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Interview with Fletcher Norris, March 29, 2006 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Fletcher Norris, March 29, 2006
March 29, 2006
In this interview, Dr. Fletcher Norris discusses his educational background, professional history, and the development and evolution of UNCW's Computer Science program. The Computer Science degree, one of first undergraduate degrees of its kind in the UNC system, came under the purview of the Mathematical Sciences branch of the Mathematics Department in the late 1970s before the formation of the Computer Science Department in 1998. Dr. Norris joined the faculty of the Mathematics Department in 1972 as one of the earliest faculty members with a specialization in Computer Science and, at the time of this interview, continues to teach part-time at UNCW after his retirement in 1999.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Norris, Fletcher Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 3/29/2006 Series: Voices of UNCW Length" 1 hour, 22 minutes


Riggins: Good afternoon. My name is Adina Riggins. I'm the University Archivist here at UNCW. Uh.. this is Adina Riggins, once again, in case that didn't make it on the early seconds of the tape. It is March 29th, Wednesday, at about 2:20 p.m. I'm here interviewing somebody from-- representing the history of computer science at UNCW. Please uh.. sir, state your name for the tape.

Fletcher Norris: I'm Fletcher Norris.

Riggins: Fletcher Norris. Welcome, Dr. Norris. We discussed before the tape began that we would begin with some introductory background questions. Please tell me where you were born and where did you grow up?

Fletcher Norris: I grew up in western part of Tennessee, West Tennessee, in Brownsville, a small town close to Memphis and went to school- went to a school at Van- Vanderbilt. Graduated from Vanderbilt and got a Masters from Peabody College, which is now part of Vanderbilt and a Doctorate at Peabody in mathematics.

Riggins: Both of those advanced degrees in mathematics?

Fletcher Norris: Both of the advanced degrees, yes.

Riggins: And the Ph.D. was from Vanderbilt too?

Fletcher Norris: Actual- actually Pea- Peabody College in the town but now it is part of Vanderbilt.

Riggins: Okay. So that's like Ron Johnson. Do you remember Ron Johnson?

Fletcher Norris: Ron went to Peabody, yes. Well that's a teachers' college and that's what I was training to do was teach.

Riggins: Oh, that was your plan, to teaching higher education?

Fletcher Norris: No, I started out teaching high school before the Masters. I had my undergraduate degree and uh.. went- went into the Army and came back and moved to Nashville and started teaching in high school, I got certified and then worked on my Masters degree in math and then after that I was hired by Vanderbilt to teach at Vanderbilt Engineering School. Uh.. Applied Mathematics. And worked on my Doctorate while I was going to school-- whi- while I was teaching there and got my Doctorate at Peabody while teaching at Vanderbilt Engineering School.

Riggins: Oh, ok, by this point you're interested in college teaching so you pursued a Ph.D.?

Fletcher Norris: Right.

Riggins: Well what did you do upon getting your Ph.D.?

Fletcher Norris: Well I stayed at Vanderbilt uhm.. and (clears throat) Vanderbilt a private- a private school was going through money problems because private schools do, and they eliminated the department that I was in, the Applied Mathematics department, and merged everything over with the Pure Mathematics. Uhm.. I was really not interested in doing that and they really, I guess, were not interested in keeping our department members around, so they kinda phased us out and each one of the department-- Vanderbilt was pretty nice about it, they allowed us to pursue further schooling or, in my case, I got a postdoctorate out of it and went to Florida State. One of the colleagues went to- went to England, I think studied the history of mathematics there. Another one they sent back to school to get his doctorate uhm.. but I'd- I'd applied for other places and wound up over here. Small town, small campus, two young children, might as well be at the beach.

Riggins: This was at Florida State where you did the postdoctorate?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, I came here first for one year and then- and then Vanderbilt actually sponsored my- my postdoctorate at Florida State for one year. That's where I'd- I'd been doing all of mathematics and then I s- pretty well switched off into doing computer-related mathematics and computer science courses at Florida State.

Riggins: It sounds like most all your career here had been very much focused on computers and mathematics.

Fletcher Norris: While I was at Vanderbilt I audited or set in a class when they were first starting to introduce pro-programming in Fortran. And I just set in on the class to see what it was like. I had never done anything and got turned onto it. It was taught by a graduate student and really one of the best teachers I've ever had.

Riggins: Well, that must have been great for this institution that you had the chance to go to a big place like Florida State and then come back?

Fletcher Norris: Yes. I was here for a year and- and taught-- the- the department was mathematics when I came here and actually I taught some of the Fortran programming of which I had just learned a year before. And uh.. and then went-- I guess two or three languages I l-- F- Fortran and then I learned others and- and went to Florida State (clears throat) and took uh.. did some statistics work uh.. computational of those statistics and numerical analysis and things that would be good for computer science of discreet mathematics, and then came back here and started teaching, and I was pretty much all computer science. I guess I did teach some math but it was mostly computer science.

Riggins: In the mathematics department?

Fletcher Norris: Right. And we were developing a computer science program. Uh.. we were introducing new courses, there were three of us, and uh.. we were introducing new courses just every semester, a new computer science course.

Riggins: When did you start here, do you remember?

Fletcher Norris: I came in 1970.

Riggins: That was the first time?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, I remember that.

Riggins: 1970.

Fletcher Norris: Yep. And my postdoc was '71 and then I came back in '72.

Riggins: How big was the math department when you started?

Fletcher Norris: Uh.. 10 or 12, I can't really uh.. I'll try to think- think about that as we go along. There was a new chairman that had just come in in 1968 uh.. Fred Tony [ph?] was the chairman. He had just gotten in his doctorate from NC State and came back they appointed him Chair and they were trying to build a department and the fact that I had some mathematics and statistics and computer science and math ed-type background, they seemed to think I would be a good fit.

Riggins: How did you first come here? What brought you to this neck of the woods when you got your Ph.D. at Vanderbilt?

Fletcher Norris: Well one of my colleagues who was teaching with me at Vanderbilt in the Applied Math Department was from North Carolina. He was from the Charlotte area. And he was telling me about all of these new schools that were becoming part of the UNC system.

Riggins: That's true, because we became part of the UNC system right in '69.

Fletcher Norris: Yep. And it had just- it just become UNC Wilmington and there was UNC Charlotte and Asheville and uh.. we was- he was telling me about these schools and I started investigating 'em and applied both here and Charlotte. Uh.. flew over for an interview and I liked this place just a lot.

Riggins: You said it appealed to you being near the beach and had the small city, small town.

Fletcher Norris: Small town, yes.

Riggins: It was the small town then, I guess?

Fletcher Norris: Small campus and uh.. I figured I'd start out at a small campus and move on to something bigger, and bigger it got. So I just- I just stayed.

Riggins: You didn't have to move on at all.

Fletcher Norris: I didn't have to move on. It's really been a delightful place.

Riggins: What was the emphasis on research when you came? Was that right when they started wanting people with this research focus? Sounds like you would've come right around when they were first getting people.

Fletcher Norris: They were just first getting--

Riggins: But Jack Levy started right around the same time as you, didn't he?

Fletcher Norris: He came about-- he was here when I was here.

Riggins: Right. He came a few years before.

Fletcher Norris: I was not so much aiming towards the research part as I was to teaching, but of course you have to do some research and it turned out my research was-- well, I couldn't- couldn't get tenure with it now but uh.. it was mostly in teaching of computer skills and computer science-type things.

Riggins: So it was (gap in audio) mathematics teaching, computer science teaching.

Fletcher Norris: Yes, right.

Riggins: You wrote an article on TRS80, I think we have that in the archives. Do you remember?

Fletcher Norris: The Polish notation or something? I can't remember.

Riggins: Yeah, maybe, yeah. It was about using the TRS80 I think in teaching.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. I did several of those. I'd forgotten exactly what.

Riggins: So you were very interested in teaching, what drew you to teaching as opposed to doing something else with your technical skills?

Fletcher Norris: I really didn't have technical skills (laughs). I know I have uh.. I'd- I'd just got out of the- out of the Army. I was actually drafted, I was one of the-- back in the 50s and was drafted and uh.. I got out and I said, "I'm gonna go back to Nashville and just get certified. I think I'd like to teach." And my certification that I got was in mathematics. So I was more interested in that part of it rather than-- research, mathematics research, I'm- I'm really a researcher. Then I came here and there- there were some possibilities for research but I-- the emphasis at that time was- was on teaching.

Riggins: You didn't hear the emphasis on research as much?

Fletcher Norris: Not the emphasis that it is now. I knew there had to be some, I mean, in order to advance through the ranks. You know you'd have to do this, so uhm.. so I did.

Riggins: But it wasn't like today?

Fletcher Norris: Right.

Riggins: Well what was the University like when you came? You mentioned small, where was the department?

Fletcher Norris: The department was in what is now DeLoach Hall, the chemistry and physics building. So when I came, I-- they were-- we- we were there and then I was gone for a year on a postdoc and when I came back my office was occupied by somebody else. And uhm.. then they moved me and two others over to Hoggard, the other two who were in computer science teaching computer programming. Actually it was pro- programming, so we moved to Hoggard Hall for, I guess, I don't know, two years maybe. It was great. I- I got to know people from all different departments. You know, now you just seem to be in your building and you know only one department. And then we were in Hoggard and the three of us in computer science and math and right around the corner were all the biologists over there and uh.. nursing people were there, and I knew some people in what used to be called the "P.E. Department" which now is, I don't know the name of it anymore. (inaudible) I knew those people. So Hoggard was just kind of where a lot of people were.

Riggins: It's like a hub of the college.

Fletcher Norris: Yes. And that- that was really-- that's how I got to know people. And uhm..

Riggins: By sharing their physical space.

Fletcher Norris: Yes. It wasn't very big. You know, you get to-- probably the faculty, the whole campus was about the size of the engineering school at Vanderbilt that I had come from.

Riggins: Um, wow.

Fletcher Norris: One interesting thing about that I was-- somebody was asking me about the students. Uhm.. well I had taught a calculus class-- Calculus Sequence at Vanderbilt and I came over here and turns out they were using the same textbook that I was doing at Vanderbilt and I taught the same course in Calculus here that I was teaching at Vanderbilt. Same course. Same syllabus.

Riggins: Sounds like they were very outstanding.

Fletcher Norris: So they were good students and the ones who were taking that were very good. I was pleased with that.

Riggins: Amazing, well that's what we were talking about before the interview that I feel that, just observing and listening to my- those interviews and reading about the university history, that this university has benefited from such outstanding leadership and amazing individuals, that we're so much better than one would expect; and I don't mean that mean but I mean that because we've been so under-funded and underestimated ever since our very origins.

Riggins: Who was influential to you right when you got here and someone who you really remember? I've heard good things about Dr. Tony, for example.

Fletcher Norris: Well, Fred was really a-- he was- (clears throat) he was another one who- who really emphasized teaching. I'm- I'm not sure that he did a lot of research either but what he did was kinda set a pattern where if you found a niche for what you wanted to do, he said, "Great. Do it and do it well." So uhm.. I got interested in computer science and he said, "Well, good. Let's go that way." So he kinda gave me enough head that I could-- and these other two people, Jim Halsey was another member [ph?]. You probably haven't talked to him. And Barbara Grime was a third one. I'm not sure you've interviewed her.

Riggins: Not yet, I want to.

Fletcher Norris: You need to get her.

Riggins: Did they both go into computer science with you?

Fletcher Norris: Uh-huh. The three of us and Fred Tony developed the computer science curriculum. Just kind of from scratch.

Riggins: Were you the leader or was it kind of a collaboration?

Fletcher Norris: It was a collaboration. But we were in a- a form of computer science interest group within the department and I was- I'd-- we kinda alternated being the chair that-- it wasn't- wasn't a committee. It was called an "interest group."

Riggins: How was the interest in this program? Did you find that students from an early time were looking for programming courses?

Fletcher Norris: Yes. I started out-- I'd f- I'd forgotten when the first graduates were but it was mid to late 70s, I guess. And uhm.. and we were working on getting the degree approved and we- and we got approval fairly easy from the general administration. We never got funding for it. (laughs) We got the approval but--

Riggins: That's a problem.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah.

Riggins: How did you go about getting equipment?

Fletcher Norris: I know Fred just uh.. you know, he managed to get-- we were very ancient for a long time and the people who came in later got really up- upset with it. I'm- I'm not a- a machine person. I- I like the- I like the algorithms and the mathematics behind it and I could do mine without machines really. (laughs)

Riggins: Do you do the programming?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, I do that now. Programming, and then I do the Discreet mathematics part and formal languages and grammars and things like that that make up what a language is all about. And I don't get into the machinery but I-- the ones who were heavy in machines were really upset that we didn't have good ones. (laughs)

Riggins: Did you have a mainframe?

Fletcher Norris: Yes.

Riggins: Were you hooked up to the main university mainframe or you had your own?

Fletcher Norris: No, we were hooked up by-- we had a card reader on campus and we were hooked up to Triangle University's computing center. TUCC. And we wrote our programs, we taught the classes and then they punched the cards and entered them in card readers and took a day to get your results back. (laughs)

Riggins: To see whether you had a syntactical error?

Fletcher Norris: Map check your syntax and then you-- very much more careful programmers then than there are now.

Riggins: I'm sure because it would just take so much more time if you made errors.

Fletcher Norris: That's right.

Riggins: That's got to be frustrating because you had to just proofread real carefully and then put it in and the next day you'd find out if it worked.

Fletcher Norris: It got better later. You could do it and they would submit it, like, once an hour, you know, as the time went on but at first it was, like, overnight.

Riggins: One person I interviewed pretty recently, or very recently, was Bill Pate who was with First Computer Center. He must've come right after this TUCC.

Fletcher Norris: Probably, yeah.

Riggins: Because he said that right when he came they decided to break away from TUCC and do some things on their own.

Fletcher Norris: We did-- we got our own main- mainframe here on- on campus.

Riggins: Who else was doing computer science? If you looked at other colleges, universities about this size, was it often out of the mathematics department? People who were mathematicians who had an interest in leading this effort?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, I- I think uh.. other undergraduate programs-- I- I'm-- I think that-- I don't know exactly what-- I know some came through mathematics but others came through business schools. But they didn't turn out to be as theoretical as- as ours. So like I recall uh.. NC State had an undergraduate program uh.. Chapel Hill had a masters and a doctoral program in computer science and we were actually one of the first undergraduate degree granters in computer science in the system.

Riggins: I believe that, like I said, we're always ahead of the curve. And people looked at us as, "Oh you have computer science already?"

Fletcher Norris: Already.

Riggins: Already, right, interesting. What were the students like who were drawn to it in these days? Were they um...I would have to think they would have to have a good amount of vision to even just-

Fletcher Norris: Well they saw some possibilities but the one-- the first ones came out of being math majors. They were in the- in the mathematics department. But then people would come to the university to take a degree in computer science and shy away from the math. Not that, you know, we'd-- I guess we had 'em take calculus and they did statistics but uhm.. the computer science majors outgrew the math majors by leaps. The mathematicians in the department really resented (laughs) computer growth.

Riggins: I'm sure because it was so fast.

Fletcher Norris: And they got to teach all of the uh.. the general studies of math and there weren't that many math majors but the computer science majors, we would graduate three times as many computer science majors. After-- in the 80s once we got the program going. And then it slacked off a little bit. The people realized when they came in that computer science was a difficult discipline. They wasn't just playing computer games and such, it was time consuming. And you just had to devote a lot of time to it.

Riggins: At some point the name changed to reflect "Computer Science." It was mathematics and computer science? Did that happen? The Department of...

Fletcher Norris: Well it was mathematics when I came and then (clears throat) once the computer science degree got going we called it "Mathematical Sciences."

Riggins: Ok, alright.

Fletcher Norris: So it was Mathematical Sciences probably from early-- well, maybe late 70s or maybe 80, I- I don't-- I should've brought some catalogs.

Riggins: That's alright, we can- that's what catalogs are for.

Fletcher Norris: I have catalogs from 1970. (laughs) And then when we broke off to our own department the mathematics department became Mathematics and Statistics and then we became Computer Science. I don't know whether you want to go there yet or not.

Riggins: Sure, sure. It's inevitable that we'll discuss it at some point.

Fletcher Norris: (laughs)

Riggins: So that happened at some point where one of you guys grew so much. Perhaps we can look that up when exactly it happened.

Fletcher Norris: Well, I found out. I asked our ex-chairman today and he said it was 1998 when we became Computer Science. That's the year before I officially retired.

Riggins: So you retired in '99.

Fletcher Norris: Right. And did phase retirement. And I do it part-time. I guess one of the other leaders who really-- after Fred Tony died in 19-- in the late 70s and we uhm.. the program really got off to a big jump w- with our new chairman, Doug Smith. Uh.. he- he supported the computer science program very heavily and uhm.. and that's really when we got our big- big boost when Doug came. It was- it was...

Riggins: Did this correspond also to the rise in PCs?

Fletcher Norris: Probably about in that time.

Riggins: How did that affect the teaching in your department? Did you get more computers in the classroom or laboratories?

Fletcher Norris: Well that came later. Actually, we have- we had PC- PCs on the desks uhm.. the labs came later in life even but, it was still-- we didn't get all the labs until I- I guess we're oversupplied now, there are a lot of computer labs around uhm.. I'm trying to remember how we did-- I guess we did have uh.. one lab when we were in Morton when we first moved around. Well, I'm blank to start _________. (laughs)

Riggins: Let's talk about when you formed your own department. That was 1998. How did that separation come about? Just had so many majors? You had a graduate program?

Fletcher Norris: No, didn't have a graduate program. Had a graduate program in math. Now there's a new computer science, I think _________.

Riggins: A new computer science graduate program __________.

Fletcher Norris: Right, in conjunction with the School of Business. No, but there had been talk about people in the department wanting it separate. I mean, there were some people in math who were really, as I've said earlier, resentful that computer science was getting so much of the funds and positions- hiring positions and--

Riggins: -- and the students.

Fletcher Norris: And the students, right. And some of the computer science people wanted to pull out too but we just never-- I- I really enjoyed the umbrella of the- of the mathematics, all- all of it together.

Riggins: Right, since that was your origin.

Fletcher Norris: Right. And I didn't really, you know, I didn't fight it or anything but I think-- I'm not sure where it started but the Dean is the one, Joann Sipel [ph?], is the one who came and announced at a department meeting, probably in '97, that uh.. she thought it would be best, and I don't know whether it was she and the provost or who all, but decided it would be better off if we had a separate department. We could get better funding-- both departments could get better funding, better hiring positions and better visibility and uh.. and most campuses had a separate department. So uh.. that happened in '98 when uhm.. Barbara Grime agreed to take over since she was a faculty member, and she agreed to take over.

Riggins: She was the first chair?

Fletcher Norris: She was the first chair.

Riggins: Yeah, well I definitely have to talk to her. Did she have a mathematics background as well?

Fletcher Norris: She was a Chap- Chapel Hill graduate. She started here-- she got her doctorate I-- '68, '69, somewhere, and she was here for a year or two before I came. So she and I were colleagues up until I-- well, I retired in '99, I guess she retired in maybe two years later, and uh.. she had that chairmanship of the department th- that she left. That was her last job really.

Riggins: Before you separated, because that was pretty late in 1998, the department began hiring people in computer, with a computer science degree, I would think. Or was it still mathematics? Did some of the people you recruited for the positions, did they have mathematics degrees?

Fletcher Norris: Mostly mathematics degrees. Uh.. Engineering degrees uh.. we have one who actually had a degree in computer science, uh.. he didn't stay. We had uh.. two people that had retired from-- one retired from Bell Labs, he had a- a math degree but he worked at Bell Labs for AT&T. He could do you know, all the computer systems and things up there, and he retired back to our department and I know he retired from I- IBM San Jose, so he uh.. so he's still on the-- he- he's retired but he's still here under the department of Harry Smith.

Riggins: Oh yeah, my boss actually interviewed him, I was on leave. He had a long career. He wasn't in computer science but I interviewed Carl Nelson and he was great to talk to because he had all this background.

Fletcher Norris: He had a b- business-type things that you do.

Riggins: Yeah in a private sector.

Fletcher Norris: He was statistics. Yeah I think I was-- the year our chairman, Fred Tony had died, there was a kind of an interim chair. Dargon Freyerson [ph?] and I took over kind of. I- I think. You know I think I was doing the hiring that year that Carl was hired. So we had engineers and I'm trying to remember who the first uh.. computer science-- well we broke off into-- we- we had uh.. the current chair, __________ no O'Reilly [ph?] and has a computer science degree and he was in the department. Ron Vetter has a computer science degree and he was hired by our department, that department, so they, I guess, were the first computer science. But they were both math majors as under-grads. So-- but they had Ph.D.s in computer science.

Riggins: Is mathematics still the foundation of computer science, do you think? This is your opinion.

Fletcher Norris: (laughs) Well, it's coming probably more-- it's- it's starting with mathematics and engineering, putting the two together, along with linguistics. Uhm.. that's how languages are found-- formed. That's what I enjoy doing, the linguistics part. Uh.. you still have to know quite- quite a bit of the math uhm.. but they're- they're now getting computer science degrees where there- there-- it's mostly-- there was a lot of phases of computer science there. Not so heavily in mathematical. We- we are hiring people now in our computer science department that probably would not have been hired if it had had a mathematics name on it. But it's- it's a separate discipline. Completely-- it's different. (laughs)

Riggins: And you had to move along with the changes.

Fletcher Norris: Yep. Yeah, then students would come in in our classes and they'd be math students and I'd say, "Well," you know, "you think this is math but it's not. But it's good if you know mathematics." And some of them got into it well and others just despised it completely. It's not a math degree at all.

Riggins: Alright, oh yeah, I can imagine it's, um, completely changed. Well, uh, I have a couple of questions about the students and what- what it was like to work with them but, what did you like teaching? What areas did you like teaching the best in computer science?

Fletcher Norris: Well I really liked pro- programming, the beg- beginning of it. Uh.. you take a s- you take a student who had never been exposed to anything like that and show 'em how an al- algorithm works and how you can write codes so it can go to a computer and to watch them light up when they see something that- that they do and it works. Uhm.. I'm teaching a class now, a pro- programming class to non-majors and that's quite a challenge to try to make something interesting for people who are there just to get a basic studies credit.

Riggins: Interesting and understandable.

Fletcher Norris: And I told them, you know, I said, "I know you're not majors and I'm trying to teach you something that (laughs) I enjoy and I'm trying to get you into it."

Riggins: Are there ways to teach computer science without having a- much knowledge of math?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. (clears throat) They claim- they claim they don't know some things but I try to tell 'em, you know, that they have to know the fundamentals of al- algebra, what- what variables are and uh.. how- how arithmetic really happens, you know, and the necessity of math [ph?].

Riggins: But they don't have to know--

Fletcher Norris: Not a lot of math. No.

Riggins: What languages do you work with them on?

Fletcher Norris: I'm teaching them C, which is really not a real friendly language, but it's on a- on a Unix operating system, which is not a real friendly operating system. So I have to hold some hands.

Riggins: Right, because they don't know text-based stuff.

Fletcher Norris: That's right. They just are not-- so, you know, I- I try to-- it's hard- it's hard to get more than one thing a day. You know, you don't want to do too much with 'em. We have a lot of lab time and watch their life-- their eyes glow when they get something to work that didn't work before. You know, it- it's really fun to watch the students just- just light up.

Riggins: I'm sure it's fun to introduce them to this Unix world since they are familiar with computers as users.

Fletcher Norris: Well they're used to the Windows application, you know, which is so-- it's a very visual sort of thing. Yeah, it's uhm.. it's a different kind of thinking. They've never done this kind of thinking. And some of 'em admit that they don't ever want to of course. Now, that's fine. They're good at something else.

Riggins: Well that's interesting that you also enjoy teaching the non-majors. It's a challenge, like you said.

Fletcher Norris: It's a challenge. (laughs)

Riggins: But you look upon it as a challenge worth doing, even in your retirement.

Fletcher Norris: Yep. Yeah, well I enjoy staying around and just keeping my hands in it.

Riggins: How many classes do you teach?

Fletcher Norris: One class.

Riggins: A semester?

Fletcher Norris: Just one course and then they schedule you, like, two days a week. Either Tuesday, Thursday or Monday, Wednesday, or something.

Riggins: And this semester you're doing the programming for non-majors.

Fletcher Norris: Yes.

Riggins: What other ones have you taught in your part-time (inaudible)?

Fletcher Norris: Part-time uh.. the discreet mathematics course, which is for majors. I let them know, you know, immediately that they are-- this is a major course and expected to do the work, so it's a-- it- it's a different level of expectation.

Riggins: How have the students changed? You started teaching it here in 1970, now it's 36 years later. I guess that's hard to summarize, but what are some of the observations?

Fletcher Norris: (laughs) Well they're much more savvy about uhm.. of- of computers, they're just every- everywhere now. So the basic intellect though is still there. I haven't uh.. you- you always run across a few not willing to do the work and think they can get it without working. They do that in every discipline, of course. And you know them, too. (laughs) But I've been very pleased with our students. I hear bad-mouthing the younger generation and I- I always come to their defense. You know, I say, "Don't badmouth the ones that I see. The ones that I'm around."

Riggins: I'm also impressed with how sophisticated they are in terms of using computers in the library and, you know, searching for journal articles and doing all these things I didn't have to do as an undergraduate, just because it wasn't-

Fletcher Norris: It wasn't there.

Riggins: -encouraged or there, yeah.

Fletcher Norris: It wasn't there when I did it. I still if I- I'll have to ask you if I want to figure out how to find an article.

Riggins: -find a journal, it's changed so much, well yeah, nice talk about libraries.

Fletcher Norris: I'm not- I'm not (laughs) When you're willing to ask.

Riggins: Well, feel free or send us an e-mail, we'll be glad to help you remotely if you like.

Fletcher Norris: One thing I was telling students also when they start out and are doing a la- language I said, "Don't worry that you don't get it right right at first. You'll be frustrated. There's no way you can do it perfect right at the beginning. If you make mistakes, then you learn from 'em."

Riggins: Right but you have to do it.

Fletcher Norris: You have to do it. And I said, "There's not a mistake that you will make that I haven't already made and I can probably spot what you're doing wrong but you try to find out yourself what you're doing."

Riggins: Yeah, yeah, that is amazing, uh, yeah. I've worked with the programmers here and just with some of the um, things that we- I don't do programming but some of the meta-languages or um, like XML style sheets and stuff. I'm trying to find the error, they can just spot it, you know, so quickly. What would take me so long to try and figure out and correct.

Fletcher Norris: Well, you know, you didn't spend a lot of time doing that.

Riggins: Right, yeah, that's what they know. Another thing I was going to ask you about the students was did you hear from any alumni, especially some of the early alumni, about what they did with the degree in computer science in the 70s? Did they move on? Where did they go? Did some go to IBM Raleigh?

Fletcher Norris: Yep. They did that. Uhm.. various places. Went to SAS and then also in Cary A lot of 'em are working up there. Some have formed their own business and some are here. This campus has hired a bunch of 'em. Most are students. I walked over to the new wing in Hoggard Hall and I saw people in there that I hadn't seen in a long time because they were ex-students.

Riggins: Have you heard from any of them over the years?

Fletcher Norris: Well, uh.. a little, not- not a lot. They kinda write back to the department in general. Talking about openings that-- in there, where they're working. A lot of 'em at one point went up to the Washington area to a big firm. I've forgotten what that was that hired.

Riggins: Let's talk about the internet. Obviously the internet was around for a long time before it got commercialized and huge. Did you all communicate via e-mail back in the early days?

Fletcher Norris: As much as we could. Uhm.. there wasn't an inter- internet it was just mail on the system.

Riggins: Did you get involved with a bitnet at one point that grew out of the Department of Defense?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. I- I personally was not involved in that. I haven't done as much with that as probably some other people have. I'm- I'm a user. Uhm.. there are the people in the department who have helped develop several things.

Riggins: Internet applications and things?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. Right.

Riggins: How did the rise of the internet affect your department and your teaching? Did you integrate it into your teaching?

Fletcher Norris: Uhm.. me personally, not- not much more than having a web page, and- and I don't- I don't even use that very much. Uh.. my courses pretty well uh.. have stayed-- well the mathematics part of it and discreet math was pretty much what I had taught all along. Uhm.. you do- you do have to stay up late just to keep current and just the courses that I learned, you know, I had to learn on Sunday afternoon before I was gonna teach it on Monday.

Riggins: That's amazing.

Fletcher Norris: And it's just from journal articles and just that type of thing I guess.

Riggins: Did you teach a lot of courses, especially in early days? Were you teaching like three- four or five courses?

Fletcher Norris: Sometimes three different classes in a semester.

Riggins: Three new, and they were all new?

Fletcher Norris: Within a year, yes. Mmm-hmm. They were sometimes just- just being developed and I would uhm.. switch textbooks quite often, the textbooks were coming out fast and furious and, you know, the discreet structures, discreet math course, there was really no textbook when I first started teaching. It was just a conglomeration of set theory and boolean algebra or-- I don't know whether you know these terms or not.

Riggins: Heard of it but no, I'm not a technical person.

Fletcher Norris: Well, so I set down and uh.. said, "Well, I think I'm just gonna put all this together." And I wound up writing a book, writing a discreet structures book. It probably is in the library somewhere.

Riggins: A textbook?

Fletcher Norris: A text- textbook, which we used- we used three- three different stages of the draft, just a manuscript, and it was all handwritten and typed by the s- secretary. (laughs) That was published in 1985 and I've really-- we used it here for quite a while and uhm.. there was a combination of a lot of things that I had learned at Florida State and new things that were coming out at that time. 70s. But I never got around to revising it, which I should have. It sh- should be in about fourth or fifth edition now, and it's now out of print because I just-- I did it and (sighing) juices stopped flowing, I guess (laughs) or something. It was hard to- hard to pick- pick it up and go with it again.

Riggins: Well I'm sure there's a demand for something like that to come up again.

Fletcher Norris: I would-- well, there are a lot of books out on it now so uh.. and they've got the CDs to go along with it and all the things are-- I've-- but I'm not going to do that, I don't think. But uh.. but I use-- I still use it when I teach the course. Uh.. you know, 'cause I don't- I don't-- I have the textbook that I just take examples from.

Riggins: Right, yeah. Problems.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. That was fun- that was a fun exercise. Fred Tony gave me a- an emphasis to-- some time off to actually do that sort of work and then I guess Doug did too when he came. So that was a- that was an interesting part- part of my life.

Riggins: What about some of the administrators? Did you get to know Dr. Wagoner since he was here for so long, and the college was small, well it was a university when you started. It was still pretty small when you came, I knew it grew really fast throughout the 70s and ever since then.

Fletcher Norris: Ever since, right.

Riggins: But did you get to know Dr. Wagoner and his wife at all?

Fletcher Norris: Uhm.. not much on a personal level but I, you know, enough to-- I knew him. I interviewed with him when I came.

Riggins: Was he supportive of computer science as much as he could be?

Fletcher Norris: Uh.. I'm not sure he was as much as some of the- some of the Deans. Uh.. Reynolds. Paul- Paul Reynolds was- was probably more of a supporter uhm.. I'm not sure that either one of 'em knew much about the computer science, and there wasn't- there was not much known about computer science but they were willing to uh.. let us go in the direction-- that direction.

Riggins: What about Dr. Leutze when he came in '91, '92, there was more of a comparison when ________ were a part of people's worlds more at that time.

Fletcher Norris: And Vice Chancellor at that time. Was Charles Keagy [ph?] over-- I guess Marv- Marvin Moss was really uh.. probably as- as supportive as any of 'em. And we've been trying to get this masters ever since. Well within the 90s, I guess. And- and it finally came within-- I guess that was part of- part of Dr. Moss's-- I- I don't r- I don't recall when- when all that happened but- but the only way we could get our masters program was if we uh.. had a program which included the people in the School of Business, Cameron School of Business because there was some masters programs within the state and they wanted to have it dup- duplicated. Uh.. you know, you've gotta have something different.

Riggins: They don't want the competition really.

Fletcher Norris: (sighing) Chapel Hill does not want anybody to compete with 'em, you know, and what state doesn't? And that doesn't lead to the brief. [ph?] (laughs) But anyway, they- they agreed to have those two, the computer science and then the- the business, the information technolo-- what- what is that department?

Riggins: That's the department of operations.

Fletcher Norris: Operations research or management something?

Riggins: Yes. I can't ever remember.

Fletcher Norris: Two or three titles in it.

Riggins: John Anderson.

Fletcher Norris: John Anderson, yeah. Radeesh Batanathi [ph?] uhm.. and anyway they agreed to have the two.

Riggins: And it just started in the last year?

Fletcher Norris: Yes. Right. If we've having our first students I think this uh.. had 'em in fall probably. And there's some problems I- I think about what the background of the students is going to be because our people are obviously going to be more mathematical, and the other side probably won't have as much from the business-- won't have as much of that background as they will have of uh.. business management type.

Riggins: There was a push in the 70s to develop certain masters programs, not that there was a lot of money for it but the administration said, "Alright, have a masters program." I know for example in English and mathematics started really a long time ago.

Fletcher Norris: Sure. Have it but you use your own facilities and use your own teachers.

Riggins: Yep, go for it. Okay, well, how are we supposed to do that and get for one, attract graduate students who are well qualified who can afford to come if there's no money for scholarships, so that was a challenge.

Fletcher Norris: And I think that's the same thing with this. And now we're getting a new building, too. It's the first- it's the first merger on this campus that I know of that's- that's having a- a blending of-- from a- a department from the College of Arts and Sciences with the Cameron School of Business.

Riggins: So the new building is going to house Computer Science as well as this new--

Fletcher Norris: That-- the department from uh.. from business. And depending on how you look at it, some people are thinking of it as an offshoot from business school. Uhm.. I- I'm hoping it will be an offshoot from the College of Arts and Sciences (laughs) with a math- with a mathematical bent. And I don't know how it's going to go. I- I hear rumblings and I just-- one of those things that-- I- I'm just going to have to watch. Hope I can continue to get our class in it and uh.. of course, if I continue to want to do it. Now this is my fourth year of part-time. (laughs)

Riggins: Wow, um, Tommy Lupton taught part time for a while too.

Fletcher Norris: And he's still teaching.

Riggins: And he's still- yeah, so you knew him from the...

Fletcher Norris: He was here-

Riggins: He was here before you started.

Fletcher Norris: He was here before I started. Tommy Brown. Have you interviewed him?

Riggins: One of my colleagues did. I'd like to actually talk to him too. I'll read through the transcript and see if they hit on a lot of things. Lou's like you, he kind of avoided me for a while, but someone finally did- someone finally did reach him but um, the math department certainly has a long tradition at this college um, and university.

Fletcher Norris: Marshall Crews, did you ever talk to him?

Riggins: Yeah, yeah and I'd like to talk to him again um, if he's up to it, I don't know.

Fletcher Norris: I don't know, probably not, but he might be.

Riggins: Yeah, yeah. He had that award recently, um, yeah. How about him, was he instrumental just to the life of the university back then?

Fletcher Norris: He was actually in the department but he was- he was a Dean. I've forgotten his title. I mean, he was a Dean of it. And Tommy Brown was a Dean of Students, I guess, and did some of that. And he- he was still t-- they still taught in the department maybe one course, two courses.

Riggins: Right, but they were doing other things.

Fletcher Norris: In administration.

Riggins: Did you get brought into certain committees to participate in decision-making? I guess you did a lot of decision-making forming the computer science curriculum.

Fletcher Norris: There was a lot of departmental committee work, but I was on committees uh.. that was on this list that I uh.. was on. Uh.. university-wise, I was about-- had been on the-- was on the student committee uhm.. I don't know whether that still exists as part of the Senate or not, but it was called the "Students' Committee" and our committee-- uh.. I was chairman of that committee for a while, I was chairman of that committee when the first dorm was built-

Riggins: Really?

Fletcher Norris: -on campus and you know how that was named? That Galloway, I think, Galloway? Well he was in-- and I think our- our committee kinda came up with the naming because he was a- a student who was-- he was killed riding his bicycle on campus somewhere uh.. and I'm not sure how it happened but he's the first, hate to say the first person killed on campus, but uh, you know, like there's gonna be more, but anyway he was- he was killed riding his bike.

Riggins: Student, first student death.

Fletcher Norris: First student. And uh.. and so the- they named the first dormitory on campus after him. And I- and I was on that committee and I- I think some people on our committee seemed to think that would be an appropriate way to honoring him. So that was many years ago. That was-- so I was here before there were any dorms. Uhm.. I've been on the Curriculum Committee, I guess every member of the faculty is on the Curriculum Committee at one time or another?

Riggins: Maybe at one point or another, I'm not sure. That was another Faculty Senate Committee.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. Uh.. well that was-- actually I did that before there was a Senate. Uh.. revising basic studies.

Riggins: Which is coming up again.

Fletcher Norris: And again, and again, and again. Right. Uh.. I've been on the Promotion and Tenure Committee. I was chairman of that for one or two years and it was my responsibility to go tell the Deans whether or not our committee has agreed that some-- that the faculty are going to be promoted or not.

Riggins: I'm sure that got pretty tense at times.

Fletcher Norris: A little- little dicey at times.

Riggins: Working with the committee, I'm sure there were a lot of differences of opinion there.

Fletcher Norris: Well, you have to go report to the Dean what you found-- all- all of 'em, you know, and I'd have to-- I would meet these people, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but" (laughs) you know. So w- well that was a good committee and I've been on the Hearings Committee and Grievance Committee, and suffered through one grievance case that was a bad deal. But anyway.

Riggins: It was a faculty grievance?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. It was a tenure case. So I guess your-- everybody has to go through some of that, so. [ph?]

Riggins: Well that's part of your service, I suppose.

Fletcher Norris: That's it.

Riggins: Sounds like you enjoyed some of it.

Fletcher Norris: And I've been on the Senate.

Riggins: Do you remember when before there was a Senate, wasn't there an AAUP Chapter on campus that Dr. McGivern [ph?] was pretty involved with?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. Right. Yeah, I was-- I guess a member of that, too. Yeah. Yeah, I remember the faculty meetings that we had that they were proposing whether or not to have a Senate And I think the struggles to word it so that it would be worded correctly.

Riggins: Yeah those same conversations are still happening with wording and making it. It used to be the entire faculty would meet, right?

Fletcher Norris: Town Hall sort of thing. Yeah. Everybody, the whole faculty, at least those who wanted to would show up.

Riggins: Well if you don't mind I'm going to turn off the tape for a quick break.

#### End of DVD Fletcher Norris Pt. 1 ####

Riggins: I'm back. This is Adina Riggins. Tape 2. I'm here with Fletcher Norris and we're going to discuss a couple more items on this tape. I'd like to start off asking you what is it that you enjoyed about life in academics? With a PhD in mathematics you could have always worked in industry and, of course, now more than ever there's a demand for mathematics but I suppose throughout your career mathematics PhD was always one of the most useful PhD's I would think, I don't know, along with hard sciences. So what is it about academics that appealed to you?

Fletcher Norris: Well, I- I enjoy- I enjoy the life, I enjoy teaching. As I indicated earlier, it's fun to watch students get tur- turned around and get interested in things. I'm really not interested in going out and working in industry. Uhm.. I- I actually enjoyed teaching high school but that was many years ago when I got uhm..- but college teaching is just a- it's, well, rewarding, not monetarily, but it's- but it's rewarding. I'm able to- I've had good chairmen and a chairlady.

Riggins: Makes a big difference.

Fletcher Norris: Yes. I- my chairs at Vanderbilt were both good and uh..- and the ones I had here Fred and then Doug Smith and uh.. Barbara Ryan [ph?] uhm.. and Ron Vetter [ph?], I guess you know of, and now Shreeder [ph?], they've always been very supportive of what I wanted to do and I haven't really had any squabbles or any uh..- it's been a- I've been blessed with good chairs and- and good colleagues and I enjoy coming to work.

Riggins: That's not something that most people can say.

Fletcher Norris: I know it. And I- and I figured I would do this as long as I enjoyed it and uh..- and I'm not- uh.. you see these people that are out in industry and they are always worried about a pink slip that could just come a bolt out of the blue. I enjoy the vitality of this university, the way it's grown and maybe not always in what I thought was the right direction but at least it's- it's on the move, uh.. it's not- it's not a dying place at all.

Riggins: Not stagnant.

Fletcher Norris: Not stagnant, it's- it's moving.

Riggins: And it never has been since you've been here right?

Fletcher Norris: No it never has. Uh-uh. I just- I've just been amazed every year, it's been so different and uh.. as I said earlier I thought I would be here for a short time and then go to something bigger perhaps and bigger thing to me.

Riggins: It's a good way to put it.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. It's just- and I've just- I've just really enjoyed it.

Riggins: Well, how did you feel about retirement when it came on? You know I guess you were ready in 1999 to start the phased retirement. Was that a good opportunity because it allowed you to teach half time and get paid for that?

Fletcher Norris: Well, yeah, and- and I- I uhm..- I guess people ask me why I retired if I'm still involved here and I did want the opp- opportunities to perhaps do some other things. Uhm.. and I have- (clears throat) I think the main thing I had two very close friends uh.. who were close to my age at the time die, cancers, and- actually three, one of them was like 40 when he died. And I just- I just saw that as, you know, it could be looming and I- one of them was my department person, Bob Herbst, uh...

Riggins: How do you spell the last name?

Fletcher Norris: Herbst -- H-E-R-B-S-T. He pro- he probably was gone before you even got here. And I have a close friend in chemistry, Lewis Maps [ph?], uh.. and I just thought well I am at retirement age and I think instead of just plowing on and keep going on and on I think I'm going to just take my time and- and do something else and- that I wanna do.

Riggins: So in 1999 you began phased?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. Yeah, I retired in '99 and then did three years of- of phased and uhm...

Riggins: Was that a good transition? It allowed you to teach half time, get paid half time.

Fletcher Norris: It wasn't long enough. It was the shortest three years that I ever...

Riggins: Went by quick.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. And I also uh.. started at that time too, I created a- a scholarship in our department, the Fletcher Norris uhm.. Computer Science Scholarship. And that was fun getting that off the ground and several people contributed to it and uhm...

Riggins: Other people from the department?

Fletcher Norris: Other- department and some outside also and we got it up uh.. to where it's an endowed scholarship now. It's over $25,000. So I've had uh..- I've enjoyed watching that grow. I've had seven recipients in '99; I guess it's seven or six or seven.

Riggins: And it's given to an undergraduate.

Fletcher Norris: An undergraduate who is uh.. voted on by the department. Matter of fact, I have a ballot on my desk over there now and I know so few of the majors anymore, you know, from teaching from these non majors and I don't- it's hard for me to even vote but it's uhm..- the department gives two scholarships, they give mine and then one that's from the chair and so it's done by faculty ballot and- and the chairman usually selects which one of the top ones will go to have my name and which one will have the chair's name.

Riggins: It's a major in computer science.

Fletcher Norris: Uhm-hmm, who will return at least one semester so they can get whatever the- whatever the endowment says they can have in a full year. It's either for a year or for a semester.

Riggins: I'm sure it could be a pretty significant amount, you know, if they're in state.

Fletcher Norris: Five- $500 to $800 or something like that. Yeah, that was- that was sort of- one thing I wanted to do as I left was leave a little legacy for the students.

Riggins: What other things have you been doing in retirement. You said you wanted some time for other projects. What are some of your interests?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, well, I've been uh..- I've been learning- learning a new hobby. I've been- I've been playing- playing an upright bass. And I've been trying to learn how to do that. As a matter of fact, I mentioned Lewis Maps a while ago, he- he had one, he played and when he died his wife wanted somewhere to house that bass.

Riggins: It's huge right?

Fletcher Norris: Well he was- you know, while she was in transition so she asked me if I'd be willing to house it. I jumped at it. I said yes I'd do that and then I proceeded to take lessons.

Riggins: Do you play classical?

Fletcher Norris: No, I- I- that's- that's hard. You know, I- I took lessons from the jazz bass teacher here on the campus and then about a year later she wanted it back so I had to go out- I bought my own.

Riggins: And that's the bass, the upright bass you use a bow right?

Fletcher Norris: You use a bow. It's hard to do. That's- you know, in- in the sym- symphony that- that's all got all the bowing. I do plucking.

Riggins: For Jazz?

Fletcher Norris: Jazz yes. And a little bluegrass and uh..- but I'm in about two- two or three different groups play.

Riggins: What there's a connection between mathematics and music isn't there?

Fletcher Norris: They say there is but I'm not- I'm- I'm sitting in also on- on a music course this semester. It's a jazz theory class.

Riggins: How's that?

Fletcher Norris: Hard.

Riggins: So that mathematics is not helping too much?

Fletcher Norris: No. I mean, you know, 12 notes in a scale and- and it stops then but you all- you- all the mix that you can do of those it's very- it's very- it's fun, but it's very hard to do.

Riggins: Probability might maybe a factor or something.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah.

Riggins: Yes, I've heard that if you're good in one it often helps with the other.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, I used to play trumpet when I was younger days and I've switched the treble clef to bass clef and that was a transition.

Riggins: Because bass I guess is all bass clef?

Fletcher Norris: It's all bass clef. But some of it's written in treble so you have to be able to convert and read that. So it's been a fun thing. I'm probably spending too much time on it. According to my wife I'm trying- I'm trying to get too many gigs so...

Riggins: And not doing enough work around the house?

Fletcher Norris: Not doing enough house things. But...

Riggins: That is life in retirement, you get to do what you want. More about life in retirement, is the order of the Isaac Bear [ph?]. I know not everyone in that group is retired, can you tell me a little bit about that group?

Fletcher Norris: Well, it- it started out uhm.. when Wilmington College was first started, when there was a- a- in building near- near Hanover High School. And the building was the Isaac Bear Building. And I don't- I'm not sure when the order was formed but when they moved onto this campus I'm not sure when it started but it was made up of people who taught in that original building. So, it was the order of Isaac Bear and then they quickly realized that they were gonna have to include some other people because pretty soon they would all be gone and there wouldn't be anybody left. So now it is made up of people who were actually teaching in that building plus other people who are selected by the membership who are some people who have contributed in certain ways to the life of the campus. And I'm not sure what all the criteria are. I know it's not all retired faculty and there's some that are not retired who are on there as- and they- and they're not all faculty in there.

Riggins: That's interesting, it's people who've made a significant contribution and probably if they are faculty it is from the people who have taught here full time, permanent, I would think.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, uhm.. it's full time here or full time staff members or even people who have given money, I think some of the non-faculty staff. I don't know who or... I don't know who they are. I did know but...

Riggins: So you have meetings and uh.. occasionally meet with students also I think. Has that happened?

Fletcher Norris: Well, I- I came in, it was last spring when they inducted me and four others. Yeah. And then we had a fall meeting and that was a dinner over on the Westside luncheon over at Westside Hall. Tyrell was trying to spread us all around campus and look at the new places and- and then uh.. Tuesday- last night we had a- another meeting and that was over in the Golden Hawk room. So those- those are the only three meetings that I have been to.

Riggins: And Tyrell had the camera out last night?

Fletcher Norris: He had the camera out trying to record something from everybody who was there. He had a camera person and then he would do the interview and so I had a little uh.. idea of what was going to go on today but my (inaudible).

Riggins: Yeah, well he sure has a wealth of knowledge about this university.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, he had the camera and he had- he had the mike and then there was a cameraperson who was standing behind.

Riggins: And there's also of course the retired faculty association. You're an officer in that group this year right?

Fletcher Norris: I am a- yeah, I- I'm a at large member. I've been at large member. They wanted me to be president and I- I decided I didn't wanna do that. Bob- Bob Appleton took over that. But one of the little bands that I play with has played for that group twice. So...

Riggins: And is that a good group since a lot of people do stay in this area?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah.

Riggins: And it's nice to see people. Do you have general meetings?

Fletcher Norris: We meet about once a semester. As a Christmas meeting and then one in the uhm.. spring, it will come up probably in May. Yes that's always nice to see those- see those people. Last- last uh.. meeting Carol Dutton [ph?] provided all the funds for it to try to get people to uh.. contribute to her ongoing program that she's...

Riggins: I was there and I heard her speak about that.

Fletcher Norris: Oh you- that's right, yeah you were there. So she- she funded the whole thing. So that's why we had that big a turnout I think.

Riggins: Oh, 'cause normally it would cost a few dollars?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, $15 or something.

Riggins: I know Norman Kaler [ph?] was the president for a long time.

Fletcher Norris: Norm was president.

Riggins: Did you know him when he was dean?

Fletcher Norris: Hmm-hmm. He uh..- yeah, I knew him pretty well. Not- no, that was another committee that I served on. I was- kind of got to know the people over in the school of business from a personal standpoint, uh.. Bob Appleton. Uh.. so Norm for accreditation purposes for the school of business they needed an outside person, someone that- on the committee who was not from the school of business. So he asked me if I would come over and be that outside person. So I served several years on that accreditation committee. And I guess he asked me because we- one of our computer science options- when we first started the program we had three different options: one of them was just straight pure computer science, another one was computer science with mathematical applications, and the third one was computer science with business applications. So, we sat down with Norm and tried to figure out- we didn't know what they needed for business but we did know that that would be a good- a good job niche for students, right, students would want that. So we sat down together and he uh.. told us what courses should be in there and so that was part of our- one of our computer science degree programs, the business option.

Riggins: So you do have a little tradition of working with the business school just like now they're working together on this new degree. It's a different, like you're working on a degree as opposed to a...

Fletcher Norris: This was under our control but we did- you know, they- they did have to take the core basics, uh.. what do they call them in business? It's a common body of knowledge or something in management and accounting and finance and economics or something -- five courses I believe. And the rest was with us.

Riggins: And maybe some of the courses that you offered were more geared towards business.

Fletcher Norris: Right. Had some da- database analysis and we needed that to take as much calculus.

Riggins: Right. Or as much programming maybe.

Fletcher Norris: (inaudible). They had to do pro- programming. We had- we light- lightened up on- on the math requirement. So that turned out to be a very popular option.

Riggins: And now it's probably changed some, it's not the type of degree.

Fletcher Norris: No it's- it's not the same, it's a more you kind of choose some of what you wanna do here there and (mumbles) I- I just kinda quit...

Riggins: Keeping up.

Fletcher Norris: Quit keeping up with what they were gonna do ____________.

Riggins: It just changes all the time.

Fletcher Norris: We had a big- you know, a big surge of students back in the eighties, you know, and then it dropped of in- in the nineties and later. We all always have different adjustments that you make.

Riggins: And now it's probably picking up again.

Fletcher Norris: It's picking up yeah.

Riggins: I would think. Let's talk about keeping up. I asked about retirement, do you attempt to keep up with changes in your field or do you not? You said you basically don't which I think is a very understandable choice.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, I kept up. I mean it- it wears on you after a while and I- I just- I really haven't kept up with them. They are just uhm.. courses in the department now that I- I would have to- I don't know what's in those courses. I- I have my little niche that I do and it's hard to know all these things.

Riggins: But it changes so quickly in a field such as math.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, I tried- you know, I did it for mid-seventies to- uh.. 25 years worth of every year there's a new course coming out, you know, but uh.. I probably should but I- I decided to- not to worry about it, just do- do what I wanted on that end of things.

Riggins: I think that makes sense. I mean it's probably different in the humanities where you can kind of guess what's going on and attend some seminars and sort of keep up to a degree by reading. But in your field you really have to be doing it I would think.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah. It- it's always something- something new.

Riggins: But hopefully going in a good direction, the field as a whole.

Fletcher Norris: I think so. Yeah.

Riggins: Certainly taken off and there's a need. There's always a need for majors in this country isn't there just like any mathematical, scientific field. So there's the need for teachers, you know.

Fletcher Norris: Yes. We actually started thinking about offering not a- not a degree in computer science education but trying to figure out what kind of- if they wanted to be computer science teachers what they should have. And by the time (clears throat) they took enough computer science courses then they were never going to teach it. You just- they- they'd be zapped up by any- anybody. They just didn't want- you don't want 'em to know so much that that- they're gonna- what- what's it's called, eat you- feed... Can't remember that term now. You'd like to have those go into teaching computer science but they're not gonna do that, they're gonna go...

Riggins: In the high school level?

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, yeah. 'Cause if they know enough to do that, they're gonna be hired by a company.

Riggins: Did you ever work with Basic here? Did you use the Basic programming language?

Fletcher Norris: Yes, I taught Basic for a while.

Riggins: When I mentioned high school I remember when I was in high school we did a little bit with that.

Fletcher Norris: We had an interactive but yeah, I did Basic. I taught Four Tran [ph?], I taught TL-1, you ever heard of that one? Pascal? Basic? I taught ___________, I taught snowball, I taught Cobalt. I taught C- C++ and that's probably it. And now- now Java is the- is the big group, going to Java based.

Riggins: That's used a lot in the corporate world.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, and that's our beginning course now too is Java for majors.

Riggins: That's a required course?

Fletcher Norris: Hmm-hmm, that's what our majors start out in is Java.

Riggins: But then there's the Open Source like Pearl.

Fletcher Norris: I worked- yeah, that's- that's a Unix-based ________. Yeah, I used to write a little Pearl program. That was uh.. fun to do.

Riggins: Because you see here, we have a few Pearl scripts running.

Fletcher Norris: Do you?

Riggins: Yes. It's interesting. And Allen Rangel [ph?], of course, he's still with your department.

Fletcher Norris: Yes he's- well he's- he's a systems administrator. I don't know whether he does the whole building or not. I know he does our department. I think he does math. (inaudible) he does that. I guess he runs the whole building.

Riggins: He's something else.

Fletcher Norris: He- he really is.

Riggins: And of course that's a lot of knowledge of history just from a standpoint.

Fletcher Norris: Oh, we're in his grandfather's building I guess; named after him. Yes, Allen says he can look out of his office up there and see his name written up (inaudible). Yeah, I taught- he- he uh..- course his father was in geography and I knew his mother real well. And Allen went off- I- he- he didn't do his undergrad from here I don't think.

Riggins: No I think it was at Chapel Hill.

Fletcher Norris: And then he did some- some other, I don't know, drama maybe or something. He came back and got a degree in compute science and I taught him about three different classes.

Riggins: Sharp guy.

Fletcher Norris: He really is.

Riggins: I think I have covered most of my questions. You talked about some of the people that just kind of came up. Anyone else that you think for example that I should interview who might still be around for me to talk to?

Fletcher Norris: In town? Well Jack Levy [ph?] is- you can talk to Jack.

Riggins: Yeah I would really like to.

Fletcher Norris: And then Lewis Edicot [ph?], chemistry. And have you done the physics people, Raleigh Nelson.

Riggins: No, I really haven't done anyone at physics.

Fletcher Norris: He was at that Isaac Bear committee. Raleigh Nelson.

Riggins: Hilda Lisa. She lives here only part of the year I think.

Fletcher Norris: Probably. She- uh.. she's in California the other part I think.

Riggins: I'd love to talk to her.

Fletcher Norris: Yes. Uhm.. her husband was in our department, Vicenti [ph?]. Hilda Lisa, uh.. is still here. Who else would I think? Calvin Doss.

Riggins: I did talk to him. I'd like to talk to him again though because he has a whole bunch of stories that were really funny.

Fletcher Norris: I'm sure. His son- uh.. his oldest son was our first computer science major -- Lee Doss. And then his second son was also a computer science major.

Riggins: Yes, well, Calvin has a background in mathematics I think or I think he taught some of that before he went out into the school ___________.

Fletcher Norris: Maybe so, I don't know what all his background. Uhm.. Calvin, uhm.. I guess you've done Bill Brooks, ath- athletic.

Riggins: I need to. Yeah definitely. I've met him.

Fletcher Norris: He was not in our- he was not at that meeting last night for some reason. He would have a lot of- you know, of ath- athletic stuff. That field out there, the Brooks field, apparently he- he and some people actually did that field and cleared it out and...

Riggins: Yes, in fact I've been trying to reach him by phone. We've been talking back and forth and he had tickets to a basketball. Well he had tickets to the CAA tournament and then I thought maybe he'd get to go to the NCAA. So I said, well, I'll call him when the post season is over so now's about a good time.

Fletcher Norris: Yes. Well another one you might wanna talk to is Dave Warner. You would need to go to his house probably. Do you know him?

Riggins: No, I think I called him pretty recently but yes, he was in administration for a while too I think.

Fletcher Norris: Well I knew him in a- as he- he was doing P- PE department. And I see him at basketball games whenever- when he can get out. He struggles to get up those steps. He has seats right in front of us. Uh.. our department, Barbara. Harry, you said you've done.

Riggins: We've actually done quite a few in mathematics. But those are some good names. It's just there's a lot. The more you do and then every year there's more.

Fletcher Norris: Oh yeah.

Riggins: But I think the phased retirement's a good thing 'cause I do interview a lot of people during that time because they're on campus some and I know for example, you probably remember there was a chair of international programs for a long time from Scotland.

Fletcher Norris: McNaird [ph?].

Riggins: Yes.

Fletcher Norris: Jim- Jim McNaird.

Riggins: He's been on phased just I think- or no he may not have been but he's leaving at the end of this year and he might be going to France so I really feel...

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, I heard that.

Riggins: Yes, I need to get a hold of him, good personnel.

Fletcher Norris: Yeah, he came as chair of the foreign language department. And Melton [ph?] was right there.

Riggins: Yes, definitely, well he's interested. He just wants me to wait till May. The same with Charles West. He was not here for as long but in business. Do you remember him?

Fletcher Norris: He's still active. I see him around active in the Democratic Party.

Riggins: You see him around town?

Fletcher Norris: Yes. Have you done Charles Lewis from PE?

Riggins: Yes, he was good.

Fletcher Norris: I call it PE 'cause it's what- what- the new name.

Riggins: Right. It's changed its name a couple of times. Yeah, he was a really good interview too.

Fletcher Norris: John Stokes [ph?]?

Riggins: I did interview him a while ago and I think I have to go back and review the tape 'cause I may have missed a couple of things he said. So, go back and talk to him about it. Very nice person.

Fletcher Norris: He was sick, had that can- that bone marrow.

Riggins: Yeah, yeah, oh.

Riggins: Well it sounds like you knew a lot of people like you were saying from all different departments.

Fletcher Norris: That's what was nice about it back in those days. I mean I did know- I- English and biology.

Riggins: Very collegial and you see them outside of work sometimes, socialized with them also.

Fletcher Norris: Yes.

Riggins: It's nice to be able to know people outside your department.

Fletcher Norris: Well, it's very nice. I enjoyed that. That was the nice part about being in Hoggard, I got to go to biology and then chemistry people I knew 'cause I was in that building, that's how I knew Lewis Maps. And Jack- well I play some with Jack. Jack plays trumpet and we've been playing a little bit together.

Riggins: Oh right, well please tell him that this was a positive experience if you think it was positive. He'd like to share his information about the history but he's not thrilled about the format.

Fletcher Norris: Well yeah I- I agree.

Riggins: I know but it's just so valuable to get this information and when we capture it on tape we know it's there and we have a moving image of...

Fletcher Norris: And most people are not gonna take the time to write it down but they got a lot of knowledge. I- I guess I told you most all the things that I know and...

Riggins: Well if you think of anything else I'll send you a letter with my card and we can be in touch that way. Thank you very much.

Fletcher Norris: All right, well thank you.

#### End of DVD Fletcher Norris Pt. 2 ####

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