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Interview with Bill Pate, January 9, 2006 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Bill Pate, January 9, 2006
January 9, 2006
In this interview, Bill Pate discusses his extended history at UNCW, from his time as a student at Wilmington College in the late '60s to his twenty years as an instrumental part of UNCW's Computing and Information Systems. He addresses the development of computerized technology at UNCW from 1981 on, including the introduction of microcomputers into the academic departments, the automation of Randall Library, and implementing online registration. He also shares details concerning the budgetary concerns and interdepartmental relations of his department and the 1998 creation of the Information Technology Systems Division.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Pate, Bill Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 1/9/2006 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 73 minutes

Riggins: Monday, January 9, 2006 already. And my name is Adina Riggins; I'm the UNCW Archivist. I'm here today to interview Bill Pate who retired from ITSD, which is a division dealing with information technology.

Bill Pate: Information technology systems division.

Riggins: Retired from ITSD five years ago, which is about when I arrived in town, in Wilmington. We look forward to hearing your story. I'll be asking questions about your early years, your time at Wilmington College as a student, as well as your time as a professional here, as well as elsewhere. Thank you very much. Please state your name for the tape.

Bill Pate: I'm Bill Pate.

Riggins: Thank you. Bill, could you start off with where you were born and where you grew up?

Bill Pate: I was uh... born in Wilmington, 1943, January 1st. Uhm... grew up here. Uh... I've been here most of my life, except for a short stint out of town. Uh... went to-- went-- graduated from New Hanover High School. And uh... after a couple of years working at one of the local factories, I started at Wil-- at the-Wilmington College at its new location on College Road uh... in 1963, fall-- the fall quarter at that time.

Riggins: That was the first fall in the new setting, wasn't it?

Bill Pate: They-- I think they'd come in- in maybe- maybe one other. I'm- I'm not really sure. They were- they were fairly new; it was '62.

Riggins: I think it was '61 when they moved.

Bill Pate: And uhm... at that time, they were a 2-year college. They were just turning into a 4-year school uh... within about a year of that. Uhm... at that time-- and I started just part-time working at night. I had a second shift job working and going to school during the day. Uhm... the uhm... NC State had a 2-year program here. You could take the first two- two years of their engineering school here on campus. I mean the- the material-- writ-- the printed materials had NC State Engineering School on them. And you could take the drafting and surveying, and all the math and science classes that was required, and then transfer as a junior to- to Raleigh and- and pick up there, so that's the program I got into.

Riggins: And were you glad to be doing this?

Bill Pate: Well it was good to be able to do it at home--close to home. And uh... ob- obviously, it- it was very economical. Of course, I worked at night and then went school during the day. Well by the time I became a junior, though, I had decided not to go to state. And so by this time, Wilmington College was a 4-year school, so I ended up uhm... getting a math degree, math and physics degree here in- in 1969, instead of-- instead of transferring. '69 was the last graduating class of Wilmington College. That fall, it became officially UNC Wilmington.

Riggins: At graduation, do you remember who the speaker was?

Bill Pate: I have no idea. I prob-- nobody listens to speakers, do they? Do not-- do not remember it all. Uh... it was a-- it was a happy time, though, to be-- to be done. Uhm... I had taken about six years through going part-time and all, and then the last couple of years full-time.

Riggins: That's exciting. Bill Wagoner would have been the head, then.

Bill Pate: Yes.

Riggins: Did you know him as a student?

Bill Pate: Uh... it was somebody you saw around. Interesting enough, the uh... the Kenan house had just been given to the-- to the college, and so this graduating class, in the spring of '69, were invited to the Kenan house for the reception. There were so few of us that we could go there for the reception. And since that was the first year, he invited us all down to see it, so that was the first time I was in the Kenan house.

Riggins: It was not used. It was university property then.

Bill Pate: Mm hmm and uh... they-- I think he'd just-- he'd just moved into it, but that was-- that was the first year he had it.

Riggins: Oh right, Kenan house where the chancellor lives. Oh, so he'd just moved in. So you got to see the grand house.

Bill Pate: But luckily, there weren't many people, so we were able to uh... fit in the living room pretty good.

Riggins: And your guests, your family and everything?

Bill Pate: Yeah, yeah, sure did.

Riggins: Great. What did you think of your time here? I imagine you had some teachers that we have talked to. Did you have Calvin Doss?

Bill Pate: I never had uh... Calvin. Uhm... a lot of the teachers I had are gone. Uh... I know a number of them have passed on and- and I see a lot of others around, like uhm... Tom Brown and Thomas Lupton, who have retired, I see them occasionally in town, even. Uhm... but most of them have- have passed on.

Riggins: Who do you remember as being good teachers?

Bill Pate: Well one- one of my favorites, it- it was Dumay Gorham, who I've always known as Colonel Gorham. He had taught the drafting program at U-- at then at Wil-- uh... New Hanover High School, and then I had taken some things there. And then I came out here, he was teaching the engineering courses here, uhm... drafting, surveying and things like that. He was always quite a character and quite a good- good uhm... good teacher, very stern in a lot of his requirements, but he was very good.

Riggins: Did he have a sense of humor?

Bill Pate: Yeah, a weird one, but uh... yeah, and uh... I got to see-- I got-- I recently got to meet his grandson. Yeah, I recently got to meet his grandson, Dumay Gorham III, who uh... is one of the local metal artists here. And uh... when I-- when I was introduced to him, I was able to tell him, "I went to school with your grandfather." (laugh) That was kind of interesting, to see that.

Riggins: Right, that parallel.

Bill Pate: He's one of the local- local characters now.

Riggins: I imagine you took a wide range of courses before you settled into the technical field. Did you have to take some foreign languages and some English?

Bill Pate: Interesting enough, uh... when you got into engineering at that time, they didn't have a lot of requirements. There were no-- there was no PE, obviously, because-- unless you want to go play in the dirt. There were uhm-- there were no foreign language requirements. There was no history requirement. Their uhm... English-- the only English requirement after freshman English was a-- we call it a culture class for engineers. It was a literature class that all the engineering students were required to take, a survey of uh... of uh... popular literature sort of thing. And we studied the classics and- and wrote papers on them and discussed them, but that was all that was required of engineering students. Everything else was uh... physics, and chemistry and mathematics, a lot of-- about everything they had in mathematics, so that was about what it was.

Riggins: You did have Thomas Brown and Thomas Lupton as teachers?

Bill Pate: Brown, Lupton, uhm... another fellow.

Riggins: Adrian Hurst?

Bill Pate: Oh, yeah. Mr. Hurst was a-- he was a real delight. I had forgotten about Mr. Hurst.

Riggins: What was he like?

Bill Pate: Just a nice, I don't know, gentle little man, who you did not take as a professor. And I-- I'd see him some outside of class. He was a-- had a-- you know, he was a little workshop-type guy, and I actually saw him some outside of class.

Riggins: Oh, you were friends.

Bill Pate: Yeah, sometimes, uhm... just had some contact.

Riggins: Talked about projects?

Bill Pate: Yeah, just- just-- uh... he was just a nice delightful person.

Riggins: And as a teacher?

Bill Pate: Very good, very good, and uh... very dedicated, so that was good. I think he's one of the ones that's passed on.

Riggins: Yeah.

Bill Pate: And I can-- I remember-- I remember that happening.

Riggins: Right.

Bill Pate: Uhm... that's uhm... that's largely who I remember. I guess the others just sort of went by the wayside with me. It's been a long time.

Riggins: And you were busy with other things, too.

Bill Pate: Now when I- I-- incidentally, when I changed over to- to decide to stay here for my junior/senior year, I then had to catch up all those courses that I had not had to take as a engineering student, so I was back into freshman history and uh... doing a lot of things that way. I had to-- and I had to catch up with foreign languages.

Riggins: That's when you...?

Bill Pate: To graduate.

Riggins: To graduate in '69.

Bill Pate: Yeah, so I had to go back and take foreign languages and- and do those things. That's probably why it took me six years.

Riggins: Oh, you did end up taking that.

Bill Pate: I had to end up taking them at the end of it.

Riggins: Oh, so you did that at the very end.

Bill Pate: Yeah. Yeah, I was a senior. I was taking freshman history as a senior to get caught up.

Riggins: And then foreign language. Did you do Spanish?

Bill Pate: I did German.

Riggins: Oh, okay. You had a German professor then.

Bill Pate: Uh... yeah, uh... uh... yeah, Lowe[ph?]

Riggins: Lowe.

Bill Pate: Herr Lowe, yeah.

Riggins: His name is Bill, though.

Bill Pate: Bill, yeah, that- that was the name, right. I was-- I was searching for that name.

Riggins: You finished in 1969 and you and Brenda are married by now.

Bill Pate: We married in '68, yeah.

Riggins: And I understand from the last interview that you ended up going to Winston-Salem at some point.

Bill Pate: Right, uhm... when I left here, I went uh... to- to Wachovia Bank in Winston-Salem. The head office was there. That's when I got into computing, because as- as a math major, math majors at that time in the '60's were being sought out by computing firms. And so I was asked uh... to go there as a systems analyst for the Wach-- for the banks operations and I was there 12 years in Winston-Salem.

Riggins: Systems analyst in the '70's, what does that involve?

Bill Pate: That was the design of systems, analyzing business problems and uhm... designing the systems for- for programming staff to put together. And as- as an engineering background and a-- and a math major, uh... I ended up in that.

Riggins: You didn't have to be a programmer, but you had to know. It's kind of like management. You kind of had to know, if management came to you with a problem, how to address it.

Bill Pate: You really-- you were-- you were strict-strictly a problem solver. It was an engineering job, to me. You were a problem solver. The computer was the tool. And I often told people that I had-- I really didn't care whe-- whether it was an engine-- a computer or a sawmill, I just want the logs in, boards out, and I wanted to know how to adjust it. And that's all we did. And uh... so that's what I did.

Riggins: You just wanted to know how can this work to help us.

Bill Pate: How can this-- how can this machine solve this- this business problem?

Riggins: And did you get into computers hands-on?

Bill Pate: Well there were no hands-on much then.

Riggins: Was it mainframe?

Bill Pate: It was all mainframe, the big room upstairs.

Riggins: With the men in the white coats who guarded it.

Bill Pate: Yeah, yeah. But actually, you could uh... after you got to working in it, you could go up there. Uh... I would go there a lot on weekends and uh... and- and mount-- you know work on the tapes, you know, working with tape drives and do things. And uh... particularly, some-- sometimes, you'd be there all weekend, during tax season, for example. I might be there all weekend, babysitting the system to make sure it ran. We had one shot that weekend. You do it and uh... you make sure you're there. And- and I would be somewhat hands-on, not on the consoles, but at least- least dealing with it. So I was in that computer room a lot.

Riggins: And the programmers you worked with were all very knowledgeable?

Bill Pate: Very know-- yeah, very knowledgeable in their language. And I- I became a programmer, also, but that wasn't-- that wasn't my title. I actually learned programming languages and- and work-- and did programming, but largely, I was a designer and a project leader type.

Riggins: So you just learned it _____.

Bill Pate: I learned out of a book, sure did.

Riggins: What languages?

Bill Pate: Well COBAL was the big deal in the '60's, even up in the early '70's that was the big deal, for business use, that was the big deal. It's total-- business computing is so totally different than university computing. And uh... it wasn't uhm... you- you were doing different things. You were just interested in speed and volume, and not necessarily the nice-- the niceties that you would see on an academic setting. So it's sometimes hard for- for people who have been all in academics to- to understand what they do in the business world. But they're interested in uhm... in lots of volume in short periods of time, and absolute accuracy. There is no almost right. It's 100 percent every night. And with the bank, it was finance.

Riggins: You can't be off a decimal point or anything.

Bill Pate: But you still had the personal systems and other things that go with it. Uh... I worked on a lot of different things when I was there.

Riggins: And I'm sure learning programming was not something you were required to do, but it helped you understand.

Bill Pate: You have to learn it-- learn it somewhat in order to- to do your job. And then there's times where it's just simpler to go ahead and do the program yourself, rather than wait for somebody else, so you learn a lot that way. And so I became-- it was sort of a dual role, ultimately. But uh... then I got into installing purchase systems. Uh... the economies of programming got to be where it was more economical to buy a system or rebuild and install that than it was to do it from scratch, and uh... I guess that was the first forerunner of outsourcing. Now you send them to India, but then you bought it from another company and- and put it together, modified it somewhat and put it together. And so I became mostly an installer of purchased system, and I wrote all the documentation and got the-- and got it where it would run in our installations, so that- that became my- my niche. Yeah, I did that quite a bit for a number of-- a number of different systems, be it clone systems or employee benefits systems or various things, I would do that.

Riggins: And you were there for 12 years. When you left, were they beginning to use some PCs or not?

Bill Pate: Still had no PCs. This was in 1981. I think they do now, but they- they just-- that wasn't the thing. And its- it's more of a security problem, too. You don't do that, necessarily.

Riggins: Well, it's a whole different issue. You left in '81. How did that come about?

Bill Pate: Well that came about-- and that's the beginning of the-- of the UNC Wilmington era for me. Uhm... in 1981, uh... Dr. Cahill was vice-chancellor of academics. He had-- he had assigned John Anderson from the School of Business to be the director of the computing information systems at that time. And they had decided that- that they would get the-- have a computer on campus. Uh... at that-- at that time, the-- most of the schools were hooked up with something they called TUCC, the Triangle University Computing System. The computer was housed in Chapel Hill. It had originally been uh... co-oped between Chapel Hill and NC State, and they had begun to put other schools and hook into it. Wilmington-- or UNC Wilmington had uh... essentially a-- it was all punch card. And essentially, they had a card reader here and a printer, and you would you put your card reader. It would-- it's called remote jobs entry. And they would-- uh... it would read out on the computer in Chapel Hill, do its processing, and the results would print back here in town, and then you would distribute the printouts. And that's the way-- so that's the way all the stuff was done.

Riggins: It was a system like a network.

Bill Pate: Yeah, it was a network, exactly right. IBM-- big IBM mainframes in Chapel Hill, and all the tapes and files were there, and all we did was put the data into here and get data back on printers. And uh... we would load, you know, keypunch the cards from grading, for example, load them in, they'd process the grades and the grade reports would come back and be distributed to the classes. And that's what they-- but they wanted to get out of that. They wanted to be able to do more. You really didn't do much. You did-- you did your grades and your transcripts, and you did your accounting work, but there really wasn't much else going on here as far as computers. There was-- there was no computing going on. Everything else was manual on campus. Uh... we had not-- we didn't have any micros at that time, people on this campus. And so-- uh... but during that year, they had decided to- to do a system on campus. And John Anderson had put together-- uh... began to put together a very good plan for building a computer center and bringing in the software and hardware to bring this campus up into the-- into the real computer age. And part of that-- as a part of that plan (laugh) they were advertising for people, and they put out a ad for a programming manager. My sister, who lived here in town, sent me the ad and said, "You ought to look into this." Uhm... it was similar to what I was doing at- at Wachovia, except I had never had the opportunity to actually build a computer center. It was from scratch. And I came down and talked with him and uhm... that's how I took the job. And moved back-- moved back home and uh... and had a chance to build something. It was- it was a very interesting experience.

Riggins: That's interesting; like you say, a chance to build something. I guess you would inherit some people.

Bill Pate: No, we-- well we did-- you inherited people, but you've got to remember, there weren't many people. The programming staffs consisted-- at that point, consisted of me, the manager and one other person, Bobby Miller, who is one of the old-timers. He's still here. And uh... he's one of the-- he was here before I came, a programmer and uh... he's still here, uhm... but he's- he's moved up, of course, in the world since then.

Riggins: He's still at UNCW?

Bill Pate: Oh yeah, he is assistant vice-chancellor to Tyndall, so that would be a good one to talk to.

Riggins: I will.

Bill Pate: But now-- so he and I, we were the programming, and there was uh... there were computer operators over in the-- in the operations area that were doing uhm... working--still watching the punch cards. You had uh... key-- some keypunch operators, some operators that- that ran the machines and you had a couple of programmers, and that was-- that was about all you had. And uhm... the- the various departments had a-- they had a term called data coordinators, which would actually do the work in the departments and bring the cards over and work-- get it all run. So uh... I began working with Bobby and uh... I began documenting everything we had. That was-- having few people and having a-- the staff that they had at that time, it was-- it was very loose, is what I could call it. Uh... there was just no documentation not-- about how things ran, so I began to put a- a more, I guess, a bank-like appearance on it where I had things cataloged and documented, wrote run guides, put in operations and- and fail safe.

Riggins: To what was already going on?

Bill Pate: Yeah, and- and beginnings of some disaster recovery type planning, and started doing the same things I had been doing at the-- at the bank systems. I began to do it here with what we had, and to document what was going on, so that when we began to think about build-- buying a new computer and building new systems, we had to know what we were going to replace, so we had to document what was there. So I spent a couple of years at that. And during that time, we uhm... we were planning what we were going to do and uh... creating specifications to go out for bids for software packages and- and for uh... computing equipment and network wiring and all the things that you need to put together a computer center, even down to the raised flooring and the Halon systems for the fire suppression. We had to put all that together in a plan, and bid it, and spec the bids and do all these things before we could put it together, so we had-- we had several years of that. It was probably '84 before the computer came in.

Riggins: And the computer that came in was what kind of computer?

Bill Pate: Well we- we settled on the-- on digital, the- the uhm... the VAX. Uhm... that was-- that was the one that was the best- best for our needs. And uh... I- I was used to IBM's, but they weren't my favorite. They- they took too much work, care and feeding, I guess. And the VAX was- was fairly easy. It was uh... essentially a floor-- a floor model microcomputer in the way it worked to my- in my- my view, and it- it was just easy for us to deal with. A few--a few staff members, all of us-- almost everybody there would have to be retrained. You didn't want to get something too complicated. We had a lot of work to do from scratch and we didn't want to get too complicated. We wanted it the most self-contained as possible. I was-- I was very happy. I think we- we all have been. And uhm... even though right now, there-- there's been no changeover from it, except migrations to improvements, but there's never been any drastic changeover.

Riggins: It's still there.

Bill Pate: It's still there. They're doing-- still doing certain things. And the software company we went to at that time, we're still using that same software company under its current naming convention, whatever that is. They have been bought and merged so many times since 1984, that uh... but whatever they are, it's still the same company and the same software. There's a big conversion going on right now on campus that uh... I guess people who work here will-- can talk about, but it's-- you know, I can say it's still with the same company, just a super version of it.

Riggins: How was administration? Did you work with administration during this time trying to find out what they wanted from the center, if they were going to be supportive financially, etcetera?

Bill Pate: Well, are you talking about the administration of this campus?

Riggins: Yes.

Bill Pate: Yeah. Well that was the whole thing is they- they put-- we put together a plan and they approved a plan to do this. And we- we had to come up with- with an amount of-- amount of money to- to support it. We picked the items and- and they agreed to support it.

Riggins: Who was it, Cahill?

Bill Pate: Cahill was still the uhm... vice-chancellor. Bob Walton was uh... financial services.

Riggins: It went to all of those people.

Bill Pate: Yeah, well the whole thing, and of course, at that time uhm... Leutze wasn't here yet.

Riggins: No, it would have been Dr. Wagoner.

Bill Pate: Yeah, Phil Wagoner. And-- but- but they approved the plan to- to move on and- and approved the money then the ongoing support for this thing. It's very expensive to do this stuff.

Riggins: Who did you report to?

Bill Pate: Well we were-- I reported to uh... to-- I talked to John Anderson, who was still the director and uh... he reported to Dr. Cahill, so we were in-- we were in Academic Affairs at the time.

Riggins: Oh, that's interesting. Dr. Anderson was a business school professor as well.

Bill Pate: Right, exactly.

Riggins: You probably understood each other.

Bill Pate: Somewhat, somewhat.

Riggins: Coming from the business background.

Bill Pate: Somewhat. I'd say there's a difference between a business background and a business school background, but we did understand the words. Uhm... but- but- but the whole process worked. The people involved there were uh... Bobby Miller, and Chris Mowrey was in charge of op-- was the computer operations part, and uh... Paul Hosier was- was uh... was academic coordinator and uh... as a part-time biology professor, and then myself, so the four of us. And with John, we put together all these plans. So that's the people who built the computer center, decided everything from the color of the paint to- to what kind of wires.

Riggins: How was Paul Hosier to work with?

Bill Pate: He was good. Uh... he- he was- he wasn't really technical, but he- he knew the benefits of technical, and uh... and so- so he was-- he was good to work with and- and pulled his part together. And we had a-- we had a real good group. Uh... we all had our parts and pulled-- and uh... made it work real well. Uh... I enjoy-- I enjoyed doing that. That was a great experience.

Riggins: Right, the collaboration. And of course, you didn't always agree.

Bill Pate: We didn't agree, but as one- one of the guys said one time, we all-- we all would- would be in-- all be at a meeting, all have our opinions and- and disagreements at a-- at a meeting. But then as someone said, once it was decided, everybody just went that way. And so once you--once you-- once the decision was made, we all pulled the same way and it-- and it made it work, and that's what happened. And then we had something here that I thought was really unique was a really great user community. Uh... we rely-- we could have done it. We had enough people in the computer center, so we relied a lot on the user community. And uh... the people in- in the registrar's office, for example, they had to do a lot of work. And the people in accounting, they had to do a lot of work to get these things installed and to work out. And they had to pull together on it, too, and they were great. They- they accepted the challenge.

Riggins: They were kinda like your beta testers.

Bill Pate: Yeah. But we've got-- Wilming-- UNC-Wilmington has a really large group of very intelligent people. They are in-- what I've discovered is, they are in Wilmington because they want to be here, not because we're the best paying job or anything like that, it's because they want to be in Wilmington. And they like it here and they- they work-- they're usually long-term employees and they really like- like doing this sort of thing. And we- we depended on them and they- they did a good job for everybody.

Riggins: I think it's really true with our college, our university. That's one reason why we do so much, is it lasts.

Bill Pate: Yes, I think so.

Riggins: That's interesting. A lot of your initial projects involved Registrar's Office or Accounting, and involved them changing their workflows and their procedures to meet this new system.

Bill Pate: Right. It's- its-- no, we didn't change internal- the internal workflows of the-- of the departments, didn't have to change that much. We found out they were doing it pretty much the right way, if you can call it a right way, and so the systems complimented it very nicely. They had to do some minor changes, but there was nothing drastic that had to be done. And we had documented the major systems, the Registrar's Office, Admissions Office and Accounting Office, and- and so those were the ones that we had to work with. We began to do some things with micro-computing in- in that time period, the early microcomputers, and uh... and being able to do some support uh... replacing the card punch with some data entry on microcomputers and doing some things like that. The old Tandys uhm... it was interesting. We- we use to-- there was a time-- a period of time there which we actually did all the university check writing on a Tandy with a daisywheel-- with a daisywheel printer, and that's-- it just-- it worked. And uh... that sounds uh... "How can that do," but it worked. It worked and it-- and it did a good job, until we could do better. Beats-- it sure beats typing them, because volume is your enemy. As you get more people, volume- volume becomes your enemy. And so-- and uhm... so that's what you're working with, trying to get volume through in a-- in a given period of time.

Riggins: Did you work with Dorothy Marshall?

Bill Pate: Mrs. Marshall was great. Yeah, she was in the middle of everything. We had lots of meetings with- with the different people uh... with, like, Dorothy Marshall, Tim Jordan. Uh... I forgot who was in charge of uh... Admissions at that time. But uh... we would uhm... you know, we'd work with them to get- get the criteria documented and- and then we'd find systems. We eventually found systems that did it the way they like-- would like to do it generically. And- and they-- all this input was-they-- that saw the systems. We demoed the systems and they-- you know, "Yes, I liked that," and they all bought into it. "We want to buy that." And so once we got an agreement, we bought what- what the community wanted. We- we found the choices, but they made the choices and then we-- then we installed it.

Riggins: They had a buy-in.

Bill Pate: They had a buy-in and- and they were enthusiastic about getting rid of all that manual labor, and so there was a real- real benefit to what we were doing.

Riggins: Working with the library at this time.

Bill Pate: We didn't work with the library. They-- well I mean they used the systems, but they-- we didn't work with the library at that time. They had no- no automation and they-- and so if you had no automation, you weren't really a candidate for- for changing at that time. We had to-- we had to-- we had to convert the ones who were already automated in their crude way.

Riggins: I thought they had been automated by this time, but no, not in '81?

Bill Pate: No, no, they- they-- that came up later. It was in the later- later '80's. Ron Johnson was over here and they were working on the cataloging system, and Gene Hooglay[ph?] was- was the director of the library. Uh... Chris Mowrey, who was operations director over at- at the Computer Center actually helped Ron and Gene Hooglay create the computer image you have on this-- in this library. If- if you look at it, it's a smaller version of what we've got in- in-- that we had in Hoggard Hall, same vendors and everything, uh... so they put that-- and he helped put that together for them, with them.

Riggins: Our server program?

Bill Pate: Yeah, yeah, so Chris worked on that, too, put that together, and then Ron-- and Ron, of course, was-- was a big deal as far as getting the software. We didn't get involved in that. But then we had to interface with it, because you had to get the student lists from our computer, and we-- so we had-- we had to interface with it uhm... provide the student lists and things for you to put on your-- for your circulation, and then feeding back the other way for fines and whatever. So eventually, they grew-- they grew to- to communicate with each other. As we get to-- began to put together more things on campus, they began to interact more. The bar code system we put in I-- on the ID's, once we did that, then that opened up things in the library. They started scanning them over here. They started them using them in the-- in the copy machines. And then-- and then now it's been replaced with magnetic stripe, which is-- it's just a-- it's a continuation of this process. Once- once two people get compu-- get computerized in their own place, then they want to connect them, and so it just begins to grow. It's like potato chips. You just don't stop.

Riggins: You had it completed in the mid-'80's or so, is that right?

Bill Pate: Yeah, we got the computer in '84 and then over the next couple of years, we began to uhm... put the software together, train the entire campus. Uh... nobody knew how to use a computer, essentially, all year, and uh... the new system was doing online registration. We use-- before that, it was take punch cards and everybody-- all the departments had a table set up in the gym on registration day. And students lined up and uh... it- you took- took days to do all this, then you had to send all the punch cards. So we set-- we created a system in which we put terminals, computer terminals out into the departments. We had this mass training program. We trained uh... departmental secretaries. Uh... the-- each- each department had their own administrative people or systems, whatever to say who's going to be doing this, get a couple out of each department. We put the terminals over there.

Riggins: Were they dumb terminals?

Bill Pate: No, these were-- these were online terminals to the VAX, and uh... we put them out there and taught them to use it. And the deal was we're going to put the terminal there and teach you how to use it for registration. When you're not doing registration, you can use it to do your other stuff, so that was the- the carrot. And uh... so then- then the first day, we did-- the first time we did registration after that, the student lined up in their own department or by appointment, rather than all lining up in the gym. An interesting- interesting thing happened about that. Before that, the-- every day at registration, you had-- you knew it was going to happen. A TV crew came out, walked around campus, photographed the lines, made a little story about- about the lines, talked to a few students and went back and it was on the 6 o'clock news, always happened. The first day we did online registration, nobody told the news. And I saw the news media walking around. There were no lines and there was nothing on the news that night. And I think we missed an opportunity, because-- but it just-- we didn't- didn't think about it. They had no-- well there should have been some news about how we moved the lines, but yet, it just turned out there was no news because the lines disappeared on them. I got humor out of it. Nobody else seemed to, but I did.

Riggins: A problem with those of us, and I say "us" because I sometimes get into technical things, being a librarian and archivist, I get kind of lost in my archival management systems, but we need to toot our own horn.

Bill Pate: Yeah. Yeah, we- we probably didn't do enough of that, but uh... we- we were too busy making it work.

Riggins: This was probably around-

Bill Pate: '86.

Riggins: --'86, when people went to their own departments.

Bill Pate: Yeah. And since then-- see, since then, it's uh... the next step of that, well we moved it further and further out, and then we begin-- after that, we began to do other ways of doing it. We went to the uhm... scan sheets. We went to- to the voice response where people could do it on the phone. And now-- and then we moved where they could do it on the web, and so it's always been-- and each of them has been add-on. Nothing's been taken away. It's just been adding on, so the- the lines get spread out further and further. Instead of having hundreds, you have two or three, or one at a cell phone. We got to the point where- where the students were stepping out of class using a cell phone in the hall and stepping back in, once their appointment time came up, and so that was where we went. Yeah, and now- now they're doing it uh... late at night in their own room. And that's been a real improvement. But there again, it's a-- it's the whole issue of volume. You gotta do-- you gotta find ways to do more and more, handle more and more volume in a given period of time. A few thousand students, you could do it in the gym. With 13,000 students, you can't do it in the gym, so it-- that's all a volume problem.

Riggins: What about PCs on campus? Did you start seeing PC labs for student work?

Bill Pate: The first PCs started in- in administrative areas. They were-- uhm... Admissions Office got some and we put together a little-- a little data entry system for applications. Uh... Alumni got one. Alumni people got one. And we had-- they had a little system written for them so they could take care of their stuff, but it was not connected to anybody else, just the ____ and themselves. And like I say, we had a little system in- in accounting, which they could just do their checks on a-- you know, so that was the first micros and we were doing some of that. But once we got the VAX, then administratively, we sort of abandoned micros. Uh... they weren't-- they weren't doing-- we weren't doing the- the word processing on them and so we were-- we abandoned them and used the VAX as- as a-- with a live terminal, a hook-- a dedicated terminal. Uh... after that, the-- when-- there again, volume. People wanted micros in their office to do other things. They started doing- doing their word processing and their spreadsheets, and then we started connecting them back. But that came back around. By this time, the academics were all using micros, and so the- the micro world had become an academic computing issue.

Riggins: Professors were having them in their offices.

Bill Pate: To do their work, just to do their work.

Riggins: I think around '86 or so, they were doing it.

Bill Pate: Mm hmm, yeah. Late-- yeah, into the late '80's, they were starting to do that. But then it came-- and then it came back around where we started connecting them to the VAX to do stuff, so-- uh... there was a demand. By the-- by the '90's, they were starting to get demand that the administrative people wanted microcomputer stuff, so we had to get back into it. And by this time, we were uneducated again in it, because the technology had cr-changed so much that ac-- administrative computing people were not educated in it any longer. We had a-- we were just old, so we had to go and reeducate and that-- and that was a-- there were some problems for us. We didn't have enough people to do everything we needed to do.

Riggins: What did you need to do to build systems using micros?

Bill Pate: Well you had to learn the new set of languages. Uh... we knew the languages for the VAX and for what we were doing. We had learned that. Uh... we-- the programmers here, we- we taught COBOL and various things to our programmers, got new programmers, uh... I was teaching a lot of it. And we got our systems up to speed, and then the micros came along and they didn't use COBOL, so we had new sets of languages. And you couldn't have everybody doing it, because we were maintaining uh... maintaining the grading system, maintaining the accounting system. So uh... we had so much work to do, the computers just created more work for us, also.

Riggins: The administrators wanted the micros because they were using it for other stuff.

Bill Pate: Right, so they would start using it for terminals. Instead of having a terminal and a micro, they started using the micro for a terminal, dual use. And uh... and- and then it moved on. Then you want-- you want data-- you want reports that come off the mainframe. You want it to be accessible on your micro to put into a spreadsheet or something, so this connection's there. And they will take things they've created there and bring them up and use them, so there's all this interconnectivity that has to be built. And uh... it's a lot of work to do in a short period of time.

Riggins: And probably stressful.

Bill Pate: It was. It was very hectic. And the prioritization is- is hectic, because everybody wants to be first. And uhm... you just have to-- you look at the best need. We had to develop some protocols that says, you know, does it-- and mine was, you know, does it affect students? If it affects students, they get priority, because that's what we're here for. Or we thought so. Uhm... and then you-- does it affect the business end? And so Registrar's Office might get priority over accounting office, because they- they were dealing with their cust-student customers, so you know, just things like that. But no-- nobody was really happy, because everybody couldn't be first, and so nobody was really happy. You just couldn't get enough done in the period of time we needed it done. We were very-- the university was very short-funded, it still is, but you know, it's made a lot of news about that. But we were-- we suffered on that, too. We couldn't buy the people we needed. We couldn't buy the equipment we needed.

Riggins: Organizationally, how long did you stay under Academic Affairs?

Bill Pate: It was only about-- uh... well we were on Academic Affairs to uhm... probably 1998. That wasn't till the end, until we created the Information Technology Systems Division. And uhm... so that- that-we-- it's been a long time.

Riggins: What was it called before then?

Bill Pate: Gosh, so many names, computing and information systems was the usual name.

Riggins: How does that differentiate you from the department, because there was a department of computer science, I guess.

Bill Pate: Well there wasn't-- they were called something else then, too. All-- the- the business school and computer science departments had been changing their names, too, so its- its-- there's never been two- two identical ones, some variation of those words.

Riggins: In 1998.

Bill Pate: About- about-- by about that, I think.

Riggins: Was Dr. Tyndall the first?

Bill Pate: He was first, yeah.

Riggins: Then he came from outside?

Bill Pate: No. He was the Dean of Ed-- School of Education.

Riggins: That's right.

Bill Pate: Or vi-- you know, and he came over and- and uh... he'd been really involved in computing- computing ideas with the School of Education. So-- and I guess-- I guess he was picked for his, uhm... approaches to management and his approach to- to new ideas.

Riggins: Right, to Dr. Leutze, probably.

Bill Pate: Yeah, mm hmm.

Riggins: How did things change?

Bill Pate: Well, everything- everything uh... picked up speed, uhm... he had a lot of good ideas. Uhm... most of them, we thought were okay. Uhm... so-- but the- the work had to keep going, and I think as a-- and we had a lot of changes going on about then, new things coming about with our software vendors. And it's hard for a new person to come in with great ideas and to find out that you don't have time for them, because you've got some-- got maintenance to do. Maintenance sort of always takes a back seat, and you know, you can't-- as they say, you know, politicians never have a ribbon cutting over a pothole. And get a vice-chancellor a position; that tends to be a political position. You've got to come up with new ideas and make some-- make some news about it, and you can't make news when all your staff is doing maintenance. But we had so much maintenance going on, so there were conflicts there.

Riggins: Because you didn't get any new staff?

Bill Pate: You couldn't do it. You get the new staff. And we began to-- but he began to get it, and that's-- I should give him credit for that. He began to get the news, because he could make the noise, and get the new staff and get the funding, so they began to change after that. But initially, it was-- it was difficult to do everything.

Riggins: Oh yeah, it's always hard to change your goal. What kind of ideas was he ____?

Bill Pate: Well he- he was doing more ideas about spreading it out from a-- from the-- to the other- other areas. Uhm... some of-- some of our wireless technology like this- this library, wireless systems and things like that, he- he would come up with those, and uh... it was some great, great things.

Riggins: He was visionary.

Bill Pate: Mm hmm, yeah, very much so, very much so. And uh... I- I guess I had conflicts, because I always tend to be caught in the world I was trying to deal with, you know. The person-- the thing that's-- the thing that's not going to work tomorrow, was my-- was my priority, and so we had to-- had to deal with it. I was real excited about getting our own division and getting our vice-chancellor. I think that was good for-- good for it to get it, because academic affairs, they were not-- it was not a problem, but almost like a stepchild. And- and it was not-- it had trouble prioritizing and there was a lot of money involved. And computing just takes a lot of money. And uh... we always joked about it and said, "You know, we- we-- just think of how- how great this is. We're saving $60,000 that we were spending at uh... at TUCC every year, and look at we've done with that."

Riggins: You would tell that to administrators?

Bill Pate: Well that's- that's what- what-- our bill at TUCC was $60,000 and we got it-- we got rid of that and went to millions. (laugh) And we don't say. But you know, every time we'd talk about it, every time, somebody would come up with, "Golly, that money. You're asking for this money." I'd say, "Yeah, but look at all the money we're saving at TUCC." And it just got to be a joke. You never can stop. But it's a-- it's a busy, busy industry, the- the computing industry, a lot of things going on. We were also-- you think about it, about '97, '98 is when we started hitting-- the year 2000 problems were coming on. Uhm... most people didn't believe there was anything going to happen uhm... but some people believed the world was going to end, so there was all states there, yeah, and that- that Y2K thing had become a big deal. Uhm... those of us in computing knew there was problems potential and had to be taken care of. I had already seen the problems firsthand and-- before that. I mean the last couple years, they just started hitting more often. The potential was there and we had to put time in on it. And uh... so that was very hard to prioritize at that point. Uh... we had-- we had people who just didn't believe it was-- they thought it was just a little smokescreen. And uhm... I've heard Chancellor Leutze say that. He said that to me, you know, "Well, I don't really believe it." Well, it's true. It's going to happen. It's a problem.

Riggins: Well that's what they need. You do all this work. And then if there's no problem, people think, "Oh no, it never was a problem."

Bill Pate: But-- and- and yeah, that was the exact statement. And I said, "No, the reason there was no problem is because we did all this work."

Riggins: Was there any problem? I wasn't here.

Bill Pate: No, we didn't-- we didn't have any. Uh... we had-- we had gone through and we had to do a lot of programming changes to make and- and a lot of testing to do. You had to test all this stuff. But uhm... and uhm... it just took a lot of time. And- and when people wanted their-- wanted some new- new reports written for their office and you've said, "I'm sorry, I've got to get this Y2K issue straightened out," because-- and we had the state behind us. They put a team together and they were checking on us. I was writing reports to somebody in Raleigh about- about our progress on this, so they were behind it. I had no choice. And uh... of course, we couldn't let the system fail. But uh... that was a stressful time. The first few year-- couple years of- of the new vice-chancellor and so much of his resources are being spent on a Y2K problem, which many people didn't believe really existed, and so that's a real issue. But it went away. Yeah, it went away and then I retired. (laugh)

Riggins: Were you overseeing the budget over the years?

Bill Pate: For our area we were. We had-- we had to uhm... put- put together the plan; here's what we're going to do over the next couple of years, what is it going to cost, what do we think we're going to need, what-- what's the potential cost factor here, and put in a request for things. Uhm... there again, that's- that's another problem. You've got to. You've got to anticipate problems and have money available for them. And- and there's another thing, to prove to somebody that there really is going to be a problem two years from now.

Riggins: So you had to make requests.

Bill Pate: The same old thing, it's the same old thing, except ours were very big requests, because it was-- it was not just adding to the program a little bit, it was a whole new something or another, which may be $100,000, and you're asking for big amounts of money. And-- or-- and, "If you want to do this, this is what it's going to cost." And, "Yes, I want to do that, but gosh, can't we do it cheaper?" "Well no." You know, so- so there's always this thing.

Riggins: Did you always know your budget, like when the state came?

Bill Pate: Yeah, it was always the same. I knew what it was going to be, because it was always the same.

Riggins: Was that coming down to you from the chancellor?

Bill Pate: Well it was just the one I had last year. We--there was no new money. There was never- never any new money. Uhm... it- it got to be a kind of a game. You-- every- every March and April, you would put together your budget request for the next year and then you didn't get it. And then so finally, I got the-- I got the-- I'd reprint them with a new date and do them again next year. It just-- it- it never came. And there were some-- there were some items, I can remember-- and all of us did that. And I can remember some items that year after year showed up in a budget request and never got funded. And then we got an audit one year and they- they said, "Why don't you have that?" And so we pulled out years of budget requests and says, "I don't know." You know, but all you can do is say, "I requested it." At least it gets you off the hook for not thinking about it, but uhm... there was just not enough money. It always came down to not enough money.

Riggins: Did that change some under Dr. Tyndall? You said he was sort of an advocate for you guys.

Bill Pate: He was an advocate. Uh... he got more money for the-- for the division. And uhm... of course, he didn't get any more money for the campus, so they were still having to divide it up. But at least having your own vice-chancellor, you've got a-- you've got somebody else in there pulling off a chunk of money, and that-- that's what made it different. It didn't help it from the general administration level to get more money down to the campus, but at least it helped divide it up a little-- a little-- a little better for us, dividing up on the campus. So uh... and you didn't have a vice-chancellor for academic affairs having to juggle academic needs versus this com-- this expensive computer setup.

Riggins: Yeah, I know, I know. The library faces those things, too.

Bill Pate: Well sure. We all-- everybody does in their own-- in their own way.

Riggins: You retired in the year 2000.

Bill Pate: December, 2000. I wanted to retire in December, 1999, so I didn't have to go through Y2K, but I wasn't quite old enough.

Riggins: December, 2000, that's when I interviewed for my job here.

Bill Pate: So I left that month.

Riggins: How many years did you have in the state?

Bill Pate: Well I- I retired with 20 years. I'd only been here 19 years, but I had 19 years worth of sick time, so- so I just used it and retired. I had- you know, I was ready to go.

Riggins: Was your plan always to retire fairly young?

Bill Pate: Well I was fairly young, yeah, but uhm... I'd always had planned to, yes, and uh... because I had other things I wanted to do. This was-- it was always just a job to me, not a-- not really this grand career. Yeah, it was-- it wasn't my identity. My identity was at home, so uh... it was just a job. It was an engineering job, but I did it-- did the best I could, and I think fairly well for a lot of years. But the time had come, there was an opportunity to do something else and I did. And I couldn't stay here for the full 30, because I hadn't-- I'd been at Wachovia for 12, see, so I couldn't really stay a whole lot longer. I'd been here forever, so I took that point to- to leave, and uh... immediately went off and do- do other things.

Riggins: I hear some names here of people. Charlie Cahill I've actually already interviewed. Bob Walton and John Anderson, I'm not sure if they're around.

Bill Pate: Bob Walton is around, if you can catch him not on a camping trip. Uh he- he retired. He's retired since then, and uh... I have uhm... I see him occasionally. Uh... actually, he lives near me. And-- but he spends so much time in his truck camper on trips to places, that it would be hard to catch him. Chris Mowrey is director down at State Ports, and he would be a very good one to talk to. He's still in the computing business. And Bobby Miller is still here. He's in the-- in the division. Uhm... a couple of the other people who were here early on and one you might find interesting, uh... Don Sloane. Don was a com-- he- he was a student here who had become a computer operator with the old card punch system, and he ended up supervising the keypunch area, and then he went to work for me and I-- we taught him to program and he's still here, yeah, so he would be a good one to talk to about early days.

Riggins: And of course, Paul Hosier.

Bill Pate: Paul's still around. Yeah, you see him a lot.

Riggins: Tim Jordon?

Bill Pate: Tim Jordon's got-- is retired.

Riggins: He was high up. I'd love to talk to him more.

Bill Pate: Well Jan Lyon [ph?], or Jan (unintelligible), uh... Jan was hired on as the coordinator to help us install the new FRF's in '84, so she was here on the ground floor of FRFs. She was-- she was the one-- she was hired just for that and now she's uh... the director.

Riggins: She's still here?

Bill Pate: Yeah, so she would be a good one to talk to about- about those years.

Riggins: How do you spell her last name?

Bill Pate: I don't know.

Riggins: _______?

Bill Pate: Ramonstra[ph?] or something like that.

Riggins: Ramonstra or something like that.

Bill Pate: I still call her Jan Lyon first thing, because I was here, you know, before she was married. Uhm... but she would be a good-- she's an early- early one, early on. Bonnie Howard was our other early one. She's in- she is in-she's not in the Registrar's Office anymore.

Riggins: But she's on campus?

Bill Pate: She's on campus, but she was one-- she- she was a early- early adopter uh... for the registrars' office, and then Jan was for the-- for the accounting.

Riggins: Pioneers.

Bill Pate: Mm hmm, yeah. We- we sat across the table quite a bit and argued about things (laugh) argued and made plans.

Riggins: Well that's the best way ______ complain about what's not working and what they need.

Bill Pate: Mm hmm and- and how their priority is greater than the other ones, they will be eventually. But it's the same, like I said earlier, this thing-- once we decide how to do it, they all pull together, so-- and that was the whole thing. You- you made your case and then you pulled together for the-- for the good of the university and it worked.

Riggins: Did you ever consult with some of the faculty members?

Bill Pate: Not much. The faculty didn't really want to get involved in this sort of stuff. They- they weren't--they didn't really have-- they had their own things.

Riggins: ______ and Computer Science, which was probably a small department then.

Bill Pate: Computer Science was totally different from what we were doing. They couldn't interact with us.

Riggins: Wow. Now I would think it's not quite as--

Bill Pate: I think it's probably worse, but I don't know. (laugh) They never had-- they never taught the things that we used, so they- they really weren't a good resource for us. Uh... once we got into-- now once we got into web development, we did use some computer science students as- as student workers and things like that and- and different things, because they were learning the things that we were beginning to use. So we did-- we did turn to their side, eventually, but not- not for the business, not- not as a great deal. It's just for the accessories. The web accessories and the server accessories.

Riggins: I would like to just put in another tape.

Bill Pate: Not a problem.

(tape change)

Riggins: The interview is Bill Pate, January 9, 2006. I'm Adina Riggins. Is there anything else that's come into your head, and you can speak of in the next few minutes about your time with Wilmington College and UNCW, both as a student and as a professional?

Bill Pate: It is interesting to see the changes. Like I said, when I came here in 1963 as a student, we had three buildings surrounded by dirt parking lots, uhm.. I was here for a number of years, and as a part-time student most of the time, but I was here doing a lot and we- and active in things uhm.. Engineers' Club, uhm.. bonfires on the dirt lot behind the track, behind the col-- Hanover Hall. Trask wasn't there, Hanover Hall was there. We had bonfires like the big one in Texas that collapsed. I remember one year that we did that, you know.

Riggins: I forgot to ask that; Brenda told me you were a member of Engineers'.

Bill Pate: We did that, we put up trees and- and Christmas trees and baskets and had a big bonfire and that was the big pep rally in February. So did- did that sorta thing, yeah. Yes, Homecoming in February, Campbell College was always the rival at that point.

Riggins: Played in the basketball game?

Bill Pate: Hmm.. that's all they did, basketball back then, I think they began some baseball later but largely basketball. Ah.. I went to the ball games infrequently, mainly 'cause that's where the girls were, but I really didn't care anything about sports. Not about team sports. I- I did other things and ah.. so basketball wasn't one of my- one of my choices.

Riggins: There was some student life even though most people lived at home.

Bill Pate: True, but you had uhm.. you had dances and things over in James Hall, the big open room there, uhm.. so we spent a lot of time over there. And that was the place to go in the middle of the day. You stopped there, you ate lunch there, uhm.. once they had weekend things there. There was a campus radio station in there, played music uhm..

Riggins: When you met Brenda, was she a student?

Bill Pate: She was a-- actually she- she would- grew up in-- she was in my neighborhood, but she was also a student, but I knew her from my neighborhood. Neighborhood church, actually. I was her ah.. Sunday School teacher for her three-year-old brother. She- she'd pick him up at the door. That's how I knew Brenda.

Riggins: Oh, so you go way back.

Bill Pate: Uh hm. But ah..

Riggins: It's certainly changed a lot. Parking lots are paved, or at least most of them.

Bill Pate: We began- we began to build while I was here: you had three buildings, and they put in Hanover Hall for the- for the gymnasium, and then they put in Kenan Hall for the art students. That's when Brenda came to school, because art students were here. They built ah.. the library was built about that time. It was- it was in Alderman and ah.. it- it was built over here and the first half of it I should say. Then they- then they added on the- DeLoach was added just about the time I left, I got take- by-- one semester of classes in DeLoach before I graduated, physics classes were there. But it was a new building. They were starting to spring up.

Riggins: Could you sense some changes pretty quickly, especially your department or elsewhere, with Dr. Leutze coming on board?

Bill Pate: Yes, we- we begin to get- get a bit more outside interest in us. He was- he was ah.. became a focal point uhm.. tooting our horn as we said, we didn't do well always. He was there doing that and ah.. I- we really enjoyed having him here. He was uhm.. he did a lot for the university as far as getting attention for us and- and promoting us in other ways. He certainly didn't hinder my department any, as far as getting my work done. He was- he was an advocate for the whole campus, and we were a part of it, and we did things that he recognized as necessary to build us. And were starting to get things connected to other- other areas, ah.. he brought in the division of uhm.. public service, that was his- his ah.. new thing and we- we had some support for it beginning to build things for that. So- so it worked out well.

Riggins: He was an advocate of computing in general.

Bill Pate: Yes, he knew he- he knew it was a tool it's- it's a tool that you can do other things with. That's all it is, and ah.. you can't make it a life work, you got to be- you have to use it for other things. And he recognized as a tool- as a proper tool for things. Exactly.

Riggins: It's a tool and that was the way it worked.

Bill Pate: And I think in uhm.. but then putting Tynd-- putting our own-- getting our own division and having a new-- having a vice chancellor for that ah.. that was a good step too. And get- getting more attention focused on just the division of the work. And get-- 'cause the technology started running together, I mean, we brought in telecommunications in- into the division because they were interconnected. All that wire was in the same- same ca-- conduits and it just became interconnected. So you- you couldn't keep separate entities any longer.

Riggins: That makes sense.

Bill Pate: It made a lot of sense to get it that way. And it was just- it was just difficult because of the volume of work we had to do and we-- this- this campus was still not getting funded properly, and ah.. we had a lot to do, and the workload increased because of more new- more new ideas and more things needed to be interconnected, and it just was difficult. But we, you know, we got most of it done. And it's still getting done.

Riggins: Sounds like it was busy. You were able to use student help, especially towards the end you were saying?

Bill Pate: We began to get-- could use student help. There were a lot of years we couldn't use any, I just couldn't find anybody that could do anything that we could do, that we needed done, but as we changed and got ah.. in the web. The web developments what really changed, where could use students. And ah.. they used them a lot in the microcomputer areas too. So that worked, I know-- we took on the web development in my area and ah.. it became an active- it became an administrative tool, was web. And so we got- we got students to do the work on that and ah.. 'cause they were very good at that. And uhm.. and that helped us a lot to get those things done. And we began to do ah.. not only getting information out but using it- using it as an input tool ah.. to to take in to register or take in ah.. Some people were doing surveys and doing ah.. survey uhm.. use a survey medium for different things and we were- we had students that would program those survey documents, instruments, and get the online surveys and bring the-- and then we could create the database and put it where it needed to be. So there- that's when we began to use them more, found tools that they were more- more adapted to than we were. We were the dinosaurs, we were called dinosaurs a lot, but ah.. we were the dinosaurs but we knew where-- how- how things had to work.

Riggins: Sometimes if you don't know anything, though, you're still important to get the right people together.

Bill Pate: But it began to work ah.. more and more so that was good. Ah.. I- I was fortunate to be able to retire back then, I really, I hated to, but on the other hand, I had other things I wanted to do and I- I had changed systems so many times over thirty-- I had been in an office for thirty-one years. I had changed systems so many times over that thirty one years. And, you know, fifteen, probably but- and I would sit there and read the documentation and I really just felt like I didn't have it in me to do another change. And- and I had a chanc- an opportunity- the window of opportunity was- was approaching and I decided to hop through it. And ah..

Riggins: We see that in libraries too, the folks back here had changes, you know Arlene, she has just boundless energy, she's probably one of the rare people who just gets thrilled by changes all of the time, she's been here forever. But it is a challenge. But then again, I think it can wear you out: always work for vendors; have to work with vendors.

Bill Pate: Always something else hmm. And never enough resources to do what you know needs to be done. So it's just always gonna be that way. And so I accepted- but the window of opportunity was- was rolling by and I said this is a good time to jump, so I did.

Riggins: What have you been doing? I know you said you don't like to watch sports but you have other interests.

Bill Pate: Well, it's always been workshop. I've had a workshop since I was twelve years old and ah.. just making stuff. And uhm.. as a result, the first thing I did was I had been- been blacksmithing for- for about ten years and ah.. I so went home and went to the shop. Ah.. do metal work ah.. architectural ah.. medley, medley, got some jobs doing ah.. you know, stair-rails, and gates, and metal furniture, and just got some things like that. And ah.. but that-- then I- then I got a part time job at a saw shop where this saw-sharpening service, have to say that carefully. Ah.. worked there part-time, but then it became a thirty-five hour week job and after two years I got tired of staying inside again, so ah.. I went back to my own shop. But it- but mechanical, I was an engineer at heart and ah.. I like mechanical things and so I went back to shop work and I still build things. And uhm.. work with some- work with some local artists helping them with their installations. They have artists ah.. can do beautiful things, sometimes they need some engineering help and ah.. I've got a friend that does it and I help him do things.

Riggins: I know Brenda goes along too.

Bill Pate: Sometimes, she did. We recently installed the- the globe in the ceiling of the new children's museum. It's sitting there rotating, I had to build the- I had to build the mechanism for getting it up into the twenty foot ceiling and rotating it and so it's there now, that's neat.

Riggins: But that's a good project.

Bill Pate: That's my kinda work.

Riggins: It's a project and it's done.

Bill Pate: Yeah, but that- but that's my kinda work. Put something together and get it to work and get it installed, so.. I'd say whether it's a computer, or whether there's a computer problem, or whether it's a globe on the ceiling of the children's museum, it's just a problem to be solved. So now I'm solving the other kind of problems.

Riggins: Are you doing any computer work?

Bill Pate: No. Nothing.

Riggins: Check e-mail, that's about it?

Bill Pate: I got email, I'm on the web a lot ah.. finding- finding tractor parts on Ebay and that sorta stuff but, ah.. basically I'm doing other stuff. I dabble in a lot of things; I'm active- been active in the North Carolina custom knife-makers guild for about ten years, doing programs for that, uhm.. but ready to get outta that.

Riggins: That's because of your metalwork, I guess.

Bill Pate: That's part- that's part of the metal work, gunsmithing is part of the metal work, I still- I still like, you know, the shooting sports, and that's individual sport rather than team sport.

Riggins: That's why you said you like individual sports, where do you like to hunt?

Bill Pate: I- I used to hunt but now it's- it's so regulated as far as it's gotta be the right day of the week, the right time of day, the right weather, the right, you know, I mean it's just easier to go to the shop. I can go out in the middle of the night, in the dark, in the rain, or I can go to the shop and work. So it's easier for me to deal with things like that because it's my time rather than having to deal with, and I just haven't been hunting in a lot of years. I think about it sometimes but I haven't done it yet in a long while.

Riggins: Fishing?

Bill Pate: Fishing ah.. I haven't done that in a long time. Used to have boats and they're just a problem. Waterways are too crowded, so ah.. I don't have a boat anymore; don't go fishing anymore. Just mostly shop work.

Riggins: You enjoy your retirement?

Bill Pate: I enjoy retirement. I'm not really retired, I'm just not working here.

Riggins: You're just busy keeping up with lots of projects at home?

Bill Pate: Yeah, we do- I have an old house and ah.. we're doing-- I got a bunch of stuff stored right now to do remodeling on that. So we're-- I have- but I do all that kinda thing. I do- I do my plumbing, my electrical, my carpentery, install my windows, install my siding, I do most everything except concrete and roofing. Anything else I'll do. But I don't like- I don't like messy concrete and I don't like to get up on the roof.

Riggins: What about flooring, can you do that?

Bill Pate: I've done the flooring.

Riggins: Carpets?

Bill Pate: No, I didn't do the carpets. I did build the bathroom cabinets in my workshop. So ah.. I can do that. I used to bui- build wooden furniture before I got into metal working.

Riggins: Really, you know Dan Fold[ph?]

Bill Pate: Yeah, ah hum. I remember him. I remember him when he was as at Pembroke. He was in computing, yeah.

Riggins: He's a local ____smith, maybe there's a correlation between systems.

Bill Pate: They're just tools. You do things. So I- I do that sorta thing now and ah.. I just stay busy all the time.

Riggins: Sounds like it, and it sounds like you enjoy it.

Bill Pate: I do- I do, it's- it's still got the same challenges of seeing something work, it's a great thrill.

Riggins: And living in this area, lots of people see you. The beach is not too far.

Bill Pate: Yeah, I see a lot of- well, I guess it's- I guess it's still down there.

Riggins: I know, you guys don't live exactly right by the beach.

Bill Pate: I don't go there, I don't go down there. But I get- I get involved in those sort of things. Cape Fear museum, I've done projects for them, and it's kinda neat to go down to the Cape Fear museum and look in it and say, "I made that, and I made that, and I made that."

Riggins: What about Cameron?

Bill Pate: I've been- I've been down there doing some things but not much. It's uhm.. I'm not an artist, so.

Riggins: But they still need things?

Bill Pate: I've- I've done some things with them, and Brenda does a lot of work with them but ah.. and I know the folks there but I don't do much down there.

Riggins: Both of you are wonderful resources for the community. I thank you for your participation; any closing thoughts on your reminiscence?

Bill Pate: I just think this has been uhm.. I think this has been real neat to be able to get- and take a part in this. There's a lot of people like me that ah.. I know have a part of in this- in this campus. I hadn't thought much about it until- until you contacted Brenda the other day but, you know, we were here a lot of years ago, we're still here ah.. it wasn't just a four years in the sixties and we were gone. We've been in and out of it a lot both as employees and as- as students. And so it's just interesting.

Riggins: I'm glad you appreciate it, we really value these stories because, like you said, there are people who make an impact so much on the organizational life of the university and we want to hear from them.

Bill Pate: But so many people don't- don't really know about this. It- I don't know when this will ever be seen by anybody but it- it needs- to be there and the people that were here when things were happening. Ah.. I remember ah.. years ago, one of the-- we had the oak trees on the main- on the main quad out there, I remember one of the employees talking about the tree had been damaged during the storm and ah.. the com- "All those beautiful old oak trees," and I said, "I was here when that tree was planted." It, you know, it's not that old!

Riggins: I think the fact, hearing from you that you started off this computing systems department, which it sounds like you enjoyed...

Bill Pate: I did, I enjoyed doing that and I enjoyed getting away from it, and not having to do it again.

Riggins: And now there are other projects that you can start up and see to completion.

Bill Pate: Yeah, it's-- that's what I still do, is projects.

Riggins: Well, thank you very much for your participation in this program.

Bill Pate: It's been great.

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