…in my opinion there will be no two decades (60's and 70's), at least to this point, in higher education where there have been more changes between the relationship of the institution to the student.
Thank you for being with us today Dr. McBee.
Spring has truly sprung here in Athens, and I know that for you as a leader on this campus for 25 years that it brings back memories, but let's start in the beginning, the very beginning, and that would be Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. Will you share with us a little bit about your family and your growing up time then?
Strawberry Plains is the only one name that has a post office with that name in the country. It was named during the Civil War, because of a lot of fighting that went on there and wild strawberries. It is a little, tiny community just out of Knoxville. I was born there. My mother was a teacher, an elementary teacher in the nearby community, and met my dad, who was born in Strawberry Plains. They had three children. I have two brothers. The three of us were born in a four-year period, so we kind of grew up together. Traditional family values, church every Sunday, valued education. We were taught to respect our elders, say "yes, ma'm" and "yes, sir". We started carrying the paper when I was in the second grade. My little brother was in first grade and my older brother was in the next grade. We carried them for nine years, and when you carry papers in the country, it is not like having a block where you have the houses all together. So we had long distances between our houses, but we did that for nine years and in a way that started me on the best lesson I had in terms of how to handle money. We had to collect enough in one week to pay the papers for the next week and whatever money was left, my parents made us keep a kitty so there was always people who didn't pay, and then we got to divide the rest of it at the end of the week and go have a "big orange", as we called it. But we learned about the people who would pay up every week and the one's that we had to chase down to get the money. We knew how to take care of the money we had, and that was during Depression days, so I valued those nine years a lot. My dad worked for American Zinc Company, and as I said, my mother stopped teaching when she got married. There were 300 students in the school, 15 in my graduating class. I was the only one who went on to college. It was, as I said, a rural area where people just weren't going to college at that period. And, my brother, in my senior year in high school was the year the war broke out, WWII.…brothers both volunteered. One went to the Navy and one in the Army, and then when I went off to college the next year…That is the next question I suppose though…Is that enough about Strawberry Plains?
That is. The only thing I would reference would be, tell us a little about McBee's Ferry? Was there a ferry?
Well, it has historical significance because it was a place even before the Civil War, where you could cross the river. My ancestors who were four or five of brothers in our family that came and settled along that river instead of farms, and I came out of one of those families, and that…it is still marked, the McBee Ferry with one of those State/Federal markers, whichever, when you drive through that area.Back to scenes
Well, talk to us a little bit. You did go on and you went to East Tennessee State.
East Tennessee State. There were no…it was an all female school at that time because guys were all off at war except the 4-F's and the preachers. We had a few of those, but so it made college experience different than it would have been if it had not been during the war, but we got a good education, and it was small enough. The college was small enough. It was made a university that year that I graduated. It was changed from college to university. But it was small enough that you knew all your teachers well. The classes were small, so it was a special kind of college education that a lot of kids do not get today.
You were a physical education major.
Well, that and I also majored in English and I got a teaching certificate for elementary school and high school, so you got the whole works.
And it was your dream to teach?
It was your dream to teach?
Right! Exactly! I can tell you now; I can name every one of my teachers, starting with first grade all the way through twelfth grade. I loved my teachers. We had two teachers that lived in our home when I was little who were teachers at the school. One later, a male who was the principal, lived there. So we were always associated with teachers, and I never thought of really doing anything else at that point, and after I graduated, four of us went to the same town up in Virginia and got a job and taught in the same school. I stayed there one year and then I came back to East Tennessee State to head the sports intramural program.
And at what point did you decide you wanted to work with college age folk? I know you went on to Columbia.
Well, when I was in college, the person I admired the most was the Dean of Women, a position at that time that was in some ways the most important position that women ever held. They reported, most of them, to the president. They were also faculty members and the teacher I had for Dean of Women taught English and also lived in one of the residence halls. I admired her greatly, and she was a principal person in my life and in my choice of going on to train in student personnel administration and eventually go back to that institution as Dean of Women.
You went to Columbia?
Went to Columbia University.
Quite a change.
Picked up a train in Strawberry Plains, got on with my trunk and went to New York.
That had to be…
That is an experience.
To be in New York City…
Absolutely. And as a matter of fact, I went on the train when I went to East Tennessee State when I started up there. The train stopped in Strawberry Plains, and I got on with my trunk and off I went. So, they don't do that anymore.
You certainly had a wonderful institution to attend, but just the mere fact of being in New York City that was an education of its own.
Well, it was, and I was scared, but you get up there and you go. I had a room in a dorm where there were all graduate women and it was a wonderful experience living in New York. Every week I cashed a check for $25 and I ate on that, and what was left at the end of the week, we went to an opera, or a movie, or some special thing in New York City. One of the ones I ran around with had a car. She was getting a masters degree in nursing. She had a car and we traveled around all over New York. I drove all over New York just like it was Athens, so it was a great experience, and when we had the car to go other places, we traveled some in the East as well, so it was a nice year.
So and then, at what point did you have your Fulbright in Holland? You taught in a school there…
That was while I was at East Tennessee State. I went back there after I had gotten my masters and was assistant dean of women and then dean of women, and I went to Holland and taught for a year in a girl's school in Rotterdam. It was a wonderful experience. I went back three summers ago to a gathering that they had at the school of those kids. Some of them were teachers. I knew a lot of them. I remembered them. I lived with a Dutch family, and it was a wonderful experience to be over there for a year. I had a car and traveled all over Europe.
That was your first trip abroad?
You got bitten by the bug then.
I got bitten by the bug then.
So you returned to East Tennessee State and at some point decided you needed to get that doctorate at Ohio State?
I left and went to Ohio State and worked in a residence hall, the first one that I guess over the country had been made coed. They thought I had experience, and so they put me in that dorm. As it turned out, there was a cinder block wall between the men and the women, so all they did was eat together, so that was a nice experience.Back to scenes
At one point, I know in January of 1963, you came to Athens to interview for the Dean of Women's job. What was your driving thought on that and what was your experience?
Dr. Sorrells was the Dean of Students then. He wrote me and asked me to come to Athens, and I wrote him back and told him that I was not interested, I had a good job there, and he said, "Can I come up and see you?" So he came to see me and he had talked me into coming to Athens for a visit, and I stayed at the Georgia Center, which was a new facility then, and I met with all the staff, and then he tried to convince me it would be the thing to do. Well, I went back and talked to my Dean of Women, the person who had been my Dean of Women. She said, "You need to do that. It is a bigger school. You need to do it. "And so I accepted the position and cried all the way down here, but after I got here, loved it. It was the thing to do. It was definitely the thing to do.
When you came in you had met some of us, right?
I had met a lot of them that you would know. Ms. Artau, Ms. Bondurant, Mrs. Singleton, Dean Tate, who became my weekend pal the rest of the time I was here.Back to scenes
I was going to ask you that question. What was a job description for a dean of women in 1963?
Well, of course that was while the campus was still in loco parentis. The law had not passed that made students that age accountable to themselves or to their parents. We stood in place of the parents. And so the job was to keep them in line. They had to sign out when they left for the weekend. When they signed out, they had to sign out to go out at night. We controlled their dress, their behavior. It was a total kind of parental control, and it began during that period in the 60's and the 70's. In my opinion, those two decadeschanged the face of American campuses and the concept of in loco parentis. The death of it was one of the major ones, because I remember when I wrote parents a letter simply because I felt it was the responsibility to do so in 1967, saying to them that no longer is the university standing in place of the parent. Your children, you and your children will determine what they do and do not do. They will not be signing out for the weekends. Well, of course, we had an outcry from some of the parents when that happened, but it was a change. Every relationship between the university and student was tested in that period between the 60's and the 70's. It was a period when we had the civil rights movement and a lot of that started on campuses where students sat in at lunch counters and so on, and then the Vietnam war, the free speech movement, Title IX, which brought federal legislation that had to do with athletics for women, so in my opinion, there will be no two decades, at least to this point, in higher education where there have been more changes between the relationship of the institution to the student.
The world did turn upside down.
It turned upside down.
We are going to talk a little bit more about that in a minute. I want to ask you about Governor Carl Sanders during the mid-60's. He appointed you to the commission on the status of women. It was obvious, and I think that underscored the fact that women's issues were beginning to rise to the attention of certainly the state's political structure. Could you tell us a little bit about that group, and how…was that a first opportunity for you to connect with some of the folks…
Well, it was to connect publicly and statewide…there was controversy when… women were beginning to step out. It was…you know…Betty Friedan had written her book. That really was a kick-off for the women's revolution, and that was at the same time that things were changing for students. Everything in society was in a kind of turmoil, and he set up this commission, which was done in states across the country and we met. They were some outstanding women in the state, many of them from higher education, but also from business and industry. And it was a way to say to the state and I thought it was a good thing for the governor to do and subsequent governors did it as well, appointed those commissions up until…you know after the 80's it was not needed. But they worked along with husbands and newspapers and society in general in helping bring about the acceptance of women in a new role. Betty Friedan, as I said, had kicked it off and that helped, I think. It was a time when there were a lot of speeches made about women's roles and there was, of course, the bra burning aspect of it, the radicals that hurt the movement in many ways rather than help it, but that was a part of it as well. Some of those took place on the campuses.
You were doing great. We had burned some bras, but I think we are through with that.
We even had a national conference on this campus, and I ended up getting a book out of it about women's changing role. It was not met, of course, with total acceptance, and I continued all the time I was at the university to fight for women. When I came here in 1963, there were two women on the administrative council, the Dean of Women, and the Dean of Home Economics. When I left in 1988, there were still two. I remember on the last day I was there in fun I took an administrative chart and colored it pink and blue and passed it out. The next vice president came in, you remember was Virginia Trotter, after that, so and women began to take increasingly roles of dean, but we are not there yet. Women still make $. 75 cents for every dollar that the men make. I think young women now see fewer inhibitions and barriers and are willing to tackle anything as you know in Law, Vet medicine, Ag, and Pharmacy. Half of the students are women, sometimes more than half. So they see now that they can go into any field, but there are still a few barriers that they have to overcome, but I expect this ten-year period, this decade will probably see the end of that. I think the next breakthrough is in politics. At this point in Georgia there are 21 percent. There are fewer this year than in previous years, about 40 women out of 256, which is not very many, but we are now hearing about the possibility of a woman president, and it is interesting when we see ourselves as a nation that is ahead of everything, that we are one of the few countries in the world that have not had a woman president. It started with Golda Meir in Israel and there were three this last two or three months in Chile, and Germany, and some country—Liberia I believe it was—in Africa, where they had women presidents. Well, we oughta get to that pretty soon.
And maybe a woman governor.
And a woman governor, absolutely. So politics is going to be…I believe their new frontier, and when that happens, we will see an added interest in education, an added interest in agencies that deal with the poor, with the handicapped, because women have those interests, so that is the kind of legislation they sponsor…things that have to do with the welfare of people. Men are more interested in business, agriculture, industry, and so on, so they bring a different dimension to the political arena.Back to scenes
Yes ma'm. Let's change up a minute and talk about 1968, when you left UGA for a little while and went, I believe, and served as a faculty member and Dean of Women on the Chapman College Floating Campus.
Right. That's right. It was a wonderful experience! Wonderful experience!
Didn't get away from students?
We had about 500 students. I taught a class in psychology. We started in New York and ended up at California. Went all the way around the world. Stopped three places in Africa, India…it was a wonderful experience. Before we came to each port, we flew a professor in from the university in that port we were coming to from one of the universities, and they would lecture. Students took classes that had to do with different religions of the world, oceanography, and things that had to do with what we were experiencing. So that school is still going on. It is with the University of Pittsburgh I believe now, but it was a wonderful experience, and you see the world in different ways, because when we came into port, we would take them on buses and do what we called a city tour to show them where things were, like when we were in India if you wanted to pay extra and fly to New Delhi you could do that, and so it was a wonderful experience.
For you and for students?
Absolutely.Back to scenes
That was 1968, and then we came to the end of the 60's, and there was great unrest, and the war continued to be a catalyst in that, but also as you mentioned, the in loco parentis philosophy. Talk to us a little bit about what you remember as challenges for the leadership at the time, because truly you were caught between. You mentioned 1967 letters to parents ?
But by 68, we were having sit-in's…
Yeah, we had a sit-in about the regulations right after I came back off the World Campus Afloat. The women got a little casket and put the Georgia Belle, that was the rule book, in that casket and marched around the campus with it on their shoulders, and it may have been that weekend, it was a subsequent weekend maybe, I am not sure, where they took over the academic building for about two or three days. Dean Tate and I stayed there the whole time. There were men and women students and some of the faculty. It was never unpleasant. We ate peanut butter sandwiches with them and so on, but they wanted the rules gone, and that, in effect, brought it about, because shortly after that, the rules were changed and letters went to the parents, but we were not the last to set the rules aside. We were certainly not the first, but neither were we the last. I know Auburn, for example, kept the regulations and some parents sent their daughters there rather than to the University of Georgia, because we did stop the regulations, and they were not just for women, men could not go with their shirt tails out. I remember Dean Tate chasing them around. Even the teachers go with their shirttails out now, but that was, there was a dress code that the guys had to abide by as well, do you remember that?
I remember wearing a raincoat over my gym suit.
Over your gym shorts, yeah.
I also remember thinking, "I just cannot stay out as late as we can stay out now, and I got to go home. So…
Some of the rules were not all bad. Uh…then a woman student had to come home, had to come back to the dorm. Now they don't have any excuse, and I have had them tell me that.
And so, but we probably kept some of the more unnecessary ones longer than we should have, although there were some changes made all along, so it was a difficult period. It was a difficult period on all campuses. Uh, the Vietnam War came shortly after that, and that was another difficult period. Three students were killed at Kent State and a lot of campuses closed down in honor of that, to honor the students who had given their lives, because President Davison didn't want to do that here, they took over academic building again, the students did. And it was a little tougher group to deal with for some reason, and we finally had to get the National Guard. President Davison made the decision that it was getting too rough and took them out of the building, but this campus was nothing compared with most campuses. There were not any major problems, no buildings, no fires set, nothing destroyed, no one was hurt, and so we got by better than most campuses.
We were blessed to have you and Dean Tate.
Well, I remember some of the parades they had when they marched to the president's home, and I remember Dean Tate walked with them and sat with them out there, so those things did help.
I want to talk about Dean Tate. I am sure you have some stories about him that we will all want to hear, but um… I know…Back to scenes
…from 1969 to 1973 you served as associate dean of student affairs. Was that just a name change because we were no longer in the structure of Dean of Women, Dean of Men?
The national organizations changed their names. We had a Dean of Women's organization that had been in existence since 1920, had all the top professional women in the country. Well, they struggled to survive, and so a lot of those organizations changed their names, and campuses dropped the title "Dean of Men", "Dean of Women", and went to associate deans. Dean Tate was opposed to it, and in some ways I was, but anyway those titles were changed, and some of the responsibilities were given to him and some to me, but that was a result of the change in how students were related to during that period.Back to scenes
During that time period from ‘69 to ‘73, and you mentioned I think Title IX earlier. The Title IX legislation was passed, and I think people look at it with an emphasis on the athletic part, but it was across the board with any activity that the students…
Right. You could not spend more money and have more teams for example, more men's teams than you could have women's teams. The only thing we had then that I recall was basketball. To any great extent they did a lot of traveling and then women's basketball…I remember when Liz Murphy was made director of that, they had to sell cookies and drive their own cars and so on, and Title IX changed all that, and there was a great amount of unrest about that. People didn't want that change. They thought the girls didn't need to play those kind of sports at that level, that it was interfering with things that people enjoyed for the men. I was the chair of the Title IX committee on the campus, and we had students and faculty on it, and put it in line with the Federal regulations, but it took a while to implement it, although it was passed in '72,I believe. It took several years and as late as the year before last, we put in the…what do you call it when you ride the horses…?
The Equestrian program was put in for women, so that we would have a balance with the number of men's organizations and women's organizations. Is it the same now? No, probably not, but it is a lot better than it was, and if you want to find out the interest in women's activities, go to gymnastics.
It is the highest attendance except football. And uh if you look at the record of the women's sports you see there were more awards that have been won by the women than by the men.
Going on right this weekend…
Going on this weekend with women's basketball team and, of course, our swimming team, and our women's basketball team has gone to the Final Four several times and go to the NCAA tournament just about every year, and the men have been what, once, so the women are doing very well.
They are that.
¬Back to scenes
In 1973, you were named Dean of Student Affairs, which was the top position in that area.
It was a time when a lot of heads were falling in Student Affairs. Uh, I suppose partly because of the great number of students. When I came here there were 11,000. By that time they were in their 20's. Now we are in the 30's. Campuses all over the country are growing, and the adjustments with student life cost a lot of people positions, and that happened here. Uh and then I went into Student Affairs and we had the streakers and the whole business of the sit-in over not allowing a dance, the gay dance on a Friday night. They took out a court order against us, and they were allowed to have it. The judge gave them…do you remember that ? The gays were just beginning to make a racket on campuses, and they wanted to have a dance. We still had Memorial Hall then, that was the only student center, and we turned it down, and they took us to court, and so they got issued an order against us and had it, and I remember I took all the staff and we went to the hall where they had it to try to see that there were no problems, and a lot of the people who came to it were from Atlanta, but it was quite an event and made a lot of press in the state, and then the streaking…we won the NCAA Championship in that…Back to scenes
And so after those two…
(Laughs)…you were ready to do something different…
I figured if I had a chance, I believed I would get into something else.
(laughs) and you did.
I did. Shortly after that I was offered a position in academic affairs. It is not easy to move out of student affairs into academic affairs, but I had an opportunity, so I did, and I was pleased it was a new direction.
And your responsibilities obviously did change. What was the…
Well, I started working with faculty and with new courses and the curriculum and…which was a thing I was interested in and I enjoyed and so I had about the same number of years in that as I did in Student Affairs, and so not many people had that opportunity to switch out of Student Affairs into Academic Affairs, so I was really pleased and really blessed to be able to do that.
And you moved up while you were in that position?
Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs…Back to scenes
…and then in 1986, we had the Jan Kemp affair…
Will you talk a little bit about that and tell us…
Well, it was a nationwide exposure to problems that were not just on this campus, but were on every campus, where students who were male athletes were given special exceptions on admission and efforts were made, in the case of the University of Georgia we had what we called Developmental Studies, and the director of that would work for two years with students who came in as athletes and other students as well, but primarily the athletes were the problem, where even after two years they were not able to do college level work. And so it was her Jan Kemp’s thinking that it was not fair to the institution or the student to bring someone in who could not make the grade, and she kept saying that, and I think rightly so, and we probably didn't listen as well as we should have. Anyway, the event that brought it all to head was that the head of developmental studies who was Leroy Irwin, wanted to dismiss her over the Christmas holiday and Dr. Trotter (Virginia Trotter, vice president for academic affairs) was already gone and I was here, and he came to me, and I said, "Not on my watch". I said, “I don't think that ought to be done, until we have some discussion on it", but anyway, he did it, and she sued the University, and, as I said, it gave national exposure to a problem that was not just ours, and, believe me, in our cleaning up our shop, other institutions did the same. In President Davison's defense, he had already set up a national organization called "Collegiate something" that had to do with trying to raise the standards for athletes, and he was heading that up with an effort to get colleges…the problem was that if other schools played athletes who were not as qualified, then if you were going to win, you had to play them too, so everybody was doing it. We were not the only ones. And so he was trying to correct the thing nationally to his credit. But this all broke before he got it done, and so it ended up, of course, in the president being removed from his position, the Vice-president and the Director of Developmental studies and it was a sad and tragic time in the life of the university, but it came…we came out all the stronger as a result of it. (President Davison actually voluntarily resigned) Cleaned our shop up, and then other institutions over the country did the same. I think, in my opinion, the NCAA, which controls college athletics, should have stepped up before it ever came to a head, because I can't believe they didn't know what was going on, pretty much over the country with any institution that was major in football. Not the University of Chicago, not Harvard, and those schools, but schools where athletics were big, it was going on.
Back to scenes
So then Dr. Stanford was brought in as an acting vice president for academic affairs and he was the one for the job, because he went from one side of this state up and down making speeches that everything is okay at the University, we are going to be fine, keep supporting, keep sending your students here, keep contributing to the funds and so on, and he did, he healed us that year in a real way. He did in one year just by his…he had been president of four or five universities. He was an articulate spokesman for higher education, and so he went around the state preaching the gospel of the university.
I have heard you call him a healer.
And I know he placed a call to you at one point. Tell us about that. Where were you and what happened?
I was with my cousin and another friend of hers. We were getting ready to go down the Colorado River on a raft, and I was down in the bottom…we had walked down the Bright Angel Trail to get down to the bottom of the canyon where we picked up the boat, and they said I had an emergency call, and so I got to it and it was Dr. Stanford wanting to know if I would accept that job, and so I did, and I thought about it the rest of the trip, I can tell you, but we went on down the river for a week and then I came back.
It was a very popular appointment here on campus in 1988. Faculty and students and staff knew, somebody they could trust I think with Dr. Stanford and you moving into that position, things stabilized.
Well they did. People wanted to get well, and so we had some meetings with Coach Dooley and pointed out that it had been a very bad time for the university and that the president had lost their job, and the vice president and the developmental studies, and it was in his shop, and we just had to get some things changed, and so we did.Back to scenes
You served in that position until you retired, as the second highest administrator behind only the president on this campus in 1998, and what a great retirement event!
Yeah we had us an ice cream party!
A great ice cream social on North campus on a wonderful summer day with hundreds of your colleagues and friends there to say "thank you" for all you had done.
That was a really fine time.
Talk a little bit about what you see as your biggest challenges during your twenty-five years at the university, and then we will ask you about the high points. We will save the dessert.
Well I think the hardest time was in student affairs when you were standing in the place of their parents and you wanted them to do well, you didn't want them to get into any kind of trouble and yet because of the rules, it kind of set up a barrier between you and the student, and so the people that you were suppose to be their best advocate, their friend, saw you less than that. Now the students you got to know, the student leaders, ones who got in trouble and you got to know them personally, they changed their opinion. I sat by a gentleman on the board and we talked the whole day. I knew his name, but that didn't mean a thing. We chatted all day long. At the end of the day…this has been in the last year, he said, "You don't know me, do you?" and I said, "I know your name". He said, "You sent my wife and me home. You and Dean Tate sent my wife and me home when we were in school here. "I said, "What did you do?" He said, "Well, we took off without signing out, and without her signing out and went to Florida for the weekend without anybody knowing about it, and you found out somehow. "I guess when they got back, and he said, "I just want to tell you that you turned our life around. "He said, "I am married to her now. "And he said, "We had been messing around way too much. We weren't studying. We probably would have flunked out, and, he said, that turned us around." He said, "You let us come back the next quarter." I have heard those kind of stories from other students, maybe not that dramatic, but where they were called in for something they had done and so on, and they tell you that it straightened them out.
And so those are positive things, but then you also see the students that you somehow had…they saw you as a role model or somebody…a woman in a high position that they recognized and at least at a distance admired, and then as they grew older, they were influenced by. Some of them have told me that I made a difference in their life, and I am sure there are others who just don't bother to say it. So if there is anything that I would like to think I have done, that would be it…that I had influenced students for the good.
Absolutely. And that would be a high point?
Is there an event that you can think of as a high point in your twenty-five years here? Something that made you know and it may be the kind of thing of somebody coming and sitting down and saying you changed my life.
Well, I have gone to battle for some students who were going to be in real trouble and have gone as their advocate. One of them is the vice president of a big company right now. I won't call his name, but he was in real trouble and I went to bat for him because he came to see me and I thought he was right, and so I stood up for him, and he got to graduate and, as I said, he is a vice president now of a big company in New York, and sent me a big check when I started to run for the legislature, but I sent it back to him because he was with a tobacco company. I told him I couldn't take it, because I was going to fight smoking in public.
And that is why people remember you.Back to scenes
You served under four presidents?
Five. I still consider serving. I do so much for the university now, I feel like I am serving under Dr. Adams too.
And you have…
So I count him.
And you have served on the Arch Foundation for him…
And you have served along countless outstanding faculty and staff and known innumerable students. Talk to us about some of the interesting personalities that you have known, and certainly I think Dean Bill Tate, Dean William Tate…somebody you have to…
Oh, yeah and Dr. Stanford. And all the…you know I have worked for four presidents on the job, and all of them are great people. Earl Leonard who was vice president for Coca Cola, Tom Cousins who was chair of the foundation, the University Foundation, I guess that was the title then when this whole thing with Dr. Davison and the Kemp affair…what he did to bring us through that. We had a big thing for Dr. Davison and they gave him a car. It had to be in the gymnasium and it was full of people from all over the state. He did that and helped heal, begin the healing after that. Then Pierre Howard, who was a vice president (lieutenant governor), big tennis player here. Buddy Darden, who was a US congressman…
The past president of the Board of Regents was a student here that I worked closely with. He headed up the senate I think. Let's see…who else? Of course, Dean Rusk — the opportunity to know a man of that stature and meet him on the campus every morning as I walked into the office. Dr. Aderhold was a real giant, one of the early presidents of a southern institution and kind of began, particularly in agriculture, made agriculture a science at this institution. It is still the biggest industry in the state. People don't think about that being the case, and we don't hear as much about it, agriculture now, but he was the one that built that agricultural scholarship at this institution in his tenure here. So, and then there are lots of students now that are in the legislature that are going to move right on up. I can see it already.
Who are "The rising hope of our land…"
Yeah, "he rising hope of our land". Our next lieutenant governor, well twenty-five governors, I guess maybe twenty-six counting Governor Perdue, who was a veterinary graduate. I believe he is the twenty-fifth governor that were graduates of the University, which is something, and we have got, let's see, Taylor (Mark Taylor, foreseer lieutenant governor), and(Cathy Cox, former Georgia secretary of state) Cox are both graduates of the University, so we are going to have if we are lucky, another graduate. I'll not get into politics.Back to scenes
Talk to me a little bit. I have worked with Dean Tate off and on and early in my professional career and one of the stories that he told me repeatedly was that he wanted to die in a bawdy house in a fight with a man over a woman.
I never heard that one!
I just…what an institution here, what an icon, and I know you have some stories and maybe some you cannot tell…
Well, we used to laugh. We talked about spending the weekend together, which we did, between chasing beer trucks from Arcade or raiding men's apartment to get the women, but he was…he had a way with students even though they were scared to death of him. They respected him. He knew their daddies and their grand-daddies and if a student was about to get in trouble, he would ask them their name, and it would scare them to death and when they told him, he would say, "Oh yeah!", and tell them their daddy's name. They thought they would get it when they got home, so he was a disciplinarian in a way without having to draw too much on any of the laws. He could just walk around the campus and behavior would change.
In his ballcap, and we would line up to register in lines outside of Stegeman Hall and out of the Coliseum. It is amazing the things that you remember from your time, and the things that made it. You know you get sentimental about that.
He turned in a report one Monday morning to me — we always had to discuss what happened over the weekend — and he names a student, a woman student,that he had to carry into the dorm. Well, I took it to mean that she was drinking or something, but he actually carried her physically. I called her in that afternoon. She said, "He walked in with me, but he didn't carry me". He used the expression when he was with someone, as carrying them, and I could tell some more, but I better not. Different words have different meanings.Back to scenes
A great retirement event. Wonderful event on North Campus, and that was a big year, because you had a mountaintop experience in 1988. Talk about the Georgian expedition to Mt. Everest.
Well, I had hired a student to help me put down sod in my yard, and it turned out that it was the guy who was wanting to go to Mt. Everest. He was the son of a faculty member here, and he asked if I would help him get permission for them to go. You had to get permission. The wanted to go to the east face of Everest, so he had to get permission from the Chinese government. So we had a number of Chinese students. So I wrote the embassy in Texas, it was in Texas for some reason, and they gave us immediate permission to go, and he said, "If you get us permission, we will take you with us", and kind of in jest I thought, but as…we tried then to set up a committee. We did set up a committee to try to raise money, and I remember I called Pepsi Cola. We had a student who was a high officer in Pepsi Cola at that point, to try to see if they would give us money, but her comment was that businesses didn't like to see pictures of their sign with dead bodies, because one out of seven on Everest didn't make it. One out of every seven who attempted it, but the reason the university was interested in it, was there were some faculty who wanted to go to study high altitude in terms of what it does to your body, your physical abilities under that kind of stress, and then why people make bad decisions when they are up on high and low altitudes. So there was a great interest among several faculty in doing that, but we couldn't raise the money, and so they got a lot of the food and tents and equipment that were given to us, but anybody else who went, you had to pay your way. Now it costs about $70,000 to go with a group that are going through Nepal to Everest. I don't know what it would cost on the East face, but it cost us as I remember, we put up $6,000 each, Dr. Stanford and I, and the other people. Alex Patterson was a graduate of this institution, he was in the group.
Alex Patterson [Alex Patterson was nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship, however, he was not a Rhodes Scholar] was a Rhodes scholar, I believe.
Right. And there were one or two other graduates, but I don't remember, but anyway with that group together, we got it all put together and we went. Dr. Stanford and I when we got to China, got to Beijing, we went to the American embassy and asked if there was any rescue on Everest, because through Nepal there is. They can take helicopters and go pick up people, but they said you are on your own, which was a great feeling of satisfaction. But anyway, we were at that point, so we had to go on. First we had to get from Beijing down to Shangdu and then over to Lhasa, Tibet, so we crossed China on the train, which was quite an experience. We went first class, but people were getting on with their chickens and all, and we took peanut butter and crackers and mostly ate that. We were on the train two nights, I think it is, I remember, to get to Shangdu and then we flew from there to Lhasa in Tibet and stayed there about a week while we adjusted. It was 12,000 feet. We went from 2,000 to 12,000 when we got to Lhasa. We stayed there about a week to adjust to the altitude and then we took three vans, or kind of really old cars and loaded us up in them and drove three-hundred miles over places where there was just no roads across Tibet to get to the road head where we would start hiking, and then seven of our group had gone on ahead, the ones that were going to try to make it to the top, uh, and we rested one day at the road head and then hiked. I can't remember how many days it took us now, but we would hike about five or six miles a day. Dr. Stanford and I were able to do it. It was easier for me than it was for him later on in the hike because he started getting congested, and if you get too much, you have to come down. So they helped him. They carried his backpack and helped him some, but none of us used oxygen and you just take one step and have to stop and get a breath, and so we got along just as well as the rest of them. They were kind and good to us.
But it was a wonderful experience. We had no causalities. The guys who tried to make it to the top did not make it, because they lost…it was a warmer summer than usual and there was an avalanche that tore their ropes down, and they had lost some of their food, and they made the decision to come down. At the same time they were there, there was a group from Germany and a group from Japan, and they both lost climbers, so…
What a lifetime experience!
One of those mountaintop experiences and what an affirming that you can pick it up and go.
Right. Right. I visualized sitting by a stream with a campfire. Well when you land you are already above the tree line, so there was…the only fire we had was a little Bunsen burner and two little pots and that is what we cooked on.
We are glad you made it home. Dr. McBee, talk to us a little bit about some of…Back to scenes
…the women that made a difference on this campus that you worked with as you worked.
Well, it was a tougher time. When I came here the women students had to have a higher average to get in than the men. That was ‘63, and I remember going to the committee. I wish I could remember the man that headed that committee. He was in the College of Education, it was a faculty committee, and I went to him, and I said, "Why is it that the women students have to have a higher average to get in than the men?" and he said, "Well, it would be overrun with women if…" I said, "Well, if they make that, I said, that is not fair. That is not fair." He said, "Well, women make higher grades in high school than boys." I said, "Why? Why do they?" "Well," he said, "because they are neat and they behave and said so we just have to take that into consideration." I never got that changed. I tried to work with women on the campus faculty, but I never got that changed until the law changed it. Uh, but we had some strong women on this campus, and among the strongest were some of the ones in the Dean of Women's office. Delores Artau, if you wanted to tangle with somebody. She took care of the international students and was really known the country over at that time for her work with international students, and we had a good number of them when you consider how early that was for international travel. She took good care of them. She saw that the faculty worked with them and so on. Then Birdie Bondurant, who was from one of the families of Athens. Her nephew is now a big lawyer in Atlanta. Her brother was the owner of a lumber company. One of her relatives discovered anesthesia. Anyway, she came from a wonderful old family here in Athens, Birdie Bondurant. And then Margaret Singleton,who was on the faculty. Nell Sholtz, she was Dean of Women at Brenau and I brought her to this campus and built Women's Studies around her. We developed the program then, it is still going on the campus as it is on… there was a black studies and women's studies…two things that grew out of movements. The women's movement and the black movement, and they are still programs that are on campuses across the country and that you can still get a major in, I think or a minor at least on this campus in either women's studies or black studies, but she headed up, built that program from the beginning. Then there were some in the College of Education, like Katherine Blake, who was…her research on the mentally retarded and the handicapped students was known all over the country. There were people in Home Economics. Well, the few fields that women particularly were majoring in were education and home economics…very few in the sciences and agriculture like there are now. It was unusual to see them in pharmacy at that point or in vet medicine, even law, and that in some ways became a first breakthrough for women on this campus. They started coming into the Law School. Now it is about half women. So considering that women were in the beginning of the university, kept on a campus out where the Navy School is now, a separate campus, they didn't even get to be on the campus until the ‘40's I think it was. They have done right well.
One other name that we mentioned briefly was Liz Murphy, who came in…
Yeah. There oughta be a building or something on this campus named for Liz Murphy, because she came in at a very difficult time before there was any money or really any support behind women's athletics. They just kind of put it in and brought her in to head it up and, as I said a little bit earlier, they sold cookies and did everything they could to get, used their own vehicles to start the program. But before it was all over, Title IX had passed and things were a different picture because of national law, and I went to her funeral in North Georgia a month or so, two months ago, and all of the coaches were there, and most…with one exception, she had hired them. We had one of the most successful programs in women's athletics in the country. And it was on the back of Liz Murphy. Uh, and I am a , was a great admirer of her at the time because she did it without kicking up any fuss. She just did it by friendly persuasion and by showing that people did care about those sports, would come to them. That she knew how to recruit good coaches, and if you want to know about Liz Murphy, you ask one of the coaches she hired, they would fight for her, and they were at her funeral in support.
She will be missed.
She will be missed. Or she is missed, and they have not replaced that position in terms of title, do you notice that?Back to scenes
And you ran for the Legislature, the Georgia House of Representatives in June and were elected in June of 1991. It was a three-way race as I recall. You won without a run-off ?
And then ran unopposed for the next five terms as a state representative for the Athens Clarke County House District, and while you were there you served as Chair of the Higher Education committee. You were on the Appropriations committee, Vice Chair of the Retirement committee, Vice Chair of the World Congress Center Overview committee, and involved in the Women's Legislative caucus. When did you have time to eat?
Well, it was a really wonderful experience. I really enjoyed it. I had worked…after I left the university, we had just voted in to put Athens and Clarke County together and I was on a three or four member team that worked on that and somebody…several asked me why didn't I run for…they called it CEO then instead of mayor, and but I just didn't want to do that, and then Lawton Stephens was made a judge. I knew he was in the running, but he was a brand new lawyer and I didn't think he would get it, but his sister called me that afternoon about something else, and she said, "Oh, by the way, Lawton just made Superior Court Judge.” I turned right around and went to the phone and called the paper, and told them that I was going to run for his seat. And so the next morning his picture was on one side of the paper, had been made judge, and mine was on the other side that I was running for his seat, and people wondered how I found out about it. It was just…you know Mary, his sister, had called me because she worked for me, had worked for me, and called me about something and told me. So that was exciting.
What would you say in your heart, what do you feel your greatest accomplishments were during that time?
In the legislature? Well, one thing…the teachers in this state had never had credit for unused sick leave, which means a day a month for every…all the time you work. And so that was one of the first things I began to work on. It was very expensive to do, but I finally got it done. And now people get credit for unused sick leave, which makes…if you haven't had a major illness and missed a lot of work, $200 or $300 difference a month in your retirement pay.
We are glad you did — all of us in this room.
It was not retroactive, I must say. I was out four days the whole time I was at the University, and so teachers were losing a lot, and it was not fair, because other state employees were having it, but that was one of the bills that I was the proudest of.Back to scenes
Following the 2003 legislative session, you were appointed by House Speaker Terry Coleman as Co-chair of the HOPE scholarship study commission. Talk to us a little bit about how HOPE has changed Georgia.
Well, it has changed Georgia. I have said it was the best thing that happened to the state in the 20thcentury, the last century, and I really, truly believe that. Why…because it raised the aspiration level of students who had never thought that college was in their future. They saw with that money, they had a chance, and then it kept our brightest students in state. Those are two major things that deal with the population of the state, and that is the reason I think it was the best thing that happened to Georgia. Over 800,000 students now have gone through the university system, or the state system with the HOPE Scholarship. It is the best program in the country, and the reason why the politicians fight about it in terms of who is doing the most for it…you know the lieutenant governor has got what he wants to do with it, and the governor had what he wanted to do with it, and several other bills have been…it is because it is popular and everybody knows about it. You ask anybody about what the HOPE scholarship, and they know. And so it makes it a good political asset if you can use it, and a target for all the politicians. It is not in any danger. The study committee that was appointed by the governor to study it the last summer I was there, was made up of students, parents, and the heads of all the agencies that were involved with HOPE, plus some faculty members. It was a good committee, and the report that we came out with takes care of the HOPE Scholarship. There was one thing that was done that you see in the paper that people get aggravated about, was that they used the money to build a technology building at Tech…Georgia Tech. It is a beautiful building. It fit under the definition of what money could be used for with HOPE, except nobody expected them when they said technology, to build a building. They expected them to give computers, which they did to public school kids and to college students for a while. They expected technology in that frame of reference and not in the frame of reference of a 57 million dollar building, so it made a lot of people, including yours truly, angry when they found out it was done very quietly and not very open. They could defend it that it was a building that is a technology building, a beautiful building on the Tech campus. So there is now a bill in that was put in by that committee that says no more buildings out of the HOPE money, because it cuts too big a swath of the funds. They have been concerned about the amount of money diminishing, but there has only been one year since it started twelve years ago, twelve or thirteen, where it has been less than the year before. They offer new lottory games. There are more people in this state, and so they keep playing. The thing that I think is the biggest question that may still arise with the HOPE…it was . . is whether or not it should be a need based scholarship, and people will make that argument as they did when our study committee, but then they always come back to we are keeping our bright students in the state and those are the ones who do have money. A lot of them are from monied families that could send them anywhere they wanted to, so but they keep them in Georgia and give them a car, or a house, or an apartment or whatever.
It certainly has changed the landscape of…
It has changed the landscape of Georgia and will continue to change it. Uh, and there may be a time when they will think that…because it is people who have need are the ones who play the lottery the most. Seventy percent, at one point the data they had gathered, seventy percent of the people who play the lottery, are people who make less than $25,000, so that does seem sad, but the committee that studied it decided nevertheless they would keep it for everybody, because HOPE stands for Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally. It doesn't say anything about how rich or poor you are.Back to scenes
We talked about interesting personalities that you knew on campus and I would like to do that too. I know during your tenure here on campus and then in the legislature, I think we had eight to nine governors. Sanders, Maddox, Carter, Busbee, Harris, Zell Miller, Roy Barnes, Perdue…you mentioned several people…I know Buddy Darden, some folks who have been in the legislature and that you have known…anybody that just jumps out at you, that you…
Well, a lot of the guys who are in the legislature now and that are going to be future leaders of this state are graduates of this institution. I could not begin to name them all right now, but as I said earlier, the governors of the state have all come from this institution, and one of the reasons when I get excited about the Blue Key and some of those organizations…I am going to speak to them next week I believe it is…when they get initiated and their parents come to that, and I am going to say…someone in this room will be a governor of Georgia, and I really believe that. They come out of that group. Buddy Darden was in that group. Joel Wooten, who was Chair of the Regents, was in that group. That is where they seem to spot those outstanding students, and they eventually measure up.
The leadership from the state out of the University of Georgia…
You served six terms in the house. You left the house in 2004. And then you came back to Athens and if I read off a list of organizations in this community that you have been a member of, we would not leave here today. You have been on the boards of the Red Cross, Girl Scouts, Athens-Clarke County Chamber of Commerce, Salvation Army, First Methodist Church, Athens-Clarke County Hospital Authority, Chamber of Commerce, and the list goes on, and on, and on. You have been honored by countless groups. Certainly receiving well deserved awards, but I think the most recent was the second annual Elridge McMillan Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by the University System of Georgia Foundation, honoring a lifetime of service to young people in Georgia. What a fitting tribute!
Well, it was very nice, and I was very touched, but I…there were 800 people there that night and I looked out over that crowd, and I said, "These are people who have supported me, worked with me, and many deserving as I am of this award", but it was a really wonderful, wonderful evening, and I was really touched by it.
You once said that "we are born obligated to pour back into the stream that has nourished us to replenish it for others." I personally can attest that for those of us who have been nourished by your example, that you have been a wellspring of inspiration, and I…
Thank you for being here today.
We're done. Hey, we're done.
Unless you have something else.
I might think of something when I get home, but…
It took me three days to go through your life. What a wonderful, wonderful life!
It ain't over yet!Back to scenes