Interview with Ron Hermes, 12/02/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Berta Hidri, Interviewer | uwocs_Ron_Hermes_12022016.wav
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


BH: Okay. This is Berta Hidri. The date is December 2nd 2016 and I am on the phone with Ron Hermes from Madison, Wisconsin. And could you. Tell me a little bit about the community you grew up in.

RH: Sure, I was born and raised in Green bay, Wisconsin. So, about an hour north of Oshkosh. It is, the third largest city in the state and it is a, at least when I was there which was many years ago now but when I was there it was a very blue collar working class community. My dad worked in the paper mills there in Green bay, which was at the time the largest industry in the city, there were several paper companies that were located there and it, you know, I think 1:00combined all the paper companies probably employed the largest percentage of workers [unclear] in the city. I don't know if that's still the case, but when I was growing up the paper mills were kind of a predominant part of the city.

BH: And would you say most of the people in the city worked in the paper mills then?

RH: I don't, well I guess. I don't know if that's necessarily true, I would say that, you know my sense was that most of the families were in manufacturing of some kind there. And the paper mills I think we're just the largest companies that were located in the city.

BH: Okay. Well, you mentioned your father worked at one of these paper mills, 2:00what did your mother do?

RH: So, my mom was a stay at home mom for many, many, many years. There were five of us. I am the youngest of five boys in the family and so my mom stayed at home while all of us were in school except. So I was the youngest, there was quite a spread of years between me and my next brother in line. And so when I was in high school, actually when I was in junior high school I was an only child, I was the only one at home and by the time I was in ninth grade tenth grade, my mom started working a little bit out of the home, working as a seamstress. And ultimately by the time I graduated from high school she was 3:00running her own business out of the basement of our house, as a seamstress doing curtains and window dressings and things like that for various employers in such, you know in the community restaurants and things like that.

BH: Okay. What elementary or middle school, if you can remember, that you went to?

RH: Sure, I. So, I went to Jackson elementary school, in the Jackson elementary school which was kindergarten through sixth grade. And then I attended what was then Franklin junior high school which was seventh grade through ninth grade, 4:00that has since changed and is now middle school and goes sixth grade through eighth grade and then I attended Green Bay West high school, tenth grade through twelfth grade and that's now ninth grade through twelfth grade but when I attended it, it was tenth grade through twelfth.

BH: Were the, were your class relatively large?

RH: So, you know I, I'm not sure that I remember the sizes. I mean I think we had, I think they were you know, probably in the mid- twenties when I was in high school and certainly when I think when I was in grade school I look back at my pictures, my class room pictures I recall we probably had, you know, in the neighborhood of twenty five kids or something like that in the classes. So, I 5:00mean that is larger I think for most class rooms these days where there's been a focus to make the classroom sizes smaller.

BH: Okay. Were, now I know you said you were the youngest in your family, were you close with your other siblings?

RH: Well, I. Yes I was, it was just different because I was so much younger so my oldest brother was eleven years older than I was so I barely remember him being in the house, you know because he essentially graduated when I was in the first grade. You know, I just don't have a lot of, I have more memory of him coming home during the summers. He also actually attended UW Oshkosh (University of Wisconsin) and was a graduate at UW Oshkosh my eldest brother is and...So, I 6:00remember him coming home from the summers and working all of the summer more so than I remember him living in home and being at home growing up with him. And then, you know, my, so it was eleven, nine, eight and six was the, so there's six years difference between myself and my next brother in line. So, there again, when I was in... he graduated when I was getting out of the sixth grade, so I never went to the same school, no I take that back, when I was in kindergarten, my brother was in sixth grade so that's the only time I was even in school with any of my siblings for that one year when I was in kindergarten. So, I do think I was, we were close but it was, they were off to college, you know during my formidable years growing up in the house which was why I (unclear) that I was almost like an only child in some ways. Because nobody else 7:00was in the house.

BH: So then, did you become closer with your mother and father since you were basically kind of the youngest so...

RH: I, I, yeah. So I think that I would have had a little different relationship with my parents because of that. There was certainly more time, you know, were I got most or I got all the attention cause I was the only one at home and that certainly, I think played a factor in my, the relationship I have with my mother during those years with my mom and my dad just worked a lot and worked shift work so one week he would work from three o'clock in the afternoon till eleven at night and those days I would hardly ever see him, those weeks. The next week he would work, say form eleven o'clock at night until seven o'clock in the 8:00morning and those weeks I would see him a little bit more although he was sleeping a lot during the day because he was working all night long. And then he would work a work a week that would be seven in the morning until three o'clock in the afternoon which is more of a traditional kind of work schedule ant those were the weeks when I would see him the most. So, you know, my dad just worked a lot and he was working overtime and that there was just less time that I would see him at home.

BH: Okay. So I kind of wanted to go back to your community a little more, would you say you were a little bit more involved in your community then?

RH: SO, I don't know, I wouldn't say that I was involved with my community, doing volunteer work and stuff if that's what you mean by involved. I did not do 9:00much of that or any of that at all. You know, we... I essentially was hanging out with friends from school and in the neighborhood and did what typical kids do and...But I don't know that I was real involved... and after I left to go to college, you know, after I graduated I you know, there's...I didn't really spend a whole lot of time back in Green Bay for the most part.

BH: Okay. Now talking a little bit more about Oshkosh. Would you say your eldest brother kind of influenced you to choose Oshkosh?

RH: Well, actually just to put things, you know (unclear) to put things into 10:00perspective a little bit maybe. I actually, when I (unclear) graduating from high school I was actually accepted and started my college career at the University of Wisconsin Madison. So, I didn't even apply at Oshkosh, I had applied at Madison was accepted, started here at Madison but actually left (unclear) role from the university midway through my first semester here So, I never even completed a semester of school here at Madison. I don't have a transcript or anything like that. I left midway through my first semester, went back home and worked and yes I would say that my... knowing that my brother was at Oshkosh, went to Oshkosh which he would've graduated by that time, and I had some close friends who were attending Oshkosh and that really related to, you 11:00know, when I wanted to go back to school between UW Green Bay and UW Oshkosh I think it was just really friends that really drew me to Oshkosh over Green Bay.

BH: Now, what made you kind of take that break in between and switch from Madison to Oshkosh?

RH: Yea, so as I said when I graduated, to graduation from high school I came to Madison but I left (unclear) before the midway point of the first semester. I went back home and I worked for the rest of that school year so, I didn't start Oshkosh...So my freshman year in Oshkosh actually started in the fall of 1986, I graduated from high school 1985 and I started UW Oshkosh in the fall of 1986.


BH: And on the data base you put down your major as history, what made you choose that major?

RH: (laughs) Maybe the process of elimination, I don't know, So, I, you know I think I was as something as other students a little directional less, I didn't know what I wanted to do, I tried a bunch of different things and you know I actually as I said I attended Oshkosh starting the fall of 86', at the end of that year, so after the first years or four years I actually took another year off of school. And a friend of mine and I left and went out to live 13:00with my brothers out in California in San Diego and spent a few months out in San Diego and realized that, that wasn't were I wanted to be. And actually came back to go back to Oshkosh and worked the rest of that school year at Oshkosh and then started UW Oshkosh again in the fall of 1988, and then continued until I graduated. And I think it was during that time, I graduated May 1989. I was...tried math and I tried business and [unclear] continuing business for a [unclear] and we looked at other things and then one day I was just having this conversation with my mom about--like I didn't know what, what I needed to do. I 14:00didn't know what I wanted for a major and my mom just said "well what about History, you always liked History in the school year, you always were very interested in it and [unclear] report on it and so what about history?" It was something that I hadn't really thought about it and so after that conversation I kind of just started thinking about it and I was...and I looked at the course work and what it would take and I was like well why not and so that's, that's how I ended up in History. This conversation I had with my mom suggested that it's something to look at and that's what put me in the direction in History.

BH: So, would you say your mom was kind of your biggest influence then in deciding that pathway.


RH: Yea absolutely, I...yea absolutely [unclear] you know it was [unclear] because neither my mom nor my dad went to college. My dad he had an eighth grade education and that was [unclear] cause he left in the eighth grade. My mom graduated from high school but never went on to secondary education or higher education and you know, so, you know, for her to just [unclear] and try to think about that is, is just really pretty great that you know someone who didn't have a college education helped talk me through to figure out what I wanted to do with my college life.

BH: Would you say that your parents thought higher education was very important then, since they kind of...

RH: Oh, yea actually there was no question in our house hold that we were gonna 16:00go onto college. My...that was...there was no doubt about it.

BH: Ok, also was it common in your community for people to go onto college or pursue higher education?

RH: So, I, I think so. I mean I recall that most, you know many, not all of them but the vast majority of my friends in high school all went onto college that I can remember [unclear] but yea, I mean at least the group of kids that I hung out with. You know college was all on our radars it was all something we planned on doing.

BH: From your community and your family, were there any values or lessons that 17:00you learned growing up?

RH: I think that probably the biggest thing was, a couple things maybe, the first thing is probably just work ethic that you know, when you have a job it's expected that you do your job and that you do your job as well as you can and work as hard as you can that you are respectful of the people that you, if you have to report to somebody, you know, you are respectful of their authority and leadership. That, you know, I think that's something that is really influenced by our dad in particular because he did have to work so much and he worked you know shift work which you know was always different hours, you know, as I had [unclear] earlier and you know I don't ever remember him complaining about, 18:00about that and just about going to do his job. Up until you know, he had the last couple of years before he retired was the whole time I heard him really complain about it because the mill was implementing changes and trying to get rid of all of the old timers so they can bring in all those people and pay them less and then when [unclear] that time in the late 80's there was real effort to try to cut cost and so my dad hoped that you know they were trying to push him out because he had been there for so long and was a higher salary person. And so he'd...they were working on lots and lots of overtime which you need for the pocket book and they get paid overtime but he just wore out and got tire and [unclear] and temporarily tired. So, work ethic definitely and I think the other 19:00thing is just respect for your neighbor or respect for other people and to really try not to judge people.

BH: Okay, now I kind of want to go a little more into Oshkosh then, so since your major was history what were some classes you would typically take?

RH: Oh boy now you're really going to force me to try to remember the [unclear] (laughs) So, you know, obviously I took all the general ed. (education) courses, you know that and dabbled in things and you know, I can remember a history class I took on the third [unclear] you know it was about Hitler's Nazi Germany. I can 20:00remember a class that I took that was really focused on French history and the French revolution. And there was a class, a history class on the, history of religion or something like that if I recall, history of the Supreme Court and you know I may not have these title of course work right but that was the general subject matter was the one on the Supreme Court and you know, colonization time period you know, which was an area that I was... I think the colonization period and World War II and post-World War II were probably the two areas that I tended to focus more of my attention on in history but I, you know, 21:00do not recall all of the various classes that I took.

BH: Okay.

RH: But I think, I think most of them were all three credit courses, I don't recall any of them being four or five credit courses.

BH: Okay, if you can remember, do you know, like, about how many students would be a typical class size?

RH: Oh boy, so obviously for those classes that had the lectures, you know those were just as they are probably now large lecture classes but although there were...I guess there weren't really many of those other than the class I took during the winter interim time, I don't know if Oshkosh still offers the interim classes where you can do the three class between the two semesters but that was always a larger class but otherwise you know, I think our classroom took you 22:00know, for the most part you know, general classes maybe a little bit larger maybe twenty-five kids but boy it seems like the more specific course work was was much smaller, you know fifteen maybe something like that I don't recall the classes or thinking the class as large.

BH: Okay, how would you describe yourself as a student back then?

RH: (laughs) I should probably put a filter on that, no. (laughs) Well, I would say that early you know... probably not as good of a student as I should have been or could have been but you know, for the most part I you know, had A's and 23:00B's in lots of my classes you know a C hear, a D there maybe and you know I did, I did certainly do enough to fail, or do not enough to fail some classes and have to address that and because I wasn't necessarily focused the way that I needed to be. So, form an academic standpoint I mean I was a student, I went to class most of the time I certainly can't say I went to class all the time and I did go to class most of the time and I did okay, you know, I certainly...certainly looking back on I could've done much better and been more focused but I was you know, I did okay and I had mutually good relationships with my professors.

BH: Do you think that if you maybe focused more or I guess studied would that 24:00have changed anything today or back then?

RH: Yeah, I... well certainly back then I would have not graduated with, with F's and I would have probably had a better grade point average than I did and you know would' transcript would probably be a little bit you know, more glowing than it is perhaps but I honestly don't know if it would change where I landed and how I landed ultimately, maybe. Maybe I would have had a different focus but you know I think certainly if you know, I could of my transcript could have looked better if I would have been more focused.


BH: Okay, so I know you said the class sizes were probably about fifteen to twenty students depending on the class. Would you say, you were kind of close to your professors or I guess it was easily to...easy to access the professors?

RH: Yes, yeah no it was always easy. I thought it was always easy to access my professors when I needed to and actually I think I developed a really good relationships with a few of them were you know, after class at times you'd chat with them a little bit or meet with them during office hours and talk with them about stuff a little bit you know, I, I've enjoyed that, I enjoyed being able to have that kind of one on one experience with my professors I felt that that was 26:00important to build those relationships. I had had similar type relationships in high school and so...Yeah, was...they were very accessible and I always found them you know I always enjoyed having conversations with them.

BH: Did you keep this connection post-graduation with your professors?

RH: So, I don', not really. No I really didn't because I left Oshkosh after graduation so I didn't really stay in the community and email really wasn't a thing you know so. There really wasn't a reason to you know to just...or...and the means of communication were just different and you know it was calling on the telephone or writing a letter I guess, you know texting, none 27:00of that stuff was really a thing you know it wasn't...hadn't been done so. So I don't know that...yeah I really didn't I mean I think the one person that I had had a little bit of contact with after graduation was Tom (Segments?) who was the Dean of Students while I was there because I had worked you know, real closely with, with Tom during my time on the, on the (allocations?) committee and as the student government president you know, he was my close advisor of you know the administration advisor and I think I had also had some contact with chancellor Kerrigan you know after graduation as well, a few times would run into him but I don't know that I really had any contact with professors after graduation.


BH: Okay, now what about students was it easy to get along with other students?

RH: Yeah, I found it relieving that I had some friends...I had some high school friends that were going to school part of my freshman year. I roomed with my best friend from high school you know when I was here, when I was at Oshkosh, excuse me, you know, my first year at Oshkosh I roomed with my best friend from high school and in Evans Hall so that and to know people that are real easily... my freshman year I joined the Delta Chi fraternity and so that opened up lots of doors [unclear] meeting people. So, I...yeah I found the student body to be friendly and I really...I think I made lots of connections with people while I was there.

BH: Now since you transferred to Oshkosh, did you start off at the dorms or were 29:00you a commuter?

RH: Yeah, no I, when I, when I started at Oshkosh I lived in...Yeah, I lived in the dorms I was in Evans Hall and lived in the dorms for one year.

BH: Now, how was, how was it like?

RH: The dorms?

BH: Yeah.

RH: (laughs) It was, it was...I enjoyed it. It was great, I mean it was a little bit tight obviously, looking back at it but at the time I don't think that the [unclear] to that. You know, was a little bit different time then, all those years ago. I mean I don't know what it's like now but you know that was right at the time when the drinking age had just changed from eighteen, nineteen to twenty-one. So you had this real mix of people who could legally drink like a 30:00whole new group of people coming in that could not legally drink. That was a whole different time you know? But I enjoyed it, I enjoyed my year that I was in the dorms.

BH: Now, kind of going along with that, what would you do kind of, for fun at Oshkosh I guess?

RH: (laughs) Well, most of my fun was... I did some...I think my freshman year I did a little bit of the...recreational sport you know, volleyball, you know the co-ed volleyball stuff. I don't know if I did...I can't remember if I did basketball or not but I remember doing some volleyball. But most of my social activity were really involved with the fraternity and doing things with the 31:00fraternity brothers, social events with the sorority's and other fraternities involving a boat trips, that kind of thing. So, that was really the center of my social activity was the involvement of the fraternity.

BH: And what made you decide on joining the fraternity?

RH: Well, there...again I had, I had a good high school friend of mine who had joined previously. And when I started at Oshkosh you know, connected with him and I just started [unclear] a little bit and really enjoyed it and enjoyed the guys I was getting to meet and you know, they started talking me into [watching] the fraternity and [charging] the fraternity and I really just was enjoying the 32:00experience and it's not...and I know that some people have certain, a certain perspective of what a fraternity is and its, it's just nothing but a you know a drunken wild fest of, of people running wild and out of control and you know nothing good ever happens but, but for me I. Yes there were parties, absolutely there were parties but for me there was also this, this leadership, building of leadership, comradery that I really, I really enjoyed and really found to be something that help keep me connected to the university. I mean, keep me wanting to stay at school and you know I think it really, I think I really grew a lot 33:00through my involvements in the fraternity.

BH: Now, what were some things besides partying (laughs) that you'd do as a fraternity?

RH: Yeah so there know we would do occasional, you know community, volunteering things. I can remember a couple times like going to a nursing home and singing Christmas carols. I think some of the guys may have done some stuff. I'm trying to think...I think some of the guys may have done some stuff to do at...maybe not. You know it was there was a lot of like internal business stuff to involved with running the fraternity that I found very interesting. So there was a business side to it which again like I said I 34:00found interesting. You know there were other [unclear] there was the homecoming time where we would do the homecoming parade and participate in the parades and there were the formal balls that would take place and in winter time there was a specific Greek competition that would take place where all of the Greek organizations would compete in a Olympic style things. You know, event that was always fun and the big social gathering. We had for a few years we played in an annual football game against one of the other fraternities. So, it was really a multiple, social opportunities to do things that were, I think very positive and fun. And so it wasn't just about partying. And there were guys who, in the 35:00fraternity, who'd get together and help other guys who maybe were struggling with certain classes or whatever, you know, so we had a bit of an educational-like support network, if needed.

BH: I know you...on the database you mentioned that you were the founding president, interfraternity council, could you elaborate more on that?

RH: Yeah, so that was the interfraternity council. So that was the council that governed all the fraternities, it wasn't specific just to my fraternity it was all of the fraternities coming together to create sort of this umbrella organization that would apply guidance, rules, discipline, to...amongst all of 36:00the fraternities. So it was sort of an overseeing body. We was really, when I was in school and involved with the fraternities, it was a big change that was occurring in fraternity life and how fraternities were operating and you know, there were new alcohol policies going into effect as I mentioned because of the drinking age changes that the jury tried to prevent. And focus as much as we could on preventing underage drinking, preventing negative things from occurring from people drinking too much and trying to change that perception. And there were new rules put on campus allowed you know, parties with fraternity and things like that and we just didn't have a governing body to oversee ourselves and so again working with Tom (Segmunts?), Dean (Segmunts?) and you know I mentioned earlier. He helped me bring together representatives 37:00from all of the, form all of the fraternities and we established bylaws and really put together this governing body. Now, I don't know whether or not that governing body is still in place today, I don't know that...if we cemented it, you know, for the long term or if it just lasted a little bit and went away but we at least attempted to put a governing structure in place that would oversee all fraternities and yeah representatives had elected me as the first president of that oversight body.

BH: Okay so on here it says 1990, so was that when you were kind of represented as the president then?


RH: Well, so 1990 was the year that I was the President of my fraternity. So a couple different things there. So, [unclear] that period of time but I was the president of my fraternity and there was the point in time after that that I was elected president of this governing body that oversaw all of the fraternities.

BH: Okay. So was the governing body was just kind of like...I guess kind of like a council that just made sure the fraternities were kind of stable in a way?

RH: Well, stable and staying in line and not and understanding what the rules and expectations were of fraternity life on campus. Really in an effort I think to protect everybody you know, and to try to maintain a certain image for 39:00fraternities because you know we all knew that there was a perception about fraternities [unclear] it was just today and I still did this today. And we wanted to try to do something to change that perception and you know again it was really--because of this whole change in the drinking age and a shift...trying to shift the culture around drinking, really thought it was necessary to put this body in place and...So yeah it was really to try to create, overall structure and guidance for that and expectations for the fraternities on campus. And it worked as, I think sort of a first line of oversight for the fraternities before it went to the...before anything was reported to the university you know, and administration.


BH: Did you yourself see any improvement on fraternities...your time there?

RH: I think there was some movement, and I think that we, we tried to implement the necessary changes to change the...excuse me... (coughs) change the culture that was inherited in some of the fraternities. Were we success...were we successful, I don't know that I can claim we were fully successful but I think we made...I think we made some gains and I think we started in a positive way, try to change the culture. We at least attempted and again I don't know that I can say we were successful but we...there were many of us that were 41:00committed to at least trying.

BH: Do you think your efforts were kind of more influenced thought the university and maybe possibly the community?

RH: Yeah I don't know how far the [unclear] any influence made it. I know that there were people within the university administration that understood we were trying and that we were putting effort in to creating this body and I guess I don't, I just don't know because I left shortly after you know. I never...I wasn't there long enough to see how over the course of time it played out.

BH: So.


RH: You know whenever you...oh go ahead.

BH: No, no you could go.

RH: Yeah, I was just gonna say. So you know [unclear] whenever you start something new, you know, from scratch, from the beginning, it takes time to really see if it affects change in any way. And so I wasn't there long enough to see if it affected any change.

BH: I know the fraternity played a big role at your time at Oshkosh, were there any other clubs or I guess activities you were involved in besides the fraternity and probably some volleyball and...

RH: Well sure I mean I didn't really participate in any clubs but I was also involved with the student government there at UW Oshkosh, with the student governance. That had a huge influence on me as well. I didn't do that right away 43:00when I first got there, that didn't really start until late 89 yearly 90 maybe when I got involved with the student allocations committee that committee was responsible for approving all of the student club budgets you know all the student organization budgets. And (coughs) that you know, started my involvement, if you will, in politics probably although the fraternity there was politics in it but I probably didn't realize it was politics at the time so I was involved with the student allocations committee which then lead me to running for and being elected the UW Oshkosh student body president in the fall of 1991. So for the 1991-1992 school year I was the student body president.


BH: Now what were some things you'd do as the student body president?

RH: So there was, you know, again you know, things involving you know, [unclear] one would have final say of the budgets. If there were issues that were on...that came up on campus you know, we would be involved with trying to address them and I think that you know that the two (coughs) biggest things that I can recall were real issues to deal with one was a board of registration drive because we, so in 1990, in the fall of 1990, 1989 and 1990. So those two falls 45:00back to back we had at Oshkosh early you know...So shortly after students came back to school we had large demonstrations that ended up happening in 1989 and I think it was three weeks in a row, 1990 it might have been two weekends in a row, very large disruptive demonstrations of students that occurred where streets where blocked, large crowds had marched down to city hall. Unfortunately there was some damage involved, police from surrounding communities came in to try to (pertail) the crowds. These cameras came, CNN would be here or there in Oshkosh. And these demonstrations were against the drinking age being at twenty one and what started it all was a...the police raided a house party and kids you 46:00know, the kids all just charged out of the house and [unclear] was walking through the dorms chanting and all of a sudden it just, you saw like Scott hall, the kids in Scott hall just, leaving the dorm and drove and people from other parties just all of a sudden there were hundreds and hundreds of students all chanting an very unorganized you know, marching down to the city hall, doing some property damage you know, [unclear] and so that occurred two years in a row you know [unclear] it was very disruptive, destructive, it was a bad image really that, I mean I understood and agree to what they were demonstrating but 47:00did not agree in the manner in which it was done because it was not, it was destructive you know, there were city property that were being damaged and it just wasn't right. So when I was president I participated in an effort to increase the number of students that were registered to vote on campus, focusing their energy on voting for people who maybe would support lowering the drinking age. And so as part of this state wide student thing...I mean all of the campuses, many of them I didn't know about them but many of the UW campuses were participating in this and you know, at Oshkosh we, we registered a higher percentage of students than any of the other campuses including Madison. You know, when I say that I don't mean numbers, cause obviously Madison is much 48:00larger than Oshkosh so they registered pure number wise more students than we did but our percentage of the overall student body was greater than any of the other campuses. And I wish I could remember the number it was in the thousands if I remember correctly nineteen-hundred maybe...I don't remember the exact number but it was...we felt you know, it was a very positive effort we put forward to get students to register to vote. And you know, there were another role really for us was... in student government was to ensure that the student voice would be herd in all university decisions and there is...I think the state law is still on place at you know, students have a right to have a voice and 49:00participate in decision about university life and you know as student governance and so you know, one of the biggest roles for us was to make sure that the administration on campus understood that and make sure that they were including us when there were really just regarding happenings on campus.

BH: Now, were there any negative effects of putting your voice out there, like how was the administration kind of involved with that?

RH: I think that initially chancellor Kerrigan and I maybe didn't necessarily get along but we built a relationship and it was a relationship that I respected 50:00and I thought that it was a very healthy relationship and a good relationship but you know, started off a little rocky and you know, it was probably much my fault as anything it was...Here I am, this young kid coming into the chancellor's office telling him, were here and you're gonna hear us and we have rights, you know which is probably not the best way to necessarily introduce yourself to the chancellor as the...president elect for the student body but. You know, we actually had a...I, what I thought was a very good relationship when it was all said and done.

BH: So then would you say your decisions that you've made on student government, were very impactful then?

RH: I would like to think so. I would like to think they were impactful but I'm 51:00bias, right cause I was involved with them so I would like to think that they were impactful.

BH: Okay, now did these...your involvement with Oshkosh as a fraternity and on student government, would you say that you were kind of more involved in the community?

RH: At Oshkosh? Yeah, I was definitely much more involved with the titian community, at least I felt when I was know, with the involvement with the fraternity and then in student government and leadership you know, with student government. Yeah, I felt very involved. I thought I was being pretty in tune to what was going on. Now, maybe I wasn't but at least I thought I was and 52:00really was...I found that to be a great experience that I think really was a big part of my takeaway from Oshkosh. As much as my education was those leadership opportunities you know, with the fraternity and with the student government.

BH: Okay. And with this involvement were there any major influences or I guess I could say role models that you've had that kind of motivated you to pursue these?

RH: know, so with...I think with the fraternity there was, I think there was lots of self-motivation there that I really wanted to be involved I wanted 53:00to be a leader to the fraternity. I wanted to be president of the fraternity. I, you know, I wanted to promote the fraternity. So that was really self-driven. I truly believed I had some of my older fraternity brothers told me that you know, you get out of this what you put into it and so I wanted to get a lot of it until I put a lot into it. And so I think that was really the influence there was you know, just words of wisdom if you will from older fraternity members, is it relates to student government and probably leads into my leadership and you know my involvement with the fraternity probably the most influential person and somebody who I hold in the highest regard is Tom (Segmund?), who I mentioned earlier. He was the dean of students at the time when I was at Oshkosh. He was 54:00tremendously supportive of me, he actually approached me and...about running for president of student government, was something that I had not even considered but he approached me and talked to me about it and sort of from that I started thinking about it and then it got running. So, he was a great [unclear] for me during my time in student government, to sort of help guide me through, if I had questions or if something came up and maybe I didn't handle something properly and how I might be able to handle it. So, he was a tremendous influence on me.

BH: I was just curious what your family thought of you making these kind of, 55:00positive influences to the Oshkosh University.

RH: (clears through) Excuse me. I think that my parents were skeptical and not really sure about the whole fraternity thing I don't think they fully understood that. But they certainly didn't say anything to me about it you know, but I felt and had the sense that they didn't quite get it but I think by...once I became president of the fraternity I think they saw that as a positive influence and I think that they were pleased you know that I had been elected by my peers to be president of the fraternity. And I think them...for student government that getting involved with the student government being elected for student government president, I think that was something that they were part of me of 56:00[unclear] you know, we didn't ...I don't recall talking a lot about it with them but I always got the sense that they were proud it was a great thing to achieve.

BH: Now was there anything that you kind of regretted not doing at Oshkosh [unclear]?

RH: Well that's an interesting question, I don't really have too many regrets I think maybe one regret is not being more on top of my education and really...where I was at and I didn't realize I had enough credits to graduate until three months before I graduated when I wanted to talk to my councilor 57:00about scheduling classes for the next semester and realizing "oh wait I have enough credits to graduate?" So, you know I don't know that I necessarily know paying enough attention there but...Yeah I don't know that I necessarily regret too much. Obviously there's you know hindsight its 2020, you can always look back and say yeah maybe I should've don that differently or I maybe I shouldn't have done that at all but it's all part of growing up too.

BH: Now I just want to make sure I'm correct, you graduated at 92' right?

RH: Correct.

BH: Okay. SO what were some after college plans or goals that you had in mind?

RH: Well I definitely knew I wanted to get back to Madison, that I was here for 58:00a short time back in 1985 but I knew it was a place I wanted to get back to so. My involvement with the student government at Oshkosh gave me a connection to get involved with the statewide student organization and so I really looked at that as my ticket to Madison and then from there sort of looking at how or what I might be able to do once I'm in Madison. I always had an interest in government and so I knew that I kind of wanted to be involved in government somehow. So, you know those early years I did united council for a little bit. I was a page on the state senate page staff for a short time. I went back to 59:00united council for a short time and then ended up getting a job working for state senator Fred Risser which really sort of started my move into full time work for the state of Wisconsin, some political [unclear] and ultimately the path to which I [unclear] am today.

BH: Was it difficult to find the job that you had that time?

RH: So it wasn't necessarily difficult to get the job that I had. The difficulty was the job didn't pay a whole lot and was really being able to sustain myself here. That was the difficult part and first six months 60:00year, I was really only working part time, didn't have benefits, health care you know, you didn't have health insurance, made little money and so there was really a struggle to make sure I paid rent and had food and all the basics.

BH: Were there any opportunities from your fraternity or student gov. that helped you post college?

RH: Other than just the experience of student government I suppose, to give me connected into politics a little bit down here, to get me interested, you know guide me into wanting to be involved in government. I think the fraternity 61:00helped build my confidence and you know student government did that too but just help build my self-confidence and ability to be you know, know that I could do something and be confident about leadership and things like that but there were no individuals really that helped get me connected to anything here and that and once more was my...was experiences building confidence and my ability to succeed.

BH: How different do you think your life would have been if you didn't decide to go to Oshkosh and maybe you went to a different school or stayed at Madison?

RH: Well I think it would've been tremendously different because I would not have meet my wife, I would not have had two kids that I have now, I've 62:00probably wouldn't be sitting in a chair I'm sitting in now, doing the job I'm doing now so I think that me landing at Oshkosh with all of these other things in motion and certainly if I had not been at Oshkosh you know, I don't know...even though my life didn't depend on Oshkosh it was here at Oshkosh [unclear] connections that I met my wife [unclear] and you know I don't think that would've ever happened in Oshkosh.

BH: And, did you meet your wife at Oshkosh then?

RH: Well, I didn't meet her at Oshkosh but she was the president of the student body at Green Bay while I was president of the student body at UW Oshkosh and we 63:00met at a state wide meeting involved with the student government presidents and you know, she was also from Green Bay originally like I was but I didn't know her in Green Bay she was younger than I was and went to different school, would've been a different part of town. So I didn't know her when I was growing up in Green Bay but I meet her through the student government activities.

BH: Okay, now I know earlier you mentioned that work ethic and kind of respect were a huge value to you do you think you kind of influenced your kids to have this...these same values as work ethic and respect.

RH: Yeah, I hope so. I mean as a parent you always hope that you are providing positive influences on your kids and you know my kids are still in school 64:00teenagers. And so, I hope that I've been able to have that same kind of positive influence on them that my parents had on me.

BH: Is there any advice you'd like to give to a current UW Oshkosh Student?

RH: Yeah, I don't...I think that the main thing that every parent tells their kid, do your school work, stay in school, all that but I think that it is important that students stay on top of their education and do what's required of them, their coursework, try to get the best grades that they can, seek help with classes if necessary but that...but don't take that away as your only university 65:00experience because there's so much more that a university offers and that Oshkosh offers as a whole social aspect and the networking aspect and opportunity to grow as a person outside of just educational growth and I think, as I stated earlier, for me that was as big of a part of me becoming who I am as my educational experience was at Oshkosh and so I just would encourage students to expand their horizons and look beyond just the classroom as to what the university can offer.

BH: Now lastly I just wanted to know if there was anything else you would like to add, just in general I guess.


RH: Yeah, I mean I guess I can just reiterated that you know, I really enjoyed my time at Oshkosh. I did... I flew into the Oshkosh airport when I left California and after my first year out, I went to school at Oshkosh then I took some time, I took a year off went to California, did that went back to Oshkosh and lived in Oshkosh, I did not go back home to Green Bay but when I returned from California I took residence in Oshkosh and lived in the city for the next five years while I finished up my school and I enjoyed the university I think it's a fabulous university, I enjoyed the community and loved living in Oshkosh, 67:00a lot of ways it was like a mini Green Bay and you know it has the same river that splits through or breaks right through to Green Bay and Oshkosh but I really enjoyed the community and had nothing but positive memories of my time there.

BH: I just wanted to thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview you then.

RH: Yeah, no thank you for reaching out to me and you know, last year there was a student that reached out to me and we were working on scheduling to do this interview, to do an interview and for some reason he ended up backing out, somethings [unclear] by that time. First, kind of disappointed cause I was looking forward to doing...I was very excited when you reached out to me to do 68:00the interview so thank you, I appreciate you doing that and I appreciate you taking time with me then to talk about it.

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