, has a studio that will- is being reserved for him because he's a practicing artist, so that when he retires that will become his office studio. In the meantime we've partitioned if off with bookcases; so he has two-thirds of the office, in the back, by the window, and I have the front part of the office. And so that's where my office is. So that's been nice because I do have a dedicated place that I can come and meet students and leave all my junk and leave it while I'm in class and so forth and not have to worry about other faculty, part-time faculty and trying to share the space with them; because he's down in the Chair's office, downstairs. So that works out very well.

Riggins: Right, oh that's good, yes.

Myers: And he's not going to step down until the end of this coming year. So I still have an office. But I spend most of my days at home, in my study at home. That's where I put together my classes. And because we have now the digital image database, which we use for teaching, all of our images-- painting, sculpture and architecture and decorative arts and so forth-- are in a database, which can be accessed remotely.

Riggins: Remotely, yes.

Myers: Which is wonderful.

Riggins: Right, right, a great help.

Myers: So I can put together all my lectures. I can actually search sites, Internet sites on the computer which are-- how do you say?

Riggins: Relevant.

Myers: Well they're open-source. So you can take images from them without having to deal with...

Riggins: Right, public domain.

Myers: ...public domain, without having to deal with copyright, and I can actually capture those images and put them into the database so that I can use them in my classes; which is wonderful.

Riggins: You can catalog them in the database.

Myers: Right. So, for example, Wikipedia is one of my sources. Though I wouldn't go to it for research, the images are usually public domain.

Riggins: Right, that's interesting, yes.

Myers: And some of them are excellent. So I get lots of architectural images from there and I can put them into my classes and ultimately they can become part of the database without having to worry about copyright.

Riggins: Yes, and I'm sure in your field visual aids in art history is always important.

Myers: Oh yes, exactly.

Riggins: Yes. What do you foresee as being your main avocation during retirement?

Myers: That's a good question. I would love to travel but the way the economy and gas prices are going I don't know what we'll be able to do. But I've always wanted to travel more in Europe. And I did a summer session class for students and took them to Italy, and we were there for five weeks, in Florence.

Riggins: Wow. That was UNCW students?

Myers: They were UNCW students, yes. I taught Survey of Art from the Renaissance-- it was supposed to be from the Renaissance to the Contemporary period. I leave it up to you to guess how far I got.

Riggins: Oh, but it was summertime? It was short.

Myers: It was short, and we were in Italy. So what do you teach? The Italian Renaissance. I think I made it into the Baroque and then of course my emphasis was on Italian Baroque. But that was a great experience. And so I've been back to Italy once. I did a continuing-- or what do we call it?

Riggins: Oh like public service in continuing studies.

Myers: Public service-- yes a continuing studies trip for adults, older adults we'll say.

Riggins: Was that to Britain or--?

Myers: No that was to Italy.

Riggins: Italy. Oh wow.

Myers: Yes we went on Spring Break. Didn't have enough time but we went to Rome, Florence and Venice. And that was fun, and that was the last time I've been. So I want to get back. And I've been to the United Kingdom several times. When I was Chair I managed to finagle my way into chaperon status on several of Joe Hickman's choir trips to Germany and Austria. And so-- I just love Europe. My wife and I are particularly enamored of the United Kingdom, which is part of her heritage, and Italy.

Riggins: And Italy. It makes sense.

Myers: So hopefully we'll be able to save our pennies and do that kind of thing. I just expect to read a lot of the books in my library that I've only been able to do this section and that section, and this page and that page. And as I finish reading them they will be donated to the library.

Riggins: Wow, thank you. I appreciate that.

Myers: So I've done a little bit of that already, cleaning out some things.

Riggins: You must have known pretty well the Director of International Programs for a long time. No, see I haven't looked at this list.

Myers: The French professor.

Riggins: The French professor from Scotland.

Myers: Yes from Scotland.

Riggins: Yes.

Myers: Oh gosh, his name has gone right out of my head too.

Riggins: That's good. See I have to admit I haven't been on the list for an interview for a long time, I've been doing other things. These names haven't been in my brain for a few months, or more. But I interviewed him. He was great.

Myers: Oh and my interview was fun.

Riggins: Oh yes.

Myers: He was fun.

Riggins: Oh yes, but you must've--.

Myers: Oh I knew him very well, yes.

Riggins: Yes. He's still here, I've seen him. And I thought he went to--.

Myers: I'm not sure if he's in phased retirement or--.

Riggins: He retired.

Myers: He did retire. I think he went cold turkey actually.

Riggins: Yes.

Myers: I talked to him about it and he said, "I'd rather just--." But he's on campus quite a bit. I've seen him on campus a number of times. But yes, he was Director of International Programs when I took my students to Italy, that summer I took my students to Italy. And he was very helpful. He actually gave me a nice little-- well actually we raised- we padded the cost of it for students enough so that I had a nice little amount for travel, for fieldtrips and so on, and we didn't use it all. And when I came back I said, "You know, darn, I would've done more if I'd known- if I could've found the time and I'd known I had more money that I could access," and so on. So he was very kind. It all went back into the International Studies budget. And was it two years? Two years later I took the students to-- I was the director of the Honors semester at Swansea and I went to him and I said, "Would you give some of that money that I didn't spend?" And he did. So we were able to have great...

Riggins: Oh that's really great.

Myers: ...great fieldtrips for the Honors students. And it's not fair not to remember his name, now that we're talking about it.

Riggins: I know. I don't know what we were saying, somebody in the United States, James.

Myers: Jim McNabb.

Riggins: McNabb, thank you.

Myers: Jim McNabb, yes.

Riggins: Thank you Jim McNabb. Yes, he's-- yes, that's the one.

Myers: And he's a character, he's a character.

Riggins: Too bad the State of North Carolina does not work that way. If you don't spend your money they don't give it back to you. They don't do that.

Myers: Yes, because when I first talked to him he said, "Well it all goes back into the International programs and we'll use it for other things." Well he had a nice little slush fund apparently that he could use for things like that, and he remembered me when I needed it.

Riggins: I know what it is; I just don't want to submit it, right?

Myers: So that was nice. Yes. That comes from another pot of money? Have you ever heard that before?

Riggins: Yes. I've worked for the State now seven years so I have heard that. How many pots are you sitting on?

Myers: Right, exactly, exactly.

Riggins: Yes there is a certain amount of discretion that's for sure. So I thank you very much for your time.

Myers: You are more than welcome. It's been a pleasure. It's been fun reminiscing.

Riggins: Yes. And I wish all the best to you and your family.

Myers: Thank you.

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