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Interview with Charles Lewis, August 12, 2002 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Charles Lewis, August 12, 2002
Date:
August 12, 2002
Description:
At the time of this interview, Charles A. Lewis, Jr., was a professor in the Department of Heath, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER), which is now called the Department of Health and Human Sciences (HAHS). He began phased retirement in July, 2000 and began teaching at the university in 1982. Dr. Lewis' academic specialty is Parks and Recreation Management. He has served as chair of HPER in the past. His primary area of teaching is leisure service management. Dr. Lewis discusses the department, the university and how it has evolved, and his role in creating international exchange programs for students in HPER. Among the people who have influenced him and been helpful to him: James R. Leutze (chancellor) and James McNab (assistant provost for International Programs)
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Lewis, Charles Interviewer: Lack, Adina Date of Interview: 8/12/2002 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 58 minutes

Lack: Good afternoon. My name is Adina Lack and I’m the archivist at UNCW. I’m here with Dr. Charles Lewis, professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. He has just begun phased retirement. We’ll be talking to him about his career here at UNCW and other aspects of his life.

Lack: Dr. Lewis, I understand you were born in Port Washington, New York.

Lewis: Correct.

Lack: Did you grow up in that area?

Lewis: All the way through high school. Small town, not much unlike the Wilmington area, on the north shore of Long Island. The nickname of the people that come from that part of the world is clam digger. So I grew up from birth to high school situation in the same town.

Lack: Same house?

Lewis: Same house, my brother still owns it. We lived very close to the water in that town. Have an interesting history. My grandfather was the county treasurer of Nassau County, the county in which Port Washington is located. He was also very active in national Republican politics in the turn of the 1900’s through his death in 1927. Was the first postmaster of the community, had the first car dealership I believe in town. Has a very interesting history.

Lack: Sounds like it, sounds like there’s good material there for a family history.

Lewis: There is, I’m in the midst of all the genealogy now.

Lack: That’s great. What did you do following high school?

Lewis: Well following high school, I went to the New York State Maritime College. There were several possibilities, but the financial reality was that an undergraduate degree and a commission in the Naval reserve and a federal license as a U.S. Merchant Marine officer was a very attractive package and I realized that I’d get a lot of travel in the summers on the training cruises and so I packed off with the idea that maybe someday I’d be a professional mariner.

That did happen and it didn't last long, but worked for the government, military sea transportation service and then decided to go into teaching actually and did two Master’s degrees, one in education and one in English and used the summers to be a relief deck officer on merchant ships, finally ending in 1969.

That was my first step. Then I spent almost 20 years in public education and university work in New York state and then two years in New Hampshire, the University of New Hampshire and then in 1982, I came to Wilmington, 20 year period.

Lack: Yes, you were here for 20 years, retiring in July 2002. When did you enter the field?

Lewis: Well that’s very interesting. In 1966, I worked for a consulting group as a collateral employment and wrote a federal grant, helped write a federal grant for public school districts under the elementary and secondary education act and the subtitle was Programs to Advance Creativity in Education. That was submitted and lo and behold funded for a three year period.

It was funded late in the summer and they were looking for a chief administrator for the project. That’s where I went, became the director for a very successful Title III project for 65,000 children in 10 school districts and had the real good fortune to make contact with a Dr. Milton Gabreson at NYU and taking care of prerequisite courses and substitutions etc., and became a matriculated doctoral student at NYU in ’66.

Finished, went only at night and in the summers. In two years, I did all the requirements, two foreign languages, proposal and qualifying exams and dissertation and defense and finished in two years and launched entry into a little niche called Outdoor Education and Recreation. Then that blossomed out into part-time teaching at Hunter College in the graduate program in the evening and then to the University of New Hampshire and the rest is history.

So I became really a specialist in recreation, in outdoor and camping education and then blossomed out into the broader range, recreation itself.

Lack: Did they recruit you from the University of New Hampshire? That’s how it worked.

Lewis: Yes they did. Then I went up there and had a wonderful short two year stint and then came to state university, Cortland, New York which had one of the premier graduate and undergraduate programs in recreation in the country, one of the oldest and I spent eight years there as head of the department.

Then I had the very good fortune to have a friend at Chapel Hill that recommended me to the people at Wilmington. So I moved from recreation as a discipline into health, physical education and recreation, broadened the administrative exposure and decided to come to Wilmington.

Lack: The contact at Chapel Hill let you know about…

Lewis: Let me know about this position while I was on sabbatical in Israel and I followed through and was invited to interview here and then offered the position.

Lack: And you were glad for the opportunity to move south?

Lewis: I came south knowing that it was a distinctive region by history and culture and tradition, saw a lot of opportunity here at UNCW which at that point in time had about 5200 students. It was really a Monday through Friday type campus and catered really to the high schools in the area and came with the idea that there was work to be done and challenges to be met and decided to stay.

Lack: I see. What have you observed about your department over your 20 year time here?

Lewis: Well the department has certainly blossomed. It had a lot of potential as I saw it in 1982. We did not have a minor or a major in health. We now have an undergraduate degree program which is co-related in physical education, but a wonderful program emerging in community and school health. We did not have an athletic training program. We now have an accredited undergraduate degree program in athletic training which is wonderful.

We now have more than a teaching degree in physical education. We have a generalist, non-teaching degree in physical education, focus on exercise science at this point in time. Our parks and recreation program in 1982 and I think part of the challenge, opportunity created for me was to get that program nationally accredited. We have been accredited for 20 years now nationally in parks and recreation.

That program has grown from single focus orientation of leisure management to two separate degrees now, one in leisure service management and one in therapeutic recreation. We have added faculty to bring depth and diversity to health, physical education and recreation.

When I came here, scholarship and research was marginal at best. We now have a very productive contributing faculty of professional literature. We have grants going on and then of course my specialized interest in international programs has taken hold here. So we’ve come a long way.

Lack: That’s fascinating. I appreciate the overview of your department because I’ve talked to David Miller, but I believe you two are the first HPR people I’ve talked to. I’ve learned about the growth, but that is a lot of majors for one department if you look at it.

Lewis: You know when you consider that university budgeting for faculty positions is primarily oriented to full time enrollment equivalents in majors, you have to remember that every student that comes to Wilmington takes PED 101. That is a requirement in basic studies so we have a service component and function. That has grown to meet the demand of access over the years.

As a side note to that, when I came here I think with very few exceptions, all athletic coaches were co-teaching, were lecturers in the department. Over time, the athletic program has grown to the point where it can fund those positions on a full-time basis so we have very few athletic people doing joint lecturing and coaching which is testimony to the growth.

Then you know, when you have recreation majors that number 140 plus and then add the PE majors to that list and to the students now interested in health, if you look at the funding of positions, our faculty growth from in the vicinity of 20 some odd positions to over 40 is substantiating by the fact that we produce. We track students. We have healthy placements for them and graduate school opportunities so the record clearly demonstrates administrative support for health, physical education and recreation.

Lack: Right, because more and more students are choosing that route.

Lewis: We have the numbers.

Lack: You have the numbers. Do you see a growth in interest in health and PE corresponding perhaps to in America we tend not to have very health life styles and that’s an epidemic in some ways. So at the same time, it’s encouraging to see the students are… more interested.

Lewis: Well from the top down from the perspective of national health and fitness, the concept of wellness is coming up. So yes, we have an obesity problem in the country with a high percentage of overweight folk in the population and obese children. The idea is not to focus on short solutions to those problems, but to educate over a life span for nutrition and exercise and activity and social involvement and the fact that compared to professional athletics, recreation and intramural and hobbies and interests in the outdoors, swimming, camping, all the things that keep people in a healthy lifestyle points right to us.

Good case in point where the two come together is assisted living nursing homes and geriatric programs, all of the demographic data indicates that life span has increased significantly and the fact that reimbursement for services in clinical settings is very closely tied to the provision of activity programs. It’s not a surprise then to us in the field to see that the promising career availability in time to come is going to be in those programs and settings that offer healthy activity programs for an aging population.

We are very fortunate to be on the cutting edge of training people for that. Certainly here in Wilmington for example, we have a variety of geriatric settings where students can practicum and internship experiences in hospital settings and psychological settings where activity is important. So it’s a growth place. Any student that looks for career opportunities in immediate years to come will look in the health field and will find our programs listed as possible majors.

Lack: Sounds like a real proponent. Did you have an administrative position in the department? Were you department chair?

Lewis: Yes, I was hired originally in 1982 as the head of the department. As a matter of fact, David Miller that you referred to was the chairman of the search committee and he was doing double duty as an assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and acting chair of HPER and then I’m sure that my arrival set the tone. It was the first time the parks and recreation person in terms of the disciplines had been appointed head of the department here.

I did that for eight years and then returned to faculty. Then I had a chance to come back in the late 90’s and do a two year stint as an interim acting chair until the current person, Dr. Stockton was hired. He came aboard. He’s a health person so now we can say in the history of the department, that parks and recreation and health people have now shared with people like David Miller in PE. So we’ve had people from all the fields head the department and that’s been healthy.

Lack: I’d like very much to hear about your role in international travel. Did you do travel since you’ve come to UNCW?

Lewis: Well actually during the interview process, that was one of the things that was addressed, the future for study abroad in our fields. At Cortland I had developed a program with the Polytechnic of North London. We also had a program with the Deutsche Hochsbor in Germany for PE people and so we took upwards of a 100 students each year to England and some in Germany.

I spent my time in England because we had a wonderful match with leisure service management and recreation in England. We were very successful and my sabbatical in Israel was to lay the groundwork for an exchange between the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Wingate Institute at SUNY Cortland. Of course my relocation here just had me keep right up in the front of my thinking that HPER has a rightful place in study abroad.

So through the assistance of Dr. Jim McNab, our associate person for international programs, Jim accompanied me to Cardiff Institute. They have one of the finest PE programs in the UK if not Europe and equally developed leisure service program. We enacted an agreement that started first in London with Bedford College out of Bedford, England, another big PE recreation school. I took groups in the summer. We lived at Regents Park in London. We conducted a wonderful program for two summers at Regents College.

Then we had people come from Bedford and we had Bedford administrators and faculty here. We took Dr. Hill and Dr. Burger and went to Bedford. The next step in the development of the program was Cardiff. So my last direct exposure was in ’99 and we took a group of students to Cardiff.

Lack: In Wales?

Lewis: In Wales and we placed them actually, took them for their internships. Twelve full weeks of work in Welsh agencies, the City of Cardiff Parks and Recreation Department, a health and fitness center, the Cardiff Devils professional ice hockey team. The kids were 8 to 5 and evenings and weekends doing exactly what they would do here in agencies in the States. It was just a wonderful experience.

We were living on the campus. We had special things like group Thanksgiving at the home that I lived on on campus. We got to know local people and we even had a few parents of the UNCW students come on holiday and share in some of the experiences.

Lack: This was a fall semester?

Lewis: Yeah, it was the full fall semester, came home just before Christmas. We were there for the opening of the Millennium Stadium, the biggest stadium in Europe. We were there for the world rugby competition. We even had, one of our girls was a lighted live human firecracker in one of the historic night events in the city of Cardiff. We had a great time.

We’ve had other experiences, in Sterling in Scotland and Jim and Bob have been promoting Australia along with Jim Hirstein and we did send a single student to Australia. She just graduated from here. International programs and the support we got from Jim McNab and his staff, I would have to say, well was a significant highlight of my time here.

We took UNCW, Dr. Shinn retired in our philosophy and religion department said that to be a true university, Wilmington has to be global. He invited me into his class with an Israeli visitor one time and people like Jerry Shinn and myself and others have certainly taken UNCW to the global level.

Lack: Dr. Leutze was a proponent of that, wasn’t he?

Lewis: Dr. Leutze, very strong. I attended the retirement luncheon the other day, service luncheon, in a very brief comment to me when he shook my hand and gave me my certificate, he said thank you for all that you’ve done for us here. I would say as a corollary to his statement that Dr. Leutze created many opportunities here at the university for faculty to thrive and develop and for programs to expand. He’s enthusiastic about those programs that he supports. I consider that relationship and his personal interest in individual faculty like myself to be a real plus here.

Lack: That’s good to hear. For example, the trip to Wales, is that becoming an annual thing?

Lewis: Well right now we’re kind of in limbo. You know, I’m sure you’re sensitive to the fact that people make things happen and you have to have individuals that want to take the leadership roles and they have to have the experience themselves and all of the right situational factors going. We do have turnover, we do have retirement. We do have limited resources and finally you have to have students that are interested in going. It’s a commitment and an expense for them.

I don’t think we’re out of the picture. I think it’s a lingering thing. We’re still toying with Australia. Our faculty is still talking.

Lack: What about Israel?

Lewis: Oh, I just wish that could come to pass. I think it would be exciting for our department in a variety of ways. The lifestyle and the life pattern and life in general doesn’t have total equivalency here in Wilmington. For example, physical education is very tied to national defense and survival and the focus is not so much on ASC’s and NFL’s and things like that. It’s on individualized sports like swimming and running and things of that sort.

Lack: Hiking.

Lewis: Hiking and there are teams and they compete internationally of course. They have the Maccabee games and games for the handicapped. It’s just different. Recreation means different things in different geographies and cultures.

Lack: I would think that an international program to Israel would get students interested in religion. There’s a lot of interest in that here.

Lewis: Well you know there are so many opportunities for directed individual studies, special projects, comparative studies that can be done in and through a study abroad program. Israel is just something that has roughly a 50 year history as a state and to see what they’ve done in the conditions in which the country exists, just starting from water and the concept of water resources, the collective farms, the kibbutzim, the YMCA in Israel and the Institute for Cultural Understanding of Youth and folk dance and music and all those things.

We’re on the periphery here. We think we know. Socrates said although you think you know something, you know it not until you’ve experienced it. So it’s very important that students be able to go to places that are not carbon copies of where they come from to encounter the realities of differences. That’s why I’m a big proponent of it.

Lack: When you spent your sabbatical in Israel, you were teaching at another university?

Lewis: Well I was lecturing at the Wingate Institute which is in Natania, a side town on the north coast.

Lack: This is before you came to UNCW, right?

Lewis: Just before I came. I was there. They were considering a program, a degree thrust and development in the area of “recreation”. So I was lecturing on models of park and recreation programs in this country and then visiting some of their classes and working mostly with administration.

Lack: Could you use English there?

Lewis: Oh yeah, everybody is fluent in English. I got a chance through my hosts to be in homes with Israelis that were native born and immigrants to Israel from the Diaspora. I got into non-Israeli homes, Arab homes. I got into many of the historic battle sites and Massada and Ah Negev, got into of course Haifa and Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and different places. I did the whole theology bit from the Christian faith point of view. Just had a total emerging during the time I was there.

I was in homes, St. Peter’s ________, visited the Western Wall, the Tombs, Yosemine and all of those kinds of places. I came back profoundly thankful that I had a personal time. I remember the Masonic fraternity, the fraternity exists in the state of Israel. They have the Grand Lodge in Israel.

I attended an Israeli lodge, Lodge ______ which is consists basically of a lot of Algerian Jewish families that immigrated to Israel. On the evening that I attended the Lodge, the Grand Master of the lodge who was himself an Arab, was present and I witnessed a wonderful ritual evening and a great celebration of hospitality and food and beverage afterward.

I came back realizing that the Masonic connection is an important one. I would assume that would be the same for service clubs like Rotary International and people in the Y, if they could go there and see what’s going on, I think they’d find those kinds of things equally enlightening.

I attended and visited at the Hebrew University, the University of Haifa, the only six institutions of higher education in Israel. So I hit most of them. Again, just the simple fact that Israeli youth have compulsory military service at the end of the high school years for a three year period and then continue if physically able in the defense forces until the age of 45, puts a different perspective on one’s life.

They’re older when they go to the university compared to direct from high school to college and so you become very much aware of the fact that if you’re interested in social roles of men and women, you’ll find less difference in expectation and placement and things like that over there. Men and women seem to be much more equal in Israel.

Lack: In terms of?

Lewis: In terms of functioning in society, their roles and responsibilities and the opportunities. That was opening new perspectives for me personally.

Lack: And you’ve been back since then?

Lewis: No, I’ve not been back, but I’m going. I will go sometime. Like McArthur said, “I shall return”.

Lack: Let me know when you’re going because I’d like to go.

Lewis: Well it’s a wonderful thing. I met in the YMCA a Polish Jew who walked in the World War II years all the way through Europe to Israel to take citizenship. Of course those people have a life story that brings the history of the 1940’s alive in a very real way. I met a lot of people like that, not only in Israel, but through traveling all over the world.

That is the important thing about opportunities for UNCW students. Can you imagine being a student being from Lumberton, never out of southeastern North Carolina and getting on a plane and arriving at Heathrow or Gatwick Airport. And they will see within arrival and clearing of customs more colors, shapes and hear more sounds and dialects and see more different kinds of packing your belongings and more ways of bringing food along to eat than they’ve ever seen in their entire life.

Lack: That’s part of the experience.

Lewis: And that has to be an experience that will change their lives.

Lack: How did the students feel on your trips with them?

Lewis: Well we did a lot of work in Wilmington before we went. They were told, for example, when you arrive the first thing you do when you clear customs is to take your luggage and get to the side. Sit down either on your luggage or a seat and just look. Then of course their first challenge is to get from the airport to the dormitory.

Lack: And so many of them have probably never been on public transportation.

Lewis: They’ve never been on double-decker buses, never been in the tubes, never been in a taxi even, where the languages of the world are spoken, never dealt with currency. I said to them, “I’ll be waiting for you. I’ll be there from 9 til noon. You arrive at 6:00 in the morning. You have that much time to get there”.

Lack: Probably a lot of them wanted to take a cab if they have a lot of luggage.

Lewis: Well you know, it was interesting looking at their journals and sharing the experiences. Some took the easy way. Right to the cab and paid the exorbitant fee. I don’t care, I just want to get there.

Lack: All the way from Gatwick, cause I’ve been there.

Lewis: From Gatwick, and the others said, no, I’m hoofing it, I’m going to hustle my luggage and get there. Some figured out that they could share expense. They arrived and they find that the dorm is different physically. The residence hall is run differently. In English universities, there’s a refectory and a bar right in the residence quarters. It’s entirely different. That’s exciting because when they come home, they come home with an experience that those haven’t been that way do not have.

Lack: Well I’m sure it was a good experience. I participated in study abroad and traveled and I’ve traveled since then a lot. What about complaining? Did you have to kind of say, you know, it’s okay to have fun and maybe comment on differences?

Lewis: Actually complaining, not really. The palate and the food for example in the dining hall is international. It’s not McDonald’s and Subway, the Pilot House. So they learn to try and taste. They learn to cope. They learn that responsibility is a little bit different than it is back here. I mean to go from Wilmington to London and then for a long weekend to take the Euro over to Paris and to spend two nights and then you tell them, every time you have a cup of coffee, it’s almost $2.50 that you’re spending. Think about it, would you spend $2.50 for a cup of coffee in Wilmington.

The reality of economics sets in. Some things are cheaper, some things more expensive. They quickly learn that they can go to the theater three times a day for the price of one show over here. So theater was a new experience. We had a group attendance at a theatrical production like Blood Brothers or Miss Saigon or something like that. They learn that there are cheap free things to do in London.

They learn that Wilmington has one or two museums, that there are lists of museums in London you can go to, art galleries, parks. They learn cricket and rugby and what they call football which is our soccer and croquet. American football, baseball, basketball – you’re in a different place.

They learn that the largest bookstore in the world is in London and they have per capita the largest reading interest in the world so you see people reading everywhere. They go to that bookstore, Foyle’s, seven stories. So they come home and they resume life at UNCW and from my point having been there with them, seeing what they’ve done and then continuing with them when they come back, they are different people.

Lack: From what you described too, just the transition, so many of them from small towns and southern North Carolina never having even been north and to experience that, it’s a true growth opportunity.

Lewis: Yeah, that’s a true story from Lumberton to London and not having been out of southeastern North Carolina. I had a girl from Pisgah, North Carolina go with us. Then we’ve had some people that are very traveled, they’ve been there, done that. It’s exciting. As I look back at it sitting here talking to you, I think that’s an important component.

Lack: Do you have travels planned? I guess now you’re doing phased retirement so you will be teaching. What will you be teaching?

Lewis: Well I’m going to be teaching the introduction course that I’ve always been teaching.

Lack: And that’s for all freshmen?

Lewis: No, that’s for the beginning majors in parks and recreation. We always get a good number of non-majors and students looking for what they perceive to be an easy course as a senior or perhaps a determining course for their major. So it’s a great course to teach. Then I’ll be doing some internships.

Travel, yes, I’m going to Romania and India. I’m going to Missouri in September for a very quick trip. Of course travel has always been on my agenda.

Lack: You mentioned that you know India very well.

Lewis: I know India, Europe, been to Scandinavia. Two parts of the world that I haven’t really been to are the Far East and South America. Those are the places where I have big voids and deficits. I’ve been to Africa. Again I think it’s a matter of orientation. I can remember in 1953-54-55, I took Spanish from a lady instructor who was near the end of her career.

The fundamentals were taught in terms of grammar, literature and memory and respect and interest for that language. She always used to say, some day you’ll go there and of course when you’re 16 or 17, you say right. But I did go there each of three summers as a cadet on training ships.

Then I did travel there to world conferences on leisure to Portugal and have been back even last May to a world conference in Madrid. So I used my language. It’s been very helpful. That’s what UNCW does for its students. It instills interest and motivation and enthusiasm if they find where they really need to be.

Lack: It sounds like you have a positive reflection on UNCW.

Lewis: I do. I cannot sit here and tell you I didn't think about leaving and that I did not try to leave vertically in administration. As I look back on it now and I tell people and I’ve told them all along, that UNCW is a good place to work. It is user friendly. It is student oriented. It still maintains in spite of growth, a personalized touch.

In spite of all the negatives in higher education around the country and even the pain of financial reality of recent time, we still have more than a lot of others. We’re still in a growth profile where we have a market of students that want to come here. So young scholars and teachers who have finished their Ph.D.’s who decide to join this community here at UNCW have the open potential for a career if they want it.

I think the key to that is to find out what we have and what we don’t have and make peace with it and get on with the business. If you can do that, you’ll have a great time at UNCW. I don’t have any regret in coming to UNCW. Not a single regret.

Lack: That’s good to hear.

Lewis: There have been good times and there have been not so good times, but you know you have to take the scales and decide.

Lack: It’s always going to be like that.

Lewis: I can tell you, over the 20 year period that I’ve been here, I never looked at retirement as being terminal. I’ll probably always continue to have kind of relationship here with the university.

Lack: In some capacity. That will be good to see you around here. It sounds like you had the opportunity to be active in your field. Did you attend conferences?

Lewis: Oh well, you know, over the time I’ve been president of the National Association of Leisure and Recreation, very involved at the district and state level. But I came here at an interesting point in time. I’ve been through the organizational climb and then when I came here, I really focused on UNCW and the state. So I have been active in organizations.

I’ve been very active on advisory boards and committees at the national level and have really, I’m drifting off into a real specialty. I wrote one of the first courses in legal issues related to parks and recreation and I’ve been doing a lot of expert witness testimony work over the years. That’s been a nice professional development. I’ve been in the North Carolina Parks Society for 20 years and I attend their conferences and encourage my colleagues to do those things. Yeah, I’ve been active professionally.

Lack: Did you do writing since you were here?

Lewis: Yeah and again you know, I came at a point in time where the main bulk of my productive scholarship was done just before I came here. Then I continued dabbling. I did more conference presentations since I came here. But I’ve done curriculum development, new courses and things of that sort.

Lack: So you’re probably on committees in the department as well as the university.

Lewis: Yeah, I’ve been involved, curriculum committee and things of that sort. Everybody has to share in the collateral duties. It’s fun, you get to meet people from all over the campus and particularly in the early years. I have a lot of “senior” friends on campus now that I really enjoyed.

Lack: Right, they were here at a time when it was much smaller. It’s good to hear their stories. Do you notice anything about the students, if they’ve changed over the years?

Lewis: Well one thing for sure, we have gotten a broader base of draw. Number two, I think that the middle to a great degree has disappeared. Students tend to be using gray distributions, A and B types. The bulk of the C types that we used to have, not necessarily here but in higher education in the 50’s onward have disappeared. A lot of the students that come here change their majors several times. That wasn’t true in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. It just wasn’t true.

I mean we had an anti-business approach in the Vietnam war era and some things weren’t cool and right to do in terms of pursuing studies that were corporate oriented. By in large one of the things I like about our program is we get kids that are in to what they want to do. I do notice that C’s, at least in our field, you’re either into it or you’re struggling.

Lack: I wonder why.

Lewis: I don’t really have a solution. I’d say thirdly that the students’ writing skills have improved over time. I think the major deficit that I see is just generic cultural dissociation. Kids that come have a limited horizon of experience. I think that’s a function of geography. You know, when you’re in Europe, you can be in another country in a day. Here it takes almost a day to get up to Washington, D.C. unless you fly.

So it’s different. So regionalism in this country, Midwestern, northeastern, southern, middle Atlantic, Pacific northwest, it’s still a reality for people all over the country. I think where some public education curriculums have lost specificity and broadness. They’re getting more topical and generic rather than the kind of program perhaps we went through, I went through in the 50’s in high school.

History is more issue rather than event oriented and sequential in terms of building blocks and so I guess I might be led to say in a critical way that they have a superficial exposure in many cases. But that’s the function of UNCW. You know, we pick them up where they are and through the basic studies and their majors, we provide the opportunity for them to fill in the gaps and move on.

Lack: That’s a good way to look at it. I mean that’s what needs to be done is cultivate what’s not there to grow. Are there people that you’ve gotten to know that were influential in some ways? You mentioned some of the students, but what about faculty or administrators?

Lewis: I mentioned Dr. Leutze. He invited me a few years ago to be a commencement speaker. As I look back on my time here and my career, there have been very few faculty over time invited to give commencement addresses.

Lack: And did you give the commencement address?

Lewis: Yes, he invited me to do it and he said that I was the unanimous pick of students over time as being very influential in their growth and development. So I did that.

Lack: When was that?

Lewis: I think it was about five years ago. It was a December graduation. So you know, I referred to that earlier. Dr. Leutze, Dr. Cahill, Dan Plyler, Joann Seiple, I’m just naming a few. These are people that I’ve had contact with. Wonderful supporters. In my own department, David Miller and Derek Davis, a retired person who started the parks and recreation curriculum here. These are just significantly important people in the history of the department and the programs here.

My colleagues, can’t say enough for them in terms of just doing the kind of job you hoped they’d do and being sincere about what they’re doing. I’ve got friends all over. Jim Sabella in anthropology, Dan McCall, Bill Harris, Luther Lawson in the Cameron School and Steve Harper, Normal Kaylor, you know, Bob Byington who was chairman of English. You can go on and on. These are all solid people who have been here and done the struggling and the building.

So yeah, there have been key influential people. You know, my wife has been just a solid rock of support as far as my being here is concerned. She retired from the county school system. It’s all there, you just have to look for it.

Lack: She taught in the county schools here?

Lewis: Yeah, she was at Alderman School. You find mentors and helpers. You’ve also got people that disagree with you and the dissenters. You know, that’s par for the course. It’s not going to change much.

Lack: At the university, I suppose you have a universe of people.

Lewis: That’s it. Not everybody agrees on everything.

Lack: I think, we covered quite a lot. Any other thoughts?

Lewis: No, I find it very interesting and I do want to say this and it’s not because I’m sitting here – Sherman Hayes, of course Jean Hugelaut was a solid citizen librarian, but Sherman Hayes is just one of the most remarkable people as a librarian per se. He is a unique personality. He’s interested, he explores, he responds to requests. He just has a unique way about making the library an important part of the university community.

Lack: That’s good to hear.

Lewis: You know I have enjoyed my contact with him because he’s gregarious and he’s enthusiastic and he’s outgoing and there isn’t anything he won’t do within the purview of the library to accommodate. And he’s interested in students. I just find it, at the end I’ve worked with several great librarians in the places that I’ve been, but we’re very lucky to have him here and to have the archive program and all the things that you’re doing, the collections, the Herman Plazer thing. We even had a free Mason last year.

Lack: Yes, are you a Rotarian also?

Lewis: I used to be, but that obligation to go every week to a meal and pay for it just catches up with you after a while. You have to set priorities. I just didn't have the time to be a good Rotarian.

Lack: But you continue with the Masons?

Lewis: Yeah, oh yeah. The library speaks for itself, look at it.

Lack: It’s a great place and like you’re saying, it’s very dynamic and Sherman has a public library background so he’s always thinking of service. I think that’s one reason.

Lewis: So you folks need to be commended.

Lack: Thank you. Thanks. It’s a pleasure talking to you today. I feel I’ve really learned a lot, not just about your department, but about the university as a whole and the international programs.

Lewis: Great, I’m glad to be a part of your quest to record retirees.

Lack: Thank you very much.

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