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Interview with James McNab, April 18, 2006 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with James McNab, April 18, 2006
April 18, 2006
In this interview, Professor of French Dr. James McNab discusses his career, from his years living and studying in Europe to his work in academic institutions in the U.S., culminating in his tenure at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Since joining the faculty of UNCW in 1989, Dr. McNab has served as the Chair of the Foreign Languages Department and the Assistant Provost for International Programs in addition to teaching classes in French language and culture.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: McNab, James Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 4/18/2006 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 1 hour, 49 minutes


Riggins: Hello, my name is Adina Riggins. I'm the archivist here at UNCW. As part of our archives program, we conduct visual oral histories of faculty members. I'm very pleased to have a special faculty member here today. Please state your name for the tape.

James McNab: Yeah, my name is James McNab.

Riggins: Thank you, Dr. McNab. Today is April 18th, 2006. It is in the morning and we're in the special collections room. I'd like to start off with just some background information just to get a feel for what you did before you came to UNCW but, first, can you tell me when you did come to UNCW?

James McNab: Certainly. I came here in 1989 so almost 17 years ago.

Riggins: I can't believe it's been 17 years. (laughter) I graduated from college in 1990, not UNCW, so it has been a long time, I guess. Well, let's proceed backwards from there. You obviously are not from this country?

James McNab: You're right.

Riggins: You're from Scotland, is that correct?

James McNab: Mm hm.

Riggins: Where were you born and where did you grow up in Scotland?

James McNab: Okay. I, I was born and grew up in uh... Sterlinshire in Scotland, which is on the east coast of uh.. Scotland. Right.

Riggins: So what was that like growing up over there? Was it a quiet area at the time?

James McNab: Well, it's sort of interesting because, on the one hand, I found it sort of inhibiting, uh... but, on the other hand, almost everyone I knew had traveled extensively because we were-- I was in a big seaport and so my brothers were in the British Army then they were in the Merchant Marine and I grew up sort of surrounded by people who-- for whom Galveston or, or uh... Hong Kong were very familiar places.

Riggins: Uh huh. So they traveled frequently, enjoyed-- you had the benefits of living along the coast, even though it was Scotland, probably not too much swimming or anything...

James McNab: Oh, no, we swam. Oh, yes, we swam. We were-- I was a lot tougher then than I am now, yes.

Riggins: You were used to it.

James McNab: Yes. I swam for my local club so uh... it was an open air pool so uh... it was closed in winter but, in summer, we trained in this pool in sort of 59, 60 degree water, you know?

Riggins: Wow, amazing. So that was just how things evolved.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: Well, where did you go to school when you were growing up?

James McNab: Well, I went to two high schools, Grangemouth High School, Falkirk High School and then uh... I did, I did an ________________ honors degree in the University of Edinburgh.

Riggins: Did you study French...

James McNab: It was actually a degree in French with German so I was hesitating between French and German so I did a degree in, in both areas but mainly-- more French than German. Yes.

Riggins: What did you do upon completion of your degree?

James McNab: Well, I was supposed to go to Morocco to teach but that fell through at the last minute so I was fortunate because my professor, one of my professors in Edinburgh realized there was a position open at the University of Nice so I went straight from uh... Edinburgh to, to Nice and lectured in the University of Nice.

Riggins: You taught English?

James McNab: I taught English, British Civilization, translation. These were, these were the topics I taught and give-- gave occasional lectures on various uh... subjects.

Riggins: When was this about? '60s or...

James McNab: Very much so. That's-- Nice, gosh, it seems like prehistoric times. It was uh... '63/'64.

Riggins: How was your reception there? Were people interested in learning from a native speaker and...

James McNab: Oh, it was, it was wonderful. From my point of view, wonderful. I had already spent two years in France, one year in Strasburg when I was hesitating between French and German and a year in Montpelier, teaching in Lisse, in big high schools in, in France. But Nice I found fascinating because uh... it's history, first of all. It had been Italian to 1860 and then became French but mainly because the European market was, was being created and Europe was be-- was pulling together and, if I hadn't done what I actually have done, which is come to the United States and become a professor and so on, I would have loved to work on behalf of the, the European market, you know, the European common market, yes.

Riggins: Did that appeal to you just...

James McNab: Well, I mean, I was deeply conscious, growing up, of the presence of World War I and World War II and felt so strongly that, that, I mean, at, at a very modest level, of course, that there should never be anything like-- any bloodletting between nations like that. Gave me a de-deep distrust of nationalism. Mm hm.

Riggins: Right. So there has to be some alternatives...

James McNab: Yes, exactly.

Riggins: In the face of World War II and building up economies, et cetera.

James McNab: That's right. You know, I, I grew up in a very poor background but, you know, my mother cleaned houses and so on but we grew up with the idea of absolute equality and respect for other people from different faiths and different ethnicities and so on. This sounds very pompous, I'm sorry, but uh... it really, really was very important in my family.

Riggins: Did you discover, early on, that you had an interest in French when you were growing up or in German as well..

James McNab: Right. I have-- I don't do much self-analysis so, I mean, I haven't looked at myself very much but I do think that each of us, in turn, wanted to get away. We found Scotland wonderful, beautiful but very small so, as I say, my brothers went into the British army, well, they were recruited into the army, of course, it was compulsory military service, but then joined the Merchant Marine. My version of joining the Merchant Marine was to be good at languages so I, I mean, my favorite subjects were Latin and French and German and I think this was a way of anticipating going away and exploring sort of broader horizons.

Riggins: And I guess also just being interested in reaching out to different cultures, understanding them.

James McNab: Right.

Riggins: You probably didn't have an opportunity to travel abroad until university.

James McNab: Well, in high-- I, I traveled-- my first forays abroad were hitchhiking where my-- some friends who were, frankly, richer than I was, agreed that we would all limit ourselves to a certain amount of money and go hitchhiking abroad and uh... they were very gracious in that respect so, literally, we slept outside. We, we hitchhiked, oh, gosh, I've hitchhiked to Italy, to France, to Germany, to Belgium, to Luxembourg, to...

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: Yeah. Just-- from Scotland. I worked as a...

Riggins: From Scotland.

James McNab: Yeah, I worked, I worked as a, a docker, a longshoreman in the summer so I knew all the lorry drivers, the truck drivers so I would arrange for, for a lift from Edinburgh to, to Stirlingshire to, to London and then take la-- take my sort of chances from then on. So it was fun.

Riggins: Different times.

James McNab: Different times.

Riggins: Yes.

James McNab: Different times, yeah.

Riggins: So after university, you got the opportunity to work in Nice and this was probably very nice, also, from the point of view of weather, having...

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: ...grown up in Scotland.

James McNab: Right.

Riggins: It was...

James McNab: But, but also the proximity of, you know, other, other places. In other words, you know, Italy was literally just 45 minutes, 30, 30, 45 minutes away and you had-- the, the variety was amazing. I mean, you have mount-- you can be skiing within an hour and a half from Nice. You can be swim-- I swam all the year round in uh... when I was in Nice and so on.

Riggins: That's great. The people who you taught then must not have been much younger than you?

James McNab: No, we were, we were the same-- pretty well the same ages. I'd had that experience already in uh... in Montpelier where the students I taught were the same age as I was but uh... yeah, I was all of 23 and uh... the students, yeah, ranged from 20 to 25, yes, or, or older.

Riggins: Did that affect your teaching? Were you able to relate as a peer and..

James McNab: Yeah. Yeah, I, I've never-- again, this sounds pompous but I've never believed in, in big barriers between-- I, I hate barriers between people and uh... yeah, I felt very close to my students. The-- you, you don't become, you know, close friends necessarily of students because you've still got to grade them at the end of the day. One of the students, actually, was my-- the lady who is now my wife and has been for 41 years. I-- but very quick, she was the best student in class but I very quickly turned her papers over to someone else to grade. I had a colleague and he graded her, her papers. She still was the best student in class.

Riggins: Wow. You were friends with her...

James McNab: Yes, yeah, we were friends. Not, not from the start but we, we began-- we, we had a three-week courtship and uh... when I asked for her hand in marriage.

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: Yeah. Yeah.

Riggins: And you were certain. She was, too.

James McNab: Yeah, apparently.

Riggins: Yes. So that brings me to-- you met your future wife in Nice.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: She is from Nice?

James McNab: Right.

Riggins: What is her name?

James McNab: Uh... her name is Elizabeth, Elisabet and uh... but everyone in France calls her Babette.

Riggins: So she was an excellent English student.

James McNab: Very much so. She'd just come back from a year in London and, by natural sort of inclination or temperament, she, she's much more English, I guess, than I am and uh... I'm much more French than she is, by sort of temperament.

Riggins: So it works out.

James McNab: It works out. (laughter) Most of the time.

Riggins: What did you do after Nice?

James McNab: Well, that's interesting because, out of the blue appeared an offer at Virginia Tech. They were, they needed someone to teach French and German, a one-year appointment. And uh... I-- this sounds silly but I was in a sky diving center, I'd be-- was doing a lot of sky diving, parachute jumping at the time at the sky diving center and I put it up to a vote by my friends whether I should go and accept this job in Blacksburg, Virginia, or not so uh... unanimously, they said, yeah, you've got to go. So uh... being easily influenced, I, I said yes, let's uh... let's do it. So we went straight from Nice to-- we got married and went from Nice to uh... to Blacksburg, Virginia.

Riggins: Had you been to the United States before?

James McNab: Oh, no. No, no. Not at all.

Riggins: And she hadn't, either?

James McNab: No, not at all.

Riggins: So this was just a big adventure.

James McNab: It was, it was major culture shock, you know? We took a Trailways bus from New York City to Roanoke and then to Blacksburg and uh... sat on our suitcases in total disbelief as the Highty Tighties marched around the campus playing uh... Dixie and, and so on. I, I'm giving you an abridged version of it but we loved Blacksburg. We, we were very happy there. We had no money, no car but we were very happy.

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: Yeah.

Riggins: I haven't been there. I know it's a great school. It's changed a lot.

James McNab: Sure.

Riggins: Grown a lot.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: So you were there for a year?

James McNab: The, the-- actually, they kept me on (laughs) and then I was encouraged to go to graduate school and Virginia-- I, I got a scholarship to go to graduate school and then Virginia Tech put me on half pay for a couple of years to make sure that I would come back to, to Virginia Tech. So I spent three years there then three years at Duke University and then went back to Virginia Tech for another eight years.

Riggins: Did you get your Ph.D. at Duke?

James McNab: I got-- I already had an M.E. honors degree from Edinburgh and I M.E. and a Ph.D. from Duke University, yes.

Riggins: In French?

James McNab: In French with German minor.

Riggins: Durham is where I was born. I was probably born around when you were there.

James McNab: Yeah, probably. (laughter)

Riggins: In the French department, with Professor Titelle?

James McNab: Oh, yeah, Marcel Titelle, who, who has died now. I went there because of one professor and that was Wallace Fowley. I don't know if you've heard the name Wallace Fowley but Wallace actually invited me to go to Duke and he had done a lot of work on 20th century literature, other things, too, but uh.. he invited me down to take a look at the campus and assured me I could use his personal library, as well as the Duke library and so on.

Riggins: Is that important? Was Duke's library lacking?

James McNab: No, Duke's library was superb but Wallace was getting absolutely contemporary stuff as it came in and uh... he knew I had a big interest in poetry and uh... oh, no, the Duke University library was superb. And with the Davis Library at Chapel Hill, also, but Duke's was better in my field than...

Riggins: But you could get it, I guess, very quickly...

James McNab: Yes. And, you know, limited edition stuff that, that uh... Wallace had. Yeah, absolutely.

Riggins: It might take the library a little longer to get it.

James McNab: Right. That's right.

Riggins: What did you think of Duke compared to Blacksburg?

James McNab: Well, the, the, the town was a bit of an apology for a town. I mean, it was still reeking of tobacco and uh... and so on but the, the university, I felt a little guilty, you know, being sort of cosseted, lucky, fortunate student while Durham itself was, you know, far from being an affluent uh... city. But the university was superb. The university was first class. The, the French department was absolutely first class. I mean, my hesitation was between Duke and Yale and I, I was, I got scholarships to both and I was happy to go to Duke because they gave me the opportunity to do independent studies in areas that I, I want, was interested in. I was-- I had to do prelims in all areas but I was excused from certain classes because I'd done a lot of stuff in Edinburgh, especially philology and history of language and so on. It was a wonderful experience, wonderful. The library was mag-- it, it was a non-teaching scholarship I had. It was a, a James V. Duke scholarship so I-- I spent all my time reading. It was wonderful.

Riggins: The East Campus Library?

James McNab: The Women's Campus, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah.

James McNab: East Campus. I didn't use the East Campus really because all of my stuff was in the, in the West Campus, yeah, Perkins library, yes.

Riggins: So, yeah, it must have been-- it is a very beautiful campus and...

James McNab: Oh, yes.

Riggins: Of course, they did have their differences with Durham and...

James McNab: Right.

Riggins: I guess you were coming from a working class background...

James McNab: Yeah, very much so. There's always been-- in the, in the background, I was a sort of card-carrying union member in, in Britain. I, I had to be because I worked, you know, as a-- on the docks and then I worked construction, did, did all kinds of jobs like that. And uh... I really was shocked in the United States by the contrast between rich and poor, you know?

Riggins: That was one of the most shocking things?

James McNab: One of the most shocking things and then the memory of racism was still very much alive.

Riggins: Well, especially in the late '60s.

James McNab: That's right. 'Cause-- and, and then it was compounded, too. I mean, Duke had-- Duke was wonderful but events nationally almost pushed me to leave because, you know, the death of Martin Luther King, the death of Bobby Kennedy, the-- I had a gun pulled on me in Durham on one occasion by, you know, someone who obviously didn't appreciate the fact that I had long hair so it was obviously a student and uh... and so on. So, nationally, I was completely, I felt completely out of synch. I was very much opposed to the war in Vietnam but did not come from a background of conscientious objectors or anything like that. And uh... it, it was a sort of conflict situation.

Riggins: Had you done your obligatory service...

James McNab: No, because it, it was cancelled when I was in, in school. I would have done it but, when I was in the University of Edinburgh, I had a deferment and, when I got out, there was no more military service. It, it was gone. So both my older brothers did it. I didn't.

Riggins: Now it's back, isn't it?

James McNab: No, no, no.

Riggins: Oh, in Scotland?

James McNab: No, no. There's no compulsory military service in Britain. Hasn't been for 40 years.

Riggins: Oh, okay. I guess I was thinking of France.

James McNab: No, in France, they've just cancelled it.

Riggins: Have they?

James McNab: Yes. Yeah.

Riggins: Okay.

James McNab: No, but the French have this tradition of a, a large standing army whereas the Americans and the British typically, when the conflict is over, get rid of their, their armies.

Riggins: Right. And your wife, too, I'm sure felt these...

James McNab: Tensions, yes.

Riggins: ...tensions being in places like Durham and...

James McNab: Yeah, very, very much so. Yeah, very much so. The-- I mean, I had a small son at that time so, I mean, I didn't go out to any all night demonstrations but, you know, I would participate in demonstrations and uh... oh, I don't want to romanticize it. It was not a particularly happy time, with the exception of Duke itself. I mean, Duke-- the university, the library, the classes, everything there was wonderful but uh... no, it was a feeling of being out of synch with the nation's silent majority, let's say.

Riggins: Right. I suppose that feeling may come up time and again since then.

James McNab: Well, right now, for-- right now, for example.

Riggins: Yes, for example. Yeah. I can imagine that a lot of people feel that way. Well, so you were able to go back to Blacksburg after that.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: And continue teaching.

James McNab: Yeah. And then...

Riggins: Different appointment...

James McNab: Yes. I, I got a promotion to associate professor and then they had some major personnel issues in the department so they asked me to become department head so uh... at the ripe old age of 35, I was head of foreign languages at Virginia Tech and uh... we had gone through two heads in two years and uh... they asked me, not because of any great ability or great charisma but because I got along well with everyone (laughs) and didn't have any enemies in the department. So I was, I was head for three years and then out of the blue came an offer from Guilford College, the exact opposite of Virginia Tech in many ways, asking me to become head of foreign languages at Guilford College in Greensboro. And uh... at first, I wasn't interested because I had scarcely heard of Guilford College but then they, they called me several times and invited me to go to the campus and so on and uh... to cut a long story short, I ended up as dean of professor of French and uh... head of foreign languages at Guilford College.

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: They wanted you and perhaps you were ready for a change or...?

James McNab: I-- my wife accuses me of always being ready for change so that sort of footloose and not fancy free but footloose certainly. Uh... I, I like a challenge. I really like a challenge and Guilford offered a different set of challenges from Virginia Tech, you know? So I loved Virginia Tech. I, I mean, I've left these two places, Guilford and, and Virginia Tech, with very fond memories. Duke, also, Edinburgh also but uh... I like, I like something new. I like new challenges. I like problem solving.

Riggins: Problem solving, building things...

James McNab: Yes, love it. I think it goes back to the days when I was loading ships, you know, when-- working as a docker, it was a feeling of tremendous satisfaction, this is in the days just before containers came in, where you'd be loading cargo on a ship, everything from tractors to, to all, all kinds of industrial products to whiskeys, scotch whiskey and so on and uh... the tremendous satisfaction when that ship sails out with their cargo stowed away and so on.

Riggins: Wow. And you found that being an administrator was similar to that...

James McNab: Yeah.

Riggins: Obviously, you liked teaching and scholarship but you also like administration?

James McNab: Oh, no, absolutely. Absolutely because you have some sort of purchase on what gets things done in a university. I mean, if you're a, if you're a professor in a department and never put your nose outside the department, you have a tremendous influence on students, which is very important, but you can't have any sort of influence on the university at large. Yeah.

Riggins: And something, shaking the vision and...

James McNab: Sure, you know, absolutely. So I'm not, I'm not terribly ambitious but I-- everyone says I've got a lot of energy so maybe, maybe that's what it is.

Riggins: It sounds like a lot of people here at UNCW, not that you-- we're not at that point yet but having energy is important. So you found yourself at Guilford, which is a Quaker school, right?

James McNab: Yes, that's correct.

Riggins: And did that appeal to you?

James McNab: Very, very much so. I mean, I'm not temperamentally suited for, you know, the, the, the quiet serenity of the Quakers but I felt politically, ideologically, pedagogically very much in sympathy with what they were doing.

Riggins: Interesting.

James McNab: Because they were absolutely, sincerely committed to the international mission and I, I did a lot of study abroad programs with uh... with them. They were completely dedicated to internationalism and uh... study abroad and bringing in international students and so on. There was no doubt about that. That was wonderful. They were absolutely committed, already, in the 1970s, 1980s, to interdisciplinary work and doing work that we don't do at UNCW in 19-- in 2006, you know, uh... in terms of interdisciplinary requirements and, and so on.

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: Oh, yeah. And so, yeah, I, I served on a lot of important committees there and I think everyone knew that I had deep respect for that Quaker mission. I still do. I still have friends in, in Guilford.

Riggins: Interesting. Had you done, at Blacksburg, had you done study abroad, building that up, too?

James McNab: Yes, yeah. The first time I did it was when I was actually still a student at Duke and they came-- well, they called me at Duke and asked me if I would organize a uh... study abroad program in Europe so uh... I recruited-- drove back to Blacksburg, recruited students and we went off on an 11-week program.

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: 11-week program, yeah. So, yeah.

Riggins: But what are the challenges of-- did you find of Americans doing these programs? Is it similar to-- I would guess that Americans and Australians would be kind of similar, kind of isolated and...

James McNab: Right. Uhm... the, the-- it was much, much, much more difficult in the '70s and the early '80s than it is now because the drug scene was big in Amsterdam and our first port of call when we went to on study abroad was Amsterdam because then you fanned out, the Virginia Tech program is fanned out all over, all over Europe. Uh... my program went mainly to France and Switzerland. But uh... the, the groups tended to divide into the straight people and the people who were not, sort of, to use a loose word, hippie type people and I developed very little tolerance for the use of drugs on-- well, in any circumstance but especially on study abroad, especially on study abroad. So it was very difficult. Uhm... we had one student who eventually became on-- who, who eventually was on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. (laughs) Uhm... but I don't see huge differences from, from American students to European students to other students. There is a tendency to think that Americans don't behave themselves abroad. My experience is that, with orientation and preparation, they do behave themselves. The only thing that's, that crops up, I think, is, is the reverse side of a quality and what I mean by that is Americans are always willing to take initiative and that's a wonderful quality. But, if you're in a strange, new society, you're probably better off just listening and observing and seeing how other people do it before taking the initiative.

Riggins: Interesting. Like a social initiative?

James McNab: Yes. I mean, table manners, for example, in France. I mean, it has nothing to do with the hands on the table or the hands under the table but you don't help yourself to wine in, in someone's house, for example, in France. It's something which is simply not done. I mean, that's, that's the way it is. But, you know, when you tell your students that and you prepare them with an orientation and so on, 99% of the time, I mean, they respond beautifully. I mean, I, I love taking students abroad.

Riggins: And especially if they are from your department and, therefore, already had an interest in the language learning.

James McNab: That's right.

Riggins: That, I think, is a major...

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: Sometimes I will find, if you're going on a study abroad where they don't have a background or interest in any language, it's harder.

James McNab: Yes, that's right. See, the, the drug picture, I mean, obviously, if I had found any of the students using drugs, I would have sent them home immediately but, I mean, I knew, I knew it was happening or I suspected it was happening. It was such that, on some occasion, the, the student might be more interested in sitting in the bus listening to a tape of the Rolling Stones than getting out and looking at a, a, you know, Byron's Castle in, in Switzerland, for example. That, to me, is tragic, you know? Uh... 'cause the world, I mean, life is too short not to seize every opportunity you have to learn all you can about it, you know?

Riggins: What would you do in that case?

James McNab: Well, it wasn't allowed, I mean, (laughs) you, you-- whether, whether you like it or not, you came out and you do listen to, to, to the guide speaking about Byron's Castle, you know? You know, Byron has nothing or very little to do with France but that doesn't matter. It's still part of our general cultural baggage, you know?

Riggins: Sure.

James McNab: So it's become much easier. I mean, I, I don't see these problems now. Not at all.

Riggins: And in Guilford, you were head of the department but also involved very much with study abroad?

James McNab: Very much so, yeah, very much so.

Riggins: I suppose, also, with your own home being cross-cultural, did students come to your house to see what that was like or did you even get involved with that or...?

James McNab: I had most of my students to my house, yes, I mean, for dinner or actually for, for a sip of wine. At that time, you know, it was perfectly normal. We'd, we'd have a, a wine tasting, so called, and just a little bit of wine from different types with a prize, prize being, you know, typically a bottle of wine, actually. But uh... it was all part of the cultural experience. Oh, yeah, they, they came to my house, yes.

Riggins: And now I guess you couldn't offer wine tasting.

James McNab: Can't do it.

Riggins: Drinking age...

James McNab: I can't do it. I, I mean, I'll have my students, my third and fourth year students to my house within the next uh... couple of weeks and uh... I, I can't offer wine. But I, I can offer French food, you know?

Riggins: Yeah, well, I think that must be so valuable, you know, meeting you and your wife outside of the classroom and, to me, when I traveled abroad, that was just so instructive, just going to the other teacher's homes.

James McNab: Yes, yes.

Riggins: And seeing what is involved...

James McNab: Right.

Riggins: ...a meal. It's not, you know, North Carolina, just cook out and help yourself, which is great, too.

James McNab: Which is great, yeah.

Riggins: But it's different.

James McNab: Mm hm.

Riggins: Did your wife and you always try to have-- it probably wasn't an effort but having the French culture in your home, did you guys have fruit trees in the back and things like that?

James McNab: Oh, we, we've never become professional Scotch people or professional French people, no, no. No, no. No, we're very open, very open to all kinds of cultures so, I mean, we, we tend to-- my wife being from the south of France, we tend to eat typically Provincial or southern French meals with lots of olive oil and fruits and vegetables and so on and so on, not much meat but, no, we've never cultivated the French uh... my wife speaks perfect English, for example, and uh... we-- no. I, I'm a wee bit distrustful of people who become professional French people or pro-- who, who see things strictly from that optic. Temperamentally, for example, she's much more attracted by London than by Paris, you know?

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: Oh, yeah, much more.

Riggins: I guess, because some of it is just probably you don't think about it. Like if you were to go on a picnic, would you bring a tablecloth and a bottle of wine, you know, that kind of thing?

James McNab: Right.

Riggins: You know? Or whereas Americans would bring soda and...

James McNab: Yeah, but I mean, you know, hot dogs with chili and coleslaw and...

Riggins: You do all that, too?

James McNab: It's wonderful. Oh, yes. Oh, yes, oh, yes.

Riggins: Wow. You know, you can see both ways. I guess that's why you've probably liked living abroad, you know, in the United States for so many years.

James McNab: Right. That's right. Yeah, oh, sure.

Riggins: Interesting. So your kids always...

James McNab: Uh... I'm happy to-- our sons, you know, we speak French at home and our sons were born in France and so on but, I mean, they move very easily from country to country and uh... I don't want to say identity to identity. They're not schizophrenic but uh... they, they're very, very comfortable with, with difference, you know? And adapt very well. My older one, you know, in-- he just came back from Brazil and Argentina where he was on business and uh... he's completely comfortable there as...

Riggins: In South America.

James McNab: South America or in al-almost anywhere. My, my daughter-in-law has traveled extensively in the, in the-- in East Asia and she's completely comfortable in Thailand and China and, and so on and so on. So, so our points of reference are, are not just France and, and Great Britain, you know, or-- and the USA.

Riggins: I see. Yeah. Because they maneuver in there and they're still themselves but they...

James McNab: This, this is a new thing because, I mean, my sort of not ancestors but the generation before mine wasn't able to benefit from jet, jet planes and instant-- inexpensive telecommunications and technology, internet. You know, my mother-in-law, who's 85, sends my wife emails almost every day and we speak on the phone, we speak to our family in Europe on the phone just about every day because it's so cheap, you know? This is new. I mean, this is new.

Riggins: Yes, very new, right. And same with cheap travel.

James McNab: That's right. And cheap, cheap travel, also. So, you know, the melting pot con-conception of the United States, I think, is outdated. I think you can be loyal to the United States and, you know, if need be, swear allegiance and all that stuff but, at the same time, I'm not interested in melting. I mean, I, I don't want to become part of a sort of American stew.

Riggins: Homogenous.

James McNab: Yeah, homogenous or, no, I'm, I'm not interested in that, you know? And I think the, the country itself needs to start addressing this and, and, in effect, redefine itself, just as France is trying to redefine itself just now because, you know, 10% of the population of France is Muslim and uh... that's a big change, you know?

Riggins: So retaining identities but...

James McNab: Yes, but being open.

Riggins: Being open and living in France and...

James McNab: That's right.

Riggins: Well, I think the Canadians have done that.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: To a certain group or they've been forced to.

James McNab: Right.

Riggins: As the people there are much more, for example, like Italy ________ world cup, they, you know, people there are so into it.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: More so than the Italians.

James McNab: Yes. No, absolutely.

Riggins: So it's a much different feel than in the U.S. The U.S. is going...

James McNab: Oh, no, absolutely and that's one of the reasons-- both my sons lived in New York. One still lives in New York, has lived there for more than 10 years but it's one of the reasons we love New York. I mean, the, the ethnic diversity, the culinary diversity, the, the, the omnipresent cultural artifacts, I mean, it's just, just a marvelous city. I mean, it's...

Riggins: Yeah, amazing place.

James McNab: Yeah.

Riggins: That's great. At Guilford, you had an administrative position. Sounds like you did in Blacksburg, too, but you kept up with scholarship and...

James McNab: Yes, yes.

Riggins: Wow, which is busy.

James McNab: Yeah.

Riggins: Working a lot.

James McNab: Yeah, but it's fun. We're so fortunate, I mean, we-- in the academic milieu, I mean, we're just so incredibly fortunate, I mean, when I go home at nights, after doing manual labor with my shoulder bleeding from carrying wood on my shoulder and listening to, in my case, to port, not to starboard but to port from carrying these heavy weights on my shoulder and so on, and you're being badly paid for doing that and it's dangerous work and, you know, you're soaking wet and you're cold and you're-- trust me, I mean, to be a professor or administrator is a piece of cake compared to that.

Riggins: That's interesting comparison. So then I suppose you would always come across people who moaned their lot in academics and you probably just said to yourself...

James McNab: That, that's...

Riggins: ...I got to remain positive for myself.

James McNab: Yeah. I-- I-- for me, it's not a constant effort to remain positive, it's just that I really-- I think you put your finger on something very important. You arrive at a certain age and you realize that, within any community or within any, any committee, even, there are people who are positive who, who want that tree to bear fruit or there are people who are negative and who are not hoping for a happy outcome and that's, that's a-- to me, that's a soul-destroying situation, when you see people who are-- who can see no out-- that's very sad for them but it's also very sad for the people around them. I don't see to many of these among faculty. I mean, faculty tend to be idealistic because they-- we're constantly dealing with young people. It helps keep us young and uh... you make your complaints about students, they don't have the skills they used to have. Well, they don't but they have other skills that we don't have, you know?

Riggins: That's true.

James McNab: When I see my students' ability to work with computers and read a computer page, I mean, with-- from left to right and top to bottom and bottom to top and diagonally and take in all that information and so on, I'm absolutely staggered. I mean, absolutely amazed, you know?

Riggins: That's true, yeah.

James McNab: Whereas I work very much in a linear, top to bottom, left to right uh... style.

Riggins: Interesting. Literacy has changed.

James McNab: The literacy has changed.

Riggins: It's true. And what staggers me about the students, too, is they often say, "I'm not good at computers." I say, "Don't even tell me that. You can do a lot on your computers in your sleep, you just don't realize it."

James McNab: Oh, no, it's amazing, it's absolutely amazing.

Riggins: They just don't...

James McNab: They don't know the gifts they have, that's true. I mean, it, it's quite amazing, yeah.

Riggins: You put an audio file on the website, they'll get it.

James McNab: That's right.

Riggins: You don't have to show them how...

James McNab: That's right.

Riggins: What brought you from Guilford? Did you go to-- come to Wilmington from Guilford or...

James McNab: Uh... yes, I, I-- in '89, someone, a local high school teacher in Wilmington, I was president of the foreign language association of North Carolina and a colleague on that uh... association learned that Dr. Beeler was retiring or, or resigning as uh... chairman and he nominated me. So I-- it was a nomination, just as the Guilford appointment was a nomination. It was a nomination and I looked at the situation and I thought, yeah, it sounds attractive, you know?

Riggins: What about it appealed to you?

James McNab: Uh... the fact that there was potential for growth, the fact that there was potential for uhm.. I don't want this to sound, again, arrogant but for improving academic quality. The, the fact that the school was poised on a major leap forward and, of course, the beach. I mean, I love the ocean, I mean, I absolutely love the water so everything about the appointment seemed exciting to me. I mean, from a strictly ambition point of view, it was a lateral move. It wasn't a, you know, a-- I wasn't moving up but, as I say, I, I'm not interested in that. That, that doesn't interest me at all.

Riggins: This is in 1989.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: Chancellor Wagoner was still chancellor.

James McNab: Mm hm.

Riggins: But you could tell, from talking to faculty here and other people here that there was just a lot of change. Of course...

James McNab: Well, when I knew that chancellor...

Riggins: ...Wagoner, there was tons of change.

James McNab: Sure. But I, I knew that Chancellor Wagoner, for example, was about to step down. I mean, I, I knew that and uh... I felt that there was-- it was a major turning point and, not only that but, when I was interviewed by Dean Pliler[ph?], we overlapped, gosh, for a few months, I think it was. Uh... he-- I was very impressed by, by Dean Pliler because I said I, I wouldn't be interested in coming unless there were some tenure track assistant professorships available to ensure progress. And I wouldn't be interested in coming unless it was a, a language lab available for the students. And he said, "Yeah, we'll make that commitment." And, and he ordered that commitment, even from beyond the dean's office, so to speak. So they couldn't afford to put in a language lab the first year but, I mean, we, we-- within a couple of years, two or three years, we had a new language lab and so they, they were absolutely honorable.

Riggins: To the idea...

James McNab: Oh, yes, absolutely.

Riggins: And you wanted to be able to bring in some assistant professors...

James McNab: Right. Because, at that time, there were, there were a good number of very capable uh... lecturers, the difference being that these were not tenured or tenure track or tenurable positions and no service requirement is exp-- is, is uh... present, no scholarship requirement is present so what it means is it-- in terms of the academic uh... strength of the department, it's, it's a disadvantage. And they gave me permission to convert, I've forgotten how many, something like five positions to tenure track assistant professorships and that was wonderful, absolutely wonderful.

Riggins: And you did national searches?

James McNab: Oh, yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I mean, when, when I arrived, the majority of the faculty had degrees from Chapel Hill and I've nothing against Chapel Hill, I've taught there, I, I mean, as a guest, uh... my sons went there and so on but I don't think it's healthy to have the majority of your faculty coming from any one university. So we hired faculty from Princeton, from Texas, from Virginia, from New Mexico, from, you know, and changed the complexion of the department.

Riggins: Who did you hire? Are some of them still...

James McNab: Some of them are still here. Peter Thomas from New Mexico is here. The problem in hiring absolutely top notch people is that you can't always keep them and we...

Riggins: At that time more so than now?

James McNab: Uh... at that time more so than now. There was more mobility then than there is now. But that doesn't mean to say that you shouldn't hire the absolute best people you can, you know? I, I believe passionately in reaching as high as you possibly can, knowing full well that you, you will lose these people.

Riggins: Well, I suppose the mobility but also, back then, maybe as well as now you might lose them because of internal, you know, things like salary, things like course load, that kind of thing, is that part of it?

James McNab: That, that could be-- salary, we, we, we did lose people, yeah. I mean, Michael Brophy was a superb uh... French professor from uh... Dalhousie University in Canada but Michael went back to Ireland because he was going to be paid much, much more. Benefits are always uh... an issue on this campus because-- especially for anyone with a family, benefits are, are not perceived as being particularly good, you know? I'm not saying that's necessarily my perception but that is a common perception of candidates coming in. And uh... but within the department, the degree of solidarity and harmony and so on was considerable. I mean, after my time as, as chair, we brought in a wonderful professor from the University of Virginia, Allison Murray, who is absolutely superb but, you know, Allison has left but, I mean, we part on the best of possible terms. Rick Deets now heads up a program in the University of Wisconsin and so, you know, we-- that happens. You lose, you lose excellent people but, while they're here, they raise the standard.

Riggins: Yes. I remember her. I had just started when she was still here.

James McNab: Yes. She's off in Bowdoin College in Maine, you know, but she, she, she was getting married so uh... her husband is-- was hired by the University of Maine.

Riggins: Wow, that's good she was able to...

James McNab: Yes. She was so good that, you know, even in a very tight market, she was able to find uh... a job easily.

Riggins: So you came on as chair of...

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: ...following Dr. Beeler, who's also French. It's interesting that they had two French, one after another. Has Spanish language always been sort of dominant here?

James McNab: Numerically, I think they were at parity before but certainly, from the time I've been here, Spanish has been going ahead leap-- by leaps and bounds, of course, and that's normal. That's perfectly normal. I mean, the whole country, as far as I'm concerned, needs to become bilingual. I mean, these are heretical words but uh... so I, I don't begrudge the, the uh... significance of uh... Spanish but I also don't think that the foreign language department should simply cater to that particular demand. I think it's a crying shame that UNCW doesn't recognize the importance of Arabic or Chinese or Farsi or other languages like that.

Riggins: And actually create...

James McNab: Yeah. And it's not just a case of creating a language track. You need the support of the curriculum so you need a curriculum that supports that language. So, for example, right now, we have Portuguese, which is wonderful, but, apart from the Cameron school of business and the history department, and to a small extent the anthropology department, there really isn't enough support for that. Am I, am I making sense? In other words, a student who finishes his two or three years of Portuguese is interested in Brazilian politics or Portuguese politics and economics and so on so your curriculum has to be looked at comprehensively and has to be planned in, in an interdisciplinary way to give students the opportunity to pull from different areas, instead of which, currently, UNCW essentially what it does is each department determines its own needs without regard for the-- without regard to the needs of the, let's say, the college of arts and sciences or the curriculum at large. I'm sorry, that sounds very complicated. Am I making sense?

Riggins: I sort of follow you. For example, in Portuguese, it would be great if they could take courses, like you said, in Brazilian film or...

James McNab: Sure.

Riggins: ...Brazilian economics.

James McNab: That's right. Well, I guess what I'm trying to say is we have not developed the interdisciplinary uh... notion that we need to develop. Now, there are some areas which are wonderful. Marine science is superb. Film studies is, well, it's, to some extent, interdis-disciplinary but environmental studies definitely is interdisciplinary. Now, that has hundreds of majors, you know?

Riggins: It has its own department but...

James McNab: That's right. Our most prestigious program is in marine biology and marine science and uh... that surely should serve as a lesson to our administration, that we need to look at the whole curriculum and stop just viewing it in a silo type way, department by department.

Riggins: How did that emerge at our university that we are that way?

James McNab: 'Cause that was the old way of doing things and the curriculum hasn't changed, basically, I mean, they're looking at basic studies now but, essentially, the curriculum hasn't changed in I don't know how many years, 25 years? I mean, from my point of view, the basic studies program is a total mess. Sorry, but uh...

Riggins: Yeah, interesting.

James McNab: With superb departments.

Riggins: Right. When you came in 1989 and you saw the challenges here, did you realize that, in some ways, the university, especially in your department, was behind?

James McNab: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I mean, I fought and lost my first battle here in terms of trying to obtain credit for students as a result of a placement examination. In other words, a student going to Wake or Yale or Duke or Guilford or any other place could take a placement test and, if they placed well and agreed to go on in the language, they could get retroactive credit.

Riggins: (inaudible)

James McNab: Uh... Wilmington or Provost, at that time, said there's no precedent for this and uh... the faculty wouldn't buy into it. So what it meant is that kids who could go to Wake Forest with many hours of credit or Yale or Duke or many hours of credit couldn't get credit here in mathematics or in uh... in foreign language, for example. I mean, my sons entered Chapel Hill with 21 credits and 15 credits, you know, respectively, and it gave them a huge boost.

Riggins: Is this, for example, advanced placement?

James McNab: No, with advanced placement, we, we-- that's separate. But, I mean, many schools don't offer advanced placement. At that time, there were only six schools in North Carolina offering foreign language advanced placement so many kids, including my own, could not do advanced placement in high school in Greensboro.

Riggins: ...take the university offer...

James McNab: Placement testing, that's right. So when they went to Chapel Hill, they got, I've forgotten how many hours, nine or 12 hours of uh... credit in Spanish for...

Riggins: Did you ever win that battle?

James McNab: Oh, someone else has taken it over. Dr. DiPuccio has taken over that battle and now they're-- yeah, they're, they're winning that battle now, yeah. The, the faculty is more enlightened in the Provost certainly than, dare I say it, than they were in 1989, you know?

Riggins: What were the other things that you were hoping? You came in, you saw this great potential that you could tap. What were some of the other ways, other goals?

James McNab: Study abroad. Study abroad in a big way. Uhm...

Riggins: Was there interest from the administration then?

James McNab: No, no.

Riggins: Really? And you still came.

James McNab: Oh, yeah. I mean, I mean, I, I shouldn't be so categorical but, I mean, it's a, it's an uphill str-- it's still an uphill struggle here, not with the faculty but academic affairs has always been supportive. I, I'm going to be perfectly honest. My, my impression of business affairs is that it has not been supportive. This has been viewed as a major inconvenience. Uh...

Riggins: To have to...

James McNab: To have to deal with study abroad. 'Cause it does come with uh... difficulties, you know, transferring of credit and budget lines and so on and so on but uh... I don't want to sound too negative but one major objective was to increase the study abroad participation. When I came, we had never sent any students on study-- on our own study abroad program with the exception of a small program in Chicoutimi in Quebec, Canada. There was no active study abroad program at all. So that was an opportunity. I mean, you can look at it negatively or you can look at it positively. From my point of view, it was a wonderful opportunity so we created study abroad.

Riggins: You were interested in building...

James McNab: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Yes, yeah.

Riggins: Interesting. Well, I guess I can see, from the business affairs perspective, unless anything-- in any organization, people have just different problems and work goals, you know, they viewed it as a problem so you just have to work with them and fight the battles.

James McNab: Fight the battle again and again and again and again. Yes.

Riggins: Sure, because they won't necessarily (inaudible) so study abroad. What about Jerry Shin? He was here. Did you get to know him at all?

James McNab: I knew Jerry, yeah. I mean, Jerry was very much his own man, as you, as you probably know. I mean, I knew about the museum of world cultures and-- yeah.

Riggins: Yeah. He used to talk about-- well, we did an oral history interview with him, I didn't do it myself but I've read it many times. He talked about how most people hadn't even been outside of the county or some of the students hadn't been outside of the county. So I think-- he talked about how he would require students to get a passport, even though he didn't do any study abroad initiatives, or I don't think he did, he would require them to get a passport.

James McNab: You're right.

Riggins: So I just didn't know if you'd had any conversations with him.

James McNab: Oh, many conversations with Jerry. No, I, I was very fond of Jerry. He was a very, very true believer, idealistic person and he certainly was one of the solitary sort of Scott of the Antarctic type figures trying desperately to fight all that snow and ice and uh... move students, uh... move students abroad. No, he's intentions were very valiant, yeah.

Riggins: Right. But he kind of did his own way.

James McNab: But it was an uphill, it was an uphill struggle, it really was, to be perfectly honest. I mean, we have worked on, on the Paris program, which I set up 22 years ago in Guilford College, uh... which has been running since which Chapel Hill prefers, in some cases, to its own programs, uh... they have about 15 or 20 students on our program right now, uh... I wouldn't say it's viewed with hostility here but not, not by academic affairs or by faculty but to try to achieve some level of understanding by the folks in business affairs has, has proved almost impossible.

Riggins: You set up the Paris program here?

James McNab: I set, I set it up in Guilford College long before I came here. It followed me here.

Riggins: Oh, I see.

James McNab: So now Guilford College, e-Law and Chapel Hill and a number of other schools send their students on our program but that attracted no sympathy or understanding or interest whatsoever.

Riggins: But you still...

James McNab: Oh, yeah, we kept on doing it because the students love it. It's a, it's a great program.

Riggins: Is it for the summer or...

James McNab: No, no, no. It's a, it's a semester program which can be converted into a, a ye-- a one-year program.

Riggins: Really. Where do they go in Paris?

James McNab: They stay in families and they work at the University of Paris, I think, called the "cours de civilization française", the class on French civilization. We have a resident director who's worked with us for 22 years. We have a political science professor who's worked with us for 22 years and then we have a film studies uh... dimension, which has-- is fairly recent, the last three, four years. So it, it's been, it's been running for years now.

Riggins: And the students have to have a baseline in the language?

James McNab: Yes, they must-- typically, they must have two years of university level French in order to go, yes.

Riggins: And the courses are offered in French?

James McNab: The courses are offered in French but the, the, there's a French art and literature course taught by my resident director in Paris. It's offered in English uh... because they're doing a lot of museum trips and field trips and so on and it's easier to do that in-- that's one, uh... a three-credit...

Riggins: The students are together?

James McNab: Well, they are doing the classes but they're in families. They're living in families so they're living within Paris or in the suburbs so all separate. They...

Riggins: So that was one of the first things that you kind of started up...

James McNab: That was the first thing that we, we started up here, yes.

Riggins: And you met with some resistance?

James McNab: It, it's been ongoing. Yeah.

Riggins: So you're in the foreign languages department directing it for awhile. What are some of the things that you remember from those early days?

James McNab: You know, I'm not a nostalgic person and I don't tend to look back very much so uhm... tremendous goodwill on the part of my colleagues. I mean, lovely, lovely group, group of colleagues. Uh... all interested in making the departments more involved uh... in research and so on, themselves getting involved in research but uh... I mean, if I wanted to speak out of turn, I mean, the, the fact is that we had to improve enrollments and so on and uh... we tried to do so. Uhm..

Riggins: What were some of the ways you did that?

James McNab: Uh... By-- well, I mean, the university itself has committed itself to teaching in a big way so, I mean, that, that was a big help. You know, the student perception of teaching evaluations, for example, taking the annual evaluation seriously in terms of, you know, the chairman evaluating faculty members in terms of research and teaching and, and so on. Uhm... offering-- changing the curriculum. Being willing to-- being open to change in terms of uh... putting in new courses, topics in French literature, topics in French literature, topics in Spanish literature, topics which allowed us basically to teach anything we wanted so, you know, we could teach courses on surrealism, for example, or teach course-- without having to put them in the catalogue. This was-- these were changing content courses, topics courses. And...

Riggins: Right. You had to introduce this all? It hadn't been done before?

James McNab: That hadn't been done before, no. And-- but since I left the chairmanship, you know, Dr., Dr. Lapaire, who succeeded me, and Dr. DiPuccio continue that trend so now it's, it's wide open, you know? It's a much more interesting curriculum now than it ever was before.

Riggins: That's interesting, you had to kind of do all that. How would it be different if you went back to Scotland and were a professor of French there? What's it like?

James McNab: (laughter)

Riggins: I know I'm speaking as a complete naïve but...

James McNab: No, no, it's an interesting remark. Again, I, I, I tend to live in the here and now and the future, rather than in sort of fantasy land but I was asked to do a Ph.D. in the University of Edinburgh and I thought, oh, gosh, do I really want to go-- spend the rest of my life teaching French in the, the Loftbury[ph?] University of Technology or something like that? And the answer was obviously no. It would be-- but I did go back to Scotland, oh, 10 or 12 years ago and gave a series of lectures in the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of St. Andrews. The differences are that, by the time the students reach university, they're much more specialized than they are here so that the students typically speak French or read French, they've read many novels in French or German or Spanish or, or whatever, and so, I mean, they're more fully prepared than the students here, without any question. The, the-- so the level of instruction at the undergraduate level is, is much more advanced than it is here. Uh... but the students themselves are much less enterprising than the American students. They're much less...

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: Typically. They're, they're not used to being given as much freedom to relate to their professors and, and so on. Uhm.. they may have less exposure to the liberal arts, broadly defined, than the American student does because of the basic studies uh... situation. Uhm... it tends to be much more hierarchical still. Not, not as hierarchical as it used to be but more than, more than the, the American uh... model. So I can only hypothesize as to what it would be like to teach in Britain. Britain has changed tremendously, though. I mean, there are three times more universities than when I was growing up in Britain and that's great. Uh... it's become a much more democratic type situation than it was when I was a student. I mean, I had a German professor in the University of Edinburgh who was a world expert on, on __________, a German poet, and, if you knocked on his door, he would simply bellow, "Go away". (laughter) And that was acceptable behavior there, you know? Uh... my French philology professor, her major publication, she had many but her major one was something called Anglo Norman in the Cloisters. It was a much more specialized sort of preparation. So, I mean, I guess the difference is that in, in Scotland, it tended to be very intense, very deep. We needed at least five years of Latin before we were allowed to study honors French so very-- but the American model is much broader, you know, it's, it's, it's-- and gives the students more self-confidence, I think, greater versatility, greater ability to change directions and so on, you know? So uh... I've no regrets about being in the, in the American environment. Yeah. I taught in South Africa last year and that was very close to the British model, you know, the old British model.

Riggins: I'd love to hear about that. Do you mind if we just take a break now?

James McNab: Please.

Riggins: I need to switch the tape out...

(tape change)

Riggins: -- speaking about arriving in Wilmington in 1989 and taking the bull by the horns and making some changes, we discussed that some in the last tape. But you certainly had some challenges to face when you came here, one of which was just starting some study abroad programs where there had been none. And you started off with the Paris one, is that correct?

James McNab: Uh-huh.

Riggins: And there was a UNCW member who went on the program, is that true?

James McNab: Only for the orientation. To keep costs down we- we sent a faculty member over for just a week of (audio glitch) intensive orientation in Paris, but then the- the Paris based faculty took over there.

Riggins: Okay.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: And you're the faculty member who probably went for a while?

James McNab: Uh.. I went- I went typically in the fall, and someone else would go in the spring, yes.

Riggins: Okay.

James McNab: Uh-huh.

Riggins: Great. I guess you started off with lots of students from other schools, but you marketed also for UNCW students.

James McNab: Right. I- I'd set the program up at Gilford College, and uhm.. while there, Elon uh.. College as it then was, uh.. Elon University signed on. High Point University signed on and uhm.. there may have been one or two others. And uh.. so that gave us the critical mass we needed. We needed at least 12 or 13 or 14 students to make the- the uh.. the program financially viable. Uh.. and then later Chapel Hill signed on in a big way, and that helped enormously because actually we send more students from Chapel Hill then uh.. we do from Wilmington, but that's fine. We send a substantial number from Wilmington, we've got a superb French section now and they're very supportive of study abroad, and uh.. we've got uh.. I- I don't know how many students from Wilmington in Paris right now, but probably ten or 12 or 13, something like that. Yes.

Riggins: And how many there all together?

James McNab: This time has broken all the records. The spring of 2006 we've got about 36 or so students in Paris, all living in homes and uh.. and so on. You know.

Riggins: With families?

James McNab: With families.

Riggins: They probably have a couple of meals a day?

James McNab: Yes, that's right. They have breakfast every morning with the family, they have, I think, it's one-- yeah, one dinner a week with the family, uh.. otherwise they eat in student accommodations. Or they can-- they have kitchen facilities and they can use the kitchen uh.. facilities themselves.

Riggins: In the homes?

James McNab: In the homes, yes.

Riggins: Well that is an excellent experience. And do the families have to have English?

James McNab: No, no, no, not at all.

Riggins: Oh really.

James McNab: Uh.. it's the nature of the beast now that typically, believe it or not, most families do have English, but we actually discourage them from using English with our students, yes.

Riggins: And how does that work? Pretty well?

James McNab: Uh.. I think it works pretty well, yes. Yeah.

Riggins: So when you came there were certainly French majors, there was a major in French.

James McNab: Yes, uh-huh. Major in French, Major in Spanish.

Riggins: An minors. Oh, just in those two languages?

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: Okay. So what were some of the changes in terms of languages added?

James McNab: The-- my- my top priority actually wasn't French, but-- because French was reasonably healthy, uh.. we'd made a first class hire in Doctor Lapaire who was a sort of backbone of the- the French section at that time. But I was very concerned about German because uh.. German is the language of the biggest investors in North Carolina, there are more German companies in North Carolina then- then there are companies from any other country, and we had neither a minor-- we had no minors in fact, but we didn't have any uh.. any German major, so one priority was to get a new position in German. And with the help of Dean Simmons, as she then was, uhm.. we- we were able to- to get a- an additional German position.

Riggins: Okay.

James McNab: So that was very important. Now-- but to be honest it was very difficult to add languages. To- to add new languages. Uhm.. we played with, you know, other languages but-- well now- now port-- since I left the department or left the chairmanship, we have added Portuguese which is- which is very important, we are actually teaching Russian. I had actually added Italian, we hired a Spanish instructor who was Italian herself, able to teach Italian. So-- I'd forgotten that, we added Italian, we added Japanese. I was able to bring in a- a wonderful instructor, Yoko Kano, and Yoko taught uh.. Japanese, and we were able to start Study Abroad in Japan. So to cut a long story short, we increased the German offerings, we added Japanese, we added Italian on my watch so to speak. But then, since then that movement has continued.

Riggins: You were here when Doctor Leutze came on.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: And you were all probably very excited when you heard he was coming.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: Is that right? I know there were issues about the selection of the Chancellor, I know other faculty members talked about that, but they all were happy when it was (inaudible).

James McNab: Yeah we were very active-- Doctor Cypel [Ph?] was a ringleader in the- the attempt to make sure that the President of World Books was not hired, and I was very active in uh.. participating in all the demonstrations, 'cause I knew that not just my future, but everyone's future depended on bringing in a Chancellor who was an academic and knew what he or she was doing.

Riggins: And could relate to faculty.

James McNab: And could relate to faculty and so on. So, I mean, it was outrageous that the Board of Trustees would try to ram uh.. a chancellor down our throats so to speak who had no appeal by and large to the- to the faculty. Yes.

Riggins: Yeah, that was interesting. We have some papers and archives about that time period.

James McNab: Right, yes.

Riggins: It's always interesting to get that perspective. Doctor Leutze always strikes me as someone who was a proponent of global learning. Of course his whole background he did the Globe Watch video series etcetera. Did you meet with him fairly early on?

James McNab: Oh yes. Uh.. I- I became president of faculty senate fairly early on and I was-- did that job twice, and then I was on the faculty advisory committee to the chancellor, so yeah, we had the opportunity to meet. He was very accessible.

Riggins: Uh-huh.

James McNab: He was very easy to- to meet with, yes. Oh no, absolutely.

Riggins: I didn't realize you were president of faculty.

James McNab: Yeah. And we actually traveled together in Finland. I- I'd help set up an exchange in uh.. when I was head of international programs, set up an exchange in Finland and we actually traveled from Helsinki to Oulu together. And he was a wonderful ambassador abroad for uh.. for UNCW. Uh-huh.

Riggins: That's great. What did you like about his background, his style?

James McNab: Well, the fact that he was visible, the fact that was accessible, the fact that he understood immediately the importance of raising endowment. Our endowment at UNCW is shockingly low, I mean, dreadful low. Uh.. the fact that he was an academic who'd paid his dues so to speak. He- he was a tenured professor from Chapel Hill. Uh.. his international awareness of course was- was a big help. He presented well in public and was seen in public, so uh.. the whole- the whole tone or mood of the campus, I think, changed when he- when he came here. For- for the better.

Riggins: Right. More professional in a sense?

James McNab: Yes. Yes.

Riggins: Well, that's...

James McNab: And, you know, when- when he was chancellor uh.. he- he was, I mean, Kenan House was- was I would say open to everyone, but there was- there was so many activities that he hosted, that it- it really was very gracious of him to- to do so, you know, many, many activities.

Riggins: Right. For faculty?

James McNab: Oh yes. For faculty, for visitors, for-- yes.

Riggins: Students?

James McNab: Students. Oh, absolutely, students also. Absolutely.

Riggins: He must have been a very friendly person. So how did the position come up with the Office of International Programs, since it was the first of its kind? It was the first position and I suppose Chair of Office of International Programs was held by you, right?

James McNab: Not really. No. Doctor Faulkner- Doctor Faulkner who's a- who's a colleague in sociology. Gary- Gary Faulkner had been- Gary had been the Director of International Programs.

Riggins: Oh, I didn't know that.

James McNab: And uh.. serviced his time, spend a good number of years, and built the foundations for the- for the office.

Riggins: So you must have worked with him.

James McNab: Well it's interesting because what happened is that when I became Head of International Programs, Gary got one course release for a semester and in effect briefed me. I mean, I'd done many study abroad programs, but I mean, I'd never run an Office of International Programs. And he and sat down once a week over coffee and spent a couple of hours, and he was wonderful in terms of being open and helpful and so on uh.. ex- explaining what he had done uh.. to me. No he was- he was superb.

Riggins: When had he started the program?

James McNab: Oh my goodness. He was the Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences and he ran the program, I'm guessing now, for maybe six or seven years. Because there had been a major-- my understanding of the situation is the following. There had been a major push from general administration in Chapel Hill that even Wilmington had to become internationally minded. And with considerable reluctance, the administration at that time designated Gary as being the Director of International Programs. I may be wrong, but I think it was a pro forma appointment. But in point of fact, Gary took...

Riggins: So they didn't give him any money?

James McNab: He- he started with very difficult uh.. a very difficult situation.

Riggins: And this was before you came?

James McNab: Uh.. I was actually Head of in- in uh.. Head of Foreign Languages at the time. I- I think when- when that happened. But Gary took it and ran with it and set up s- some very good international exchanges, which are still very viable, in places like Keto, Ecuador and Swansea, and Swansea in Wales and so on. Very- it's a very good program. And uh.. and you know, at the risk of sounding sarcastic, which maybe I am, uh.. in spite of the university's best efforts international programs took off in a- in a very big way.

Riggins: Interesting. In spite of.

James McNab: Yeah. And then it got good support. And then it began to get good support. Uh-huh.

Riggins: Interesting. So it began to get good support from Dr. Leutze?

James McNab: From Doctor Leutze, from Marvin Moss [Ph?]. M- Marvin understood. Marvin had lived abroad. He knew-- if you mentioned, if you said to him "Villefranche in France," or you said uh.. let's say "Nagoya, Japan," or whatever, he-- it immediately resonated with him. He'd been there. He- he worked in the Office of uh.. Naval Research in- in Washington D.C., he was the associate director, I believe, at Scripts in uh.. San Diego, and he was an international traveler, he was very sophisticated, high academic standards, he understood the importance of international programs in a big way. So the tide turned and the Office of International Programs began getting good support.

Riggins: Interesting.

James McNab: So I served under- under-- I served under Marvin, then under John Cavanaugh [Ph?], and then under uh.. Paul of course, Paul Hosier.

Riggins: Uh-huh.

James McNab: And I- I've no complaints about the support I got. You know.

Riggins: When did you start at the Office of International Programs?

James McNab: I- I started eight years ago, so that was in uh.. 1998.

Riggins: Oh, great.

James McNab: Yeah. Or- or a little earlier, 1996 or 7, because I- I'd been on leave before.

Riggins: Was it Gary stepping down or looking to go back to the classroom?

James McNab: Yeah. Gary was looking to go back to the classroom in sociology, and he was- he was stepping down. So that's when we had a semester of over-lap, and uh.. he was very helpful.

Riggins: And did they send out something to all of the faculty like they do now? You know, whenever there's an administrative type of position they say "Applications welcome?"

James McNab: That- that's correct, and I applied for the position and got, yes.

Riggins: Right. You were ready for a change again, is that right?

James McNab: Oh, absolutely. What happened is I had done my four years as Chairman of foreign languages, and they asked me to do a second four years stint, and I said "No, I'll do two years, but I- I don't want to do four." Because I really feel that administrators shelf life shouldn't be more, typically, then six or seven years. And I served for eight years in International Programs, I think that was an ample sufficiency, let's say. So, no I- I-- so to- to be true to myself, I really felt that I had to step down from f- foreign languages and give someone else a chance.

Riggins: All right. So you started over there and some programs started, you had done the Paris one, sounds like you were probably a perfect fit to take this off and running. What were some of the steps you took from the get go?

James McNab: Okay, we- we-- there- there's been a big, I don't want to talk too technically, but I mean, there's been a big move away from semester programs or year programs towards summer programs, and uh.. I believe in semester and year programs and so on. But I- I certainly encourage a lot of faculty to get involved with summer programs, so we- we put up advertisements in almost every academic building on campus inviting people to do study abroad, we try to improve the conditions for people going on study abroad, faculty accompanying groups on study abroad. So that grew exponentially. So typically we send, oh gosh, ten or 12 programs abroad every- every summer.

Riggins: Right, and that's from just faculty getting (inaudible).

James McNab: Oh yeah. We've got- we- we have wonderful faculty, and we have programs going everywhere from, you know, depending on the year, from Costa Rica to Chile to Spain to France to Germany to uh.. to Australia to uh.. just- just all over the place, you know, all over the place. But also a big push to increase the number of exchange programs we had all over the world, especially in places that students were interested in going to. So we increased the number, we already had two Australian programs, we increased the number of Australian programs. In Britain we already had Swansea and uh.. Roehampton in London, we added Sterling, we added Howell, we added Keele University in- in England, I do a lot of programs there. We- we added programs pretty well all over the world, and increased the number of students going abroad dramatically. I mean, we now s-- the year I stepped down with th- the incredible help of Elizabeth Adams, who was the Study Abroad Director, we were sending about 450 students abroad.

Riggins: On UNCW programs?

James McNab: On UNCW programs.

Riggins: Are there certain students who do select programs from other universities?

James McNab: Oh yes. Yeah. 'Cause I mean, if it's a program in a co-- we- we subscribe to a thing called International Student Exchange Program, ISEP. Now if a student wants to go to Switzerland, we don't have a program in Switzerland, but they can go on an ISEP program. Or a student wants to go to France, we have programs in Paris, we've got a program in Marseille, but we don't have a program in Brittany let's say, so a student can go on a ISEP program to Brittany.

Riggins: So the office supports all centers of research (inaudible).

James McNab: Oh yes, oh yes. Summer programs in Italy, I mean, uh.. Chapel Hill has a wonderful program in Florence. We don't typically have programs in Italy, sometimes we do, typically not, we've sent our students with Chapel Hill, yeah. We work very closely with our peer institutions in North Carolina. North Carolina's a wonderful state in terms of cooperation between and among uh.. public universities. So we work very closely with all of the public universities, and some of the private universities in North Carolina.

Riggins: Back to the Foreign Languages Department, there's a consociate program with German studies, right?

James McNab: Oh it's not just foreign languages. I mean, yes-- oh, absolutely. We have, through the State of North Carolina, we have state to state agreements with many places. So we have North Carolina and Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany. Baden-Wurttemberg includes Heidelberg and Freiburg and Hohenheim and Mannheim and other- other universities, a wonderful area of Germany. So we can send students on that program, paying tuition and fees here. Paying ch- uh.. UNCW uh.. tuition and fees. We've got a uh.. a similar exchange, state to state exchange with Israel. We're not sending students just now because it's perceived as being too dangerous. But a state to state pro- uh.. exchange in Mexico. A state to state exchange with New South Wales in Australia. So g- wonderful opportunities with the state as well as our own-- but- but we have lots of programs of our own, you know?

Riggins: Right. And what's the benefit of having programs of your own? You can control them I suppose. It's easier to recruit students.

James McNab: It's easier to recruit students, you can monitor them more easily, yes, and then the personal relationship between offices is very important, you know, terribly important.

Riggins: Between like UNCW office and the...

James McNab: Yes. I mean, just this morning, I mean, 6 o'clock this morning I was on email to a friend from a university in England, and we'd agreed to meet at a professional meeting. Even thought I'm out of the field now, I still go to some professional meetings, and we'll be meeting in Montreal next month. And uh.. I've worked in that lady, Annette- Annett uh.. Crats [Ph?] worked with her for seven years now, and the personal contact is very important. So you don't hesitate to pick up a phone and say "Look, j- we- we've just discovered that John has attention deficit disorder," for example. "And, you know, can you look out for him," and so on and so for.

Riggins: Right, that's probably very encouraging to the students as well as the parents.

James McNab: Oh yes.

Riggins: In that just the fact that if there's a problem or the schedule has changed, they want to know.

James McNab: But the-- yeah, that's true, but- but the North Carolina Exchange Program has uh.. an office in Greensborough, and we work very closely with them. It's very good. We don't need them as much as some other universities do because we have so many programs of our own.

Riggins: That's great.

James McNab: Yeah.

Riggins: That's wonderful. So what was your title?

James McNab: The title was Assistant Provost for International Programs.

Riggins: Assistant Provost for six years, is that correct?

James McNab: No, for eight years.

Riggins: Eight years, right. And all that time you said you taught every semester?

James McNab: Yes. Uh-huh.. I've always taught uh.. every- every semester here.

Riggins: And you taught in French...

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: In your area?

James McNab: Uh.. yeah, I taught in French, but I- I have very broad interests I guess. So I've taught a lot, well not a lot, but I taught in the MALS program, the Master of Arts Liberal Studies program. That was a joyful experience.

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: Oh, that's wonderful, wonderful. Uh.. so I taught in the MALS program. I've taught a number of French courses, but in English also.

Riggins: Uh-huh.

James McNab: Uh.. to make them more accessible to students, you know, cross-disciplinary French uh..

Riggins: What about teaching those introductory courses? Do you still do that?

James McNab: I'm doing it now.

Riggins: Yeah?

James McNab: No yeah, no sure.

Riggins: Yes.

James McNab: Oh, I don't consider that beneath my dignity at all. No, no.

Riggins: Great.

James McNab: No, that's fun. It's-- I'm teaching-- right now I'm teach-- I'm phased retirement, so I'm teaching four courses doing two semesters in one, I'm teaching four courses. Two introductory uh.. French courses, and then one course on Contemporary France and the Franci- Francophone world. And then one special topics course on the influence of a French poet on American and French writers of the 20th Century.

Riggins: Uh-huh.

James McNab: So uh.. no, the introductory courses are fine. I mean, as I say, the skills are different from what they used to be on the part of our students, but uh.. I- I often compare teaching 1st year to behavior modification (laughs) because we have sophomores and juniors and so on in the class, and they don't need behavior modification, but the freshmen really do, they need to understand the importance of being in class, being on time, doing the work and so on and so forth.

Riggins: Uh-huh.

James McNab: So.

Riggins: And applying that to language learning.

James McNab: And yes. But uh.. we see some absolutely superb students coming in now. So- the- the best-- the cream of the crop are much better then they were before.

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: Oh yeah, I think so. Yeah.

Riggins: What are your theories/approaches to language learning? How do you make it happen for students today?

James McNab: The uh.. given the reality of having 20- say 25 students in a class, you've got to come to terms with having students participate actively. Now they're going to be a little bit intimidated, especially as freshmen, about speaking directly to me. So one of the things that I- one of the things that I believe strongly in is the use of small group discussion. So we-- very class I divide- I divide the students into cities, so it's Nice and Marseille, they- they choose their identity. Nice and Marseille and Paris and so on and so on. And then I give them assignments. And they're not shy at all about talking to each other, and they get accustomed to hearing the sound of their own voice in French, and they build confidence that way. So I think that the secret of language learning to a very large extent is here. Is very much in creating an atmosphere which gives the students some-- ho- holding them to task, making sure they do the work. If they don't do the work, they're not going to learn the language, it's a very difficult uh.. discipline. But other then that, trying to get a-- create an atmosphere in which they feel comfortable, and where they can- they can sort of navigate by themselves. Wh- and where they don't afraid to ask me questions. And uh.. I find that very encouraging. Also being very clear in my objectives, and in my- in my expectations, so they know exactly what to expect.

Riggins: Right. Oh, I'm sure.

James McNab: Yeah.

Riggins: What about the use of technology in language learning? Sounds like right from the beginning, that was important to you.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: Meeting a language (inaudible).

James McNab: No, the truth is I have lost ground through being in administration there. Uh.. I find my colleagues-- I'm embarrassed to see my colleagues who are using PowerPoint all the time, and who are u- who are using-- getting on the web in class much more. I'm still a wee bit afraid, a little bit afraid of that. So I mean, I use technology, I mean, but my technology tends to be overheads, and tends to be uh.. recordings, DVDs, and uh.. CDs.

Riggins: Right.

James McNab: So I- I need to learn. I need to learn, I need- I need to make progress in that area, you know?

Riggins: It's just always changing I'm sure. I do want to hear also about your forays abroad, including your recent one in South Africa, but I'd also like to ask you about your scholarship over the years at UNCW, you kept right along with scholarship. You said you have very diverse interests and one thing you did was, you wrote regularly for the French Review?

James McNab: Yeah, the-- I was once-- I was a review editor for French Review, which is a national review uh.. of the American Association of Teachers of French, I was review editor for literature history and literature criticism.

Riggins: For books?

James McNab: For books coming out.

Riggins: So people would submit their (inaudible).

James McNab: So publishers from the United States and France and Canada, and- and Great Britain, would submit their books to me and then I would hand them out to specialists in the field, and edit the reviews that came in, and reject or g- generally accept but often with revisions. I'd edit the reviews, and...

Riggins: And reviews were in French?

James McNab: Uh.. they were in French or in English.

Riggins: Or English. Uh-huh.

James McNab: In French or in English. Uh.. and the publications were in French or in English. And they ranged, oh gosh, everything from books on-- well all kinds of stuff. Everything from soccer in France to post-modernism and- and so on. So that allowed me to stay current, because I was receiving books literally every day, and working with these uh.. the- these authors all over the country. That was fun. And then I decided that uh.. it- it was taking too much of my time, I just didn't have time to do that, it was tremendously time consuming. And it was simply ranked at UNCW as service. To be honest, it was like giving a talk at the Grace United Methodist Church...

Riggins: Yeah. They didn't (inaudible).

James McNab: So I don't- I don't think that they- they had any grasp of how this was putting us on the map. So I decided to stop doing that, but French Review then asked me to do an annual article on a topic of my choice. So I said "If I give something uh.. something of very general interest, sort of a summing up of the years events in France, would that be of interest?" And they said "Yeah, absolutely." So I wrote an article every year in French on current events in France. And that includes politics and economics and- and so and so on. And then other then that, I did a book on a French writer, uh.. 20th Century French writer called uh..

Riggins: I'm sure we have that.

James McNab: Uh.. Raymond Radiguet. I give presentations at scholarly conferences, and uh.. and so. So, yeah.

Riggins: Right. So who was the book that you wrote?

James McNab: You know that book actually was c- came out-- and- and I'm sorry, I made a mistake, came out when I was in Gilford. It was at-- it's a book on Raymond- Raymond Radiguet uh.. R, A, D, I, G, U, E, T. And I'm sorry, I forgot about that, that was done when I was in Gilford, not here.

Riggins: We'll still need that for the library and our archives. I was going to ask you about something relating to scholarships or teaching...

James McNab: I mean professionally, I was very heavily involved, so I- you know, I...

Riggins: What associations did teachers of (inaudible)

James McNab: Yeah, I- I mean, I was very active. Before coming to Wilmington I- I'd started a c- cour-- foreign language collaborative in Gilford County, one of the first uh.. well the second in the state, uh.. which brings together high school teachers and- and uh.. middle school teachers and college teachers. Doc-- the- the Doctors Mount [Ph?] in Wilmington have been very active in doing this for New Hanover County.

Riggins: Yes.

James McNab: Very active. Uhm.. but then I-- while I was here, I was head of the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina, which has, oh gosh, about 1,500 members and a- an annual conference. And I don't recall if that- if it was here or at Gilford, I was head of the North Carolina Association of Teachers of French. So quite active professionally. And then did a lot of reviewing for, well University Press, LSU Press and so on, other things like that, yes.

Riggins: And a lot of the books ended up at the library, right?

James McNab: Yes. Uh-huh, yes.

Riggins: When you reviewed books?

James McNab: Yes, that's right.

Riggins: You'd keep them in your office for a while, but you can't keep them forever.

James McNab: No, no, that's right. Yes.

Riggins: So I know you've been a good friend of the library. I was going to ask about film. It seems like more and more the professors that have been recruited in foreign languages have a film background.

James McNab: Uh-huh.

Riggins: Is that a trend nation wide?

James McNab: I think that the whole a- area of media and communications is a trend nation wide. Yes, I think it is. And Wilmington has decided to make it a priority, and it makes perfect sense, on the-- so it's- it's s trend nation wide, but it's a trend which is particularly uh.. favored in Wilmington, and for good reason. It's-- but, you know, with the presence with the studio, it was uh.. and so, it makes good sense. So in foreign languages we are blessed. I mean, we are really blessed, we've got people in French, in German, in Spanish, in Portuguese, all with film expertise.

Riggins: And that's...

James McNab: It's superb.

Riggins: And basically important too.

James McNab: Oh yes.

Riggins: (inaudible) with the students.

James McNab: Yes, yes.

Riggins: I can see that, and you get a different type of discussion from a film studies major then from a (inaudible) studies major.

James McNab: I- I think there's a next step that can be done. But I mean, it wouldn't-- until we recognize the importance of interdisciplinary work it won't- won't happen. And that is to recognize the importance of media in foreign language. Now I'm not in any way criticizing the faculty who- who are here now because, I mean, they've done wonderful work with film. But eventually I'd love to see us working in terms of television and newspapers and magazines and- and so on.

Riggins: For whole studies of those sources.

James McNab: That's right. 'Cause the technology now is such that you- you can do it, it is possible to do it. I mean, you can get today's newspaper on- on line and uh.. and so on, you know? From, you know, from France or Germany or where ever.

Riggins: Who are some of the people over the years that were very influential to you during your career? You've mentioned some, and you mentioned that you worked closely with Marvin in the faculty, but within or outside your department, when you think back on your time at UNCW, do you think "Oh, I'm glad they were there for me to work with?"

James McNab: One uh.. though there are many, there are many, but certainly Caroline Simmons when she was Dean, I know that Caroline could be quite controversial, but she for me, she was tough. But Caroline brought with her a sense of quality, which I think was very important. She had a sense of what a good college and what a good university should be, and she never strayed from that. And so I- I had great respect for Caroline Simmons. She was very supportive uh.. when I was head of uh.. foreign languages. I've had wonderful support from each of the provosts in turn. And they seem- may seem mutually exclusive, but from my point of view they weren't. Marvin we've talked about already, was- was superb in his support for me. He understood the international mission, he understood what I was trying to do. John Cavanaugh, I chaired the search committee that brought uh.. John here, and I had great respect for what he did. He didn't stay long, but he understood, he got it. He- he knew exactly what i- international programs was- was all about. And Paul Hosier, Paul has been a wonderful personal mentor of sorts, and again a wonderful ambassador for UNCW. We traveled together to South Africa with Cathy Barlow uh.. and Paul was wonderful. Uh.. he's- and he has remained committed to research uh.. also. Each of he people I've mentioned, and I- I've never thought about this before, was very much committed to the importance of research. T- teaching is a given. Teaching is important, we know that, and they agreed, but uh.. whether it was Caroline or Marvin or uh.. John, or uh.. Paul, they could hold their heads high in terms of uh.. research. And had a high sense of quality. I think this-- I- I keep- keep coming back to that, I think that you must have some sense of alignment from chancellor to provost to dean, especially in the Dean of Arts and Sciences, in terms of uh.. quality or commitment to excellence. Not just lip service, but a real- a real commitment to- to quality.

Riggins: Interesting.

James McNab: Uh.. other then that, I've had wonderful relations with, you know, with deans and so on, I mean...

Riggins: One person I interviewed, it's been a long time, it was when he was on phased retirement, Charles Lewis.

James McNab: Oh yes, Charles.

Riggins: He said that you were just so supportive of him. Because I think he was in your mold I think, a missionary.

James McNab: Oh no, absolutely. I mean, you take someone like Charlie, I mean, there's so many wonderful faculty, and you know, Charlie was one. Charlie, I'll give you a very quick snapshot. Charles as you know was Chairman of HPER was it then was, Health Phys-Ed and Recreation, which has changed it's name now. But Charlie took a program to Cardiff in Wales. Now that program was superb, it was all internship, 12 credit internships. These students were so damn good that we had an ice rink in Cardiff trying to hire one of our students permanently, you know, to keep him in Cardiff. Now I begged his department and the chairman then to support this program and ensure continuity, because it was a wonderful program. And Charlie did a wonderful job with that. But, as I've said, this is a place of peaks and valleys, and at that time there was no interest in study abroad on the part of the...

Riggins: You mean after Charlie left?

James McNab: After- after-- well Charlie- Charlie was no longer chairman. He was a abroad-- I'm sorry, I didn't make that clear. He was no longer chairman, and there was no interest. I offered-- oh well, I won't name names, but I- I offered the person responsible a free trip to Cardiff to go and see how this program was functioning, because it was functioning very well. I said "Once you see that you'll want to- to keep this program going." And we would have supported it financially and so on and so on. Uhm.. the person couldn't find time to- to go. So I mean...

Riggins: Did the program continue?

James McNab: No.

Riggins: Really.

James McNab: It died. It died. We have no program in Cardiff now.

Riggins: Are there any ties between UNCW and Cardiff now?

James McNab: Not anymore, not anymore. Because the main connection as through HPER.

Riggins: Right.

James McNab: Now having spoken negatively, there are wonderful colleagues. I mean, Charlie- Charlie is a wonderful colleague. Doctor Lapaire in languages has been wonderfully supportive. Denise DiPuccio, the chairman is- is wonderful. All my colleagues in foreign languages are super.

Riggins: Right, but it's just like you said, there's some disappointments along the way.

James McNab: Oh, there are some disappointments.

Riggins: Yeah, but Charlie, in his interview with me, he spoke very positively. And he's traveled on his own.

James McNab: He's traveled on his own, he took summer programs to London also. I mean he- he was a powerhouse.

Riggins: He got it.

James McNab: Yeah, he- he got it. He got it, yeah.

Riggins: Just the importance of it. Well it's so important. I would think there would be no argument, but there probably is, for people in business.

James McNab: Oh, the business school is very supportive. I mean, and again, I could mention-- I mention deans without naming deans, but I mean, uhm.. whether it Virginia Adams, or Cathy Barlow, or- or Dean Clark L- Larry, they're tremendously supportive.

Riggins: Right.

James McNab: And, you know, the business school, we have unique programs in the business school. We have- we have a two year-- we have a four year program which involves two years in Wilmington, two years in Bremen, Germany, two degrees. It's a wonderful program.

Riggins: And also in France.

James McNab: Marseille, in Marseille.

Riggins: I have a student worker, she's here now, she's from France.

James McNab: Right. And again, you know, we were able- we were able to work out, I mean, this happened on my watch, and we worked out a program whereby we can count-- w- well, it's two years here, two years in Marseille, and two degrees, and we've had several students from Wilmington go to Marseilles, spend their two years there, and they're now working in international business. It's a marvelous program. And uh.. Larry is always looking for solutions, he's not one of the people looking for problems.

Riggins: Right.

James McNab: He's one-- because if you want problems with Study Abroad, you'll always find them.

Riggins: Yes (laughs).

James McNab: But he was very- very supportive. Becky Porterfield, very supportive. Luther Lawson, very supportive. Luther and I helped work out the credit arrangement in uhm.. in Bremen in Germany.

Riggins: I don't know that name.

James McNab: Luther Lawson was the chairman of uh.. economics and finance.

Riggins: Okay. L, A, W, S, O, N?

James McNab: L, A, W, S, O, N.

Riggins: Okay.

James McNab: And uhm.. the- the Cameron School is wonderfully supportive. And then with Howard Rockness and Carlos Rodriguez, I don't know if you know Carlos Rodriguez uh.. who's in management, management and marketing, Carlos and I have traveled together in Brazil. Carlos is from Brazil. We worked on a FIPSE grant with Art Frankel, I don't know if you know Art Frankel in social work, but we got a grant which pays the way for students, several students to go from Wilmington and from a couple of other schools, to Brazil for a year and uh.. do an internship in Brazil, study in Brazil, and by the same token, Brazilian students can come here, this is a FIPSE grant, for 200 plus thousand dollars.

Riggins: F, I...?

James McNab: F, I, P, S, E.

Riggins: Oh.

James McNab: I've forgotten what these-- it's a Federal- it's a Federal grant. And uh.. Cameron School was very supportive. And the programs in Marseille and Bremen started mainly thanks to uh.. Rebecca Porterfield uh.. through a FIPSE grant, another- another grant. And Sheila Adams, who has retired now, Sheila and Becky worked on that. So Cameron School is doing wonderful stuff. Watson School, I mean, I- I had in my house just a few days ago colleagues from South Africa, whom I knew in South Africa when I was there, but who've come here because they're working on joint programs with the Watson School of Education. South Africa is one of the target areas for the- the Watson School of Education. Now to give you a- an idea, before Cathy was dean was education, the school of education swore blind it was impossible for the students to do study abroad, they didn't have time. When she appears as dean, it proves possible.

Riggins: Right.

James McNab: So they have proved...

Riggins: She made it possible.

James McNab: She made it possible.

Riggins: She made it happen.

James McNab: So the c- the Watson School of Education has programs in-- has connections or priorities in South Africa, in Japan, and in England because Brad Walker in the Watson School speaks Japanese and has wonderful connections in Japan. And he- he's wonderful too.

Riggins: So they study for a semester again?

James McNab: They can- they can study for a seme-- typically it's a summer program right now, but eventually it may be a year, semester or year program.

Riggins: Right.

James McNab: Yeah.

Riggins: And the science I know there's plenty of summer programs.

James McNab: Oh yes. The sciences, marine science for example, marine biology, I don't need to talk to Dan Baden, or to any of the people there about study abroad, because they understand.

Riggins: Well yeah, because they all have to study abroad for their research.

James McNab: I mean, they've only-- y- you can speak to Dan, it's a little b- bit like speaking to Marvin, you can speak to p- uhm.. Dan about places abroad, he's been there. Or his spouse, Elena Schmidt [Ph?], I've actually traveled with Elena to the Caribbean, they're so sophisticated.

Riggins: Right.

James McNab: And, you know, a joyful experiences, I've been in Australia, or been in South Africa, or been Costa Rica, speaking to people there and they will say to me "You don't know Wade Watanabe, do you?" They say to me, and I say "Yeah, of course I do, in aquaculture." "Oh you know Wade." Our faculty in these areas are extremely well known abroad, you know? Uh.. and it's marvelous, you know, it- it's really superb. So the sciences by and large are very supportive.

Riggins: Sure. I think it's exciting for their students when they can take courses relevant to their majors abroad.

James McNab: Oh, no. Absolutely. And they can. And, you know, again, th- the usual argument from benighted department is "Oh, they can't get the same courses abroad that they get here." Well damn it, our best programs are in marine science and marine biology, and you know, some-- maybe one or two other areas. But uh.. there students somehow are able to go to Australia, or go to- to other countries, and get to go to Barbados for example, and get the courses. Now it may not be a perfect fit, but that doesn't matter. That doesn't matter.

Riggins: Right, yes.

James McNab: I mean, I've been Townsville in Australia and spoken with faculty members there who- who talked about Joe Pawlik in- in marine science for example, and said, you know of course, Joe is on the PhD dissertation committee for several of our students here in Australia, James Cook University, you know. So they- they get it.

Riggins: Highly international.

James McNab: Oh yeah, highly international.

Riggins: Sciences are highly international.

James McNab: Most of the sciences, I won't say which one's are not, but most- most are.

Riggins: And they've had to be for so long, it just happens much more now.

James McNab: Uh-huh.

Riggins: Well let's talk about around 2004. I guess you stepped down from the office of international programs.

James McNab: Eventually I said-- m- my tenure continued officially until July of 2005, and there was an interim, Kim Surrey from psychology was interim chair, interim head of international programs from January 2005 to July the 1st 2005.

Riggins: Okay.

James McNab: Uh.. but- but I stepped down, you're right, I mean, I was on leave of absence thanks to Paul, from uh.. from uh.. throughout the first half of 2005.

Riggins: And that's when you went to South Africa?

James McNab: That's when I went to South Africa.

Riggins: What did you do there?

James McNab: I- I taught French, I give-- I did consulting, helping them internationalize, I did some lecturing to the Alliance Francaise, I gave public lectures in the city where I was in Port Elizabeth. I gave lectures in Stellenbosch University, which is a beautiful university in the western cape in South Africa, did some consulting there also there also at Stellenbosch University. Uh.. did some teaching, did some consulting, did some lecturing, so mainly I was in Port Elizabeth, which is right on the south-east corner of South Africa, on the Indian Ocean.

Riggins: Okay.

James McNab: And so I was teaching French and giving other lectures to...

Riggins: Is it a public university?

James McNab: It's a public university. It's the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and uh.. wonderful, wonderful environment.

Riggins: Is it renamed that?

James McNab: It's been renamed that. It was the University of Port Elizabeth, and it's been renamed the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

Riggins: Is it an integrated university?

James McNab: Uh.. well integrated, 80% of the students are African- are African, black African.

Riggins: Really?

James McNab: Oh yeah.

Riggins: Wow.

James McNab: But what is amazing there, and this is something that I'm looking for now again, what is amazing is the diversity. So when I was teaching I would have students who were Zulus, who were Xhosa, who were Afrikaners, who were Indian, who were uh.. English, I mean, bi-language and so on. And uh.. the diversity was absolutely amazing.

Riggins: All the languages that they knew.

James McNab: Uh.. all the languages, I mean, each of them knew at lease two, typically three languages. They all knew Afrikaans and English, and typically they knew Xhosa or they knew Zulu, or they knew some other language. So it was wonderful, I was teaching mainly French, but uh.. I had a ball, I mean, an absolute ball. And uh.. it was a striking contrast to UNCW in terms of diversity, you know, just amazing. So, I mean, I would have uh.. you know, _____________ sitting here, and uh.. you know, Zulu named students, Xhosa named students, Afrikaans named students, you know, just wonderful.

Riggins: Oh my goodness.

James McNab: Yeah. Plus I had stu-- very international. I mean, I-- South Africa is a magnet for Africa. So I had one American student actually. I had one American student. But I had students from Namibia, from Mozambique, from- from Angola, from uh.. let's see, from uh.. Zimbabwe of course, and so on. You know.

Riggins: They go to South Africa because it's bigger and has...

James McNab: It's stable, it's got a very sound inf- infrastructure, and from my point of view, I mean, Africa's a passion for me, and from my point of view South Africa is, or can be the salvation of Africa. It is a locomotive which will pull Africa out of it's current uh.. drastic situation. You know.

Riggins: Interesting. Right. Well, I'm sure that's a conflicted kind of feeling, because they have this long legacy of toils, much longer then some of these other countries.

James McNab: That's right, but you know, it- it's quite amazing. I mean, you- you-- everyone thought, well not everyone, many people thought that there would be a blood bath in South Africa 11 years ago when apartheid ended. Didn't happen. Didn't happen. And it's a model democracy. And it's-- given the barriers that they- they face, 50% unemployment for example. Uhm.. it's absolutely bloody amazing. I mean, it's a country where you-- which is democratic to a fault, I mean, it welcomes political refugees, refugees, it uh.. has 11 official languages, it's now has guy marriage legalized. It- it's an amazing country. All- although the black Africans maybe opposed to that, they nonetheless sort of swallow their objections and- and do it in the name of uh.. understanding others.

Riggins: And are Europeans less represented in high positions then they used to be?

James McNab: Yes. Oh, abs- absolutely.

Riggins: I guess a number of people left.

James McNab: Yeah. A lot of people left. We even have- we- we even have a faculty member here from South African, and, you know, all o- all over the world. A number of people left thinking there was going to be a blood bath, and there was a very active affirmative action program, so it is difficult uh.. I mean, it's difficult to get a job, and if you're a white middle, you know, a white European type person, it can be a little more difficult. But, you know. It's a very active-- affirmative action program. But the- the head of the university at Port Elizabeth, who- who's I guess a friend of mine, Rolf- Rolf Schtouf [Ph?], is actually European. But he- he's so good at what he does that he- he was put in position.

Riggins: Uh-huh.

James McNab: So it's a country that faces huge problems, but I find endless fascinating. And I hope it will be part of my future life, you know.

Riggins: And it's beautiful too, I've haven't been there.

James McNab: Oh it's good, it's beautiful. It's beautiful, it's unbelievable.

Riggins: You were there for how long?

James McNab: Five- five months. Yeah.

Riggins: And it was considered research leave?

James McNab: Yeah- yeah. It was considered research leave. Teaching and research leave. And I gave, as I say, I gave a series-- I was invited to give a lecture at the Alliance Francaise in Port Elizabeth, and they invited me back to give a series of lectures. I gave some scholarly lectures in Port Elizabeth, and then Stellenbosch University, which is the old, I think it's the oldest university in South Africa, beautiful place. But again, Stellenbosch is amazing. I mean, it's- it was the- the university that trained all of the apartheid era African leaders. White leaders, strictly white. And now it's changing character completely, you know?

Riggins: So they just go with- go with change.

James McNab: Oh yes, they embrace change.

Riggins: And how were the students there?

James McNab: Oh, I love these students, I love them. Because, I mean, you have a sense of being connected with the world, which is so much greater then it is in the United States. Because you- you've got-- you get all the European news, you get all the African news, you get the American news, television, radio, newspapers. People are informed about what's going on in the world, and uh.. I found it very exciting. I mean, terribly, terribly exciting, yeah.

Riggins: It sounds very memorable. And you came back and have been teaching since then?

James McNab: Came back, and I've been teaching since then, yeah. Yeah.

Riggins: So that was just last year.

James McNab: That's right. Uh-huh.

Riggins: And then you taught this semester.

James McNab: Right.

Riggins: This past semester and this semester, are they ...?

James McNab: Uh.. well past semester I-- no, I was phase- uh.. phased retirement last semester. So I- I doubled up and I'm doing the- the four courses th- this semester.

Riggins: Oh, what did you do last semester?

James McNab: I- I wrote. I wrote and uh.. I didn't do very much actually. I- I wrote some. I did do some writing. Yeah. Did some writing. And I- I gave a presentation at a scholarly conference called NAF- NAFSA, which is the Association of International Education. Worked quite a lot on a web based program called International Professor Exchange, which we've set up with Michel Fougeres, who's the university webmaster, Rich Huber who's idea it was, Rich is a Professor of Education, and we're setting up uh.. we've set up a webpage which allows faculty from all over the world, and staff, to arrange for exchanges, and it's a free service.

Riggins: And it's up and running now?

James McNab: It's up and running. And I'm doing a- a presentation at a national conference next month on- on that.

Riggins: Do you also continue to go to conferences relating to the international programs?

James McNab: I do, I do. F- fewer then before because I have to pay my own of course, on phased retirement. But, yeah I do. Uh-huh.

Riggins: Well this is your last semester of phased retirement.

James McNab: Yes.

Riggins: Are you looking forward to what happens next?

James McNab: Oh no, absolutely. Oh no, absolutely.

Riggins: Yeah? And what are your plans?

James McNab: My plans are fairly fluid. We- we definitely want to spend at least half the year in the South of France. My wife is from the Riviera, well Province and the Riviera. And then there's a pretty good chance that I'll be moving to work in Dubai beginning this summer. It- it's not final yet, so, I mean, I'm a little hesitant, but I've got a colleague who's in Austria, he's American but he's in Austria, who wants to open a school, called-- it's called the Emirates College of Media Arts and Sciences.

Riggins: Really.

James McNab: And he wants me to be vice-president of that college. So the idea would be to set up a- a school that would train people in television and cinema uh.. and-- while meeting the needs of the United Arab Emirates in terms of education. And train people for the media.

Riggins: So both practical production and...

James McNab: Oh p- practical production, very much so. But I mean the- the first- the first year to two years would be spent on very general areas.

Riggins: Right. Like criticism and ...

James McNab: Yeah, criticism and basic studies type stuff.

Riggins: And you all would live in Dubai, which is a Gulf Coast...

James McNab: Which is a Gulf uh.. which is a Gulf State, yes. Uh.. the United Arab Emirates is a Gulf State, yes.

Riggins: Oh, it's in the UAE.

James McNab: Yes. Oh, yes. And uhm.. my job would be to help get this thing going. So the plan is to spend two or three years there, and uhm.. hire deans, hire department heads, it would be very international in character.

Riggins: It's sounds good.

James McNab: And then work closely with CNN and with uh.. Al-Jazeera, and the other, you know, newsagent, BBC. Uh.. that- that's the idea. If it works out. They're still trying to raise enough money to do it. So-- but I- I could be there by the month of June. Or maybe not. And if not, I'll send out work throughout Europe that I wouldn't mind, you know, doing something for a- a year or two, you know.

Riggins: You don't want to just chill in the South of France forever?

James McNab: No.

Riggins: As tempting as it may be.

James McNab: The South of France, I mean, I love the South of France, but uh.. in a way I prefer Paris, but my w- my wife doesn't. But uh.. I miss the city. I mean, I love Wilmington, I hate what's going on in development just now, but I mean, you know, in terms of traffic and so on, and the lack of respect for the environment. But- but I miss the city, and Nice as a city, we'd be mid way between Nice and Monaco, and above all, you can be in Paris within an hour, you know.

Riggins: On the TVG?

James McNab: Well no, by- by flight, by train.

Riggins: Yeah.

James McNab: The TVG is op..

Riggins: A few hours.

James McNab: Yeah, it's a few hours. But you can be in London so quickly, and Paris to quickly and so on, you know, so. And I have a son living in Geneva. Uh.. son and daughter and grandson living in Geneva, so.

Riggins: You don't anticipate keeping up a base in Wilmington?

James McNab: Probably not. We- we may keep up a base in the United States and if we do, we're talking about either somewhere near New York City, or somewhere probably near Washington DC, you know?

Riggins: Right.

James McNab: Uh.. but, you know, we love Wilmington, don't get me wrong. These have been wonderful years. We have many good friends here.

Riggins: Thank you very much. Do you have any other thoughts or questions or comments? I can't think of any comments myself.

James McNab: Well I think we've done just about everything. I mean, my- my hope is that, you know, UNCW will make exponential leaps into the- into the future. Uh.. I remain concerned that our endowment at the university is so poultry compared to other universities, which have been so active in raising money. And I really, I hate to say this, but I just don't see major progress being made unless funding does come in. Uh.. and that's a slight exaggeration, but uh.. we cannot continue to depend on the state for, you know, the great majority of our funding. I think a huge effort- I think a huge effort is being made at last to help faculty uh.. go for outside grants. I think that that's an area-- when I came from-- having come from Virginia Tech, I mean, I was amazed at how little support was given to faculty in times past f- for-- to help them train in writing grants, and actually write the grants and- and so on. I think that's changed within the past year or two, and-- for the better. But I guess my biggest concern about university, apart from the-- the incredible building which is going on and the plans for a millennial campus on, you know, a millennial uhm.. site on campus, which I think is a huge mistake. My biggest co...

Riggins: A millennial site?

James McNab: Oh, the millennium campus. The- they're talking about setting aside, I think, 62 or 63 acres, something like that, for a campus. I think the idea of a c- of a- of a place that brings together private industry and university researchers is superb, I think it's wonderful. But I think that space is so precious on this campus that it would be a huge mistake to designate space on the campus for that. I mean the- the big success story is the one in Rowley, NC States one, which is magnificent. But they have, I've forgotten how many acres, a thousand acres, something like that? And it's not- it's very close to the main campus, but it's not actually on the main campus. I don't think there's sufficient realization here of how precious space is. We have a beautiful, beautiful campus and-- but it's very important to cherish that and keep it, and respect it, be an example in respecting the environment. But my biggest concern remains the endowment. I'm amazed that greater efforts haven't been either made or successful. Uh.. and certainly at a personal level, I've seen much initiative coming from places I've been connected with uh.. Duke and Gilford and so on, then here. But uh.. but I don't want to end on a sour note, because I think that the hope, the- the potential here, we are a hot school, and we're a m- magnificent school, and the faculty are superb, and the students are first class. And uh.. the support staff are wonderful. So there we are. Thank you.

Riggins: I agree, thank you.

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