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Interview with James C. Sabella, February 14, 2007 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with James C. Sabella, February 14, 2007
February 14, 2007
Dr. Jim Sabella discusses his academic career at UNCW. He came to UNCW in 1975 as the first anthropologist with a Ph.D. At UNCW he built the program in anthropology, establishing a major in the field within the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and eventually establishing its own department. Discussion includes Dr. Sabella's research interests in cultural anthropology, his teaching--including teaching summer study-abroad sessions in Costa Rica for 10 summers, and his service as Faculty Athletic Representative for 20 years. Dr. Sabella took phased retirement beginning in 2004, and taught his last semester in Fall 2006.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Sabella, James C. Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 2/14/2007 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 104 minutes

Riggins: Hello. My name is Adina Riggins. I'm the archivist here at UNCW. I'm very pleased to have a guest in my office. We have Dr. Sabella here who will state his full name for the tape in just a moment. We're going to be interviewing him for the archives Voices of UNCW Oral History Program, wherein I interview faculty and others who have had long tenure or otherwise been involved in the ____________ of UNCW. There are about 100 interviews that I have already in the collection. Today, like I said, is February 14th, 2007, and please state your full name for the tape.

Sabella: My name is James Carmen Sabella, obviously of Italian descent. I've been at UNC Wilmington for 32 years. I taught for one year before that at Florida State University. My field is cultural anthropology with a specialization in maritime anthropology. I received my PhD from Cornell University in 1974.

Riggins: You covered some of my first questions. What I haven't heard yet, where were you born and where did you grow up?

Sabella: I was born in Brooklyn, New York, and we lived there till I was about five years old, and then we moved to California. My dad was a steam fitter and he was in a critical occupation, so he worked in the shipyards out in Long Beach, California throughout World War II. We then returned back east and I grew up on Long Island, came to Long Island. I guess I was in the sixth grade, went through primary school, the rest of primary school, went through West Hempstead High School, then on to State University of New York. And then after that...

Riggins: Which one, because there's SUNY.

Sabella: Yes, SUNY. SUNY system, SUNY Cortland was my undergraduate school. And then after that I went on in anthropology at Cornell University, taking a Master's and a PhD in anthropology.

Riggins: And finishing in '73?

Sabella: Seventy-four. Yes, I finished in 7'4.

Riggins: How did you like your PhD experience at Cornell?

Sabella: Wonderful. The school, I couldn't think of a better education. First of all, Cornell had a small graduate department of anthropology. We had never more than 35 to 38 graduate students, so it was real close friendships among all the graduate students. We had a fairly large faculty, so there were a lot of different specializations that you could specialize in. And they gave the graduate students enormous amount of freedom. We could cobble together our graduate program by adding what other people might call minors or specialty interest under the umbrella of anthropology or archaeology or biological anthropology. So it was a school that allowed the students to basically develop their interest in the context of both coursework and research. I couldn't think of a better program for an anthropologist.

Riggins: That sounds great. It's nice when it's a positive experience. I guess Cornell is quite a big school, but when it's a small department, you don't feel that as much.

Sabella: Yeah, there's still a small school field to a lot of the graduate programs because they're not extraordinarily large. The contrast would be, say, UCLA, where they have 150 to 180 graduate students in anthropology.

Riggins: Even now?

Sabella: Yes, even now.

Riggins: In PhD or not all of them?

Sabella: In PhD. They don't even bother with Master's students. And Colombia had a very large department...

Riggins: Where are they all going to work?

Sabella: Well, that's one of the problems. They're producing too many anthropologists for the number of positions that are out there in academia. So what that has led to has been a lot of opportunities in non-academic settings, working with research institutes, a lot of contract operations. For example, in salvage archaeology, which is not my field, there are a lot of people hired when there are roads going in and they discover a site or if there's a construction of housing somewhere and they discover a site. And each state's got a state unit for archaeology and they typically will hire a number of people. And there are other opportunities with museums. What you're doing with the cultural archive, frequently anthropologists would be employed in doing similar things. A lot of folklore.

Riggins: Museums.

Sabella: Yeah. But that hasn't diminished the tightness in the job market. It is still difficult. There are several of my classmates who never were able to land a full-time anthropological job. And after anywhere from one to three years, they simply gave up and went to work in other areas. And they've been successful as well.

Riggins: How did you decide to major in anthropology?

Sabella: Well, I think as an undergraduate, I had a wonderful professor who was not an anthropology professor. She was a sociology professor but she had a lot of interests and understood a good bit about anthropology. And she taught the only anthropology course that was offered at Cortland in those days. So of course, I took her sociology course and I took her anthropology course. And that sort of sparked my interest, but I was always interested in other cultures and other languages and you might say I had an avocation towards it anyway, and then just later formalized it.

Riggins: What languages did you study?

Sabella: As a graduate student, I became fluent in Spanish. I lived in Chile for four years. And of course doing that would facilitate your apprehension of Spanish. Then when I went to graduate school for anthropology specifically, I studied Quechua, which is a major indigenous language of the high Andes. Ecuador, Bolivia, parts of Colombia, Chile, Peru, that is one of the large indigenous language groups. To this day, there are well over a million to a million-and-a-half people within Peru who still speak Quechua. Yes. So it's still a, what would you say, a live language and a very important part of the indigenous background of the high Andes.

Riggins: Are the numbers of people who speak it diminishing?

Sabella: Well, no. I'd say a lot of the people have become bilingual. But in the rural areas, monolingualism still is very predominant, especially among women who don't have a chance to get outside of the, you know, the agricultural communities. And those kids that do acquire Spanish growing up, they normally will not lose their grasp of Quechua.

Riggins: So you just had an interest in it and explored it. How did you decide to go on for the PhD?

Sabella: It was just part of a natural progression, you know, I was determined at a certain point that I was very much interested in anthropology and so I applied and that was it.

Riggins: What was your area, cultural anthropology?

Sabella: Yes, it was cultural anthropology. Of course, at a university like these we're jacks-of-all-trades. We teach a broad spectrum of courses, like we only had had one course in maritime anthropology. So we teach general introductory classes which includes sections devoted to archaeology, to human paleontology, certain amount of linguistics. And I'd say our cultural anthropologists who are here are all well-versed in that broad spectrum of the field. But in addition to that, we have specialists in biological anthropology and archaeology.

Riggins: During your PhD work, your specialty was cultural?

Sabella: Cultural, that's correct. And the way it was described in those days, I was more interested in applied research, which could have a component related to, for example, recommendations for economic development, examination of situations which were clearly those of social change, for example. Cornell was very strong in applied anthropology. Allen Holmberg was one of the pioneers in applied anthropology, and he developed an extensive research program in Peru. And that's how I got more interested in going to Cornell, because of the Peru connection. But my research is definitely in the realm of cultural anthropology with an applied focus, but examining from a research standpoint, the lives and economic developments among what we call small-scale commercial fisherman or artisanal fisherman, is another word that they often use. And that's still going on.

Riggins: People who make their living...

Sabella: From the sea. And I found that just fascinating because I worked with a small fishing community up on the north coast of Peru, just about five degrees south of the Ecuadorian border. It was an area that in pre-contact times had a multi-millennial tradition of coastal fishing well before the Incas. And there were traditional, I would say, civilizations of groups like the Moche and the Chimu who had a heavy investment in fishing as well as agriculture. They put together an enormous irrigation agricultural system and at the same time maintained a very intensive food fishery, exploiting the ocean. And of course the technology that they had was highly suitable for it. They fished off balsa rafts, the type that Thor Heyerdahl used, the raft of the Kon-Tiki that he tried to demonstrate it was possible that Polynesia was settled from Peru. He built this large raft modeled on what were really the old fishing rafts of the grandfathers of the people that I worked with. They would go up to the bay at Guayaquil and purchase large balsa trees, tree trunks that were two-and-a-half, three feet in diameter. They would tie them together. That would be their fishing platform, and of course they'd rig them with sails. That technology is of pre-Incaic origin. They still use smaller rafts, they're called balsas, of two types. The wood rafts made of smaller balsa trunks and the tortora reed raft that you can still see in areas-- Huanchaco Bay, near Trujillo, Peru, Chiclayo, these rafts are still in use by fisherman. So there's a lot of cultural continuity. So in my study, you might say, well, I was studying a contemporary group of fisherman, the fact is, I could not ignore the ethno-history or the archaeology because the connections were so obvious. These people that I studied, their features, you could see on the Moche portrait vessels that predate the Incas by many hundreds of years. The Moche arose in coastal Peru around 200 A.D. Some argue it was a little earlier, maybe as early as 200 B.C. But they developed a very intensive fishing and agricultural system, economic system, and they were expert ceramicists. And one of the things they did was make molds and develop what we'd call portrait vessels. They actually modeled the features of specific individuals in their culture with photographic reproductive qualities. It's that good. And they also depicted important scenes of their lives. So all of that I knew of, and it was obviously connected to the ancestry of these fisherman that I studied. So it was just a wonderful opportunity to study a community that one the one hand represented modern economic and social change in Peru, but had this historical pre-Incaic depth to it. It was great.

Riggins: That was the subject of your dissertation research?

Sabella: That's correct. And I've continued working with those people. We went back to Peru this past January-- not this year, the year before, and the year before that. And we were able to maintain contact with the community and I'm in the process of basically rewriting-- taking out the academic aspects of the dissertation, the formal academic aspects, and putting together a book for the community that will be published in Spanish.

Riggins: Oh, okay, for the community there.

Sabella: That's correct.

Riggins: Did you take students over there?

Sabella: No, I was on my own and my wife-- I met my wife in Peru. She's American, she's not Peruvian. And we lived in the village for about a year-and-a-half and actually, although she wasn't trained in anthropology, she's a wonderful anthropologist. So she had very, very good access to work with the women. She was also a practical nurse and a teacher. So there were a lot of things that she was able to do in the community that were of great assistance to them.

Riggins: And is an assistant to you in your research?

Sabella: Yes.

Riggins: That's interesting. You met her there while she was doing her education or nursing?

Sabella: Right. She was involved in teaching and then got a credential in what you call practical nursing. So what that means is she was able to give shots and assist physicians with examinations and so forth. And there was a small regional hospital up in the area, about ten minutes down the beach from the fishing community. And that hospital was staffed by Peruvian doctors. There was a Catholic parish. It had an English priest, an American priest and a group of sisters who were split between teachers and nurses. And they had outreach for all of the little communities, especially prenatal care and stuff. So my wife worked with them in working specifically with the fishing village people. So it was a very nice relationship.

Riggins: Sounds like it. So that research went well, sounds like. You completed it in '74 and then you said you went on to Florida State?

Sabella: Yes. When I finished dissertation, I was hired by Florida State University, and I stayed there one year. It was open-ended, it was a tenure track position. At the time I had applied to Florida State, I had been contacted by UNC Wilmington, but I had already accepted the job at Florida State before UNC Wilmington came and offered the position here. So I told them there's no way I could back out of that contract, but I would certainly be interested in hearing from them in the future if the position was still open or if they opened another anthropology position. At that point, they were interested in hiring a permanent anthropologist. They did not have an anthropologist with a PhD. In the interim, they hired an archaeologist, Curt Larsen, who was ABD, he hadn't finished his PhD yet and he still had to go afield to do that. So he worked that year that I was at Florida State and then was going to move on to do his dissertation research. So I was re-contacted by UNC Wilmington, and at that point I decided to leave Florida State and come here. One reason was purely pecuniary. Florida State's salaries have been frozen for like three or four years. Their starting pay they had dropped a thousand dollars. So, you know, that was not a very encouraging situation. Yes. And UNCW also intrigued me from the standpoint that-- Florida State was already a mature, large university. And they had a very large anthropology department. So what impact was I going to have at Florida State compared to what potential impact I could have here at UNC Wilmington? Plus, since I was working with fisherman, Florida State was a good hour from the Gulf Coast. By coming here, I knew that even if grant money dried up, which fortunately it didn't, I would be able to operate basically out of pocket without huge expenditures. And I was excited by the prospect of being involved in the development of an anthropology-- I would say component of a department that had a title of Sociology and Anthropology. But the only degree offered in those days was sociology. We didn't even have concentrations when I first came here. That's something that developed over time.

Riggins: It's called the Department of Sociology?

Sabella: Sociology and Anthropology. John Scalf, who was the person who was recruited-- I want to say it was Charles Cahill but I'm not sure. It might have been Paul Reynolds who was the dean who's passed away. And I never got to meet Paul Reynolds, but I heard wonderful things about him. And Charles Cahill, I've always had interesting relationship with. It's sometimes rather stormy, but always, when all of a said and done, there was a meeting of the minds. I respect him greatly and he's a person with a very good heart. So anyway, John Scalf came here with the expressed objective to develop a department. So rather than just concentrate in sociology, he had the vision to think about, okay, we want to get a-- develop slowly, sociology, anthropology, criminal justice and social work. And over a number of years, I'd say from 1974 to 1984, there were gradual additions of faculty members in all those areas. Between '75 and I'd say 1980, as we got critical mass of faculty in each of the areas, we developed what were called tracks. So you could get a degree in sociology with a track in anthropology, in social work or criminal justice. Okay? The tracks were going to evolve, as they did, into full degree programs. For anthropology that came about I believe it was 1984. We actually had our degree program online. At that point in time, I believe we had three or four faculty members, I'm not real clear at this point. There was Dale McCall, myself, we added Pat Lerch, Tom Lawfield [ph?], there were four of us.

Riggins: is that when you came?

Sabella: No. I was the first PhD hired. And then Tom Lawfield came at the same time, he was hired after me, as an archaeologist. He has his PhD out of Chapel Hill. So Tom and I were the first two, one in cultural, one in archaeology. The next year we added Dale McCall, who's a biological anthropology person, and then a few years later, Pat Lerch, who was also a cultural anthropologist. And so with that, I think at the time Pat came in, we already had were about to formalize an anthropology degree.

Riggins: But still within the department?

Sabella: Still within...

Riggins: And was that department called Sociology at this point?

Sabella: It was called-- it's still called formally, Sociology and Anthropology but of course you had to describe everything. So it was Sociology, Anthropology, Criminal Justice and Social Work, which is a mouthful. And from an administrative...

Riggins: All of this together?

Sabella: Yeah, all of this together. Looking back you'd say no one in their right mind would create something like that. But you have to understand, the university was very small. And so the only way really to create departments, unless you've got an unlimited budget to go out and hire wholesale a faculty of criminal justice or a faculty of social work, which we didn't, you had to do it by slow accretion. And so that's exactly why we went through this process of slowly developing tracks, then degree programs. And then once we had the degree programs, it was inevitable that there had to be splitting off of different departments. Yes. And the first one to split off was social work because there were certain accreditation requirements that they, in essence, had to be freestanding administratively. And so they were separated. I served a time, five-and-half years, as chair of all of those departments, okay, when we had degree programs. From an administrative standpoint, it was certainly very unwieldy.

Riggins: I'm sure. Everybody's different needs and expectations.

Sabella: That's right. The dean would say, for example, "Okay, folks, chair's meeting. We need a departmental plan."

Riggins: What does your faculty think?

Sabella: Well, you know, he'd say, "We want your departmental plan for sociology and anthropology." And of course, we'd had-- "Look, we can't give you a plan, we're going to give you four plans because there really is minimal overlap in these four fields. They're separate disciplines." So it was difficult from a-- you had to develop for sub-plans for the department. And of course as time went on, it's clear that you need to separate these units, okay, just from a budgetary standpoint. You know, you're trying to divide a single budget among four disciplines and you can't pretend that the disciplines are equal in their needs. For example, anthropology has a strong biological and archaeological component, which means that we need laboratories. Laboratories have to be supported independently. You can't just divide the number of faculty in sociology and anthropology, criminal justice, say we got 15 faculty-- divide the budget by 15 and get a "fair" distribution. It's impossible to do it that way. You either have to allocate a differential that accounts for the laboratory needs and equipment and material needs of biological anthropology and archaeology or you have to develop separate lines to fund those things. And of course that inevitably, if it's not done in an forthright manner, is going to create tensions and conflicts and make it impossible. So at that point, when we split off, the provost understood and the dean understood, there was really no other alternative.

Riggins: You became a program in anthropology.

Sabella: Probably by 1978, we had enough faculty to offer a program, which is not a formal degree-granting unit. When we transitioned to a degree program, then people could major in anthropology, within the department of Sociology and Anthropology and get their degree in anthropology, as they could in social work and criminal justice. So that inevitably led to the breaking off of two of the units.

Riggins: I seem to remember when I started, the anthropology was about to become a department but it was called a program.

Sabella: Program, yes. At the time we requested to be separated, the provost, who is now the president of Florida...

Riggins: University of West Florida.

Sabella: West Florida.

Riggins: Dr. Cavanaugh?

Sabella: Cavanaugh. Okay, we went to him and made our pitch. And he said, "Okay." He said, "Let's set this up on basically a trial basis for three years to see how it's going to work." And so they set us up with a, I'd say, modest budget. So we were called an anthropology program. We were independent. I agreed to serve as the chair of anthropology for three years, provided that one of the other senior people would step up at the end of that time. So at the end of three years, Dr. Cavanaugh had moved on and Paul Hosier became the provost. And we had meanwhile hired some younger faculty. And we, the senior people, Dr. McCall, Dr. Lerch, myself, were adamant that this transitional status, this program status, had to be defined into a departmental designation for the simple reason that no one knew what-- what is the program, what does that mean? Okay, within anthropology they-- it creates the image of something that's not stable yet. Why aren't you a department, for example. And that would affect hiring. That would affect our ability to, for example, compete for grants. "Oh you're a professor at UNC Wilmington and your department-- oh you're not a department, you're a program," you see. So we went to Paul Hosier and we laid the cards on the table and said, "Look. We've served our transition. Now we're going to insist." And we were adamant. We said, "We're not leaving here until you agree that we're going to be a department, and here's why." And we had developed a whole rationale behind that. We have documentation coming out our ears in terms of justification, why we needed to be a department. One of the primary reasons, aside from what I just mentioned, is that we felt it would be a ridiculously heavy burden for young faculty, assistant professors, to have to wrestle with this down the road, that this should be done while our senior people were here who knew the whole history. Hosier knew the whole history. Let's get it done because we're already transitioning to a new dean. And we did not want to have to re-explain this whole rigmarole that we had been through the last three years, of course. And Paul absolutely agreed, and so that's how we finally became the Department of Anthropology.

Riggins: Which was maybe '03 or '02?

Sabella: Well, I served as chair for three years as a program. Dale McCall just finished last June his three years. Pat Lerch is now the chair. So we were a program and department for a total of six years, about three-and-a-half as a program and the rest as department. And we're going forward as a department.

Riggins: I remember that because I was on faculty senate when that came up.

Sabella: Right, when that came up. That was another thing.

Riggins: They said it has to go before the senate?

Sabella: Well, no, but the idea is, people who know the history. There's nothing like having old-timers who've been through all the battles to be able to get up in the senate and say, "Look, folks, a lot of you are new. You don't understand what went on, but here's what happened," you know. It would have been really irresponsible to ask young faculty to have to deal with that kind of stuff. So any rate, we became a full-fledged department. Yes, so here we are.

Riggins: When it became a department, you remained chair until when?

Sabella: Well, no, I had been chair of the joint department for five-and-half years a number of years before that.

Riggins: And you were chair of the program for three-and-a-half years.

Sabella: Correct, but Steve McNamee [ph?] I believe followed me as chair of sociology and anthropology, so I wasn't in administration until we got the point where Dr. Cavanaugh agreed to establish us as a program. Then the immediate question, well, who's going to serve us as chair? So my colleagues said, "Well, you've got to do it." And I said, "Okay, I'll do it, with the proviso that at the end of three years, one of the other two of you has to take over." And that's what we've being doing, yeah. And I think it's worked very well. It helps to have people who understand the way the university operates, who have had to deal with a lot of the bureaucratic requirements coming down out of academic affairs, who have experience of working in the senate, who have worked with re-appointment promotion and tenure committees and all of that stuff.

Riggins: Right. When it comes time for the other people to do it they will have already achieved tenure...

Sabella: Yeah, they'll have achieved tenure, they'll have the experience and they'll be a lot more confident about knowing, you know, how to proceed.

Riggins: The program has grown a great deal, hasn't it? Like you were saying, a number of new faculty.

Sabella: Yeah. We have at this time six full-time faculty members and two part-time faculty members. Let me see if I'm correct here. Sometimes my memory isn't as sharp as it used to be; two cultural anthropologists, two biological anthropologists, two archaeologists, okay. And then the part-time people both have PhDs, one in cultural anthropology, and another one in biological anthropology. So they are presently in the last stages of recruiting my replacement. So as of next August, there will be online presumably another cultural anthropologist.

Riggins: Does Dr. McCall think about staying?

Sabella: He will be starting phased in July. So come next fall, in August, he will be doing his first year of phased. I just finished, this past December, my last semester of phased. He's going to do what I did, teach a semester, I believe in the fall, and be off in the spring.

Riggins: How did you like that set-up?

Sabella: Wonderful. It's an excellent set-up. I think from everybody's standpoint it works well because you're fully engaged in teaching for one semester, you're off completely the second semester. So what that does is allow you to make those adjustments, both mental and activity level adjustments...

Riggins: With your time?

Sabella: ...with your time towards retirement, okay, full retirement. But actually, when you go on phased, you are retired.

Riggins: You're listed as retired.

Sabella: Exactly. You're retired and you're drawing your TIAA or state retirement. Whether you start Social Security or not is a decision you have to make based on your age and time in as a faculty member. In my case it was very simple. I had turned 65 at the end of 32 years here. So it made good sense to go ahead and get Social Security as well as retirement, so that's what I did. People run into some problems when they have like 30 or 35, 32 years, 33 years, 35 years in and they're still maybe 58 or 60 years old. Then that becomes a little bit of a more difficult decision for them.

Riggins: You mean financially whether they can do it?

Sabella: Yeah. My case, there wasn't a lot to think about. It was pretty straightforward.

Riggins: Right, you were ready. Let's talk about some of the people who were here earlier, like when you first got here and it was a very different kind of setting. I interviewed someone who you would have known, Sylvia Polgar She was in sociology, right?

Sabella: She was in social work. In fact, she's still one of our close friends and I call a colleague as well. I bump into her from time to time at a concert or something. She's still feisty, she's still involved in, oh, I'd say active in politics, active in women's issues. She came at some point, I'd say within the first three to five years I was here. She was hired. Her husband was an anthropology professor at Chapel Hill, Steve Polgar. And so she in her first, oh I forget how many years, had to set up a teaching schedule where she commuted, and that's tough. I mean, Chapel Hill is not all that close especially when I-40 did not exist. Yeah, Sylvia is one of our favorite persons. My wife and I have known her for years and we think the world of her.

Riggins: She has background in anthropology, so I think when she was first hired, she may have taught a little bit of everything, or maybe it was mostly social work.

Sabella: Yeah, mostly social work because they had such tremendous needs to cover their bases in social work that those people had to stretch. I mean for the longest time, social work was Sylvia Polgar and Delilah Blanks, the two of them. And for a portion of that time, Delilah was getting her PhD and couldn't be involved in teaching, so some people in sociology taught some of the courses that were part of the social work curriculum.

Riggins: Talk about being stretched.

Sabella: Yeah, well, you know, some of it there's a natural connection, for example, a course on minority relations. I'm trying to think of all the different things that they did, but there were a number of courses that were of interest both to sociology and to the social work people. And some of the courses that we taught in anthropology were recommended by sociology and certainly criminal justice as well as social work. The social work people always felt that at least some minimal background in anthropology is essential for social work because you're dealing with people with many different backgrounds and cultural patterns.

Riggins: There is certainly a lot to learn with that. The other person I interviewed recently was Dr. Richard Dixon from sociology, but he's started phased.

Sabella: No, he finished.

Riggins: Finishing phased.

Sabella: Rick and I went on phased at the same time. He's a good bit younger than me. Well, I don't know if he'd say it's a good bit younger, but he is. He is younger. He came here at an earlier age. And I believe he had completed 30 years and then decided to go on phased retirement. But we were colleagues in that conglomerate department for many years and Rick worked with me on our sea grant study of Harkers Island. In fact, we had a collaborative research project there. It was focused on fishing and boat building, basically an anthropological study, but we got involved, we got Rick involved as a demographer and Roger Lawry from political science as-- basically to draw up a questionnaire towards the end of the research that we administered to all of the family heads on the island. It was possible to do a universal survey in those days because the island was still not overwhelmed by population, as it is now.

Riggins: Which island?

Sabella: Harkers Island. It's just a little bit north of Morehead City.

Riggins: The sea grant office, was that operated out of...

Sabella: It was operated out of north-- NC State. Yeah, B.J. Culpin [ph?] was the director of sea grant.

Riggins: So you got a grant from there. I know other departments like biology got department grants.

Sabella: Oh yeah. Sea grant's funded mostly, I'd say, biological research and a lot of chemical research that was connected with estuaries and oceanographic studies. They were quite broad in their perspective. We were one of the first North Carolina sea grant studies in the social sciences, and specifically anthropology. But we had a precedent because I worked on a Florida sea grant project that had to do with crabbing industry in Panacea, Florida. And the graduate student who worked on that, Marcus Hepburn [ph?], I later hired to do the on-site ethnographic work at Harkers Island. And he lived and worked on Harkers Island for approximately two years, actually even a little more than two years. So he was my field worker and he was an excellent field anthropologist.

Riggins: You talked some about some other folks in the department. I remember Dr. Dixon told me, it must have been you and Dr. McCall and himself, who were all retiring and it seemed like there was a fourth one. Is there anyone else who's coming up?

Sabella: Gary Faulkner in sociology. Gary and Dale I believe are going on phased at the same time. They're in that same age cohort that Dixon and I are in. Pat Lerch is a good bit younger, so I think it's Pat's age cohort where we're going to see a large number of retirees. See, Rick would be in that group had he decided to stay on, because he was part of that huge hiring that occurred-- I'm trying to think, it was around 1966 to, I'd say roughly '65 to '68 there were a-- all the departments were expanding. And so in that group and I are on the front edge. There are some more just behind me like McCall, like Faulkner, but then the group represented by Pat Lerch, Mark Galizio and so on, I can't remember all of the people involved, is going to be a very, very large cohort, because that is the senior faculty core of most of the departments at the university at the present time.

Riggins: And those interviews are going to be a lot different. They'll still be valuable, but they'll be different because the university was bigger by the time they started, and it was more departmentalized. People who came and started in the late '70s, early '80s, like Dr. Berkeley, people like that.

Sabella: Right. She and Pat Lerch are roughly comparable, age-wise. So she's going to be part of that big cohort. One of the things that I think is really important from the perspective of senior people is the transition from a small, basically college, which represents what UNCW was when I came here. We knew every faculty member in those days-- '74, '75, '76. It was a much smaller campus, much smaller faculty. I believe the student body at that time, had this recollection of maybe 2,500 students, something of that nature. Okay, around that number.

Riggins: When you started?

Sabella: When I started, correct. One of the things that was wonderful about UNCW then, and I think is still a very strong asset within the university, is the hands-on attention that we can give to our students. Okay, the professors are teaching the classes. And even though we've developed a much larger student body and myriad departments and all kinds of sub-disciplines, within each discipline, we still have, with our majors, that hands-on approach. Consequently, the quality students, those with a lot of academic potential, graduate student potential, inventive potential, we corral them as undergraduates and get them involved in research projects. And I could say then, as now, our best students have had no trouble getting into graduate programs at the highest level. And I think that's one of the real strengths of UNCW. I think in that regard, a student who comes here for their undergraduate education, if they're quite able, if they're academically-- they don't have to be gifted, but, you know, driven students, hardworking students with a lot of intellectual potential, they're going to be better off than they would have been at Chapel Hill or NC State or any other large university.

Riggins: The experience they get, the hands-on research, and that didn't change throughout.

Sabella: It hasn't changed.

Riggins: Was it like that when you started it?

Sabella: Yes. What's happened in some departments, the number of those higher potential students has increased somewhat, but I would say there's a certain amount of continuity. Our best students, our most gifted students, back in '75, '76, in those days, were as good as our best ones today. They're comparable. In fact, I have a short list of our five most impressive undergraduate students which includes people from those early days and people from more recent past.

Riggins: Different strengths though, right?

Sabella: Different strengths, yeah. They're coming from different areas, you know. Some are biological types, some were cultural types. But nevertheless, we've always had a core. We've been lucky enough to get a core of majors, small group, okay, that just had the unlimited potential for advanced study. And they didn't always go into anthropology, you know, they went on in other fields.

Riggins: You had some students who went on in anthropology?

Sabella: Yes. Yes, we have people with PhDs in anthropology in all of the areas, cultural, archaeology, biological anthropology. We have some with PhDs, for example, in what you would call administrative careers, public policy. For example, one of our, I won't say more recent graduates but someone who graduated within the last 10, 12 years, she got her PhD at NC State and they had sort of a hybrid program. Public policy and she was interested in philanthropic organizations. And now she works for a state-level organization and she just changed jobs so I'm not sure where exactly she's located. So we have things like that. We've had kids, for example, go on in urban and regional planning. They've done very, very well. In fact, at one point, this was in the old days, I was working on-- in sea grant. And David Brower, who was the head, the dean of urban and regional planning at Chapel Hill, was a lawyer by trade. He was working on public access to the beaches, and we became friends through the sea grant connection. One day he said to me, he said, "You know, I think anthropology kids have a great perspective for our field." He said, "If you ever find one, send them my way." So we did have this gal, came along within a year or two of our conversation, Candy Brissen [ph?] was her name. She was interested in graduate study, wasn't particularly interested in anthropology. So I said, "Well, go ahead and investigate this track they've got up at Chapel Hill." So she went up, she applied, went up for an interview with David Brower. The day after she was there, he called me up, he said, "We're taking her, and I want anybody else you can send." And she just went right through that program. Yes, we had another guy do the same thing at Clemson. The dean took the trouble to call us and then send us a letter that this guy was the single best student for their Master's degree that they had ever had in that program, because the Master's of planning is usually a terminal degree, kind of rare for people to go get a PhD in that. And this is extraordinary because this kid is an undergraduate, he was flirting with a B average. So he was by no means, you know, knocking grades off the chart, but he had that drive. And once he decided that's what he wanted to do, he just aced everything.

Riggins: Interesting. It's a great fit.

Sabella: I mean there's lots of-- we don't try to push kids into anthropology. We tell them, "Look, we're going to try to discourage you even from considering anthropology unless that's something you absolutely have to do, and it's the only thing you can possible do. But here are some other alternatives." And we get them to look at different fields for which their background equips them to be very, very competitive.

Riggins: I can imagine a good number of fields, especially in health sciences.

Sabella: Sure. Medical anthropology, for example, okay. Hospitals are always looking for people to interact with some of their clientele, especially-- oh, let's say Hispanic population, African American populations, Taiwanese populations, Vietnamese, whatever. You know, this country has lots and lots of different cultural groups. Who better to work with those than people with anthropological backgrounds?

Riggins: Right. Speech language pathology, auditory, yeah, I can see it's a great field for that. What about study abroad? I know there's been a number of programs that have come up in anthropology. Our university librarian, Sherman Hayes, went to Belize a couple of times.

Sabella: Well, I started a summer study in Costa Rica program that ran, I guess we ran for a little over ten years. And it was a joint program between us and East Carolina University. I have an anthropological colleague at ECU and we were brainstorming one day. We had worked on research in Panama and Costa Rica together. His background was working with Guaymi Indians of Panama, but he was also an applied anthropologist. So one day we were down there and we were working, doing a research project in Panama and we said, "You know, one of the things that would benefit the kids greatly is to have a study abroad program." And ECU had run one for a number of years, but it had closed down. It hadn't run in about five or six years. So we pulled together this idea of a joint program and it was a great success. We didn't just take kids from UNCW and ECU. It was open to any student within the system and outside the system. So we got kids, for example, from the University of Virginia, we had kids from Temple University, we had kids basically from all over the country. Not a lot, but one or two or three in each group. So what we would do is, over the course of a summer session, either first summer session or second summer session, we made sure that if a kid needed to go to a summer session on campus, our program would allow them to do that. And we taught anthropology, we taught marine biology. Dr Clavijo of our marine biology department offered a course in marine biology. Bill Harris, in geology, offered environmental geology. We didn't do them all at the same time, there was always anthropology, there was always Spanish. The kids always had to take Spanish from a Costa Rican professor. They had to live with families in Costa Rica. And for years, Ileana Clavijo worked with us, in other years, Bill Harris worked with us. So they always had an option of at least three different courses to take. Then we went on field trips over the weekends. And all students would go on the same field trip, so they would learn a good thing-- bit about environmental anthropology, about environmental geology, or if it was marine biology, marine biology. They'd go snorkeling with everybody. They'd see what Dr. Clavijo was trying to teach them about reefs and in-shore areas and fish populations and so on. So we ran that program, I guess sort of got to the point where we had had no major disasters in the program. No one had died, as far we know, no one had been arrested for a long period of time, our students always showed up the next day for class or for the trips, and no one had been basically involved in criminal activity. So we said ten years is enough. And that's when we quit.

Riggins: That's a good record. Why don't we take a little break and make sure we have enough room on the tape or switch tapes. Hold on just a moment.

[tape change]

Riggins: This is Adina Riggins, UNCW archivist in the background interviewing Dr. James C. Sabella, a retired faculty in Anthropology and we're continuing our oral history program. Today is February 14th, 2007. We're talking about your successful program in Costa Rica for 10 years. So when did that finish about?

Sabella: I'm trying to remember exactly, I guess--

Riggins: We could always look that up.

Sabella: Yeah, I'm a little vague on when we actually stopped it. But I don't think we ever run that program-- prior to my going on phased we had not run the program for about six or seven years.

Riggins: [inaudible]

Sabella: Yeah, I was probably in-- right around 60 years old when we stopped running the program.

Riggins: Dr. McNabb [ph] was involved with the __________ International Program then.

Sabella: Yeah, and we discontinued the Costa Rica Program about the time that Jim McNab transitioned in. It had nothing to do with him, he was a wonderful administrator of the International Programs. But we had stopped the program a year or two before he actually took over the program.

Riggins: Well we interviewed him so we can always refer to that.

Sabella: Right, exactly. I think the world-- yeah, he's very, very, very professional and understands how to run international programs. Of course, he had a long involvement with France, and language studies abroad for students. Well, for Gilford College and when he came here. Oh, he and I see eye to eye on International Programs and the value of it.

Riggins: And then there were also some other International Programs in your department probably ongoing.

Sabella: Yes, the archeologists have run programs. Dr. Simmons, in Archeology is a Mayanist and he is doing , has been doing field-- has been doing work in Belize for quite some time working on Mayan sites and over the-- since he came here he's been taking small groups of students to work at the site, Lamani, in Belize.

Riggins: Yes, he [inaudible].

Sabella: And Dr. Reber, who has been working in a place in the Midwest I believe, near St. Louis, American Indian site. She's taken students to work on those sites, and those are collaborative research projects. They have other groups and other people who are also doing research in the area. So anthropology has continued that.

Riggins: If we may, talk about the library a bit over the years. Of course, I'm a librarian. I have an interest in that. I can imagine anthropologists would be big users of our library, and you got to know Mr. Hughley [ph] when he was here.

Sabella: Yes, absolutely and-- yes, we're still very, very close. In fact, we went hiking together. My wife and Gene [ph] and his wife, we hiked Ireland last year. And we see them socially quite frequently. But when-- I was here before he came to UNCW, Phil Smith was the librarian when I came here, who I am also very close to. Phil must be over 80 now.

Riggins: That's hard to believe.

Sabella: And back in those days, of course anthropological collections were nonexistent. So one of the things that we did was to slowly build anthropological collections, both in terms of journals, and in terms of basic film, in those days, 16 millimeter, film archives, which, of course, we've now switched over to VHS, files.

Riggins: I can imagine that that would be so important for you.

Sabella: Very important for anthropology. I mean, you can't take students to Mexico to show them Aztec ruins. You can't take them to Highland, Peru to introduce them to agricultural, Quechua speaking people. So with your film archive, you can bring them to the students, and that give you a vehicle for talking about the culture of these people, their economies, their traditions, their beliefs, you know, all of the things that are important for anthropology. So at the present time we have a, I'd say a pretty robust collection of anthropological materials. One of the first things that we did when it became available was to go after the Human Relations area files. The librarians worked with us on this. Because many, yeah, many of these anthropological resources were beyond the budgetary potential of anthropology. It had to be acquired by the library as general resources. So right from the beginning I was always looking at the need to build anthropological collections, for cultural anthropology, focused on since my interest was there, in Central and South America. As Pat Lerch came aboard, her interests of course were with the American Indians, from both the past and present perspective. So she's, you know, put in to acquire lots of stuff there and the same thing with the archeologists and biological anthropologists. So we have now a wonderful collection of videos and pretty soon it will be DVD's, I guess in all of these areas. So this is something that started back in '75.

Riggins: So you worked from the very beginning?

Sabella: From the very beginning.

Riggins: With Sue Cody and Louise Jackson, [inaudible].

Sabella: Yes, Louise Jackson, Ron Johnson, you know. In those days things were very informal. You know you'd call up and say, Phil, do you think you guys could swing $1500 to acquire this compendium on South American Indians? for example. And he, oh, I think we could do that. So we'd get it. And to this day as some very important new resources would pop up, we would work with the library. Especially at the end of the year, you know when there's funds that need to be expended. There are some of the higher ticket items which would exceed our library budget, but that maybe we could contribute to, and then you know they could use contributions that were available to acquire them.

Riggins: Like Human Relations area files, I have gone to some sessions, that's great, we have the, it's considered the-- I can't remember the name of it but like a test set. But it's not called that, it's called something else. I can't remember. But, we don't have the complete.

Sabella: No, right. They've got focal areas, within the Human Relations area file.

Riggins: Microfilm [inaudible].

Sabella: Yeah, and one of the things, obviously, to acquire the whole thing is prohibitively expensive. Because in the old days you had to buy the cards, okay. But when it became available in Microfiche we were able to purchase it at more reasonable costs. But even then you couldn't acquire the whole thing. So we started with areas; South America, Central America, North America, et cetera.

Riggins: And the students learned to use it pretty well?

Sabella: The ones who were involved in writing research papers and things we'd come over here and I'd say look, we have research librarians on this campus, you know, who can help you find materials, whether they're journals, whether they're books, whether it's microfilm, whatever. So Sue Cody was one of those people. But there were always-- Louise Jackson was always wonderful at that. So we'd turn our students on to the library people. Say now, these people are experts. You tell them what you're looking for and they will teach you. There's no sense for us. We're armatures. Let the library people do it.

Riggins: Well, now we have the electronic _____________. Did you know about that?

Sabella: Right, yes. I've heard about it. I haven't used it myself.

Riggins: I went to training and all that. It's amazing.

Sabella: It's amazing, yeah. Well every fall, for the last 10 years or so we have brought our senior students in the Theory class at the first day or two of class to Sue Cody for an orientation on Anthropology, because they all had to write research papers. And I said, look, Sue's our anthropological expert in the library, she loves this stuff. And she would give an hour's presentation and then take questions about general ways to go about searching. Introduce them to all the data bases and so on. And then of course would specialize stuff, she's say, now there are other ones that we can't cover, and they may contain information that given the paper topic you have would be important. So you come to me and I'll work with you and we'll teach you how to go about that. So she's been wonderful, absolutely wonderful.

Riggins: She still does that.

Sabella: And whoever teaches the Theory class next fall, who's going to teach it since I won't be teaching it, I would recommend the same thing. That start out with an orientation by Sue.

Riggins: Yeah, that sounds great. I know we can all learn a lot from her. Well, I also wanted to ask you; since you know so many people; who do you think I should be sure to talk to, and I may have talked to them already, or may not have. There's plenty of people I have not interviewed yet, but looking back at the people who are influential to you or are important in the history of UNCW, who should I be sure to interview?

Sabella: Of course, you've probably done it already, Jerry Shinn [ph]. Jerry Shinn [ph] has a lot of the old memories.

Riggins: Yes, he was a character.

Sabella: And he's a certified character.

Riggins: A true UNCW character.

Sabella: Absolutely, absolutely a certified character. Other people, although his health is rather delicate at this time, Claude Farrell is another person I would recommend.

Riggins: Right, he might be willing if I come to his home.

Sabella: Yes, if you went to his home. I'm sure. He's in very precarious health at the present time. But he and I served for many years on the reappointment promotion and tenure. He knows lots of the early crew that were at UNCW. Of course you've already done Roger Hill. I would, I don't know if you got, before he passed away B. Frank Hall of BNR. He would be one. I think Jim Megivern.

Riggins: Well, I talked to him before he moved away. We did get him on tape.

Sabella: You did get him on tape. He would be excellent. Jim McGowan would be another person.

Riggins: Before he moved away, we did talk to him, fortunately.

Sabella: Well, he's still around. He comes back and teaches in the fall semester, I believe. No, spring semester. They live in France, but when winter sets in their home in France is in the mountains. They get snowbound in there, so they have a local house. They come back in like November or so. Then they go back to France in May. Other people who you might...

Riggins: Were you involved in Faculty Senate?

Sabella: Yes, I was involved in faculty senate.

Riggins: You did your tour.

Sabella: I did my duty in the faculty senate for several terms. I did my two tours on the reappointment, promotion and tenure committee. I was faculty athletics representative for 20 years here so-

Riggins: That's right. I knew there was something I needed, because I'm on the Athletic Council.

Sabella: Oh you are?

Riggins: They have talked about you and having been on for 20 years. So you got to go to those NCAA meetings?

Sabella: Yes, I was...

Riggins: [inaudible].

Sabella: Yeah, it's called a Faculty Athletics Representative or the FAR for short. I was-- I worked with all the athletic directors up to Mike Capacio, because I had gone on phase before he came in. So, Bill Brooks, all right?

Riggins: We've talked to him a couple of times. But I hadn't. My predecessor has, and I talked to him recently. He's still doing great.

Sabella: Oh yeah, he's doing wonderful. So he's got the memories of how rudimentary things were when this was a two year school. Those are the people you really need to get to before UNCW existed. Because there's a whole- and Lewis Nance would have been a wonderful person for that, but of course he's not with us anymore. So through Bill Brooks, I would pay him a call and see-- he would certainly know who was still up and about and able to give you an interview. That would be an important part of the history that I know, really, very little about. Yes, I served with Bill, I though the world of him, wonderful man, extraordinary, extraordinary person. One of the things that has been consistent with athletics at UNCW has been the expectation of academic performance, from Bill Brooks' days to now. And that's one of the reasons I was happy to serve as faculty rep was because of the integrity of the academic component of athletics. Our student athletes have performed, always, at a very high level. And that's something to brag about.

Riggins: I know you're expected to go the NCAA Conference. Is it once a year?

Sabella: Yeah, but you know they restructured the NCAA so they don't have those huge conglomerations with the paddle votes and all that stuff. But I went to those when it existed. And you know it's a gigantic convention that is not all that meaningful at the general level. But it gave us an opportunity to get together with faculty reps from within our conference and the athletic directors within our conference. We'd all meet as a group with the commissioner. And that was wonderful, we got to really-- and one of the things that we all realized was that of all the schools in the CAA had the same perspective about competition and academics. And the schools back in those days, Richmond was in the conference as well, extraordinary high academic institution, College of William and Mary, obviously, James Madison. Obviously, the name of the academy was in there in those days. So there was a consistency among all of the presidents, the athletic directors and the faculty reps that by gosh we weren't going to let the academic side of this thing slip at all. And the commissioner was wonderful. Tom Yeager was just a terrific guy, and still is.

Riggins: That's so important. You hear these horror stories at some of he big time places and you think how does that happen?

Sabella: Oh yeah, you know, out law schools, kids don't graduate. That's not something our conference, or our school, has had to really worry about.

Riggins: So that ended, and now it's been picked up by Bill Bolduc in communications?

Sabella: Yes, Bolduc is the faculty representative.

Riggins: I wonder if he'll do it for 20 years.

Sabella: Well, I don't know. It's hard to say. But when I was going out, once you go on phase, you want to hand that over so, Joanne Rockness followed me. And now Bill Bolduc has followed her. So there-- and he's on the same page that Joanne and I were on. Now I would recommend you talk to Joanne Rockness at some point. I know she's not retired yet, but down the road because most of her academic career was at NC State. And she was intimately involved with the academic problems they had at NC State. When the Chancellor, engineering faculty member, was appointed Chancellor of NC State and they had a lot of problems in the athletic department, he called her and said okay Joanne, you and I are going to clean up this mess. Here's what you've gotta do. So he assigned her to go through all of the files and stuff. So she's got some interesting perspectives of athletics.

Riggins: I heard she had the interest in the [inaudible].

Sabella: Well, I don't know exactly, I think it's because number one, she's rock solid integrity and I guess Monteith was his name, was the Dean of Engineering, straight arrow, shooter guy. So he must have known her as a faculty member and figured okay, this is a good gal to get in here because she's not going to be intimidated by anybody. So she was terrific, she sat on the Athletic Council with me, and then we later got her to agree to be the faculty rep when I stepped down.

Riggins: All right, great, so you were on Athletic Council for a pretty long time.

Sabella: Exactly, yeah. Well we formed the Athletic Council in Bill Brooks' days because that was one of the requirements of the NCAA. And it got very strong during the time that Peg Bradley-Doppes was the Athletic Director here, and it has continued, the continuity there. The Athletics Council is primarily composed of faculty members, and has student representatives as well. It's really overwhelmingly outside the hands of the Athletic Department, and that's the way it should be.

Riggins: Yeah, it's independent.

Sabella: Yeah, it's independent. The Athletic Director interacts, the Athletic Director is present, but the Athletic Director doesn't run it.

Riggins: What sports have you been involved in?

Sabella: Closely, in terms of interest?

Riggins: What UNCW sports do you follow?

Sabella: Well, I'm a soccer freak. My daughter was the captain of the women's Soccer Team here in her undergraduate years. And so I've always supported the women's soccer team, and the men's soccer team. I coached soccer when my kids were growing up, they both played soccer. So that's the sport that I'm very, very close to and of course basketball, since it's our most predominant sport. With a very close second being our baseball team. But I would say that, you know, I've always tried to support the sports as faculty rep even handedly. You know swimming, I love the swim team. And in fact the most astounding accomplishments of all given the budgets have been from swimming and baseball and track and field, but especially track and field and swimming, baseball has gotten a little bit more help in recent years because they've become a very, very powerful team. But to this day both track and field and swimming are operating on fumes basically, okay. They don't have a robust budget. Yet, despite the fact, they an extraordinarily competitive and that's because of the coaches. Coaches have been phenomenal.

Riggins: Yeah? They've been there a long time?

Sabella: Exactly, and all of those sports-- I think something that I think would be really interesting to do, and I've suggested that to the coaches when I was faculty rep that they do it, was to go back and assess how many of your athletes had gone on to higher levels of academic training and professional schools. And there's a whole raft of people out there who have become lawyers, doctors, PhD's.

Riggins: You've been in touch with them?

Sabella: The coaches would know. So each coach would know of the kids they had over the years, provided contact is still there and it usually is, that they would know, okay of all the athletes in the past there are certain that just stand out, extraordinary, from both in academic and athletic perspective. And gee, we've been so proud of those kids it's phenomenal.

Riggins: Yeah, that's great. It's a real good program. I've been pleased to be involved in the Athletic Council. This is my first year so, it seems like it's going real well.

Sabella: Well, it's a learning experience. At first you say, what's this all about?

Riggins: Well, actually before I have two more questions before we finish. And one is you mentioned before we started you have some files based on the Chancellor search back in 1990-91, that you would consider getting to archives, and I hope you will.

Sabella: Absolutely.

Riggins: What do you remember about that search? What I-- I'll just tell you a story. What I like hearing about it was when I interviewed Dr. Dodson [ph], Bruce Dodson [ph]? And he said I actually protested. And he said, I'm not that type. You know, he's very quiet, a Midwestern guy. He said I took a sign and joined the other faculty.

Sabella: Yeah, the faculty marched you know, we had a procession, a file protesting, you know, what was going on in terms of the search committee, very interesting times. It was a very critical transition. Dr. Wagoner had retired, the search was on for replacement and the way that the search was being conducted was quite alarming to most of the faculty. Now there were, I believe three faculty members who were on the search committee. But the search committee was heavily canted towards local people and the bulk of the trustees were local people. And there was some a group within that who were determined to install a particular candidate. Who the faculty felt would have been a disaster because the person had no academic credentials. And so I was a chair at the time, and the chairs met and we talked about the search that was going on. We invited the faculty members who were on the search committee to come. They of course were not able to speak directly about what was going on because they were basically sworn to keep everything in house within that committee. But, they were able to inform us that things were going in a direction that we might not be happy with. And so that was the start of some interesting, tumultuous reactions on the part of chairs and faculty and it got to the point where we actually marched and held up signs and so on.

Riggins: What's interesting is that they were told to [inaudible] it sounds like the faculty thought that Dr. Leutze would be very strong Chancellor, and he ended up being the one selected.

Sabella: Yes, well you know, I think his faculty has a pretty reasonable perspective as the kind of background you'd want to have in a Chancellor. And you don't always have to have an academic person to be a Chancellor. In fact, many schools recruit people who were CEO's in business because in most universities the number one job of the chancellor is fundraising.

Riggins: Administration fundraising.

Sabella: You know, administration fundraising. The academic operations are usually handled by the Provost or Vice Chancellor for academic affairs. So, you know, we're-- as faculty members we're not adverse to the notion that, okay, maybe you want to hire a business person, C.D. Spangler, who was the head of the whole system, was in banking, you know he didn't have an academic understanding going in.

Riggins: I didn't know that.

Sabella: But his perspective changed dramatically over the years. He had to come up to speed pretty quickly that there's a certain amount of understanding about academia that has to take place. So I think what happened in that search were that the candidates that were there, it didn't appear to us, the faculty that the most qualified candidate was getting strong consideration. So I will be very happy to turn over that file I have and you can see what materials we have gathered and put in there that will give you some more perspective on that.

Riggins: And that was from the other chairs, and others from that.

Sabella: Yes, absolutely.

Riggins: Those were interesting times. Did you know Dr. Wagoner well?

Sabella: Oh yes, I knew Bill Wagoner very well.

Riggins: Really? So a lot of the faculty didn't get to. But I guess you being a chair and things.

Sabella: Well, being a chair and I then was involved with athletics and...

Riggins: He was interested in athletics?

Sabella: Well, he's the one that made Bill Brooks stop coaching to become the Athletic Director. He said look, Bill, Athletic Director is a full-time job now and you've gotta give up coaching baseball and he very reluctantly agreed. Because the school was growing by leaps and bounds and you couldn't do both jobs adequately. So I got to know him a good bit through that. But socially he was a very open person. So we knew he was the one who became Chancellor when Wilmington College made the transition from the community college to UNC system. Okay? And so the next hire was going to be a very critical one, because it was not longer going to be a small little college, you know, we were UNC Wilmington, and designated as a growth campus. And so we saw this as a very critical search. And that's why we were so involved. They said, by God, we've got to get the best possible Chancellor we can. And so people were hypersensitive about not getting the most qualified candidate.

Riggins: Right. They had to look at it from a national perspective. Dr. Leutze, did you work with him?

Sabella: Oh yes, very closely. He, from the time he came in he said look, I am in charge of athletics, both the Athletic Director and the Faculty Rep are going to talk to me whenever they need to". So he said, here's my home phone anything happens I'll call you, or you call me, either way, it'll go both ways. And he wanted to know. If something bad happened, and you know, things happen. A student gets caught, you know, drinking, he's an athlete, what are you going to-- it hits the paper, you know. Jim Leutze says, I don't like this publicity, you know. Don't worry we got this in hand, you know. Those things, it happens on any campus. Or a parents get in an uproar about the way their kid is being treated in the athletic team. I want you to fire this coach, you know. They call Dr. Leutze. So of course he's got to entertain, understand what parents have to say. So over the years a number of those things got handed off directly to me as a faculty member, as faculty rep. He would say would you mind talking to this parent, and helping with the-- I said, absolutely not, you know, would do that. So I had a very good relationship with Jim Leutze. He was always-- in fact, Joanne as head of the Athletic Council and I would always go to give him a report annually and we'd see him periodically if he had an issue or we had an issue. And so he was-- he said hey, anything you want to talk about is on the table, it's open. You're not going to hurt my feelings. I'm not going to hurt your feelings. It's always going to be frank conversation. So he was wonderful that way.

Riggins: That's great, and he did a lot.

Sabella: And you know Jim had been an athlete, he was a football player at Syracuse, where as Bill Wagoner had no real athletic background. And Bill was more comfortable letting Bill Brooks handle the athletics. He's get involved where he needed to as Chancellor, but said, Bill you handle this stuff. So then Bill and I would sit and interact. And if we felt we needed the Chancellor to weigh it in we would do it. But Jim Leutze was on top of it all the time, yeah.

Riggins: More hands on. And I think Dr. Keller was like that too.

Sabella: They have to be.

Riggins: Right.

Sabella: They have to be because if something hits the fan, they're responsible. You know, the Chancellor is in charge of the university. The Chancellor is in charge of Athletics.

Riggins: Right and athletics being visible.

Sabella: Exactly.

Riggins: So you worked with Peg Bradley-Doppes, she was hired by Dr. Leutze, as I recall.

Sabella: Yes.

Riggins: She came in [inaudible].

Sabella: Yes, and in fact, in the time of Dr. Wagoner, Charles Cahill was Provost. Charles Cahill had a background in athletics. He was a scholarship basketball player as an undergraduate. And so what the interaction between athletics and Bill Wagoner's administration was we would report directly to Charles Cahill and we would converse with Charles Cahill all day. Because he understood everything about athletics and where it was necessary then he would say, okay, well we need to sit down with Bill Wagoner on this stuff. But there's always been an intense involvement of our administrations, Chancellors and Vice Chancellors particularly, and obviously Athletic Directors and faculty reps, with regard to athletics on this campus, a very healthy thing.

Riggins: Oh yeah, instead of just being the privy of some people to control it and no one else has say so or anything.

Sabella: Well, you know, people who want to help boosters can do crazy things. You know they do crazy things? Well, how about let's give this kid a few bucks, you know, to help them. It's against regulations, you know. So yeah, you need to have the administration in the right place and understanding all the possible things that might go wrong, and may have gone wrong, you know. But we don't have severe problems. Yeah our-- I think one of the really more difficult things to deal with is football at a major level, of course, we don't even have football, we've had club football in the past. But that relieves a lot of the aches and pains, you know, bedevil lots of athletic department. Football is such a monster, you know?

Riggins: It's so big, so many scholarships.

Sabella: It's so big, so many scholarships, so many resources. The maintenance of a stadium, the upkeep, the equipment, I mean, it's just an enormous exposure. We're better off without it.

Riggins: UNCE I guess is starting a team.

Sabella: Yeah, I mean, we've always been opposed to formalizing football here. Now if someday they want to do basically what would be 1-AAA football, it would be like Division 3 football, non-scholarship.

Riggins: Could they do that?

Sabella: Yeah, non-scholarship.

Riggins: We could do that even though we're Division 1 [inaudible]?

Sabella: Yes. Well, I mean they-- right now they don't do it because there's these 1-AA football schools like James Madison, I forget which schools. A number of schools, Richmond and so on, though they're not in our conference anymore, College of William and Mary, they play at the 1-AA level. Okay, and so they have scholarships. So if it gets to a point where they no longer want to or can afford to keep football going at that level, then they can create what the people have proposed as a 1-AAA. No scholarships basically volunteers club, low key. But it would still be expensive, I mean just the equipment. Equipping one player is a lot of money. Even though you've got quote "volunteer" players, you can't send them on the field without adequate equipment.

Riggins: Protection, yeah.

Sabella: Absolutely.

Riggins: I can understand that. Well, what have you been doing in your retirement? I know it's not been long, I know you officially finished teaching in December 2006.

Sabella: Exactly. But you know, I've been on phase for three years. And we've taken the opportunity to-- well I'm still very much involved in research. Right now I'm the principal investigator for a grant from the National Parks Service. We're working with the National Parks Service in assembling a cultural resources archive for the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Part of that includes Harkers Island for which we have the most information. Marcus Hepburn, who I've mentioned did the graphic research on the island. We have an enormous archive of ethnographic data, of photographs, of interviews, all kinds of stuff that is being processed to be included in both-- there's a museum on Harkers Island now. I forget the name of it, Water Fowl Museum of Harkers Island, which started out basically as a showcase for decoy carvers, but includes the broad prospective history of Harkers Island. So we're going to have materials permanently archived there. And one of my students in the past, Brandon Guthrie, who got his degree in anthropology, was born and raised on Harkers Island. He's connected with the Guthrie clan there. He worked with the Parks Service, when he was an undergraduate here, in the summers and in for certain semesters, pulling together the raw data, and drawing up the archive. So, right now I'm not doing the work myself, I hired Barbara Garrity-Blake, a PhD from Virginia, who lives in Marshallberg. She's been working for a lot of different research institutes, and she was involved of a major National Seashore research effort by the Parks Service to deal with the Outer Banks communities. Hattarus, Salvo, there's a whole string of communities there. So she was involved in that research project. And I've known her for years, and I know she's an excellent worker. So I'm the P.I. and we're basically working through, with Marcus Hepburn, who is providing data from his dissertation research for things like bibliography, they have the bibliography from the Outer Banks Study. So that project will end, I believe it's in June. No let's see, it's a year, we went to work in August. So this coming August will finish that phase of the grant. There's some hope that they may be able to spring some more money to continue phase two of that which would involve ethnographic research that I would hire Barbara to continue doing. So that's been part of my operation.

Riggins: It's possible then to still get grants [inaudible]?

Sabella: Oh yeah. Sure. Absolutely, yes. Yeah.

Riggins: That's great.

Sabella: And I'm continuing my research interest in Peru. This book project that I'm doing with the fishing community, I have a fairly large archive of photographs of that community, that's unique. I took lots of photographs back in '72, '73, when I was doing my research.

Riggins: Using SLR [inaudible]?

Sabella: No, in those days we had little cameras, you know, but I've been slowly digitizing them. So I've got them all on memory sticks now. And when we went back to visit the fishing community, in 2006, we just walked in unannounced. And there's-- I've got another whole six months, three to six months of research to do there to include in the book what has happened over the last 30 plus years. And the continuity is just wonderful. So now I'm interacting with the grandchildren of the adults, the young adults. The people my age group then, who are now the grandparents. It's just marvelous.

Riggins: So they knew you.

Sabella: So I-- they know me and they know us and they were so happy. And so, you know, I could go live in Peru for the rest of my life, it wouldn't bother me in the least.

Riggins: Gene [ph] and Joyce [ph] would visit you.

Sabella: Oh yeah, they would. It's pretty remote. I mean there's no easy way to get there. Once you land in Lima, you're looking going by bus, you're looking at a 14 to 16 hour bus ride and there's no direct air service up to Talara, which is the closet airport to the village where I work. So fortunately, there is a flight that would get me up onto the North Coast, and then it was just a three hour flight to get up that last part of it. So the good thing is that I've discovered that a bunch of the kids are on e-mail now. They have computers in the village, so we can constantly interact with them. It's terrific.

Riggins: Would you want to live that remotely, if you were to live in Peru?

Sabella: I would certainly continue contact with them. The fact is both our children live in this area. So, it's unlikely we would stay in Peru any longer than several weeks or several months. But we thoroughly enjoy being there. We have lots of friends in the Lima area, in the capital district. We have lots of friends up on the North Coast, and it is a second home to us. So we've been very, very busy.

Riggins: Sounds like it.

Sabella: In addition to doing jobs around the house and working with the garden and other stuff.

Riggins: And taking care of grandkids.

Sabella: Taking care of grandkids, yeah.

Riggins: Since your kids have the benefit of having...

Sabella: Yeah, two sets of grandparents to help out.

Riggins: Two sets of grandparents to babysit which is nice.

Sabella: And they're young, the grandchildren, the older one is three years old and the younger one is six months old. So, you know, there is several years before they all get into school. So we're happy to help out, and it's lots of fun.

Riggins: Sounds like it. It's been a pleasure.

Sabella: Oh, I've enjoyed it.

Riggins: I'm glad. I've learned a lot. I'm so glad you came here to talk and fill us in on your time, especially as athletic representative as well. It was a good chunk of history we need. So thank you and if you think of anything else to add please give me a call.

Sabella: Okay, if I can turn up some other names that suggest that you interview. You've probably got most of them. But the one person who I think could possibly turn you on to others would be Bill Brooks.

Riggins: I actually did ask him that question when I interviewed him last semester, and he was good he keeps up with some of the people so much he knows who's feeling okay and...

Sabella: Yeah, and who you could reasonably expect to-- Tommy Lupton would know also. Tom Burke would know. So maybe another round of calls to those people, you could probably turn up the last ones who might be able to give you some perspective on that.

Riggins: I will, definitely.

Sabella: Dorothy Marshall.

Riggins: Yes, I did talk to her awhile ago. She was great.

Sabella: Yeah, some terrific people. Well, thank you very much. I had a good time.

Riggins: Glad to hear it.

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