Barbara Smith Oral History Interview


Barbara Smith Oral History Interview
12 October 2017
Barbara Smith
Nancy Taylor
extracted text
Barbara Leigh Smith
Interviewed by Nancy Taylor
The Evergreen State College oral history project
October 12, 2017
Begin Part 1 of 2 of Barbara Leigh Smith on 10-12-17
Taylor: This is our first interview, on October 12, [2017]. This is Nancy Taylor, and I’m interviewing
Barbara Leigh Smith, who came to the college, I think, in 1978 in the spring?
Smith: That’s right.
Taylor: And has a lot of stories to tell. She was there—well, you’re still there, basically. To start with,
we need a little background. Can you talk a bit about your growing up—your parents, your community,
sort of formative years, stepping stones and turning points?
Smith: Okay. I was born at the Naval Base in Vallejo, California, during World War II. My dad was in the
Navy, and their home, though, was in Wisconsin, and I grew up almost my entire life in Wisconsin,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his family had lived for two or three generations.
My family was, I’d say, upper middle class—my husband would say higher—but, four
generations back were college graduates—engineers, lawyers, inventors. So, for me, school was a
straight track into college. Never even discussed an option of anything but going to college, and that
was just how it was.
The turning point, for me, in college, was graduate school. I was a good student throughout
school, and I liked school. But I didn’t really get on fire about it until graduate school.
Taylor: Do you want to skip all the way to that? You don’t want to tell any more stories about early
years? [laughter]
Smith: Early years. I grew up in a white, middle-class community. Good schools. Everybody went to
Taylor: Can you remember a teacher that sort of made a different?
Smith: I had a number of good teachers, and a couple bad teachers, and I can remember both of those,
actually. The teachers that really stood out, actually, were more in high school. I can’t remember much
about K—8. But I had fabulous social studies teachers and English teachers, in particular, in high school.


They were really motivating. I had two teachers who came to school drunk that really turned me off on
them. [laughter] I went to three different high schools.
Taylor: Can you remember when you decided that education was the direction you were going to go?
Smith: It was almost an accident. After high school, I looked only at small liberal arts colleges in the
Midwest. It never occurred to look outside the Midwest or at bigger colleges.
Taylor: This was in the late ‘60s?
Smith: This was in the ‘60s, early ‘60s—’62. I applied to Lawrence University, Beloit College, Lake
Forrest College and Ripon College-- all small, very similar liberal arts colleges. I chose Lawrence because
the train went there. Lawrence had a prescribed curriculum for freshmen called Freshmen Studies, and
we had to take two semesters of it. It had rotating teachers, so for half of one semester, you had one
teacher, and then the second half of the semester, you had a different teacher. The curriculum was
Great Books that included like the Bible; Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle; Who Governs?, (Robert
Dahl, 1961)—a classic in political science; poetry. It was all over the place. One of the teachers was a
P.E. teacher, which seemed a little strange. I don’t remember who the next one was, but they were very
variable, because they were from all different disciplines. But it was good, and it opened my mind to
fields I never would have considered.
I still remember the first paper we wrote. I had an English teacher that taught that part of that
course, and he gave everyone a D.
Taylor: Just as a matter of principle?
Smith: Yes. So, I went into his office and started to cry, and said I was going to drop out of school
because I didn’t want to waste my parents’ money. He calmed me down and said, “This was just sort of
to get everybody inspired to jump much higher than they ever thought they could.” And he was right; it
all turned out fine. But I still think that was a very ineffective approach to new students, in particular.
It’s very traumatic, that first year. Living in the dorm was traumatic. Everybody lived on campus.
I was at Lawrence for two years, and started out as a history major. But it was a very small
school, and really, there was only one American history teacher. So, when I got into the third semester
with him, it started to feel the same, so I switched to political science, and they had really good faculty
in that area.
But, when my parents didn’t like my boyfriend at that time, they suggested I go to school in
England. So, I took my junior year in England at Leicester University. It’s a three-year degree there, and
it’s specialized. It’s not like Gen Ed in the U.S. I took the first year sociology sequence, and the second-


and third-year political science courses. They were mostly seminar-style, except for the Intro to
Sociology, which was like a big lecture.
It was really different. There was no prescribed textbook. You were given an enormous, huge
reading list and not much direction; a lot of freedom to choose what to read and what to emphasize.
The real exam was at the end of the year, when we were all herded into a huge auditorium and given a
test that lasted all day; an essay test, with people from all the different fields in chairs next to you.
Taylor: The exam wasn’t set by your teachers.
Smith: I don’t know how it was set, but it was essays. There were proctors sitting on very tall stools.
The questions were pretty easy for me, because they were things like, what are the different views
about human nature? So, all of the stuff I’d done at Lawrence kind of flowed into that, and the
freshman studies paid off. [laughing] I got high honors in one of the subjects, so that was good, but a
whole different way of learning.
The out-of-class experience there was very important, too. I had a couple of roommates, and
they had very different life experiences. That was during the startup of the Vietnam War.
The other thing that really just struck me was how visible class differences were in England, and
how naïve I was about how the U.S. was seen abroad, because there was a lot of talk about civil rights,
and what was happening in the U.S., and Vietnam. It wasn’t even in my frame of mind at that point. It
was too early. When I came home, I had one year left. There was no direction in colleges at that point
about life after college, or jobs or any of those things, so I was pretty confused. I applied to law school,
because that seemed like a logical alternative, and I applied to Aetna Insurance, and I applied to the
Foreign Service and the CIA. I got several of those options, and was accepted at Northwestern Law
School, among others. But it was terrifying that there were like 200 men and 11 women being admitted.
I actually took the political science option and went to the University of Oregon, because that
was a place I really loved, from having visited my relatives, who lived in Tacoma. Went there thinking I’d
do international relations, and then I learned you have to become proficient in a foreign language. That
wasn’t my cup of tea! [laughter] And it just wasn’t kind of what I expected, because we were reading
the same books I’d read the previous year at Lawrence. I mean, literally the same books. Now, I can
understand why that happened, but it didn’t feel like a good investment.
I decided I’d take time off, and I moved to Washington, D.C. and went to work at American
University at a think tank that was based there, the Center for Research in Social Systems. They were
doing Department of Defense work, and they hired me as the lowly little data gatherer and statistician.
They had two big projects I was working on. One was studying urban riots, mostly reading newspapers

and coding data. The other was looking at the roots of insurgencies in Latin America, and effective
counterinsurgency strategies.
Taylor: Do you think part of the reason you got the job was that there were openings for women at that
Smith: No, I never thought about that. But it also became very clear quickly that you had to have a
master’s degree to go anywhere.
Taylor: So, that sent you back to school?
Smith: That sent me back to school. But I had about six, seven months in D.C., and that was interesting.
Taylor: Who was President?
Smith: It was ’66-’67, that period.
Taylor: That’s LBJ.
Smith: Yeah.
Taylor: Right at the height of Vietnam.
Smith: Right. I went back to Oregon, and that seemed fine, and I didn’t have to do international
relations [laughing] and study a foreign language. But there was a broader range of political science,
and I just sort of took advantage of what was there. I was hired as one of four research assistants for a
faculty member who had big grants to do voting studies. There was a little group of us in a nice, old
building. We had stipends, and friendship circles and a lot of stimulation from each other, and from the
projects that we were doing.
Political science then was really different. It wasn’t firmly rooted in just political science. That
department, in particular, was young, in terms of the faculty, and a lot of them were exploring linkages
between economics and political science, history and political science, philosophy, psychology. I think at
that point, I developed roots that were much more interdisciplinary than they were disciplinary, in that
sense. And that debate that was going on nationally about behaviorism versus other approaches was
not the big deal there, it was more about political economy, political behavior. Lots of kind of wideranging experimenting, which was fascinating.
I wasn’t sure where that was going to go. The few visions I’d had about being a teacher were
like “Me? A teacher? That seems way too scary and public.” But I just sort of slipped into it. [laughing]
Because everybody there was going to be a teacher, as it turned out. [laughing] The longer you were
there, the more likely that was, and the more comfortable it became.
Taylor: You look back on it now, and you can see where your ideas about interdisciplinary studies, for
one thing, started; the interconnection of knowledge?

Smith: Yeah, that really started at Oregon. When it got towards the end of my degree, I applied to lots
of different schools, and got interviews at lots of different schools. My interest was more geographic,
I’d have to say. I got an interview at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, and at the University of
Houston, and at Cal State Long Beach.
Taylor: This was to be faculty in the political science department?
Smith: Yes. And none of those were interesting to me, and it had nothing to do with the departments.
Taylor: It had to do with the location.
Smith: Yeah. I’ve always been drawn back to this part of the country.
Taylor: What did you do?
Smith: I turned all those down, and I went back to Lawrence. They hired me back as one of their
graduates who had become a faculty. They had a visiting position, so I went back and taught there for
two years. That’s where I met David. He was there in a visiting position, too. There were only like three
unmarried people in the whole faculty, so it was kind of inevitable. [laughter]
Taylor: Fate!
Smith: It did turn out, yeah. But Lawrence was interesting, to be on the other side. Students are
different than teachers. [laughing] But it was very accommodating with kind of emerging interests, and
the students were very easy to work with, compared to the students you see today. They could write
well, they were good students, they were obedient, they did their work.
Taylor: They were students like you.
Smith: They were students like me. Exactly. Lawrence was also the roots of my interest in social
justice. When I’d been a student there was when the Woolworth’s challenges were happening all over
the South and people were doing sit-ins. We did one in Appleton during that time at Lawrence. And
Appleton, Wisconsin, where it was located, was the home of Joseph McCarthy!
Smith: Yeah. I went back to Lawrence for my first teaching job but David and I both wanted to be out
here. He’d been teaching at Reed before, and he wanted to come back to the West Coast. We decided,
well, we’re teachers, so we should just spend our summers on the West Coast. So we came out here,
and we rented a place on Vashon Island in 1971. We drove all around the Olympic Peninsula and Mount
Rainier, looking for property, thinking we could buy a piece of land and build a little cabin and come in
the summers. So, that’s how we purchased this property. We bought this land, and then, for the next
many years, we hauled our horses and our dogs and our cats and our baby out here from other places
where we were working.


After Lawrence, I got hired at the University of Nebraska. David eventually got a job—it was
pretty soon after—at the University of Nebraska Omaha. That was a commutable distance, so we lived
in Lincoln. He worked up there in the Goodrich Scholarship program, which was for inner-city black
youth mostly. It was a gen ed program, actually.
Taylor: That’s where you met Gail [Trembley], I’ll bet.
Smith: Yes, Gail was in that, too. Those were good days. That was a really strong department. There
was really nothing else to do there, so the social connections, the personal relations, were really strong.
It’s also generational; we were all kind of the same age at that point, and our dating cards weren’t all
full, like they are when you move into a very established place. So, we developed lots of close
Taylor: What courses were you teaching?
Smith: I taught pretty conventional courses. I taught Political Behavior; Scope and Methods—which
was the philosophy class; Political Parties. Everybody taught Intro to American Government to mob
classes of 75 to 100 people. They had a graduate program, too, so there was some of that. I taught
Political Research Methods.
Those were good years. Then, I became the departmental advisor, which was kind of interesting
to get to know students more intimately there. At most universities, you were teaching a mix of forcefeeding courses to students who had to take it because it was required, but they weren’t majors or
anything, and then you got some students who were majors who had a different level of sophistication
and interest.
We got to know some people in some of the other disciplines, but the departments were pretty
siloed. Political science was one whole floor of a giant building, and sociology was three floors down.
There really weren’t ways to get to know other people, except by hanging out at a local bar, or, you
Taylor: This job that you had as department advisor, was that a link towards doing administration?
Smith: I think so. I don’t even remember how this happened, but they established a residential college
there in the early ‘70s, called the Centennial Education Program, which was based in one of the dorms.
That was kind of a movement in that period. I applied to be the Director, and I got appointed the
Director. We had classes in the dorms, and it was an alternative gen ed program, basically.
Taylor: So that’s what was going on—Hampshire, Santa Cruz—that’s part of the same movement.
Smith: Yes, so that’s when I really got into alternative education. I started reading about it, and getting
to know other places like Centennial, and seeing different ways to do things. We could do almost

anything. We had this old lady there who, God, she must have been 85. She taught in the program, and
her passion was serving people, especially incarcerated students. I wrote some grants, and we hired a
mural artist from Mexico, who worked then in Chicago.
He came and we did three mural projects. We did one in nursing homes, and that was done
with shadow murals, where they’d have people in wheelchairs against a wall with the lights adjusted,
and then they’d go around their bodies to outline the body, and then they’d paint things. We did one at
the maximum-security prison that the prisoners did of their lives, which went on tour all over the state
when it was done. We did a Hispanic mural, too, in that community. They got in big arguments because
whole families came and did it, and the youth wanted to make Cesar Chavez bigger than the Virgin
Mary, so that became an intergenerational issue. It was very fun to do that. It was easy to get money,
and I could bring in all these cool people, so that just got me more and more interested in that.
In the meantime, David and I had been looking for ways to come west. We decided, during my
second year at Centennial, to really look. We started watching, looking for jobs, and this one year—
1977, I guess—there were a bunch that opened up here that I knew nothing about, but I applied
anyway. One was at the Council for Post-Secondary Education, one was a deanship at Seattle U., and
the other was the Evergreen job. So, I applied for all of them.
Taylor: What a different life you would have led.
Smith: Yeah. So, that’s how I got here. And the funny thing was that started me deeper on a path of
the theory behind Evergreen and the larger alternative college movement.
Taylor: So, before these openings were announced, had you read about Evergreen? Did you know
anything about it?
Smith: Nothing. When I came here, I started to learn a lot about it though. I got really interested in
where this came from? The formative event for me was this meeting in Spokane. I don’t remember
what the meeting was, but I was in Spokane—it was my first year here—and all these old doogies were
there. One guy came up and he said he was on the founding committee in the Legislature that started
Taylor: I know who that was. Senator Sandison?
Smith: Yes. He said, “We really hoped that college would be a beacon of innovation for the whole state
and it hasn’t been.” “It’s like you have a castle, and you pulled up the drawbridge, and you just kind of
receded into yourself.” And I never forgot that.
Taylor: That was a good message, actually.


Smith: And I said to him, “Well, you know, we’re struggling to survive. We’re under attack all the time
now. But I’ll remember that. And I did. [laughing] That stuck with me forever, and that was the
seedbed for several books and the conferences I developed and the Washington Center, and the whole
export-what-works motivation.
But it also became really clear that progressive colleges are very insular, and resistant to change.
Both those impulses drive me, because I think Evergreen tends to be insular.
Taylor: It does.
Smith: And it’s bad.
Taylor: I think, at the beginning, the only outreach that was even acknowledged [chuckles] was in the
first class, probably the biggest cohort of all the students were faculty brats. They were children of
faculty, and the faculty learned about the college for their kids.
Smith: Right.
Taylor: That was the reason, because the kids were rebels, and they wanted to go somewhere. We
would get calls from parents that were faculty somewhere. There was a reach out in the state to get
students, but beyond that . . . and as educational leaders, I think, people at the college felt they were,
but they weren’t doing anything about it. You were really the first.
Smith: When I was hired, I was so naïve—I would have come for no money—when they called and
offered me the job, I didn’t ask about that. But the college was supposed to have 2,400 students, and it
had less than 1,900. So, there were massive budget cuts, and I was supposed to deal with getting rid of
all the staff.
Taylor: Did you have budgetary experience?
Smith: I’d managed $2,000 at the Centennial Program. [laughing] Fortunately, you had a very savvy VP
for Finance here, Dean Clabaugh, and he knew exactly what was coming. So, he immediately put in an
assistant in my office, [Dan Weiss], who was a budget master.
Taylor: So he knew that you didn’t know.
Smith: Absolutely. But he knew the whole college was incompetent in lots of ways, and he was always
saving it.
Taylor: But he didn’t have anything to do with hiring you?
Smith: No.
Taylor: When you were hired, was there an interest in innovative education, and what you thought of
it, and what your philosophy was?
Smith: A little.

Taylor: I’m really interested in the story, because you crossed a barrier that was really significant.
Because, up until the time you were hired, deans were to come from inside the college.
Smith: Right.
Taylor: And it was a big scandal when you were hired. People were divided, and said, “How dare they
go outside? Does that mean there aren’t people inside?” There were people inside that applied that
didn’t get the job.
Smith: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Taylor: So, I assumed that you had a lot of budget experience. But you didn’t.
Smith: No, none.
Taylor: It might have been the case that there was a desire, among some people, that wanted some
new blood.
Smith: Yeah. Well, I thought it was the Trustees. I’ve only heard one side of the story. I was told that
there was big administrative disaster . . .
Taylor: There was.
Smith: . . . and the Board reorganized the deans, setting up the senior dean/baby dean structure,
because the deans needed supervision within their own organization.
Taylor: I think it was beyond that. It wasn’t just the deans, it was higher. Because, at that point, they
fired two—well, it was too administrative-heavy in terms of salary, and the Legislature, I think, in about
1974, cut the budget significantly, and we didn’t have the students.
Smith: That was when we had four VPs and stuff.
Taylor: It was just administratively too much, and so there was a complete reorganization.
Smith: Right.
Taylor: I think, at that point, it worked down to the deans, but it started with the top.
Smith: The original plans had the college scaled at 15,000.
Taylor: Yeah, 1,000 a year.
Smith: So that just was unrealistic.
Taylor: It was unrealistic to think that we could do it, but it was also unrealistic because it was at the
same time that they had the sign in Seattle, “Would the last person that leaves the city please turn out
the light?” So, we weren’t going to have the students, under any circumstance.
Smith: Right. And it was completely naïve about what the kind of college it was, could ever be. This is a
huge college now, for the kind of college it is.


Taylor: Yeah. I can remember wondering how you would hire 50 faculty a year that would be suitable,
and willing, and enthusiastic about doing this work.
Smith: . . . that could be done, but not the way we do it. [laughing]
Taylor: And you’d have to support huge faculty development, which we should have anyway.
Smith: Right. But the other thing that I was told is that the deans were fighting, and two of them had
moved out of the building.
Taylor: That’s right.
Smith: And there was a disconnect over critical things, like hiring. They’d let a whole bunch of contracts
out to people that exceeded the budget, and they had to try to rescind them—some of which they did,
and some of which they didn’t.
Taylor: You came into that hornet’s nest.
Smith: Yeah, but I didn’t really realize that. The advantage of being an outsider, from the beginning to
the end, really, is that you’re more distant from stuff, and you’re not tied up in alliances with individuals
that are historical.
Taylor: So, you think that was already set, that you’re always going to be considered an outsider?
Smith: In a way; in a way not. I mean, in a way, I think our views get set pretty early when we join an
organization, and that becomes the glasses through which you see things.
Taylor: Describe that community that you saw when you came in 1978.
Smith: What I saw then looks really different now. I think we evaluate things based on comparisons,
and when I joined the deans’ team, first of all, I moved into Sandra Simon’s office because she was on
leave. You could see what that means without me even saying anything. [laughter] Like, there’s her
basket of eggs, whatever. Willie Parson was the person that I was replacing. We talked briefly, but I
wouldn’t call it orientation or transition planning. Will Humphreys was the other senior dean, and the
two junior deans were Rob Knapp and Bill Winden.
Taylor: Lynn De Danaan (then Lynn Patterson) was not dean anymore.
Smith: She was gone. I still remember those first deans’ meetings, and sitting in a particular table in a
particular room. It was like being in a hornet’s nest, because there’s all this stuff coming at you, and you
don’t understand the context or anything. It’s pretty overwhelming.
I remember a couple things. One is about dysfunction, because the first thing that hit me was all
this news about all the places that I had to monitor. I was told that Gordon Beck had gone to Italy with
students and lost the cameras. Then I was told Pete Taylor was out in Puget Sound with the Boston
whaler, and they forgot to tighten down the screws, and the motor dropped to the bottom of Puget

Sound. [laughter] I could tell you 12 other stories like that happened in the first seven months, and I’m
going, “Really? What am I supposed to do about it?” There was just an onslaught.
Probably the peak was when Steve Herman came in with a wheelbarrow to my office, and
dumped dozens of frozen birds on my desk, and screamed about how somebody pulled the plug on the
freezer in the lab, and thawed the birds. [laughing]
Taylor: Was this just people doing their own thing, and were there just no policies?
Smith: There were some policies about how faculty had to repay things in such circumstances, but no
one ever enforced any of those.
Taylor: When you came, were you excited about possibilities? What good did you see, or what exciting
things did you see?
Smith: That was kind of the other side of it. That was just the stuff about my little job, and that isn’t
exciting. [laughing]
Taylor: That was cleaning up.
Smith: Right. And there was a lot to clean up, and Evergreen was in the newspaper all the time about
missing media equipment. But what was exciting was the people. Rob Knapp and Bill Winden and Will
were fabulous mentors. Rob, in particular. They had a very clear agenda on how to orient new people,
and we don’t do it anymore, and I think that’s a mistake, although at the time, I thought, Why am I
doing this?
Because the first thing they did was say, “You have to teach in a program all spring quarter.”
And I go, “Why? I was hired as a dean.”
Taylor: We did that for a long time, even with the President.
Smith: I know. We should have continued it.
Taylor: In fact, I told George Bridges that that’s what he should do.
Smith: That’s what I told him, too. Anyway, I was assigned to Voices of the Third World, with York
Wong and Rainer Hasenstab and Peter Elbow. It turned out York was going to be a dean with me
subsequently, some years later, so that was cool. Peter Elbow just blew me away, not because he was a
wonderful teacher, but because of his whole thing about writing. That opened a whole new door for
Taylor: That was a significant experience?
Smith: Very much so, yeah, just seeing it, and watching how they interacted. They were very caring.
Taylor: You weren’t just an observer showing up once in a while.


Smith: No. I wasn’t there every second, but I was there a lot of the time. The other thing that
happened was Rob Knapp just took me under his wing, and he hauled me around to all his evaluation
conferences. They were all staged, I just couldn’t believe it. Like he’d go to someone’s office, and he’d
bring some banana bread or coffee, and then they’d have this wonderful, generative conversation. Very
authentic. Dean—faculty. I learned how to do evaluations, and that they weren’t punitive, and they
weren’t picky, but they were generative explorations. That really blew me away. You really started to
see, wow, something cool is here, and these people were really clear.
Taylor: And your cleanup job was in order to allow that to happen.
Smith: Yeah. [laughing] The other hard part of—now, it looks like it has two sides to it that first year,
because the other upside was Dan Evans was there then, and Byron [Youtz] was the Provost. Those guys
were complete pros, and very supportive.
Taylor: And very simpatico, the two of them. That was sort of a miracle, because they both knew what
they were good at, and they were really good at it.
Smith: Yeah. I still don’t know if this is true, but I think Dan planted the Evergreen study at the Council
on Post-Secondary Education. They wrote a report on Evergreen: “How can this school be successful?”
And it had 25 recommendations that were not negotiable. That became our master plan for the next six
years. We got past endlessly deferring decisions.
Taylor: When Dan was appointed—which was a little bit of a scandal in itself, because you came back
from Christmas vacation and there he was. It was quite funny, in a way, because people, in typical
Evergreen or State of Washington/Seattle politics, process is all around here. And people were furious
at the process. But they would say, “Do you approve of who got the job?” “Yeah, he’s fine. He’s good.
We’re glad.” But they hated the idea of how it happened. But they got over that pretty fast, I think.
Smith: Yeah.
Taylor: The other thing, Dan Evans had tremendous stature in the State, so just at the time that we
needed that, because we were in trouble—
Smith: He created huge cognitive dissonance within people’s minds about, well, I hate Evergreen, but
he’s there? Something else must be going on here.
Taylor: He was tremendously loyal, and helpful that way. He could mouth the words, and Byron had
Dan Evans’s complete support. I can remember turning a corner there. But without those two . . .
Smith: . . . the place would have gone under.
Taylor: I think it would have gone under, and people were pretty aware of that. That was when Pete
Sinclair and Richard Jones were teaching a program on poetry, and it became a joke in the Legislature.

Smith: Really?
Taylor: But there was a wonderful guy from Western who stood up for us in the Legislature. But, you
were a budget dean. What did you do?
Smith: The harder part of the cleanup side was we had to cut the budget hundreds of thousands of
dollars. We were within one faculty line of a reduction in force, but we had so many people on leave
without pay, and so many people who’d taken leave without pay interminably, and still hadn’t come
back, that we didn’t have to invoke that. Carrie Cable had been gone.
And there was Matt Halfant. Anyway, there were a bunch of people, and finally, after we recovered, we
said, “You’ve got to fish or cut bait.” Because they’d been gone for about five years, and they wanted us
to hold the positions.
Taylor: We don’t have that kind of allowance now at all.
Smith: No, we don’t. But I had to fire a whole bunch of people, and that didn’t help.
Taylor: What was that experience like. I don’t remember disaster in that score. I do remember people
being offered a job, and then ending up not getting it, and our being legally in trouble.
Smith: There was a whole bunch of staff people eliminated, like Jerry Cook. And he had all these
friendships in the science faculty, so that was very hard. The staff was overbuilt at that point, still.
Taylor: What about faculty lines?
Smith: There were no faculty lines eliminated. But, in the next five years, there was a bunch of people
that left.
Taylor: And no new hires for a while.
Smith: Right.
Taylor: You were the budget dean for . . .
Smith: . . . two years. Then Will stepped down, so I asked Byron if I could be the Curriculum Dean, and
it was much more fun. [laughing]
Taylor: Where were your offices?
Smith: They were where the grants office is now, those four big classrooms that are right on the second
floor across from the galleries.
Taylor: Then you eventually just moved down to the end of the hall?
Smith: Yeah. I went back to writing grants, because I thought that’s what deans did, although nobody
ever said it was my job, but there had been big grants. When I looked at the history of Evergreen, there
were a bunch of cool grants. There was the “Each One Teach One” thing, with Lilly and the Danforth

Taylor: I always thought the Danforth one was wonderful. Did Peter Elbow write that one?
Smith: I don’t know. It was before I came, but then I stole those ideas and tried to enact them.
Taylor: I think Rob Knapp might have written the “Each One Teach One.”
Smith: And then, there was a huge NSF RULE grant that started the SPLU (Self Paced Learning) Lab.
I wrote one to NEH. It was when they were funding “Writing Across the Curriculum,” and that
went for three years, and also involved working with UPS and PLU and UW and their writing people.
Writing has always been a center of my approach to faculty development, so that was neat. There’s five
monographs we produced on that that are in the Archives that are wonderful.
Taylor: Leo’s Daugherty was one of them?
Smith: Yeah, where he interviewed everybody, which is priceless.
Taylor: That was super. He was also a terrific writing teacher.
Smith: He was. There were a couple people in those early days who just reached out to me. Leo was
one of them, and Phil Harding was one of them, and Bill Aldridge. What a spectrum! [laughing] But
they all just said, “Let’s go have some lunch,” or, “Let’s drive to the beach.” That was great.
Taylor: That’s a good story, because the opposite story is that the old-timers were so cliquish, they
didn’t invite anybody new into the group. I never felt that was true.
Smith: That’s because you were in the group. [laughing]
Taylor: I was in the group, yeah.
Smith: I never thought there was the “the” group, though, either. There was more than one group. I
had horses, so I had a natural group, and my horse lived with Sandra Simon, so I knew that group in a
whole different way.
Taylor: And you got involved with York, and horses there.
Smith: Yeah, and Jeanne Hahn, through being a dean. It became more and more obvious, the older I’ve
gotten, that it’s all about relationships. It’s not even about substance of what you do, but one little
touch with somebody and their interests—whew!—a world of difference.
Taylor: But one of the early criticisms—I don’t know if you’ve read the M ‘n M Manifesto recently?
Smith: Yes.
Taylor: It got cultish, it got cliquish. Not old-timers necessarily, but groups.
Smith: It very clearly was that. There was this humanities group, and there was Beryl Crowe’s group.
Scientists always felt like they were being assaulted by the humanities and vice versa.
Taylor: I don’t know if that’s still the way or not.


Smith: I don’t know anything about the current situation. There was a bunch of people that weren’t in
any of the groups, and did great work, like Stephanie Coontz. She showed elastic the boundaries are at
Evergreen, where you can do really good work, and do something completely different, like become a
famous scholar [chuckles] and still do your job well.
But I learned a lot of that just through the evaluation process. Half our time was spent doing
classroom visits and evaluations.
Taylor: As deans.
Smith: Yeah. We had 37 people in each dean’s group when I came. Every single one got a class visit—
at least one—and a full evaluation conference that took half the day.
Taylor: And a written evaluation.
Smith: Yeah.
Taylor: What did you think of the whole evaluation system? You evaluated the person above you, and
you evaluated the person below you, and you evaluated across. I have like 30 feet of evaluations.
Smith: I bet you do. I burned a bunch of mine. But I thought it was fantastic. It was mostly validation
and community building is what I thought of it. It was key to being the Curriculum Dean, because that’s
how I did matchmaking of teams. That’s completely gone, and that’s a big problem, I think.
Taylor: That was one of my questions. I was going to ask you, how did you do the teambuilding?
There’s a whole area that I picture you in, and it has to do with community building, it has to do with
retreats, and with curriculum meetings, and with getting people together, and with really supporting
learning communities. There’s that whole part of your life.
Smith: That’s my life.
Taylor: Talk for a bit about how you made teams, and how you made that happen.
Smith: Some of it is scale. You have to be in the right position to be a matchmaker, first of all, and you
have to know people enough to actually make things happen. Then, creating events. I learned that
during those first years, because retreats happened everywhere.
Taylor: Because people were doing it.
Smith: I just saw it. And deans’ groups were functional. People always wanted more out of them than
they got, but they did somewhat work. There were groups that were loosely tied to the curriculum.
There were also groups that wanted nothing to do with continuity, but there were quite a number of
groups that had something in mind, and keeping that going.
Then there were key people that I knew, like Sally Cloninger, who were leaders of some of the
subgroups, and just fascinating people that people wanted to be around, because they were fun. So, we

started like the Wild Water Women who rafted the Rogue and other rivers. We later called ourselves
the Womens Terrorist Society and the Chief of Police went to Dan Evans when he heard about this. Dan
laughed. We had lots of retreats. I remember one at Harrison Hot Springs in Canada. We called Dan on
the phone with all kinds of silly ideas. Then when we were coming home the customs guy at the border
came up, all serious, and said our president had left a message with our pink slips.
Taylor: But you were much more in the center of curriculum making than deans, or anybody is now.
Smith: That’s right.
Taylor: It partly has to do with your personality, but it also had to do with the structure.
Smith: Yes and size
Taylor: Because once you set up planning units, and once you have curriculum being made on the
individual level, you don’t have anybody seeing the big picture.
Smith: Right. One of the big changes was when I was the Curriculum Dean, I was in charge of fulltime/part-time, faculty hiring, faculty development. They were all together. Now, they’re all split,
because each has become kind of its own little empire.
Taylor: How much of your time do you think you spent in your office, or with groups of people and a
Board there that said, “Well, how about putting these people together? Let’s get these people
Smith: No, I didn’t do it that way. It was more through the evaluation conferences.
Taylor: But you must have called up somebody and said, “I think you might like to do this,” or
Smith: Yeah, or I’d say, “We need so many positions here.” We had a pretty fixed idea where the
students were, and that was partly because we were bouncing back from what we didn’t want to be.
When I came, half the enrollment was in individual contracts, and we decided—we were actually under
a court order about that; they were auditing us for quality reasons—we completely backed away from
that, and decided that was a mixed message to the public about what the college’s core values were.
So, we made the individual contract pool purposefully tiny, and clamped down on the biggest program
individual contract pool, which was Native Studies.
Taylor: Was that your role, as Curriculum Dean, to do it, or did you do it with Byron?
Smith: Yeah, everybody was in the same place about that. Now, they’re kind of back to the same thing,
except it’s one-person programs. But you’ve got to monitor things or they just go any which way.
Taylor: Right.
Smith: People don’t see the big picture, even of their individual decisions.

Taylor: I can remember that change happening when faculty would just say, “Well, I’ll do this.” There
was nobody sort of saying, “Well, we need these big teams, or these things, and you might like to do
this.” It was individual faculty just saying, “Well, I’ll do this,” or three faculty saying, “I’ll do this.” There
was no leadership from above.
Smith: The other thing that happened at the same time was the mismatch between what the students
wanted, and the faculty profile. So, we started to control the distribution, more through the hiring
process, at the same time. So, I think there was a whole bunch of things that needed to be aligned.
That’s still a problem, but it’s not as serious a problem as it used to be, because now we’ve got a healthy
part-time studies program. Health and Human Behavior was one of the signature things that we could
never taff. Management in the Public Interest was the other one.
Taylor: When you first came, was that the beginning of part-time studies?
Smith: There was a little tiny piece of part-time that started earlier. The first job I was given, curriculumwise, was to build summer school. What I did was I went to the National Summer School Conference,
and figured out how others did it.
Taylor: Was that our first summer school?
Smith: No. When I came, the catalog wasn’t even printed until the students arrived on the fall. There
were a whole bunch of things that were wrong about how the systems were set up.
Taylor: That changed when Dan Evans came.
Smith: Yes.
Taylor: When the college started, we created the curriculum in the spring. There was a catalog that was
very general that went out in the fall. In the spring, we figured it out and that was announced when the
students arrived—or, when the students were going to register, I guess. That only lasted, I think, four or
five years.
Smith: That’s a long time for a college that’s trying to grow. [laughing]
Taylor: Yeah, yeah. But I think it was also a college trying to figure out what it was doing.
Smith: Yeah, and very little accountability, actually.
Taylor: So, there was this faith that if you get students that were willing to just take the risk, the
programs were broadly enough designed that the students wouldn’t be pigeonholed into doing
something they didn’t want to do, because there was enough. There was the breadth.
Smith: Right.
Taylor: Were you part of the—it might have been a Rob Knapp design—where the balloon . . .


Smith: . . . Trial Balloon. Yes, that was around then. It’s come back now. They’ve been doing it again.
But I don’t think that was ever very successful, because students often—I mean, SOS has become a
better form of students getting to design things—Student-Originated Studies. I actually read the Trial
Balloon recently. It was on the walls when Zimmerman was here. Not that helpful. Yeah, and one of
the big issues is, what do people want that aren’t here? The problem is that they have narrow
definitions of what they think it is. I think that we thought that it was infinitely negotiable, when, in fact,
it isn’t, especially when they go get a job. [laughing] This is kind of a backward twist, but the other thing
that was very surprising is—the first retreat I went to, I was in charge of organizing. It was at Fort
Flagler. I was told there was no money, so I had to really do it frugally. I ordered stuff like hot macaroni
and cheese, and then everybody bitched about the quality of the food. John Aiken’s dog walked
through the Jell-o on the table with his paws. [Laughter] I still remember, we were playing volleyball at
one point, and Clabaugh was on the edge, and as I completely did terrible playing, he said, “Well, I hope
you’re better at managing the budget than playing volleyball.” [laughing]
Taylor: That was very early?
Smith: Yes. And then, Richard Jones got up and did his lecture on Four. Marching back and forth.
“Four, four, four.” I saw him and thought, I’ve got to get to know him. He seems like he’s got a lot of
allies here, and he knows stuff. One of the first things I did was to reach out to him. We co-designed a
National Alternative Education Conference at Evergreen, where we brought all these other schools to
Evergreen, like Antioch, and places like that.
Taylor: This was about ’79?
Smith: Yeah, so then we wrote this book together. After that, John McCann and I wrote another book ,
which is the second volume of that.
Taylor: Reinventing Ourselves.
Smith: Yes, but this is the update of what’s happened to the alternative colleges. I just kept getting
deeper and deeper and deeper then into alternative colleges.
Taylor: In so many ways, your development was organic.
Smith: Yes.
Taylor: You didn’t come here with a mission, or a crusade. You came here with an open mind.
Smith: No, but I developed a crusade! [laughing] Well, here’s the real twist. Turns out—and I didn’t
know this until I came here—my family has roots in all this stuff. There’s kind of two sides to the family.
One is the capitalist side, which I was the product of. My dad was the president of a company that had


existed through three generations of the family. He had eight brothers and sisters, and all the men
became like the capitalist side. All the women became socialists.
Taylor: And educators.
Smith: And married black people in the ‘60s. One of them married the man who was in the [Alexander]
Meiklejohn original [experimental] college. He became the head of the Communist Party in Wisconsin.
So, once I started reading the history of the family—there’s a big, fat book; I gave all these books to the
Archives—there’s a big history of the University of Wisconsin, and there’s a whole chapter on the
Meiklejohn College. I just discovered, by accident, when I was reading this chapter in an airplane, the
name of my cousin’s husband. And he was there. [chuckles] I was going to a Meiklejohn Conference, it
turned out, so I opened the thing by saying, “Well, there’s this capitalist side of the family, and this other
side, and one of them was here.” So, I talked about him.
Taylor: Which conference was that?
Smith: They used to have an annual Meiklejohn Conference at the University of Wisconsin, so I was at
Taylor: But you didn’t know about Meiklejohn at all until after you came to Evergreen?
Smith: No. So, that was peculiar. Rediscovering your roots.
Taylor: Did you see, when you first arrived, tension in educational philosophy among the faculty? Was
that obvious to you that people were at cross-purposes?
Smith: There were some differences about rigor. The scientists, obviously, had sequential curriculum,
and they were committed to keeping it in place. They didn’t think you could just do it for a year, and
then go become something else. There was that difference. But I don’t know if that’s about difference
in educational philosophy, as much as how much people were willing to commit to themselves to stay in
one place. I sort of think that autonomy is actually the number one value here, not just the Five Foci.
But there were radical differences between Mary Hillaire, and Maxine Mimms and Bill Aldridge,
and some of those people. That was almost about the debate in K—12, about Summerhill and some of
those early experimentals. But most of those people got fired my first few years—Jim [Gulden] and
some of those people who were—
Taylor: Yeah, but Richard Jones was fundamentally on that side.
Smith: Really? I never thought of him that way.
Taylor: Yeah, and Merv Cadwallader was fundamentally on a different side.
Smith: Yeah, I could see that.
Taylor: Fred Tabbutt was in a different place.

Smith: Yes. But Fred was a radical innovator. He just couldn’t stop changing, but it was always in that
Taylor: It was always in science.
Smith: But I don’t think you have to wander outside of your field to have different approaches.
Taylor: No, no. This wasn’t about what was right. It was just that there was this tension.
Smith: Yeah. That’s what made it rich, though, for me, because it was like all new to me. So, there’s
this, and then there’s this, and then there’s this. Even though I didn’t agree with it all.
Taylor: Yeah. But part of the problem was that the structure that was set up works for teaching some
content, and not for teaching others. At the beginning, the structure and the content were together.
Then people said, “We will accept the structure for everything—
Smith: Yeah, you can’t over-generalize, though. But I think, because you have the arena of a whole
year, there’s a lot more latitude to try different things. And it might work, but it wouldn’t in a fourcredit class.
Taylor: Yeah. It works surprisingly well. But if you would talk to Fred Tabbutt about science, and Bob
Sluss, or Larry Eickstaedt, you’d get a very different view.
Smith: Right. That’s partly the difference between a chemist and a biologist, though. Field-based
scientists are pretty different, I think, than taxonomic ones, and lab ones.
Taylor: And physics, I guess, because Byron Youtz and Rob Knapp were also in that.
Smith: Right. But I’m impatient with the purity approach, and I’m impatient with our unwillingness to
give people support as they experiment. [chuckles]
Taylor: But one of the early, early problems that came right at the beginning was, “Could you do
advanced work?”
Smith: Right.
Taylor: How do you design a curriculum that does that? And different disciplines require different
Smith: Right. And does it matter, in some disciplines, at all?
Taylor: So, how did you solve that?
Smith: I don’t think it matters in my field, frankly
Taylor: But it certainly matters in chemistry.
Smith: Absolutely.
Taylor: And it matters in French.
Smith: I think that’s part of the answer is finding out where it works.

Taylor: How did you deal with that with the curriculum?
Smith: Well, I think I didn’t deal with it. But we tried to press people to think about it. But they
wouldn’t stay in one place long enough, usually, to do it, except in the areas, I think, that needed it
most. It interacted with the real problem that the students were all over the place, because it was open
admission, really.
Taylor: Yeah. So, you say the fundamental value of the college is autonomy, say a bit more; the pluses
and minuses of that, and how it plays out.
Smith: I just saw, in a lot of different domains, about rules that weren’t rules, whether it was having
students do self-evaluations or not. There was just a lot of things that we said we really valued that, in
fact, when you actually looked at the data, they weren’t universally supported or practiced. And there
was no consequence; there wasn’t even really any talk about it hardly. I think that covers quite a
different whole array of subjects, not just students’ self-evaluation.
Taylor: Can the college survive with that kind of climate?
Smith: Freedom? It yields a mixed reputation is what it leads to.
Taylor: As the Curriculum Dean, or as the Provost, did you have any leverage?
Smith: I thought the leverage came from having structures, like planning units, and having conveners
that actually worked together with the Curriculum Dean, and, I think, I generally tried to do that.
There’s just a lot of assumptions made that just aren’t discussed, because there’s never time and space
made for having those discussions to get on the same page. And I’m not arguing for uniformity, but I
think there are some fundamental things that people want to know [laughing] and should agree on. And
then, there’s a lot that can be shared, even if it’s not copied.
Look at the program history. That just completely fell in disuse, because no one wanted to
repeat anything else. So, the level of curiosity about each other, it seemed low from my point of view,
as a dean who saw it all. I would get so excited about what people told me that I would think, they
should all know this. We need to figure out a way for them to learn from each other more.
Taylor: That’s what I always felt was the biggest advantage of Evergreen . . .
When people say “faculty development,” well, to me, it was being on a different team every year.
Smith: I agree. I still remember LLyn De Danaan saying to me at one point that “You’ve got to keep
your structures alive, too, because otherwise, they can just walk through the distinctive features of the
school, and it’s like dead.” And I think that can happen—and it has happened, in some cases—to team
teaching, to evaluating, to doing narrative evaluations, to doing conferences; a meaningless ritual if you
don’t really believe in the roots, and understand them. Talking is part of it. Togetherness.

Taylor: When you think back on your time as Curriculum Dean particularly, what are you proudest of?
What do you think you accomplished?
Smith: I think my biggest accomplishment was probably Learning Communities as a national movement,
because there’s a thousand schools doing this now.
Taylor: Yeah. You started that not as Provost?
Smith: Right, as dean.
Taylor: Was that just your idea?
Smith: It came out of studying the literature about the importance of structure. And then, it just came
almost surreptitiously, because I went to do a conference on general education at Central, and I did a
panel on how our core curriculum was organized. The next day, this dean called me from Seattle Central
and he said, “That’s really interesting, what you said about coordinated studies. Can we come and visit
So, he brought a van of 15 people down, and they visited all different programs. At the end of
the day, they said, “We want to send you two faculty to teach full-time.” And they taught with Thad
Curtz. And that’s where it started. Then, I saw, wow, is this a powerful transferrable idea.
Taylor: That’s what sometimes gets lost, that these teams were functioning, and somebody from the
outside came and said, “Whoa.”
Smith: Yeah, it’s very obvious, actually. When it works, it’s contagious almost. And I think that people
get bored easily, too, maybe more so here because it attracts a more risky, creative kind of person. I
think they need feedback, and new ideas, and new ways to feel validated.
Taylor: Continue the story about when this group from Seattle Central come. Then what happens?
Smith: They came, and we decided it was so effective—first of all, they sent the cream of the crop down
here. Valerie Bystrom. Then some of our cream of the crop, like Marilyn Frasca, heard about it, and
they wanted in, so they went back there. It spread kind of like a positive virus, and then we decided we
could get funding for this. The Washington Center could be set up to be an import-export thing. We
could do faculty development for Evergreen, and it could do statewide development. We got money,
and Patrick was here, so he was all for it.
Taylor: So, you got support from Patrick?
Smith: Oh, yes.
Taylor: Where did the grant come from?


Smith: The first grants that started it were from Exxon and the Ford Foundation. Two years later, the
Legislature funded it. Two years after that, they funded four other public service centers. But that was
a rich period. We were lucky. There was money.
Taylor: There was money, and you had the ideas.
Smith: Yeah, it was sexy. It was really easy to show why this should be funded.
Taylor: What were these service centers? There was the Washington Center. That was the first one.
Smith: Yeah, and then there was the Labor Center, and then there was a K—12 Center that Magda
Costantino started. The first one, I think, was the Washington Public Policy Institute for the Legislature.
We’re still the house for it, but we never had anything to do with it, really. It’s an arm of the Legislature.
And then the Longhouse, and the Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute. Then a bunch of those
dissolved or went to another college.
Taylor: But the Washington Center, you and Jean ran it.
Smith: Yeah, it was a quarter of my time. They wrote me a contract that I’d do that a quarter time and
be a three-fourths time dean. I did them both, and that’s what kept me alive intellectually. But we were
really purposeful about bringing it back to Evergreen. We’d go through the list of faculty and make sure
everybody was involved, and take them to events.
Taylor: And you went to all the community colleges.
Smith: Mm-hm.
Taylor: I think most all the community colleges now have a coordinated studies program, a Learning
Smith: Yeah, but not like they did 10 years ago. Most innovations go through a period of all the risky
faculty---the choir--- signing up first. And then, if they’re not replaced, you can’t kind go deeper.
Taylor: Then it becomes sort of watered down, and not very exciting, and then it dies because it’s not
very exciting.
Smith: Yeah, cycles.
Taylor: Maybe that’s the fundamental problem. You can’t expect the same kind of adrenaline to run
about a new idea when it’s not new anymore.
Smith: Pioneers have a special energy, I think. And it’s partly because you’re comparing, I think.
There’s no comparison in that first adrenaline. It did feel, when I came in ’78—it was just a subtext, but
it felt like people were saying, “Well, you missed the really hot years.”
End Part 1 of 2 of Barbara Leigh Smith on 10-12-17


Barbara Leigh Smith
Interviewed by Nancy Taylor
The Evergreen State College oral history project
October 12, 2017
Part 2 of 2

Begin Part 2 of 2 of Barbara Leigh Smith on October 12, 2017
Taylor: Here we go. This is part two. It’s still October 12, in the afternoon. You were saying?
Smith: Yeah, so I think Jin [Darney] developed this idea of critical tensions at Evergreen, and how the
college thrives when they’re balanced well—this should all be written down—and they are all in the
1998 self-study. That was kind of a central piece of that self-study.
I think, from the beginning, the major challenge that I saw was balancing in the hiring process,
and in the planning process, and in staffing, the needs of students and the needs for faculty to have
innovation, flexibility, room to move. Sometimes it was quite out of whack, in terms of the enrollment
we needed, and where we needed people to teach, and where the students wanted programs, and
sometimes it was better balanced. But, as we grew and developed hiring priorities and more
sophisticated planning structures, that was always the issue. The hiring process was difficult, because
the faculty often just wanted cool faculty in their own images. That wasn’t where the students were,
necessarily. There was a constant push and pull against degree programs that came out when we
started graduate programs first. The only reason that we got the MPA program so easily was because it
was in the CPE report that we should start a graduate program—it wasn’t negotiable—and upscale the
part-time offerings to serve adult students.
Taylor: Tell more about the CPE report.
Smith: The CPE report was issued in about 1979. It was written by the Council for Postsecondary
Education staff.
Taylor: Bill Chance?
Smith: Yes It was very prescriptive.
Taylor: Did they know about Evergreen?
Smith: They did. They hired Bill and other people to do a study. It’s about 80 pages long. They looked
at enrollment trends, and yield rates, and the number of applications, and all of that stuff, and they saw

this big nosedive in students coming. They did studies of the perceptions about Evergreen in the
community, and there was quite a mismatch between what people said they valued, and what they
thought Evergreen did. In fact, some of the things they said they valued were precisely what Evergreen
was doing. That made Evergreen, among other things, start a marketing office.
Taylor: It’s ironic that it had to come from the outside, isn’t it?
Smith: Yes, it did, because we just see ourselves sort of in the mirror often. They also issued 25
directives that the college needed to do. It wasn’t about “consider this,” it was “do this.” It included
intercollegiate sports, it included more sophisticated student services division, part-time studies, a
graduate program in public administration. They even said start a teacher education program with a
private university, or a university in the area. That’s why we started with UPS. That was the agenda that
Byron led us on. He had such personal pull and credibility with the faculty that they all went along.
There were a few other things that were considered that weren’t in those recommendations—like start
a nursing school—that we did talk about briefly, but dismissed as too far outside our competence area.
Taylor: And too expensive.
Smith: Yeah. But that’s what guided us from this 600-underenrollment to a period of prosperity, as the
whole state pulled out of the recession. By 1984, we were back, and we had a brief couple years then
where we actually became a little selective in students that we got. That was a period of boom, when
we built the public service centers and a whole bunch of stuff.
But there was, I think—maybe not anymore, but certainly up till all the years I was there—a
tension within the faculty about how far you go to get students, in terms of the curriculum you put in
place? All the graduate programs, I think, were contested, and not appreciated by some of the faculty.
It was partly because they were ongoing commitments. They were regarded as vocational education, in
some ways.
Taylor: But in order to succeed, you had to have a core faculty that would teach in them.
Smith: Yes.
Taylor: And that would mean that the faculty wouldn’t be teaching in the general curriculum, or else
you’d have to have six of them to do three slots, and people didn’t want to give up those positions.
Smith: No, they did not want to give up those positions. And we had a backstop of gaps that needed to
be filled, so that was always a pressure, too.
Taylor: There was also the pressure that you would hire one that everybody would agree was fine to be
in teacher ed, or to be in MPA, or MES.
Smith: And they’d migrate away.
Taylor: And you had no authority, the deans didn’t. Nobody had the authority to tell people where they
had to teach.

Smith: Not if they could get students. I mean, we rigidly held to the 20-to-one ratio. And if programs
were overbuilt, in terms of the faculty, we reassigned them. I don’t think they do that anymore.
Taylor: I think they might, but the problem with that is if you really need human behavior taught, and
that person wants to teach Chaucer, or whatever they want to teach, you’re stuck.
Smith: That’s right. So, what we did was we hired visitors to fill all those critical gaps. That was, in lots
of ways, a mistake, because that was where the demand was. We were always a little bit out, in that
We tried to develop some rules to deal with that, and one of the ideas that I came up with was
this silly name called interstitial hires, where we were trying to get very, very broad people that would
never come up as a kind of normal definition of a faculty hire, and some of them were recurrent visitors.
We hired some people within that category.
At the same time, part-time studies was booming. There was a move, led by Fred Tabbutt,
partly, to give greater respect to ongoing part-time hires, and to that part of the curriculum. Eventually,
those became tenure track positions.
Taylor: Was that when you were Dean, or Provost?
Smith: Provost.
Taylor: Was that a hard argument to make with the faculty?
Smith: That was . . . I don’t know the answer to that. It’s a hard argument to avoid, and it’s so driven by
special interests and marital relations, it’s difficult. But I’m proud of it, in fact, that we have made a
substantial investment in some of these people. It’s a small number, actually, relative to the overall size
of the pool.
Taylor: But to give stability to the part-time program was essential.
Smith: Yeah. And they’re fabulous teachers.
Taylor: Did you start the Hiring Priorities group? Didn’t you run that?
Smith: Yes. It was never the unit leaders that were the main people, but they drove the messages to the
committee. And the committee, it felt, to me as a dean like I couldn’t tell them; I couldn’t partition parts
of the hires, as must be in these need categories. Although I wanted to.
Taylor: I thought you did. My perception from the other side, you didn’t come in and say, “We have to
do this.” But you had a heavy hand, and it was respected. I think the Hiring Priorities group was one of
the more successful things in hiring, because people had to see the reality. And it was a large group,
and there was a lot of self-interest in it, and they had to compromise, and they had to see what was
going on. And, once a decision was made, it was honored, if you didn’t fiddle around with it. Once you
decided that music was on the top of the list, and then management, and you did it, I think you had
Smith: Right.
Taylor: But I think faculty felt involved in it.

Smith: I think that’s true. I think, from the deans’ point of view, you wanted even more of your way
than you got.
Taylor: Oh, I’m sure that was true, but it was a pretty good compromise, because it meant the faculty
bought in.
Smith: Yeah. The most recent Provost was much more prescriptive about that.
Taylor: Did the faculty accept it?
Smith: I don’t know. But I think that’s one of the tensions that’s hard to navigate here, and it’s still
hard. I don’t know. But I don’t think you have a lot of choice that can be based on demand currently. I
think it’s more complex now because students are now overwhelmingly first generation. They’re less
well prepared. They’re scarcer. I don’t think the college has ever really dealt with the fact that, really,
we do best with older students. And most of our students are transfer students, but we like to think
they’re four-year students. And that’s been true for a long, long time.
Taylor: Did you have something to do with the Writing Center, and the Quantitative Reasoning Center?
Smith: Not the QR Center, but the Writing Center, yes. That should have happened years earlier.
We’ve got such a gap between the richness, when I entered the scene of writing faculty and writing
discussions, and what the faculty are like now. I think there’s just tons of evading dealing with it.
Taylor: Because the Writing Across the Curriculum—you got that started, but that was implicit in
Smith: That was there before I came, though. You had Mark Levinsky, you had Peter Elbow, you had
Leo [Daugherty], Pete Sinclair, Steve Herman.
Taylor: Part of the notion of a coordinated study was that every program was obligated to teach
writing. That was accepted, widely accepted.
Smith: Yeah. For me, the kind of culmination of my trying to get more structure was the 1996 DTF that
put planning units more firmly in place; that had paid coordinators, with released-time in spring; that
put a quarter of a million dollars in faculty development, a whole bunch of structural things, and money.
That was completely destroyed by Zimmerman.
Taylor: Did you get resistance to doing that?
Smith: No, because there was money then. That helped. Money drove a lot of stuff. [laughing]
Taylor: Yeah, I’m really puzzled now, because, at the beginning, there were basic programs and
advanced programs. That was it. Then, by year three or four, there were specialty areas. The specialty
areas changed, and got more refined and less interdisciplinary maybe. They got more set. But there
was a lot of programs that were cross-specialty areas. That was part of the goal.
Smith: Right.
Taylor: Then there came something called annual programs.
Smith: Right, and that was an escape place to go do whatever you wanted, in my opinion.

Taylor: That was, and it was a way of not being forced to be in a specialty area. Because, even then,
specialty areas had resistance.
Smith: Right.
Taylor: And then planning units, as you set them up, were more defined.
Smith: Right.
Taylor: And more a center for planning. I don’t know if interdisciplinary programs went down after
that. I don’t know.
Smith: I think that depends on your definition of interdisciplinary. Because now, the other weasel is
this multi-level programs. Everybody wants to be a multi-level program, so they can pick and choose the
bright freshmen—a few—and the more advanced students, and not be subject to writing across the
Taylor: To me, if you have a team program, by definition, it’s going to be interdisciplinary.
Smith: That’s what I think, yeah.
Taylor: So, it’s the team that’s more important than the—because if you get three people with three
disciplinary training, it’s going to . . .
Smith: Right. I’m not a snob about interdisciplinary. It’s not only science plus humanities. I think you
can have interdisciplinary in any department. The department I went through was multi-disciplinary.
Taylor: I did, too. I think the team part is more important.
Smith: Yeah.
Taylor: Of the foundation principles of the college, which ones do you hold dear?
Smith: I think the structure is a big deal, and abolishing this notion of the course, and substituting
program, just presents a platform of possibilities that is absolutely crucial. And it shrunk.
Taylor: And a program has to have more than one faculty?
Smith: But, yeah, I think it should. I think it gets too boring if it’s just one person. I think structure, I
think teaming—I’m not addicted to five or four or three. In fact, I think three is probably good. Five is
too many, one is too little. Even then, you have to look at how they’re executing it, because some of
them are just pasted-together modules that have no interaction. I think the pedagogy matters tons.
Pedagogy is a collaboration, and writing across the curriculum, collaborative learning seminars, group
work. Experiential stuff, I think, is crucial. All that is partly enabled by getting rid of the course model,
because 50-minute classes don’t work for a lot of that stuff. I mean, the whole design, structurally, is
Taylor: Evaluations?
Smith: Yeah. I’m not as wedded to that, but, yeah. That’s part of personal engagement, I think, is really
talking, in dimensionality, about learning and performance.


Taylor: What was the other one I was thinking of? Faculty seminar. Was that crucial to you?
Smith: I didn’t have much experience of that, so I think I’m making up this answer.
Taylor: Okay, because these questions are actually more probably for faculty than to you.
Smith: People told me that that’s sort of the barometer of the health of the team, but a lot of people
aren’t doing them that way.
Taylor: And to me, faculty seminar, evaluations and teams . . .
Smith: . . . go together.
Taylor: And all that equaled faculty development, and community. I mean, to me, they all go of a piece.
Smith: Yeah.
Taylor: And full-time. How do you feel about that?
Smith: I don’t think that’s necessary, actually. I think you can have really, really healthy eight-credit
programs, and I’ve seen a lot of them, actually.
Taylor: I’ve seen a lot of them, too. How about one quarter versus two quarter versus three quarter?
Do you think you have any concern about that?
Smith: I think that three quarters is not necessary, and it just defies behavior. But two quarters is way
better than one. I started in a semester system, and 10 weeks is short.
Taylor: Yeah, and especially if you’re doing an interdisciplinary, broadly-based program.
Smith: Yeah, and you want to research or service learning or any of that stuff, you need more space.
How do you get that to happen?
Taylor: How did you do it?
Smith: Talking to people. But I think you need to tell people what you want, and not be such wimps
about the message. And defend it, and show them good models. And faculty development. That’s what
that’s all about, I think. I just think there’s a lot of people who have strong opinions that never shared
them with people, so what do you expect them, to read your mind?
Taylor: I remember Matt Smith. He designed a kind of faculty development for new faculty. The first
thing that Matt taught me was we had this new faculty seminar, and we spent a lot of time. And
everybody told their story—there were like 12—so, by the end of it, people knew what other people . . .
Smith: . . . who they were.
Taylor: . . . who they were. Then, I think I might have been the first, but you paid for it, we went off to
Port Ludlow.
Smith: Oh, I remember that.


Taylor: And Les Purce even came, because it was his first year. And then, he came to them all. That
was just so significant, because those new people got a sense of what the place was, and how to design
programs. We brought a bunch of regulars.
Smith: We had buddy systems.
Taylor: We had buddies. And we did the workshop that the Washington Center developed—I think you
had something to do with it—that you always used when you did retreats for community colleges of
how to form programs, you know, form a program in an hour.
Smith: I wonder what Therese Saliba does now, because she did a new faculty orientation. I just
offered a couple suggestions, and she wasn’t doing anything like we did. No history.
Taylor: Well, what happened—this is not my story, it’s supposed to be yours—when you helped design
those retreats, that first one, it was faculty. By the time Rita Pougiales was doing it, it was an
orientation to the college. It wasn’t about new faculty anymore. It was at Alderwood, so people didn’t
stay overnight. Student Services came, Police Services came, everybody came and gave an hour. In
terms of what I wanted to accomplish, it didn’t do it.
Smith: No, that’s not the way to do it.
Taylor: People said they felt left out, and it had to be about the whole college, and it was divisive, and it
was faculty being elitist. But faculty lost, I thought, by not doing that.
Smith: I agree. That’s not the way to do it. You’ve got to start with where their heart is first. That
other stuff is just-in-time kind of stuff. That’s one of the big losses with departments. There’s a stability
factor of, like, departments.
Taylor: I have a whole other question that is about stories, and it is about the coincidence of timing—
maybe it wasn’t such a coincidence—when the college was basically run by women. You were in the
middle of it.
Smith: Yeah.
Taylor: How did it happen? Why was it so good? Are there lessons to be learned? Who were the
Smith: I don’t know why it happened. You hired Jane [Jervis], not me. Applicant pools are random, but
I think part of it was just a coincidence of good people, and Jane also came on the heels of a lot of
trouble —she was a healer, and a quiet leader. She fit the times, on the heels of Olander. She brought
sanity. She was very accessible, without being egocentric at all. She was like the opposite of him. I think
we just worked well together. She saw me as a doer who could get stuff done, so we worked well
together. We also had the coincidence of some events timing-wise that were very propitious and
helpful—money, good budget, good enrollment. We were doing the self-study for reaccreditation, so I
turned it into an event. We did all kinds of out-of-the-box stuff about accreditation. We did poster
shows. We wrote songs, nursery rhymes. We sang that when the team came, and they about dropped
their teeth. That made it fun, like the opposite of Rita’s approach to the retreat. [laughing]
Taylor: Yeah.

Smith: We had really good teams over each of the chapters. Rob Knapp did just a fabulous chapter on
faculty development. Jin did brilliant work—that’s where the critical tensions came from. That all adds
up, I think. There was a lot of trust.
Taylor: There was also Ruta.
Smith: Ruta [Fanning] was a really good personality—fun, very reliable.
Taylor: Was Rita Cooper there at the same time?
Smith: I think she was still there. I’d worked with Rita for years, way back to the mid-‘80s, when we did
all of that reinvesting in diversity hiring. We did training together about that, and Jin was the dean.
Taylor: Do you think it made any difference that it was all women?
Smith: I don’t know if the woman factor was it, but it made a difference that those women were there,
and they were all there at the same time.
Taylor: But can you think of any other time when people worked as well as a team?
Smith: No, but that’s because of disjuncture in some of the linkages. If you get this organization chart,
and it looks like a car that’s finally tuned, because we’re all together and we’re not—
Taylor: So, it was just the personalities?
Smith: I think that made a huge difference. When you look at who I was with over that whole period of
my life, there were a number of glitches.
Taylor: Look at the difference between the spirit in the college when Olander was there.
Smith: Yeah, or when Zimmerman was there. Or, Enrique Riveros-Schäfer. He had no energy.
Taylor: He had no energy, and his door was closed.
Smith: Yeah.
Taylor: But I can measure the health of the college based on whether there’s talk about the overpresent third floor, or whether the third floor merges into the second floor.
Smith: Right.
Taylor: And, during that time, there was no third floor talk.
Smith: That’s partly also because I came from the second floor.
Taylor: You came from the second floor, and you came down to the second floor all the time. And
people came up to you all the time.
Smith: Yeah. And outsiders never—especially the way they’re non-acculturated, but not even being
affiliated with programs, they have no experience of all the positives. That’s what I really got out of all
those class visits was a deep, deep appreciation of the people.
Taylor: That cut down barriers.

Smith: Absolutely.
Taylor: Because if you’re having evaluations to find out what you’re doing, and how to talk about your
future, rather than how to judge you and get rid of you, it makes a huge difference. And people don’t
believe that unless they experience it.
Smith: Yes, but that whole system’s gone, because we don’t do annual evaluations anymore.
Taylor: And the five-year review thing is pretty empty.
Smith: The union thing has been a big barrier. The deans are completely invisible now. And it’s not that
they’re not working hard. I’ve told [Larry Geri, I said, “We used to put out this thing that showed desk
assignments. Why don’t you do that?” He said, “Oh.” They don’t even do that.
Taylor: They don’t have assignments?
Smith: No, they do. But they don’t tell anybody. Taylor: Even the architecture of the deans’ area now,
you walk in and there’s this barrier, and there’s nobody there, so it’s always silent. You walk in there
and it doesn’t look like anything’s going on.
Smith: Yeah. What I’ve heard via Larry and some of the other people who are just getting back into it is
the deans are terrified of the union contract.
Taylor: Does that have to be?
Smith: I don’t think so.
Taylor: I don’t think so either, but that was a turning point; a new structure, a new piece of the
landscape that enlarges the decision-making process, and affects it.
Smith: It does, I just don’t think it has to separate people, but maybe it does.
Taylor: Yeah, and that wasn’t true when you were there.
Smith: Well, there’s twice as many students as there were when I started. And there’s way more
complexity. There’s all kinds of new offices, enterprises, programs, external relations. It’s really
different. I think they’ve just increased the number of deans. But that doesn’t mean they’re doing
evaluations there. They couldn’t. That whole part of Evergreen was not scalable to the number of
teachers they’ve now got, because the part-timers, you get two for one with the part-timers, if you’re
going to evaluate everything. Now they’re figuring how to not do them as often. And the dissolution of
most of the planning units has created a different kind of instability that’s difficult to manage.
Taylor: Now they’re talking about something called Pathways, which seems like a duplication of effort
to me.
Smith: That’s the whole language nationally, Guided Pathways. It’s because they’re finding that more
than half the students don’t finish their first year, and they’re saying it’s because they don’t have clear
directions about where to go. So now, all these schools, including all our community colleges, are
developing Guided Pathways, to make it really clear where you need to be.
Taylor: I wonder if those Guided Pathways are looking to replace planning units.

Smith: They’re degree pathways. But Evergreen doesn’t have degree pathways, except in a few areas.
That’s what they’re aiming towards. They’re looking for some of that, because the students are looking
for some of that. If you read the catalog this year, it’s incoherent. There’s no way a student can tell
what— It’s random, and you don’t know, if this is one year, what’s the next year? The only programs
that have any pathways are the graduate programs, the science programs, and the Native Studies
Taylor: Has that always been the case?
Smith: It was a little better organized with the planning units before. The planning units aren’t
operating that way anymore. If you look at like the Sustainability and Justice Pathway, it’s got like 50
faculty in it. It’s got Rob Knapp, it’s got Jeanne Hahn, it’s got everything in between, and they don’t
meet to talk about curriculum at all. They just put their name there, that’s where they feel comfortable.
And they have conversations with the unit—it’s called an affinity group instead—but that doesn’t help a
student. And the faculty did it, I guess, because they were bored with the units they had. The arts did it,
too, but now they’re talking about that one coming back together, because they’re starting to see it
doesn’t work.
Taylor: I just wonder—see, what they’re missing is you, as a leader.
Smith: No, they’re missing somebody as a leader—somebodies.
Taylor: So, I have another topic.
Smith: Okay.
Taylor: It has to do with national exposure, and your taking Evergreen to the nation. Start from the
beginning. How did you do that? Because you ended up being Chair of the Board of AAHE [American
Association for Higher Education], and getting recognized. And, to the degree that people know about
Evergreen, they know about it because of what you did.
Smith: Yeah.
Taylor: Tell the story of how it happened, and the steps along the way.
Smith: Well, it goes back to that old man in Spokane who said, “We wanted you to be a beacon for the
education system,” so that’s just rattled in my head for a long time. But it became pretty obvious, after
I’d been here a little while, that this was exportable.
This first recognition was Writing Across the Curriculum, because linked classes were starting to
emerge as a solution to the writing problem. So, it seemed really obvious that Evergreen could be
described in terms of situating skill teaching and content teaching together, and that if you actually
combine two classes, you have more stage time, and more meaningful use of skills.
Taylor: That was happening at all major universities everywhere.
Smith: Exactly. That was where it all began was with that idea. Patrick really gave language to the
whole idea that courses as very fragmenting—academically, and socially and all kinds of other ways.
Then, I started reading Joseph Tussman’s book, [Experiment at Berkeley] and I came to that because I
read about Merv Cadwallader and the faculty reading that stuff in those first planning years.

Smith: It’s just eloquent. It really does make the case on why this makes sense. So, that was the idea
that started with the Washington Center story I told you about; the visitor coming and saying that they
wanted to try it. And then, three other colleges within the next four months wanted to do it, too.
Because community colleges are a small group of people, and they talk to each other all the time.
[chuckles] So, after Seattle Central came on, North Seattle came on, and then Bellevue came on, and
then Spokane Falls came on, and UW. Then Western got jealous, so they decided they would play, too.
Taylor: Patrick must have decided that it was worth it to have the Dean, and then the Provost, spend
time doing this.
Smith: Yeah. Well, Patrick had a real yen for innovation nationally. And he’d already been doing that,
because there were some little versions of Evergreen that were already out there, and he was leading
one of them in SUNY. That was the Federated Learning Community. (FLC’s)
What we did was broaden the idea to create a typology, Jean MacGregor and I. We had FLCs,
and then we had linked classes, and then we had coordinated studies, and there were other models in
between. We developed materials that showed that. Then we started getting invited to do sessions on
this at national conferences, and it just really spread fast then. Then these books came out.
Taylor: When did the Evergreen on-campus summer thing start?
Smith: We started that almost immediately. We featured Evergreen people; when we started doing
state conferences, we would take Evergreen people to do presentations. Matt Smith came, and a whole
bunch of different people. I’d been with AAHE for years. That was my training ground. Their
workshops were just terrific.
Taylor: Who were some of the people that you connected with? Faith Gabelnick I remember her.
Smith: Faith, and Roberta Matthews. They were both national leaders in innovation on the East Coast.
Roberta was a leader at LaGuardia Community College, which was one of the best-known ones in the
country, in terms of innovation. Faith was at Western Michigan, and she was known for her work on the
Perry Scheme of Intellectual Development. The other thing that we did was we joined this idea to other
ideas that were out there. That’s the way you get out of becoming this little silo that’s all separate. We
joined this idea, for example, to the Perry Scheme. LaGuardia was doing a whole bunch of stuff with
linked courses in writing, so we joined it with that. Then there was a study came out called Involvement
in Learning. It was a critique of traditional teaching approaches, so we brought that into this. We’d
often do a state conference, and some big national leader of another idea that was completely related
would be there, too. Those people would come to see that, and then they’d get us, too. [laughing]
Taylor: What’s happened to that?
Smith: It’s still strong. Gillies Malnarich and Emily Lardner took it in a slightly different direction.
Because the structural idea was already out there and widespread, they started working on more
nuanced programs development—assessment, and backward design, and diversity-based stuff.
Taylor: Is Evergreen still a part of the national scene?
Smith: Oh, yeah, very much so. Gillies left and Emily just left to become Provost at Grays Harbor, and
Joye Hardiman is the interim director. They’re about to start a search for a new director.

Taylor: But it’s stable funding, so it will continue.
Smith: Now they do three summer institutes. One is the Learning Community Institute. These are all
profit-making conferences. They run one for the Lumina Foundation, and they run another one for the
Carnegie Foundation. It’s very viable, and the college makes money off it.
Taylor: And the college is known in those circles?
Smith: Yes, it’s very famous in those circles. It’s even wider, I’d say, than it was under us, because Jean
and I were pretty focused on Learning Community and Diversity. There’s a huge pool of people that run
teaching and learning centers nationally. Any of those people could do this.
Taylor: It sounds like there is talk of reinvigorating the whole teaching and learning idea at the college.
Smith: Well, what Jen Drake is going to do, I think, is recommit to internal Evergreen faculty
Taylor: That’s good.
Smith: That’s what I told her.
Taylor: Because that got lost.
Smith: And it got lost because of the personal relationships.
Taylor: Absolutely. Things like that, it’s a very easy answer, but from the outside, you don’t realize that.
Smith: Yeah. And the college is so chaotic that it could have gone back and picked it back up, but, out
of sight, out of mind. [laughing] This is one of the big disadvantages of all this turnover that the place is
sort of addicted to. Do you remember, there was Peter Tommerup who wrote a dissertation about
Taylor: I do.
Smith: His whole thing in his dissertation was “The only idea here is reinvention, reinvention,
Taylor: It started with no program should be taught again, and then the rotation of deans. But I think
the rotation of deans, it hasn’t always been a success, because it depends on personalities. But in terms
of peace in our time, it worked. I’m not a part of this world, but I know that it’s true of academics.
There is a natural animosity towards authority, and so they don’t want anybody there.
Smith: Yeah. But they also wanted the trains to run on time. And they liked me, and I was there a long
time. Taylor: I know they did, but you’re different. But it’s about people, but they didn’t like others,
and the instinct—I mean, the whole reason for the union is that instinct, I think.
Smith: Yeah.
Taylor: They didn’t trust.
Smith: I thought the union issue was more decided by the part-time issue.


Taylor: I don’t think so. But I do remember, early on, it took us forever to even have a faculty meeting.
We never wanted a faculty senate, but to even have a faculty meeting was . . . which seemed
counterproductive. But for the longest time, the faculty meeting was chaired by Byron Youtz the
Smith: I remember that.
Taylor: And people used to say, “What kind of a faculty is that?”
Smith: The one you want.
Taylor: It was because people said, “Why not?” But then, the ones that wanted a union even then said,
“This is wrong. You’ve got to have difference. You’ve got to have animosity. You’ve got to have two
Smith: I don’t agree at all with that.
Taylor: I didn’t either, but that’s where it came from. Now where do we go?
Smith: I don’t know.
Taylor: Well, here’s a big question, but it sort of overlap with what we’ve talked about a bit. What do
you think is your legacy? Or, what do you want your legacy to be?
Smith: Well, there’s some things. What did you do that has enduring value? Not about me, but about
the thing. I think it’s the Learning Community idea. But I don’t think that’s dependent on me. It’s like it
got picked up, and it became other people’s, and that’s why it’s enduring. Certain people were certainly
a legacy in their time, but a lot of them are gone now, or about to be gone.
Taylor: Who were some of the most important people that you hired, or the people that made a big
Smith: Tina Kuckkahn. And the Longhouse. That’s a piece of my legacy. She’s one of the most effective
staff people I hired. She’s doing fabulous. She’s building an Indigenous Arts Campus now. Sally
Cloninger is a person I really value that I hired. There were lots of people that got hired that it’s a
coincidence that I had a hand in it, but they’re good, and it’s as much you and other people on the hiring
committee that deserve the credit.
Taylor: I always think it’s funny about hiring people. They say, “Oh, you’ve got power. You get to hire.”
You don’t have that power at all.
Smith: Yeah. [chuckles] And you have little to do with the outcome after they come. [laughing]
Taylor: Who else can you think of that you . . .?
David: Walter.
Smith: Yeah, Walter Niemic is one of them. He’s been a real important person.
Taylor: Yeah, he has. Dee Van Brunt—did you hire her?

Smith: She was there before. Yeah, I loved Dee. I’d have to look at a list. There’s a lot. Jean
MacGregor. Big deal. Wonderful person.
Taylor: Did you hire her after Rob [Cole] was hired, or did you hire them together?
Smith: No, I hired her after. He came the second year. He was a really good hire.
Smith: I don’t know. There’s a big, long list.
Taylor: Did you hire Betsy Diffendal?
Smith: No, Betsy was here before. She’s great. Usually. [chuckles] She was part of the big Native
American program that had 10 percent of the enrollment my first year.
Taylor: Yeah, we had a hard time with that.
Smith: It was all rolled together—Tacoma, Native Studies, and Mary Hillaire and Maxine Mimms and
Betsy and Rainer Hasentstab.They had about 160 students but there were very few Indians.
Taylor: What happened to that program?
Smith: It’s still around, sort of, in some semblance. Yvonne [Peterson] is sort of the caretaker of that
approach, and she’s still here. Native Studies is more split into three different camps now.
Smith: Sherry Walton was a great hire. Teacher Ed. She really navigated that program well.
Taylor: She did.
Smith: Yeah. Then there was even some people, like Ken Dolbeare—fabulous. He didn’t stay forever,
but did real yeoman service while he was here. Big national reputation. And smart.
Taylor: He was fun, because he came out of great controversy when he was at the University of
Washington. Sometimes those are our best people.
Smith: Yeah, like Stephanie [Coontz].
Taylor: Yeah, like Stephanie. You said earlier—and I think this is true—when you look at the faculty,
women and people of color has gotten stronger and stronger . . .
Smith: It’s not stronger and stronger.
Taylor: I think it has.
Smith: It’s about the same on diversity, because I looked that up last week.
Taylor: I was thinking, in terms of women, the early women that were hired were people like Betsy and
Smith: Joye [Hardiman]. [Ginny Hill]. She was great. Susan [Strasser]]
Taylor: People that had alternative educational backgrounds.
Smith: LLyn [De Danaan].


Taylor: They may not have had a Ph.D., but they’d had work experience. They were more involved in
community efforts and social justice things than they were pure academics. It was really true of the
women. I don’t know if it was true of the people of color.
Smith: I really value that, and it feels to me like—Michael wanted only Ph.D.s, and I think that’s a huge
loss if you’re not going to really go after exceptionally skilled community organizers. If you look at some
of them—I mean, Russ Fox and Carolyn Dobbs—give me a break.
Taylor: Right. And I think because that became possible with the hiring, we got a group of people that
changed the tenor of the place.
Smith: Absolutely.
Taylor: And to say that we’ve never been a leader in that alternative view, or in terms of hiring women,
or hiring people of color, or worrying about social justice, I think it’s been there since the beginning,
pretty close.
Smith: I do, too.
Taylor: The statistics might not be wonderful, but the inspiration was there, I think. People say, “Not
Smith: I don’t agree. I think sometimes people say things that they don’t have really . . . like certain
presidents we’ve had, they don’t have knowledge of the data. When I think through just the arts
faculty—Anne Fischel, Laurie Meeker, Lin Nelson—all of them are community-organizing type of people.
There’s just a lot of that, in hidden places. You can see it in how they teach, too. The whole Tacoma
faculty is like that.
Taylor: The other area that I think we probably have been a pretty strong leader is in the gay
Smith: Yeah.
Taylor: From quite early on. Especially women
Smith: There’s gay men, too. Greg Mullins . He was another good hire.
David: Kevin Francis.
Smith: Kevin. He’s a good hire.
Taylor: Yeah. There’s a lot of good ones.
Smith: There’s a lot of good people. They got another 13 or something this year, so we’ll hope.
Smith: . . . you have to have acculturation, you have to welcome them, you have to teach them more,
help them see the joys of what’s here. It’s pretty hard right now, I think.
Taylor: You didn’t go to the retreat this fall, did you?
Smith: Oh, no. I haven’t had anything to do with any of them for five years. Eight years.


Taylor: It was all focused on equity. The people that went said it was really good. It was good someone
was paying attention, because everybody’s feeling very hurt about the last year.
Smith: If you were there this year, would you know what to be doing?
Taylor: I don’t know. I’m glad I’m not there. Too many things have happened that I can’t change.
Smith: Yeah, I don’t think I would want to be there.
Taylor: Yeah. On the other hand, things have cycles, and they can do comebacks. We saw some of
that. [laughing]
Smith: Yeah.
End Part 2 of 2 of Barbara Leigh Smith on October 12, 2017