Interview with William Urbrock, 04/23/2018

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Transcript

´╗┐ML: Today, April 23rd, 2018, 1 o'clock in Polk library 3rd floor south group room, I'm Minyoung Lee, and I'm conducting an interview for the campus stories oral history project with William Urbrock -- that's how you say it, right? - if you could just say your name and spell them out please?

WU: William Urbrock W-I-L-L-I-A-M U-R-B (B as in boy) R-O-C-K. My middle initial is J for Joseph.

ML: Yeah, nice to meet you, so the first question I would want to ask is where did you grow up, did you grow up in Oshkosh area?

WU: No, I was born in Chicago. I lived in Chicago. I was a sophomore high school or junior in high school, I forget, and we moved out to a Suburb called 00:01:00Bellwood, and it was a fairly large high school in Maywood in the joining suburb called Proviso.

ML: And was it in--

WU: P-R-O-V-I-S-I-O, and so I finished my high school here's at Proviso, so that's where I graduated from high school

ML: In Chicago?

WU: In Maywood Illinois, which is a suburb. A western suburb of Chicago. They would call nowadays a near western suburb.

ML: And when did you come to Oshkosh and settle down in Oshkosh?

WU: Well after high school, I went to college of course, so I was in Milwaukee for couple years in junior college, then I went to Fort Wayne Indiana to conquer a senior college and graduated from there. Then I went to seminary in Saint Louis, Missouri. So that was 4 year program. So by the time I was finished with 00:02:00seminary, it was 1964, and for the next 5 years, I was in the Boston and Cambridge Massachusetts area because I got my doctorate at Harvard University.

ML: Wow..

WU: So I was still working on my dissertation when I left Harvard in 1969, so I were there for 5 years, I was married by that time, we had our two children while we were there. And then I got my first job at Lycoming College L-Y-C-O-M-I-N-G which is in Williamsport Pennsylvania which is known as home of Little League Baseball. I've met some South Korean teams, I bet, who played there.

MY: Really?

WU: Maybe even on the championship, that's all I know. They used to have a very 00:03:00good Little League team.

MY: Wait what was the sport? Baseball?

WU: Baseball, yeah. Little League baseball. So I was there Lycoming for 3 years, 69 to 72. And then I saw the advertisement for the opening in the brand new department of religion, it was called religion, at that time, and it was only, think it only been started in 1969, and they didn't have a minor or major or anything yet, they just had a few courses for teaching and intro course and World Religions course, maybe one or two others. Since they were looking to build up to the department almost from scratch. And I saw that advertisement, and Minyoung I was hired over the telephone. I sent in my application and the 00:04:00chairperson called me up. We'll having a manufacturing a bunch of students at our house of that evening, I remember, it was like Friday night some for others and I had to sneak into it side closet with the telephone because it was so noisy. And I was hired over the telephone. So it was 1972 so I was hired in the spring and then the summer of course we packed up and moved ourselves here. And I was hired in one semester only contract.

ML: In here?

WU: Here, so I was very daring that chairperson was Walter Bense B-E-N-S-E, He come from the history department and he said I'll do it everything in my power to make sure that we get you the contract for the spring semester and I'm hopefully in for semester afterward so it started as one semester only, ended up 00:05:00by 32 years

ML: So you were here for 32 years?

WU: Yeah

ML: And you teached many courses too?

WU: Sure

ML: And then

WU: So 1972 was when I got here. In the fall of seventy two

ML: yeah and how the community you grew up looks like? Did you get any influence from the community or the neighborhood?

WU: When I was small, you mean?

ML: Yeah, when you were in Chicago

WU: I was South side of Chicago, my community was very heavily Italian, even though we were not Italian family. So I remember one of my neighbors was a wonderful cook so I think I fell in love with the Italian food when I was a little boy because she used to bring the things over for us to sample, which I enjoyed. And we had other ethnic groups in our neighborhood as well. When I was 00:06:00a boy, you could do the spub everything that you wanna do out on the street. We played a loud on the streets, we had a lot of games, no we didn't have skateboards back then we had bikes and stuff like that we had there old roller skates such has an put on a clamp

ML: Looks like a skate

WU: Yeah the old skates so we would call skating they're on sidewalks. We played hopscotch together, boys and girls, everybody, and we would play the big jump rope contest, boys and girls, everyone, and sometimes up on the porches, we would play a card games like canasta was new play canasta we played a lot of monopoly. There was a game that my father had learned when he was a little boy in Germany called Mensch aerger dich nicht which means don't get yourself upset 00:07:00and it's very similar to Parcheesi become a bad part of Parcheesi, yeah I don't even know how to spell but P-A-R-C-H-E-E-S-Y some like that. It sounds like cheese. And the way came is similar. And we used to have a contest at the game too

ML: Was it a card game?

WU: No you roll the dice and move the things around, you have to come out from the home though all the way down and you grow up to the ladder. They are all kinds of variations on games like that you know circle around. So used to do a lot of that. We used to walk the neighborhoods in the evening in the summer we played outside even if it was dark. Come out at the street light, kicked the can and sometimes we would just walk up and down the street yeah it was very safe and some of the childhood in Chicago was very interesting. My dad was Chicago 00:08:00White Sox fan cause we were southsiders. We all hated the Cubs cause they were on the north side. So it's like cup fans hated the white socks because they were from north. How silly. But one of my big adventure as young boy was with one of my boyfriends and my parents allowed us to go to see a white sox's ball game just the two of us all on our own.

ML: By subway?

WU: We probably when we were 12 years old, that's the time. So we had to take first we had to walk to the streetcar line where streetcars are so we had to take a streetcar and then to be elevated. We didn't take a subway. This was the elevated line up above the street. Like they still have them downtown Chicago 00:09:00they call it the loop where the makes circle. You've seen the elevated?

ML: Yeah maybe those are seen over the highways.

WU: You call the elf just for short just the big L. for short. But it's elevated. And so we had to take two of those so first we took the street car and we went to the L stop and take the one train and change from another train which let us off only about you know about lakeview part. Actually I got that memory wrong, I used to go to white sox's park with my dad. This was we went to see the cubs actually. That's what it was. And then we had to take this two elevated, and I've never been on the north side before. So it was like Wrigley Field whole new world. And we had fun time I remember they played single's [carnos?] that day. A good memory. Then we came back in the thunderstorm and we missed one of 00:10:00our stops so we got a wrong stop so we had to go all the way down the stairs of that elevated cross to street all the way back up the stairs back the other direction. It was a great adventure. We loved it. We had a great day.

ML: Wow that sounds very interesting.

WU: Yeah, so those were you know Chicago has like urban adventures.

ML: Yeah a lot of people there?

WU: Yeah, people all over the place. There were all over million people there when I was a boy. Now they probably have well over three million in Chicago. And even more when you had all the suburb, that's a huge metropolitan area. You've been there?

ML: Yeah many times. And then I went to the Beans.

WU: Sure Cloud Pillow.

ML: Everyone takes picture in front of it.

WU: Everyone takes

ML: Okay and has the community changed over the years?

WU: You mean my community where I was raised?


ML: Yeah

WU: Not Oshkosh, yeah it's totally different community nowadays. The group changed completely. And that all happened after we moved away. I don't know I would think probably the buildings are still there most of the houses. Because some years ago, just for fun, I actually went on the web and I put in the address of my house on Paulina Street and that house was still standing.

ML: Your house was still there?

WU: It was still there. But it was selling for extremely low price because I think the neighborhood was fairly depressed and probably not very high income area. But I was amazed to see that home was still standing. My parents bought that home in the early nineteen forties.

ML: And then your whole family moved into Oshkosh?

WU: Pardon?


ML: Your whole family moved into Oshkosh altogether?

WU: No no my family all stayed in Chicago and just me and my wife were all the moving. Once I away college. That's one reason we came back here from Pennsylvania because my wife had a family in Milwaukee, my family was in Chicago. So we thought we get a little closer to them. Because long long drive to come in from Pennsylvania.

ML: And then you found the advertisement about this university and then you came Oshkosh.

WU: Right

ML: Okay, that was reason. Let's talk about your current neighborhood. The current community in Oshkosh?

WU: Yes

ML: Could you tell me anything about your community right now? And the relationship with neighborhood?

WU: Yes so when we first came to Oshkosh in 1972, I think we only had about thirty thousand people in Oshkosh, I think we were probably up around fifty or 00:13:00so nowadays you can check that out. So we were significantly smaller. All the sort of highway projects that were happened about last two years. So you have to try to imagine the time when it was only highway 41 was relatively small highway. Just couple of ways to side of most, nowadays multi lanes like you know have going up towards Appleton beyond. And I thought the city was you know relatively quiet community. When I got here at the university was only couple of years into UW System. Because before that happened was Wisconsin State University in Oshkosh and years before that was for teaching, for teacher education. So first it was normal school, then became state university. And then 00:14:00just when I got that fact, it was still changing the sign in campus. So change it to UW Oshkosh, some of the signs still said Wisconsin state university when I got here in 1972. So things were changing at the university and part of it was there was sort of a boom of students coming in and that's why like our department of religion was a new department just starting up with couple of other ones. So yeah it was relatively small city I thought we thought it was very nice place when we moved in. And we rented a home out in West Haven which at that time was across highway 41 it just seems so far away. And now of course it's nothing it's just everything is so connected. But the other side of the highway. And now Westhaven is extended way out and we have hospitals things out 00:15:00there too. So there were lots of changes in forty some years that we've lived here.

ML: Maybe not that many buildings at that time..

WU: Well see university was on the edge of the building boom at that time too because I believe that the two big dorm do we call dormitories back then before it became resident hall Scott and Greunhagen were fairly new buildings.

ML: Yeah I've lived in gruenhagen for one semester.

WU: Yes those were fairly new buildings when I moved in here. In fact, my other religion department was in the art and communication building. That was a fairly new building when I still got here. So there had been a lot of buildings just just before we came. And then there had not been much buildings at all until when the pool went up. The new swimming pool and that went up and then all in 00:16:00the last several years the alumni center and horizon, right student house and sage hall and those were all relatively recent in fact all of those were gone up since I was retired. Because I retired in 2004.

ML: Sage is pretty new building. Okay, what were your parents, grandparents, or other family members like?

WU: Oh my goodness. You're gonna stay here for three days or so.

ML: Just very quick or short of it.

WU: My dad's parents and my dad came to this country from Germany so they were immigrants.

ML: 100% Germany?

WU: Yeah they were from upper way up northern Germany. My mother's parents were 00:17:00from Austria. In fact, my grandfather was called Austria-Hungary in his days. His area you know Austria was called Burgenland nowadays was actually Hungarian part of the Austria-Hungary empire. They came over. My mother's parents came over I think shortly after 1900s. My dad came over in 1926 when he was 12 years old. So we're very much immigrants family. I'm all for immigrants and all so you can quote me on that.

ML: And you were born in America?

WU: I was born in Chicago. My mother was born in Chicago too. So my dad was born in Germany and my mom is Chicago. So in my grandparents' house, I heard a lot of Germans spoken.

ML: So you know how to speak German?

WU: I could understand some of it. But the idea was they spoke German so we 00:18:00couldn't understand. So that often happened you know you pick up a lot. When I was little boy, we went to the church where the service was all in German language when I was taken service from that just a little boy. So I stood there and dang all my legs was shrinkle due to all the Germans around me. So I heard a lot of it.

ML: So maybe first language was English and second language would be German..?

WU: Well really wouldn't be a second language because it was only a little bit that I could speak. Then I went high school later and I can sing German songs, but if I heard people speaking German, I can pick up a lot of it. I'm not very good at speaking it. I visited Germany once in a while once I can get one of the few sentences. You know just enough what people say. No I could only know couple sentences.

ML: And did you like when you traveled German?


WU: Oh sure.

ML: How was it, was there beautiful view?

WU: In Germany?

ML: Yeah

WU: I just I think every time you go to Europe, just like were you born in this country?

ML: No I was born in South Korea.

WU: All right. Look how different the world is between Korea and U.S. Look at how different the land and many of the customs and many of the ways people spend their days. They spend their days in a different way. In Europe, people love to sit up at cafes all the time

ML: Yeah they take a nap too

WU: You know and they love to walk and bike, but they also in general, have milder weather than up here in Wisconsin. So you can be outside more often. Here you end up with for six months of winter so you do a lot of things indoors 00:20:00unless you learn to live with the weather. So after my wife and I moved in here, we learned to do cross countries, and skiing. There was a fellow here at the university who was giving a lesson through I think it was in the senior center. And how to do cross countries and skiing. We went down in Menominee Park and they have all lessons.

ML: Really?

WU: So we picked that up. So if you learn to do some winter things, then you can have fun time. Those skiing and people used to do [to baconing?] or ice skating whatever. And everybody can go up and build snowfalls and make snowmans. I don't know if they're still doing it in here. But they used to at the university every like in January interim or right after towards where the ice sculptures out. Are they still doing that?

ML: And then we have a ski club during interim.

WU: Yeah there you go. That business of ice sculpture started after I got here. 00:21:00The first couple of years I don't remember them having it. You know that idea built up.

ML: And did you commute from home to come here, to come campus? Did you have a car to drive through?

WU: Sure the first year but then we lived in West Haven for about 2 or 3 years we were renting home. Then my wife and I became group home parents at a home for young women. It was on Jackson Street, just off for the two houses or three houses north from Church street. So the church on Jackson and few houses, and we had anywhere to five to eight girls anytime. Some of them came from homes that 00:22:00were really weren't very good homes, so it was safe place for them. Some of them were gotten to trouble for petty things like shoplifting like that did 10 finger exercises. And so we were trying to help them learn some skills how to manage their life, learn some cooking skills, how to take care of a room, and keep their place nice. So most of them were in high school. They were high school girls. We were there for just over a year and then we bought a house right on the edge of the campus here on Elmwood. And six away down the Elmwood, the houses are still there. So after that, I always walked everything near here. I didn't have to drive. So I did a lot of walking on this campus and I think it was very good for my health.

ML: Yeah, like the best walking would be the fall with like the trees and leaves 00:23:00change colors. WU: But I remember couple of times I walked some really big snow storms because they hardly never call the class off and no matter what we always had classes.

ML: Yeah last week we had a lot of snows going on so we cancelled the class last monday.

WU: Sure. I hope you will be able to make sense out of all this later.

ML: Yeah, so did you graduate with a degree of religious studies in university? Were you majoring religious studies back in time?

WU: Well, when I was in my college years, I actually majored in German and 00:24:00Philosophy and I did quite a bit of Latin. And when I went to seminary, I was basically concentrating on biblical studies, other way I also learned a good deal of Greek and Hebrew. And then when I went to Harvard, my doctorate was in what they called near eastern languages and civilizations. And that was ancient near eastern languages and civilization so that included. I had to learn some Aramaic, some Akkadian. I studied Assyrian religion, Babylonian religion, and then of course my Israel ancient religion and biblical studies. So Old Testament studies. And then when I came here, see that's I started in the department when builds some curriculums, I put together the sequence and Old Testament studies. 00:25:00So I had Old Testament intro and Prophets and Prophecy so we called Old Testament poetry wisdom. Then I taught a course of ancient near eastern religions, Serbian religion, Egyptian religions, so those were right out of my degree area.

ML: So you go to the lecture everyday? At Harvard?

WU: At Harvard? Oh we had a lot of lectures, oh yes. And we had lots of seminars so we had to present for each others and criticise each others.

ML: Lot of discussions going on?

WU: Oh yes and met some wonderful friends there at Harvard I've still known some of them. We are still in contact with some of them.

ML: That's good. And the studying way there is similar between UWO and Harvard?


WU: Is it different?

ML: Yeah is it different or similar?

WU: Very different. All students at Harvard that was also undergraduates were already ready to grad school but graduates as well, their semester went just before Christmas. And then you had a four week break. And then you came back for finals. You have four week of final exams. So you had four weeks to study for finals, if you wanna study, that's fine. If you wanna go skiing, that's up to you. But this finals are coming and the finals were in this great big study halls. So you might have seven level different classes are in the same time taking their final exams. You had 3 hours for your finals. Those were really final exams covered the whole semester. So in grad school ,of course, they were 00:27:00really tough. I did not go to skiing during those four weeks. I studies the whole time.

ML: And did you take the general courses before taking your major courses?

WU: Well when I was in undergrad, but you know when you are in grad school, you don't concentrate in. That's the only thing you concentrate in.

ML: I guess that the education would be a big part of your life?

WU: Of course

ML: So would you emphasize for your children to be grown more educated, more well-trained adult? To become more educated just like you?

WU: Both of our kids went to college. My son went to [Emory?] university at Atlanta, which he himself chose. He thought he was gonna be a med student. He 00:28:00found that the pre-med curriculum was a little bit much for him. So he ended up with double major with political science and I forget the other major was. Was international studies. And then he was doing a very important work studies job for running Emory in big research project on Rheumatoid Arthritic diseases in children in whole southeastern quarter of United States you know the federal funding. And he helped in that office as a result of which he became interested in computers and all that sort of things. And make a long story short, he was given a couple of recommendations for some different jobs when he came out of university and ended up doing a master's in MBA of state university. Yes he's 00:29:00undergrad. So he has two degree in an MBA. And he's been ever since most of places, made a lot of friends. Still had university friends was there in 1980s. Bunch of them are still good friends. My daughter went to [Macalester?] College in Saint Paul. She also had a double major: French and Music. She now teaches music at a charter school in Saint Pole. She also has a studio of her own with her own students teaches. And we took them out on Europe. The year before when Steven off from university. So back to sophomore year which was graduating. We got a year of pass and we had a little guidebook we used to find bed and 00:30:00breakfast. And so we were there for 3 weeks. And both of my kids fell in love with Europe at that time. So Steven had been traveling ever since. All over the world. He goes with friends everywhere: Asia, South America, Europe, Africa. He's been all over the place. He hasn't been to Antarctica. Those place he hasn't been. But he's been around. And my daughter Rebecca. She was so thrilled with her major and the fact that we've taking her in Paris and couple places in France when she was in college. She and one of her girlfriends went there summer on their own. Just of two. I was very proud of them. They got themselves Euro they got around and were in Germany after short Berlin wall come down. Which I think it was in 1999, approximately, little earlier maybe. 1989 maybe? And she 00:31:00came with a little piece of Berlin wall.

ML: Berlin wall?

WU: That's when Germany reunited when the communism-- so she was there shortly after that. So they both became a world travelers because we take them on that trip.

ML: That a good motivation for them!

WU: Yeah.

ML: So they're doing what they really wanted to do?

WU: Yeah.

ML: That's perfect. So do you think that the community you were grown impact your higher education?

WU: Where is the question?

ML: Community that impact your higher education?

WU: Oh yeah I think especially my family community. My mother's family was a 00:32:00large family, my dad's family was smaller. But I think out of all those aunts and uncles, my dad was the only one who has had education beyond high school. Many of the women at that time only had 2 years of high school. My mother only went to 2 years of high school when she was a girl. It wasn't expected that everyone went to 4 years of high school back in the 1930s. 20s and 30s. And early 40s, so by the time I was born, then the expectation was-- Yes she went to 4 years of high school. But and very few people went to university or college. But my dad went to Institute of Technology for the couple of years. So we had kind of sense when I show in some interest in that, my family was very supportive. They put in a lot of money towards my education. So I've always felt 00:33:00that a little bit of what should I say, I can't think of a right world. But always felt a lot of sympathy toward students who take course in this university who sometimes tell me that their parents didn't want to help them out one bit with their university expense and tuition. What they say is you're on your own now, go pay for all yourselves. And I was kind of tough at that time. That's very difficult to have your parents behind you. Yeah even if they can't give that much. Whatever they can give is telling you we're with you, we're supporting you, we'll want you to succeed.

ML: Yeah, Cheer them up--

WU: That's right. Their cheering section. Even if they can't give that much, so I've been very proud of a lot of students who paid all of their own way. But on the other hand, I've also felt sometimes and sometimes parents gonna afford it. 00:34:00But whatever reason they don't want to.

Because it's better if you do now on your own.

ML: Independent?

WU: Yeah, so there's something to be set up on the way--

ML: I think I'm really similar to your case.

WU: I was very plead. I was so thankful that my parents supported me. And we did a lot of support both of our kids.

ML: And I could study hard because my family was so supportive.

WU: Yeah and you know our son helped them out self out of his work study, job that he had, because both went private university. Rebecca chose Macalester and got accepted for few places and so on, that so on, okay. So we had to help both of them. Rebecca ended up taking some student loans. Stephen didn't have to do that because he did the work study and they've received some scholarships and 00:35:00that helped them out too. You know in fact Rebecca had couple of small scholarships that helped her too. So I'm all favor of student scholarship.

ML: Do you have anything remember about remarkable teachers, or like other students, sports during you teach in Oshkosh?

WU: You mean here at this university?

ML: Yeah

WU: Well I'll tell you what. When I first came here since the department was so small. I'd rather quickly got to know faculty in many other departments. Part of it was definitely I was sit for other people. Or somebody maybe resit in other department. But I got to know a quite few of other faculty members. And very sweetly I was impressed with the faculty here. I was also coming at a time when 00:36:00many faculty members didn't have doctorate in the early 70s. They would have master's degree. But that was the highest degrees. And at that times, since we were joining the UW System, those were really pushed to hire people who doctorate. And so I was really being pushed to finish my dissertation, you know for Harvard. And in fact, I had a colleague in religion, who was also working on a dissertation, and that person did never finish the dissertations so that person didn't remain here. Because they were really looking ever since then now look at everybody comes for a 10 year contract position, here has a doctorate. So there was a real real change. But even back them, I was impressed that a lot of sense from carrying lot of students and carrying those students did well. I 00:37:00think that has been a strong point in here. And I had a wonderful colleagues in religion department. We really got all together. I was always impressed what they did. Several of us got a teaching award. My colleague Edward Linenthal got a big teaching award. My colleague Wendell Beane also received teaching award. I was got award. So we were bringing an award left in that department. So we were doing well.

ML: Yeah and this really tells you about your academic contributions when you were in honors program.

WU: Academic?

ML Yeah academic. It says you established enviable reputation to the university campus.

WU: Yeah. When is the date on that?

ML: 1982

WU: I was here over 10 years then. So I had another 22 years since I was here.

ML: It really tells you that you really did great.


WU: This was a quote from Chancellor Penson.

ML: Chancellor Pensen?

WU: Yeah that's the Chancellor. He was a Chancellor at that time. Well the students are the reason that I'm here. Because the other thing that happened, I came in 1972, and between 72 and 74, first I've been where the end of big growth spurts. I think I came at the end of that growth spurts. Because I can only tell you what people told me about from before I got here in 72. But a lot of buildings had just gotten up few years previously off. Then between 72 and 74, when Chancellor Guiles was our Chancellor, G-U-I-L-E-S between those 2 years, 00:39:00all of sudden, they were pulling back. I was almost we had to extend ourselves. And so there was you know we were pulling back on hiring. And they also had what they call the 10 year layoffs. You might wanna see if you find anything.

ML: 10 years?

WU: No, T-E-N-U-R-E tenure, not 10 year. Tenure is what the professors get after they had their probationary period. And then in a fact that you would get a position for the rest of your time. There were some people who were already tenured who were being let go with the understanding that should think change there would be put back on staff again. So they were officially still faculty 00:40:00members, but there were no classes for them to teach as a work. So they were laid off. Sort of. I was so new here. I wasn't fully cognizant of what was going on. Because it was turned on that I was a new person. I wasn't tenured and I was getting a job and some of the people who have been there were sort of being bye-bye finding other place to work if you can. If you can't, they'll hire you again in 3 or 4 years to position. So that was a difficult period. Actually, after my first year, I was also let go. I got a letter at Christmas time. Telling me that I was gonna be terminated and I had a wonderful Chairperson because I was receiving that letter was on the weekend. He was driving down from Neenah to come and visit with me and my wife to share his concern about it. You 00:41:00know he had a copy of letter, so he drove down right away to do everything we can to try to change what happened. What happened in meantime was students heard about this too. And we had Chancellor changed. Chancellor Birnbaum came, and when he came on campus, he reviewed every one of the tenured laid off, and he reviewed every one of the people who had been you know let go. Students. I didn't' know this. Students went over to his house and knocked down his front door. And you gotta get Bill Urbrock back. Let it go. So actually the reason that I'm here is because of bunch of students decided that they wanted me to stay. And it is turned out he reversed the decision. And I was rehired next year. And then to make the long story short for over the years I became. First 00:42:00is you know an associate of full professor and then I was also a Dean. So but that's all because of the students if they haven't done that, I would have been long gone and who knows that I ended up. Maybe in Korea?

ML: And then you went to Middle East?

WU: To what?

ML: To Middle East?

WU: Oh yeah this is I returned frequently to the Middle East. That's really not true.

ML: In 1978?

WU: Yeah. I was there in 1976. I was on an archaeological [dig?]. In a little town called Hesban in Jordan. So I was there for summer. And then I went back 00:43:00one time for visit to Egypt. I relived and returned there frequently. I was there couple of times. So the 18 is get down quite not right.

ML: And why did you go?

WU: I was involved in an excavation. An archaeological excavation. Right. The Egypt was just a visit because I wanted to get a small background of the classes I was teaching about Egyptian religion.

ML: And then for the religion, as referred to UWO website, it says religious studies is contemporary studies of religion or study of people in unique ways that people make meaning in people's lives. Do you agree with this sentence?

WU: This is recent website. Uh?

ML: Yeah it's recent.

WU: Yeah I think also right people past and present. I would say. Because you 00:44:00know this is a contemporary-- Religious studies is a contemporary instead of religion the way they're doing at nowadays. Study of the unique way of people make meaning in their lives. You can make meaning. You can study that in philosophy also. You know but there's also a historical dimension too in religious studies. So it's people both past and present. Because if you are doing like, I mean if you're studying of Islam religion, you study people are Muslim today. You studied the history of Islam going back to that proper moment. 00:45:00And if you're doing biblical studies, you're not just talking about how churches use the bible today. You go back and read and you try to make some sense out of ancient Israel or ancient Christianity. So there's a historical dimension.

ML: So history and religious studies are really related. And then philosophy too.

WU: There's a lot of relationships between history and religious studies of course. Just like there's close relationship between religious studies and anthropology. Which is the department of nowadays is religious studies and anthropology. Right? That's the full name of the department. When I came here, it was just called religion. When we were approved in the 1980s to have a major, we changed the name to religious because the religious sounded better. The university Wisconsin System religion. You know that religions are over the resit 00:46:00of entire university system. So somewhere in mid 80s. We got our ok for a major I worked on at along with other department members. And that we changed our name for religion to religious studies. And then our department actually gave birth to urban environmental studies because we had a professor in our department who had an interest in that, and he started teaching environmental ethics course and gave advice of taking for next. And we actually we were the catalysts of environmental studies department on campus. We also had a close relationship to women's studies for many years. Sometimes some of the people who were actually 00:47:00coordinating religious studies were on the faculty of my department. They were teaching women and religion. As one of their courses were also had women's studies. So there were a lot more going on religious studies than it's happening right now on campus. Because the religious religion department has been shrunk in the last few years. We only had two of three our faculty members are left and most of them are from anthropology in our department. Anthropology joined religious studies in the mid-80s. They left the sociology department and they joined religious studies. They had to be ok by that department and by that college and by that whole university to make that switch. So they were sort of like they came in sort of like they came to religious studies as their new home base and now the effect they're the majority of the department. That's how life 00:48:00sometimes changes.

ML: Is it also related to the big four religions? Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism? Are the included in the religious studies?

WU: It always used to be. I hope it still is. They was classes of Native American religion also. Probably more on the Anthro side. But yeah, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism-- You forgot Islam. They're making at least 5. But they're all sort of other religious groups. Yeah we've taught all 00:49:00of those courses that were taught in department. I didn't teach all those of course.

ML: Maybe I would have chance to take to take those later one of religious studies--Do you remember any social or political issues on campus?

WU: While I was here, well you know for many years the big thing was about those tenure people who were out of job for a while. That was a really big issue with a lot of people. But one of the issue that come up among my faculty was depend on the legislature for what sort of pay rate you might get, and what sort of budgets would fit in university. That's constant problem of every change. That's still going on right now. Right? So your budget always drives, your hiring 00:50:00choice, and what you can do for innovation or not.

ML: At that time, do they have religious club?

WU: We didn't have a religious club for a while, but fairly active several years still happening.

ML: I saw on the website that they're really doing actively.

WU: Okay.

ML: And were you in charge of any clubs?

WU: I was never in charge of club, but we had a program through residents' life in here. It was faculty friend program and I had a couple of friends who were residents over Donner and I think Taylor no maybe Fletcher. Whatever. I had a 00:51:00friend from couple of halls so that I could meet some students beyond having classes.

ML: And were there more women or men at that time, Do you feel?

WU: Students?

ML: Students or faculty members

WU: Oh I think many years more women come to the university for classes. There maybe more women than men nowadays. Have you checked that university numbers?

ML: I think it's pretty even.

WU: Pretty even? It used to be more men.

ML: And more men participate in sports and more women are working in nursing department probably?

WU: Could be. The nursing school is changed immensely. Seriously over here. My wife got her master's degree in nursing department here. She did her nursing education at down Milwaukee hospital school of nursing. And then she got her 00:52:00public bachelor's degree in public health at Marquette university. And then we married and were gone for several years to Boston and Pennsylvania to have our children. And when we moved back here, then she was working in couple of hospitals here in town and then in mid 80s, she went back to the university here and got her nursing practitioner degree. She got her master's degree. And now the nursing school has a wonderful redemption last 5 years. You would hardly recognize what has been happened. It's very different. But we just went into former Dean last night. We were visiting some friends or so. You never know 00:53:00you'll gonna run into. And I still have students from back in 1980s, one of them teaches at Fox Valley Tech right now. We remained as friends for many years. And couple of them I get touch with email and Facebook. So I have college friends that I'm still in touch with

From years and years and years ago.

ML: And you guys remind those back days? Talking about the school days--

WU: Well nowadays we usually talk about how things has changed in our family. You don't talk much about school days. But sometimes it comes out. That's true.

ML: So how does religious studies related to diversity? The cultural diversity


WU: Let me see. How does religious studies related to diversity? Haha. well in many ways. Because even a great religion like says Islam, there are several all kinds of cultural groups represented in an Islam. So just because it is Islam looks like Indonesia doesn't mean it's gonna look the same as Africa. And doesn't mean it's gonna look that way as South Arabia. Which again will be very different from the way Islam looks like as Iran. Iran has Ayatollahs.These other groups do not. So some groups will look to one or two people for align of successors with leaders. Other groups are much more democratic. And they'll have 00:55:00much more scholars. The same thing in Judaism which doesn't have many people like Islam. But even in Judaism, what are called orthodox groups so called conservative groups, reform groups, reconstructionist groups. So you have whole spectrum. And some of them are still have to do with ethnic background. If you study Christianity, you'll find that roman catholic in Ireland will be very different than roman catholic in Italy. Roman catholic in South America or Mexico will be very different from those in US with not having Hispanic backgrounds. So ha your religious beliefs in your culture, but your culture that's already been making hadn't you know before time or your culture is also 00:56:00borrowing also from neighboring cultures that's also gonna bring the religious. They're all type of. Religion, some people would argue as culture. I mean culture might be a larger umbrella even include religion. That's part of that. Some of those terms become very slippery and you have to know when you, for example, if you're reading and discussing this, you have most people reading articles using cultures to mean this. I'm using ethnicity to mean this. If you're reading a feminism, she may say or he may say I'm using a word feminism to mean this, but that's not as same as womenist. So you always have to define terms because people are always arguing over what this blanket terms mean. 00:57:00Because after all, the reality comes first. The terms we describe comes afterward.

ML: That is really true.

WU: so you wanna make the terms in reality and vice versa.

ML: So what was your overall feeling when you retired?

WU: What was my overall feeling? I had a really good feeling because I thought that I had 32 wonderful years at this university. I got to know many many many faculty. Especially I was a Dean because I was involved in 9 years of hiring and firing decisions. Not firing, basically firing people, hiring decisions in several departments because I was a Dean for art, music, philosophy, foreign 00:58:00languages, journalism, religion, English. So I was getting to meet all these people in departments. I practically new every faculty members in those departments. And then I got to know other faculty members in other departments because through the honors program. I did some teaching. We had some honors seminar. When I talking with Jim Hoffman about Sciences and economics with a faculty person in English myself. So I got to meet so many faculty and most of them were great people. So I was very pleased with that and I thought my students over the years enjoyed that. I knew that many of them gone up to grad schools. They were many with whom I was still in touch. I'm still in touch with 00:59:00retired faculty. So I felt that I'm really I had a great university family that I still in touch with. There was still things that I wanted to do. I taught one course in department for next 3 years I believe it was so. I was still kind of get in touch with that for first 3 years I retired. And I was still doing a lot of abstracting of articles. Scholarly articles for old testament abstracts. There was one of the projects that I wanted to work on. And since I haven't been teaching courses every summer at Orleans near Harvard, which is in Lawrence university, I taught regularly every summer after clearing and other adult venues. I've been teaching learning and retirement courses. So I still do a lot 01:00:00of teachings here in area in community and yeah I got to do more traveling spend more time with my spouse.

ML: Yeah you just answered my next question. You're still connected with this community.

WU: Oh yes, all kinds of ways. We loved to come back to university for musical events all the time. Certain way to come is here at Opera theatre came back after suffer. [Plain decor?] play their beautiful concert. So we come very often for musical events.

ML: Do they have concert over there in music department?

WU: They recited last night. 2 faculty person. You should check their listing because they have bands like crazy every month. I get that by email. I'm on the 01:01:00music department list, so every month, I get the list of their whole events on that month. So now they only go 2 weeks and that sit for the summer. And they're all start up late September. What I get that email regularly, we like to come to Chamber so we sometimes come to student recitals and become today's symphony concert. So we're here on campus quite a bit. I have a stickers from my car for retired faculty parking, so I can park on campus.

ML: So if you have a chance to go back to those days, are you still gonna teach religious studies?

WU: Oh sure I enjoyed very much. I'll do the same thing. I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever.

ML: That's good. And for lastly, what advice would you wanna give to current student?


WU: I would say couple of things. One is especially who those like sometimes say there's nothing to do, I heard that so often. There's nothing to do. Then find something new that you never did before. Go to a football game. Go to a basketball game. Go to some of the musical departments in music department. Don't say I don't like symphony, I don't like that kind of music. Find out. You're gonna be surprised. Go to the theatre. See what's happening in the union. If you never been on a board before, join reeve union board or something like that. Another word, push yourself a little bit. The other thing is even if you 01:03:00think it's a lousy class, if that professor is giving you a good bibliography, this is an advice that was given to me once by one of my professors. Who said, even if you think that your professor is not that great, if that professor is giving you a good bibliography, you have no one to blame but yourself. You have great course because all books are there, they're ready for you to read in the library shelves. Pick them up and read them. And do some studying on your own. Don't always wait for professors to tell you what to do. Take initiative. And the other thing is get to know some people that are different from yourself. Don't always look for people that look like you, think like you, eat like you and now that you're in a campus like this, all the different foods are there. Try different foods. I remember one time, we took honors class down to Milwaukee 01:04:00and we went to Serbian old town restaurant to have beautiful lunch in, and some of the students were unwilling to try somethings. Because they said we never had that before. And my response was this is your chance. Give it a try. And it's a same thing with your courses. Don't say I'm not interested. You never know what might be your interests. That's like 8 or 9 or 10 years old girl saying, you know boys say I'm not interested in girls. Oh just wait a little while. Right? I'm not interested in this. I'm not interested in that. What was the truth? Maybe if you try you still won't interested in. But there's so many things that you'll gonna surprise. So enjoy your general ed courses and take as many 01:05:00humanity courses as you can. People who are in business, people who have large corporations, they say this all the time: you need to be able to converse intelligently, you need to be able to write intelligently, you need to find the ways outside the box, you need to become more imaginative when you learn languages, it does say for you. When you read literature whether it's lyrics literature, secular literature, poetry literature, or pros, it does that for you.

ML: That's like my life mottos.

WU: Yeah and the same thing with history. And same thing with travels. We have 01:06:00opened the whole world. History is supposed to open the world for you. And if you want to make an impact, you can't be just in the narrow area, not only that, I always say to people. Don't be little yourself,

Think big yourself.

ML: Thank you.

WU: You know, think big. And don't think that you don't count. You count. There's how many millions revolution that are blown up to you. Think of it. I mean how special can you be. And the reason we're here is because some starts blew once start made up literally. Our chemistry is star stuff. And we have millions millions revolutions that are blown up to just little old sweat you mean how old like that much, but we're something. So try things out. Yeah don't 01:07:00short change yourself. That's my advice. That's more than advice you wanted to hear.

ML: That was a lot of information very motivated, and very useful, very helpful information. Thank you!

WU: Oh I hope that out a little bit. Wow we went up whole lot more. I gotta read this articles here.