Interview with Donald Wolter, 04/26/2018

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Matthew Johnson, Interviewer | uwocs_Donald_Wolter_04262018_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


MJ: Hello, my name is Matthew Johnson. I am here interviewing Donald Walter. Donald, would you please state the date and the time of this interview?

DW: April 26, 2018 at 1:00.

MJ: All right, and then could you please state your position at UW Oshkosh?

DW: I was the director of facilities management.

MJ: All right, perfect. I'm going to start this interview with having a couple of background questions about your life before at Oshkosh. So if you could just, um, give me, uh, let me know. Where did you grow up and your hometown?

DW: I grew up in the outskirts of Milwaukee and um all the way through high school and of course I attended a UW Madison. Got An engineering degree there. I went into service partway through getting that two years in the military during the Korean conflict, came back, finished that schooling, got married, lived in Madison for a while while I was working at Rayovak and we moved to Brown Deer to 1:00Milwaukee area. I was working at a company there after that went to Honeywell in Minneapolis and worked there and in 1970 it came here to Oshkosh.

MJ: Okay, uh, what were your parents and family members like? What was your family life growing up?

DW: Well, actually my mother and I lived with my aunt and uncle, which was a rural district in the Northwest part of Milwaukee County back in the 1939. (Laugh) That part eventually became part of Milwaukee. It was the town of Granville at that time, had a small two room school house that went from grades one through eight. My graduating class from that grade school was four boys. Period. Uh, I went on from there to, what was the old customer high and Milwaukee North Milwaukee. Uh, so actually my aunt and uncle became like a second mother and a father to me, so it was a very nice area my uncle was 2:00raising minks at that time and I was helping in that area. As I grew up we had about 200 mink at one time. Uh, and of course after that, like I say, I left to go to college.

MJ: And you said that you went to college for an engineering degree?

DW: Yes. Chemical Engineer.

MJ: And uh, can you repeat again? How long were you there? You said halfway through you went into service, but how long were you at UW Madison total.

DW: Well, I started there in the fall of 1950 and then in 1954 I didn't have my degree, but I was semi drafted into the army because of the Korean conflict. I got outta there in early 56, two days after I got out, I got married in two days after that I was back in school. (Laugh) I finished up in the summer of 57.


MJ: What was your position in the army?

DW: Actually we were at a small unit. We were trained for repair of anti aircraft guns in radar systems back then we didn't have missiles, the anti aircraft guns, of course we're 90 and 120 millimeter and had a radar unit with it. There was13 of us that were trained in either the radar or the mechanics of the guns. And by the way, doing that work, I was stationed on Okinawa.

MJ: Um, what were your goals or aspirations as a young child before heading into college? Your time in that high school, Middle School time?

DW: It's hard to define because I certainly didn't have my mind on becoming a chemical engineer because at that time I couldn't even spell chemical engineer, but uh, (laugh) I don't know. I did have a strong interest in aviation and would 4:00have liked to have gotten into that, but I missed out and getting into the air force because if you are familiar with EAA here in Oshkosh that started at a airport called Curtis Wright in Milwaukee at that time, which is now Timmerman field. That was a mile from where I grew up and I was over there quite frequently, taken my bike over there back in those days. And those days I'm speaking of the 1940s, a young boy like myself could take a bike to the airport, walk in and walk into any hangar and talk to the people. Obviously a lot different than it is today. Um, so I got to talk to them and that's where the organization started. Even though at that time I wasn't aware of it. I didn't know anything. In fact, when it started, I was at that point in college, but I've, over the years gotten to know those and I put it over 40 years volunteering for EAA here in Oshkosh.


MJ: That's really amazing. Um, now I'm going to bring it closer to more points ofOshkosh. So you had a job as facilities management at UW Oshkosh. How did you first hear about this job or acquire this job?

DW: Well, I was working over at Honeywell at the time over in Minneapolis and it was getting near the end of the Vietnam War and I was working in the ordinance department making ammunitions, actually systems for them. My specialty at that time actually it was batteries, a lot of work at Rayovak obviously in Milwaukee and a, at the end of the Vietnam War, a number of us were getting laid off and my position was one of them. Uh, so I went from there up to our cottage in Door County and sat there for a while wondering where we're gonna go and looking in a 6:00newspaper. I noticed they were hiring a position here on UW campus. Of course it was the Wisconsin State University of Oshkosh at that time, a governor Lucy hadn't put the two systems together yet had the different systems. Um, so I got interested, came down to find out what it was all about and did a couple of interviews and eventually got hired.

MJ: Alright. Uh, what, what did you know about the campus or the community? Did you have any knowledge about anything up here?

DW: Well, the only thing I knew about Oshkosh, I came in here a couple of times, walleye fishing on the river from the Milwaukee area. I did not know much about the system campuses having been involved only, well, only at that time I was involved with the Madison campus and a little bit with the Milwaukee because I did get a master's degree from Milwaukee in material science, but I didn't 7:00finish that work until I was already an Oshkosh. So I wasn't really aware, in fact, to show you how little I know about our knew, about the campus. When I drove in, I drove in on highway 21. This area, the Evergreen facility had just started in 67, so they were, they had some buildings up and I said, oh, there's the campus drove in and went "that's not it" and drove on until I found it, so I knew very little about it and had an interview with the vice president for the operation and things got pretty settled in.

MJ: Alright. Uh, what, what interested you about working here? What, like I know you ended up mentioning to me about a year and a half before you got here Black Thursday occurred. Did you have any information about that before you came here or did you first find out about that when you reached campus?


DW: I heard about it when I reached campus and so forth and uh, was very curious what happened. And it was kind of shocked when I heard what happened. You know, that they expelled all 94 of the black students. I couldn't believe that, but it happened. (Laugh)

MJ: What was, yeah, what was the information that was given to you or that you learned about the event? What, what made it to you about the event?

DW: Well, the students, of course, I understood were quite upset because they didn't have any courses in black history or anything. They didn't have any instructors that were black that were teaching or anything and so they did a peaceful sit-in basically around Dempsey Hall in the office. I guess there was some minor damage done in Dempsey, not to the chancellor's office, but to the art department office and so forth, but it wasn't anything major and to find 9:00that many to get expelled, I just couldn't believe it.

MJ: What was the first few weeks of your work like you at Oshkosh?

DW: Well, it was kind of hectic. Of course I came here and I was in the process of needing to find a place to live in that. My family was still over in Minnetonka outside of Minneapolis there and selling that house and so I was involved in getting oriented on the campus there. I really was the first director of facilities management. Prior to that they had a professor from one of the departments that was involved in campus planning and so forth, but nobody. And then they had a supervisor for building is important for grounds, was kind of fragmented and the locations were scattered around. Custodial supervisor was in Dempsey and then they had a building down by the river near where the aqua building is now and so forth. So it was kind of hit and miss type 10:00operation and eventually, uh, it's, it's kind of strange in a way. And that I was the first director of facilities management. I was there for 25 years. Then they had a little bit of a gap or the finance director was kind of running the operation and they hired a gentleman I can't think of Steve. Um, Steve Arnt I believe it was and he was there for 10, 12 years and then Steve left and now they don't have one again. They have a director for maintenance and they have a lady who was director for planning and so forth. So they've kind of spread it apart. It's all a game with the budget, you know, you move your money around and so forth and split things up and think you're saving and maybe ya are maybe you're not.

MJ: So what, what was the work that you all took care of completely on campus?


DW: What did I take care of?

MJ: Yeah, what was

DW: Well I had a total 142 people in my department at the time when we got it assembled. So I was in charge of the custodial service except those in the dorms and the academic buildings, custodial service the heating plant, the physical maintenance of the buildings, the grounds care. Um, at that time I did have parking as well and I had the police force for awhile. Both of those got separated out later. And um, what else? Well, of course planning.

MJ: Were there any, uh, connections or staff members associated with the school or your staff that you hadn't hired, that you remembered the most for any 12:00specific reasons?

DW: Well, I got to know pretty much all of the faculty staff one way or another because obviously it had, they had problems, they were too hot, too cold, door squeaked and so on and so forth. So I've talked to very, very many of them and you, believe it or not, quite a few are here right now (Evergreen facility) that are retired and moved in here. My staff, I really had no problems. I had a few and I started because of the people that were in supervisory roles were a little upset with me coming in they felt that they were Lord because a rumor has it. One of them used to go right to the president to speak. Well, they wanted to stop that and then he went to the vice president and they wanted to stop that. They were trying to not have so many of the lower workers coming up to the top 13:00offices and I was kind of a dividing line. And so it was a matter of getting it organized. In fact, it probably took me the first three years before I had the organization the way I wanted it and so forth. And that only happened because a few retired at that time. But it was a whole thing was an enjoyable experience.

MJ: Peaking of staff, through some of our research we understood that, uh, there was a lot of things going on through your time at Oshkosh, at the time of staff firings, the, whether or not there was enough spending for certain, whether it was teachers, our facilities itself, any of the management. Did that affect you or were you around when all this was going on?

DW: Well, he said a budget no matter what year you're talking about. And I never 14:00fired anyone. I didn't have to, but I did have positions I had to leave open for awhile because of the budget couldn't support that salary or salaries. So I never had that problem having to sit down and see "Matt got to let you go". And I'm glad I didn't because I, I think I had all good people, it's just, that's the way education is somehow. I don't think our politicians think that highly of it.

MJ: Soon before you, uh, started working at Oshkosh from the events that happened at Black Thursday. There was a professor that was fired. There was many controversy of what the reasons he was fired, but was a court case that went on to reach the Supreme Court, um, regarding his involvement with the black Thursday and the students involved. Did you hear much about that or any involvement with that?


DW: No.

MJ: Alright So, uh, I know you said you weren't responsible for the janitorial staff, like the dorms, but were you involved in any dorm management?

DW: We were involved in a supplying work to them. Not that, you know, they took care of their own custodial staff, et cetera. They had their own supervisors, but when they needed a maintenance work done, they would hire us to do it and we did what we call a back charge to them. And fortunately without those back charges, my budget would not have survived. My total workforce budget was based on doing so much work for Reeve Union and the dorms and the food service. That was part of my income. So what the state gave me as a budget carried a very small portion of the material budget. I mean the state paid my lead labor budget, but the materials I would not have had enough to survive for the year 16:00without getting those chargebacks because I was able to charge them both labor and materials. So even though my labor was already paid for, I was charging them and I could put it into the supply budget.

MJ: Now, when you say them, do you, are you referring to the dorm management or like the campus itself?

DW: No, I referring to the program revenue.

MJ: Okay. So they were separate I get that. Um, what like what were the dorms like back at this time or what was the living situation? What we're, how many dorms were at this time?

DW: Well, they, you know, they took the three dorms down when they built the horizons there and outside of those, the rest were all there. They just basically completed Gruenhagen and that was a mistake and shouldn't have been 17:00built. Actually, you know, when they built that, they already had plans to build another one where river Commons is because the estimates by our great estimators was that within five or seven years later that the campus was going to be between 20 and 25,000 in population (laughs) at a little bit off and so, you know, so they had already built Gruenhagen and they just couldn't fill it. They eventually turned it into a conference center and so forth. And then they were renting out part of river commons for awhile. And of course then we had the year where we had the fire in Black Hawk and a month or two later we had the flood in River. And uh, but I'll tell you if you've got to go through anything, it's better to go through fire cleanup than a flood cleanup. So yeah but otherwise we had the dorms except for those three being changed into the one there. The dorms 18:00of course were program revenue. So whenever they needed a work on remodeling of that, they would have to put in that request to the state on their own because it was their funding, it wasn't the taxpayers funding. When we put in a request, we had to get on a list, be pleading for stalking the state dollars to pay for it.

MJ: What were some of the best parts about your job or what did you like the most about it?

DW: Everything. No, I mean I had a good staff that I was working with and, and all the professors were good, you know, each professor thought he was the center of the universe, but that's good. That was his field, you know, and we had to get to understand that, but I'm working with them. Oh I had a few of them that yelled at me frequently and then they'd be happy as the next day and so forth. 19:00But uh, I don't have any complaints with any of the personnel things.

MJ: With that being said, what was your involvement with most of the professors or any other staff part of the campus and not under your managerial staff?

DW: Well, we've had contacts when we wanted to make changes in design or something or if the department wanted to request a change, you know, if they wanted to change offices into conference rooms, et cetera and so forth, or made changes in their departments. We had discussions with them on the campus about parking problems, other issues. So we had a number of involvements with the departments and then of course during the period if we were working for them, changing something, you know, like at the time we remodeled all of Radford and 20:00remodeled, updated those offices. We have a lot of contact with staff and moving them while we worked on one end of the building and moving them to the other direction and so forth and I think most of them were happy the way that came out. I don't know if they still are, but. (laughs)

MJ: So on the opposite side of this, what was the worst part about your job?

DW: Well, the worst part of the job is of course that I was on 24 hour call, 365 days a year. The worst part is when you get a call from the police and say a building's burning, such as the Commons, so forth or something like that, emergency situation. St Pat's Day was always bad. I mean I patrolled with the chancellor and assistant chancellor down there on Wisconsin and few nights 21:00trying to get the kids to settle down. It became such a wide known thing, you know, it was even on what the tonight show and everything that if ya want to party St Pat's Day go to Oshkosh. But those are the situations that are not happy or a power outage and we had several of those, you know, there were four major circuits supplying electrical energy into campus and that substation, you know, the time I was director there, we had that maintenance building, right where Sage sits now. It was a long building there and that was built right after I got there and I moved from Dempsey down to there and under that building ran the four power lines from the substation right behind it. Well, unfortunately when they decided to build Sage, which was after I left, they had to move those lines for about a million and a half dollars just to move with those electrical 22:00lines. But the thing being right behind us, we had good security. Security office was in the building that was on the side and we were there and it was fenced in so we had total security of our major power to the campus but those substations occasionally would go out and I can remember one that happened and I don't remember the year, but it happened. I think the, the Saturday of the opening of deer season and one went out. Well, lot of my workers weren't at home, so I was fortunate to get one electrician to come in and I think two maintenance fellas that could shut off the equipment in the building and between us we figured out we had one spare big breaker there that we could move in it's place, take it out and move it. But it was kind of touch and go, you know, if that one which was our reserve didn't hold, we were out on a limb with a quarter 23:00of the campus without power. Those were exciting times.

MJ: You touched base a little bit about St Patrick's Day and the events that happened. What can you tell me about these events? Do you know why they happened or what you think was the reason?

DW: I'm not really sure. The kids just figured that was a big day for celebrations and everything and of course the, the establishments that serve the beverages promoted it. Obviously it was good business for them and I think the problem is the word got out that it wasn't just our campus, it was all the other campuses in the state and some out of the state. Once the thing got big enough. We had kids, I don't know where they were from, but it just got to be known as a big event and drew a lot of them for the excitement.

MJ: Did it usually, like a big case that rounded was that riots did happen. Is 24:00that something that would happen year after year basis or all of a sudden they would break out at random.

DW: Well, you know what the university did after awhile was we took spring break at that time and that quieted it down a bit because fortunately our students were down in Florida sunbathing or something like that (laughs) and it took a big part of the population away from it, but it took a while to figure that out because there was a little opposition with the city because the staff wanted to take spring break when their children in schools are on break for Easter vacation. We couldn't always align that exactly and, and so forth, but certainly helped calm down the St. Pat's Day festivities.

MJ: Speaking of students as well. For the complaints and problems you dealt with, were any of these student complaints or did you deal with any direct 25:00student contact in your career?

DW: No, of course I had students working for me, you know, in the departments and the grounds and in the fleet, I don't think you have a fleet anymore, or do you rent cars? Well they used to have cars that the professors could use and we maintained that fleet and I had students that worked on cleaning them and oiling them and so forth, you know, but most of the student complaints would probably have been in residence life. You know, either at the union or in the dormitories. I did not have any major student complaints that came to me. They probably maybe were directed at their department, their English department history and got filtered down whatever they were.

MJ: What were some of the bigger, more drawn attention to political issues at the time? Were there any major issues that you can think of that got a lot of 26:00attention here on campus?

DW: Well, you know, during some of the election periods we had some of the politicians talking on campus mainly at that time in Albee hall, sometimes we divide Albee hall in half so it looked like a big crowd was there because we used all of Albee tt wouldn't look like a big crowd, but I can remember one occasion when we had, it was Reagan here campaigning, and the security fellas were in front of the stage and somebody in the audience threw an egg and the security guy just went, (splat noise) caught it right in his hand (ewww). You know, the kids were campaigning and so forth. Nothing that I ever considered major.


MJ: Were there any campus events that you participated in either regularly or ones you went to occasionally, whether it be sports or even setting up for different events in Reeve.

DW: We did, of course, most of the setups and Kolf when they had the musical groups in here and so forth. Many of them I brought my wife to when Johnny Cash was there and some of the others, you know, we had some fairly good talent, ya know, and out at the stadium we had bob hope one time out there, awful lot of mosquitoes that night unfortunately but, uh, you know, some of those were fairly major involvements of work in setting up because they had a, in many cases scheduled the classes away from there so we had at least a day ahead to do setup. Besides the bleachers, there was a lot of chairs on the floor in Kolf that had to be set up and we put tarps down to try to protect the floor that was 28:00up there at that time, which was a synthetic type floor. So yeah, I attended or was there at many of them. Some of them I was not attending but I was there just to check what was going on and so forth.

MJ: And with that I mentioned sports. Were you involved much in the sports on campus, paying attention to them or did you know much about them?

DW: Oh yeah. I attended the baseball games and football games. Not all of them, but quite a few of them and so forth. They had a pretty good baseball teams for awhile there. I didn't appreciate their coach, but I think he got a raw deal at the end though getting let go and so forth when I don't think he should have. I think he was kind of harsh on his players so forth, but that's just my opinion. 29:00I mean, some of them made it all the way. Who was it that played second base for Brewers? He was a Titan. (Jim Gantner)

MJ: I don't believe I know that one, I'll have to look it up after.

DW: He came from Eden Wisconsin.

MJ: We can look it up after. (laughs) I'd be very interested to hear that actually. What were some of the biggest events or biggest changes you witnessed here on campus, whether it be your facilities itself here you took care of or actual big changes with educational changes, major changes, staff changes, any of that. What were some of the biggest ones you were a part of here?

DW: Well, the biggest change that happened was here, which was instituted by Chancellor Birnbaum was the schedule you have now. You know, you don't have a 30:00straight semester. You have the short part and a three week interim and that was put in by Chancellor Birnbaum, which was really kind of a revolution for running something that [unclear] and it's still running so it must be working, I don't know. And of course the other things, of course when I came we were finishing the fine arts building. We were finishing Kolf, nursing just came on, and we put the new pool in Albee, did a lot of remodeling at Reeve Union and remodeling at Swart, we did remodeling at Radford. So there's quite a few remodeling, you know, after I got here I was not involved in a totally new building, but we did a lot of add ons and changes, and a lot of work in Polk and so forth and like, I say Radford, redid some of the work in Clow and the office section. There was 31:00always a lot of construction work going on. Some of it we handled with our own staff and some of it we contracted out to contractors. Some of it was, most of the big stuff was contracted out by the state and they would have a supervisor on it, but we would have to monitor it to see that we were getting what we wanted to. I mean we lived there.

MJ: Since you did work at Oshkosh, for 25 years, what was the changes like through presidents or chancellors? Who did you be able to work under or be around at the time?

DW: Well of course I came in under President Giles then, I'm not sure if Giles' was still here or when Birnbaum came, they merged the systems together and then the president's became chancellors. Then Birnbaum and then after Birnbaum, I'm 32:00having trouble with names. The chancellor after Birnbaum. Anyway, he was just, he was really irnbaum in my book, was a little bit of a flake, but he had good ideas and so forth. Penson, when he came in, he was the one chancellor that cared about the maintenance department, I mean I think he understood what we did and how vital we were to supporting the campus. Either Ed or his wife sometimes would come down here with trays of cookies for the fellas in the shop and that and to celebrate. (Wife speaks), but they, they, uh, did a number of things, a 33:00for us in the way of holidays and things like that. A strange thing of course was a, I thought that, the chancellor's up through Ed and so forth lived in a house on campus. That had to be terrible. You know, the kids around all the time, you know, and night classes going past your windows and stuff, but they seem to want to stay there. And then of course we got into this mess with the house they bought or a foundation bought now, and now the chancellor is living elsewhere I guess he gets his little funds from part of his salary to pay for housing elsewhere, but that was always a mix up. You know that, that house that's there now on campus, I hate to say this, it's a historical thing, but it really should be torn down. It's got so many problems with it, everything 34:00inside. But--

MJ: What can you tell me about the changes that happened on campus through the chancellor's? What did each one bring to the campus that you know of?

DW: Well, as I mentioned, the one thing of course with Birnbaum was the total scheduling change and everything. And I think the other chancellors being that they came from other parts of the country, brought in ideas in education, which I wasn't involved with. But (cough), and uh, you know, there was different reactions to them I think from the faculty. Some got along better than others. Some were more receptive to the ideas that they had from the faculty senate, so forth. My point of view, I think the only, and I shouldn't say this because the 35:00man has died, the only chancellor I did have a little problem with was [unclear], the one before Wells. He used to come out to EAA all the time [unclear]. But anyway, he had some different ideas on scheduling and budgeting and so forth.

MJ: Were there some changes on campus that you would have liked to see Whether it benefited you or the campus itself?

DW: Well, you know, I'd been gone 23 years (laugh) and they made some progress out there, which I think is good. If I were there, I would have liked to seen 36:00those things happen. The Phy Ed building, if you want to call it that, down by the river, the welcoming center that I don't know who owns that now with the thing on funding and so forth from the foundation were all good. And I guess the new residence hall, Horizons is a big improvement over the three dorms that were in that area. I like Sage hall, although I don't like where it is because it took my building away (laughs) and I thought that was a total mistake, moving the maintenance people further away from their job site. And even the stores and everything moving there that they don't have where people can just walk over and get their supplies, a shuttle service they have to run to get people around to 37:00things. I don't know how they figure they're saving money in a lot of these operations, but so be it. But yeah, those are all good of course one thing, it's goes before your time, but it wasn't my time. One thing the art department did, they had a contest for somebody with the best ideas for campus and one of them came up with putting mounds in the mall area, that first square up by Dempsey. They actually buried some stuff in the big mounds. I guess it was enjoyed by some, but if you were in ground maintenance, there's no way you could cut the grass on those mounds. They were so steep up and down. I don't know what it contributed. I mean, unless you were playing golf on that kind of a golf course or something (laughs) but anyway, you know. So no, I think they made some good 38:00improvements since I've left there.

MJ: Would you say whoever would be in charge at the time, the campus put other departments or other sections of more importance than others?

DW: Say that again.

MJ: So, uh, with the different departments. So you got yours and any part of the educational, would you say that the campus say funding, there was some other parts that were more important than others in the whole campus view.

DW: I guess I wasn't involved enough with the total campus budget to make a reaction for that. I had my budget, which I was concerned about and was always told to cut back five percent or so each year in that. (cough) I don't know.


MJ: Did you feel like the campus was always in a losing money sort of stage rather than a gaining money?

DW: Well, we were always told by the budgets that came out of Madison that we had to cut back. Fortunately in my department anyway, I didn't get hit too seriously in the employees. Like I say, I've never had to lay anyone off. I had a few open positions for awhile because the money wasn't there and so forth, but we survived.

MJ: Would you say that you are still involved with anything going on at UW Oshkosh today.

DW: Not really. They started a couple of years ago to have a staff alumni group, and as far as I know right now, that's kind of fizzled out. We had two meetings 40:00as far as I know, and that's about all. It was more of like a social thing, never really happened.

MJ: Do you feel that Oshkosh looks out to give back to you in any way or it looks out to get your attention on the campus?

DW: Not really. No. The other day I was on the website for the campus and I think it needs a lot of improvement. Was having a hard time finding anything, although the separate one that they have, UW Oshkosh facilities, I could bring out my old departments and so forth and, and things like that. But I think there, at least that website needs a little work.

MJ: With meaning things of needing any work, is there anything that you feel in 41:00your last few years there could have used work or a change?

DW: Well, I guess there was always things that need change and so forth. I mean, part of our business that I was in was trying to keep the classroom and facilities in good shape and up to date and a lot of that came along of course with the entering of the computers, and the media services, videos, etc. That a lot of that had to be installed. Now my department helped the audio video department puts things in because we ran cables for them and so forth. There was obviously dramatic changes from the time I got there in 1970 when nobody really knew what a computer was to the changes that took place. I was fortunate in 42:00having a little bit of a background in computers. I mean some of my own, in fact, back in the early 19 fifties I had the privilege of running a couple of engineering problems on probably the first large scale computer in a state of Wisconsin and that was in the basement of Bascom hall In madison where they had a room about the size of this whole thing full of one computer and the program that you took the board off and with wires, you cross from here to here to here to here depending on what you wanted to operate on and so forth. So I have a kind of stayed with the computers for awhile but, sure took a little bit of effort to get the campus going back then in the seventies, to get people up to speed and so forth.

MJ: I know you said you weren't involved much with the educational side, but 43:00with this, talking about electronics, did you notice any big changes of how education changed or read about any of it at the campus?Through your time there?

DW: Yeah. Well, uh, I guess I would say what I mentioned with the computers coming on was a change and one thing that I didn't mention, I think that came along and more so now, which I hate to sound like a grouch, but I think there's too much emphasis on athletics and I don't mean the intercollegiate. I mean the local intramurals and that. You know, when I went to school I went there to get educated. I mean, sure, I played a little ball now and then. They got so much on campus now, especially with that new fields that are building down there with the river commons used to be. Do you guys ever study? I'm sorry.


MJ: Talking about that, would you say student life changed throughout your time at Oshkosh?

DW: Well, yes, I guess so. They tried to make the residents halls a little more to compete with the off campus housing. A little more refinement like making group areas and so forth in the dorms rather than just a two room dorm and the toilet down the hall and so forth, you know, and things like that. One point I could never understand and I know I went through it with my own family, my son, and that, is why students live in the dorms when they've got everything taken care of for them and the food and they want to go off campus into these 45:00ranshacky places they got and say they're growing up. I don't know. I think the campus goes along way in making pretty nice dormitories and a pretty good food service and to go off campus and to have to get your own meals and everything. I don't know. I guess I'm old fashioned.

MJ: Would you say the students themselves changed in like the type of them age, race, any?

DW: Well, I think they've changed, but I don't think they've changed enough. I mean black thursday, 94 black students got released. How many do we have here now? About 170 I'm told, out of what 12,000? How many black teachers do we have? Zero. We've got a few administrators, you know like Sims and some of the others, 46:00but they're not teaching. Why? Because Oshkosh, is very segregated. Believe it or not, even though we don't have living across the street like you might in Milwaukee. People at Oshkosh cannot accept black people living in their block or here.

MJ: Why do you think that is?

DW: I have no idea. I didn't grow up in Oshkosh. I don't know where that comes from. Sad case though, especially at the university. I mean I know they have tried recruiting programs over the years, but for some reason the students come and then they leave. Not that many go all the way in graduate. I mean I hope that's an improving. I don't know. There's gotta be something.

MJ: Just to touch base on too. I know the numbers show that through, right 47:00around the middle time of your time here at Oshkosh, it was more instead of people leaving high school, going straight to college, there was more adults coming back and finishing education. Did you see that by any means throughout the students who were here?

DW: I think so because I think they were running more of the weekend colleges and the evening classes, which were attended by those people. Sure.

MJ: Was there anything that you feel was important that you would like to tell me about your time at Oshkosh or any part of Oshkosh itself?

DW: No, I, uh, like I say, I grew up mainly in Milwaukee and lived in the Minneapolis area and Madison area and then been here since 1970 and even though 48:00I spoke a few negative things about Oshkosh, I really like it. Only one bad thing about Oshkosh and that's four bridges, (laughs) but uh, no, and I certainly enjoyed my time at the university.

MJ: What would you say your favorite part, not about work, but the university itself was?

DW: I think working here with all those students around made me feel younger. I mean, there was so much vitality. It was a good place to work and having some working in our departments and so forth, you know? That's good.

MJ: Would you make the same choices of working there again, if you had the option?

DW: Absolutely! In fact I would have liked to have started earlier in life 49:00there. I put in 35 years.

MJ: When you look back and reflect on your time there, what was your biggest, what did you take out of your time at Oshkosh the most?

DW: I don't know. I guess maybe the accomplishments and finishing projects, getting things done right and so forth. Like I'll tell you, you can look out this window and you can see a mistake. I'm glad my people never made. You step over here and you see that scaffolding there on the end of that building. That wall came out three feet further. They just had to cut it off. It wasn't supposed to be out three feet further. With it out that way, the people in those 50:00apartments, half of their windows, they couldn't see the courtyard here. Who reviewed those plans? Took all the expense. Just got done putting it up two weeks ago and now they tore it down. I think, I hope that didn't happen on any of my projects.

MJ: How do you feel that the campus affects the community around it?

DW: I think that it has improved. When I first came there was the city people, town people, and the campus people and I think that line has deminished. I hope so anyway. And I believe so. I think there's gonna be a tough time. I know the university for years and years would like to close High, and Algoma going through the campus, but they're truly the arteries to the downtown section or 51:00the other part of the city. So I don't know if that's can possibly happen or not. We had studied it for a long time and just couldn't figure out other routes to get around the campus without going way out to jackson or something like that and so forth. When I first came here in 1950 a few years earlier, I'm told they made a decision at that point to either stay where they are and build more or move out to the west. They were looking at land west of here to restart the campus. They should have done that, you know, in hindsight (laughs) they should have done it because. But prior to that, then they started with Clow nursing and Fine Arts and Kolf. Those are, you know, they made that decision, let's go! Put up the high rises. Too bad. But, you know, could have had a nice campus west of 52:00here someplace. But--

MJ: What do you know about UW Oshkosh now, being that it's been 20 years, [unclear] since you've been around the work in there, what do you know about the campus and the way it's run and things happen on it now?

DW: Well, mostly what I read in the paper, and uh, hear on tv about the bad chancellor and vice chancellor that are in problems, I can't imagine how those guys did that. But anyway, you know, and we've got a number of um, ex faculty here. We have some of the organizations from the campus come here, musicians, musical groups, so and acting and so forth come in and put on performances here, which is really nice. We've got so much entertainment here. I've only been here 53:00since October and I've had more entertainment in those months than I had in 10 years previous, but you know, and a lot of it is coming from the university. Just like the speaker on Black Thursday was here just a little while ago. So we've got a number of others that come on that LIR program, you know, the learning and retirement and in fact anybody moving in here is a free member of that automatically because they have so many programs here that are very good. So I try to keep a little connected. Higher education is a good thing.

MJ: If you could describe your time at the university in one word, what would that word be? One word.

DW: I guess wonderful.


MJ: Alright. I think that'll conclude my interview. I appreciate you taking the time and hearing me and answering my questions. Thank you very much.

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