Special Collections Oral History Program
Stanley M. Daugert
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
Interviewer: Tamara Belts
Date of Interview: June 16, 2004
Location of Interview: Special Collections, Wilson Library, Western Washington University
ATTENTION: © Copyright Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections. "Fair use" criteria of Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976 must be followed. The following materials can be used for educational and other noncommercial purposes without the written permission of Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections. These materials are not to be used for resale or commercial purposes without written authorization from Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections. All materials cited must be attributed to Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections.
TB: Today is June 16th, 2004. Iím here with Dr. Stanley Daugert, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy. He just signed the Informed Consent Agreement and now weíd like to proceed with our interview.
How did you happen to come to Western?
SD: A rather interesting story. I was teaching at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta and I got a telephone call from one Dr. James Jarrett of Western Washington (was it College then, I believe?). He asked if I would be interviewed.
I said, "You name it and Iíll be there."
He [said] "Well, Iíll be [at the] Biltmore Hotel in Atlanta in about" -- (I guess it was July or August, ) Ė "and Iíll be in room such and such. Would you come there at ten oíclock in the morning two days hence."
I said "Iíll be there."
It so happened, and I was there and he was there and we met. We had the most stimulating conversation Iíd had in several months. He spent about two hours with me and we talked about everything under the sun including philosophy of education, including general philosophy, including who was [teaching] what where. He wanted to know as much as he could about my scholarship and my interests and my feelings about music and art and poetry and [all that].We had just one hell of a good time together and we hit [it] off amazingly well.
The last thing he said to me was "Iíd like you to be chairman of my philosophy department at Western. Would you agree?"
I said, "I certainly would!" (laughs)
TB: Nice. Nice
SD: That was the beginning of my introduction to Western. About two or three months later I arrived on the campus with four children and my wife and we took it from there, so to speak.
Jim and I saw eye to eye on so many things that it was a little bit scary. He was, as you may know, a chairman of, I think it was the Western division of the Great Books Foundation and he had come to Bellingham somewhere in the late fifties, I guess about [fifty five] or [fifty six], on behalf of Great Books. He so impressed several of the people around here, including some members of the Board of Trustees and more particularly Marshal Forrest, that Marshal apparently talked it up with the board after he left and said, "Now thereís a man who could be our President."
After the board discussed it, apparently, they agreed; they offered him the presidency.
Not only did he have Great Books administrative powers but he was a "Great Books-er" himself. He knew the great books. He spoke about them intelligently and he talked them up to anyone who would listen. Beside that, he was trained in philosophy and a part of his training in philosophy, apparently, was at Columbia, which kind of surprised me. He had one or two of the professors that I had at Columbia (this I discovered some time later).
He talked my talk, I talked his talk, and, as I said, we had a great time together. So when I came on campus what we wanted to do was figure out what we were going to do about a philosophy department. He said he had some letters from various people whom he had solicited for the department and would I inspect them and would I interview these people. I did and we cobbled together a philosophy department.
There was a member here previously, he was a part of the department of education, I believe, Halldor Karason. Halldor had been teaching, I think, one course in the introduction to philosophy or something like that before I came and he became a member of the department. Paul Woodring has said to me, before his death, that he thought he himself founded a philosophy department at Western.
I said, "Well, you donít mean formally do you?"
He said, "No, not formally, but I was the only philosopher here." (laughs)
Well, maybe that was an exaggeration but, in any case, Jim and I began to choose people for the department, and the first one I think we chose, was Richard Purtill and then Hugh Fleetwood. So we were a department of essentially five, including Jarrett, from the beginning.
TB: Did Jarrett teach any classes?
SD: Yes, but very few. He was so busy with his duties as president here and trying to do so many things at the same time that he didnít have too much time to teach, actually. He even continued his leadership of a Great Books group here, which I joined immediately. When he left [in 1964], he asked me to take over the Great Books group, and for the next fifteen years I led the Great Books group.
Well, at the very beginning the courses were few, but choice. Our philosophers were just excellent people. Hugh Fleetwood was trained by William Alston particularly, at the University of Michigan, and he was our expert in philosophy of religion. He taught courses in introduction and in ethics and in religion, whereas Dick Purtill was an expert in logic and taught courses in logic, introduction, I believe ethics too, and if we had one (Iím not sure if we did at that time), courses in advanced metaphysics. Richard was an excellent philosopher, very careful, and was one of our great publishers. He subsequently wrote at least three books in logic and published and got interested in Tolkien and wrote several books on Tolkien which are in your library, I suppose.
We formed, very early, a group -- let me put that differently -- we established a Colloquium. Which meant that we would call in philosophers from all over the world, more particularly from the United States but we did get them from Australia and England, for a session of about three or four days during the spring and paid their way here and gave them a stipend. They read papers for us and we invited people from all over the world, if we could have them, but mainly all over the state but outside the state as well. People came from California and Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and we always had a good audience, a receptive audience, and an intelligent audience. So the people who came and read papers were mighty appreciative of the efforts we put out, both in their behalf and for us. We had some of the best philosophers [known in the country] at that time and we continued that for many years, throughout my stay here, up until 1985, Ď86. I understand it kept going for awhile. I donít know whatís happened to it subsequently.
Well, perhaps you ought to interrupt me and get me on another line.
TB: Okay. Well, generally, what was the atmosphere on campus then like as a whole? You talked a little bit about how you established your department, but how did you find the rest?
SD: Well, the atmosphere on the campus was, how can I say, not as bright as I could have wished but hopeful and forward-looking. Particularly the administration under Jarrett was looking for good students, was looking for good professors, the best. He wasnít going to compromise with mediocrity. He wanted the best that they could afford at the time and he got them, by and large.
The year before I came, which was í62; he had hired approximately sixty five new members of the faculty. The year I came there were over sixty as well. So, in two years there were one hundred and twenty new faculty added and the direction of the college changed significantly. No longer was Haggard in ascendance but the thrust of liberal arts and humanities came to the fore, and we were all very conscious of that. That tied in with what I did at Oglethorpe, somewhat. That is to say, we had a big concentration on litterae humaniores; literature of the humanities, and that continued here as a consequence of Jarrettís and, perhaps, my and a few othersí emphasis, so that we were friendly with and moved in the same circles as many of the other departments.
I donít know if it was Jarrettís intention but he had a Faculty Council and the Faculty Council was actually the Department Chairmenís Council. We all met about once a week and he talked to us and we talked to him, telling him what we thought. He told us definitely what he thought! He was a strong leader and a very intelligent leader, and he got out of the chairmen and of the faculty, generally, what he had hoped and the direction was always constantly towards the best. The direction was the mixture of humanities and sciences and political science and so on and so on. Matter of fact, Jim and I, and Herb Taylor put a course together, which I remember to this day because it was so interesting to me. We called it the Social and Moral Order in Recent Literature, and it was a reading of modern literature, novels for the most part, and our lecturing in these, once every week. One of us lectured each week, and then breaking the class up and the three of us had a section to talk about the work under consideration. Before we gave our lectures, we met as three professors and talked about what we were going to say and how we were going to handle the material, and these were the most stimulating discussions Iíve had in a long time.
Herb Taylor, by the way, was one of the most brilliant men I have ever known. He had a memory which was just simply remarkable, [one] of those, what do you call it, eidetic memories, I suppose. He could read something once and he remembered the whole thing. I remember on several occasions, particularly during one card game, all of [a] sudden he started spouting poetry, and he said a whole poem of T.S. Elliotís, just the whole thing right off, and it was appropriate to the occasion. Iíve forgotten what the occasion was but Herb was like that. There were other stories about Herb that were just as interesting, I suppose. Heíd meet the students at the door, took their cards, they sat down, he had the whole cards stacked over here, and he pointed to each student, and named each one -- everyone one of them, sixty or a hundred students! Ah! That kind of a memory is just amazing. When he lectured in the class that I was talking about he never had a note in his hand and heíd lecture for an hour or so. It was a bagatelle, you know, no problem at all. And always right to the point, always well organized in his own mind. A remarkable man.
I may also mention another man that opposed Jarrett: Dr. Hicks, Arthur Hicks. Interesting man. He was the head of the English department and for reasons of his own he disagreed with Jarrett violently. I think he was of the school that thought of literature as a kind of inviolate thing. It was a subject and it shouldnít be mixed in with other subjects. He didnít have much sense of a humanities core or anything like that, even though he himself produced on campus, I was told later, Shelleyís The Cenci and took part in it, and thatís quite a tribute to him to have done that. He was also, incidentally, a pianist. Iím a pianist and we did a couple of two-piano concerts together at the Viking Union. I enjoyed that, he enjoyed it. He had two pianos at his house and we rehearsed there, and there were two pianos over at the Viking Union so we did some classical music: Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven. And that was about the time the music department was just being established. There was a music group but when it was just forming it was given a pretty good [thrust] with Jarrettís coming here.
The atmosphere then was moderately heady, moderately forward looking. Not all members of the faculty agreed with the thrust that Jarrett was trying to push but a lot of them did and the emphasis did change from a college of education to a liberal arts college. The name changed as a consequence, too, and things began to move in the right direction. I was very disappointed that Jarrett chose to leave his position after my being here at the maximum, I think, three years, and he became the chairman, I believe it was, of the education department down at Berkeley, and remained in that position for many, many years. I think that answers your question about the atmosphere in the school generally, although, I suppose I could say other things but thatís enough.
TB: Just a little about the physical campus, any comments on that, because thereís a lot of building, I think, going on when you first came?
SD: We were right in the midst of a building change -- again, Jarrettís initiative. He hired, particularly, [Fred] Bassetti. Bassetti is a rather well-known architect from Seattle. Heís done the biggest building in Seattle but he did these dormitories up here. He did the Humanities Building and he did one or two other buildings on the campus, all of which I thought were splendid, all of which [received] all kinds of prizes nationally. He and Bassetti and I used to get together and talk about this and particularly about the Humanities Building, which I was going to occupy with my staff and which the English department was going to occupy, and where our classes were going to be held, we hoped, and that was a rousing success, I think. The building is beautiful and itís well adapted for what itís about, that is to say the second floor is all offices, and nice offices, and conference rooms, and then the bottom floors are classrooms, and then thereís the, the, what do they call it here, Lecture Hall? Is that what they still call it? And that was well adapted for our purposes. So, at that point, that was going on. Red Square was being built. There was grass out there when I came and two years later thereís a Red Square and a Fisher Fountain and Bond Hall and a few other changes. Something happened to the building across the way -- Iíve forgotten -- well, they added on to it.
TB: To Miller Hall. Right.
SD: Yes. Some of our classes, originally, and our offices were termporarily in other buildings. Iíve forgotten just where I was, not for very long, six months or so. The Humanities Building was being built and then we were given our offices at the top of the Humanities Building at the far end overlooking the Sky Viewing Sculpture. So, yes, all this building was occurring at the time and I was delighted to see it happening.
TB: Do you have any other comments about the campus governance structure? Youíve sort of talked aboutÖ
SD: Yes. Well, at the beginning, there wasnít much. There wasnít even a Faculty Council. There was a Department Chairmenís Council and this met only with Jarrett. Jarrett used the department chairman to spread the word and to get the criticisms that he ritually expected and got. Chairmen werenít afraid to talk to him. There was no such thing as a union of [faculty]. There wasnít even talk of it, as I recall, but after Jarrett left a lot of people began to wonder why we didnít have a good faculty organization or faculty government.
Iíve forgotten how I got into it but I was appointed chairman of a group that was supposed to put a faculty government together, or at least a campus government together. I was given certain members, and they represented the university pretty thoroughly. One of the people who came to the meeting was a member from the staff, a fellow who set up experiments in the physics department and I, frankly, [have] forgotten his name. He had a restaurant in town, two restaurants as a matter of fact, one in Fairhaven and one downtown across from the Bank of America Building. Anyway, we discussed campus government for a long time. I think we met weekly, over a year. And this fellow kept coming to the meetings. He never missed a meeting and, once or twice, students came to the meeting. I didnít want to exclude anybody; I thought we were talking about campus government. Well, after that year, we put together a government for the campus and it contained representation for staff as well as faculty. Some faculty objected very strenuously to that. Nevertheless there was at least one bonafide staff member. Students got word of this and they insisted on coming to the meetings, too, and they wanted representation. It was hard to keep them out, particularly as we got into the late sixties and early seventies, when campus life was getting ripe, so to speak. But they didnít get a voice in that government, and the faculty, more and more, seemed to be of the opinion that this ought to be a faculty government and not just a campus government -- Whoís running the campus? Faculty are running the campus! -- facultyís responsible, etc. There was quite a bit of disagreement on this and ultimately (it took a couple of years), they legislated in such a way that they dropped the staff member and dropped whatever student representation there was. That was many years after I was chair of this [committee].
TB: How did you feel about that? I mean, did you feel that having staff and students was important?
SD: Well, initially I thought we ought to have an all-campus government. I was persuaded later that it was more the facultyís responsibility to run the university. It is true in Europe. By and large in their university systems, itís faculty who run the whole thing including administration. At least, that used to be the story. I donít know if itís still the story in Europe. Lately, the presidents now, in the United States, particularly, but in Canada, as well, seem to be, how will I say Ė administrators -- who try to find money for the university; administrators whose jobs it is to do the political thing with outside groups, to try to quell uprisings in faculty and so on. Iím not happy with the way that has developed.
You know, this is a little note under the line. When I was at the point of deciding whether to come to Oglethorpe or not, I had several other job offers: one at Yale and one at, of all places, in the middle of Pennsylvania, Penn State University, I guess it was. I sought out the advice of a brother-in-law of mine. The brother-in-law was Jim Perkins. He was then vice-president of Swarthmore, I believe. He later became president of Cornell University at the time when that campus revolt took place with the students with guns and [Willard] Straight Hall and so on. Anyway, Jim was a very bright educator, a very bright vice-president of Swarthmore, vice-president of the Carnegie Corporation, then President of Cornell.
I asked him, I said, "Look here, hereís the situation that prevails at Oglethorpe and hereís another possibility of other jobs," I said, "Iím interested in this Oglethorpe job but Iím not sure [if] itís the right thing to do?"
So he gave me his advice; his advice was, "Now look," he said, "What Iíve found in education so far in the United States is that specialization and departmentalization is rife, that is to say, thereís hardly a college in the United States that is not governed by departmentalization and specialization." He said "What youíre talking about is something quite different. Itís not going to be departmentalization anymore, itís going to be a kind of mixture of things; a mixture such that youíre going to lose your specialty within all this humanities organization."
And I said, "Yes, I guess thatís true Jim." I said, "But maybe itís worth it. Maybe the effort that weíre going to make is worth it to change the direction of American education."
He said, "Well, after all, come on! Youíre a small college down there." He added, "I donít think itís going to be very effective except in terms of the local scene."
I said, "Well, Iím willing to take the risk." So I took the risk.
Well, when I came here to Western I found the same thing prevailed, that is to say, the departments were sacrosanct, there was nothing that you could say to any given faculty member -- Hey, oughtnít you be teaching a little bit of, letís say, morality in your class, letís say, art in your class, letís sayÖ
"No," they said, "You donít do that. Your specialization is geology and you stick with geologyÖ"
End of Tape One Ė Side One
Well, how right he was. Iíve regretted it ever since that departmentalization and basically, strict subject matter became the norm and is the norm in American education. Thereís very little sense that if you want to say anything apart from your specialty youíd better be as much a specialist in whatever it is youíre going to talk about as you were in your subject. Even philosophy has the same problem, it seems to me, still, and almost forever, which is to say that you hire a person because heís proficient in philosophical knowledge, and then philosophical expertise, and philosophical texts. You donít hire him because he likes to play the piano, you donít hire him because he likes art, or music, or whatever, and expertise is recognized only within those narrow fields. Iím still concerned about that.
It happened while I was chairman, that is to say, when we invited people to do colloquium, for example, or when we hired people for the department. We had to insist upon their expertise in philosophy as everybody else did in every other university in the country or in the world, as far as I know. There was no attempt to look at the business of higher education in a rounded way. They would defend it by saying, Well, sure we do, philosophyís here, geologyís here, historyís here, literatureís here. Thatís the university. You take courses in these various things and thereís where you get you knowledge and thatís what weíre for! Thatís what weíre all about.
Well, I didnít think so. I thought we were about a lot more than that. I thought we were about putting together a program that would at least approach the idea of responsible citizenship, human understanding in the round, character and moral conduct in a way that would not just be a specialty of the philosophy department or the psychology department and Iím still concerned about that.
TB: Now you must have been involved in the humanities program that they had for a while, that was a team teachingÖ
SD: There was a bit of that, yes, here, yes, and that I applauded and that I hoped would go further. It disappeared rather rapidly (laughs). It didnít last.
TB: Do you think it disappeared because of people not liking to work together or because the classes were so big, orÖ? Iíve kind of heard both sides.
SD: I donít know the answer. I suspect the answer is the first, that is to say, people werenít that interested in doing that, that much. Just a few were but those few might have suffered too as a consequence.
TB: What about Dr. Bunke?
SD: Ah, yes. Harvey was an interesting guy. I liked him very much. He wrote a book called the Liberal[Dilemma] and it was a good book. I donít know why he didnít work out here. I was disappointed in his having to leave. He wasnít, in any sense, a strong administrator. I very seldom saw him in terms of giving some kind of talk or administrative duty that would redound upon the philosophy department. He was up there in Old Main and there wasnít much coming from him, but a nice guy.
TB: What about then [when] Dr. Flora comes in 1967?
SD: (sighs) I donít like to speak ill of my colleagues, and I wonít speak ill. I disagreed with his appointment. I never felt that the university advanced a whit when he took over or when he left. He had a group of friends that he appointed to all the administrative positions and it wasnít so much that Ö how will I say it Ö it wasnít so much that subject matter prevailed any longer, it was that politics prevailed, and the politics were, I thought, of the worst kind. Jerry is a competent marine biologist, wrote a nice piece on sea animals and has subsequently done a lot of work in that area, in the South Pacific somewhere. But I cannot stay in the same room with him and be comfortable.
TB: Do you think part of the problem was that he came from inside? Do you think if he would have been from outsideÖ?
SD: Yes. Yes. Yes, I think that was part if the problem, yes. And he appointed people from the inside too.
TB: And what about the student protests, themselves? Do you have any comment about that or [what] your memories of that time were?
SD: Yes, very well (laughter). I marched with the students. I marched downtown with the students, from here down to the middle of Bellingham, and I remember the FBI and others taking pictures from the roofs of the buildings and getting our number, so to speak. I was against the Vietnam War one hundred percent. I had a son who was against it and wrote about it and I helped him write his articles for one of the local sheets that they put out, out of Fairhaven. I disagreed with the students tactics insofar as trying to stop classes was concerned. I thought that was just poor, poor politics. But, on the whole, I thought that their protest, particularly against the war, was a just one and that their ideas, on the whole, were valid.
We got to be known as a leftist school as a consequence although there was a leftist movement long before that in the thirties with Dr. Fisher, I believe it was. But, it played itself out and things smoothed out after a while. But it was nice to see, at least, that the students were interested in these [things] and they took seriously the business of protest, the business of being, what they considered to be, good citizens. So, while I objected to some of their tactics, their general ideas and philosophy were right on.
TB: Not wanting to belabor the Flora [issue] or make you feel
uncomfortable with whatever you want to say about Flora but there was a lot of
administrative changes, a lot of people come and go; we kind of made an attempt
to have a provost, more colleges are getting formed. Do you have any other
comments about that period?
SD: Well, on the whole, I approved the idea of other colleges. As a matter of fact, I had hoped one of them would turn out to be the kind of college I taught at, at Oglethorpe. I had some talks with Paul Woodring about these matters. Not many, however, and I regret that I didnít talk more with him but he was a busy man, too. I guess what is now [Fairhaven] College is a college that I donít quite understand whatís happening there. I donít quite understand what their effort is right now. Itís not clear to me what goes on there except a rather free-for-all kind of program.
TB: Did you envision, possibly, it might become the Oglethorpe idea?
SD: Yes. I had hoped something like that would happen but I, apparently, simply didnít have the energy or the wherewithal to get into that and fight it. I was so busy with my own business, being chairman in those days took a lot of effort. I was writing papers of all kinds, particularly for defending the department. There were some people who didnít want a philosophy department around here. And having my meetings with my own department, and then having outside meetings, and going to meetings, and so on, and so on. I was put to it pretty thoroughly to keep up with my own business, so that the Fairhaven thing sort of dribbled off this way, as far as I was concerned, and somebody else took it over. Maybe I should have paid more attention to it but I guess I didnít. I didnít at the time.
The other colleges I never quite saw the purpose [of]. Again, I thought the science departments were doing a fine job and I wanted to see that the liberal arts, and the humanities, and the sciences, and the social sciences were still together and I deplored this separation thatís recently occurred though, I confess, I donít know enough about it to be able to criticize it specifically. But the movement in that direction seemed to me to be a wrong movement and Iíve talked with some faculty members who agreed with me. I havenít found anybody who disagrees with me about it. I didnít think that it was a very popular movement.
TB: So, can you tell me a little bit more [about] what it was like to be chairman of the philosophy department or an academic department? You [served] almost twenty years [as] the chairman, [under] several different administrations. [Describe what] kind of changes you went through in [dealing with those various] administrations?
SD: Well, it wasnít anything other than administering the departments, choosing this person and that person to give this course and that course, and seeing that papers were written; seeing that publication took place, if possible; chairing the meetings of the department when we read papers to one another, which was every week; seeing as much of the justice and the equity of salaries as I could. I didnít have much power there. Appointing new members of the department. What else? Seeing to the secretarial help and seeing that things were well supplied and that things ran smoothly, keeping in touch with the administration for our needs and our interests. With some presidents this didnít seem to matter at all but with others, yes, it did.
Thereís not much in the chairmanís job that is different from other chairmenís jobs but it has to be done. Somebody has to take charge and administer a program and see that the word got out and see that publications were encouraged and see that the copy got out for the college publications, and so on. And whatever "news" was there you had to be sure that that got out. Itís kind of a potpourri of things that has to be done. Itís not a great honor, in my opinion. Some faculty members thought that it was just a burdensome bother and they were right in a lot of ways. It didnít at that time come with any further emolument (laughs) and you taught classes at the same time too.
TB: Did you have a full load then at the same time?
SD: No, I did not have a full load. I had one course or at maximum, two per quarter, but my other people had two, three, and four sometimes. But I tried to help out where I could. And I had my own writing program. I was trying to write constantly. Not very well and not very successfully except in terms of the local stuff, but for publication outside I didnít get much done.
TB: Can you describe some of the changes in the hiring processes that you went through?
SD: There werenít many. We were always a small department; five or six. When it came time for the, what do they call it, Reduction in Force, we had to lose one person and that was shameful in my opinion. It shouldnít have happened. We lost a good man, Hugh Lehman, who went up to Canada and is now at -- or I guess heís retired now --from the University of Toronto, I believe. We lost one or two other people. Roger Lamb -- I donít know quite why we lost him -- but I think that was part of the Reduction in Force business. I donít know what heís doing now.
Oh, and then we had an interesting loss in Frank Morrow. He was a fine philosopher. We enjoyed having him, he taught well, he was a popular teacher, we were great friends, and then he decided, of all things, that he wanted out of philosophy and into law. And he went down to the UW, I think, and took a law degree, and I think he did it in three years and became a lawyer in Bellingham. I used him as a law person, myself, on a couple of occasions and then he was appointed, ultimately, to a judgeís position. Thereís a peculiar position, sort of between prosecutor and judge, and he fitted in there. He ran for mayor [once], mayor? He ran for public office, in any case. I remember supporting him and going out and talking for him. But it didnít work, so he reverted back to law and I think heís now retired.
TB: Could RIF have been [handled] different? I mean, was it a problem with [administration] that led to that or could [it] have that have been dealt with differently and not had the layoffs?
SD: Well, they give the excuse, at any rate, or the reason that it was budget that was constraining the university to reduce, and reduce in force we had to. We had not much to say about it. We had to reduce and we had these peculiar things happening that people were advanced to positions they really didnít belong in after somebody else got out of them, I canít remember the details. At any rate, I remember a lot of disaffection, dissatisfaction about the RIF process and I could understand why. But I guess financial constraints are financial constraints and thereís not much you can do about it.
TB: Right. Okay, well in the mid-seventies, 1975, Flora stepped down and Olscamp becomes president, and also Talbot becomes provost and a lot of changes there. Do you have any comments about that period of time?
SD: (laughs) Yes. The first thing I knew about Olscamp was that he was a member of my department (laughs). I had nothing to do with it! Not a word! Not a scintilla of information! But he came over into the department and said, "Well, what course do you want me to teach? I think Iíll teach Introduction to philosophy."
I said, "Oh?" (laughs). I said, "Tell me more."
So he says, "Well, part of the condition for my becoming president here was that I would teach a course in philosophy and thatís the way itís going to be."
Thatís the way it was.
TB: Every quarter or just once a year?
SD: I donít remember that well, to be frank with you. He came to one meeting in the department that I remember. He wrote a book on introduction to philosophy -- not very good (whispers) and he thought himself as a fully fledged, full bred, competent, dominating philosopher.
He was that way in the position of president too. Thereís so many stories about this man around campus that theyíre hard to believe, some of them. One of them is not too hard to believe: he got together with the music department and he said, "You know what weíre going to do? Weíre going to produce the Student Prince, and Iím going to be the student prince and my wife is going to be [my] inamorata."
And thatís what happened. The full fledged production of the Student Prince took place over in that building over there. He was the lead; his wife was the sub-lead. Thatís only one example of many.
Years later, I was at the grocery store picking something off the shelf and this person, [was] over there picking something. "Hi Stan!"
"Hi, how are you?"
"What are you doing here?"
"Oh Iíve moved back to Bellingham."
"Oh," I said, "Youíve been to a couple of other colleges, I understand?"
"Yes, yes, but Iíve moved back to Bellingham permanently."
And we picked up our groceries and went our own way. Thatís all.
TB: And he taught at the philosophy department again. When he came back, he had a positionÖ
SD: Well, thatís what I understand. Not when I was here, however.
TB: Right, OK. Well, do you have any other comments about that time on either curriculum changes or other, different things that happened on campus? I realize youíre, almost at that point, getting close to retirement. I believe you retired in í82 Ö
SD: No, I retired a little later, I thought. I thought it was about í85.
TB: Oh, okay.
SD: I think it was í85.
I donít wish to bring personal things into this account because I donít think they belong there, but thereís one thing thatís semi-personal that I think Iíll mention to you about my second wife. My first wife died in 1979, I didnít remarry for another ten years. The person I remarried was a Bellingham person, an artist, sculptor, painter, did a lot of sculpture with metal and with, how will I say, electrical material, that is to say she welded things literally, despite the fact she was in a wheel chair since 1952. She had been married to another person, who divorced her. And among other sculptures that she made was one of Dr. Jarrett. Itís a beautiful piece a bronze bust. About ten years ago, maybe, maybe as little as seven years ago, I donít know, I wrote to the head of your art department here to suggest that maybe they would like to acquire this piece for historical reasons or whatever. The response she gave us, in a letter, was such that I didnít want to have anything to do with her anymore. She was not insulting but she questioned the competence of the artist. She questioned whether or not she had any "name." She questioned whether she had any degrees. She questioned etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But one thing that ought to be done sooner or later, I hope itís done, is to seek out her estate (she passed away two years ago) -- seek out her estate and find out where that piece of sculpture is. Itís a good piece. It needs to be in the college here somewhere.
TB: And it was Jarrett.
SD: It was Jarrett. Yes, she did Jarrett. They were great friends.
TB: Whatís her name?
SD: Virginia Huston or Virginia Daugert. Then she passed away. I think she took the name Huston again because of her children. Her children were from her first marriage and one of them is living in town now, Jon Huston, J-O-N. Heís with the Muljat group of real estate people and I guess he has the sculpture or his brother has, I guess. But, in my opinion, it ought to be a part of the university collection.
TB: Right. Yes.
Well, what are your overall thoughts on your career at Western?
SD: Overall thoughts?
TB: Significant changes. Things that you sawÖ
SD: Well, since Iíve been out of it almost twenty years now I havenít paid as much attention to or got involved in very much of the universityís activities since then. Iíve been more a private person. I lost one wife, then I lost another wife, Iím now remarried, and weíve been doing quite a bit of traveling and quite a bit of reading, but as far as the university is concerned, very little, very little.
Iím writing, trying to write a book, two books as a matter of fact. Iím half finished with both of them. One is on the Good Life and the Good Society and the other is an autobiography. I guess Iíll finish those sometime, I hope I will.
But, as I say, we travel quite a bit: Europe and the East. Sheís in Spokane right now and weíre going on a Mediterranean cruise in October and weíll be doing other traveling after that. Iíve been to Europe many times. Iíve been to the Hawaiiís at least thirty times and I enjoy seeing new places and doing new things, seeing new art.
Iím especially interested in art because my first wife was the daughter of a rather well known Eastern painter, Delaware Valley painter, Rae Sloan Bredin [1881-1933], and she inherited some of his paintings and I, in turn, have passed them on to my children and as a consequence she taught me an awful lot about art that I didnít know before. She, being the daughter of an artist, and also being an art history major at Wellesley, knew a lot about art and took me to Europe on several occasions and we went to all the good places, you know, the Uffizi and the Louvre, etcetera, and I still have a great interest in art. I just saw the exhibit down at the Seattle Art Museum last Sunday (or Sunday before last), and I do that as much as I can. I like to see these exhibitions on the human soul and spirit that take me on a journey spiritually.
TB: Do you have any favorite or worst memories of Western that you want to share?
SD: Favorite memories of Western? Well, Iíve said some of them, I suppose. My association with Jarrett was a very favorable one. His wife, Marjorie, was a delightful person and she was a member of the Great Books groups too and all our Great Books sessions were just fine. The philosophy departmentís work and activities always interested me. I had them out to my house at the lake many times. I no longer live at the lake but we enjoyed our associations out there. I was for many years a member of the Unitarian Group and I had a lot of friends in that group. I was President of it for a while but Iíve since left it for various reasons.
Western had many good symphony concerts, musicÖ
End of Tape One - Side Two
SD: The various music groups and the artists who came and exhibited at our good art gallery here. I always followed them with great interest. The plays we had here always interested me and my wife, and we attended them, for the most part. This part of the world is a part of what we mean by Western, which is to say that itís one of the nicest parts of the world I know and itís a pleasure to have lived here and keep living here for these years. Itís hard to image a better place, as a matter of fact, and Iíve been around a large part of the world but thereís not much better than this area.
I participated in sports pretty well. I skied a lot, I played a lot of handball, volleyball, and went to the Y up until a couple of years ago. Friendships with other members of the faculty were always welcome and I had a lot of good friends. Many of them have passed away. Iím surprised to have lived quite as long as I have myself but apparently thereís pretty good genetic material here (laughs). My dad passed away at 92. Iím 86 just the other day and I miss a lot of those friends. I miss them very desperately because they were very good friends: Paul Woodring and Herb Taylor. Henry Adams is still here. By the way, you might get word from him. He contributed to Jerry Floraís "magnum opus". I guess you heard about that?
TB: Right, we have a copy of that.
SD: You have a copy, Iím sure. Iím of two minds about that. I think there are parts that are very good but there are parts that are awful. I think it was -- how will I say it? --- beneath the quality of the University to put together something like that. Itís typical Flora. I wonít say any more about that.
TB: Do you think you were treated well as a faculty member?
SD: Yes, I was treated very well. I think I gave good service too. I enjoyed the students enormously. The classes I taught I thought were always good classes, responsive -- up until near the very end -- which is one reason why I retired. Two things happened: one, my hearing began to go very bad. I was in several episodes in the Second World War in the Philippines under severe bombardment that really damaged my hearing. It got worse and worse, but especially in the early eighties, it began to really go bad, the consequence of which was that I would have to say, when a student spoke, "Please repeat that,"or when the fellow from the back row said something, "What did you say, please?" "This," I said, "this canít go on."
I got hearing aids but the hearing aids didnít help me very much, surprisingly. I still have them, of course. Then there was the fact, perhaps connected with what Iíve just said that students up in the back row were reading newspapers on occasion. Well I said to myself, "Now wait a minute. This isnít the way I envisioned teaching."
I guess I was becoming either boring or that student didnít want to hear what I had to say. In any case, I said, "I think Iíve reached the end my teaching career."
So I retired. I guess I could have gone on. Iím certainly equipped to go on otherwise, but this hearing problem became severe and itís not a pleasant thing to have to ask people "What did you say?" and itís not pleasant to be in a card game and not know what that fellow is saying or that fellow is saying because of the general noise, or when youíre in a cocktail party and you canít hear a thing this person [is saying] because of the general noise. So it became a trial to me and is still a trial in a lot of ways, although these are the best hearing aids that money can buy and they still donít do the job that I want them to. So my hearing must be pretty bad is what Iím saying.
TB: Since youíve mentioned card games a couple times I thought Iíd backtrack and ask about that because Iíve heard there were several faculty clubs that played cards.
SD: Yes. Oh, yes. Well, the first group that I was associated with was a very large group of bridge players on the faculty, and we used to meet over at the Viking Union. There was about ten to fifteen tables which meant sixty people plus, playing bridge and that was very enjoyable. I donít know why it stopped but it stopped. Then I was invited to join a poker group, and the poker group consisted of Paul Woodring, "Big" Bill McDonald, Herb Taylor, Henry Adams, and myself. We played for years, rotating places where we played, I think it was once a month, yes, once a month, and we enjoyed each othersí company. We didnít play for big stakes and we talked more than we played cards, or we talked as much as we played cards. Well, believe it or not, Bill McDonald died, Herb Taylor died, Paul Woodring died, and Henry and I were the only ones left, so I was invited to join another group. That group is still in existence. Most of them are faculty members, presently, and we do the same thing; we meet in each othersí homes and that group is the same kind of group, Iíd say, a lot of talk and minor poker. And I know thereís at least two other groups of poker and for the same reasons generally -- that is to say, itís camaraderie and itís social and itís fun. You get a chance to talk to your colleagues or your friends apart from the business of education, and you sort of let you hair down, they let their hair down and itís fun.
TB: Youíve mentioned some, but who were your heroes on campus?
SD: Heroes. Well, if there were any, Jarrett was the person, I guess, I admired most. Herb Taylor is another one. Paul Woodring. Who else? Well, I guess those are two or three.
TB: And how about the most influential campus leaders? It may be the same, but do you have some other people that you felt were influential campus leaders?
SD: Well, youíll still have to be talking about faculty here. Well, apart from those I mentioned I canít name any further, I guess. I mean, I knew some of the others: Talbot the provost was, I think, an honest fellow and a good fellow in the position. Jim Davis was a good man. I played golf with him occasionally, and, who else? I donít know. Well I guess I canít think of any others.
TB: Is there anything else that I didnít ask you that youíd like to comment on?
SD: (Laughs) Well, nothing I suppose except, perhaps, you ought to make some effort to get in touch with Jarrett before he passes. I think weíre the same age exactly and heíll have something to say, Iím sure, of interest. Unfortunately, some of the people that are passed away you canít interview any longer. Henryís a good source but Henryís in Jerryís book, in a long interview, and itís not a bad interview but itís not as focused as it ought to have been and it doesnít say too much about the general thrust of education here. He speaks more about other things.
I was asked to contribute to that volume and I said no, because I was asked in a way which was sort of insulting -- how would you like to contribute to Jerryís volume about your poker playing? Now thatís the kind of thing that Ö I said, "No, I donít want to do that. Thatís personal stuff and that has nothing to do with the education at [Western]." But that was typical, I thought.
Iím delighted at the growth of the college but I donít know if the growth of the college means that its quality has improved. I donít know. I donít know enough about it, except the faculty members that I know now and have some contact with seem to be excellent people, really excellent, first-rate, and Iíd like to see that first rate-ness to continue. Iím not sure that the administration is responsible for this but if it is, God bless and good tidings, I hope.
The University is obviously becoming better and better known. I was talking with a member of the philosophy department the other day. We met accidentally, and this is Tom Downing, who was also, I understand, put in charge of the computer department for a while and did a good job there. Well, what he said about philosophy kind of surprised me and delighted me too, he said two things: one, the people now in philosophy, whom I donít know and have never met, are just first-rate people, publishing up a storm and well known in American philosophical circles, well known, and he said that thereís over sixty majors in philosophy. I was astonished. We had no more than two or three in my day, but since then things have gone on a real upswing and philosophy has become a popular subject, apparently, which is good, which is fine. Delighted for them, I hope it continues. I understand Phil Montague, who was chairman, has just retired. I invited him to a party, recently, but he didnít answer so I donít know whatís going on with him.
I think the community of Bellingham is so much better off for having this university and the State is so much better off having this university. It is becoming a real power, a real force, not only in American education but, it seems to me, in a broader sense. Locally itís doing good things in this community and in the State; [I] hope it continues.
TB: Do you have anything else?
SD: No, I donít think so.
TB: Perfect. Well, thank you very much. Itís been great to meet you.
SD: Oh, itís my pleasure.
TB: Thank you.
END OF RECORDED INTERVIEW