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Interview with Sandra McLaurin, March 9, 2006 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Sandra McLaurin, March 9, 2006
March 9, 2006
Dr. Sandra McLaurin was born in Nash County North Carolina and earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in math from East Carolina University, and her Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina, along with her husband, Milton McLaurin. After teaching math in other universities and also in New Hanover County Public Schools, Dr. McLaurin came to work at UNC-Wilmington in 1979. She discusses her career as a professor of math at UNC-Wilmington, being only the second woman with a Ph.D. in the math department.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: McLaurin, Sandra Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 3/9/2006 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 78 minutes

Riggins: March 9th, 2006. My name is Adina Riggins. I'm the university archivist. I'm here to interview for our Voices of UNCW Oral History Program Sandra McLaurin. Again, my name is Adina Riggins. I'm a university archivist. Today is March 9th. And please, will you state your name for the tape?

McLaurin: I'm Sandra McLaurin.

Riggins: Thank you. How do you spell your last name?

McLaurin: M-c-L-a-u-r-i-n.

Riggins: Thank you. We're glad to have you here today. Is it Dr. McLaurin?

McLaurin: Yes.

Riggins: Can you please tell me where you were born and where you grew up?

McLaurin: Well, I'm a North Carolinian. I was born in Nash County. Uh.. most people think of Nash County with Rocky Mount, uh.. but I lived out in the country. And I uh.. was born there, not in a hospital, but in- out in a home. And I grew up in Nash County, went to school in Nash County.

Riggins: Okay. Where did you go from there?

McLaurin: Uh.. after I finished high school at uh.. I went to school- let me say a little bit more about my uh.. school, I went to school at Coopers High School they called it, but all the school- all the grades were there. Uh.. it was 1st through 12th grade uh.. all on the same campus and uh.. all my brothers and sisters went to school there. And I was the last of five so I went off to uh.. college after they had of course gone on and I went to East Carolina because of the English teacher I had. Uh.. she went to East Carolina and so she recommended it and that's where I went. And I uh.. decided to major in mathematics and so uh.. I met my husband, who's also a faculty, uh.. Milton McLaurin, at- at the freshman uh.. dance I think to- the first week of school. And so we uhm.. both went to school at East Carolina and we decided we were in a hurry and we finished our undergraduate in three years, he in history and I in math. And then I worked on my Master's. We both uh.. did our Master's at East Carolina. I got my Master's in mathematics and he in history. Well then we went off to University of South Carolina and again, because he's in history and I'm in mathematics, but we were there for four years. And so uhm.. I had just uh.. I was almost twenty-six and he was twenty-six when we uh.. finished our PhDs.

Riggins: PhDs? You in mathematics?

McLaurin: Um hmm, and he in history.

Riggins: That's a great story. Just to back up, it sounds like you have fond memories of Coopers School or was it Coopers High School?

McLaurin: Yes, they called it Coopers High School even though it went from uh.. 1st through uh.. you know, 12th.

Riggins: And it was all the ages in one setting?

McLaurin: Uh.. we ha- it was sort of divided by the cafeteria. On the uh.. one side of the cafeteria was uh.. through 7th grade and on the other side, it was 8th through uh.. 12th, and it worked fairly well. My graduating class had forty-one students so you know it was not large. (Laughs).

Riggins: It wasn't too big, no. And you found your way to ECU because an English teacher at the time was..

McLaurin: Yes, had graduated from East Carolina and so that's why I went there.

Riggins: Did you know at the time that you wanted to study math?

McLaurin: Not really. I uh.. I really would have liked to do English, but I'm better in math, so uh.. and math was a good choice. It has worked very well for me.

Riggins: So you've always had the propensity to do well in math?

McLaurin: Yes, uh huh. Well, you know, math's- math has always been uh.. you know, a good choice for me.

Riggins: What did you specialize in? For example, what was the topic of your Master's thesis?

McLaurin: I would have to think hard about what the topic of my uh.. (laughs) Master's thesis. Uh.. it was on quadratic forms. And uh.. it was uhm.. not really sophisticated, but kind of interesting. East Carolina was just getting their Master's program in mathematics and uh.. it was kind of interesting uh.. at that time. I was uhm.. a graduate assistant and uh.. two of the faculty members from UNCW were taking classes working on their Master's at Ea- at East Carolina so I knew both Tommy Brown and Tommy Lufton [ph?] from East Carolina. I was uh.. was uh.. at a different stage in my career than they were, but uh.. so that was quite of interesting. Uh.. and then of course I was delighted when I came here and they were still here at UNC uh.. Wilmington.

Riggins: It would have been UNCW at the time.

McLaurin: Yes.

Riggins: Did you hear about UNCW from them?

McLaurin: No, no, we uh.. we uh.. well, maybe when I was in graduate school, yes. Of course, yeah, and uh.. one of the- the other uh.. girl who had the uh.. graduate assistant with me did come to UNC Wilmington. Uh.. I think her name was uh.. Barbara Mose [ph?] and she was here for a while, but she's long since gone, um hmm.

Riggins: So you were teaching I suppose as a graduate assistant?

McLaurin: Yes.

Riggins: Did you find, How did you like that?

McLaurin: It w- after the first two or three classes, it was okay. It was a shock to go in (laughs) and you see these people that are your age teaching, but yes, it- I- I liked it. I liked teaching once I got, you know, over stage fright which you always have. And uh.. but it was uh.. it was good.

Riggins: How do you get over that, just with practice and time?

McLaurin: Uh.. you just go and you do it after the first five or ten minutes. And the- and the best thing of course is always if I'm giving advice to be a teacher, be prepared, have everything you need for your class, have two or three extra examples, and it just flows.

Riggins: And if you are confident in your subject matter, excited about it, then it helps.

McLaurin: And of course we always have the thing in math, if you don't know the answer to a question, and most teachers I guess do the same thing whether they're in math or not, they say, "I'll work on it tonight and let you know tomorrow." (Laughs). So a young teacher could always use that. Um hmm.

Riggins: You both went on to University of South Carolina with ideas that you would both be academics?

McLaurin: Yes, we had thought uh.. that uh.. my husband was going to the Air Force, but that did not work out, so we decided we would be uh.. be academics. So we had planned to be high school teachers, both of us. He was gonna do the Air Force first and then be a high school teacher, but then it just developed. Uh.. we decided to get the Master's and then the PhD. And it uh.. has been very good.

Riggins: And at South Carolina, were you a graduate assistant there?

McLaurin: Yes, and uh.. part of the time, and I taught part of the time, and then I was a research assistant for part of the time, and uh.. so that was interesting. Uh.. I almost preferred the teaching, but I was a research assistant to a professor, Dr. Sumner [ph?] there, who helped me with my uh.. dissertation, so that worked well.

Riggins: Why do you prefer the teaching, or at that time?

McLaurin: Well, you're your own boss and that's one thing about college teaching is so wonderful that, you know, you- you're in- in so many ways your own boss. You set your own standards. You uh.. you know, and so that's very, very uh.. rewarding.

Riggins: I can imagine that's what draws a lot of people to it is you can set your own agenda with the classes and as long as they're learning, then everything is okay.

McLaurin: Yes.

Riggins: You spent about four years on your PhD?

McLaurin: Yes, uh huh.

Riggins: Did you start a family after this?

McLaurin: No, we- we were married at East Carolina. We were married uhm.. I think when we were twenty-one and then uh.. our last year at South Carolina, we started our family. We had uh.. a nine-month-old when we moved uh.. from South Carolina to uh.. Alabama.

Riggins: Oh, and that's where Milton got his first job and you got a job?

McLaurin: Uh.. yeah. Uh.. when we got our first jobs, it was very difficult. Uh.. at that time, uh.. they had nepotism rules at almost every school. They would not hire man a wife. We were interested in Appalachian, but they said, "Forget it. We do not hire man and wife." And then uh.. we thought we were both going to the University of uh.. West Florida in Pensacola. We had- the man said, "Well, I think I've got an exception. We're gonna hire you both." It was a brand new school, a wonderful situation, and uh.. he said, "I've got it worked out so we can hire you both. We've got these exceptions," and so forth. But then shortly he called back and said, "No, we cannot hire you both." So..

Riggins: Really? Times have changed.And of course we always...

McLaurin: Yeah. And then uh.. Milton uh.. found a job at uh.. South Alabama, Mobile, and so uh.. then I talked with the people at West Florida. So the first year, I taught at West Florida, University of West Florida, Pensacola, he taught in uh.. University of South Alabama in Mobile, and we lived on the uhm.. on Mobile Bay on the eastern shore and uh.. went for a little bitty house right on the water. And uh.. I commuted. My drive was about an hour a day and his uh.. hour one way, and his was approximately forty-five minutes. Uh.. so we did that for one year with a ni- our child was nine months old, but we had some in-home care that took care of her, but it was very difficult. So then I was lucky enough the next year to get on at uh.. South Alabama. I don't uh.. I don't know if they had any rules about the man and wife, but anyway, I- I don't think they did, but uhm.. anyway, we worked it out and I got- I got on. And that was wonderful. We were there- he was there ten years and I was there nine years.

Riggins: That was tenure track position for both of you?

McLaurin: Yes, um hmm, so it was really nice. And uh.. we liked Mobile. One problem with Mobile, it's too far from North Carolina and we made that trek home uh.. once or twice a year, uh.. fifteen hours with two kids and sometimes with the dogs and it was very hard. But we- other than that, Mobile we liked a lot.

Riggins: Because your family was still at this time in Nash County?

McLaurin: Yes, um hmm, and Milton's family is uh.. near Fayetteville, so we were uhm.. North Carolina is home, yeah.

Riggins: So you were at University of South Alabama for about nine years?

McLaurin: Yeah.

Riggins: Was that a research-type university as well as teaching?

McLaurin: It was n- uh.. it was growing. It was like uh.. UNCW, uh.. but like ten- ten years ahead or something. It was growing. It had uh.. just gotten a medical school, uh.. it had an engineering uh.. I don't know if they called it a school or department or whatever, but big with the engineering, so it was really uh.. you know, growing. Uh.. and the research, not as much uh.. as uh.. as now because research emphasis has become much more, but they did have the engineering school and the business school and the medical uh.. school.

Riggins: What was the life like there in the department? Did you have a heavy teaching load?

McLaurin: Uhm.. I had twelve hours, but uh.. we were on the quarter system and we uh.. taught four days a week, uh.. three hours, and that was uhm.. that worked very well. And usually we would teach Monday, Tuesday and have Wednesday off uh.. for other things and then Thursday, Friday. So it was not a real heavy uhm.. as far as in the classroom. Twelve I guess was sort of standard and it was standard when I came here. Uh.. I spent a lot of times with students uh.. tutoring. You know, they come by and uh.. I think it was a very casual atmosphere. You had a lot of students coming by. That was nice. You had a lot of engineering students. Engineering students were very, very serious and uhm.. they- uh.. so I did a lot of that kind of stuff. But I didn't have much committee work. I didn't have uh.. I was on some committees, but really not a lot of committee work.

Riggins: Interesting. This continued probably at UNCW. Did you find it interesting to teach the majors as well as the non-majors? That's a good contrast I would think.

McLaurin: Well, I- you- I think the engineering students are- I think are significantly different in that they are very serious students and that uhm.. together, the- with the math majors were about the same kind of students. And uh.. then I taught some of the- which we all have to teach like the basic uh.. math, whether it's algebra or whether it's a business calculus or whatever, taught that there. But uh.. those students are uh.. okay too, but the biggest problem with those students, particularly here, was very often you would have students get into say an algebra class, I'm talking about the beginning algebra class, and they really didn't belong. They knew the material and then they wouldn't work like they should and they wouldn't get the grade they should. And they should have worked a little harder to test out of it and go onto another class. But that was one of the biggest problems with that class uhm.. with that was the student who really didn't belong, and usually because they knew too much, yeah.

Riggins: Wow, so you were there for nine years and by the time you left, did you have two children?

McLaurin: I had two children by then. We uh.. moved to North Carolina in uh.. August uhm.. '77. Uh.. we had two children and two dogs and uh.. we came with a U-Haul. (Laughs). And uhm.. I came without a job. I had uhm.. we had decided to come back to North Carolina uh.. partially because of the parents. Uh.. my parents were both still living and his parents uh.. who are now still living, uh.. we wanted our children to know them. Uhm.. our oldest daughter was uh.. eleven I guess and the other one was six and so that uh.. or seven, somewhere along there, and so we wanted to be closer, so about two hours away from our parents and that was very, very good. So I came without a job. I came as part-time uh.. in uh.. I taught part-time uh.. for uhm.. a semester and I- I really- or about three semesters, but I tried. I thought well, maybe I'll try the high school. So I tried Roland-Grise. And then I tried Hoggard and then I decided I was just too old to teach high school, that just- you need to learn those skills when you're young and you know how to, you know, because it's a different ballgame. I mean I had some excellent students at Hoggard. I couldn't believe it. But uh.. still I had some that I just didn't know what to do with. And uh.. so then luckily, uh.. I got uhm.. in that spring, I think it would have been spring of '79 as full-time and then I got a tenure track in the fall. So uh.. it had worked out after uh.. struggling there for a y- uh.. a little over a year.

Riggins: I suppose you'd been in touch with the department.

McLaurin: Yes, because uh.. I was teaching part-time and uh.. Fred Toney was the chair. And I know you've heard people comment on Fred Toney. Uh.. he was so wonderful and uh.. he really was uh.. a saint and uh.. he uhm.. he helped me a lot. He was one of those really wonderful people. And uhm.. he uh.. I was assistant to the chair for several years with him. In the department, there was a very- they had initiated a committee organization structure and then uh.. decided they needed an assistant to the chair to do certain duties, so I did that and worked closely with Fred Toney. And so that was quite a uhm.. wonderful experience. Uh.. and he uhm.. as I say, he did a lot to help me to try to fit into the department, trying to decide what to do with research 'cause I had not been research active in uh.. the sense that, you know, it was becoming very popular and uh.. so uh.. or demanded of the faculty members, so he helped me with that. And so he was- he was quite uh.. an important person and..

Riggins: A mentor perhaps?

McLaurin: Yes, uh huh.

Riggins: Let's talk about the research thing. You said you came without a real big emphasis in research at your other place and then here, it was becoming more and more.

McLaurin: Um hmm. And uh.. you didn't ask, but I wrote my uh.. PhD dissertation in what's called category th- theory which is a branch of abstract algebra or modern algebra as we call it sometimes at the undergraduate level. And so uh.. when I came here, uhm.. I guess I did a few things that were sort of education. I have uh.. worked s- with some articles uh.. that I sent off to uhm.. some mathematic teaching magazines and I think one of the articles that I'm uh.. most proud of was uh.. sent to an education article, uh.. it was something on teaching inequalities and uh.. I got a lot of uh.. interest in that, and it turned out that that showed up in a lot of textbooks before long. And so that uhm.. it was uh.. rewarding to do that. So that was one of the first things I did. And then of course I don't know if you know that Fred Toney uh.. died. Uhm.. I don't- I was trying to think how many years it was, but then uh.. I guess Dargan Fri- Frierson was chair for a while then uh.. Doug Smith came as chair to the department. And uh.. somehow uh.. Doug's interests were in logic and I don't know what else. And then uh.. somehow we got together and we started d- doing what's called combinatorial design which I used uh.. a lot of algebra, the things I- the tools I'd learned in the modern algebra to work with things we did with that. So uh.. then uh.. so he and I and uhm.. another young man who ha- has disappeared since, I can't even remember his name, worked on a topic called Latin triangles. And uh.. so we did the Latin triangles and uh.. I got some things published on that. Alvez [ph?] was his name and he went on- he went north. And uhm.. so then uh.. Doug and I were still trying to work together and Dave Berman joined us. And so we were successful in doing uh.. three or four articles together in combinatorial design. So..

Riggins: Got some positive results.

McLaurin: Yeah and some things. Uh.. so that worked. It was very good. And sometimes I'm tempted to come back over and see what they're up to, but I think it's time to do other things, yeah. So uh..

Riggins: That's great. It sounds like you just jumped in with the research.

McLaurin: It worked- it worked real well and Do- Doug Smith was really uh.. a great help. Uh.. Fred, as I say, Fred Toney was and then uh.. Doug Smith was a great help.

Riggins: And who was it that you said was the chair before Doug Smith?

McLaurin: Uh.. Dargan Frierson was chair just for uh.. I don't know if it was a year or two years. Uh.. he was the- no, he was the uh.. probably would have been called uh.. acting, uh.. but he was uh.. you know, quite good. But I think that uh.. his interest, you know, he was a statistician and I thin- and an excellent teacher and I think that he was more uh.. you know, he was glad to let somebody else come in. (Laughs).

Riggins: Wow. And how did you like that administrative work? It sounds like you were involved with that as an assistant to Fred Toney.

McLaurin: I- I enjoyed it, but uhm.. and you learn a lot and you learn how to deal with people and things like that, but after awhile, you want to move onto something different, and so I did it uhm.. I was assistant to the chair for D- uh.. for Doug and uh.. and Dargan. I did it a long time, but after awhile, it was time to let somebody else do it.

Riggins: Right. And I'm sure it takes it a lot of time. With your teaching and research responsibilities, it can get busy. Well, somewhere along the line, you had a third child?

McLaurin: Yes, uh.. we had a third child. I was a little surprised there. Uhm.. it would have been uhm.. I found out I guess in the fall of uhm.. '85 that I was- I think I'm carrying, right, and then she was born in the- May 19th of '86. And so and uh.. we have uhm.. three daughters and uh.. she's uh.. now a student at ___________ in New York.

Riggins: Right. She's a good bit younger than the others.

McLaurin: Yes. So uh.. about uh.. my oldest one uh.. is about nineteen years older than she is and then the next one would be about four years younger than that and then Meagan would be fifteen ye- years younger than her. (Laughs). So it's all worked out.

Riggins: At this time, were you one of the few, of only tenure track women in your department?

McLaurin: It goes uh.. at that particular time or now or what? When I came in, uh.. they- when I came in, uh.. the department I think had around thirteen members. I was gonna try to count them up and I could have looked it up, but I s- all my stuff is kind of packed up. Uh.. Barbara Greim, Barbara Greim was the only PhD female. I think there were six PhDs in the department.

Riggins: And she's still here.

McLaurin: No, she has retired. She retired I guess a year before I did. I think she did. Uh.. but she uh.. was the only PhD in the department. And then uh..

Riggins: The only PhD in the department?

McLaurin: Uh.. female, only female PhD in the department. And I think there was another woman here, but I cannot remember who it was. I know there was a couple of women that were retired that had been faculty members for a very long time, uh.. but we had uh.. at that time, we had __________ and Fletcher Norris and Fred Toney. And then uh.. we had uhm.. Vicente Hernandez from Cuba and uhm.. _________ Davis. And th- those were PhDs. And Jim Halsey, I guess he was a PhD, but I'm not sure about that. He may not have been. I don't- I guess he was, so maybe there were seven. And so then I came and I was the second woman PhD. And the- it's- it's a problem I guess recruiting and keeping women uh.. I think because they have more opportunities I think uh.. and also they have the uh.. see like I left South Alabama because we as a family decided to move. I know when you have that happening, I- so it- you know, it does make a difference. But in the de- uh.. I was trying to think about it. Uhm.. we had Karen Spike who came and I cannot remember when she came. She's an instructor, I think that's the right term, or- and uh.. she has contributed greatly to the uh.. education. She teaches a lot of the education-type courses, but she does not have the uh.. PhD. But she has been a constant in the department for a very long time and a great uh.. department member. And uh.. then Karen Smith uh.. not Doug Smith's wife, (laughs) but ca- came as a lecturer for a couple of years, but she decided to get her PhD and now she's back. We hired her. She got her PhD in math education so she came back and is a member of the department still. And uh.. so that's been good. But uhm.. the only other few women that I can really uhm.. think that spent any time in the department was Karen Deck and Cynthia DeSouza. And Cynthia went north because her husband was in the business department and he did not stay. And uhm.. she was in the department a long time, I mean not a real long time, but, you know, several years, maybe s- seven or eight. She became tenured. Uh.. in fact, but she was least lo- that long. And she was a very uh.. she did statistics and uh.. so she contributed quite a bit. And then uh..

Riggins: Karen DeSouza?

McLaurin: Uh.. Cynthia, Cynthia DeSouza.

Riggins: And her last name's D?

McLaurin: D-e-S-o-u-z-a maybe? And so then uh.. she went in- I think she's- works uh.. in uh.. research rather than teaching math. Uh.. but she was a great influence in the department, I'm thinking in terms of females, and then Karen Deck. She was also in the- sort of the same area. I was in algebra and she was uh.. you know, quite an influence. And- but I don't know. Uh.. in the department now we have a young woman and uhm.. I'm trying to think of what her name is, uh.. but she again is in statistics. But usually we haven't had a large percentage of women faculty and uh.. I don't know why. And of course Wei; I forgot Wei. You know, Wei is the most- (laughs) she's been a uhm.. you know, a great, great person, she really has. I was helpful in getting her hour- hired and involved with her. And so then of course now she's department chair and she is uh.. outstanding.

Riggins: So you were a mentor in a way to her?

McLaurin: Uh.. I felt like I was yeah, a good friend and she's a good friend to me and so that's been uh.. and of course she has done an awful lot to shape the department. So uhm.. you know, basically, there have been three chairs, Fred Toney and Doug Smith and uh.. and Wei. Yeah.

Riggins: Wow, that's amazing. Well, when you came, this was the up and coming university and they were emphasizing research now and tenure. Did you feel that it was still a family-type atmosphere, especially in your department? What was the atmosphere like?

McLaurin: It was still- it was a small school. I don't know what the uhm.. number of uh.. students, but I'd say around five thousand, but I'm not sure about that. It may not even have been that big, but it was still a small s- school s- and a small school atmosphere. And Wilmington was a small town. And uhm.. the- in the department, there was a lot of uhm.. I want to say c- maybe cronyism is not a right word to use, but these people had known each other for a while and all of this kind of stuff and so it was uh.. it was not uhm.. as easy to move in as it uh.. would be now, you know? I think there- I think on the whole, uh.. a lot of things have been done to make new faculty feel welcome, to see what their needs are, to help them uh.. maybe have some- a faculty uh.. mentor and things like that, which have been really good. So there's been a lot of change along that line. But it was uhm.. we were ju- I think that we were just beginning the computer science major at that time.

Riggins: Oh, and that was part of your department for a while.

McLaurin: Um hmm. We were in DeLoach. Now, I don't know if you can imagine DeLoach uh.. twenty-eight years ago I guess it was, but in many ways, it was a pretty building, but it was the science building and we taught in the science classrooms. And, you know, you had these- had to teach looking over this waterspout that comes up uh.. with this, so it was not a friendly atmosphere for teaching mathematics. Uh.. it was uh.. so it was just the chemistry and physics. And I don't know if they had any biology over there or not. I don't remember. But it was a uhm.. as I say, not the best atmosphere for teaching math.

Riggins: That's where your offices were too?

McLaurin: Yeah, and- and then I was part-time and I was sharing an office with someone. And uh.. and the math facility was very tiny. Uh.. it was uhm.. a tiny office for the chair and all- everything was just- it was so- like it was still a small school, they were making do uh.. with what the facilities and the changes were going right and left. And then of course Morton uh.. was built and we ended up being lucky enough to be in Morton. I don't think that was the plan, but uh.. we had great facilities in Morton. And uh.. we also had classrooms in the education building and that was uhm.. education classrooms should be nice and they were. They were desi- they were small and had good blackboards (laughs) and they were good classrooms, so I enjoyed teaching over there.

Riggins: Right, but it just took awhile before you could get your own facility.

McLaurin: Yes, and then of course they renovated Bear Hall for us and it's- it was good. It was pretty good. And of course, we had computer science which was our main- well, most of our students were computer science majors. And uhm.. and so there was a big emphasis on that. They took a lot of math. So uh.. I didn't teach any computer science uh.. classes. I did teach uh.. some classes desi- signed for computer majors, math for computer science majors, but I didn't teach any of the computer science. But it was uh.. it was good for the department. It was good. Uh.. and then we got big enough that they were ready to move on and that's been a- you know, that's been a great situation.

Riggins: Right, they were ready to move on and you were probably around for that, right?

McLaurin: Um hmm.

Riggins: And then it became the department of mathematics and statistics?

McLaurin: Yes. And of course uh.. so the third branch of the department's always been statistics. We did not have a major until just uh.. I think it was about last year we got the major. And that has been uh.. I haven't checked the figures and stuff, but I think that's probably been a very wise move.

Riggins: To establish the major?

McLaurin: Yes, um hmm, 'cause uh.. statistics are just- they ju- uh.. that area is just so important now in everything. I mean you- you don't go by a day without somebody referring to some study or some statistic, so it is just so important in the way we make decisions.

Riggins: And having people who know how to do it and do it effectively.

McLaurin: Yes, uh huh.

Riggins: I know Carl Nelson was not full-time or anything, but he was an important teacher in statistics over the years.

McLaurin: Yes, he was. He was uhm.. he was a very good teacher and then after he retired, he came and tutored people in statistics for many years. And so uh.. and he was- he was very good. Uh.. um hmm.

Riggins: Well, that's interesting. When you came on, there were some people that you knew, you happened to know from way back like Tommy Lufton and Tommy Brown, but then there were also these newcomers like yourselves. And you said sometimes it was just hard to get it all integrated, but it worked out.

McLaurin: Yeah. When we uh.. I had a friend at Appalachian. I'd been at graduate school with him and I asked him, I said, "Now, who do you know at Wilmington?" He says, "Well, I know one guy at Wilmington, Fletcher Norris." And so when I came, I, you know, introduced myself to Fletcher and of course Fletcher's been a great uh.. friend and colleague forever. And so he uh.. he- you know, it was really nice uh.. knowing him and uh.. you know, he was helpful and he wa- he was just a good colleague. And of course, he uh.. he taught computer science. And then when one department split, of course he was in the computer science department even though his stu- his training was in mathematics.

Riggins: Oh, okay, but he stayed in computer science.

McLaurin: He went with the computer science. And Barbara Greim was like- well, was the same. She had her uh.. PhD from Chapel Hill I'm pretty sure in uhm.. mathematics. But she uh.. as most of 'em did at that time, they retooled to learn the computer science and they came from another department to computer science.

Riggins: How about your field? Did computers change the way you did your work?

McLaurin: Uh.. in- not a whole lot, but in a way we could run uh.. we could run tests and things that they did running- and examples. Some things you might do by hand, you could run. So in a way, it did. It- it did make a difference. Uh..

Riggins: Easier?

McLaurin: Um hmm. But uh.. computers are great, but I'm not interested (laughs) in teaching them. I love the mathematics. I love the mathematics. I'll stick to that.

Riggins: Stick to that. Well, there's a need for that I'm sure. Well, you told a good story about how you came to UNCW and what it was like. And you also mentioned some of the people who have influenced you while you were here. How about outside of your department? Was it small enough that you were able to interact with people from outside your department?

McLaurin: Uh.. yes, and of course we would go to the cafeteria for lunch or the dining hall for lunch and so that we would meet lots of people because uh.. being at Morton Hall, we were uh.. met people in the uh.. history department. My husband was right across the hall. And uh.. and then uh.. English department, you know, so we met a lot there, but in the dining hall. But at that time, uh.. they were trying to balance committees and so you wanted them to make sure a woman was on every committee. So I probably did more committee work than women have to do now. Because I was female, I was on a lot of committees. And uhm.. I was on uhm.. orientation committee which was a university committee uh.. with uh.. Dorothy Marshall. And uh.. she's sort of one of my role models and uh.. that was a great experience working with her.

Riggins: What is it about her leadership style that you liked?

McLaurin: I'm n- I'm not sure. She was just a- she was very much a leader, very much in charge. And she- I felt like that uhm.. when she ran a committee meeting that she did a got- a good job of getting people's opinions and I just felt like she was very effective, and I didn't feel like she wasted a lot of time, so I thought she was very uh.. good.

Riggins: Well, that's great. And after sitting on a lot of committees, I'm sure you can appreciate that.

McLaurin: Yes. And then I was on another committee uh.. with her which came a little bit later uh.. and Fletcher Norris and I were both on that committee because we'd expressed interest. Uhm.. it was called the registration advisory committee and we and I guess Mar- uh.. Dorothy's idea, she was still- she was uh.. chair of that uh.. that we needed to consider computer registration. So that was the committee that investigated commuter- computer registration and we got it through. And we- and it- you probably cannot imagine what it would be like to register without a computer.

Riggins: Well, I've heard, and one of the people I interviewed was Bill Pate who told stories about what it was like to set that up. Did you work with him at all?

McLaurin: No.

Riggins: He was an ITSD and he helped set up the computer center and automate these procedures and one of the first ones they did was registration I believe.

McLaurin: Yeah, 'cause they used to register in the gym and the kids would go by and pick up the computer cards and then they would take 'em to somewhere to be registered. And then uhm.. it was just uh.. I don't know, just very (laughs) old-fashioned. But then we got the computer registration in and it was wonderful. And uh..

Riggins: Right. And so Dorothy was very much in favor of that, streamlining it?

McLaurin: Oh, yes. She was- uh huh. She was pushing. That was a good- it worked- it worked very well. I think we were one of the first schools to go to that in the North Carolina System.

Riggins: I'll bet you were. I don't remember when it was done, but it sounds like it was done very efficiently. Do you remember about when you were..?

McLaurin: I don't remember when that was. I'm trying to remember. I know it was before '86 (laughs) when the baby was born, but I don't know when we put that in, I really don't. And I did a lot uhm.. with education. I was on the education council or something like that and so uhm.. I worked with people in that department.

Riggins: Did you work with Grace Burton?

McLaurin: Uh.. yes, uh huh.

Riggins: ______________?

McLaurin: Um hmm, and uh.. Dr. Harkins and so I knew a lot of people in the education and that was a very rewarding experience. And uhm.. and of course their Master's, they have to take math uh.. even if they're in math, they have to take math, uh.. our math graduate courses so I worked with them some. Yeah.

Riggins: What about establishing the graduate program in your department? Were you involved with that?

McLaurin: Oh, I was very- yeah, I was very involved. I think most of the uh.. well, half the department was involved with the graduate program and we were very happy to get a- a Master's. And then uh.. I was graduated- graduate coordinator the last uhm.. probably three years before I left, two or three years before I retired. And uh.. at that time, we instituted a- and got approval for uh.. what they call a five-year program in which a student can uh.. try to complete the undergraduate Master's in five years and then some of the courses give them dual credit. And so uh.. I think that we would have students in that program that I didn't uh.. they put it in the year after I left, but we got it all approved before I left, so..

Riggins: Wow, that's great for the motivated students.

McLaurin: Yeah, uh.. it was Yaw Chang's idea to do that uh.. and so he did a lot of work with that.

Riggins: And I know you've had a good number of international students coming for your graduate program.

McLaurin: Yes, and I think we had sort of like a pa- pipeline because of Wei. She had a lot of contacts and uh.. and so we had a lot of the Chinese students come in. And they are unbelievable students. Even if they're fighting the language barrier or whatever, it's just amazing what good students they are. Uh.. but I've talked to John Karlof and he says now we are not getting- he's now the graduate coordinator and he says we're not getting them now uh.. because of the immigration rules are so hard to get in.

Riggins: After 9/11.

McLaurin: 9/11 that we do not have uh.. as many uh.. of those students anymore.

Riggins: You have to recruit in other ways.

McLaurin: Um hmm, and he says we're- it's uhm.. doing well.

Riggins: Good. I know that a good number of graduate programs started up around the same time under Dr. Wagoner.

McLaurin: Yeah, I think they decided we were gonna have some graduate programs in uh.. the math and the history and the English and I don't know what else.

Riggins: Right. You all kind of started it up and said, "All right, you guys make it happen."

McLaurin: Yeah. You don't get any extra money, but make it happen. And it was good. It's uh.. was I think very good because it's nice to teach a graduate class sometime. And so usually, uh.. in our department we uhm.. you taught some lower level classes and then you taught an upper level class and then when we got the graduate program, then you could get to teach a graduate class sometime and that was very nice.

Riggins: You had to be a member of the graduate faculty?

McLaurin: Uh.. yes, and uhm.. I think you had a re- like a research requirement or something like that for the uh.. for the graduate faculty, yeah.

Riggins: Since you'd been at one university for a long time in southern Alabama and then you came here, what were the major differences? I think I wrote this to you when I sent you some questions. What do you feel makes UNCW unique? And it's probably more than one thing. But I can tell. I've been here five years and I can just feel like there's something to it and I feel like it's part of the history that makes UNCW unique.

McLaurin: I- I thi- uh.. still think we are undergraduate-oriented. I think the fact, even though research is being pushed and we're getting uh.. I guess a PhD in uh.. one area that it's the uh.. idea that the undergraduate student comes first and I think that really makes the difference. And I think it's sort of a casual atmosphere. That you can- the student can come see you. The student can speak up in class. And of course that varies from faculty member to faculty member. Some of them uh.. are more forewarned than say I would have been, but I really think that is uh.. is mainly it. And of course uhm.. we're in a wonderful location and so they're getting lots of students apply which is a wonderful opportunity to uhm.. get students who are better students, students who are more serious about their learning. And so that uh.. I think we have become sort of a special school in the UNC system because you've got State that plays a role, you've got Chapel Hill that plays a role, and then uh.. I think we are the really- I think we're gonna be the really academic undergraduate school with graduate programs.

Riggins: That's an interesting way to put it.

McLaurin: And I think that's really where uh.. where we are.

Riggins: You know, with graduate programs, I mean that's gonna stop, but there's still this emphasis on the undergraduate. When you were here and just before you got here, there was just massive growth. The growth has continued, now it's still growing. I think that must affect the life of the university too.

McLaurin: That's true. I mean you never can say this is what we are because next week you're gonna be something more. And I think we really are like you say just growing all of the time. And uh.. Marvin Moss of course worked very hard to get extra m- money saying we were getting what we should be getting and that was wonderful. And then I guess that's continuing now, that people are working to s- get the money we deserve.

Riggins: Oh yes, because there's been a long history of us just not getting the money, but still doing so much.

McLaurin: Yeah. Uh.. and of course this place, and maybe Tommy Brown said something about this, may be special because it was in a sense an idea of the town. And uh.. I think in a way that maybe the town is committed. Some of those old names are committed to the university, which is good. Uhm.. but the- but from the academics, I think it's the- still it's that undergraduate school.

Riggins: Focus on the undergraduate.

McLaurin: Um hmm. But we really are going uh.. we're doing great things research-wise and that's wonderful because a lot of undergraduates will come to a school because of the research, because they've heard about it and so they'll __________.

Riggins: They've heard about the name and everything that's going on.

McLaurin: Um hmm, yeah.

Riggins: What did you like about working with undergraduates?

McLaurin: Well, uhm.. I don't know. Students are students. You get good ones, you get bad ones. You get friendly ones, (laughs) you get ones that aren't friendly. But uhm.. the lower level classes I taught, uh.. very often I taught uh.. math to the humanities students and it was not uh.. extre- it wasn't something like algebra. If you remember algebra from high school, you know, it's just uh.. sort of in some ways painstaking. But uh.. it was a good course to teach because you got different ideas from students. You'd get students that are in different fields and it was very exciting uh.. and unique to those students who later on said, "I enjoyed your class." And then it was very, very different. Uh.. so I enjoyed that because of the different students, you know, they were not math majors. And I think the hardest thing to teach was the uh.. what we call the pre-calculus which is basically undergradu- it's algebra, high school-type algebra that you have to learn because it's just- it's- it's- so much of it's a skill and so it was one of the biggest discussions that we always brought up in our co- uh.. meetings. We had a committee called uh.. lower division mathematics and we were always trying to decide what we could do to make that course more appealing to students. And we did improve. We did. It get- it got better. But I still think a lot of the problems were uhm.. that you had students who should have worked harder to pass the placement test and not have to take (laughs) the class. And so uh.. I- I enjoyed it. But they were fun to teach. They were good students.

Riggins: Would students have to take that class in order to take calculus?

McLaurin: Well, yes, if they didn't do well enough. And uh.. then also some departments required that class. Uhm.. I think psychology required it, business would require it. And uh.. but the stud- uh.. I taught a lot of the business calculus which was a fun class to teach because the students were a little more serious and uh.. they uh.. it was not as tedious as the algebra class. And very often you'd have a student who'd do better in the- in the calculus because it was m- more interesting to them. Yeah, so I enjoyed it.

Riggins: They had motivation to learn it if it could be helpful to them in their career. Yeah, I'm sure business now is a major reason why a lot of students take calculus because calculus is required.

McLaurin: Yeah. We have the uh.. one which is the- we call it the basic calculus I think and then I think that a lot of the biology majors are taking that now. And uh.. pre-med take that class which I think is kind of unusual, but uh.. they do. And uh.. but it's a pretty good class to teach.

Riggins: So that's not the calculus class that the math students take?

McLaurin: No, not the ones that are the math majors or the physics or chemistry. So in the regular calculus, uhm.. it's called calculus, ana- analytical geometry, we have uh.. the science. You know, uh.. sometimes you get the biology in there, but not always, but we get the chemistry and the physics and the mathematics and the computer science.

Riggins: What do you feel about math phobia? Do you feel that there are more people afraid of math than other fields? I don't know, a writing phobia exists, but I feel like math phobia seems more predominant.

McLaurin: Oh, I don't think you hear as much about it as you did when I first started t- teaching. I think it was a big trend there that uh.. there were people that were just absolutely scared to death of math and I think o- out of that group, the idea that anybody can learn math if we just figure out the right way to do it. At that time, we had the new math and all sorts of things happening. Uhm.. and so that I really think math phobia is less than it was at that time.

Riggins: Interesting, or just less discussed.

McLaurin: Less discussed. But I think that uh.. and then I have the philosophy is that uhm.. maybe you can't learn a lot about math, but you can- I mean all of math, but you can learn a lot of math. And uhm.. I believe it's perfectly all right to have tools. If you can't remember your multiplication table, that's okay, you know, you use your calculator. There's no problem with that. And so a lot of people don't feel that way, but I figure there are some things you can learn in math, but you can't- you can't learn everything. And so uhm.. and I think that's one thing we did in that uhm.. the math with the humanities. They learned a lot of math, but it wasn't uh.. the type you get phobic about. (Laughs). But uhm.. I don't know why there's such a fear. It's just a fear of uhm.. if you can't accomplish something. The kids love math. That's one of their favorite subjects up until about middle school. And so uh.. we don't know what happens then. I guess a lot of people say the girls get the idea then they can't be, you know, good in math or the boys won't like them and that kind of thing. But uhm.. I think you've got an awful lot of uh.. changes along those lines.

Riggins: I think it does have to do with the way it's taught and maybe not everyone is ready to learn algebra when they're twelve, but they might do well when they're fourteen or fifteen.

McLaurin: Yeah. And of course my philosophy is about the algebra they need to start it about 5th or 4th grade, just throw in a little bit because that's an awful lot to expect you to learn that in that short period of time.

Riggins: Algebra's very logical and if you're not given to logical thinking, it can be very difficult, at least I'm seeing from personal experience; whereas people who are given to logical thinking don't see what the problem is.

McLaurin: Yes. And uhm.. one of my daughters has this excellent memory and she just- she just remember- memorizes her math. And I say, "That's no way to do math since you must be logical. You have to have- ___________." And she says, "I just ha- all I do is memorize." (Laughs). And so it's worked for her. She got a major in computer science, so I guess she was all right with that. But uh.. so we use different tools I guess, but it is very logical.

Riggins: And with that being your area, advanced algebra. So I can see the different minds for it. But it just means that you have to work a little harder I guess.

McLaurin: Yes. And I think that's the biggest thing is how hard are you willing to work for something. And if- if you don't- if you're gonna be a humanities major, there is no need for you to work on these algebra skills for a long, long time if they're not of interest to you because you uhm.. you know, you need to work on other things. You need to work on whatever your major is and so we can't- it's like I can't spend all my time working on history or something (laughs) because I have to do math.

Riggins: Both of you were in the faculty. Were there many couples when you came or in the early years? Now there are millions of couples in academics at UNCW. I wouldn't say millions, but there are a lot.

McLaurin: Uh.. of course Vicente and _____________ uh.. Hernandez uh.. you know, both from Cuba and then uhm.. and the Langdons [ph?].

Riggins: What's his last name?

McLaurin: Uh.. Vicente Hernandez, uh huh.

Riggins: Okay, and he was in your department?

McLaurin: Yes. And uhm.. I'm trying to think. Uh.. I can't even think of their names in the language department, but they were here.

Riggins: Oh, right, Terry Mount?

McLaurin: Terry and uh.. Joanne Mount uhm.. were here. And uh.. I was trying to think who else. There were not a lot, but there were some. There were some others, I just can't think of who they were. But uhm.. often uh.. a faculty member's spouse was hired because they could not- you know, they had a position and they couldn't fill it and uh.. and that's sort of the way it uh.. you know, in my ca- is uh.. I guess I did have- have competition, but uhm.. it was- it was not that easy uh.. to hire uh.. mathematicians and I did have a PhD and so I was, you know, quite qualified for the position. Uh.. but probably if there had been four or five others that were not connected, they would have probably chosen from them because, you know, I don't- there was a lot of discrimination, a lot of not ___________ that there would be problems.

Riggins: Oh, having family?

McLaurin: You know, yeah, which you have problems with faculty that aren't parents. (Laughs). And so you just have- that's just human nature. So there was a lot. And- and of course uhm.. I think my husband says the- the nepotism laws, a lot of it came out of the fact when the men came back from the war they wanted the women to go home.

Riggins: And not compete.

McLaurin: And not compete so the men could have the jobs. And of course, you know, that made sense in some ways, because that's sort of when those laws were introduced I think.

Riggins: Right, and then with times changing, now it can be a way to recruit.

McLaurin: It can be a very good w- a very good way. And of course in our department, we ha- you know, Wei and her husband, Lu. Uh.. he came after she came. Uh.. I think he was a little uh.. his- his timetable was a little later than hers. He got- I think he got his PhD after she got hers. But uh.. and of course he's been a wonderful asset to the department. And uhm.. but see like C- uh.. Cynthia DeSouza was in the math department. She was a statistician and her husband was in the physics department.

Riggins: I guess academics are often going to be together because they can support each other with their long hours and the demands of the profession.

McLaurin: Yeah. And of course then you- you know, you just tend to meet someone in graduate school if you haven't met them in undergraduate school so it's just natural. Uh.. but it's always easier if you have uhm.. different professions.

Riggins: Oh, rather than the same department?

McLaurin: Yeah, or if you are- it's easier if you for example even if you aren't both in academics.

Riggins: Oh, that's your prospectus.

McLaurin: As far as getting that job.

Riggins: Oh, getting the job.

McLaurin: Just getting the job. The- then I think, you know, it's very nice sharing the things we share because we're at the same institution. I mean that has been a very wonderful experience. You know, when we get to go to the chancellor's party, you know, it's something we both uh.. relate to or something's going on in the faculty senate, we get to discuss it. And sometimes we'll say, "Well, we don't want to discuss that anymore." But uhm..

Riggins: If you disagree?

McLaurin: Yeah. (Laughs). Because he was in administration uh.. for the- toward the end there over in the provost office and uh.. we didn't discuss as much then because uh.. that was more formal. And so uhm.. but there- it was still okay, you know?

Riggins: Right. It sounds like the university has been changing with the times. But it started out as a good place. When did you retire?

McLaurin: Uh.. it was on June- I guess I'm on my uh.. third year now. Is that right? Let's see.

Riggins: You retired in '03?

McLaurin: '0- 03, yes, um hmm.

Riggins: Did you do the phase retirement?

McLaurin: No. I told my husband, I said, "I will not do that." I said, "I will either work the year (laughs) or I will quit." And he li- he did the phase retirement. He liked that. But I said, "No, I'm just uh.. ready to quit." I had uhm.. an ulterior motive- motive for wanting to quit at that time. My daughter was supposed to be a senior in high school and so I was gonna have that year to help her apply for college and all of those things. Well, uh.. that did not work out. She decided to leave high school early, so I didn't get my year, but then that was good because I was able to visit her, so that worked out really well.

Riggins: Right, 'cause she started her college in the fall of '03?

McLaurin: Um hmm.

Riggins: If you don't mind, I'll just turn off the tape since it's blinking and I'll let you take a little break.

McLaurin: Okay.

#### End of DVD Sandra McLaurin Pt. 1 ####

Riggins: Back with tape 2, Dr. Sandra McLaurin, and we're gonna finish up and talk some more about your memories and I'd like to correct myself when I say June '03. Was that June '04? I remember when your daughter Megan was working in archives and that was in '04 and that was right before she left college but..

McLaurin: Eh.. Okay. So uh.. I- I think it was '03.

Riggins: Was it '03?

McLaurin: You know,[ph?] but she came back after she'd been to college and worked at Christmas time I think.

Riggins: Did she?

McLaurin: Yes, and I think she worked oh, maybe even spring break. She came back..

Riggins: And worked for Sherman.

McLaurin: Yes, and so uh.. she did twice.

Riggins: She probably did twice. It may have been '03. You retired in June of '03 and you knew you didn't want to do the phased retirement thing although many of your colleagues have enjoyed it. Why is it that you didn't want to do that?

McLaurin: I- I don't know. I'm-- I guess maybe I'm just kind of focused and I want to focus on one thing and so when I teach it's really, you know, teaching and course I guess I could have done one semester but I was uh.. ready- eh.., you know, I was ready to let it go and I felt like uhm.. it was time to make a place for somebody else. I think that, you know, I had taught, I felt like I had done a very good job and I felt like, you know, it was time for somebody else to take that position and- uhm.. and after a while maybe you've taught enough, (laughs) let somebody else do it. I did uhm.. tutor one of my daughter's friends for the- a couple semesters, I taught him high school calculus, kinda keep my fingers in it, and uh.. but after that I have not uh.. worked with it anymore--

Riggins: You haven't worked with--

McLaurin: --or..but uh.. if you're in math somebody's always asking you something about math.

Riggins: Do you hear from the department now? It sounds like--

McLaurin: Uh.. We u-- I used to go for the uh.. or-- Christmas party and things like that and sometimes I go over for servantes[ph?] and things so I do keep up with that.

Riggins: Who did they hire when you left? Do you know? Was it--

McLaurin: I do not know. They had several positions--

Riggins: That came up--

McLaurin: --'cause Karen Dack[ph?] left soon after that and uhm.. so they had to replace her so there were several uh.. hirings going on. Uh.. I do believe, and I do not know his name, uh.. we were fortunate enough to get an Afro American and he may have filled my position 'cause I know he is in the algebra so he-- I think that's uh.. probably-- Uh.. In the math department you don't really quite have positions staying in the same place, you know, and so they kinda have a priority and uh.. so-- uhm.. but we were looking-- we were already looking for someone in algebra before I left and so le-- uh.. and so he kinda filled that position and Doug Smith has taken over some of the courses I was teaching, uh.. the undergraduate uh.. modern algebra and uhm.. I do not know who's teaching the graduate uh.. modern algebra that I taught uhm..--

Riggins: What has retirement been like? You mentioned that it wasn't what you expected. What did you expect? A lot of quiet?

McLaurin: I expected a lot of doing nothing and it just doesn't work out that way. I thought well, I had more time and-- uh.. to-- and particularly to read and I have, I have-- have a l-- a lot more time to read, I've joined two book clubs, and uh.. I've enjoyed that. Uh.. I have uh.. joined AAUW. Are you familiar with that? I have joined that and I am working with that uh.. a bit and I'm uh..--

Riggins: American Association of University Women?

McLaurin: Uh huh, and this year I was uh.. one of their program uhm.. uh.. chairs and next year-- or vice president I guess they call them, I'm gonna do that again next year, a wonderful group of women and uhm.. I've gotten involved with that group in an uh.. s-- international relations study group and that's been great fun. Uh.. So I have been doin' a lot of things I never had time to do as a--, you know, as a professor, you just did not have that kind of time, so-- uhm.. but it just seems like if you have free time something creeps in uh.. and I have three daughters and we've been to New York more to see our daughter Megan and then the two daughters are t-- uh.. two hours away and so uh.. we've visited them a lot and uh.. I guess we've had three-- uh.. two grandsons born since uhm.., you know, I retired. So I'm-- I spend time with them--

Riggins: Keeping up with the grandchildren.

McLaurin: Yes. So that's taken a lot of time so- uhm.. and we've traveled. We've been to Russia, we've been to- uh.. we took a tour of central Europe and we're getting ready to go to England next week so we've done a lot of traveling.

Riggins: I guess you'll have Milton around even more. He's going to be finishing his phased retirement. Is that--

McLaurin: Well, he is through with his re-- He's finished but he's been workin' on those project and you've seen 'em over here in the library I'm sure on the Montford Fort Marines and hopefully it will be finished uh.., you know, by June.

Riggins: He's been doing a lot of interviews.

McLaurin: Yes, and they-- uh.. they are wonderful. These uh.. Marines are just-- they're very old now uh.. but they are such uh.. wonderful interviews. They are just amazing men so-- so--

Riggins: It's keeping him busy.

McLaurin: Uh huh, so I'll be glad when that's over with.

Riggins: I'll be interviewing him. He said he will come in and interview when that's finished.

McLaurin: And of course parents. Uh.. My uh.. father uh.. died before I retired but my mother lived by herself for 10 years and then I moved her to Wilmington and so uh.. she's in a retirement home. She has a little extra help but I go by and see her quite often and that's uh.., you know, taking part of my time. It's been very rewarding but it- it's-, you know, it takes time. And then my husband's parents, uh.. we've just moved them to a uhm.. assisted living there in the Fayetteville area so just m- both of those are still alive and that's wonderful. They're a little younger than my mother. Uh.. And so things like that which have been g- been wonderful that we've had the time to do it.

Riggins: Do you keep up with some of the other retired faculty? I knew Jean Fugule[ph?] and Milton knew each other from way back--

McLaurin: And we used to see those qu-- uh.. quite a bit and I'm-- and I see them quite a bit. I'm in a book club with Joyce so that's really nice and the Norrises, we see them a lot uhm.. uh.. uh.. math department and so-- s-- uh.. so saw 'em,[ph?] yeah, uhm.. and then uh.. we go to the Unitarian Fellowship and there are some-- quite a few faculty there that we see and uhm.. Charlie West uh.. is retired uh.. quite a long time ago and so we see him a lot--

Riggins: I'm planning to interview him. He says he's going to Israel. I don't know if that's part of a group or something that--

McLaurin: I hadn't heard that.

Riggins: He's going to Israel so he wanted to be interviewed later on in May--

McLaurin: Well, that's great.

Riggins: --but you see him through other contacts and I suppose you get busy with socializing with other people and you don't always socialize with the university 'cause you work there so you just--

McLaurin: Uh.. We had- uh.. uhm.. had and have a lot of good friends at the university. It has been a good community uhm.. and it has been- eh.., you know, it's been very good. Wilmington's been a good place.

Riggins: That's one thing I wanted to say, Wilmington's been good to you and you've enjoyed living here. When you came it was much sleepier. Would you describe it that way?

McLaurin: Oh, I guess, but it was- I would say there was nothing. (laughs) You'd say where's Belk's? It's downtown and the library was downtown and then the- where's the mall? Well, there was Long Leaf Mall and, you know, there was almost nothing there and it- uhm.., there was-, you know, it was a small town. I mean restaurants, you know, almost no restaurants and then uh.. things, you know, they just kept booming and- uhm.. eh.. and of course they had uhm.. a lot in the arts here but still that has really been a big change, how much is goin' on with the arts uhm.. and I think the movie industry has had a lot of effect on that. So it's- uhm.. it has really changed from that small town.

Riggins: I suppose you were here when they expanded I40 all the way down to the beach. That must have happened in the mid to late '80s I believe--

McLaurin: Yes, and when-- when we would go visit my parents we would have to wiggle around all sorts of ways and finally get to 95 and uh.. so when they opened 40 that--

Riggins: It may not have been 'til 1990 or so.

McLaurin: Yes, somewhere along there and we could take 40. To go see my parents we had to take 40 to 95 and that was so easy and now I see-- take 40 to see my daughters, one in Wake Forest and one in Fuquay-Varina and it's wonderful. You know, it is wonderful.

Riggins: It makes it so much easier and on the other hand you do see a lot more traffic coming into Wilmington because it's so easy for people from Raleigh to hop on down here for their--

McLaurin: Yeah, and of course we had-- uh.. when Rae[ph?] was-- uh.. first came and uh.. her husband was in Raleigh and she'd commute and he'd commute uh.. and s-- which made it nice that the-- uh.. 40 was opened. Things were easier--

Riggins: For commuting purposes. It used to be that quite a number of faculty came from State or UNC. Now of course there's national searches. They still might end up coming from there but they won't automatically be--

McLaurin: Yeah. There won't be that many.

Riggins: Just calling up and seeing who's available.

McLaurin: Yeah, that's the way it was I think in a lot--

Riggins: Before you came though I guess there were a number of people who seemed like long timers or who could--

McLaurin: Yeah, I think-- uh.. and of course Barbara uh.. Ryan came from-- uh.. I'm pretty sure she came from Chapel Hill and uh.. Ken Gurgainus came from Chapel Hill. He had just come the year before I came uhm.. and uh.. he-- that was his first position, first and only position, uh.. 'cause he-- eh.., you know, I went to two schools and he went in[ph?] uh.. uh.. three schools but he-- I think eh.. that's his-- this is the only place that he has been uhm.. and then Vicenity[ph?] of course has been here a long time and there's a guy, Jim Halsey,[ph?] and I can't remember if he had his PhD or not but he taught computer science and he had been here a long time so-- and Fred Tony[ph?] had been here a long time. He was not-- Uh.. He did not have a PhD when he came but then the university at that time started these programs where they sent people to get their PhD's so he was one of those that went back and uh.. did that. And we had another good friend, Louis Nance,[ph?] uh.. uh.. who is since deceased that uh.. he did that, he went and got his Ph--

Riggins: He was in the sciences or--

McLaurin: He was in chemistry, yeah.

Riggins: Did you know other people in chemistry? Jack Levy?[ph?] He would have been here a while when you came.

McLaurin: Yes, uh huh, I-- uh.. we know him, know him socially and uh.. so we know those quite a bit and uh.. uh.. we would often uh.. get invitations for the c-- to the chemistry department because uh.. we were very good friends with uh.. Jan,[ph?] Lewis and Nance and then uh.. we knew the Levys[ph?] and so uhm.. the Levys don't-- we see them occasionally now, uh huh.

Riggins: There just was so much more of a community feel. Now it's still I think very friendly here but it's just bigger and you don't necessarily know people--

McLaurin: You know, you really cannot know the faculty. Uh.. I was on the faculty senate uhm.. I guess two or three years then toward the end and uh.. I got to know a lot of new people that I had not seen for a while.

Riggins: That's a good way to-- Were you here when they still used to have faculty meetings where all the faculty would go, university wide faculty?

McLaurin: We would have those, yes, uh huh, but th- uhm.. we would introduce the new faculty and I was telling Earl Sheridan, I said I remember when you were introduced as a new faculty member at- at the meetings and I don't even know if they do that any-- anymore uh.. but eh.. it was a way of, you know, getting to know people which was nice and that's a big change and it's just-- I don't know when that happened but about 10 years ago eh.. you realized you couldn't get to know people like you did. You knew your department, you knew the people in your buildings but-- and they-- the committee people you-- but that was about it.

Riggins: The community is where you meet people and if you happen to collaborate across departments, although I guess that just--

McLaurin: Some people-- Well, some people do. I think uh.. we've got- uhm.. trying to collaborate with biology. I think Rae has uh.. a lot of interest in things from biology or a lot[ph?] of her- 'cause she's in applied math uh.. but it's not that- it's not that easy uhm.. and eh.. mathematics research very often is very uhm.. self oriented.

Riggins: Solitary?

McLaurin: Yeah, very solitary, yeah, and then course grou- groups are popular but usually you'll go into the department like I worked with Doug and Dave uh.. for those many years, uh huh.

Riggins: I'd like to thank you so much for your contributions. This'll really enhance our collection and be a nice complement. We have interviews from several mathematics faculty and I want to talk to two more people. Can you suggest anyone for example who may have retired already who I still need to talk to or who may be about to retire? I actually have been trying to get in touch with Hilda Lissa[ph?] but she's somewhere else in the winter and then she comes in the summers--

McLaurin: And then s-[ph?] I saw her-- I saw her a few months ago. She would be an interesting one to uh.. interview but in our department uh.. of course they have retired and of course you've interviewed him uh.. and I don't know who would be-- I think it's gonna be a while uh..-- Dargind[ph?] might be the next person but he is not-- I don't when he would retire. He's uh.. uh..-- I don't know how long. Uh.. I think he's got a few more years so--

Riggins: Doug Smith, is he--

McLaurin: And I don't know about Doug. He's-- You know, he may--

Riggins: He might stay--

McLaurin: He might be the one person who teaches forever uh.. but he's- uh.. he-, you know, he c- I think he could retire 'cause he came uh.. about 10 years after I did but I'm sure he's not in the North Carolina retirement system. He's probably in the TIAA so he can probably retire any time he chooses 'cause he is uhm.. uh.., you know, old enough uh.. uhm.., you know, if you think in terms of 62 being old enough uhm.. so- uhm.. and that's- eh.. that's a good choice and uhm..--

Riggins: Fletcher Norris?

McLaurin: And Fletcher is in computer science and he's an- a very interesting one but he would be a delightful one uhm.. to interview uh.. because he is known in the mathematics department and the computer science department. Did you interview Barbara Fry?[ph?]

Riggins: No. She'd be--

McLaurin: If you could get her to come-- Uh.. I think though she was here before- uh.. in the mathematics department before Fletcher and before uhm.. Dankel, Fred Dankel.[ph?] I think she'd be an excellent one.

Riggins: The reason why I thought she was still involved-- I think she was involved with our Lumina[ph?] project. Did you remember hearing about that, the digital library where--

McLaurin: She may have--

Riggins: I feel like I've seen her name, that she collaborated some--

McLaurin: That- That- That could be.

Riggins: Is she doing anything with Central now or--

McLaurin: Well, I don't know, but anyway she would be uhm.. as far as the- probably the university as a whole but as the mathematics department she has been here a long time and uhm.., you know, she made some great contributions to the department. She was the chair of the computer science department when it was formed and she is one of these people that's so organized and so she did an excellent job. I mean she just got everything- uh.., you know, she really did a good start and then uhm.. Ron Vetter[ph?] came in and uh.. picked it up and he's done an excellent job uhm..--

Riggins: With computer science but she basically was there when it was founded?

McLaurin: Uh huh. You know, she's been there so she would be a really good one. Oh, and I'm tryin' to think who else. Oh-- And there's-- Shiva Saksena is in statistics and I'm not sure that he may be getting close to retirement, uh.. Shiva Saksena, teaches statistics, he's an Indian uh..--

Riggins: It's Si--

McLaurin: Eh.. Eh.. It's Shiva, S-h-i-v-a and uh.. I think that's just like the god[ph?] but Saksena, S- S- S-a-k-s-e-n-a. I think that's right. Eh.. So he may be retired.

Riggins: In stat.

McLaurin: Uh huh, and the sta-- I don't know why it's--- Eh.. So I've been away now for two years uh.. but the statistics is really growing and it may be, you know, eventually they'll cut those off and they'll have their own department.

Riggins: It may be but that's interesting. They're getting more and more students--

McLaurin: Uh huh, eh.. and uh.. everybody eh.. eh.. needs- you know, most everybody needs some statistics. It's really important.

Riggins: That's another thing I just found very hard was to-- It's very logical so if you have that mindset--

McLaurin: But become-- I think they are doing a lot now where uhm.. uh.. so much of the work is done with the computers and that so much of the uhm.. work on the part of the student eh.. involves projects and so that a student who might be terrified of tryin' to produce on tests yet can do a project.

Riggins: But you still have to understand--

McLaurin: You have to understand and interpret.

Riggins: That does make it more interesting and for example the statistics classes that are designed for humanities or social sciences, I did kind of like that but actually having to learn the t test yourself would be tedious but that's what you used to have to do--

McLaurin: When I first started uh.. uh.. in math I mean we- uh.. the calculators you had when I took statistics were you'd punch these things and you'd pull a handle and it was really very, very uhm.. different and when we first got there they just came out. Uh.. They were handheld and that-- I don't know when that would have been, about '62 or '3. Now[ph?] I'm not sure it[ph?] was the calculator. I still have it. I paid a fortune for it and it's, you know, this big, (laughs) you know, huge- huge, uh.. but uh.. now you can- that size calculator is basically a computer. It can do all sorts of stuff for you so it's just amazing, uh huh.

Riggins: It's a good tool. The trick is once the calculator starts doing the work it's remembering what--

McLaurin: Wh-- What it's doin', yeah, what it's good for.

Riggins: --and having that stick in your head. That's always been a challenge. Again I'd like to thank you very much for your participation in our project.

McLaurin: Thank you for asking me. I enjoyed it.

Riggins: You're welcome.

#### End of DVD Sandra McLaurin Pt. 2 ####

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