Interview with Rob Richardson, 04/24/2018

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Tyler Kohlbeck, Interviewer | uwocs_Rob_Richardson_04242018_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


TK: Okay, so now we're recording. Ummm. Could you just tell us what your name is please?

RR: My names Rob Richardson.

TK: Alright, ummm. Today is April 24th, ummm. Where did you grow up?

RR: Oshkosh

TK: Oshkosh.

RR: Six blocks for the university.

TK: Does that have any, is that why you chose Oshkosh?

RR: It was a money and location were two big things and i was familiar with the campus from going to the campus school.

TK: Did your parents, did the people you grow up around typically go to college?

RR: For the most part most of my friends went to college. Yeah.

TK: What were your parents/ grandparents like? Did they go to college?  Or?

RR: My grandmother did not they kept her down on the farm, but my grandfather 1:00was working on a PhD when he died down in the state capital in his office.

TK: Oh.

RR: And then my mom has an undergraduate degree from down in UW Madison

TK: UW Madison. Was your mom from the Madison area?

RR: She was born in Columbus and lived in sun prairie and then ultimately went to UW Madison from sun prairie.  

TK: Oh nice. Did she commute from home or did she?

RR: Oh no not these days, this was during world war two. She lived on campus.

TK: She lived on campus

RR: She went through college pretty much through the war years, so gas was pretty expensive.

TK: Oh yeah. Were either of her parents in the army?

RR: Ummm, no they weren't in the army. My step dad was in the army but none of my mom's parents were in the military


TK: Oh okay. What did your mom go to school for? What did she end up doing with her degree?

RR: Went into home ec, probably a major they don't even have any more. But she went and she used to teach home ec., home economics is what it stands for, classes at fox valley technical college, in Oshkosh actually.

TK: Oh nice.

RR: In the building that's actually city hall.

TK: Oh, that's cool. I took plenty of home ec classes in high school but i Haven't heard about any in college.

RR: Yeah that was her major, I think she minored in Chemistry

TK: Oh, chemistry nice. So, since you grew up in Oshkosh, did you, was in kind of like going to high school and then transitioning into college or how was that?

RR: Well I started on the UW Oshkosh Campus when it was WSUO, Wisconsin State 3:00College in 1959 when I was a kindergartener. You know where the Swart building is on campus?

TK: Yup

RR: That used to be the Swart Campus school.

TK: Oh

RR: So I went from kindergarten through 9th grade at Campus school, so in a sense I was on college campus from 1959 to 1976. Then went to Oshkosh, now Oshkosh West, at that time it was Oshkosh High school, it was all in one.

TK: Yeah

RR: And then went back and got my degree at UW Oshkosh.

TK: Oh nice. My first college class I actually started out in Swart. And its compared to all the other ones it's so outdated. They haven't really done

RR: Well yeah it goes back to when I was a kid!

TK: Well yeah, I see that now

RR: Actually, the whole university grew out of the normal school system.


TK: Yeah

RR: So, my grandfather actually was a principal at a normal school in Sun Prairie when my mom was growing up and to give you a perspective my mom is almost 95.

TK: Oh, jeez and you're just now, she's just leaving home or what?

RR: Yeah, we're just working on an assisted living right now

TK: Oh nice, so have you ever

RR: we age well

TK: How have you, have you ever, sorry. How many kids do you have?

RR: I have two

TK: Have they both gone to college?

RR: My son is a graduate of UW Parkside, and my daughter is a graduate of the Gateway Technical college, in physical therapy assistant, so they both have some kind of education beyond high school.

TK: Nice, did you try and get them to go to college, or was that their choice on 5:00their own?

RR: Well, some, yeah, he's got a bachelor's degree at UW Parkside in IT and my daughter actually did go to Oshkosh for three semesters. But didn't like it and wanted to go into what she went into which is really worked out she's very successful and then my wife also has a bachelor's degree out of Parkside also. So, each one of our kids tried on of our campuses from our day.

TK: Yeah, that's cool. Did you meet your wife through college? Or?

RR: Nope met her after I had been teaching for a number of years

TK: Oh, where did you teach?

RR: Well I started teaching at Case High School right out of college. I came out of college with three majors, Radio/TV/Film, Journalism, and education

TK: Yup, I see that on your paper here

RR: and so I started out as a teacher in Case High School in Racine, that's where I met my wife, then I taught 5 and a half years in Hartland and then had a 6:00full degree in IT which I can tell you about whenever you want to hear that.

TK: Yeah, cool, once we get to UW Oshkosh more we'll probably talk about that. So, what was it like growing up in your house?

RR: What was it like? It was like, it was a blended family, and education was a priority, both of my dad and my mom had college degrees and I also was expected to go onto college. And umm my two sisters and I all have college degrees.

TK: Okay, so then did you kind of bring that into your kids, kind of encourage them to, were they expected to go to college?

RR: They were expected to go to college for a four year or like my daughter, a two year, to get some education beyond high school, right.


TK: Yeah.

RR: That's the way we were brought up, we were brought up that it was expected. One of my sisters has a masters, I have a master's degree. And the other one has two different bachelor's degrees.

TK: Did you get your masters from Oshkosh as well?

RR: No, I got that through Cardinal Stritch.

TK: Oh, okay cool. Did Oshkosh change a lot while you were growing up or did it kind of stay the same?

RR: ohh, from kindergarten the big growth spurt for the UW Oshkosh campus was in the 60s and so for the going in between buildings for different classes as a child, we were looking out the windows if the classes got boring at the campus school we watched the science building go up, you know the whole thing on the umm the what side of street it's on, the other side of the street from the school. But that was homes and restaurants and a laundromat when I was growing 8:00up. To what it is now, Clow and that parking lot. So, it went from basically a couple homes in the neighborhood to what it is now today.

TK: That, that's crazy to think about now there's buildings everywhere around campus.

RR: When I was growing up where the Arts and Comm building and the Theatre and all that I think it was a nursing home in that block and houses and even the Miles Kimball, the original Miles Kimball had a house in that block, I think it was on the other side of that street.

TK: Yeah, so definitely a lot has changed since you started here, that's interesting. So, is your current neighborhood just about the same as Oshkosh or?

RR:  Well you mean were I am here in Mount Pleasant? No, it's actually quite a 9:00bit different

TK: Quite a bit different, is it smaller there?

RR: Well thee, depends, the neighborhood is much more rural. I'm part of a much larger population, Racine county has a lot more population for instance than Winnebago county. I mean Oshkosh now is up to about 62,000 and when I was there it was about 50 and the metro area where I'm at is almost 100,000.

TK: Oh yeah, so definitely bigger.

RR: Right

TK: So, obviously growing up how were the teachers, since you've been through Oshkosh, were they the same all the time, what kind of subjects did you have to take?

RR: Actually, university wise?

TK: For your, just throughout, let's just start with your high school, was that 10:00kind of general or did you have classes you could enroll in?

RR: The Oshkosh High School which is now known as Oshkosh West, I mean when you think about the Oshkosh School system versus the Racine School System the Oshkosh School system had PhD's and a lot of master's degree teachers much like campus school, a lot of them were working on their degrees. So, we were kind of like guinea pigs. So, I think throughout most of my college I went through like a guinea pig. I mean campus school was deigned to train teachers, you had student teachers and interns all the time as regular teachers, I remember when I was at Oshkosh High School one of my history teachers, one of my favorite teachers in fact of all time, was working on a master's degree that was a 11:00complete independent study, and so we were one of the first ones to do that as part of his thesis. It was quite interesting to do that kind of education where they were trying that out on us.

TK: Yeah that's super cool. Is that kind of why you chose education, or did you think it was interesting?

RR: Well yeah, I mean I like technology hence Radio/ TV

TK: Yeah

RR: And obviously the education piece at the time is where I started but it isn't where I ended up, I ended up in a completely different career plus at the time that's where the innovation was, I mean when I was doing tv they hadn't come out with VHS or DVDs and stuff, this was two inch video tape you had to manually wind on to spools and clean the VCR heads every couple hours, a lot 12:00different than it was maybe 10 or 15 years later.

TK: Oh yeah, that's interesting. Do you not do anything with Radio/TV/Film anymore?

RR: Well when I was in my second teaching career they put me in charge of computers and the theory was that they hooked the TVs up so that I should be able to figure them out. You can't make this stuff up, that's literally how I got into computers.

TK: That's cool

RR: Before I started my job, two weeks before I started my job at Hartland Arrowhead the guy said you're going to be in charge of our computer program and I said what brought you to that conclusion. He said huh you hooked up TV sets. You can figure it out, you got weeks.

TK: Wow

RR: So, I learned computers in two weeks and never had a computer course in my life.

TK: So, did you go to school for that or did you just--

RR: Nope, figured it out. I have worked on the team that worked on the first 13:00artificial intelligence, I designed clusters, I designed massively parallel stuff and I've never had a computer course

TK: Oh wow, that's pretty cool

RR: I taught em. I taught computer courses.

TK: Oh yeah? And you didn't go to school at all for it

RR: Yeah, I haven't taken a computer course and I've invented stuff. That's the ironic part.

TK: That's pretty cool, obviously it was something you liked so it wasn't to hard learn it

RR: It seems to be the way my brain works believe it or not. I passed it down to my son.

TK: Yeah

RR: He can do the same stuff, probably better than I can

TK: That's awesome, was it one of those things where he's like my dad does this so I want to get into or just was interested?

RR: I think he found it interesting, he actually has a degree in it. I, ya know by the time he went through it they actually had degrees for that stuff. When I 14:00went into IT it was just literally, apple was just coming out of the garage, commodore, Atari, anyways so umm that's just the way it evolved, I was in when it was evolving so I, even when I was a teacher we were putting in things for the first time for IBM and when they couldn't figure it out, I had to figure out how to make it work.

TK: Wow

RR: So, then they'd send engineers to ask me how to figure out how I'd make their stuff work. And that's how I got into IBM.

TK: That's pretty cool and basically you had no education and they probably did

RR: Well yeah, they were trained engineers and I just figured it out. I had education it just wasn't in computers.

TK: Yeah, cool. Is that what you wanted to. When you were younger did you have 15:00an idea of what you wanted to do when you want to college?

RR: Yeah, I wanted to work somehow in Radio/TV.

TK: And then that ended up changing, is there a reason that changed?

RR: Opportunities

TK: Yeah, definitely

RR: Like you know this was before they had told you to plan on changing your career three or four times.

TK: Yeah

RR: It's just the way it went

TK: Did you? Sorry go ahead

RR: I was fortunate enough to marry a professional who also had a job so when I needed to make changes it wasn't like we were gonna be ya know homeless or anything, so we were able to do a lot of different things.

TK: Yeah. Did your parents have, did they want you to do whatever you wanted to do just as long as you went to college or did they want you to go on a certain path?

RR: Ummm, they wanted me to go to college, my dad did not want me to go into the 16:00public sector, he did not want me to be a teacher, which I did all those things

TK: Yeah

RR: So, I kind of blazed my own trail

TK: Cool, Ummm. Was there anything that interested you about UW Oshkosh or did you just go because you were close or was this one of the better colleges?

RR: I went because it was close and economically, I mean in those days you had to do what you had to do financially to make it work. Ummm, I also because of growing up in Oshkosh and the stuff I did in high school I got to learn a lot of the professors.

TK: Oh Yeah.

RR: And so, I liked that interaction, when I was in high school I was actually doing stuff sometimes with college, projects too


TK: Yeah. Was there advanced courses for that or where you just kind of

RR: I kind of just free wheeled it into different things, some of my contacts were able to do things outside of the curriculum.

TK: Oh yeah, cool. Did a lot of your friends go to UW Oshkosh too?

RR: Quite a few, I mean some went to Madison, I'm trying to think, some went to Madison, a lot went to Oshkosh, some went far field but quite a few went to Oshkosh.

TK: Oh cool. So then did you. What were the dorms like then? Did they have?

RR: They had dorms then, I didn't stay in them. I lived six blocks away it was quicker to walk to school.

TK: Oh yeah

RR: And a lot cheaper, I didn't. I mean I had friends in the dorm and I'd go visit them but that's the closest I'd get to the dorms.

TK: That's cool. I would much rather stay at home than the dorm, but an hour and 18:00a half drive every day is a bit too much for that.

RR: Oh yeah, for me it was a six-block walk

TK: That would be nice. Do you remember much about your first day coming to school? Was it just like high school?

RR: I think because I had spent so many years at campus school, it wasn't too intimidating, ummm. When I went to Oshkosh high school. It was the biggest high school in the state because the next year they split it into two. So if you weren't in a class you were expected to be gone, in high school, because it was just overloaded. It literally had teachers come in two shifts.

TK: Oh really?

RR: And they ran from, I think, seven in the morning to five at night. They had teachers come in in shifts because there was so many students, the school was built for like 1500 and we had almost 3000.


TK: Holy cow, that would be nuts.

RR: And so you were already so independent in high school that bouncing from class to class in college just wasn't that much different

TK: Yeah, I couldn't imagine that. I graduated with 32 kids and coming to college was just like, this is insane, like I've never seen this many people

RR: My graduating class was 850

TK: My high school was like 200, maybe.

RR: Yup

TK: So being in a class of what I graduated with, of my high school, in some of these pit lectures was so weird.

RR: Yeah, for you it was probably a lot more traumatic than it was for me

TK: Yeah, I was totally freaking out. I was like I don't know how I'm going to do this, I don't know how I'm going to make friends, like I'm used to having to make friends because everyone's in the same class as me. So, it was definitely a big jump.


RR: I was familiar with the campus, I was familiar with the independence already, so it wasn't too unsettling for me

TK: No, so were you like in the same classrooms or were you in different buildings?

RR: We were in different buildings, Swart at that time was still the campus school.

TK: Oh yeah. So you..

RR: I never took any college classes in Swart, sometimes I'd walk through just for yucks but I'd never, it wasn't like I had any classes, I know the college classrooms now because I know a former art teacher that I still keep in touch with, believe it or not, all these years later, umm, was, he had pictures from when they cleaned out his art room

TK: Oh that's cool. And that was your high school art class, you'd stop by there?

RR: Junior high school. Junior high school.

TK: Oh wow


RR: Yup, he's up in Amherst now and I see him every summer at least once or twice

TK: Oh cool. So, do you remember any of your college professors?

RR: Well I remember a number of them, in fact I've run into a couple of them in life around in different places, I was at a turkey dinner once in Franksville Wisconsin, which I'm sure you have no idea where it is.

TK: Nope, No idea

RR: And I was at a turkey dinner waiting to go in and the guy behind me goes, you're Rob Richardson, Right? Yup. He says remember me I was your college professor. I said I'll be darned. He goes, it was an education college professor.

TK: That's so cool

RR: So, I mean there's people that know me all over the world so it's kind of a bizarre thing. I mean that's were these people ran into me.

TK: Talking with your kids are the general education classes seem to be the same 22:00or are they kind of different know than they used to be?

RR: I think general ed is pretty much general ed.

TK: Yeah

RR: It's really your specialty courses that make your degree.

TK: Oh yeah

RR: I don't know if you can still test out, the nice part was in my day you could test out of some classes.

TK: Yeah, I guess when you take the ACT you can test up in math or if you don't really need a lot of math courses you don't really need to take math if you're super good at it I guess.

RR: I tested out of trig or I tested out of calculus. I've never taken calculus.

TK: So I tested out of the 100 level math courses and then I got to go pretty much to the business classes. Which I mean was kind of nice but coming from such a small school it was kind of hard getting in to the harder classes.


RR: Yeah, I remember we could test out of a couple of different things.

TK: Yeah

RR: Time well spent

TK: Yeah, where did you spend most if your time on campus? Was there a ummm, like we kind of have reeve union, was reeve union here then?

RR: Oh yeah, I spent time. I used to meet a couple of different people and we'd play pool because if it was just an hour or so I'd just come and go down there I was on the radio station, so I had an office up in the radio station for about two years, so I could go up there.

TK: Oh cool. So, were you a student that was on campus most of the time or if you had time would you go home?

RR: Well if I had a couple hours and I had an off-campus job so If I had a couple hours sometimes I'd go to work for a while, if I had an hour here or there, like I said I had an office on campus for like two years.

TK: Yeah. Did you spend most of your time studying or did you go out and party 24:00with everyone?

RR: Oh, I would love to tell you I was studious, but I wasn't. I found the parties too.

TK: Oh yeah, how did your parents feel about that? Or would you not go home after parties?

RR: Ohhh, they probably didn't know

TK: They probably didn't know?

RR: Probably not

TK: Did you just come home late at night or would you?

RR: Oh yeah

TK: Just quiet enough they didn't question it?

RR: Sometimes they were awake, it depended if it was one o'clock or three, it just depended

TK: Yeah, so did you meet a lot of people from different places or did you kind of keep your friend group from Oshkosh?

RR: Oh no, I met people from all over. Umm, I was in such diverse majors first off, three majors, and I even had to sort of because they'd usually run into 25:00people that it was a major and a minor.

TK: Yeah

RR: They even had to figure out if I needed a minor after I had two majors, that was actually a decision at the dean level that had to be made.

TK: Oh wow. And you still graduated in four years with three majors?

RR: I graduated in four years with two majors and I was missing student teaching to finish off the third major, so I came back after I graduated and did student teaching, so I could get the third major. I did two and a half majors or all except student teaching I did in four years. Some semesters I did 21 credits

TK: Oh wow, I couldn't even imagine 21 credits, that would be insane

RR: That's what I did

TK: Yeah, that's insane. 15 is hard to keep up with sometimes

RR: I did the work. I think I graduated with 163 credits and I think you needed 128 to graduate.

TK: Yeah, that sounds about right, that's pretty cool. So, what are some of the 26:00memories you have of your college days? Is there any that stick out?

RR: Well, we had fun, umm. One interim a bunch of different majors me and the college put together a plane and went over to England and France for two weeks.

TK: Oh cool

RR: So, we gallivanted around England and France for two weeks and had the time of our lives. Got a couple of credits for sitting through some tours and lectures and saw the world it was pretty fun, that was a good time, Uhhh. Remember uhhh that was the era of streaking, so I remember that around the mall. We had a lot of fun in the radio station doing a lot of things in radio and ummm TV and some of the people I worked with in the TV nature were pretty fun. We had 27:00one of our professors at the time had come from Disney.

TK: From Disney?

RR: From Disney, so he had a lot of contacts.

TK: Oh yeah

RR: So he got a lot of major stars at the time to come in and do long seminars and thinks like that, I don't know if you ever heard of the TV program Cannon?

TK: Yeah, I've heard of that before

RR: Well Bill Conrad was the star, you know, 300 plus pound star, he spent a week with us.

TK: Oh cool

RR: and I still remember the first time I met him. Ummm, the elevator doors opened in the basement of the Arts and Comm building and I looked at him and said oh gee I guess there's no room, so I'll have to wait for the next elevator and his comment was shut up wise, you finish the sentence because I know you're recording, get in here! And that started a week of just non-stop entertainment 28:00parties. The guy was a party animal but since I had wised off to hi the first time I met him he was an instant friend and we had like so much fun and he brought out takes from when, he was the original Matt Dillon, on the radio gun smoke

TK: Oh cool

RR: he brought a whole out take tape, which I still have, it's a hoot to listen to. But ya know those are the kind of things that are just interesting, at different ya know professors put together from the European tour to the special people that would come on campus that I think you know really made them special.

TK: Yeah, that's

RR: PJ Woreck in journalism and stuff like that

TK: That's super cool, like some of the people you meet, like you said, you wised off to him right away and it's kind of just like weird how it starts out to become friends or how you become close or start talking right away


RR: Yup

TK: So it says here that you were part of the Alpha Epsilon Rho Radio/TV/Film honor society?

RR: Correct

TK: Correct, and that's the honor society for electronic media students, so did you get into that because of your Radio/TV/Film?

RR: Right, Radio/TV/Film was what we were in for.

TK: And what did you, what was that like?

RR: It was an honor society, so it was a regular meeting, I was the treasurer at one point, we had our meetings and our gatherings, our initiations, it was fun group of people, these were the people that because it was an honor society, these people were the top of the major.

TK: Yeah

RR: And and, so we did special projects and just had a good time.

TK: So, did you help out like the, since you were the smarter people, quote 30:00un-quote, would you help the with other people that needed the help?

RR: Actually umm, I forget how many credits I got but I wound up for getting credits for teaching a total of I think four different college classes while I was a student

TK: Oh cool, just for helping out?

RR: Well what I would do is after I took the course then they would bring me back and I forget what it was called, and you would get a couple of credits for helping teach the class.

TK: Oh nice

RR: So, I got that and then one course I took in education the professor knew what I was doing through Radio/TV and some volunteer work at the high school and he actually asked me to teach certain units because he didn't know how to teach them and so part of the deal was I would get an A on that one because I was teaching most of the course so they could learn it.


TK: That's pretty cool

RR: I had a bizarre career in education, that got more interesting as life went on

TK: Yeah, you kind of went with everything and got to learn a lot. Were you in any clubs or organizations or were you just kind of part of that one?

RR: Just that one

TK: Just that one

RR: Mhmm

TK: Did you go to sporting events?

RR: Yeah, I liked football

TK: You liked football

RR: Yeah, so we, when I was in college working with the school district, the public-school district, we started the first televising of the high school and the college football games out at the stadium

TK: Oh, that's cool

RR: It was all black and white back in those days

TK: Yeah, but if you started that

RR: Yeah, I actually directed the cameras and the coverage and we had a couple 32:00of people that would do the on air verbal stuff and give the analyst type thing, we call it now days, and I directed all the camera shots and the transitions and everything else I was the director and sometimes the producer and it was a pretty skeleton crew in those days, and yeah we recorded. I know the stadium very well

TK: So, would you put that on the TV then?

RR: Yeah, and it was broadcast multiple times on the local cable channel

TK: And did you, was that on the radio too or just TV?

RR: No that was all TV on the cable

TK: Oh cool

RR: I'm sure they had radio coverage, but I was part of the TV piece of it

TK: Cool. Did you go to football games all the time?

RR: Yeah (incomprehensible) I have a packer hat on now for what it's worth. But 33:00yeah that's, first off, it got me into the games for free. Yeah, it was fun to do it

TK: Yeah, did you any intramural sports when you were in college?

RR: No

TK: No

RR: Nope, I was on the recording end of them, I am a great spectator

TK: Yeah, high school sports, those were fun but I could not do that again in college, not with all the classes and everything.

RR: Well we had to do two physical education courses and I think mine was tennis and bowling and archery

TK: Oh wow

RR: And it was definitely low impact, high entertainment kind of stuff

TK: Yeah. I have a friend right now and he's in a jogging class and it's a one credit class and he just jogs around like once a week and I was like that seems 34:00so easy

RR: We, I think it was in the basement of the Union or Albee, maybe Albee they had an archery range and I took archery and my specialty was hitting bulls eyes like three targets over and returning arrows off of the ducts beck to the starting line my aim was awful. It was entertaining as all get up.

TK: That's super cool, I don't know if they still do that down there, I've never really done any phy. ed classes or anything. So, did you go to any homecoming dances or anything?

RR: I think I went to one, it was a very nonevent one. And I came back to one homecoming. I was supposed to meet a friend of mine from Minneapolis, due to 35:00whatever he never made it, so I only made one, because I didn't really know anybody and the people I knew didn't show up so it was, so I only did one of those and then when I was in college I did one homecoming dance but that was about it.

TK: Oh nice. What else would you do for fun on campus? Or off campus?

RR: Well, I ain't dumb for any money so I wound up doing a lot of working, I did work year round

TK: Oh yeah

RR: So, most of my time was spent working

TK: Yeah, works, work can be fun I guess. I work at a restaurant, so I mean, its decently fun there

RR: I painted houses, so it was very solitary and messy

TK: Oh yeah. I could not do that

RR: Well I cracked a few ribs and fell off a ladder so that was a specialty


TK: Oh jeez, yeah, painting. Ladders are not my thing, I did roofing one summer and ladders, I just hated them, I was like, being up on a roof, yeah that sucked, but

RR: The fall doesn't hurt but it's the landing that gets you every time

TK: Yeah, you're always just scared to hit the ground.

RR: Yup

TK: So, did you go to bars often?

RR: Oh yeah

TK: What were the bars like?

RR: It was in the 70s, so it was a lot of disco and bell bottoms and that kind of stuff

TK: Did you go--

RR: Wisconsin street, you know the whole strip there was pretty much Andy's Library and Kelly's and a little bit

TK: Did you stay on Wisconsin Street most of the time or was there main street bars then?

RR: That or just basically on by the campus and then sometimes house parties.


TK: Yeah, there's plenty of house parties now a day

RR: Well there was back then too

TK: Yeah

RR: Wop parties

TK: Would you that there were more women or men at Oshkosh?

RR: I think it was pretty balance

TK: Pretty balance

RR: Yeah, my time and my majors were all very, ya know, there was a pretty good balance male and female, in all the different majors

TK: Yeah, that's cool. Did you have relationships here at UWO or did you kinda just do your own thing?

RR: Oh, I had a couple of girlfriends through that time, yeah.

TK: Would you bring them home to your parents or would you kind of just stay on campus?


RR: Basically, mostly just stuff on campus we'd do together

TK: Yeah

RR: Or in town, one of the unique things was I had a car and so it was an escape to get off campus.

TK: Yeah. Was there campus issues while you were here?

RR: The campus issues, where I would say issues were when I was at campus school as a child and at junior high school. There was, they had just started integrating the campus in the 60s and I think it was 108 black students pretty much tore up the administration building and then crosses were burned, it's pretty well etched in my mind, that era. And they were all expelled but there were cross burned, it was a tough time in the 60s.


TK: Yeah, we kinda talked about that a little in class about how they were tearing up building, throwing desks, and everything

RR: I actually went through it as a kid, we had been swimming at Albee, Albee hall, and we and what they'd do they'd send us back to campus school unattended and at the time, it just happened, the PE teacher was a college professor at that time didn't know that the whole thing was just erupting, so they sent us back to campus school running through the snow. Right in front of the administration building with all these smoldering crosses. And all these debris in the yard and they had just cleared it. And so, I still have this etched memory of these burning black crosses and this debris and we're kind of scampering through there just as fast as our little feet could get us through there.


TK: Yeah

RR: Because we had no idea what was going on and I think they closed the campus for a couple days afterward if I remember correctly and we were not we didn't go back swimming for a week or so

TK: Yeah, you definitely, that's one of those things where you kind of just want to get away from when you're younger, you don't really want to find out what's going on

RR: Well they wound up realizing they had to tell us about it later in the day, but I mean sending us through there didn't endear us to the police because the police were still there trying to figure out what we were doing running through it

TK: Yeah

RR: You know, a bunch of junior high school kids. So yeah, that was probably the most, that was probably the most impressive thing I have. I mean I remember Ronald Reagan in the 70s I think it was the 76 election came and spoke at the gym in Albee and he, they egged his car and I remember some of that and 41:00streaking as I say we found out one of our friends was going to be streaking with a mask so we were yelling his name out, that really ticked him off, that was pretty entertaining.

TK: Yeah, that's funny. What would you say the--

RR: Especially when he turned his head in recognition, that was pretty funny.

TK: Oh yeah. What would you say the racial makeup of UWO was like while you were here?

RR: Well by the time I made it back to campus there was a growing minority, mainly black but some Hispanic, there was a black student union by then and black studies program, so for about a year after all the riots there was nothing but it grew back in by when I went in the 70s the rioting had been in the 60s, things had settled down and it was a growing population but it wasn't unusual to 42:00have some minority in the classroom while I was in college.

TK: So, would you say that everyone kind of got a long or was there fighting?

RR: I don't remember any trouble, I don't remember any trouble while I was in college. Ya know, I'm more likely to have a joke or something, so I got along with everybody and there wasn't, I don't remember and real type of disturbance. I'm sure there was stuff, I'm sure there was stuff in the dorms, when you don't live there, I kind of came in and out so I'm sure I was a little clueless on some of it.

TK: Yeah and you kind of got a long with everyone.

RR: Yeah, I kinda had a wicked sense of humor so that was pretty disarming

TK: Oh yeah. Would you say that you learned a lot while you were here at UWO?

RR: Oh yeah. I mean I, people ask me how I was able to do what I did in my later 43:00career and I think I learned how to learn.

TK: Kind of opened your eyes

RR: There's a lot said in the media now that colleges are (incomprehensible) but when I was there we were learning how to learn and you know because to the day people can't figure out how I can have a full career in IT I mean literally very high end IT that, the artificial intelligence and everything else how I could do that without taking a computer course and I tell people that it's just because I learned how to learn

TK: Yeah, that's cool. When you graduated did you kind of feel a sense of relief like you were finally done with your four years?

RR: Well I think everybody has that, I mean and then you have ten years where you wake up and you think you missed a test or forgot to study for something and then you remember you're not in school anymore

TK: Yeah

RR: Well yeah, it's a bit of relief


TK: Yeah, so when you graduated did you want to be a teacher right away or did you kind of?

RR: I signed about a teacher contract about three weeks before I finished student teaching in my semester after I graduated. So yeah, I went, literally right into the classroom after the semester after graduating.

TK: Yeah, cool. So, since after teaching you went right into IT. Is that kind of what you stayed with then?

RR: I, yeah, literally as I told you when I was at my second teaching job they put computers under me and I just was able to figure things out and when system engineers called the teacher at a high school to figure out how to make their lingering systems work they started to go why are you there and why aren't you here? And so after about five and a half years I went over to IBM and they hired 45:00me as a system engineer and I started out working with their proprietary systems until they found out they couldn't figure out the unit system and so I was in on the ground floor of the RS 6000 and the massively parallel systems that are basically the backbone of their mainframe now.

TK: Yeah, so did they send you through training then when, throughout your career I guess?

RR: Nope

TK: Nope, kinda just learned it all by yourself?

RR: Part of the issue, what makes my career so bizarre is that I wound up creating things, I created the cluster environment what's called high availability cluster multiprocessing which allows multiple systems to work off 46:00the same hard drives and if one processor goes down another system can take over, now days almost anybody can do it but back in the 80s even IBM couldn't do it until we found the right parts

TK: Oh wow

RR: And I had this nasty little habit, I kind of made friends, with various plants and development groups and so I worked with a team in Austin initially to put together this program because we were trying to compete with Deck who had some system that could do it and we put it together and I wound up the first person in the world certified on the systems because I, it was kind of easy because I helped develop it, so I worked on stuff all over the world as far as that and as far as different types of complex storage systems at the time.

TK: That's cool, so you've definitely had an interesting career.

RR: Well yeah and then in the middle of that all they brought me into the first generation of artificial intelligence


TK: Oh yeah

RR: And the all of this stuff doesn't sound like much anymore but put yourself back in the 1988, 89,90, and the reason I was brought in for that one, first off was to field test it, to make sure it was actually useable, but nobody knew what it was, so to bring in the former teacher to be able to teach people about what it is and as a system engineer they would bring me into all these different projects because I could listen to what somebody need and then based on all of my ability to remember what all the parts and pieces were I could design systems in about an hour in front of the customer and show them how it would work and so I was literally taking from the time I would walk in they would say. You know, I have an example they would say, I have a warehouse, if it goes down I lose a 48:00million dollars an hour, what ca you do that if one of my systems goes down something else takes over and I'm up in like five minutes? Well I put the pieces together and they were happy to pay half a million dollars for that

TK: Yeah, absolutely

RR: And so, I did that on a daily basis for about eight years.

TK: Oh jeez, wow.

RR: and then that kind of got attention from this group in Austin that then used me for these other projects because I learned the stuff quickly enough to learn how we could use it in the real world because a lot of this stuff was pie in the sky stuff

TK: Yeah

RR: And from there went out to Racine county and was the IT director there for 13 years and then since I've retired, I've been retired about nine years, I volunteer at a local village and designed all of the infrastructure for all of 49:00the new buildings they built and right now I'm in the middle of the Foxconn Project

TK: Yeah cool, that's, I was googling the Foxconn Project after you emailed me last time and I was, it was interesting

RR: It's big

TK: Yeah, it seemed like

RR: It's the biggest foreign investment in a manufacturing facility in US history.

TK: and you have the opportunity to work on it so that's

RR: I'm the volunteer chairman of the community development authority

TK: Cool

RR: And so, I've been in it since, I've been in it now about 14 months and, yeah, it was interesting, it started out as a little 4 million square foot facility and now it's up to between 22 and 32 million square feet

TK: Oh wow. That's definitely grown

RR: And 13,000 employees when it's done about 9,000 people work on the project 50:00to build it

TK: Yeah

RR: And right now, we've got dirt moving 24 hours a day to get it done

TK: That's insane

RR: Yeah, it's been interesting

TK: Definitely, have you had much involvement in UWO since you graduated?

RR: I've been back a couple of times, kept in touch with a couple if the professors over the years, I came back for one homecoming, I toured a couple of the buildings that different people suggested, but that's about it

TK: Yeah, cool. What kind of advice would you give to current students?

RR: Learn how to learn

TK: Learn how to learn

RR: It sounds really goofy but it's important and the reason I've had the career 51:00I've had is because I can figure things out, and I don't, like I say there's a lot of flak right now that people that college gets are getting (incomprehensible) I hope it's not true, we learned how to learn

TK: Yeah

RR: And we learned the basic on how to do x, y, and z learned that and we had the opportunity to apply it to make new projects, make new things, so by the time I get the real world, I wasn't afraid to try new things.

TK: Yeah, absolutely. Everyone's got to try something new all the time.

RR: Right, and you got to think for yourself and you know as I say you don't do as I did for a career if you're waiting for somebody to show you how to do it

TK: Yup, you got to learn how to learn.

RR: Yup

TK: Absolutely

RR: Not everybody can do it, not everybody can do it. Some people have to be book fed everything, but I learned how to learn, and I learned how to learn there


TK: That's awesome

RR: Boy, that's profound.

TK: Well cool, thank you for your time, I really

RR: Is this going to bundle in to something that I'll be able to see or hear or view or what?

TK: So after this im going to transcribe this so we'll have words on it and then as a group we're making a little iBook, so I think there's six or seven people in my group, so they're also interviewing people, so then we're all going to put in a little bit of our stories and we'll have some iBook out of it or some sort of book online that I can send you once I'm all done with it.

RR: Sounds good

TK: Awesome, thank you so much for your time

RR: You're welcome. Take care

TK: Yup. Bye

RR: Bye

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