Burt Guttman Oral History Interview


Burt Guttman Oral History Interview
17 July 2017
9 August 2017
Burt Guttman
Stephen Beck
extracted text
In Burt Guttman
Interviewed by Stephen Beck
The Evergreen State College oral history project
July 17, 2017
Beck: This is Stephen Beck. I’m interviewing Burt Guttman. It’s July 17, 2017, and we’re sitting in the
living room of Burt’s house.
Burt, I’d like to start out just by asking you a few things about your early life. Where were you
born, and what was it like growing up in your family?
Guttman: I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1936. My family was really very interesting. The
interesting things about my family are that they actually did kind of a preparation for me to be at
Evergreen. Evergreen was the place that really suited me because of the way I grew up.
My father was a Russian Jewish immigrant. He came over in 1905. He had wanted to be an
engineer, but apparently he had some kind of eye trouble. I gather that he tried to get in at Ellis Island,
and couldn’t because of his eye trouble, and he went into Canada. He then came illegally into the
United States, into Minneapolis, some years later. But he wasn’t able to become an engineer.
He married my mother in 1918, and they almost immediately had my two older brothers, my
brother Lester and my brother Norm. Lester told me about how they used to go walking. My father was
interested in science, and interested in the world. They would go walking at night, and my father would
tell them about the stars, about astronomy, and so on. That got them interested in science.
My brother Lester went to the University of Minnesota from 1936 to 1940, and he graduated in
chemistry. In 1940, he went off to the University of California at Berkeley. He worked with a guy named
Kenneth Pitzer, to get his Ph.D. in physical chemistry. He did some interesting studies on the entropies
of certain materials. And 1943, when he graduated, was, of course, in the middle of the war, and Robert
Oppenheimer was there. Oppenheimer was looking for bright, young scientists to go to Los Alamos to
try to develop an atomic bomb. That’s what Lester did for the remainder of the wartime.
My parents would ask him, “What are you doing?” And he would say, “Oh, I’m pushing a cart,”
or something like that.
He was there when the first bomb went off, July 16, 1945. He was there in the desert. Oh, I
should go and get a little sample of the fused glass from the desert that he sent home. It’s a little family
treasure. So Lester was an influence in becoming interested in science.


My brother Norm, two years later, ’38 to ’42, also went to the University of Minnesota. At that
time, there were two interesting guys on the University of Minnesota faculty. One of them was B. F.
Skinner, the psychologist. He had written his first book, and he was interested in promoting the idea of
behaviorism. The other one, in the philosophy department, was a young man named Herbert Feigl.
Feigl was one of the younger members of the Vienna Circle, that is, the philosophers of science who
started what was called logical empiricism, or logical positivism.
So there was a group of young guys, including Norm, who gathered around both Skinner and
Feigl. They were interested in psychology, and some of them remained on the faculty of psychology at
Minnesota, but they were interested in psychology and philosophy; doing psychology from a
philosophical point of view.
So I had that as a background. Here were my two brothers, whom I love and admire, who were,
in many ways, like fathers to me.
Beck: They’re significantly older, aren’t they?
Guttman: They were much older. They were diapering me [laughing] and acting rather like fathers. But
they were a considerable influence on me. I don’t know exactly how, but I grew up with that influence
about philosophy—well, about science and philosophy.
But the other great thing was that I was in Minneapolis, on the north side of Minneapolis, and it
was just a wonderful place to grow up. I just had a natural instinct to loving nature, loving the outdoors,
loving wild things, and I was allowed to run free. There were empty lots around, and I was a little kid.
The weeds were about as tall as I was. I would go in there and look at all the bugs and the butterflies
and everything, and I became just interested in nature. So that’s the kind of background that I had, an
interest in serious science.
Beck: You went to the University of Minnesota, too, didn’t you?
Guttman: Yeah, I went to the University of Minnesota. The other thing I should mention is that my
fourth-grade teacher was Miss Bergquist, and Miss Bergquist was interested in geology. She had a
brother who was a geologist, and she got all of her classes interested in learning about rocks and
minerals and fossils. And collecting them.
Well, I had sort of a natural bent toward collecting. And so Miss Bergquist got me educated in
basic geology, with a collection of rocks and minerals that I started there, that I still have. And
incidentally, that collection of rocks and minerals is being donated to Evergreen.
Beck: Oh, good.


Guttman: So I had all those influences. I went through public schools, getting very interested in biology,
and evolution. There were some major textbooks I used to carry around. I shouldn’t call them
textbooks, but books like Ernst Mayr’s Systematics and the Origin of Species and books of that kind.
Serious books about evolution and taxonomy.
I went to the University of Minnesota in 1954 to ’58, and I guess I didn’t do anything special.
Oh, that’s right. I knew that I wanted to major in zoology. There was no biology department, but I knew
I wanted to major in zoology. And at some point, I guess it must have been during my second year, I got
a job at the zoology department. Grover Stephens was the assistant professor who was in charge of labs
for the general zoology courses, and he needed kind of a lab aide, lab assistant. He wanted to set up
displays of some kind of zoological things for students, and so I got hired to do that. That was fun. It
was a wonderful way for me to earn money and do zoological stuff.
Stephens had a research program, doing research on invertebrate zoology. And every summer,
he went out to his own lab at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The Marine Biological Lab at Woods Hole,
Massachusetts is really a great international center for biology. Many scientists, many biologists, a lot of
very well-known people, go out there every year, and there are courses. Stephens always taught a
course in invertebrate zoology, along with some other zoologists. It’s a course that I took at the end of
my senior year. But he was out there, and he would teach the course, along with some other guys, and
also do research. Interesting stuff.
He hired me as a research assistant, along with some of the graduate students from Minnesota
who went along. And that was just a wonderful experience. I started to meet people who were
obviously all interested in biology, but really doing it in a very serious way. I would hear lectures: Every
Friday night, they would have lectures by really very famous, well-known biologists. It was a very
stimulating place to be, a really wonderful place to be. Part of the research we were doing was research
with fiddler crabs—Uca. These are crabs that turn color, dark and light, in a 24-hour cycle. Stephens
was interested in the cyclical phenomenon. So I helped him do that kind of stuff.
So that was all my early influence in biology.
Oh, there’s something else I’ve got to bring in. Our family just happens to have these intricate,
intimate connections with an important part of the world of science. I said that Norm had worked with
Skinner until 1943, when he went into the Army. For about a year after he graduated in ’42, he worked
with Skinner on what sounds like a crazy project. The idea was that you would have guided missiles, and
you would have a pigeon in the missile. The pigeon would be able to see a screen that would show what


the missile was aimed at, and somehow or another, the pigeon would be trained to peck at the screen,
and guide the missile into the heart of the cities. Kind of a crazy project.
Norm went into the Army after that, but when he came out of the Army, he went into the Signal
Corps, relearned all kinds of electronic stuff that would be good for his research. By that time, Skinner
had moved to Indiana University, so Norm went there to do his graduate work. Actually, Skinner moved
on to Harvard at about the same time, but Norm did his Ph. D. work at Indiana University.
Now, completely aside, molecular biology was beginning in a very odd way. There was a young
physicist named Max Delbrück, and he became interested in doing biology in a much better way. He
was a very bright physicist, and he wanted to start doing biology in a way that was consistent with really
good, modern science, modern physics. He came to Caltech in the late ‘30s. He met a young guy named
Emery Ellis there. Ellis was working with bacterial viruses—bacteriophage. People had been playing
around with bacterial viruses for quite a long time, and a lot of the work was very sloppy. Of course,
Max couldn’t put up with that kind of thing. But he and Ellis worked out really good ways of working
with bacteriophage, so they started to do experiments with phage.
Around the same time, there was another young guy, an Italian microbiologist named Salvador
Luria. Luria found out about phage, and also started to do work with phage. He also came to the United
States, and Luria and Delbrück did a certain amount of work together. They were both at Vanderbilt
University. That was the beginning of molecular biology.
Luria then got a job at Indiana University. His wife, Zella, was a graduate student in psychology,
and Norm was a graduate student in psychology, so in that way, Norm met the Lurias. That didn’t mean
anything to me until quite a few years later. But our family had this connection with Luria, who started
doing important work, beginning work, in molecular biology, that phage became one of the major tools
in molecular biology.
Meanwhile, Norm, after he got his degree at Indiana, got a job on the faculty of Duke University,
and that’s where he was for the rest of his academic life, for the rest of his life. One summer, when I
was about 16, I went down to spend a little while with Norm and his wife, Ronnie. We drove back to
Minneapolis and stopped off in Chicago.
Oh, I haven’t said anything about Lester. After the atomic bomb project, Lester got a job at the
University of Chicago. He was working in the Institute for the Study of Metals, doing physical chemistry
work on metals. So, as I say, we stopped off in Chicago for one night. Norm and Ronnie had one kid at
that time. They went to a hotel; I stayed with Lester. The next day, after we had breakfast, Lester took
me to a lab of a guy named Aaron Novick.

Novick had another kind of really interesting connection in the world of science. He was an
organic chemist, and I don’t really know what Aaron was doing during the war, but it was some kind of
war-related work in science. I don’t think he was really on the atomic bomb project, but something
related to it. One of the physicists who was involved in the atomic bomb project was Leo Szilard. Szilard
was a really interesting character.
Anyway, when the war ended, the atomic bomb was done, we had defeated Japan and the
global war was all over, a lot of the physical scientists, the physicists and chemists, who had worked on
things like the atomic bomb project, who had been involved in the war, wanted to turn away from
death. They wanted to turn toward life, so it was natural for a lot of them to decide to start learning
about biology, doing some kind of serious biology. And I think they had kind of a general attitude that
biologists were not really doing experiments very well. Biology was kind of a sloppy science.
Anyway, Leo Szilard wanted to turn to biology. He got hold of Novick and asked him if he’d like
to do some cooperative research. Both of them got positions at the University of Chicago. I don’t
remember exactly how that happened. At the same time, just after the war, Max Delbrück, who started
to do phage biology, went to Cold Spring Harbor, which is on the north shore of Long Island. It was long
a kind of home of classical genetics; a number of classical geneticists had worked there.
Max started to teach a short course, maybe a two-week course, in phage biology, teaching
people how to work with phage. A number of physicists and chemists who were interested in turning to
biology went and took Max’s course, because in a short time, you could learn basic methods for doing
work with phage, and start doing really good, really well-done, well-defined experiments. Novick and
Szilard took Max’s course, and went back to Chicago, and started to do work—actually, I don’t know
how much work, but they did some work with phage. They also did general genetic work with bacteria.
There had been another strain developing, of people starting to do bacterial genetics, learning about
bacteria in genetic ways. Szilard and Novick invented a device called the chemostat, which is a device
that allows you to grow a culture of bacteria endlessly, continuously, in exponential phase, and do
experiments on those bacteria.
I was saying that I’d gone to visit Norm and Ronnie when I was 16, and I stayed with Lester that
one night. In the morning, Les took me over to Aaron Novick’s lab, and introduced me to Novick.
Because I had been interested in things like watching birds, and sloppy collecting of shells and so on, I
think he wanted to show me what real biology was all about, so he introduced me to Novick. We spent
a few minutes talking to him. He didn’t impress me very much. He had this warm room. He’d keep a
room at 37 degrees for the chemostat, so you could keep on growing your cultures of bacteria that you

were experimenting with. It didn’t really impress me very much. But that was something in the
So I’m in Minnesota, and I’ve had this contact with Grover Stephens, going out to Woods Hole.
One of the faculty at Minnesota was Nelson Spratt, who was an embryologist. I took his embryology
course. Embryology, in general, seemed like it was a pretty good field of biology to maybe go into. I
graduated in 1958, and about the same time, Spratt had a graduate student named Mel Steinberg. Mel
had just gotten a job on the faculty of Johns Hopkins. And Mel apparently thought I was a bright guy, a
worthwhile guy, and he convinced me to go to Johns Hopkins for my graduate work. There was an
embryologist named Margaret there that I could work with.
So I decided to do that. I got a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for my first year of graduate work,
and I went off to the university, to Johns Hopkins. At Johns Hopkins, I was just one of about 20 new
graduate students. I did all kinds of basic stuff, learning biochemistry for the first time, and similar
things. That was in the biology department.
Right next door there was a biophysics department, and there was a guy named Charlie Thomas,
who was about the only biophysicist there. Anyway, that’s what they called him. Charlie also was a
molecular biologist. This was 1958 to ’59. Charlie had a weekly seminar, and I started to go to Charlie’s
seminar, and started to learn a little bit about what was being called molecular biology, which was
growing up at that time.
At Christmastime that year, I went back to Minneapolis, for Christmas – for Chanukah actually!
[laughs] and came back. Norm was on sabbatical at Wisconsin, so I went through Wisconsin—on the
train, I guess—then back to Chicago, and then took the train from Chicago back to Baltimore. It was a
delightful trip, because of a beautiful young woman, who was one of my fellow graduate students at
Hopkins, and she was coming back from Iowa, so I was able to spend some time with her. If I had been
properly mature for my age, and if I had had my senses, I would have courted her and married her.
Anyway, she was a delightful companion on the trip back.
I had the latest issue of Science with me. There was a little notice in Science that Aaron Novick,
who was formerly of the University of Chicago, had gone to the University of Oregon to start a new
Institute of Molecular Biology. That sounded interesting.
Living as I had at Minneapolis, I hardly really knew about life. I was living at home. I didn’t have
much of a social life. I had good friends, but I wasn’t becoming a really independent, adult person. So
my one year at Hopkins was really important for my social development, my personal development. I
lived with a group of guys. All together, we lived in one of the houses there. That was important to me,

but I really needed to be off being more of an independent person in some way. So the idea of going all
the way out to Oregon kind of intrigued me.
I wrote to Novick and reminded him that we had met—that Lester had introduced us—and
asked him about coming to Oregon. He wrote back and said he vaguely remembered me, and told me it
was possible that I could become a graduate student out there. I think that he contacted Charlie
Thomas, and found out whether I was okay or not, and I guess Charlie said, “Yeah, he’s okay.” So I said,
“Yeah, I’d really like to come out there.” This was early ’59. “I would really like to come out and
become a graduate student there.” Aaron immediately wrote back and gave me orders of what I should
I told you that people had started to take Max Delbrück’s course in 1946-47. Max taught that
course in phage biology for a couple of years, and then he turned it over to other people. But the course
continued. Every summer, there would be a phage biology course at Cold Spring Harbor. And bacterial
genetics was developing. Actually, one of the people at Johns Hopkins, Philip Hartman, was one of the
early bacterial geneticists, so there was also a Cold Spring Harbor course in bacterial genetics. And
Aaron, being in the heart of molecular biology, talked to the people who were teaching these courses,
and tried to get me into them, but they were already filled. But he got me in as a so-called “auditor.”
The course on phage biology was being taught by Frank Stahl and George Streisinger, two
prominent, well-known, important people in phage biology. Aaron’s order was, “You’re ordered to go to
Cold Spring Harbor for the summer and take these two courses.” The same way that I had been at
Woods Hole, I got into being there at Cold Spring Harbor, being in many ways about as closely tied to
modern molecular biology as anybody could be.
Frank Stahl was already becoming well known for an important experiment that he and Matt
Meselson had done, essentially showing that DNA replication had to take place the way it took place.
Frank became one of the faculty members at Oregon, and then, about a year or so later, George also
became a faculty member there. I was in the middle of all this stuff. It was—oh, this was still back at
Woods Hole. After I had graduated from Minnesota, after my senior year, I went back. I worked again
for Grover Stephens in his lab, and I also took the invertebrate zoology course he was teaching.
During that summer of 1958, I was back there at Woods Hole. There was all this socializing, and
parties and stuff. I remember one guy came along with a little nametag that said “J. Watson, Harvard.”
And like a stupid wise guy, I said, “Oh, Harvard? What do you do at Harvard?” He said, “I’m a
biochemist.” I wasn’t much interested. But a couple of the graduate students from Harvard came over
to me [laughing] and said, “Oh, you wonder what Jim Watson does at Harvard?”

Oh! I suddenly realized that was Jim Watson, of Watson and Crick. It turned out somebody had
gotten me into contact with some people who liked to go out birding, or birdwatching, as we called it in
those days. I was supposed to go out birdwatching with them the next day, and I did. Jim Watson came
along, so here I was, birdwatching with Jim Watson and other people. As I say, both in the laboratory
and socially, a young integral part of modern molecular biology as it was developing at that time.
Beck: You were still quite young at that point, wasn’t it?
Guttman: Yeah, I graduated at 21, 22, somewhere in there.
Beck: And the science itself was still quite young, too.
Guttman: Oh, the science itself was really very young. There was hardly anybody being called a
molecular biologist.
Anyway, I went out to Oregon. It was a new life; it was an independent life. I was all by myself.
I guess I was a little bit lonely for a while, but I made good friends. There were wonderful people there
at the institute. I started to do research, and eventually, about ’61 or so, people were wondering,
exactly how were proteins made, and how did genes work? We were working on some ideas.
Aaron was very much a part of the whole thing. It was almost a ritual—to be one of the really
“in” people in molecular biology, you had to spend some time in Paris at the Pasteur Institute, with
biologists Francois Jacob and Jacques Monod particularly. Jacob and Monod were working with E. coli,
the bacteria, and working out basic ideas about how genes are controlled. Aaron was working on the
same general kind of thing, a system for enzymes involved with lactose metabolism. He had mutants
that were defective in various things, and had strains that were making large amounts of the enzymes,
and so on, and so I fell into doing that kind of stuff.
But he was constantly in contact with all of the European scientists, like Monod and Jacob.
There was a young guy who’d come from South Africa, Sydney Brenner, and Brenner and Jacob put their
heads together, thinking about gene regulation.
They said, “We think that the information is actually carried to the ribosome.” Ribosomes are
where proteins are made. “We think the information is actually carried to the ribosomes by a special
kind of RNA that we call messenger RNA. And we’re going to do these experiments – this summer,
we’re going to Caltech and work with Matt Meselson to try to show this.”
Indeed, they did show it. They discovered messenger RNA, and the general idea of messenger
RNA. And Aaron and I had exactly the right system for investigating that, so I worked on this. We were
able to show—I was able to show—that when a new gene is turned on, the genes for lactose


metabolism, you get a new messenger RNA. That was my Ph.D. thesis, and it was good. It was a little bit
of important work in the development of molecular biology.
Beck: Your piece of the edifice.
Guttman: Yeah. At the same time, I was interested in biology as a whole. Actually, there was one
rather key event. I was having coffee in our coffee room one day, and Aaron and Frank walked in.
Aaron was enthusiastic about the ideas of . . . hold on a second, it’ll come back to me. I’m having
trouble with people’s names these days.
Anyway, the general idea that this one fellow had promoted was that an organism can be
defined very simply. An organism is a structure that reproduce itself, and mutate. They were talking
about this idea, and I heard this. It really struck me—my goodness, how simple—that the fundamental
thing that makes an organism what it is, is that it’s really something that can reproduce itself, but it can
mutate. So therefore, that produces selection and evolution, and that’s the fundamental story of what
biology is all about. That was one thing that I heard.
I was just generally interested in biology. And even though I was happy to be so deeply involved
in molecular biology, so deeply involved in research, the idea of teaching— well, two things that go
together: teaching, and also writing about the science. I was changing . . . I’m trying to figure out the
best way to say this . . . but up until that time, I had kind of envisioned myself as being primarily a
researcher. I knew that the academic life, to me, was essentially what Lester and Norm had done.
Lester wasn’t involved in any teaching, but he was involved in research, at the University of Chicago.
Norm was doing teaching and research, and that, to me, was sort of the ideal academic life.
But being involved with research, I think a part of me was discovering that I wasn’t as
enthusiastic about the research as I had thought I would be. But I was really getting enthusiastic about
the idea of teaching and writing about my understanding of biology. I got a post-doctoral fellowship. I
moved to Caltech and worked with phage biologist named Bob Edgar. I didn’t do great research with
Bob Edgar, because I was really becoming much more interested in the idea of writing a book about
what biology is all about. It certainly made Aaron look at me with less enthusiasm, let’s say. I did all my
work with him, but when it came to what I was doing afterward, whether I was doing serious research in
Bob Edgar’s lab, I think it took me down a notch in his eyes.
But it was really becoming an important idea to me; that I would . . . I had all kinds of ideas that
other people hadn’t expressed about what biology is all about. So I went to Caltech, I worked with Bob
Edgar. I got onto working with certain interesting phage mutants, but the research was not the main
thing. I was just really getting much more enthusiastic about the writing.

I worked with Edgar, doing my research, for two years, and had to get a job. Meanwhile, I had
gotten married while at Caltech. That’s where Erica was born, in Pasadena. The one job that came
along was at the University of Kentucky. In the Medical School, there was a department of cell biology,
which was headed by a guy named Dick Schweet, who had become pretty well known for doing research
on protein synthesis. There weren’t any other jobs coming along, and this was a pretty good offer for
the time, so I went to Kentucky.
I set up a lab, and I continued the kind of research that I’d started with Edgar, but the important
things were becoming the writing and the teaching. We were teaching medical students, so I did some
of that. I didn’t make Schweet very happy at times, because I was trying to teach the medical students
some radical ideas about how certain biological systems worked. But in any case, I did that kind of work.
Beck: You published a book while you were there, right?
Guttman: Yeah, I got my first book done shortly before I left there. Dick Schweet died—he got killed in
a plane accident—so they got a new head of the department in. And over in the Arts College, there was
a department of microbiology. It was not a very good department. They had kind of dumb old farts
running the thing. There was one young guy who was a molecular biologist, microbial geneticist. He
was a guy that I had some respect for.
Somehow, they kind of half-joined the department of cell biology in the Medical School with the
department of microbiology over in the Arts College, so I was allowed to teach a general biology course
for two years. That was great for me, because I was really able to start really developing my ideas about
how biology ought to be organized, and how it ought to be taught, and I think I made friends among the
Kentucky wasn’t much interested in teaching. They were more interested, like so many big
universities, with having their faculty members doing research and becoming prominently known for
their wonderful research. But I was allowed to do some teaching there, and I was teaching in a way that
really spoke to the students, and the students appreciated that. I still have somewhere some nice notes
they wrote me about appreciating the teaching that I was doing.
It became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to stay at the University of Kentucky. That was
early, about 1971. Luckily, another notice appeared—probably in Science—that this college called The
Evergreen State College was opening up, and they were looking for faculty. And I really needed a job
[laughing] for the next year, and I applied. The main connection I had was with Don Humphrey.
Beck: Did you know Don before Evergreen at all?


Guttman: No, I didn’t know anybody there. One of the secretaries, whom I met after I came here, was
one of the people who was looking through all the applications that had been sent into this new place.
She said there was something in what I had written, something that I had sent in, that got to her, and
she felt that I sounded like the kind of person that would be good for Evergreen. So she got me on the
shortlist of people who were being considered more strongly, and Don Humphrey apparently liked it.
Beck: Do you remember who the secretary was?
Guttman: I don’t remember. I came out—that’s right, there was a possibility of a job, oh, at one of the
little colleges down in California, so I came out on a trip. I went down there and gave a seminar, and
then I came up here and met people. We all liked one another. I can’t remember exactly when that
was, but at least it was at a time when Evergreen was hiring. I think they hired 41 new people. That was
for the second year of teaching.
Beck: Do you remember any of the people you met when you came up for that trip?
Guttman: Yeah. I met Betty Ruth Estes, and I met Betty Kutter, and Don. Byron Youtz. Those are the
main people I can remember. But it just seemed like an ideal place, it seemed like the right place. I
wanted a place that appreciated good teaching. I guess I was still thinking about doing more writing
about biology. It seemed like a place that would appreciate that. It was just a compatible place, so I was
really happy when Don said I was on the shortlist of the last 11 people to be hired. Then, finally, they
indeed hired me. So we traveled all the way up to Washington, and here I am. [laughing] That was a
wonderful time.
Beck: Did you join the faculty in the fall of ’71 or the fall of ’72?
Guttman: The fall of ’72.
Beck: What was it like when you came to Evergreen? What was your first experience of the campus?
What do you remember about it then?
Guttman: By that time, the campus was pretty well built. The people who came in ’71 came to a
campus that was only partly built, so they had to have their classes in other places at first. It just
seemed like a wonderful place. It was quiet. It was surrounded by evergreens. It was kind of an ideal
We’re getting into the place where I need to start going back and seeing if I can reproduce more
of what I was actually experiencing, actually talking to people. You see, the first year, quite a number of
us were put on individual contracts, handling individual contract students, so I wasn’t into the
coordinated studies program. This is where I’ve really got to go back and do some reading and thinking


about it. I guess I had heard about the idea of the coordinated studies program, because I was given
literature to read. I’d been given stuff that Merv Cadwallader had written, I think.
But I don’t remember ever having a conversation with anybody about just why coordinated
studies are so important, and exactly how we should run these things. What should be our major
emphases? Maybe we’ll have seminars. What should we do at the seminar? What should we discuss?
How should we run these things? What do we have to be careful of? What are the things that could go
wrong in a coordinated studies program? And here, you’re trying to get two or three or four faculty
members, with quite divergent interests and specializations, getting them together to have a
conversation, and actually teach a bunch of students. People’s personalities are going to clash. What
should we do to all become a really united group, working together toward an end? And I can’t
remember conversations about that.
A few days ago, I got together with Dave Milne—we’ve seen Dave quite a bit lately—and I had a
bit of a conversation with him about his experience in the early days. By the way, Dave is a guy you’ve
got to interview.
Beck: Yeah.
Guttman: He said that nobody contacted him.
Beck: Well, I think I will contact him, actually. I think there are a couple people I’d like to talk to, but
Dave is one of them.
Guttman: Oh, Dave is a fascinating guy.
Beck: Was he on the planning year, or was he first-year?
Guttman: First-year.
Beck: First teaching year.
Guttman: He got together with a number of guys who were teaching the first two years. They did
programs in Human Ecology and Political Ecology. The faculty mix—you reminded me who they were—
were people like—Don Humphrey was Dean, but there was Will Humphreys . . . names are escaping me
right at the moment.
Beck: Wasn’t Oscar [Soule], for instance? Or, he was a dean?
Guttman: No, Oscar wasn’t a dean. But Jeff Kelly . . . I’m seeing faces, but we’re right now having some
difficulty . . .
Beck: Was Beryl Crowe there?
Guttman: No, he wasn’t part of that. Don might have been teaching as part of that. Anyway, it was a
really excellent group, and they had some really fine programs and great success. But when I told him

that I could not remember any conversations in which we had gone over these basic ideas about
coordinated studies, he was really shocked at that. Because I’m sure that within the programs he was
doing, they had had these conversations. What are coordinated studies all about? How should we run
them? And so on and so forth.
Beck: Was the whole of your first year doing individual contracts?
Guttman: I guess it was. Mike Beug and I had offices right next to each other—Mike, of course, is a
chemist—and I know we had a few students who we worked with together. I think we gave a kind of a
short course, a light course, in chemistry together.
Beck: To your individual contract students?
Guttman: To our individual contract students. I’m trying to go back and remember, but I think we did
that in a couple of other cases, where we had students who were doing related things, and we got them
together in min-courses. That was certainly a good idea, but it wasn’t like doing a coordinated studies
Beck: What’s your recollection of the students? Do you have a recollection that you were working at
the time, that first year? Were they up to speed, or did they seem like they really needed a lot of help?
Guttman: One of the really good things about the early years of the college was that, in general, we had
older students, who were above typical college age. They were a delight to work with, in general. I
remember being a little bit shocked at some of their language. I had come out of a quite conventional
university system [laughing], where ladies and gentlemen do not speak quite that way. And Evergreen
students spoke a little bit with a language I wasn’t used to. Especially coming out the mouth of a rather
charming, beautiful young woman, I didn’t expect those words. [laughter]
But in any case, I think this was something that was carried over into the early programs I did.
After that first year, I got into a couple of coordinated studies programs. The students, I believe, were,
on the whole, mature. They were serious. To a large extent, they were people who had been off doing
something other than going to college. I think they were quite delightful, in general, because they had
come back to college knowing what they really wanted to do. They were not just flopping around in
general courses, but they were coming into courses where they could discuss things of real interest to
them, and they were mature enough to discuss those things in serious ways, and to do serious writing
about their subjects.
That, I think, was one of the really great things about Evergreen. After a few years, there started
to be more of a push to try to get students right out of high school. I don’t want to say that that was a
mistake, but it changed things. Seventeen- or 18-year-old students right out of high school, I think, are

often just not ready to go to college. They don’t have the maturity of various kinds—the intellectual
maturity, the seriousness of purpose—to really get into what I think of as serious programs.
A coordinated studies program, I think, to be successful, has to be a program that interests the
faculty. The faculty have various ideas and interests all around a central topic, and they get together,
and they have a wonderful time talking to one another, and developing all of these ideas together
around a central theme. If you’re a 17-year-old, who’s ready for general biology and English literature
and something like that, you don’t have the maturity to really dig into the thesis of a good coordinated
studies program. I think that might be one of the problems that we’re having at Evergreen right now.
That’s something we could talk about.
Beck: Yeah.
Guttman: I thought the students we had, particularly in the early years, were wonderful. And I really
enjoyed it, in later coordinated studies programs, having students—often women, mothers, who were
up in their late thirties and into their forties—who had come back to college to really talk about
something serious, and educate themselves. That’s always been one of the delights of the college to
Beck: Yeah. I know you want to get into the Archives and take a look at some papers, and probably we
can get into more detail the next time we talk. But just in terms of your general impressions, what was
going on in the early days? Were there things that seemed particularly exciting? Were there things that
seemed really frustrating? Do you have any kind of general impressions?
Guttman: I can’t give you any kind of a good answer. I don’t think of things being frustrating. I guess I
have just a general feeling of being part of a community with really interesting people. Have you ever
seen this collection of autobiographical things, I think we called it “The Class of ’72”?
Beck: Yes.
Guttman: I looked at that not too long ago, and a lot of people who were in that left after a short time.
But on the whole, this was one of the most fascinating collections of people I’d ever been associated
with. People, sure, mostly with academic backgrounds, with people with all kinds of very different
Beck: You were saying that there were a lot of people with really varied backgrounds.
Guttman: A number of them, after a short time, felt that they just didn’t fit in. But I think that those
who did stay, at least for a year or two, I think, really found themselves in really interesting, intellectual
situations, and they found that they had important ideas to contribute to interesting programs. But I
can’t say a whole lot more about that.

Beck: Okay. We can come back to that. Are you starting to run short on time?
Guttman: No. I have an appointment at 2:00.
Beck: Okay, right. Who are some of the people who stand out from the early years as people with
whom you worked or taught, and that you seemed to really learn a lot from?
Guttman: Don Humphrey was an important guy. And Will Humphreys. Somehow, I was able to identify
Will as being a philosopher of science, who had some important things to say. I know in the second
year, I did this program of Nature and Society. The third year, I did this program with Will Humphreys,
and with Jack Webb and Carol Olexa. There were problems with the program, a lot of them having to do
with the family problems and personalities of the people involved. I probably shouldn’t go into that.
Beck: It’s up to you.
Guttman: I may want to say something about that. But, to a large extent, the program finally devolved
only into Will and me working together with the students. And, again, here’s where I have to go back
and try to recover more of what we actually worked on. But there were problems that kept the others
from working with us.
That second year, I was teaching among other people with Mark Papworth. I taught with Mark a
few times—at least one time later—in the Life and Health program. Mike was really quite a fascinating
guy. He was an anthropologist, but he was interested in all kinds of things. Maybe that’s one of the
things that make Evergreen faculty appropriate and successful, being interested in all kinds of things.
Beck: Right.
Guttman: I said something about this that I recognized in myself; that I wasn’t really so interested in
becoming just a molecular biologist, spending my life doing research in phage biology or something like
that; that my interests were much broader. So I was happy to come to a place where those broader
interests were valued, and where I could pursue those broader interests. I really think, in general,
Evergreen faculty are successful, are happy, when they do have broad interests.
Beck: But you did do some research at Evergreen. You worked in the T-4 phage lab.
Guttman: Yeah, I was very lucky that Betty Kutter and I were hired at the same time. Betty is a very
interesting person. Quite broadly educated, I think. She’s very strongly interested in phage biology and
phage research, and in the application of phage to medical problems. I won’t try to get into all of the
phage biotic stuff, but that’s been one of her major things, pushing programs—I don’t mean teaching
programs—pushing programs of using phage more and more as medical cures. She’s been quite
concentrated on that.


It was Betty’s idea to start having phage meetings. It’s been kind of a tradition otherwise in the
larger community of molecular biologists to have meetings every year where people get together and
share their research. I went along with that, but I was never very enthusiastic about it, whereas Betty
The really important thing for Evergreen, I think, has been that Betty started—she already had a
research grant that she brought with her, so she was able to start a research lab. I joined her after a
while, being part of the research lab. That was a lab where many students were able to get in and learn
what serious research in science is all about. I think that’s been one of the really great things. From my
point of view, that’s about the most important thing Betty has contributed to the college. Very
Beck: So you started working in the phage lab after a few years. Would that have been ’74. ’75?
Guttman: I don’t know exactly when I started to get into it. Boy, I’d have to go back and try to
reconstruct that.
Beck: Okay.
Guttman: I brought with me things to continue to engage in research. I brought phage with me, phage
stocks, phage mutants. I even brought a bunch of pipettes, tools used in that kind of research. I
brought a bunch of pipettes with me from my lab at Kentucky.
Yes, I was happy to join in there, but the direction of the research was primarily Betty’s
direction. I think my major contribution was trying to help the students understand what the research
was all about, and what they ought to be doing. I can’t elaborate, not right now.
Beck: Fair enough. Is there anything else that you’d like to talk about with respect to just the early
years in general terms? I know that we’re going to come back and have a conversation a little bit later.
For instance, I was thinking about, in terms of teaching, one of the things that I think you had a big part
in was getting the SPLU [Self-Paced Learning Unit] Lab set up. Was that true? I know you authored
several of the SPLU labs, at least.
Guttman: Hold on a second. First of all, we had one project going for a couple of summers. I think Fred
Tabbutt was in charge of that. I think Fred had gotten a grant, an NSF grant, for us to make self-paced
learning materials. I worked on that; I was delighted to do that. I made several units. I made some
units in basic mathematics, basic biology, and so on. I don’t know how much I actually did by way of
setting up the Self-Paced Learning Lab.
Beck: Okay.


Guttman: That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. Let me go back and think about that some
Beck: Okay. It seems as though maybe the thing to do is to pause now. Maybe we could come back
and talk about some of the questions about the early years, and more specific things that you did at a
later point, just because it seems as though there’s some details that you’d like to get clear on, by
looking through some of the papers.
But maybe just a general question, to jump ahead a little bit in time. What’s your sense of how
the college changed, or developed, over the first 10 years or so?
Guttman: Oh, my. [sighs] That’s a good question. That’s hard for me. The question may be tied, in
part, to who was president, and how presidents changed. I’d have to go back and actually get the years.
Beck: But Charlie [McCann] was president until ’76 or ’77. Isn’t that true? Charles McCann?
Guttman: No, I think it must have been later than that when he got replaced. But who was the first guy
who replaced him?
Beck: And then Dan Evans became president.
Guttman: That’s right.
Beck: Dan Evans was president in the late ‘70s.
Guttman: That’s right. Boy, these are things I’ve really got to go back and think about. I can’t just do it
off the top of my head.
Beck: Right.
Guttman: I was one of the people who was working, sometimes pretty closely, with Dan Evans. I
remember admiring him, and admiring his leadership. Because with Charlie, Charlie was a very kind of a
low-key, relaxed guy. And he had this great vision, and it’s wonderful that he had this great vision, but I
wonder if the vision was anything much more than a general idea of what the college should be like,
what’s the best way to teach, the best way for people to learn? A vision of a community of scholars,
who would get together in various combinations to pursue their scholarly interests, their common
interests. But I don’t think of Charlie as having any particular other direction for the place. When Dan
became president, I don’t know, I was on a DTFs of various kinds.
One of the things I’ve got to do. In my computer, I have a whole lot of biographical, historical
stuff. I’ve got a list there—one sheet—of the various DTFs that I was on. But I can remember working
quite closely with Dan and some other faculty on certain projects, and Dan was pushing us ahead. I
think he was pushing us in certain directions where he felt that we needed, let’s say, some kind of


structure, something we should actually be doing, rather than just getting together and being nice
scholars. I’d have to go back and try to remember what those things were.
Beck: Right. He was president until, I think, it must have been about ’84, somewhere in there, where he
was appointed to the Senate.
Guttman: Yes.
Beck: Then he left Evergreen, and there was a period of time, I think, when Les Purce was president as
an interim.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: And then Joe Olander came.
Guttman: Yes. Then Joe Olander came. And those were difficult days. Those were days when [sighs]
there were a lot of conflicts between Olander and the faculty. I’ve got to go back and recall names, but
some of us were working together, and essentially trying to keep the college straight, while Olander was
doing whatever he was doing to trying to set us off in wrong directions.
Beck: Do you have a sense of what Olander was doing then?
Guttman: No, I’d have to go back and reconstruct that.
Beck: Okay. Well, why don’t we stop for today. I’m going to end the recording. It looks like we’ve got
about an hour and 20-some minutes here recorded. We’ll just make a time to talk again in the next
week or so. How does that sound?
Guttman: Yeah.


Burt Guttman
Interviewed by Stephen Beck
The Evergreen State College oral history project
August 19, 2017
Guttman: . . . and there was a job opening at Evergreen, and Don Humphrey brought me out. There
was another college down in the Pomona area that I was looking at, and Don just arranged that I would
visit that college first—and I gave the seminar down there—and then we would just tag on the visit to
Evergreen. That’s when I came up, and met people like Byron Youtz, people who were around at that
Beck: I kind of got started on the interview just in the middle of what you were just saying there. But I
just wanted to say that this is August 19, and this is Stephen Beck interviewing Burt Guttman in his living
room here. But you were saying that you interviewed with Don Humphrey?
Guttman: Don was the one who arranged it. Don was the dean I was working with, so he was the one
who arranged the trip. But then, when I got here, I met a few people. I met Charlie McCann and Byron
Youtz, Betty Ruth Estes. Betty Kutter also. That was a real surprise that the college had hired two
people whose research specialty was phage T4. I don’t remember exactly what month that was, but it
was not long after that that I got the formal offer, and came on.
Beck: So Betty Ruth Estes and Betty Kutter were already on the faculty. They were in the first teaching
Guttman: No, I don’t think they were in the first teaching. I just met them. I don’t know if they were
coming to interview for the first time. I just remember them being among the people that I met at that
Beck: Okay. So, what was it like coming to Evergreen? You came in the fall of ’72.
Guttman: Yeah, it must have been the summer of ’72. I’m sure we were getting oriented. Goodness,
what was it like? The place was beautiful. We had this lovely thousand-acre wooded area. I just
gradually found myself being associated with a bunch of people who seemed to be thinking more or less
the way I was thinking about education. That’s about the only way I can characterize it.
Beck: How were you thinking about education?
Guttman: The way it had been done traditionally was wrong. I know some of the people who came
early on had already gotten into teaching mode, I think it was at Old Westbury. They’d already gotten

into this teaching mode of doing cross-disciplinary stuff. I hadn’t done that, except that the last stuff
that I taught at Kentucky was teaching general biology to the liberal art students. I was able to do it my
way, but it was still pretty much general biology, it wasn’t anything interdisciplinary.
Well, the first year, I wasn’t really doing interdisciplinary stuff in what has become the
traditional way at Evergreen either. I was simply put into the pool with a bunch of other guys, doing
contracts. Then, we tended to start pooling our students, trying to get our students together to do
similar things. For example, Mike Beug and I had offices right next to each other, I think. Mike is a
chemist, but he was interested in botany, especially mushrooms. We had some students together who
wanted to learn about botany, and so we put them together, and Mike and I taught that together as a
Beck: So you did a course on botany. Was that aimed at upper-division students?
Guttman: No, the students that I remember were not upper division. They were not particularly skilled
or knowledgeable in anything, but for various reasons, they wanted to learn more about plants. So
much of it I had forgotten, but I gather from reading stuff that I wrote at that time that that was the way
I handled some other students, that is, that they were interested particular . . . what shall I call them . . .
work of particular kinds. And they had managed to arrange with outside people to do sort of I guess
what we would call an internship. But, as a support for them doing the internships, I got them to study
some certain kinds of basic science. There was a young woman who . . . oh, I forget what she was doing
outside . . . but I got her to study genetics, for example. That was something related to what she was
And I see from those old notes that, I think it was the winter quarter, I got a little group of
students together doing a thing I called Cell-Cell Interactions. It was just a put-together idea in biology,
and I got them together and got them to do the work. They were actually going off and learning for
themselves about particular aspects of cell biology, and then coming back and teaching the group.
It was sort of like what coordinated studies became, but it was something that was done
spontaneously. I don’t know, I think expressing the idea that students should do what they’re interested
in, but that they can be directed to become interested in various subjects that are related to one
another, and make a good curriculum for themselves, something like that.
Beck: I want to make sure I understand. So, many of the students that you were working with—
perhaps all of the students you were working with—came in to do individual contracts, and as a result of
the kind of work they were doing, you and some other faculty, such as Mike, started to group these


students together, and to have them do various kinds of studies, sometimes working in a kind of what
we might call a cluster contract these days.
Guttman: Yeah, that’s right. Part of it, of course, was simply to ease the burden. Ideally, each of us
would have been responsible for maybe 20 students or so, as things would average out. And to have 20
people doing entirely different things would be rather difficult. It would be hard to supervise them, hard
to keep up with them. But it was just kind of a necessity that we found that by putting them together,
by getting them to do studies on a common core subject, we were able to handle them.
Beck: These days, we tend to think about individual contracts as primarily for upper-division or
advanced students. Would you say that that first group of students you were working with were
working at the upper-division or advanced level?
Guttman: No, on the whole, they were not. I think that there was some of that. I mentioned one girl
who was off doing sort of an internship, but needed to learn more about genetics. Well, genetics is the
sort of thing you learn after a couple years. You’re supposed to learn basic biology before you go off
into genetics. So, there was some of that. But I think, for example, when Mike Beug and I had these
students together learning botany, it was just very basic botany. So, it was the whole range of subjects,
just whatever was suitable for each student.
Beck: Did you feel that your work with students that first year was pretty successful, or were there
some significant frustrations around it? What was your general assessment?
Guttman: That’s an interesting question. I think that on the whole, it was successful, yeah. But it
wasn’t—I mean, it was special and different. I think the college, I think, needed to simply have a bunch
of us faculty doing contracts, because there hadn’t been time for us to get together and get organized to
do coordinated studies programs. If we had been all able to do coordinated studies, we probably would
have taken a few students to do individual work on the side. But I think that there just wasn’t time at
the very beginning to get everybody doing that. Of course, a lot of people were doing coordinated
studies the first year.
Beck: There wasn’t time enough to get those of you faculty who had just been hired into coordinated
Guttman: Yeah, I think it was like that. I don’t know exactly how it was done. I think I mentioned
talking to Dave Milne about his first couple of years experiences. He was doing really good coordinated
studies programs, doing Human Ecology and Political Ecology; doing them with a bunch of Evergreen
colleagues, really good people, who obviously really knew their fields very well. Primarily scientists, but
I think some people in things like political science and economics. I think they had really good

experiences together, and I’m not sure exactly when they put all of us together. Of course, part of it was
that they were teaching the first year, and I only came the second year. A whole bunch of us only came
the second year, so I don’t know exactly when—well, the people teaching first year must have simply
arrived much earlier, so that they would have had time to put together a decent coordinated studies
program. But, as you say, the rest of us simply hadn’t had time to do anything like this. And, of course,
we were in such diverse fields, I don’t know if any of us could, on the whole, really put together any kind
of a sensible program.
Beck: How about after that? Your second year at Evergreen, what were you doing?
Guttman: My second year was the Nature and Society program. That was with Jeanne Hahn and
Richard Cellarius and Mark Papworth. That was a good program. It was very good. I’ll tell you
something [chuckles] about the seminar business. But aside from seminars, we simply organized
ourselves to do little modules. Richard and Jeanne, the first year, had been teaching what they called
Modular Science, where they divided science up into little topics. I think they taught those in pairs. So,
they used the same model for Nature and Society. It was, on the whole, I think, quite a successful
Richard Cellarius and I did a program, a little unit we called Architecture of Matter. Jeanne and
I, in winter quarter, did a thing together. I forget what we called it exactly. It was basically genetics, but
the social impact of genetics. For one thing, it was just that the technology at that time was becoming
such that genetics was really starting to have some other important social implications, because people
were learning how to do recombinant DNA work. And, in principle, recombinant DNA work could have
meant all kinds of genetic advances. But it was controversial.
So Jeanne and I—part of it was simply that we had the students learning about genetics and
related matters, but we had them out searching for papers that they could bring to the group that we
would assemble into what was kind of a book. It would be just a collection, an anthropology, of papers
having to do with genetics, and all the societal matters. For a time, at least, we were talking to a
publisher’s representative about actually having this book published. I don’t remember what happened.
We were doing the serious talking with at least one publisher’s representative, and somehow or
another, that fell apart.
I still have the collection somewhere downstairs, and it was good. The students had done a
really good job of finding really interesting articles to explore the subject—a highly interdisciplinary
subject—and it was a good learning experience for them all.


And then, I had forgotten, I did a little thing on geology, where I was, again, having the students
teach one another. They were assigned topics, or they chose topics. Then each of them would go off
and research his particular topic, and come back and teach the group. I think that was very successful.
Beck: What sort of topics? I’m imagining that they must have been fairly specific topics.
Guttman: Oh, yeah, they had to be. I must have somebody, for example, learning something about
mineral structure; maybe a couple of people learning something about mineral structure. And
somebody probably talking about the types of igneous rocks, and what are the mechanisms for
formation of igneous rocks, and so on and so forth.
We probably had one or two meetings a week where we would get together and talk about all
these things. And all of these really were quite successful. As I said, they were getting the students to
do the work, and that in itself just has great benefits, I think. That was really good.
Let me say a word about seminars. During the first year, we didn’t have any seminars, nothing
to do in seminars. But seminars are, of course, fundamental to a good coordinated studies program. So,
when I got into Nature and Society, I find myself with my seminar group of 20 students or so, and I made
the naïve assumption that basically all we had to do was give them a book a week to read. I don’t have
the list right here, but we had really interesting books for them to read, books that would explore issues
of science, and science and society. It was the philosophical aspects of science. All kinds of things that,
to us as really mature intellectuals, were really exciting, really interesting. And I know that the faculty
seminars we had with one another were really good. So, I just kind of assumed that the students would
read a book, and they would come in, and they would be full of interesting thoughts about the book.
And it was nothing like that. I suddenly discovered that our students tended, during the early
years especially, to not be directly out of high school. Some of them were, of course, but more of them
had a few years of doing something else before they came back to college, which I think was one of their
strengths. But they were all young students on the whole, and somehow or other, they had never really
learned to read an interesting book, and to have serious thoughts about it, and to be able to come in
and sit down with other people with serious thoughts, and exchange their ideas and so on. [chuckles]
And it was very surprising to me to find that they couldn’t do it, and to wonder what the heck to
do with them. They needed help. I think that I’d tried to push them in various ways to think seriously
about the book that they had read, and to talk to one another about the ideas, and I think that they kind
of rebelled against that. I was really having a very hard time in seminars.
My impression is that, at least at the very beginning of doing Evergreen-type work, just about
everybody has a hard time in seminar, or had a hard time in seminars, as things were going. Well, you

referred to this in some of the questions you asked me there. At one point, I think it was toward the
middle of the year, in my self-evaluation, I wrote about how I had made up a kind of a quiz for them. I
asked my seminar students to do a multiple-choice test. It was to give the analogy seminar leader is to
students as blank is to blank. The choices were as conductor is to orchestra, as coach is to team, as
priest is to congregation, as leader is to jazz combo, or as king is to subjects. And they talked about it,
and, by golly, they got the right answer. The answer that I had was as leader is to jazz combo. The
reason I liked the analogy is that in the combo, the group can play on independently, and that
occasionally, the leader gets to blow a few notes for himself. I still that’s a good model, and I took a
while to operate on it. But I think that was probably a good point to make.
Still, I think, in subsequent years, when getting into a new program every year with a new group
of students, you still have to fight to do this, to help naïve students. If they come out of high school
pretty directly, it doesn’t make much difference, I suppose, what they might have been doing in
between, because I don’t think they were generally doing anything very seriously intellectually.
To be able to read a book, and to have thoughts about it, to get the ideas that the author is
trying to get across, which are sometimes very complicated ideas—but, of course, that’s what make the
books interesting and valuable. That’s why you want you to read the book. I realized, looking at the lists
and some other things, the lists of books that we used for various programs, I see that, oh, yeah, those
are books I got on my bookshelves downstairs. I’d forgotten that we had picked up that book as a book
to use for Evergreen seminars. But, yeah, they are books that I read myself. It made me go back and
read some of these things myself, because really good, bright people had put together a bunch of really
important and interesting ideas. And it’s really sort of pulling teeth to get students at first to see how to
read a book like that, and to have an intelligent thought that they want to share with other students.
Obviously, some students were able to do it pretty well. They had thought about things on their
own, and they read a book, and they really do get some interesting ideas. Or, they find some aspect of
the book maybe that stimulates them that they want to bring up in a seminar. Fine, as long as one
person brings up a point in seminar, other people can respond to it. And then, of course, you always
have the students who are shy, or for some other reason perhaps, just don’t want to say anything much.
And you have to very gently try to bring them into the seminar.
Anyway, that was, I think, the major problem that I encountered teaching at Evergreen, and
then the major problem that had to be overcome.
Beck: That first year that you were teaching the coordinated studies, or the second year, did you find
that you were able to make some progress with students in seminar?

Guttman: Yeah. The thing that I was reading there was something that I think I wrote during the winter
quarter. I don’t know how things went during the fall. I was struggling with it, and the students were
resistant, and they were having a very difficult time. So I’m just not sure how much they got out of the
great reading list I’m sure we had for the seminar books in the fall. But by the winter, they were starting
to come around, starting to get the idea. And I think my jazz analogy helped a little bit. [laughing] So
later in the year, they must have gotten something important out of the seminar books.
Beck: Good, good.
Guttman: And, of course, having overcome that difficulty during the first year—at least learned
something about seminar, about how to help the students, in subsequent years, it was much easier to
do it. I knew the kinds of resistance I was going to get, the kinds of problems that various students had
to overcome, whether it was shyness [laughing] or dumbness or something. I don’t know.
Beck: Were there particular techniques that you developed for running seminar that seemed
particularly effective?
Guttman: Oh, I don’t know that I could say anything about a technique. It’s all so . . . [sighs] . . . of
course, you’ve run seminar yourself, and you know how subtle it is. I certainly wouldn’t want to say
anything about a technique. I don’t think I developed a technique. [chuckles]
Beck: Maybe it was just a matter of anticipating the kinds of issues that come up at seminar, and having
your attention attuned to particular students.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: That makes a lot of sense to me.
Guttman: Yeah, you can identify that Joe is a quiet guy, but he seems to have some thoughts. And Sam
is a quiet guy who just seems to be kind of dumb, and doesn’t know anything. [laughing] Yeah, you find
the students are of certain types, and you develop ways of dealing with them, ways of helping them.
Beck: You did do a coordinated study your second year, but then, maybe by sometime that year, you
might have started to think a little bit more about planning for the longer term? When did that sort of
develop for you in terms of developing a sense of what kind of a curriculum there might be?
Guttman: Boy. I’m trying to think of responding to that question. When I look back over the things that
I taught over 30 years, I didn’t really have a curriculum. I taught all kinds of stuff. One of the reasons I
enjoy being an intellectual [is] because I’m interested in so many different things. And Evergreen has
been wonderful for me because it has allowed me to do a certain amount of teaching of just the hardcore science that I know, but then, every other year or so, working with really interesting people from
other fields, and just being able to be stimulated by them, to have wonderful fun on my own.

I think that may be an important point. I wrote something to the faculty and staff in general a
few months back about what I saw as what seemed to be a developing problems. And I reflected on at
least one of the coordinated studies programs that I had done. And one of the points I made, which I
think was very important, is that we faculty who did a coordinated studies program, I think, were
thinking very largely of pleasing ourselves. Yeah, sure, we were going to do something, it would be
interesting for students, and students would learn a lot by doing this, but just we ourselves were
interested in the general question we were asking. And so that we intellectuals could get together for a
year, and just have a wonderful time talking to one another, and sharing all this.
And, yeah, sure, we would have to do all kinds of basic teaching—help the students learn the
sort of thing that we knew, we specialists—but the great reason for doing it, the great motivation for
doing it, was that it was an interesting question, and we wanted to explore it.
May I say a little bit about the third year?
Beck: Please.
Guttman: The third year was the program called On Knowing. I felt very fortunate that Will Humphreys
had been hired. And I think that Will had already—I think he was at Old Woodbury—was it Old
Woodbury? Old Westport? [Transcriber note: Old Westbury was mentioned in other transcripts.] I’ve
forgotten now. I think he was one of the people who had been there—I think that Merv Cadwallader
had been there—and started to develop the idea of coordinated studies, interdisciplinary teaching, and
so on.
But at least Will was there. And Will was committed to doing that kind of teaching, but he was a
serious intellectual himself. He was a philosopher of science. He was a student of, oh, N. R. Hanson—I
should have looked up the book—who was a really fine philosopher of science, who died rather
suddenly, and Will then took on the job of editing his major book. So Will had all the right papers to be
able to say that he was a serious philosopher of science.
I think I already said before that at Minnesota, one of the important things I had done was to
learn about philosophy of science, and it’s always been one of my major interests. So I thought it would
be really neat to put together a program where we would simply examine the general question of
knowing. So I showed my proposal to Will, and he liked it.
The two of us got excited about the idea, and we wanted to extend the idea. We extended the
idea, at least, to looking at linguistics as another related topic. Jack Webb was on the faculty at the
time, and Jack was the guy who was interested in English, English writing. He was interested in


computerized analysis of language, and he was interested in linguistics. So we got together with Jack
and made him a third member of the group.
And then, somehow or another, we got together with a woman named Carol Olexa. I don’t
know whether Carol Olexa had any kind of a specialty, but she was certainly not really interested in
the—I didn’t know it at the time, but she was not seriously interested in the ideas of knowing, certainly
as Will and I were interested in it. But somehow or the other—it may have just been something that the
deans decided to do—they got Carol Olexa into our group.
We started off doing very well. It was really serious, tough study. We were reading [Irving M.]
Copi’s book on logic. Will was having them doing logic exercises every week, and Will was giving
lectures on philosophy of science, or basic philosophy, philosophical analysis, and I was giving talks
about similar kinds of things. I don’t have a list of the books we were reading, but we were reading
interesting books, but we were having difficulties.
It finally developed—I found a paper that Will had written to Carol and Jack sometime in the
middle of the year, sometime in the winter—in which he was simply telling them the truth, the story
that he and I had put together the idea of a program, we were committed to it, and he was simply
accusing Jack and Carol of having contributed little or nothing to the program, and having not seriously
being committed to it. He essentially said that unless they were going to join in and really contribute to
the program, he was just going to go off and do his own thing with his own group of students. The
program kind of fell apart.
I guess I’ve never told anybody about some of these things [chuckles], but I think I should record
them just for posterity, because there were some really difficult and even crazy things going on. Part of
it was—actually, I had gotten divorced from Shelly not too long before, so I was going through my own
certain amount of turmoil. Jack’s problem was that his wife was seriously ill. His wife had, I think, a
brain tumor. She had to have a series of operations, and that took Jack’s energy and effort away from
the program.
I’ll tell you about this really strange business surrounding Carol Olexa. Carol was a very pretty
woman. Very nice woman. I’m not sure exactly what her specialty was. Some kind of sociological stuff.
But somehow or other, at the time—this was around mid-‘70s, this was ’75-’76, I think—and somehow,
there was somebody in the larger society, a guy who was, I guess, known or thought to be a serial
murderer. I’ve forgotten his name. I was talking about this to Dave. Dave remembered his name. But
somehow or other, Carol felt threatened by this societal threat by this guy. I think that he was a guy


whose victims, or apparent victims, were all women of a certain look, and Carol had that look. So, we
were distracted. We were worried that Carol was really being threatened by this serial killer.
So there was one night—looking back, I can hardly imagine that I did this, or that we did this,
but we did. We arranged one night for Carol to sleep somewhere else, to leave her house. Dave
Hitchens—and I have no idea how Dave Hitchens got involved in this—Dave Hitchens decided that we
were going to go and try to [chuckles] get to the heart of the matter. Dave Hitchens went to her
house—it was sort of the early evening—and Dave had a gun, and he was serious about this.
I arrived at Carol’s house a little bit later. Dave came out of the front door, and was on the
stoop with this gun in his hand, calling, “Burt?” I said, “Yeah, it’s me.” He said, “Okay, come on in.” And
I went in, and Dave and I just sat there. I don’t know what we expected to happen, but we were ready
in case anything happened. We just sat there for a long time. The house was absolutely dark, and we
were sort of semi-expecting this serial killer to come looking for Carol. Well, eventually, after a while,
David Powell showed up. And David Powell nicely explained to us that what we were doing was crazy,
and dangerous, and that we should not be doing anything like this. And we finally agreed that Dave was
right, and so we all three left, locked the door, locked the house, and left.
I say that [laughing] feeling that it was something crazy that should be recorded for posterity
[laughter] as something that actually did happen. But also, as an illustration of the fact that there were
all these crazy things unrelated to Evergreen business that were going on. And in one of the little things
that I had written, where I had mentioned something about both Will and Jack having some problems. I
don’t know what Will’s problems may have been, but Will was basically quite functional. But, in any
case, the program just sort of fell apart. I think that Carol went off doing her own unscientific, illogical—
I can’t think of any better term for it, all the things that she was interested in doing. Anyway, the
program essentially fell apart.
But that was unusual. I want to sort of record all of this stuff, because I think—somebody told
me after a while that a lot of people had bad feelings about the On Knowing program, and that we had
failed in some way. I wanted to say a little bit about it [chuckles] just to leave this record for posterity of
it having been a difficult time.
But, having said that, it was really unusual. Because now, particularly when I look back at my
portfolio, through all the things I did, and all the evaluations that I wrote for me and for my colleagues,
and that they wrote for me, on the whole, we had a wonderful time. All the following years, where I did
all kinds of really fascinating programs with really fascinating people, really interesting people, they, on
the whole, were just wonderful times. Some of it was teaching straight science. For example, there

were programs in Introduction to Natural Science, which I taught with my fellow scientists. And a part
of what we were doing was just straight teaching science, but teaching science very well, and teaching
science in an interesting and humane fashion.
My job in some of these programs often—we all had to have the students learning better math,
learning math, so we would divide them into different groups on the basis of how much they already
knew. I’ve always enjoyed, I suppose, the challenge of helping people to learn the most basic math. So I
had several times, I think, the experience of working with students who had just had a hell of a bad time
with math in high school, who hadn’t been able to get it, hadn’t been able to get very far. And now, a
few years later, they came to college because they wanted to do something in particular, they wanted to
do something that required the science, and required a certain amount of math. And now, they were
much more highly motivated. It was sort of, “Well, I didn’t do it the last time when I was in high school.
I didn’t do it then, but now, by God, I’m going to get it. I’m going to really learn this math stuff.”
It was really a pleasure working with them, and I found that I had the ability to do it. We were
basically just going through basic math books, but it was really a pleasure to do it. And it was a pleasure
to see that these people who had had such a hard time with math before now were able to get it, and
that was very rewarding for them.
Beck: Did you have students who said things like “Well, I’m just not good at math. I can’t do math”?
Did you have that sort of thing?
Guttman: Well, I don’t know. I don’t remember that particular thing. I think that they had said to
themselves, “I just haven’t been able to get it in the past.” But now, with a little bit of help, they were
able to get it, and they were able to get a decent way through college algebra, at least, and off into
other interesting subjects. So that was really very rewarding. That was really very good.
Beck: Were there ways of teaching math that seemed to emerge as you were doing it that seemed to
work particularly well?
Guttman: No, it was just a matter of doing it carefully and slowly, and being able to—a group of 10, 15
students maybe, where we had the time so that I could talk to each of them individually, and find out
what kind of a hang-up they might have been having, and help to explain it so that they really could
understand [it totally? 00:45:52] this time. That was all very nice.
Beck: That matches my experience teaching symbolic logic, which, of course, is different, but it may
have some of the similar kinds of challenges for students.
Guttman: Oh, yeah. Yeah, exactly.


Beck: Having that time to work with students one on one, and help them get over a particular block that
they have, is really invaluable.
Guttman: It is. But, as I say, at the same time, I was working with really neat, interesting people. One
of the questions you had on your sheet here was something about what I had learned, and what I might
have learned from other faculty.
Beck: Right, yes.
Guttman: On the whole, I think what I got from other faculty was just a kind of general intellectual
stimulation. But I’m sure that—for example, in the On Knowing program, listening to Wilhelm Freeh’s
lectures, I’m sure I got a better grasp of philosophical ideas that I already pretty much understood. And
there were not individual faculty that I worked with that I feel where I particularly learned their
discipline. It was just the intellectual mix, on the whole. The being able to share ideas, to have
discussions with really bright people who had other specialties, who knew other things.
One person whose name comes to mind is Peter Elbow. It was a program I did. We called it
Humanism and Science, I think. Anyway, I did it with Peter Elbow and Betty Ruth Estes. And that was a
neat program, and I found Peter Elbow to be one of the most fascinating guys I’ve worked with at
Evergreen. His specialty was writing—English major type—and he wrote some very good books. He
wrote this book Writing Without Teachers, I think it was called.
From Peter, I think I got, first of all, some particular insights into some matters of English
literature, the development of English literature. I was trying to remember exactly what they were. I
think, going back to some of the things Peter taught about the development of English, the development
of theater and drama, I think back to some of the things I believe he was telling us about the
development of theater in Elizabethan times, in Shakespeare’s time.
But perhaps more than anything else, I learned his ways of helping people write. Part of it was
simply a matter of getting people to write something—anything—and then sit down with other students
and share that. Part of the rule was that you couldn’t say anything negative about somebody else’s
writing. You had to say something positive, an encouragement, and that what I got out of the thing you
just wrote is this. Here’s a point that I got out of your writing, and maybe you should develop that idea
more. Something of that kind.
But, in any case, just his, I think of it as gentle ways of teaching writing. Because so often,
students seem to come to their college work with a feeling like, oh my god, I’ve got to do this. I’ve got
to write this crap, and with little—what should I say?—little positive feedback for their writing, little real
help and real encouragement to do good writing. But somehow, Peter’s method of helping people to

learn to write did have that. It was a very positive element that, I think, made the students all feel good
about the kind of thing they were writing, and to motivate them to go on, and to take the best aspects
of their writing and develop them. Because, of course, that’s an important part of what good writing is
all about.
So, certainly Peter was one of the people that I admired for his skill, for his particular abilities.
But just in general, I did Molecule to Organism programs, advanced biology, with people like
Clyde Barlow and Jeff Kelly. They were teaching largely organic chemistry, and biochemistry and so on.
And I admired them so much, and I had such a wonderful time listening to them, and learning a little bit
more from them. They were all such wonderful colleagues. And that was just generally true of all the
people that I worked with. It’s just been a wonderful experience.
Beck: Let me follow up a little bit on what you were talking about regarding Peter Elbow, specifically
with respect to the way that he taught writing. Did you find that you later incorporated some of his
ways of teaching writing into the way that you taught writing?
Guttman: Yeah, I think so. I’m trying to remember this. The only place for teaching writing really was in
our seminars. Of course, we generally required the students to write a certain amount regarding the
books we were reading, and, yeah, I think, at least in some of the seminars that we did, I was able to
take Peter’s methods and use them. That was very valuable.
But you just reminded me of one of the other things that was extremely important, and that was
Don Finkel. I first met Don the first year we came to Evergreen was in what we called Life and Health. I
was teaching with Sig Kutter and Mark Papworth again, and with Don. Don introduced the general idea
of the workshop. I remember I was trying to get across some basic ideas of metabolism and
biochemistry, and Don invited me to sit down with him and develop a workshop to do this.
I went over to his house one day, and we sat there, and he helped me. He taught me generally
how to do this, to think of questions that I could pose to the students that would help them; by having
them work in little groups, working on a series of questions . . . yeah, let’s say questions . . . that they
could talk about, that they could share; having them develop the ideas for themselves point by point.
And that was wonderful. I think that Don Finkel’s method of doing this was one of the most important
things that has ever been brought to Evergreen.
He wrote this book. I think it came out just after he died. I’m trying to remember the name.
Beck: Writing With Your Mouth Shut?
Guttman: Teaching With Your Mouth Shut. That’s what it is. [chuckles] And that’s exactly what he was
doing. Boy, I really hope that other people have picked up his method. I remember we had a kind of a

general set of discussions and seminars with people after they read his book. But I kept using Don’s
method again and again, particularly for teaching science. Because it’s really so easy, once you get the
general idea. It’s really so easy to pose a set of questions and problems.
I remember using this particularly when I was teaching genetics. Genetics can be taught well by
giving people a bunch of problems to solve. That’s essentially what I did. I would have my weekly
sessions with the students, getting them into little groups—four or five people at most—and giving
them a series of questions and problems, and so they could work their way through that. Then, of
course, the faculty member—me—was going from group to group and kibitzing a little bit, and listening
to what they’re saying, and occasionally giving them a little bit of help, but generally seeing that things
are going along well. So, they’re teaching themselves, and they’re teaching themselves . . . well, that’s
the point, they’re teaching themselves, and they’re empowering themselves. They’re learning how to
think about the subject.
So, that was a very important part of my learning about how to teach.
Beck: Let me ask about that. Some folks would say that, well, the students need to have some basic
information, or they need to have some basic theories explained to them, or some core processes, and
they’re not going to just be able to figure that out on their own. Would you agree with that? If so, what
would you say about the relation between workshops and other modes of teaching?
Guttman: Of course. But they’ve always had something to read. They’ve always had a textbook. And
occasionally [chuckles], it’s been my textbook. But they’re supposed to read the book, they’re supposed
to read the chapter in the book. And they probably come out of it with a certain amount of
understanding, but certainly not the degree of understanding that I’m looking for. But if they have even
a little bit of understanding, and if I’ve done my workshop well, they can begin with the first question,
the first problem, and that gets them to—it should be something simple that they can work through.
And that gets them to enlarge their understanding a little bit. Then they go on to the next question or
problem, and they have to challenge themselves, and work it out a little bit. They’re getting into it a
little bit deeper.
I think that one of the important things is they’re working in little groups where they have to
talk about the idea. They have to talk about it, and if one of them just doesn’t quite get it, the others in
the group who do get it can explain that to that person. And that kind of peer learning, peer teaching, I
think, is very valuable. At least a lot of students are probably more prone to learn from their fellow
students, just speaking to them at the right level, than they are to learn from my lecture. I mean, if I get
up and I talk for an hour, I’m going to be covering a whole range of ideas. And if I lose them in the first

10 minutes, they’re going to be lost for the rest of the lecture. But with the workshop method, ideally
everybody is coming along at more or less the same pace, and they’re developing this; and by the end of
the hour or a couple of hours of workshop, they should have a pretty decent understanding of the topic.
Beck: And, if they all get lost, then you’re there to notice that, and to help them along.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: Good. There was something else I wanted to ask about. You mentioned Peter Elbow was one
person that you learned from with respect to the way that he taught writing. And you mentioned
working with Clyde Barlow and Jeff Kelly around upper-level science.
Guttman: Right.
Beck: Were there other people that you seemed to learn—of course, Don Finkel, you learned a fair bit
about teaching from Don.
Guttman: Oh, yeah.
Beck: Were there other people that stand out to you as folks who taught you some important things
about teaching?
Guttman: Boy. I don’t know. I mean, all . . . it’s hard to say. All the way through—I haven’t had a
chance to read all of the evaluations that I wrote for other people—there’s just a ton of them here—but
over the years, I see myself saying to my colleagues that “I really enjoyed your lectures.” And I think we
got a bunch of faculty members who simply were very good at understanding ideas, and explaining
them well. I have that memory of it. We almost always attended one another’s lectures in every
program. It was just, on the whole, a pleasure to hear one of my colleagues giving a well-constructed
lecture, developing some really interesting, some fascinating ideas, and being kind of entertained
intellectually like that.
But no, I don’t think that I—oh, I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I might have picked up a gesture
or two, or some subtle thing that I do, from somebody else. I can’t remember actually doing it, but I
think that listening to other people give good lectures gives you probably more of a basis for giving your
own good lectures. Something like that.
Beck: Okay. You mentioned that you taught Introduction to Natural Science and Molecule to Organism.
Those are two programs that I think of outside the sciences, but I think of those as being kind of flagship
programs within the natural science curriculum.
Guttman: Yeah, they are.
Beck: And that the sciences, in general, at Evergreen seem to develop what appears to be a fairly
coherent curriculum for pursuing natural science.

Guttman: Oh, yes.
Beck: How did that come to be?
Guttman: We’re just all smart people. [laughter]
Beck: That’s a given. But what was it that, I mean, do you remember anything about how you came
about developing a clear curriculum, for instance?
Guttman: No, I don’t. I mean, we all have our little faculty groups that the—I forget what everything is
called now.
Beck: There were specialty areas.
Guttman: Specialty areas. We had one that they called Science, Technology and Health for a while.
And at times, I was the coordinator of some of those things. We simply got together once a year at
least, and we wrote out a curriculum on the board, and said, “Who’s teaching this, and who’s teaching
I think that there’s probably something about the nature of science that makes it different from
humanities and social sciences, in that, right offhand—it’s interesting to think about this—right offhand,
I don’t think of anything in the humanities—for example, in literature—that you have to learn before
you can learn some other aspect of literature. And to me, it all comes together. You’re learning the
literature of different people at different times for different purposes. But it’s all the development of
human ideas, and expression of emotions, and wild adventures, and soaring ideas and so on, all
expressed in wonderful language. Yeah, you learn about, I don’t know, nineteenth century British
literature one year, and you learn about European literature some other year and so on, but I don’t
know that you have to learn one thing before another. Whereas in the sciences, you do have to learn
things in a certain order.
So I think it’s simply natural that we’ve had to see to it every year that somebody was teaching a
program something like Introduction to Natural Science. Very often, of course, at the same time, we
would have a program like Life and Health, or Human Health and Behavior, and so on, where people
were learning a certain amount of biology, connected with—well, with what? With health, for example.
Beck: Perhaps psychology?
Guttman: Psychology, things of that kind. That would always help. I mean, it would help a student who
had gone through a program like that may have learned enough biology to be able to go on to a more
advanced biology program.


But, at least for the science faculty, we always made sure that there was at least one of those
introductory programs, and that there was always a program of the Molecules to Organism type, so that
people could go on to learn biochemistry and cell biology, and things of that kind.
That always turned out to be delightful, on the whole. We generally were able, in the year, in
the more advanced program, to get the students to the point where a lot of them were doing their own
lab work, doing their own experiments, and really probing into molecular biology or something of that
kind, in a useful way. But I think it was just the nature of science that you have to do that kind of thing.
Beck: It really has to be sequential, to a certain degree.
Guttman: You have to be sequential, to a degree, at least. Yeah, I could say, okay, fine, maybe you
don’t have to really understand cell metabolism before you can learn genetics. But you have to have
some kind of basic foundation in biology before genetics makes a lot of sense. So there’s a certain
amount of sequencing like that.
Beck: Right. That’s good, because that has been one of the ongoing, well, differences between the
natural sciences at Evergreen and the humanities at Evergreen.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: The humanities has not had any kind of sequencing. And it’s an interesting question as to what
extent that’s something that’s forced by the material, or to what extent it’s a choice that people have
made in humanities.
Guttman: Yeah, well, I think that when it comes to sciences, it’s something that, to a degree, is forced
by the material. It’s not just a matter of tradition. You really do have to know these things in some kind
of an order.
Beck: Right. So, I’d like to go on a little bit to think about—you’ve talked a little about the first three
years of your teaching at Evergreen. You said that the On Knowing program kind of fell apart. What did
you do once it fell apart? Did you have kind of a group contract with some of the students?
Guttman: You know, I can’t even remember. And I don’t have papers that remind me.
Beck: Okay.
Guttman: That’s a very good question. And I’ve been going back through archives, and finding
whatever papers I can. And I found a whole bunch of papers regarding the On Knowing program, but I
really can’t remind myself of what I did at the time.
Beck: I was just going to say that it’s not that unusual of a story, as far as I know, about early Evergreen
programs. I’ve been interviewing Tom Rainey, for example.
Guttman: Oh, yes.

Beck: He’s mentioned that his first program had some rockiness to it.
Guttman: Yeah, right.
Beck: And I know, from my dad, his first program also had some tough times.
Guttman: Yeah, I’m sure.
Beck: A number of programs did have that kind of—what’s your general impression about how
Evergreen developed after those first few years, say, over the next first 10 years of the college? Was
there a kind of a settling out that you noticed?
Guttman: Part of it may have been a lack of knowledge on my part. At least in the early years, we
would hear about programs having difficulties. We would hear that Dean So-and-So was getting
together with the faculty of this program, and that they were trying to work out their difficulties,
personal difficulties or whatever it was.
I think I just heard less and less of that as time went on. Maybe we just generally figured out
how to do things better. Part of it may have been personality conflicts, in the early years. Certainly, in
On Knowing, there were personality conflicts. We just didn’t fit together well. But it may have been
that, after a while, people came to appreciate that not only did you have to have a group of faculty
whose disciplines, whose specialties, whose interests were compatible. And not just compatible, but
would fit together to make a coherent, interesting program. Not just that, but that their personalities
had to fit. And so they were all really committed to doing it, and that they wouldn’t allow personal
difficulties to get in the way. I think perhaps it took a little while for people to appreciate that aspect of
I had said earlier that I think that one of the things that made for real success in our programs
was when we faculty agreed that we wanted to discuss a topic, wanted to explore a theme, and we just
had a hell of a good time doing it. Perhaps maybe even just in preliminary talks that we had with one
another, we figured out that, yeah, we’re compatible. We like each other well enough that we can get
along, and we can do this. And perhaps a part of that being we all agree that we’re going to commit
ourselves to really working at it. We’re not going to allow our little egos and quirks to get in the way,
but we’ll set those things aside, and we will really pursue this topic wholeheartedly. Yeah, commit
ourselves to it. Because I don’t know how things really are these days, but I think you’re indicating that
there is little, or at least less, programs falling apart than they used to be.
Beck: I’ve heard of a few stories here and there, but it’s not something that seems to be very common.
Every now and then, you’ll hear something, but I’ve never been in a program that’s fallen apart. I won’t


say that all of my programs have sailed smoothly, without difficulties, but when there have been
difficulties, we’ve been able to resolve them within the team. That strikes me as the best way to go.
Guttman: Yes.
Beck: Just if you can figure out a way to go forward with the material, so that students will be able to
learn something important, and you can continue to work together as a team, even if there are ongoing
Guttman: Yes.
Beck: But generally, apart from thinking about how the programs and faculty seem to figure out how to
teach together, were there other things that happened in the first decade or so that seemed to indicate
a general, I don’t know, a kind of a trend, or a direction of change, that you noticed as you were
Guttman: Boy, I can’t think of anything like that, no.
Beck: How did the college seem to change over the first decade or so?
Guttman: Yeah, I know you’ve got that on your list of topics, and I don’t know, except what we were
just talking about, about people being able to get along better, and do more successful programs
because they didn’t have the conflicts. That perhaps is the major thing.
I don’t know how anybody feels about how well the range of topics of programs being offered
fits with the range of possible topics. I mean, are we—I think it would be very unlikely that we would be
narrowing our range of subjects that we’re exploring in coordinated studies. I don’t know.
Beck: Okay. Maybe we could talk about something a little different about your work at Evergreen. I
think I mentioned we talked a little bit about this last time, but you were very involved in ongoing
research in the phage lab.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: You mentioned that Betty brought a grant, and was continuing—brought her research ongoing.
Guttman: Betty was always much more committed to doing research in molecular biology than I was. I
felt very fortunate that she was hired at the same time I was. It was a real coincidence to have two
biologists hired who both had been doing research on phage T4.
But Betty was really committed to doing that. First of all, of course, she came with a grant, so
that she had the money to open a lab, and get the lab running. And I was really of secondary
importance in that. I mean, I welcomed having a lab where I could continue to be associated with basic
research, but the particular topic that Betty’s research was aimed at was her particular thing. I had
started to do some research. It could have gone in an interesting direction, but it wasn’t really going

very far. So I just sort of tagged on to helping Betty and the other people in the lab to do the kind of
work that she was interested in.
I felt that the important thing was that we did have basic research going on at Evergreen. I think
that’s been the real importance. I mean, the particular topic that Betty was concerned about primarily,
at first, was having—phage T4 has an unusual base in its DNA, and her research was primarily concerned
with, what are the consequences of having that unusual base in the DNA, and what happens if you make
a mutant that doesn’t have that particular base? All of those questions.
I just kind of went along with that, helping out to do that as much as I could, because I thought
that the experience of doing research was important for students. And I’m really delighted that other
people—I think of Clyde and Jeff and other people—who’ve really continued to have research labs, and
make the research experience really available to Evergreen students.
But as far as—well, Betty and I wrote a couple of things together. I got together—this is just
sort of my way of doing things—I got together a big map, showing phage T4, and where all the genes
are, and the developmental pathway and so on. That was sort of my contribution to phage biology,
because it became the kind of map that everybody had—at least Betty told me that everybody had—up
in their labs wherever they were. So that was my little contribution to it, but it was not a contribution of
doing original research, it was a contribution of getting everything together in a coherent way, which is
what I have always been trying to do with my books.
Beck: That’s what I was just thinking, that that’s what you’re doing in your texts.
Guttman: Yeah, I’ve been trying—well, I’ve done it—to put biology together as a coherent science. So,
that was my contribution to phage biology.
Beck: And you published one text before you came to Evergreen, I believe?
Guttman: Yeah, I had written Biological Principles.
Beck: And then Understanding Biology came out while you were at Evergreen, and that was with Johns
Hopkins [III].
Guttman: Yes, right.
Beck: And that was sometime in the ‘80s.
Guttman: Yeah, mid-‘80s, ’82, ’83. I’d have to go back and look. It was sometime around in there.
Beck: Then you worked on the revision on that.
Guttman: Well, we tried to do a revision. It was difficult. It’s been kind of a sad story. It’s been a
combination of some people reviewing my books and saying, “Boy, this is terrific.” I’ve got a review I
could show you from the Journal, what was it, Journal of South African Biology, or Journal of Biology

published in South Africa, which is a wonderful encomiastic review of the book, saying it’s the best
biology book that has ever been written. And there were a few other reviews saying, “Oh, this is
terrific,” and so on.
But it never became economically popular. It never became a book that everybody adopted.
And the same thing was true of the last book. We went with a different publisher, but my biology book
that came out in ’99, again, it had a lot of people saying all kinds of great things about the book, and
how good it is, but hardly anybody adopting it. I think it was just, I don’t know, too different or
something. They adopted it at the University of Washington for one year, but then apparently it was
just not their style of teaching, and so they dropped it.
So, that’s been my difficulty. I’ve been happy to, well, I’ve enjoyed putting biology together, but
I haven’t enjoyed not receiving the wider approval of what I’ve done.
Beck: The audience.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: That is something that I recall, when the book came out in ’99, that at first, there were pretty high
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: And there were a lot of really good reviews.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: But then, for whatever reason, something about the way the different biology departments go
about adopting textbooks or something seemed not to work.
Guttman: Yeah, I don’t know what the trouble was, but McGraw-Hill dropped it. I should have fought
harder. I should have fought it, and tried to make them keep it on, but they didn’t.
Beck: I wonder if it’s something about the way that biology is taught at Evergreen, and how you’ve
taught biology at Evergreen, as opposed to the way that it’s often taught at other colleges and
universities. I wonder if that had something to do with it.
Guttman: I don’t know. I really wonder what it is that—there have been a few biology books written by
other people that have become very popular. And as far as I can see, the only thing that’s really good
about them is that they do everything. Everything is there. But it was never put together with the
coherence of my books. I have a particular basic understanding of what an organism is, what a living
organism is, and it’s a fundamentally genetic understanding, because organisms are genetic systems.
That’s what I’ve tried to get across as kind of a unifying theme throughout. But a lot of people, I don’t


know, either they don’t understand that, they don’t see that there can be a unifying theme to biology,
and I just don’t know. It’s very hard to know. It’s hard to talk about it.
Beck: Right, we can move on.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: But you’ve done other writing through your career.
Guttman: Oh, yeah. And I’m still trying to do it, but my current writing, nobody wants to buy it yet. It’s
basically about the problems of our society, well, the problems of human society. I’ve put together a
manuscript. Hold on a second. It took a while to get myself together. I put together a manuscript called
Too Big for Our Niches. And Erica’s husband, Mike, wanted to set up a, what do you call it? A thing on
the Internet?
Beck: A Web site?
Guttman: A Web site where I can do this, because it seems—
Beck: Is this Mike Melton?
Guttman: Yeah, Mike Melton. Because he and other people are saying that the way to publish your
ideas these days is to have a Web site, and get it out that way. And then, maybe a book emerges from
that. I haven’t gone to the Web site idea, but I’ve tried several times to sell this book to other people,
and nobody’s buying it yet.
But you can see for yourself that the Earth is in terrible trouble, and it’s because of all of the
stupid things that humans do. We have a stupid economic system. We have an economic system that
allows a tiny fraction of the population to be incredibly rich, and makes everybody else miserable and
unhappy. And they system is one that’s destroying the world, destroying the Earth. And I’ve tried to
make this clear, and it is clear to anybody who thinks about it, but [sighs] I haven’t been able to sell the
book to anybody. So it’s difficult.
Beck: Let’s talk more about your experience at Evergreen.
Guttman: Oh, yeah.
Beck: Thinking about how Evergreen changed from the early years to the time in your mid-career, to
the time that you retired, what’s your sense of how Evergreen developed and changed over that time?
Guttman: I don’t know about Evergreen as a whole. I served on a series of DTFs where we tried to
address various little problems, various difficulties. For example, I was early on the rotation of deans
DTF. We wanted to get away from what is virtually universal, I guess, that the few people become
deans, and they become separated from the faculty; they become administrators who have their own


ways of thinking. We wanted Evergreen to be a place where everybody shares in all of the work more or
less equally.
So we wanted it to have people rotate into positions of leadership for a while, and to know that
they were going to go back to being faculty members, just ordinary faculty members teaching their
programs, and to do only the kinds of things that would really be good for teaching for continuing the
Evergreen mission, and not get involved in the various kinds of organizational things that I think
traditional colleges do. That was one good thing to do.
But, I don’t know. At the time that Dan Evans was President, I remember being on various DTFs,
various committees, where we were trying to promote the kind of changes. I can’t say what kinds of
changes. Dan was a good leader, he was a good President. And he was able to see that the college
needed certain kinds of organizational changes, and we worked to promote those. But I don’t think that
we did anything to change the basic structure of the college. The basic idea of Evergreen is so
educationally right, and so educationally good, that I don’t think you want to change it.
Beck: Right. So in terms of the structure of teaching—team teaching and coordinated studies
programs—that seems to be something that has been pretty stable through most of your career.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: What about the culture at Evergreen? Would you say that there’s been a change? Was there a
change from the time that you arrived to the time that you left, in terms of culture among the faculty, or
connection with the students?
Guttman: I don’t think so. Has anybody else that you’ve talked to said that they felt that there was a
significant change?
Beck: I haven’t. It’s something that I’ve heard that people have talked about. Well, you know how it is.
People will sometimes talk about how Evergreen was in the beginning, and how we have either drifted
away from the good old days, or we’ve gotten rid of some of the terrible things from the bad old days,
depending on how you look at things. I don’t want to go beyond those generalities, because I don’t
want to prejudice you in any particular way.
Guttman: No, no.
Beck: But I’m interested in what your impressions are about whether there has been any changes along
the way.
Guttman: But you mentioned getting away from the bad old days. I think that the idea . . . how can I
put this . . . I’ve talked about some of the difficulties that we’ve had during the first few years, where we
were learning how to do it. And then, my impression is only that we gradually learned how to do it, and

so if things were going along more or less the way they were in shall I call them the middle years? After
we got over the initial difficulties, if things were going along how they did in the middle years, that’s
great, and I don’t think that anything has to be changed. I’m certainly not aware of any changes.
I mentioned that I had sent out this note to faculty’s email, to faculty and staff, a few months
ago. And I sent that out, in part, because I kept hearing all of these things from old Evergreen both
faculty and staff indicating that some things are falling apart, that things were not going well. And I
saw—there was a report, I don’t know if it came from the Provost or the President—something about
large numbers of students leaving programs after their first year, and other difficulties.
I noticed in the latest Provost’s memo having to do with anticipated hires for the years, it says
that the number of anticipated students is down. This is not good. This is lousy. So I’m concerned
about whether some things have been happening the last few years, where current faculty members are
simply not doing things right, or something is being lost. I’m wondering whether something is being lost
that was keeping Evergreen as good as it has been for a long time.
It’s something I’d like to look into. I mean, yeah, okay, I’d like to look into it, and yet, it isn’t
really something for us old-timers to look into, in a way. I think that if some of us were to go back and
say, “You guys seem to be doing something wrong,” it would be resented. So, I don’t know, I would like
us to be able to look at Evergreen, and see whether there is something wrong, whether some things are
not being done well, and try to figure out what can be done to correct that.
Beck: Right. Well, you know, I do want to say that, while there’s a part of your reticence that’s well
founded, that the attempt by old-timers to come in and scold the faculty today, would be resented.
Because it is really a matter of the current cohort of faculty to make arrangements to teach as well as
they can, and to coordinate their programs as best they can. That’s their responsibility—our
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: But at the same time, there’s a real hunger, I would say, among at least many faculty at Evergreen
now—the current cohort—to listen and to learn from our elders, and to find out what it is that you all
learned, and figured out how to do well, that, while we might not be able to do it exactly that way, due
to various differences of time and culture and so forth. But nevertheless, there’s something that we can
all learn from you.
That’s one of the reasons, for instance, that I’m interested, and why I’m pursuing this project of
doing the oral histories, that I want to learn from folks who have retired, or quite late in their careers, to
find out what you were able to do well, what worked well, and what you learned not to do so well.

[laughing] Or, what you’d learned not to do because it didn’t work so well. So I would encourage you to
offer your perspective on what it was that you experienced.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: So I guess, with that, I’d like to see whether there’s anything more you’d have to say about what
you found to be particularly effective in your teaching, or in the way that Evergreen teaching went
generally, and whether there’s are areas that seemed to be really ineffective ways of teaching that you
experienced at Evergreen. Or, ways in which Evergreen seemed to be frustrating to you in certain
respects that seemed to get in the way of good teaching.
Guttman: Yeah, I see what you’re asking. And I can’t be very specific. Every one of my good
experiences was really different. I suppose, sure, that if I did Molecule to Organism one time with Clyde
and another time with both Clyde and Jeff, they were pretty much the same thing.
I wonder if the main thing that I was emphasizing was about this is that I said that we faculty, we
got together and did programs, where the topic was of interest to us. I wonder if that isn’t an important
key. Part of it was simply the obligation to do a certain amount of basic teaching. A program like
Introduction to Natural Science. Fine, you got people to understand basic physics and chemistry and
biology, and a certain amount of math. Okay. But for other things, I did quite a few really
interdisciplinary programs, largely humanities-based or based on ideas really thoroughly combining
matters of social science, and humanities, and natural science.
The really good times, I think, were those where the central question was of real significance to
us as faculty, as intellectuals. And I wonder if that isn’t one really important key. I would ask, are some
people putting together a program where they’re saying, “Well, let’s just do some of this, and do some
of that. That should make a pretty good mix.” But where they’re not saying, “Boy, we’ll do this around
a central question that we really want to explore for ourselves.” I would ask about something like that.
Beck: Having that central interest in a particular topic, or having a question, or an issue, or something of
that sort is really fundamental.
Guttman: I think so. I think so. And that would be one of the first questions I would ask of
contemporary faculty. Are you putting together programs like that, or are you simply putting together a
few things that you think might work well?
Beck: Right. Just to jump back to some issues of governance and college issues, you mentioned that
you were involved early on in a DTF around deans’ rotations. Were there other areas of governance
that really stand out that you’re particularly—with interesting work for you to do in terms of

Guttman: Oh, I don’t know. I’d have to look back. Right offhand, I’d say no. [laughter] Yeah, right
offhand, I would say that we had—there was work to be done. There were little things that maybe
weren’t working so well, and we had to do a little bit of fixing or something. But right offhand, I do not
think of anything that was particularly stimulating.
Beck: Okay. Well, if it doesn’t stand out to you, then there’s probably not much point of working back
through and consulting your—
Guttman: No, I wouldn’t do that. I was just trying to think. I have this list of things, including DTFs I’ve
served on. But right offhand, I can’t think of any DTFs that I did that were particularly interesting.
Beck: Okay. Let me ask about something about the history of Evergreen generally. Evergreen has been
through some pretty rough times from time to time.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: Early on, there were some concerns about Evergreen being closed due to low enrollment. And
then, there was the controversy around Joe Olander’s presidency and his reign.
Guttman: Oh, yeah.
Beck: Do you have any particular recollections of any of those times where there was some turmoil at
Evergreen that you were had some pretty strong thoughts about?
Guttman: I don’t have any particularly strong thoughts. I was trying to go back. I really can’t do it
much. I was trying to go back to the time when Joe Olander, because [sighs] I don’t know exactly what it
was that Joe did that got so many people irritated. But I know that there were a few of us—and I was
sort of at the periphery of the group. I wasn’t strongly emotionally involved in it. I think it was primarily
Dave Hitchens and . . . oh, I can see his face but I can’t remember his face. It’ll come back. Anyway,
there was a small group of faculty who were particularly incensed by what Olander was doing, and I
can’t remember exactly what we were doing to fight it. I’d have to go back and look at I don’t know
what. But I haven’t been able to find any papers from that time.
It was a difficult time, and I don’t even know exactly why he left, but he did leave and the
college got back to normal. Yeah, I’d have to go back and try to dig through archives, and see if I could
find anything good.
Beck: Okay. You retired in . . .
Guttman: . . . 2002.
Beck: . . . 2002, right. And usually, when faculty retire, they have the opportunity to say something to
the Board of Trustees.


Guttman: I did, and I don’t remember what I said to them. I remember people were sitting there sort
of nodding their heads in agreement. But I had some wise words, and I don’t remember what my wise
words were. It’s remarkable to me, because I taught there for 30 years, which is a long time. And on
the whole, I have a good memory for things, but . . . maybe that there were just so many things
happening. There was so much that I could remember. Now, when I go back and I look at papers from
that time, I remember, oh, yeah, I did that or said that or something. And I’m rather amazed at some of
the things that I have on paper.
Beck: A couple of other questions that I wanted to bring up. One is, what interests have you pursued
outside of Evergreen, not strictly associated with your academic career?
Guttman: Well, I’ve done a certain amount of associating with Audubon Society, with birding and
birdwatching. One of my books, of course, was The Introduction to Birdwatching. I did that. That was
always important.
Beck: You’ve been active with the Audubon Society since you retired?
Guttman: Oh, yeah. Well, off and on, and leading field trips and so on. Currently, I’m the editor of the
Echo, I’m the editor of our little bimonthly bulletin.
Beck: That’s the bimonthly bulletin of the local Audubon Society?
Guttman: Local Audubon Society. Black Hills Audubon. The other thing I’ve been so involved in is
theater. I know you mentioned that. I’ve always—I can’t say I’ve always loved theater. For the most
part, I grew up knowing nothing about theater. I remember some time when I was back in grade school,
back in Minneapolis, at the University of Minnesota, they put on a production of The Comedy of Errors,
and they took kids to see that. That was the first play I had ever seen, and I guess it impressed, being
kind of fun. It was only really when I got into graduate school, the first year that I was at Johns Hopkins
in Baltimore, and lived with a group of guys in a house there, and we went to see at least one play in
downtown Baltimore, and I really liked it. [laughing] And I’d never known anything, never thought at all
about theater until that point. And then after that, I got to get really interested in theater, and got to
really liking it.
So, I guess it was primarily in the early ‘80s—part of it was when Erica was growing up, Erica got
interested in theater and in music. You remember, she took piano lessons, and she took voice lessons.
And then she got into Jim This and Vern Eckard, every summer they would do at least one production, a
musical, and she got into the chorus of some of those things.
At the time, I would take her to rehearsals, and then I got to know Jim This better. And Jim was
the one who was always responsible for making sets. And so I got to helping him out a little bit, doing

sets—I’ve always been kind of handy with woodwork and so on—and I really enjoyed it. And so for
several years, primarily in the early to mid-‘80s, I think, I got really involved in local theater, and did a
number of sets for a number of productions, and really had a great time.
I can say I probably would have accomplished more, for example, oh, as a molecular biologist, or
as a writer or biology books and so on if I had just concentrated on one thing in my life. And I’ve never
been able to do that. I’ve always been interested in a whole bunch of stuff. That’s why I was good for
Evergreen perhaps. [laughter]
I had a wonderful time being involved in theater. Of course, that’s the way I met Lois, and
actually re-met Lois when we were doing the program [that] we called The Good Life. One of our
requirements was, in the spring quarter, all the students had to get out and do some kind of community
involvement. I had a couple of students who were interested in theater. Lois’s daughter, Tracy, was
teaching high school at the time, and she put on a production of The King and I. You remember, Erica
had been in The King and I. She had been Princess Ying Yaowalak. So I wanted to see what my students
had been doing, so I went and saw the production of The King and I, and that’s where I re-met Lois. That
was the beginning of our getting together.
Beck: Was that in the mid-‘90s?
Guttman: Yeah, mid-‘90s. We got married in ’98, I think. And since then, particularly, theater has been
a very important part of my life, of our lives. When we took a trip through China a few years back, we
saw Chinese theater. And we’ve gone several times to England and seen Shakespearean theater and
modern theater in London and so on. So it’s really been very important to us. And now, we have the
theater downtown. We have this Seattle Rep Theatre, we go to the 5th Avenue Theatre, and once a
year, we go to the Shakespearean Festival down in Ashland. It’s really a very important part of our lives.
Beck: You brought theater into your teaching from time to time, didn’t you?
Guttman: Yeah, I did. The year I taught this really, in retrospect, kind of a terrible program—Ways of
Knowing—I did it with[Laverne King and Margaret Gribskov—yeah, I brought theater into teaching. I
was doing a certain amount during the day, but mostly I had a section of older students in the evening.
That was very nice. I did a general introduction primarily to musical theater.
Got myself into great trouble with them and didn’t handle it as well as I could have, because I
wanted to everybody to read a play, and the most easily available play was . . . oh god, I know the play,
and suddenly I’ve got to go back and remember the title . . . oh god . . .
Beck: Is it a musical?
Guttman: Yeah, a musical. The boy, the girl, living in neighborhoods. Their fathers are gardeners.

Beck: Oh, The Fantasticks!
Guttman: The Fantasticks. Thank you. [chuckles] The Fantasticks.
Beck: “Buy a radish. Get a radish.”
Guttman: Yes, right. So I had everybody buy a copy of The Fantasticks. And the big event that comes
into it is rape, where rape is not meant to be sexual assault of a young woman, it’s meant to be
abduction. And there’s a song about rape, and my teaching colleagues got all angry and upset over
that, would not listen to any reason. Half the students were young women who got irate over having to
read about rape and all of that stuff. So, it was difficult.
But, yeah, I brought that in there. And here and there in a few other places, I’ve brought
theater into teaching.
Beck: Right. That connects up with just general issues of politics, and social justice, and so forth, as it
developed at Evergreen.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: I remember hearing something about that incident. And I think this was well before the current
language would come in, but these days, people would talk about that song as being “triggering.” Right?
That they would be triggered. But what was your—was that part of what was going on with respect to
the controversy over that incident, over having to read about the song “Rape Ballet”? That there was a
fair bit of politics involved?
Guttman: Well, yeah, there was political stuff. I mean, they—I don’t know about Margaret, but Laverne
was a strong feminist—I mean, they were both strong feminists, I suppose. Laverne was strong, and not
very logical, and not very willing to listen to reason.
Will Humphreys, I tried to talk to Will at one point, when I was at kind of a low point and
wondering what to do. And Will Humphreys wrote me a note that I have somewhere. It was basically
saying, “Look at what Laverne and Margaret are like; that they have essentially no intellectual
background. They have very weak academic backgrounds, and you couldn’t really expect them to
respond more intelligently, more rationally to what you were trying to get across, to what you were
trying to teach.” It was just unfortunate that that had to happen.
I should have known. I should have thought about the word “rape” being used there. And I
should have thought—tried to find some other play for people to read. So, it was an unfortunate
episode. It didn’t really affect us strongly, but for a while, it was very disruptive.


Beck: Right. Just thinking about the politics at Evergreen, were there other incidents that you can recall
where there were political controversies or political issues that seemed to emerge as central, in
relationship to any of your work?
Guttman: I don’t think so. No, I was teaching things that were pretty—well, I don’t want to say all was
neutral politically. I mean, for example, the program that I mentioned before, The Good Life, was really
premised on the idea that we humans should be having a good life, enjoying nature and enjoying all the
beauties of the world. But we’re making a terrible mistake by ruining the world that we’re trying to live
in, and we’ve got to stop doing all of that so that we can really enjoy a good life for everybody. That’s
the only really political thing that I can think of offhand.
Beck: Right. Well, that’s one of the oldest questions in philosophy: whether the good life is the ethical
Guttman: Oh.
Beck: The optimistic view, of course, is that it is.
Guttman: Well, yeah. To me, if we had an economic structure for Earth essentially for everybody, if we
had an economic structure that was equitable, where essentially everybody could share in all of the
good things of the world, and we’re not so terribly tilted in favor of a very few, then we would be living
in an ecologically sound way. We would be limiting our population, and we would have food for all, and
everybody, in my view, would basically be having the good life. And people would be living an ethical
life. There wouldn’t be such terrible ethical problems. But, no, we don’t have that. We have an
economic system that is screwing everything up.
Beck: I’m wondering whether there are any final thoughts that you’d like to share with respect to your
teaching at Evergreen, your career at Evergreen.
Guttman: Oh, god.
Beck: Any lasting memories?
Guttman: It’s been a wonderful life, on the whole. I can’t think of any place I could have been teaching
that would have been better. As I say, if I had devoted myself almost strictly to becoming a fine
molecular biologist, and pursuing my research, then, yeah, I probably could have gone to someplace like
Caltech, Harvard, god knows where. And could have had that kind of a life. But it would be very
restricted, and somehow, I was just born [laughing] being the kind of guy who’s not restricted. I’m born
being interested in all kinds of stuff. And Evergreen has been exactly the right place for me. So, except
for a few incidents of the kind we mentioned, it was 30 years of just a very good life.
Beck: Good. Are there other topics that you were hoping to talk about?

Guttman: No, no.
Beck: Is there anything else that stands out?
Guttman: Oh, no. We’ve covered everything. We’ve been talking for a long time.
Beck: Okay. Well, maybe we should stop.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: But I do want to thank you so much for agreeing to do this again.
Guttman: I’m happy to do this. It’s been interesting to look back. I may actually spend some time
down in archives, aside from this; spend some time organizing a bunch of the stuff that I’ve given Randy
over the years. And, as I do that, I may learn some more [laughing] about what my life was like at
Evergreen, get some more insight into interesting things.
Beck: If you have the time, and if I have the time, maybe we might meet again and talk if there’s
anything else that comes up that you’d like to pursue.
Guttman: Yeah, sure.
Beck: The one thing that stands out to me is that I think you’ve done a lot of very interesting work that
[are] probably things that we could talk more about, if you have more time. For instance, you
mentioned that you’re the editor of the local Audubon bulletin.
Guttman: Yeah.
Beck: Which, I think, stands out as an ongoing, significant, local contribution.
Guttman: It is, yeah.
Beck: But not something that gets you notoriety in academic circles, perhaps.
Guttman: Yeah, of course.
Beck: But I think it’s still an important contribution to our community.
Guttman: Yeah, I’ve had an interesting life. I’m glad it’s not quite over yet. Yeah, indeed.
Beck: Let’s end now, but thanks again, and we’ll talk again soon, I hope.
Guttman: Okay, good.