Charlie Teske Oral History Interview


Charlie Teske Oral History Interview
16 January 2011
16 March 2016
8 November 2016
10 November 2016
15 November 2016
22 November 2016
6 December 2016
29 June 2017
Charlie Teske
Susan Fiksdal
extracted text
Charles Teske
Interviewed by Susan Fiksdal
The Evergreen State College Oral History Project
Interview 1
November 1, 2016
Teske: My name is Charles Bahn Teske and I’m Charles rather than Karl because I’m named for my
maternal grandfather, Charles Winton Bahn. He, though a German-American (Charles Winton is
definitely not a Germanic name), was named for an English or Scots-Irish person who was very good to
the family, and so he was named for this person Charles Winton Bahn, and I was named Charles Bahn in
honor of my maternal grandfather. The Teske part: in Germany we would be “Tesk-eh.” Here we are
“Tesk.” Now a lot of the people bearing that name, most of whom live in Wisconsin and the Chicago
area and some of them in the Dakotas call themselves “Tesk-ee.” That sounds a little bit Slavic and there
is nothing East Germans of Prussian background fear more than being confused for Slavic people among
whom they lived. So, my dad changed it.
My dad had a teacher in grade school who was Miss Fiske and he figured if she could be “Fisk” F I S K E,
then he could be “Tesk” T E S K E. And the family had already changed his name from Franz Wilhelm to
Frank William, so my father was Frank William “Tesk” and I preserved that pronunciation. As far as we
can make out, Teske is an East German diminutive for Matthew: Matthias >Tiaske.
Date of birth is September 24, 1932 in Easton, Pennsylvania. It’s on the Delaware. The old name was
"Forks of the Delaware" because the Lehigh comes down from the former coal regions and joins the
Delaware at that place.
Family heritage: German-American on both sides. My mother’s side came from the Palatinate—a large
German area, most of it west of the Rhine River, and it was from that area when William Penn needed
farmers and was willing to offer land and religious freedom, he sent emissaries to invite these
protestants to Pennsylvania. Frankly, the Germans were not told another reason—that at the time the
Quakers who founded the commercial settlements along the Delaware River, these merchants knew
nothing about farming so they needed someone to grow food for them. But they were also pacifists and
when some of the Indians got upset about the Quakers coming in, the Quakers couldn’t fight back, so
they figured they could get some nice Germans. The Germans had the farmland as a sort of shield for
the Quaker settlement on the river so when the Indians attacked, they’d get the Germans instead of
them. At any rate in Philadelphia, Germantown is now part of the inner city, but originally it was part of
the shield of farmland protecting Philadelphia.
Fiksdal: A good story.
Teske: Nobody in my mother’s family knows for sure, but it would have been sometime in the 1710’s or
the 1730s that the family would have come over. My dad came over much later as part of the
installments of his family. My grandfather, Johann (John) came over around 1889, and found work
eventually in the anthracite regions of Pennsylvania. There’s a big crescent that goes from Scranton,
Pennsylvania down to Hazelton and that’s where the coal seam is, along the Susquehanna River. At any
rate, when he was settled at Plymouth, PA, he sent for the rest of the family, who came in installments.
So, my dad came in the middle of the 1890s at age six with the older of his two sisters. In all, the

parents, two daughters, and five sons came. They were from the Posen area which, of course, now is
Poznan, Poland. My grandfather was Johan and my grandmother was Caroline. My aunts were Florenz
and Mathilde; my uncles were Emil, Gustav, Julius, and August. So, that’s the family background.
My mother was Helen Elizabeth Bahn, and here I’ll go back a couple of generations because I think it’s
important for this general background. My great grandfather, Benjamin Denlinger, was a New Order
Mennonite. Now, the Mennonites are not so strict as the Amish. The New Order Mennonites are a cut
below the Amish [laughs] in strictness. And my great grandmother, Elizabeth Dieffenbach, was not a
“plain person by birth.” She was “fancy”: she was like one of us.
But when she married a Mennonite, she became “plain.” And even though my great grandfather died
relatively early, in an epidemic, leaving my great grandmother with five daughters and a farm, she kept
“plain” all her life. She lived until I was six years old and I still recall she’d be sitting in the wheelchair
with her white bonnet, her black long dress. And on the stairwell, I’ve got a photograph of four
generations -- great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and me as babe-in-arms. At any rate, she did
not force her daughters to become “plain,” but she herself, in honor of the husband, stayed so. Now
when you think about that, that is quite a feat—raising five daughters by herself. My grandmother Ella
Nora, was the oldest of the five daughters and so she became a babysitter and cook for the family. At
any rate, she married Charlie Bahn and they both, at home, spoke Pennsylvania German. You know
there’s a big mistake: you say, “Pennsylvania Dutch” and people say “Holland.” It’s not that—it’s
Pennsylvania Deutsch. My grandmother spoke York County Pennsylvania Dutch and my grandmother
spoke Lancaster County Pennsylvania Dutch. So that’s my mother’s background.
My grandfather had gone to what was then called a Normal School to get a certification to teach grade
school. But I don’t think he really did that. He had a haberdashery business, and then when my parents
got married and moved from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Easton, the grandparents came along and
lived with us for 12 years and then got an apartment about two blocks away. So, they were an important
part of my life.
My mother, Helen Bahn, was born in 1902, started taking piano lessons early on and got very proficient
and very interested. She did not go to college; she became a piano teacher—she did some solo
performing—but what she really enjoyed was accompanying. She had absolute pitch, perfect pitch,
which used to drive me nuts because I would go to the piano as a little kid and hit a note and say, “All
right, Mother, what is it?” And she, without thinking, could tell me. Or, I would sneak up on her and I
would say, “Ok, sing an F sharp.” You know, no problem; she could do that and she developed into a
tremendous sight reader. So, one of her big strengths was as an accompanist. And she also loved
chamber music, and during the late 30's and the 40's had a string trio which practiced at our home, and
of course she taught her lessons at home, so my mother was a professional woman, and I had no doubt
about what she did because I was right in the middle of it.
Fiksdal: Did you learn piano as well then?
Teske: She tried to teach me starting at 4 and it was not a good idea. It is true, Susan, that I could do
treble-clef music notation at the same time that I learned to write, so the two of them went together.
So, that was for a later part of my life and leading up to what I was doing at Evergreen.
When I was coming up on my eighth birthday, she said, “O.K., you’re getting pretty long in the tooth,
and I don’t care what it is but you choose an instrument and we will get you a rent-to-own instrument,
but whatever it is, you’d better get started.” I’d heard our Sunday School orchestra that played on some
special Sundays, and they had played for the September season- opening service. The band was there,

and Irwin Buss was playing trumpet and I looked at that and said, “Wow, that’s a neat instrument, so
when my mother said, “choose something” I automatically said, “trumpet.” And thus, you know, got on
the road to a life of genteel poverty, but [laughs]
Fiksdal: [laughs] I was going to say, “a star was born!”
Teske: A lot of artistic enjoyment.
A couple of things, going back to my mother, impressed me very much. First off, at the time she as going
through high school, she not only had the chance to take some Latin, but some Greek, and she and my
father from their high school experience, flirted with the idea of becoming Greek teachers, so that was
part of their background.
I don’t know if you know anything about this, but before WWI, if you were American and wanted to
learn music, if you were a singer, you went to Italy. If you were a composer, conductor, or
instrumentalist, you went to Germany. Well, WWI and the general German hatred sort of scotched that,
and the French, with the “Lafayette we are here” kind of thing—the French right after WWI opened a
summer school for Americans at Fontainebleau, which I don’t know if you have ever been there, it was a
hunting lodge for Louis XIVth.
Fiksdal: Right, yeah.
Teske: It was a huge place and some of the big things that occurred there—they needed to hire teachers
who could speak English and by luck they got a Belgian-extraction woman, Nadia Boulanger, who started
when they opened—I think in 1920 or 21-- to teach composition, and she taught Aaron Copland and
Copland came back and spread the word and a whole lot of American composers, who then became
influential professors in American schools, studied with Nadia Boulanger. They’re called “the
Boulangerie.” And, as a matter of fact, I ran into a retired theory professor from Centralia College who
had studied with Boulanger.
Fiksdal: Oh, for heaven’s sakes!
Teske: If you were a composer, you were nothing if you had not studied with Boulanger. Well, my
mother as a pianist did not study with her, but studied with some other great people, and she’s got the
most lurid of the diplomas we have on the stairwell! It’s one with naked ladies on it and among the
signatures is that of Charles Marie Widor, the great organ composer. So, we have his signature on the
Mother got to be the regional accompanist for the main New York voice teacher, Estelle Liebling. If you
were, say, a program chairperson for a women’s club somewhere in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or
Connecticut or something like that, you would call Liebling and say, “Could you send someone out to do
a concert for us?” Well, fine, who was going to accompany them? Liebling had a stable of accompanists
around various towns, but she didn’t have anybody from northeastern Pennsylvania, and when my
mother went to New York with an aspiring contralto who wanted to study with Liebling, the contralto
wasn’t accepted, but Liebling asked my mother to accompany her students who were asked to do
recitals in our area. And that’s how my mother got to accompany Beverley Sills, who became the great
international opera star, on Sills’s way up as an American soprano.
Fiksdal: Wow!
Teske: It was great, Susan, because with my mother being a sight reader like this, I could take a piece
that had piano accompaniment and plunk it down on the piano and she would play it perfectly. And that

went on—in her late 80s in her great retirement home, she was sort of the house pianist. There was
once when I was going to see her I took along a cornet. I played the Sunday service and I took along
some other pieces as well. We had some old times with my playing and Lilo [Charlie’s wife] also went
back and once sang with my mother.
One of the interesting questions here, “What was your relationship with your parents.” That’s a great
question! I don’t know what your feelings are about this, but my family, there are two large steps to get
over. The first is when you realize that your parents are two human beings with their own lives and
backgrounds and their own trajectories and so forth, and they’re not just here to take care of you.
Getting over that, realizing that they are persons—that’s a big step. The other one, then is getting to be
friends with them so that you can be collaborators, pals in a certain sense. Well, making music together
is a very very strong relationship. And it was interesting—you know, here I was back at her retirement
home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, but when we went into the big auditorium, she sat down at the grand
piano and I took out my horn, wup! Now we’re serious, now it’s business! And of course, she would
always follow me but she would ask, “Do you really want to do it that way.” And she said, “Oh my,
you’re playing with a much more melodious attack — less penetrating.” And I said, “That’s switching
over from brass band playing to something a little more humane!”
So anyway, that part was just great and we got along tremendously. But I still think that somewhere in
the background was the strength that my great-grandmother must have had to get her daughters
through [school] and not just have the family completely collapse. I hope that’s somewhere in me.
When you look back and hear the family stories you say, “Well, maybe I’ve got some reserves there I can
draw upon."
Fiksdal: Well I think that steadfastness—you might think about it a little bit when you get to why you
came to Evergreen and what people called you to do. You were the PR person, you had to go out and
talk to groups and you accepted that role and you did it, so I think it fits, you know.
Teske: A great oversimplification: my dad as a Protestant minister was a man of words. My mother was
a woman of music. But interestingly, it was my dad who was the improviser because my mother could
not play jazz. She really appreciated that I was doing it but she could not. You could put in front of her
some pop sheet-music and she could sight read it and she could do a good job, but if I would tell her
"O.K., now improvise on it," she could not do it.
My dad gave his sermons the way I prepare my lectures. Opening, closing, facts, names correctly
spelled, birthdates. A few other salient details but otherwise an outline. And over the years I heard him
preach what you might call the same sermon, but it’s a little bit like, Susan, when at Evergreen the
scientists, especially the life-scientists, learned that I had some very strong feelings from my study of
romanticism about the late development of "nature" as tree- hugging, they would ask me, "Charlie, can
you come in and give your lecture on nature?" I do not have “a” lecture on Nature. It will never be the
same twice. Why would you want to give it the same way twice? And I would point out, by the way, that
in the [Oxford English Dictionary] OED the definition of Nature that we use when we say, “I love nature,”
is number 13 historically. Originally it means "how things were born." Of course, in giving that lecture I
would always give S.J. Perlman’s definition of a farm: “A farm: an irregular bunch of nettles growing out
of rocks bounded by short-time bank notes,[all of which are due] and occupied by a fool and his wife
without enough sense to go back to the city where they belong. A farm.” That’s an example. I would
start with that and the OED definition and then sort of wing it.
At any rate, those were the two sides: music and words, both improvisation and strict attention to
notation. But my dad's story, that part of the family’s story, was really one of those “only in America”

things. My grandfather Johann’s job that he got in the coal regions was as a heavy carpenter and as Lilo
has said, he must have gone to a special training school for it. He would go down into the mines. He
would be hired by the miner, who would hire his own support team. My grandfather as heavy carpenter
would be the one who would put up the big timbers every few yards on the sides and then the columns
and then the rafters holding up the ceiling. I know I asked my dad once, “Who was holding up the coal
face while grandfather was putting that up?” My dad’s answer was that there would be enough—with
the moisture—enough surface tension that before it had a lot of air and it would dry out—if you got in
there on time, you could shore it up. But that’s what my grandfather did.
Fiksdal: He must have been incredibly strong.
Teske: Yeah, and you know, dangerous work. But you know in that area real men went into the mines
just as in the state of Washington real men became either loggers or fishermen. You know, none of this
namby- pamby going to college stuff. My dad just never really talked about this [emphasized with hand
on hand]. He mentioned it once as if it were a sort of lark during summer vacation for school that he had
been down in the mines. And about as definitive as he got was when you’re digging your galleries and
passage-ways you’d dig them slightly uphill and you would lay rails. At the coal face, the miners who
were digging the coal put it in these relatively small trams—railroad cars—that had brakes and you’d
hire kids to be the brakemen. With the force of gravity, they’d come down through the side tunnels until
they’d get to the main trunk line and then again by the force of gravity, they go until they get to the
center of whatever level they were on. That’s where the huge elevator is. The elevator takes the tram
and goes up not only to the surface but to the top of the breaker tower. The mining towns would be
dotted with breakers that would go up 4 or 5 stories. The tram goes up to the top story to a cradle which
then dumps it. And the coal goes down a slow-moving conveyer belt, and at various places on the
conveyer belt are what are called the breakers where the big hunks of coal are broken into smaller
hunks and they go through another breaker until finally when they get down to what would be the
ceiling of the first story, that’s where the regular open railroad cars are waiting. The coal goes into the
first car and then the car is shunted and the next car pulls up. The empty tram then goes back down by
the elevator. How do you get them up the slope to where the coal is being up there?
Fiksdal: Did the kids have to push it up?
Teske: Mules.
Fiksdal: Oh, mules, good.
Teske: But the boys again, having been brakemen on the cars coming down, would then hitch up the
mule to the tram and lead it up through the passageway to the coal face. Then they would take the
mules back down until they got the signal to go back up again. These mules by the way, once they were
taken down, usually they died down there. The boys worked with the feed and the water.
It sounded at first as if he was doing it for one summer. But when Lilo and I last went over to Europe,
year 2000, one of my aims was to visit the areas my families came from. Not that there would be
anybody left, but just to breathe the air and look at the landscape. I was able to do a very good job
through Pennsylvania German Heritage Center with mother’s side. I asked a scholar whom we visited
where would be the magnetic center of the area in the Palatinate where my mother’s family came from.
He said “You’re in it. Right here.” The other side going into what is now Poland: Poles did not want to
see returning Germans. If a stranger came in, the assumption was that you wanted to reclaim your land.
Or your house because you had been driven out.

But anyway, in the process, trying to find out about my father’s side of the family, I was able to go to our
local Mormon stake -- the Latter-Day Saints Church -- and was able to get hold of some things, thanks to
a Mormon researcher sitting next to me working the microfilms, who was very helpful. I was able to
order stuff from Salt Lake City and I found the 1900 census. And there it was. My grandfather, "coal
worker," my uncle Gustav "slate picker," and there was my dad, "breaker boy." If you look on the web
for "breaker boy," wow, it’s like getting kicked in the stomach. These were the kids being used as poster
boys for getting a child labor law. They would go in—my dad did this for at least three years. When he
should have been going to school. You would go in early in the morning, you would have a half-hour
break for lunch, so in the winter you would get up in the dark and go home in the dark. You had heavy
boots and what you did when the conveyer belt was bringing ever smaller hunks of coal, you would sit
on a sort of pipe holding on for dear life. You were not allowed to wear gloves. I guess you would hold
on with one arm and try to pick out the slate as it’s going by. And you would continually be pushing with
your heavy boots the coal as it was going down. No air conditioning in the summer. No heat in the
winter. And there would be usually a former breaker boy who would be there with a very long switch
and if he caught you nodding off, he would hit you with the switch. And there were a lot of fatalities
where the kids would simply fall asleep and fall down into the stream of the coal and into the teeth that
were breaking things up. That’s what my dad was doing and I did not realize that until 2004.
I realized he was a breaker boy in 2000 but it wasn’t until we were back in the coal regions and I got a
booklet about the mining and looked it up on the web. What saved my dad and the younger uncles was
the meat market. My oldest uncle got apprenticeship training as a butcher and then the capital to open
a meat market, and he pulled his brothers out of the mine and they worked in the meat market before
school and after school -- but they could go to school.
My dad had to go some extra years to a prep school to make up for what he had lost. He was an
excellent athlete, played football in the prep school and got good grades and was offered a football
scholarship to Harvard. At that time Harvard was a big sports mill like Ohio State or U. of Oregon. His
prep school coach said, "Don’t go. You’ll be eating at a separate table, living in a separate dormitory, and
the competition will be so intense that if your foot is sticking out of a pile someone will twist it and you’ll
be out of action and out of a scholarship." So instead, he went on a combined grades-and-football
scholarship to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster PA, where he played football, and then went
from there to the Lancaster Theological Seminary where he did his training and became ordained.
At that time, it was the German Reformed Church. Reformed as opposed to Lutheran; and German as
opposed to Dutch—Holland Dutch. It’s the Holland Dutch Reformed who were the strict Calvinists, the
believers in predestination —no, my dad did not belong to that breed of cat. Then in 1934 the mainly
Pennsylvania Reformed Church merged with the Evangelical Synod of the Midwest to become the
Evangelical and Reformed Church. The congregation in which I was raised had over 900 communicating
members plus the Sunday school. My dad had no assistant pastor. The only full-time employees were
my dad and the janitor. He had a part-time music director, part-time treasurer, part-time secretary. He
ran the whole thing himself. That’s a big congregation. He then became the president of the
Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod (70 churches). He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from
Franklin and Marshall.
The final thing about him and his accomplishments: the joke going around in the 30s, 40s, 50s was that
the Congregationalists at Harvard and Yale and Union had the high level theological schools but the
teachers were Evangelical and Reformed Germans. They were using the same material, practiced pretty
much the same theology, and you'd think, "This [duplication] is ridiculous." There are hardly any
Congregational churches in Pennsylvania; there are no Reformed churches in Connecticut or the rest of

New England. But they’re so close that my dad started, after WWII. doing exchanges. [He and three of
his colleagues would go up to Connecticut churches, and four Congregational ministers would come
down to Pennsylvania.] In 1957 there was a merger -- the first time that two different national
background denominations merged -- becoming the United Church of Christ. My dad did not make a big
fuss about it but he was proud.
He had been an excellent football player and stayed an outstanding athlete. He had played some tennis
at Lancaster, and his first pastorate was down in the area near Philadelphia called the Main Line. They
played on grass courts and in the old days the white flannel trousers, the white shirts. He had a whole
bunch of cups. He might have been from the coal mines, but he was beating the first singles guy from
Princeton and so forth. So that's what I grew up with and I guess a further thing that I mentioned: I had
no doubts about what my mother did because of her doing it in our home. Our parsonage was right next
door to the church, and so I had very little doubts about what it was that my dad did. My dad was a
widower when he married my mother, my older brother was 11 years older so there was a fairly big gap
there and he was away during World War II, from 1942 to 1946. But one of the advantages, Susan, that I
sort of took for granted. My dad's heavy work was on the weekend.
Now he had other work--he did a lot of visitations and a lot of studying during the week, but he still was
sort of on his own time. He'd decide when to go to the hospital, when to give communion to the shutins, so in the summers, at least once a week, he and I would go fishing, then he taught me how to play
golf, and we'd play golf together. I joined the tennis team, and I did letter in tennis for three years while
I was in high school, but my dad refused to play tennis with me. He would give me advice, but not take
me out and play me. He was incapable of faking it and letting me win. Golf was a different matter. He
would give me a handicap and then we would both play very hard. And, also at times with my brother,
we would go down to Philadelphia and see our beloved Red Sox when they were playing the old
Philadelphia Athletics or over to Yankee Stadium when the Red Sox would be playing, so I got used to
being taken along. And with very few exceptions, once I got to be about eight, when my parents went on
vacation or went to see a show in New York, they would take me along and I got used to it. So, the long
answer to that question, what was your relationship to them over time: great.
Now I hear stories about so many people who had a rough time. Wow, I was so fortunate, and I don't
think they tried to force feed me but in my high school there were four tracks. General, if you didn't
know what you wanted to do; Commercial if you wanted to get into business; Vocational--a very good
small program with internships; and College Prep. That was for those of us who wanted to go to a liberal
arts school or nursing or art school. And the key to getting in was that in eighth grade you had to take
half a year of Latin. And my parents were the kind of people, when we were traveling [while I was still in
middle school], they'd start playing games with me about Latin derivations of English words.
Fiksdal: They would test you, yeah.
Teske: Yeah. O.K., One of the prepared questions here is "memorable moments in K-12". We can shift to
that. Well, one of the really memorable moments was when in eighth grade I was in Junior high, the
Latin teacher walked in, brandished a wooden thing with markings on it and said, "regula est" and then
went on to explain how "regula" became "reule" in French, and so "regula" in Latin is a "ruler" in English,
and then got into kings being "rulers" and then to "rex, regis" being the Latin for English "king," and so
forth ,and I was hooked!
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: Yeah. I took French for only one year in college but after four and a half years of Latin in high

Fiksdal: You already knew a lot
Teske: Yeah. And in 11th and 12th grades there were only seven of us
Fiksdal: I can imagine! Not many left, yeah.
Teske: I know when I got into college, which was in my home town—Lafayette College in Easton,
Pennsylvania—when I got into a European history class and the teacher gave a three hour exam and one
of the questions you were supposed to write on for at least a half hour--one of the options was "discuss
how the medieval manorial system grew out of the Roman colonial system." and I thought, you know,
the rest of the people are going to be answering the other questions. I know something about this and I
bet the teacher isn't going to get that many answers. So, I wrote about that. And, of course it was
fascinating. A lot of the big authors when you get into imperial times, even with Augustus, did not live in
Rome. They lived in villas even up in what is now Germany and because of the Roman road system they
could be in touch. When the empire collapsed, the master of the former villa became the "lord of the
Fiksdal: I see. Yeah. Thank goodness because they kept their libraries.
Teske: Yeah. About a week later I saw my professor and he had looked at the exam answers. He said,
“Look, there was stuff in there that I didn't know, and I looked it up and it turned out you're right.
Where did you learn that?” “I went to Easton High School, Sir." “Oh, you studied with William Wagner.”
So, I must say, Susan, in our school, unless you really had to show off that you were wealthy or unless
your kids were brats, you didn't send them to prep school. The College Prep track of our high school was
absolutely first rate. And the other important teacher, the head of the English department, had a
doctorate in education from Yale. When we were studying Hamlet, we went through it line by line so
you really learned.
I guess those were the big moments. Now in my other life, which is music, I took 10 years of trumpet
lessons up to graduating from high school. My teacher did raise the option—we lived 90 miles from NY.
"If you really want to go on to a conservatory, you're going to have to start now going over to NY once a
month. I'll find you a teacher and then next year it'll be twice a month. And then your senior year it will
be every week. But if you're going to be serious about a career as a trumpet player, that's what you're
going to have to do."
I went home and my dad was quiet; he just listened to the discussion. But my mother gave some
excellent advice: “If you really want to go, we'll find a way to support you. But the trumpet is not a solo
instrument. (Around that time there were 11 symphonies in the country that paid a living wage.) You get
most of your work by teaching, but what you can command as a teacher depends upon which symphony
you're in and what chair you're playing and you've got all of the people coming out of all the music
schools and you've got so many other interests. Frankly, the thing I would be worried about is that you
might get to hate music.” That turned out to be very good advice. But I did play as first chair in high
I guess another thing about that career was in spring of 9th grade, I started doing weekly jobs in a dance
band. So that went along quite well. And then although I got some nibbles to go elsewhere, one of the
reasons why I stayed home or at least used my parents' home as a sort of home base while I was going
to college was that I had musical connections. And if I had gone—Yale and Princeton were trying to get
me. And frankly, I was sort of scared of being with the preppies. I don't know how I would have reacted.

I would have had to cut all my musical connections. So, in college I played in a society band, a well-paid
weekly job, and then I was playing in the Lehigh Valley Symphony, also in the Allentown Symphony in
my junior year. In my senior year, I got picked to go to the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Festival
Symphony and on the way home got into a car accident and lost my upper four teeth.
Fiksdal: Oh my gosh.
Teske: Well you can't run the tape back. But any hopes of being a symphony trumpet player were over. I
played a little with the Olympia symphony and the Olympia Chamber Orchestra, but you can't be top
flight. Jazz however is a different story. And so, it was very often that I would be playing on Saturday
night my 9-12 Society job. 12pm was closing time in Pennsylvania, then I’d drive back to Easton and go
up to an illegal party with a keg in the cellar at a fraternity and play until 3 in the morning and go back
home, get a few hours of sleep and go and teach Sunday school class at my dad's church and then sing in
the church choir. So, I kept the music going.
Now, important for my work at Evergreen: I entered college as a pre-theological student. I had been
overweight and inept when I was 12 at Boy Scout camp and just feeling sort of out of it. But the Chief
Scout, knowing that I was a minister's kid, asked if I would give a little sermon at the Sunday morning
service. And I did the easy thing--here are the 12 points of the Boy Scout law, here is the career of Jesus.
"How would Jesus fare with the Boy Scout law?" He [the Chief Scout] thought this was such hot stuff.
Fiksdal: Well it is hot stuff [laughing].
Teske: On the spot, he offered me a free week, room and board, at the camp if I would preach again the
next Sunday. And, of course, the guys in my troop, were saying, "Wow, hey, he's one of ours!" Hey,
maybe I’ve, got a calling here. So, it was almost the line of least resistance. My dad's a minister, my
mom's a musician, so I entered college as a pre-theological student. But there's nothing like having a
really good college course in religion to stir up serious doubts. [So, at the end of my sophomore year, I
went for the big money and chose an English major.]
In my junior year, I was taking third year German, first year Greek, history of philosophy, the American
novel, and 17th century English Lit; but the important course was called "The Creative Centuries." It was
under the aegis of the English department. But what would happen would be that we had as visiting
lecturers and then seminar leaders after the lectures representatives of Classics, religion, history,
philosophy, psychology, comparative literature and then even for a five-week unit, biology and physics.
We read the real books, not "surveys of ...," but things like the Compendium of Calvin's Institutes. We
spent two weeks on Kierkegaard's writings, two weeks on Machiavelli and learned to put The Prince in
the context of his Discourses. The class would meet for three hours, a two-hour hunk at the beginning of
the week where the visiting speaker would come and give a lecture with a long question period. Then he
would come back for a seminar meeting at the end of the week. That course developed such
momentum that at the end of the year there would be 15 of us students and as many as 18 faculty
members, people who had appeared in the course before or had heard about it. I don't know how often
they repeated that course, but it was hands down the most exciting and the most interdisciplinary
course. But for me that was one of six courses.
When on February 8, 1970 -- the three of us deans had met [for the first time] just the day before -- the
crucial conference was February 8, 1970, and crucial in a whole bunch of ways because the President
and Vice Presidents and the Trustees and the National Council of Advisors that they had hired to meet a

few times with them had all decided [to wait for specific curricular planning until the deans who would
have to run the program were hired, and until then to] "Put a strict framework around it [the goals and
main assumptions about what kinds of educational opportunities would be offered]." I'd seen it as a
blank piece of paper but very carefully arranged with strong borders. [Charles] McCann that morning
made a big statement in which he described what the general outline ought to be and the kind of people
we wanted to turn out. But they [the earliest planners] deliberately left the actual programming blank
until we, the middle managers, Mervyn [Cadwallader], Don [Humphries] and I, could come on board.
And we started flailing around.
By the way, we have the tape of most of that [meeting]. I want to leave a log so that if you'd be a future
historian and you'd say, "at what moment did Mervyn Cadwallader first suggest interdisciplinary teamtaught programs?", I can send you to the exact spot on the digitized recording. And as Merv started
talking, I got this feeling of familiarity. I said, "Wait a minute; it's like Creative Centuries back at
Lafayette. But it would be like Creative Centuries done full time [and not just as one course competing
against three or four other commitments]".
Fiksdal: All the way through.
Teske: Wow! And I immediately started trying to figure out now what would be the kind of subject
matter that you could do through that vehicle that you couldn't do otherwise. And of course, I
immediately began thinking of the Romantic Era because you cannot study it with just one country and
you can't study it in just literature or painting or music or philosophy, you have to have it all together.
That's the only way you can really do romanticism. And I just sort of sketched that out for myself.
Now what would be something else? Well, something I had always yearned to do. Do the cultural
history of the US but go back and forth between literature, history, and music. I put that piece of paper
away and when I found it again in 1981, I had taught with Hiro [Kawasaki], Brother Ronald [Hurst], and
Gil Salcedo, "The Roots of Our Romanticism." And with Tom Foote I had taught "America's Music in
Cultural Perspective." I had absolutely done that. That's why I was interested. I never really asked Don
why he was so enthusiastic. Mervyn had hoped that maybe of the first thousand students, that maybe
100 could be involved in the kind of thing he had been doing at San Jose State and that Tussman had
done at Berkeley and that Meikeljohn had done. Maybe they could do that with 100. And Larry
Eickstaedt drove Merv to Kennedy and Merv said, “well I'm hoping to talk them into having at least one
program like that. When Merv got back and Larry was driving him back to Old Westbury, Larry said,
“Well how'd it go?” He said, “Merv was stunned.” Merv said, "They bought the whole thing. They're
doing the whole first year of the school like that."
Fiksdal: I remember that story. He didn't realize that everyone would want to do it.
Teske: I don't know what it was that appealed to Don, but I looked into that. I knew Don's saying was, "If
it's good for a hundred people, why isn't it good for a thousand?”
Fiksdal: Yeah, there you go.
Teske: And I think on that tape, I think I say something to the effect of, “I haven't talked with Merv
about this, but I think I see a way that we can do almost all our curriculum through this [model].” And,
again for later discussion, Merv never quite forgave Don and me for having done that. Richard Jones in
his "Experiment at Evergreen" makes the point very strongly that although it was Merv's idea and it was
something he had tried before, nobody in the planning faculty or the opening years' faculties taught that
program; instead, they found ways of using [the pedagogical method] for a whole bunch of other things.

Is it Joni Mitchell, “Look what they've done to my song?” [It was Melanie Safka.]
Fiksdal: I don't remember, but probably!
Teske: Yeah, Or, you know, the camel is a horse made by committee or something like that. So Merv
must have felt that we had stolen this beautiful idea. See, I guess the point is this, Susan -- and Jones
makes this [point] rather well [in his book, Experiment at Evergreen] -- you have two issues: you have
what is to be the content, what are the particular problems or ideas that you're studying and on the
other hand what are the pedagogical methods that you will use to study this. So, what happened was,
we took hook, line, and sinker the pedagogical methods, of team-taught interdisciplinary full-time
studies, but did not use it to teach the Athens/Sparta and Viet Nam wars that Merv had in mind —
comparing Viet Nam to the Peloponnesian war.
Fiksdal: So, what he had taught at San Jose State, that idea?
Teske: You can get the whole thing if you go on line and look up "Mervyn Cadwallader." Because in 1980
-- it's interesting, because he had left us in '76
Fiksdal: Oh, that early.
Teske: But in 1980 for a symposium to be held at Evergreen for which he came back, he wrote a long
paper, "Experiment at San Jose." He never wrote about Evergreen, but he has this long paper and you
can find exactly what his methodology was. The deal at college with this Lafayette course Creative
Centuries had prepared me
Fiksdal: Great story.
Back to Biography
Teske: Next slot here. I went to Yale, I got accepted with money at Harvard and Columbia and Yale. My
dad had always loved the congregational theology of Yale and loved Yale Divinity School. On one of our
trips -- we used to take our golf clubs along while my mother did something else -- my dad and I played
the Yale golf course, and I was in high school so when I decided on Yale, he was very pleased about that.
I put in two very hard years living in the Hall of Graduate Studies. And the advantage there for my
interdisciplinary background is if you were an English major and you got an apartment off campus, the
only people whom you would know socially were English majors; whereas if you lived in the Hall of
Graduate Studies you were on the same floor as a physicist, a chemist/clarinetist, and a music historian.
In the second year, I made two very close friends, one of them a Hindu, the other a Pakistani Muslim, so
that part was just tremendously exciting and at the beer or cheap red wine parties late at night you'd
have all of these different people. Of course, you’re at the point where on the one hand you're scared to
death because in a few years the money is going to be on the table, and on the other, there are so many
things worth trying and doing.
I had taken three years of German at Lafayette and two of my buddies [were classmates in the courses].
Both came from High Bridge, New Jersey, which was High Bridge because there was a high bridge. Five
of their small [high-school] graduating class went on to higher education. One became a nurse, two
went to teachers' schools, the other two went to Lafayette, got Fulbrights and went to Germany, and
then to Yale grad school. Who would have imagined a graduating class like that [laughing], but anyway
these guys both got offers from Yale but they wanted to get Fulbrights and Yale gave them a leave,
“Come back next year and we'll accept you with the same scholarship.”

One went to Tübingen, the other went to Marburg-- and again these coincidences:
Normally I would not have seen that much of them [when they came to Yale] because one was in
comparative literature, the other in history. But somebody fouled up and their rooms were not ready for
them, so they had to get an off-campus apartment for a month. Well, where were they going to leave
their books (they had several classes on the same day)? They could leave their books in my room.
We started all together in September and along about the second week in October, they were getting
their books and [they said] "Charlie, you did your Honors Thesis in college on what Carlyle learned in
translating Goethe that influenced his style. In college, you took three years of German, why don't you
go to Germany?" And I'd sort of been thinking about it but I thought I would go after I got my doctorate.
But they said once you get your doctorate, you'll be in competition with everybody, but here, you're in
second year grad school, you'll be in competition with college seniors. I hadn't thought of that.
My classes were all in the same building [where I also lived and ate] and the Library was right next
door, so the big moment of the day would be when I'd go a total of three blocks to the Yale Post Office
where I had my postal box. I was thinking about this [the idea of going to Germany], and I went to the
Post Office and here just across the way was the Foreign Study Office. So, I went to the Foreign Study
Office and asked if they had any brochures about the Fulbright program. The secretary said: "I have a
complete application packet. That'll tell you all you need to know." So, I was standing, holding this
application packet, and instead of going back the way I'd come, I went to the front of the building, and
right across the street was [Saybrook] College where the Head of the English Department had his office.
I had just started taking a course with him. He was a Lafayette graduate, if you can imagine a Lafayette
graduate becoming the Head of the Yale English Department. Now the most miraculous thing is, I went
to his office and he was there!
I don't know what had happened to him that morning but when I asked him, "Do you think this would be
a good idea for me?" He said, "Go...go! I never did and I should have. Go! I'll write you a
recommendation." In the space of a couple of hours, I'd made up my mind to go to Germany. [I] called
up my parents, got my Lafayette teachers ready to write recommendations, and went to Germany.
Fiksdal: That was for one year?
Teske: One year.
Now why University of Bonn? Because there was a great professor there who taught English/German
relationships. Irony: I never studied with him, but the man who was running the German family stay and
orientation for the Experiment in International Living, was also in that English Department. We got along
so well, I took three courses from him. It wasn't until about half way through his course on the English
and Scottish popular ballads that I realized he was the German authority and I hadn’t known that and
here I was studying with him. And I had originally decided that my dissertation was going to be on
Carlyle, and I got into the graduate seminar on Carlyle, and among other things that fascinated me,
Nietzsche had been influenced by Carlyle. Nietzsche had then been warped as a major figure by the
Nazis. And of course, the universities sort of lined up. Fine, but how about the Germans in the 1930's
teaching Carlyle himself in the English Department? Susan, one of the questions you did not ask at a
German university in the mid-50's was: "What were you guys doing in the 30's?" “The 30's -- hmmm --,
let's see. That was in between the 20's and the 40's. Let's see ..., what were we doing?” I did well in that
seminar, but I decided, "No. It's not for me."
I was left in the spring taking some interesting courses, including the Ballads of Oral Tradition with the

very friendly German professor, I had already studied Wordsworth [and Coleridge] and had given a
lecture on the genesis of their "Lyrical Ballads," which in English were the big watershed between
Neoclassicism and Romanticism. Well, two younger teachers were running a seminar, which I audited,
on the "Lyrical Ballads." [I thought:] "Well, wait a minute, those don't have anything to do with what I’m
learning about the oral traditional ballads." But what would happen, why when you have a ghostly ride
over here [in German] do you have a ghostly sea-voyage by the Ancient Mariner over there [in English]?
What's going on? And that, of course, became my dissertation: the literary ballad of the 18th century
leading up to Wordsworth and Coleridge.
Fiksdal: Oh interesting.
Teske: I was working quite hard, writing seminar papers and so forth. But of course, my other life...I took
along, because my teeth were still not in good shape, instead of playing trumpet, I played fluegelhorn,
which is fatter and it plays pretty much the same range, but much easier blowing. At that time, hardly
anybody was playing it.
I'd never really seen one before, but I went into NY when I was waiting on table in the summers in
Pennsylvania. Some of us who had a day off on the same day decided to go over to New York. I went in
the summer after my teeth were knocked out and I saw my first fluegelhorn and what really sold it to
me was that it came in a corduroy soft gig bag. A great French maker, Couesnon. So that's what I took to
Germany with me.
On the first night that a [German acquaintance] in whose family another American student was staying,
who was a big jazz fan, took me to a jazz/dance club, I took the fluegelhorn along to sit in. I came up just
before the break, and they [the band on the stand] said, “Well, you could sit in on the second half. Why
don't you go backstage and warm up quietly?” I did. And suddenly the back door opened, and six
strange guys walked in carrying instruments. They said, “Who are you?” I said, “I'm an American student
at the University of Bonn.” “What are you doing here?” “Well, I came to sit in and they told me to warm
up.” “We're going to be playing a set in a couple of minutes. Do you play jazz?” I said, “I've played some
jazz.” “O.K., why don't you sit in with us?”
Susan, after we'd played about three numbers, they got me away from the restaurant stage and said,
“O.K., here's the deal. The trumpet player playing with us tonight is not a regular member of our group.
This was an audition. If we get the job, would you like to be our trumpet player? They did. That became
my Wednesday night job for the rest of the year except for the big two-month university vacation.
Well, it turned out that the band that the ringer trumpet player was playing in—they were called the
"Duesseldorf Feetwarmers,” and he came by [to meet me in Bonn]. He was at a residence hall in
University of Cologne with my piano player and once when they were down in Bonn, he said, "Would
you like to play some concerts, some dances with us Duesseldorf Feetwarmers? At that time, I knew
very little Dixieland. I knew some. I said, “Oh, yeah, that would be fun.” I did write the Fulbright
commission and said, “I'm starting to get into a position here where I'm earning money and I'm getting
away from home turf, it is O.K. for me to do this?” They wrote back and said, "So long as it does not
impair your studies and for goodness' sake, if you're going to do it, play well!"
And it wasn't until they (the Feetwarmers) came down in a van and picked me up and took me to
Aachen and the big university theater [that I had any idea who they were]. There were a thousand
people there. The band was the Amateur German Jazz Championship combo -- "amateur" meaning that i
it wasn't their complete livelihood. They all were students in trade school or conservatory or something.
They had an LP out, and here I was in the middle of that group. And this got to be big-time stuff. I ended

up playing more for pay in Germany than I've ever played here before or since. And during Carnival time,
I got a lot of work. I did not let it get in the way of studies, but I did a whole lot of playing.
Fiksdal: That's just fabulous.
Teske: It was a very rich experience, and I guess the other part of it, I don't know what it has to do with
my work at Evergreen, but it didn't hurt. I needed some form of transportation. A Fulbrighter buddy of
mine had bought a motor scooter, which really impressed me.
I bought a motor scooter, and I used it mainly for commuting to jobs back and forth. A couple times I
went up to Duesseldorf and Cologne. He and I took it into our heads during March and April to make a
trip. We took our motor scooters. We were out for over 60 days. We went up the Rhine to Germanspeaking Switzerland, over the ridge to French-speaking Switzerland and then to Lausanne, Geneva,
Lyon, France, and then went across the southern fringe of the Massif Central. What was really exciting
was going through the Auvergne. I didn't realize there were extinct small volcanoes there. If you know
Canteloube’s "Songs of the Auvergne," it is something you don't really hear elsewhere. Boy, when you’re
riding on a motor scooter, [... in the middle of the landscape that produced such music....] We went
down to Biarritz and down into Spain to Madrid where we spent quite a bit of time then across to
Valencia, Barcelona and then inland to Perpignan, and Nimes, then back to the Mediterranean at
Marseilles and then went around the French Riviera, Italian Riviera, Pisa, down to Rome, and up to
Florence then Florence to Venice and Trieste and up to Vienna and Salzburg, Müenchen and back home.
3,000 miles. And the stuff we were able to see and experience!
Fiksdal: You had money, I mean, you were lucky to do that!
Teske: Yeah, and also, see, this was the time of Chancellor Adenauer and Economics Minister Ehrhardt,
and it was called the "economic miracle." They kept the German mark as such a hard currency. I got only
$100 a month from Fulbright; that was 480 marks. But there were lots of German students living on 180
or 200. And then I had all of these jobs. That was a big shot in the arm.
Fiksdal: That sounds amazing.
Teske: And then it led to other connections. It's sort of weird to contemplate, but both my musical and
scholarly reputation in Germany were much higher than they've ever been here.
Fiksdal: Well, when you think about it, though, you were already with amazing professors you know in a
much smaller place so people knew each other. Could I just ask through all that time and at Yale, did you
ever have a female professor?
Teske: Ahh. Interesting. In college no. In graduate school no, though there was for Chaucer an E.T.
Donaldson [former] student whom he let take over the class a couple times. Lafayette was all male. Yale
did have women in the graduate school but the undergraduate school was all male. I was just thinking
about that when I was reading this article about early Evergreen. It's all “he”.
Fiksdal: Yeah, and you had mentioned that you noticed "he."
Teske: It's just the way it was. Now I had very good female teachers at elementary and interspersed in
high school, but you'll be glad to know that when I was teaching at Oberlin [I was very much aware that]
it was the first co-educational school in the country. [From the founding] in 1833, they brought in
women and few years later, black students. In the 1960's there was a wave of all-male schools' thinking
about having women come in. And Lafayette, my alma mater, started thinking about this. The alumni
association knew I was teaching at Oberlin; they asked me to participate in a writing symposium with

the topic of making Lafayette co-ed. I wrote a very strong statement in favor of co-education.
Fiksdal: Yeah, because you were experiencing it.
Teske: Yeah. The difference between getting to know the women only on weekends only for parties and
on the other hand if you've both been up until 3 in the morning and have breakfast together, there are
very few illusions. [laughing]
Fiksdal: Yeah, there's a shared experience that is much more interesting.
Teske: The only problem there was that when women came to subjects such as English literature, or
English comp, the women were in advance of the men. So rarely did you have freshman women being
dated by freshman men.
The freshman women who wanted to date would be dating juniors and seniors.
I recall once I had an office where there was a fire escape and no air conditioning and if I worked there
in a summer evening, there were students, male and female students sitting on the fire escape, not
realizing that I had my window open and I could hear what they were talking about. And I would hear
young resolute women saying, "the trouble with you is...."
Obviously, with my experience at Oberlin...
Fiksdal: But I didn't have female professors either in college. It wasn't until I came back from my junior
year abroad that they had hired someone who was head of the French department, not the Foreign
Language Department. But, anyway, I took courses from her to make sure that I had achieved what they
had hoped I did, but she was my only experience. You know, if you think about role models for teaching.
Teske: Yeah. But see even at Oberlin, there was a rule that both in a married couple, both could not
have tenure and could not be full-time teachers. So, you had this absurdity that in the English
department was Arthur Turner, a full-time teacher, Chaucer specialist. His wife, a poet, was very well
versed in the study of poetry, creative writing. There were a couple of years where Alberta was teaching
6/6ths of a load. But she was not counted as "full time" and she was not allowed to vote in
departmental meetings.
The first time that I got into the Deans' Office as Associate Dean at Oberlin, my buddy Don Reich was
taking over as dean. The first thing we did was get a great woman history teacher and put together what
at Evergreen would be a DTF, and studied where that rule came from. Because we had lost some
excellent couples -- the only married couple with tenure--they'd gotten married after they both got
tenure. Otherwise, you got tenure and you automatically ruled out your wife.
Susan: That was it, just fear of nepotism, right?
Teske: That was the cover story. "You can’t have two people voting in a departmental vote; you can't
have two people voting in a faculty meeting." [The real story:] it was in the Depression and this is what
Marcia Colish and her group found out while digging. Up until that time you had [tenured]couples,
women and men teaching. It was in the Depression, the idea that one couple should not be getting two
salaries. As a temporary emergency measure, you would have to choose—you could not have both with
tenure. They did not put a sunset clause in there. And it [the reasoning] got lost.
Susan: People forget, yeah.
Teske: The moment that we brought it to the faculty, the faculty instantly changed that. Some of this

stuff you have to learn the hard way.
The other big thing about the Oberlin work was a sideline for me. I was not on a tenure track. When I
was hired, it was for two years, and if you do a good job and don't put a bomb under the President's
chair, you get two more years. But that's it. Four years and out. Because the English department was
too heavily tenured so you were told, "No hope of that." But on the other hand, I'd heard some very
good things about Oberlin, I'd met some interesting people from there and I also heard that it was a
great place to look for work from.
It was a whole big other thing going on with jazz. One of the big things I knew about Oberlin was a 10"
LP (yes, there were those), 10" LP Dave Brubeck did: "Jazz at Oberlin." Great prize-winning recording. I
thought it had been the college who had brought Brubeck. No, Brubeck was brought by a bunch of
students in spite of the college. But I was like Humphrey Bogart's character, Rick, in Casa Blanca—when
Claude Rains asks, "How did you end up here?" and he says, “I came for the waters." "But," Rains says,
"Monsieur, we do not have the waters." And Bogart says, "I was misinformed." Well, I was misinformed,
assuming [they had jazz]. I got to be the faculty advisor of the Jazz Club
Fiksdal: To keep things going, yeah.
Teske: To keep things going.
I put in two years and then at the end of that time I was married and then Boris [his son] came along and
my dissertation had gotten much more interesting but also much more demanding than I had thought.
And I did have Western Reserve Library. Oberlin did have the largest free-standing undergraduate library
in the country. And there was a very good special collection in Cleveland Public. But I still needed the
Sterling at Yale and the libraries of Harvard and Columbia. I had to get back. I needed time. And when
you get hung up like that, as you know, with the [ABD] All But Dissertation, as you know, there can be
real pressure upon you. I was saved by the Danforth Foundation, their Teaching Associate Program. Your
college had to recommend you but they also had to take you back for a year, so they couldn't use it
gracefully to get rid of me. [laughing]
I was fortunate enough to get the Danforth [support]. They paid half my salary and then 1/6 for each
member of the family, so I was getting 5/6ths salary. We moved back to New Haven. My dissertation ran
to over 500 pages and the absolute deadline for getting it in was 4:30 the first Friday in May, and I got it
in, in three bound volumes, at 4:25.
And then got back to Oberlin after what would have been my fourth year spent in New Haven, but since
they had recommended me for it, they had to take me back for another year. They said, "We still don't
have room for you, but you're doing a good enough job that if you want to have two more years, you
can have it, but then of course, you hit the six-year rule. The AAUP [American Association of University
Professors] rule: either up or out. And then in the second semester of 1964, a bunch of exciting things
happened. My wife, being native German, had not been back to Germany. We figured, in 1964, since I
was in the first of my extra two years, we could get her a charter flight from the Cleveland German
Society. On a Wednesday, the nonrefundable tickets came that she and Boris were going to use to spend
the summer of '64 in Germany. The next day the Head of the English Department came to my office. If
it's something completely on the up-and-up, they call you to their office. They don’t come to see you.
Fiksdal: Yeah, that's a good point. It's true.
Teske: Yeah. He said, "We've changed our minds." It turns out that the [elected] Faculty Council had
changed the English Department's mind. They said "You're going to let him go? You're nuts." “So,” he

said, "You're going to get tenure." Which means in 1965 I'd either have a full year at half pay or half a
year at full pay [for sabbatical]. But here were the tickets, nonrefundable! So, this is how Boris got to go
to Germany in 1964, and in 1965, and when June of 1966 came along, he and I were going shopping in a
nearby mall, and we passed under the Ohio turnpike. Boris said, "Oh boy, pretty soon I'm going to go to
Easton to see Nana and Papa and then take the plane to Germany." [I said] "Boris, we're not going to
Germany. "But we went when I was four, and we went when I was five." I think the poor fellow assumed
that once you come to be four, you go to Germany every summer.

I took the half year. Started in Scotland National Library. Then I spent about six weeks at the British
Museum. While I stayed in London, my wife and son went over to her mother's in Germany and then
came just a beautiful deal. I got Visiting Research Professor status at Göttingen. I wrote to my main
[friendly German] professor and asked, "Do I know anybody at Göttingen?" All I wanted was permission
to use the library. "Yes, Goeller was just a Dozent when you were at Bonn, and he has become the head
professor at Goettingen. And I wrote him one of these "You won't remember me, but" letters. And I got
back an effusive letter. "Oh, I remember when you gave a lecture to our English Society about the
genesis of American musical comedy and how again at Carnival you got the band you were playing with
to play free for our party. I remember you very well." All I had asked him was whether I could have
permission to use the library. And he said, "Oh, yes, you can have permission to use the library. Tell you
what, right now we have only two full professorships on board. A third has been funded, but he won't
be coming until second semester. Would you like to use his office and his secretary when you come here
to do your research?"
I wrote back and said, "Gee, yeah, and by the way could you give me the name of a real estate firm so
that we can get an apartment?" He wrote back, "You'll be staying on the fifth floor of a new high-rise
building in a new development area up on the hill. It will be furnished. [It was, even down to even the
brandy snifters, Susan.] And your rent will be thus and such." Well fine, ready to go. Another letter
came. "While you're here, I’m signed up for a seminar in oral traditional ballads. Would you like to teach
for us and run the seminar?" So, I went to another buddy at Oberlin, the Provost, a bass player, and I
said, ‘What do you think?” He said, “We know you can teach; better to do some more research.” I wrote
him [German professor] back, “Thanks for the offer, but I can't do that.” But the very fact that he had
offered me the job meant that when I arrived, I was considered to be the third highest ranking person in
the department.
Fiksdal: For heaven's sake.
Teske: And here I was 33. There were teaching assistants older than I was.
Fiksdal: It's such a hierarchical system, it's just amazing.
Teske: I'd be walking down the street. We had a very distinguished English conversation expert from
Cambridge. When he and I--We'd be walking down the street and if a student passed us, it was, "Guten
Tag Herr Professor Doktor Teske; guten Tag Mr. Fletcher."


Charlie Teske
Interviewed by Susan Fiksdal
The Evergreen State College Oral History project
Interview 2
November 3, 2016
Begin Part 1 of 2 of Charlie Teske on 11-3-16
Fiksdal: Okay, we are ready to go here.
Teske: Well, before I go on a bit about how my experiences as a guest professor in Germany may have
had impact—certainly upon me, but may have had impact upon Evergreen—I want to go way back,
Susan, and just establish a few things that I’ve been thinking about since our last conversation.
One of them is the significance of my having been born in 1932. It turned out to be the year with the
lowest birth rate in the 20th century. And what that means is that there weren’t all that many of us. I
think the same would hold true—I don’t know when the birth rate started going down—whether it
started right after the crash of 1929—but at any rate, the birth rate in 1932 was the lowest, and it
remained fairly low through the next four or five years of the Depression. People didn’t have the money
to be thinking of having families and so forth.
Where that came home to me, I began to notice that whatever age I was, was the wrong age for
advertising; that the ideal for how old you were supposed to be never hit me. And then, when I started
teaching, and read some good articles in a book I was using about advertising, I began to realize why
they had never targeted me. These people are smart. They used demographics, and I and the people of
my generation—or half-generation—we were negligible. Why bother with us? Go for the people wwho
are there.
And so, as I once griped to my son when he was about in his late twenties, I said, “whatever age
I am is wrong. When I was 15 or 16, 17, you were supposed to be in your thirties, and suave and still
unmarried. The dream was Cyd Charisse dancing around in a penthouse doing ballet, and her husband,
Tony Martin, in a tuxedo holding a martini.” That you were supposed to be like that, and the Cole Porter
songs were aimed at that. So I get to be 30, and all of a sudden, I’m supposed to be 17, and be the
leader of the laundromat.
I was griping to my son about this, and he looked at me and he said, “Yeah, but you never had
any trouble getting a job, did you?” And he was quite right.

There weren’t that many of us around. Then, you add to that, Susan, the way in which a lot of
people who might have wanted to become teachers were instead serving in World War II. And some of
them, yes, were able to come back, use G.I. Bill and start teaching. But it was as if there were an eightto-10-year slice, where the number of available people for college teaching and even for college
administration, was relatively low.
I know, when I became that age—what?—age 36, the Associate Dean of the Oberlin College of
Arts and Sciences, an older colleague said to me, “In the old days, you would have had to have been 10
years older before they would have looked at you for this kind of job.” It’s in that sort of context that
there was, for potential faculty members, a seller’s market. You get the idea—okay, at Yale, when I
Fiksdal: Let’s stop for a second.
End of Part 1 of 2 of Charlie Teske on 11-3-16
Begin Part 2 of 2 of Charlie Teske on 11-3-16
Fiksdal: I caught you in the middle of a sentence I think.
Teske: Yeah. You can get an idea about the way in which the ages of my age-mates, and slightly older
and slightly younger, what they were facing when they wanted to go into teaching. Now when I was in
graduate school, I was not really aware that the Baby Boomers were coming. But the main educational
policy people knew that the Baby Boomers were on the way.
So you can get the idea that when I entered Yale, there were 27 of us first-year English majors. I
don’t know how many of us actually went through the whole thing and got our doctorates. I would say
probably about 12, at most 14, out of the 27 eventually got the doctorates. But uniformly, those
colleagues whom I was able to track all got fairly good jobs, either really prestigious, private colleges or
universities. By the early 2000s, I was getting newsletters from the Yale Graduate Department of English
talking about how they were admitting 12 people because there weren’t the jobs out there. Of the 12,
nine were getting their doctorates, and five already had full-time jobs. Think about how that changed.
Things were even such that in my third full year of residency at graduate school—two years and
then going to Germany and then that third year—the campus was being visited by representatives of
various universities, trying to recruit. You had the hiring people coming to Yale, Harvard, Columbia,
Princeton and so forth, to try to recruit people for teaching. That’s the way things were. Leaping way
ahead, Susan, I think the important thing to recognize there is those conditions still obtained in the early
‘70s, which means that when we had—I think we stopped counting at 1,900 unsolicited applications for


the faculty and the 100 faculty positions of our first two years. It was at least that. It was at least a
function of about 20 to one of unsolicited applications to positions we had open.
It was, of course, then a few years later that people who had thought that the Baby Boom would
never end were sort of taken by surprise. Also, between us, there were a number of people who should
not really have gone to graduate school, who did it as an alternative of going to Vietnam. Then, when
they got out, they added to—so all of a sudden, it switched from a seller’s market of the people selling
their wares to come and work, to a buyer’s market of those who actually did the hiring.
As a future historian is thinking about the opening of Evergreen and other schools at that time, I
think it’s important to realize what the demographics were, and what the- the pressures were. That’s
point one from the past.
By the way, it sounds as if I’m pontificating. I’m simply saying the way that I saw things, and sort
of tried to build them into my Weltanschauung, my worldview. They may be wrong, but for better or
for worse, that’s the way I was thinking.
We shift to my senior year at Lafayette College, and one of the great courses that I had there
was called “Social and Intellectual History of the United States.” In the process, as part of the
intellectual history, the teachers and the text were making the point that the early colleges had been set
up on the English model, but largely to produce ministers and teachers ah- to go out into the wilderness
and spread learning.
I once asked an actually friendly, if you can imagine, Harvard professor—he had been running a
workshop on oral tradition—and I said, “Did you have other people working with you from musicology
and other fields and so forth?”
He said, “At Harvard, not only do you not work with other Harvard people, you don’t work with
other people in your department.”
I said, “Well, I’d heard that, but I didn’t want to believe it.” [laughing]
He said, “No, he said you have to realize, when Harvard was founded, its graduates were
supposed to be able, with a few books, to go off on their own and be completely self-reliant.”
But that has caused a whole lot of problems, Susan, that the very fact that both the great
studies in oral tradition—the singer of tales and so forth— that began at Harvard. And the big ballad
study of Francis James Child and George Lyman Kittredge started at Harvard. You would think that they
would get together. No. The ballads belong to the English Department, and the oral tradition studies—
the south Slavic epics and so forth—belong to Comparative Literature. They were two different
departments, and they didn’t talk. This had really repercussions for the nationwide study of these issues.

So we learned that about the original colleges. Usually, the recipe was that it would be a particular
denomination and a particular area that would get the college started.
Now. Teachers did have titles. You might be a Professor of Rhetoric or a Professor of French.
No, by the way, modern languages—languages actually spoken—did not start getting taught until
around the 1890s or something like that. Why should you bother studying French? Go to France! If you
were college and university material, you could have the wherewithal to go to France, or Italy, or
Germany or something like that. You did not have the Modern Language Association; I think that was
founded in the 19-teens or something like that. So if you were studying literature, you were studying
Greek and Latin, of course. If you went into divinity, you studied Hebrew. It was undergraduate schools
largely, and the professor might have the title of Professor of Rhetoric, or Professor of Greek, or
Professor of Mathematics, but there were no mathematics departments or classics departments or
anything like that. That’s not how things were organized.
Then, and I meant to look up Johns Hopkins, about where his money came from—it is Johns, not
John. Johns Hopkins wanted to have a university founded in Baltimore. He took this very bright, very
ambitious man, Daniel Coit Gilman—who had before been, I think, involved as a high administrator in
the beginnings of the California system—and he sent Gilman to Germany for a year or more to study the
way the German universities functioned. Gilman came back, and when Johns Hopkins opened in 1876, it
opened as the first graduate school.
Before that, if you wanted to get a doctorate, you had to go study in Europe. If you were in
philosophy, philology, literature, classics and so forth, you went to Germany. Francis James Child of the
Child oral traditional ballads went to a university in Berlin and studied with Jakob Grimm at University of
Berlin, and had in his study a big oil painting of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm as his intellectual forebears
and so forth. There was no such thing as getting your Ph.D. in America. Johns Hopkins was first, and
then others started following.
I first ran into Gilman in this course on social and intellectual history. It was just a kind of bythe-way—it was a point made among many points—that in the American educational system, the first
universities were on the model of the German university, and they started in 1876. But you just sort of
filed that fact away. Later, when I got to Germany and began to witness what was going on there, and
realized that the Gymnasium was not like the freshman, sophomore years.
Fiksdal: Of high school?
Teske: No, of college. I don’t know how the lycée works, but the Gymnasium, because I had studied in
Germany, I was asked at Oberlin and here at Evergreen, if a student came with study in a Gymnasium, I

was supposed to be the one who worked out, with the Registrar, how much credit that amounted to. I
had no problem with a person having finished a Gymnasium of having him enter as a third-year student.
Fiksdal: We did the same with students who went to lycée in France.
Teske: Okay. So that was the cutting point. But in a four-year American college, you still see the
residue. You have your distribution requirements, and then you usually declare a major for your third
year. But the premature specialization has penetrated from the graduate school down into the
undergraduate school, so that people began to think, in their freshman year. If you’re going to be prelaw, pre-med, pre-physics, you have to be already focused. As I said in writing a little while ago, the
whole idea of education as a citizen, and education for richness and personal development, you’ll find
that at the beginning of catalogs, but the rest of the catalogs will all be, here are your required courses,
here are your distribution requirements, here are your electives, and so forth.
Again, as I say, every English instructor or French instructor in the undergraduate program of
university is looking forward to the day of being able to teach graduate students, and having the
prestige of being able to teach fewer people and fewer hours further up the ladder. In a Gymnasium,
you don’t have that. There may be aspirations, but that’s separate from the way in which you are
rewarded and so forth.
Carrying on along this line, think about the rewards structure. Publish or perish. The
departments run the undergraduate schools to the extent—and did I ever see this when I was in the
Dean’s office at Oberlin—somebody is a hot publisher; gets an offer from outside. The dollars are
limited, and so the college council that at Oberlin made the decisions on hiring, firing, promotion, even
salary levels—
“We’re going to lose him unless we pay him more money. Where are we going to get it?”
“Well, we were going to give So-and-So over here a raise, but he loves the school. He’s worked
so hard at the school, we’re not going to lose him. So let’s take the money and”—and Oberlin is one of
the more civilized and humane places. It could get so bad that when, at a late night meeting, when the
council was going through things—and see, as Associate Dean, I was at those meetings ex officio—I sat
next to the Dean, and I spoke when I was spoken to. But a colleague was up for tenure. He had just
published a book. The higher powers of his department were not--he was not in great favor with.
In their putting out the recommendation—saying that he should not be given tenure—they said,
“Well he did publish a book, but it was mainly a student textbook.”
I put up my hand and I said, “Wait a minute. I don’t think that’s a student textbook. So far as I
know, that is a study- a critical study of modern French literature.”

They said, “Are you sure?”
Well, one of the senior members of the department, I happened to know, was sort of on his
side. And this was, I think, 9:30 at night. I said, “Could you suspend discussion? I‘m going to go and
He was out walking his dog, and he was going to be coming back. I waited by the phone, and he
called. I said, “Look, we’re in the midst of discussing So-and-So’s possibility of getting tenure. Was his
book, his new book, is that a survey put out to be sold to undergraduates, or is it bona fide scholarly
“Oh, he said it’s a bona fide scholarly work.”
I went back in; the discussion changed; he got tenure. But it means that you are putting the
control of the undergraduate teachers, who are teaching your students, you’re putting the control into
the hands of “the field.” There were a number of times in those two years in the Dean’s office that my
Dean and I tried hard to get—this is before I knew anything about Evergreen—to get some
interdisciplinary programs going—drama and dance, things that really fitted together. We would think
that we had an agreement, and then people would go to their professional meetings, and come back
and we were told, “No, you can’t do that.”
I hadn’t really thought before about how much the educational policies of even a separate,
freestanding undergraduate school would be in the control of the department. I don’t know how it is in
France, but in Germany—we use the term “department.” In Germany, it’s called ein Fach, which means
pigeonhole. It’s not a department, it’s a compartment. There’s even the term among the laity called a
Fachidiot. This is a person who has learned more and more about less and less until he finally knows
everything about nothing, or a very small amount. This is what Gilman let loose on American higher
education, without realizing what was going to happen when you had undergraduate schools feeding
graduate schools.
I could carry on a lot, but exactly that kind of discussion was very much on our minds in the
planning year of Evergreen, and in the year before. Ah, we got to telling war stories of what had
happened to our students. I’ll regale you with just one, because it fits your background.
When I was in the Dean’s office, I participated in the hiring process. Now the real decisions, the
way Oberlin worked, the deans proposed and the Faculty Council disposed. They were the ultimate
voters. So when there would be a faculty opening, it would be the department who would bring the list
of several candidates to the deans. Then the arrangements would be made for them to visit campus. In
their day of visiting, besides holding maybe a noontime performance or lecture for interested faculty

members and students, they would be meeting as many members of the Council as they could, as well
as members of the department.
The first meeting of the day would be with the Dean, who would run down the dollars-and-cents
matters about when TIAA-CREF would cut in; what the benefit structure would be; what the
assumptions would be. It would be more or less the Dean having a checklist, just talking to the person
about, here’s the background of the job you’re—what it means to be a faculty member here.
Then there would be these other meetings during the day, and I would be at the end of the day.
I would be the last person. The members—not so much of the department but of the Faculty Council—
if they came away from their interviews with questions that they hadn’t asked, or they hadn’t thought
to ask, they would call my secretary. So I would have a list of the things, a checklist—“Be sure to ask
about thus and such; be sure to ask about so-and-so.” My job was to tidy up, and also just maybe talk a
little bit about the advantages of being there with the Oberlin Conservatory.
I got to see all the candidates. In the first year in the Dean’s office, one of the candidates—a
very bright, very attractive candidate—was a man who was doing his dissertation at the University of
Geneva in French. But he was in the Political Science Department; that’s the job he was going for. Well,
he was hired, and we were glad to have him.
The next year, in my position as Associate Dean, I worked with what was called “private
reading.” Now, this helped prepare me to be the head of Contracts at Evergreen. Private reading. If you
were a junior or senior, and you were carrying, I think, a B average, you were allowed to take one of
your five courses as a private reading course, which would be like an Evergreen Individual Learning
Contract. But I had to sign them as Dean. Whereas at Evergreen, I tried to establish the pattern that the
Dean would check, but still the real deal was between the faculty sponsoring and the student. Whereas
at Oberlin, I was the gatekeeper.
There were times, Susan, I am sad to say, that colleagues would call me up and say, “Well,
Charlie, I signed off on this, but it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if you turned them down.” Good old
faculty member, bad old Dean, ok?
In the fall quarter, a young woman, whom I’d taught two years before, in “Introduction to
Literature,” came to see me in the Dean’s office. She had a problem. She was a Political Science major,
but she had taken a lot of French. And what she wanted to do for one-fifth of her credit was to do
reading in French political science journals. Perfect! Great!
Well, what was the problem? She had gone to the French Department to look for sponsorship,
and they said, “Oh, we don’t know anything about political science. We couldn’t do anything like that.”

She asked me is there anything I could do? I said, “Look, you don’t know about him because
you’re an advanced student, and he just joined the faculty this year, and is teaching basic courses. But
here’s this man”—she, of course, had heard his name—“here’s this man new in the department, and
he’s doing his doctoral dissertation in political science in Geneva in French. Why don’t you go talk to
She came back about a half-hour later, all smiles. Yes, he was willing to work with her. He’d
even lent her French journals to start her study.
I said, “Okay, fine. But you should go up and tell the French Department that you found
somebody.” She came back down in about twenty minutes, almost in tears. They would not allow it. If
there’s any credit given that has anything to do with French it has to come through the French
Do you know what the solution was? Took us about two weeks. We made the Political Science
teacher a part-time, temporary member of the French Department, so that he could take this perfectly
rational contract. Susan, at that time, I was doing faculty office assignments, and I was about ready to
put the French Department on the roof, I was so mad. This was at one of the better, more humane
places that that kind of nonsense would go on.
I learned about the limitations of the German university, and the difference between—again,
that brought home to me this problem of loading the German university on top of the English
undergraduate college, without planning for it. I grant you, it probably took until maybe 1930’s before
the departments got that kind of strength and momentum. But believe me, they did. [laughing]
Fiksdal: Once they got it, they didn’t let go.
Teske: Yeah. That was a fairly important thing that got planted first in my senior year of college. But
then, as I studied in Germany, and then went back as a visiting professor, I began to figure that out in my
I had read John Dewey, but it was still more something, shall we say, practical like that, that I’d
actually lived through, and then, at Oberlin, run into with trying to work with students.
There was another case. Again, a young woman I’d worked with before- two years before. She
came in and, all smiles, she said, “I’m so happy. Just had to share this with you. As a senior, we get to
register first, and then within the seniors, there would be a certain range—K through N—gets to be the
very first to register.”


She had hit it not only as a senior, but in the lottery, she was right in the very first group to
register. She was able to put something together, where she was studying in Chaucer, medieval religion
and philosophy, medieval music, and medieval visual art, all at the same time. “Isn’t that great?”
“Wow, is that great!”
She left, and then I started thinking to myself. Well, how else can you study? Why should we
rejoice so much when, but the sheerest luck, a person would be able to put together the things that she
should have to know?
Another war story. I had a student, advanced course, where we were working on Milton’s
Paradise Lost and so forth. At the same time, he was taking 17th Century British History, and he was
taking a course in religion that included dealing with Puritanism. He came in and asked, “Instead of my
writing three separate papers—a Milton paper for you, a Puritan paper for Professor So-and-So, and a
Cromwell rebellion paper for- couldn’t I write one large paper that pulled together Milton as Puritan in
his service to Cromwell?”
Perfect sense. I called up my colleagues, and “It wouldn’t work, because who would give him
credit for what? Sorry.”
Fiksdal: Unless it were in sections or something.
Teske: “Sorry.” Yeah. “What you propose is, yeah, and I really like . . . . “ This was just some of the
background. Now I did not leave to get away from Oberlin. I had tenure. I loved Oberlin. The bright,
interesting colleagues, huge library, the Conservatory. It was great Susan. I didn’t come out here to get
away from there. But it was just, there were things piling up that I thought one could do better.
Another issue, when I got to graduate school, along about the third year, when we were getting
ready to start thinking about looking for jobs, one of our either beer-or-cheap-red-wine late-night bull
sessions—and, of course, these were interdisciplinary; that was one of the great things about being in
the Hall of Graduate studies—and our group were discussing whether we wanted to go teach in
universities or teach in colleges. In large part, it depended upon what our own training had been. If we
had been trained at or done our undergraduate work at a university, then we were likely to think that. I
enjoyed my undergraduate work at Lafayette, so very much that I—despite the attempts in graduate
school to get you to thinking university, that’s what counts, that’s what counts—I still, no, no, I wanted
to go to an undergraduate school.
At any rate, one of the guys in the group said—and I’ll tell a later story, which is really bizarre,
when we’re done here—but he just came out with a dictum. He wanted to teach at a university because
“colleges were places at which you taught, and universities were places at which you learned.” Susan,

that has stuck with me all this time, and a large part of what’s going on is my trying to prove him wrong.
That the teachers can learn at colleges.
I put it to you—and I think you’re a good example and I’m a good example, too—that we have
learned more being able to teach with this range of colleagues, in this sort of atmosphere, where we will
have a bright idea, and instead of being told, “Oh, no, you can’t do that,” being told, “Yeah. Go ahead.”
Evergreen has the most remarkable way of calling people’s bluffs. They come charging in saying,
“I’d like to do thus and such.” As I found out later—a whole lot of us who signed on at the beginning,
when the college had not really become defined yet—starting with Charlie McCann; I’ll keep that for a
separate topic. But we decided in our interviews to test the school, and we couldn’t believe that they
were serious in what they were saying. So we thought, okay, we might as well let everything hang out.
And we did. [laughing]
They said, “Oh, fine. If you want to do that, come. That’s what we’ll do.”
I don’t know if you had this in talking to people back at Michigan, people that other schools
asking, “Is the State really letting you get away with this?”
Fiksdal: Oh, yeah, they did ask. Also, they couldn’t believe I had left a job that I already had in order to
get my Ph.D. in linguistics. Why would I do that? “You already have a job.”
Teske: Yeah, and that your school would back you on that, and try to make arrangements so you could
do it. I don’t know whether you’ve had this with students that you’ve known, but I’ve had at least three
or four students who have gone either—I think two of them were off-campus conferences that they
were the only undergraduates at the conference. One of them was with the composer, Howard Hanson.
Another was a woman I was able to help get an internship at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She
decided, there was a program in the Department of Labor manpower program, which was being used to
support the arts. She was very much interested in arts management. That’s why she wanted to go to
Kennedy Center. She just, being an Evergreener, as a senior, she called up the administrator at the
Department of Labor, made an appointment,; went over and talked to that person and said, “Look, this
program is great, but you ought to know that there are these problems and these problems.”
At the end, the person said, “Well, Miss So-and-So, where are you doing your doctorate?”
“Oh,” she said, “I’m a senior at the Evergreen State College.”
“You’re coming to see me, and taking that initiative?” [laughing]
Again, one of our students in the “Roots of Our Romanticism” program, she had her heart set on
becoming a music librarian. She had been looking around, and there was situation where there was a


State University of New York branch that was near Rochester, and it used the Eastman School of Music
music library as their training ground. She wanted to go visit.
Well, she was the first member of her family to go to college, and when her parents heard New
York, they assumed she’d end up as a hooker on 42nd Street. She said, no, that this is upstate. They’re
not going to give her any money to go to look at something in upstate New York.
Well she knew that the “Roots of Our Romanticism” was one of three programs that was getting
special National Endowment for the Humanities funding, which included money for research projects.
She said, “Well, what I’m doing doesn’t really fit with what we’re doing, but I know there’s some money
there and if you could give me $100 for a bus roundtrip to Rochester, it would really help a lot.”
I said, “Okay. Look, we have the money, and I’d like to do it, but we have to do something for
the program.”
Well, here we are “Roots of Our Romanticism.” The retired head of the Eastman School of
Music at Rochester was Howard Hanson, and one of his symphonies is called the Romantic Symphony.
He was a champion, in the midst of 12-tone music and so forth, continuing to write in the 19th Century
Romantic vein of symphonies.
A young composer and monk and flute player, Ronald Hurst, was teaching with me. I said,
“Ronald, is Howard Hanson still alive?”
Ronald said, “I don’t know. I can look it up.” He came back and he said, “Yeah, Hanson’s still
alive, and he’s living in the Rochester area.”
I said, “Julie, could you do the correspondence, and maybe phoning around, and set up an
interview with Howard Hanson?”
Our program, after all, was “Roots of Our Romanticism” our romanticism, Susan, we were still
tracking, not just from 1798 or so; we were tracking continued examples of romanticism in our culture
I said, “Take along a tape recorder, and try to get an interview with Hanson.”
She had an hour interview on tape with this composer, and former head of Eastman School. She
told him about the program, and he deliberately made a lecture for us, and gave her a signed copy of his
Romantic Symphony. At the end, he asked her, “And where are you doing your doctorate?” [laughing]
And she said, “I’m a junior at the Evergreen State College.”
But at any rate, to me, that was extremely important. It’s so amazing how something like that
will get under your skin: “Colleges are where one teaches; universities are where one learns.” I didn’t


believe that and I wanted to teach at Oberlin, and I wanted to- insofar as I had influence, to shape
Evergreen toward that mark. And so far, I think it’s . . .
Fiksdal: It’s been working yeah! (laughing)
Teske: When I look around and I see—and not just with other people than myself—when I see how
people have grown in response to the opportunity to develop, and the challenges. I know this carries
over also into individual contracts. When I was asked by people, quite candidly, “Won’t students tend to
use these individual contracts that they negotiate as ways of goofing off?”
I said, “For every one student that might goof off, there will be either or nine students who will
do much more work, because it’s their baby. They signed up for it.”
That was what was hanging over me in graduate school. I was very glad that I was able to get to
Oberlin, and got out there ok. With Germany then, I don’t know, this sounds ah- disingenuous, that on
the one hand, I can say, I really liked the experience, and I liked the people. But here’s what was wrong
with this system.
Fiksdal: That’s okay.
Teske: But it is true that that is what happened. Oh, as an aftermath of that, during the time I was
there at Göttingen, the head of department, who had been my very gracious host, ah mentioned that he
had a student who was doing his first doctoral thesis—right down my alley—on the connection, the very
tenuous connection, between oral traditional and what are called—I don’t know what they would be in
French, but the literary ballads, and would I be willing to talk to him about his dissertation?
Well, I did, and he was very pleasant, and we got along. He asked me “If there’s anything I can
do for you”—and at that time, my son, Boris, was five, and I said, “Listen, if you, with your connections,
could find somebody who might be willing to be a babysitter.”
“Oh,” he said, “I’ll do it.”
At least three or four times, in Germany, he was our babysitter.
I got back to Oberlin. The head of German Department called me. He said, “When you were
over there at Göttingen, did you happen to meet a young man named Thus-and-Such and So-and-So?”
I said, “Yeah, yeah. I got to know him fairly well for his work, and also being a babysitter.”
“Well, we have, as you know, each year, a year-long appointment for a German university
student to come and be a conversation tutor here for German House at Oberlin. Usually, there will be
one of our department who will be over in Europe, so they will interview candidates there. But we
didn’t have anybody this year, but you were there, and he says he knows you. Could you recommend

Fiksdal: Perfect.
Teske: I said, “Oh, perfect.”
When he came to Oberlin, he came with the assumption that he could continue working on his
doctorate with me. I had to explain to him that Oberlin was an undergraduate college. But he still
continued. The end of the story—it ends very happily—is he married one of our brightest students, who
had herself spent some time at university in Berlin. I don’t know what happened to them, but they
surely have my blessing.
Here was this difference, undergraduate college- try to describe an undergraduate college to a
German professor, and especially a private college.
Fiksdal: They just won’t understand it.
Teske: They have no comprehension. I think there’s only one institution in Germany that is privately
funded. It’s a sort of highly advanced MBA business school in the Ruhr for executives, and that’s paid
for by the big steel and coal industries and so forth. But otherwise, they know nothing about . . .
If it’s bad enough to explain an American undergraduate college, try to explain Evergreen. One
of the things—and I’ll put in the plug here, I’ll ask Randy (Stilson) to put in my cover story into the other
material—we were visited by a German professor and his wife for about three weeks in 1990? I think
they were here in February. They came and lived in the dorms—had no car—and he spent three weeks
studying us, because he was from the University of Bielefeld, and he was a higher education specialist.
And what they were trying to do was to have a bridge program between the Gymnasium and the
university; ‘cause their problem was the last two years of the Gymnasium—where you usually went for
six years—the last two years would feel like the third and fourth years of college, being very rich.
Then they would go to the university, where now, because of the funding situation, lectures
would have 500-600 students listening. Proseminar, which had been meant for maybe 30-40 students
would have 120. Haupt seminars, which was meant for maybe 20 students will have 40-some. Obet
seminar which was made for seven or eight students, will have 20. For the first two years, a lot of
German students are just sort of wandering around bewildered.
Ludwig Huber had come to a conference in the U.S. in the East, and he had asked, “Where can I
find a model of what would be the most up-to-date, cutting-edge undergraduate education in the U.S.?”
The people all said, “Come to Evergreen.”
Fiksdal: Wow
Teske: He wrote the President or Provost, and showed up. And even though his English was great, they
still said, “Well, Charlie, will you be his host?”

Well it was- no, excuse me, it was ’93-’94 that he was here, so it would have been February of
’94. I sort of attached him to our program. He would go to lectures, and he would go to seminars. Right
at that time, we were studying the pre-Socratics and Socratic dialogs. He was really struck by this. Here
we were, Setsuko Tsutsumi, Don Finkel, Al Leisenring and Tom Grissom—physicist, classics, and, of
course, Al was a classicist, a classics major, before he became a mathematician. Setsuko and Don Finkel,
who had been a philosophy major before he was in educational psychology. The very idea that people
who didn’t have degrees in classics would be discussing Greek authors, that got him.
Then he attended some of our seminars. “It’s amazing. The students are engaging Socrates as if
he were alive now, and arguing with him and so forth.”
I think he met with another advanced program, and then the Jim Strowe’s geology group
contract. About the second week, he said to me, “The one thing I haven’t been able to visit are
individual contracts.”
I was handling one, one of the brightest students that I had ever had; one of the greatest
contracts. This student, Susan, he was the kind of person—I was taking him through epics, major
genres. For example, when we were working on Beowulf, and reading also the Battle of Maldon, which
is a short, fragmentary piece, but it’s done in Old English in the same pattern. He didn’t like the
translation of the Battle of Maldon, so he wrote his own,
Susan: Oh my gosh!
Teske: For a one-week assignment in his contract.
The week that I got his permission that Dr. Ludwig Huber should come and sit in, we were
working on ballads. I’d given him a paper that I had written about the process; about how a lot of what
we call the “smoothest, best, most powerful oral traditional ballads” started as doggerel street poetry;
where it had been some huge, lurid crime or something like that, that the publisher would have a hack
poetaster who would write out, “It was on the evening of duh-duh-duh-da-da, and this was very sad to
see.” Then that thing goes out, gets into oral tradition. You run into it 100 and 200 years later, and it’s
all polished, and it’s almost getting into Jungian territory of myth and so forth.
Well, this was right in the middle of the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal with the Winter
Olympics, where Tonya Harding had tried to have Kerrigan’s, legs broken, her competitor. That was the
big scandal in the paper. Not only did Phil Chase read the ballad paper that I’d given him, and read a
whole lot of the ballads. What he did, he wanted to surprise me every week with some new tack. He
wrote the Ballad of Nancy and Tonya, and he started it with a newspaper account. And then he did it as
a broadside lurid ballad. Then he turned it into one of these noble, simple, you know.

Fiksdal: How clever.
Teske: I was just sitting there with the jaw dropped. It was so funny. We went over to the CAB for a cup
of coffee, and Phil, on the way over, was just filling the German professor’s ear with how great it was to
be working on a contract, and to have this kind of—yeah. At any rate, this man wrote about a 25- to 35page report in German of his experience. He had just—the poor fellow, he had to, first of all, explain to
his German colleagues how American undergraduate colleges worked, and then explain how Evergreen
worked. When I read this, he sent it to me and said, “Is this okay?”
I said, “Look, is it okay with you if I translate this?”
He said, “I don’t see why. I mean, you know all this stuff.”
I said, “Yeah, but the advantage of having somebody from another culture, in another language,
come and look at you, and what you’re doing, this is a tremendous boon to us.” I translated it, sent my
translation back, he made some corrections. That’s in the archives.
Fiksdal: Wow. That’s quite a perspective.
Teske: Yeah. It would be like Oliver Sacks’s, The Anthropologist from Mars. Somebody dropping in and
trying to describe what goes on. Of all things this connects with what we were talking about with the
architecture, I thought that he would look at our buildings and just put up his nose by comparison with
the great German universities. No, he was not comparing us to Heidelberg or something like that. He
was comparing us to the universities that were just sort of thrown together after World War II.
He really liked our campus. He said all of the arrangements on the campus demonstrate the
functionality of fitting the architecture to the program—and, of course, he was totally knocked out by
the fact that on the main campus—not with A dorm, but with the main campus—that the trees were
higher than everything but the clock tower.
At any rate, that thing exists in my translation. Anybody who is listening to this who wants to
know more about Evergreen, should go have a look at it.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: That resulted in a very big juxtaposition of German system and our system. Are there any other
things that you’re curious about, about my having spent a semester as a faculty member in Germany, or
at least as a quasi-faculty member in Germany?
Fiksdal: Well, I think, given some of the things you’ve said, it would be interesting to know how you
were treated. In other words, what sort of respect, how you were called, sort of what went with that as
a teacher there? I mean at Evergreen, of course, we ask that everyone use our first names. No one ever
called me “doctor,” and I did kind of want them to after a while. [laughing]

Teske: All right. Well, I was actually thinking about the good man, Prof. Dr. Karl Heinz Göller, who was
there when I was a student, he was an instructor when I was a student at Bonn. I ran into him again
nine years later, and he was Head of Department at Göttingen. Then he moved to be the founding Dean
of a new University of Regensburg, founding Dean of Humanities. He was doing what I was later on
going to do here.
Fiksdal: Exactly, yeah.
Teske: We got talking, and he was fascinated when I talked to him about what was happening with
Evergreen. We were sort of trying to cook up, not an exchange, where we would exchange in the same
year, but that I would go teach for him for a year, and then I would be his host, and he would come
teach at [Evergreen]. But then it struck me. The poor man; he was a German teacher, very humane,
very civilized. But I can just imagine an Evergreen student saying, “Well, Karl Heinz, I respect your
attitude about this, but frankly, no, I can’t agree with it.”
Heart attack! “Argh-h-h-h!” [laughter]
Fiksdal: Because this just isn’t done.
Teske: That isn’t how things work. The German professor, there is a dignity, which would emanate from
a German professor. Well, there is an extended story that I told you during the blackout of our digital
recorder last time. I was mainly there to do my own research, but because of the way in which I was
welcomed—part of which was an offer to teach; and because I wanted to do research, I had to turn
down the teaching. But since it had been offered- the department had two full professors, and since
they had offered me the job, even though I hadn’t taken it, I was regarded as the third-ranking person in
the department.
Fiksdal: That’s just extraordinary.
Teske: I did give a very well-paid lecture to about 1,000 people. I gave it in English, because German
formal style is still beyond me. But I gave it in English, and, as I mentioned, five minutes before I was to
give a largely improvised talk—improvised on notes—the host said, “Oh, by the way, you will give it in
Oxford English, won’t you?” Which resulted in me giving a very bad . . . But they’re serious about that.
When years before, I was on the ship going over to Germany, there were some German students
who were returning. Now typically what happens with the Fulbright groups, when you were going, the
whole group would go together on the same sailing, but when you were coming back, you had your
choice of several sailings. But there still were a number of German students who had been in the U.S.
for a year, and were now returning to their German universities.


After we’d been out a couple days, there was an announcement. “If you were going to
University of So-and-So, Fraulein So-and-So will be in this lounge to chat with you, if you’re interested in
learning things about where you’ll be going.” Well, there was a young English major woman from
University of Bonn, who was on the trip. We talked several times in that group, and I think another time
individually. But when we got there, the Americans went to two weeks of orientation and five weeks
with families, and our sailing was mid-September, the University began the first week of November so it
was about two months before I saw the German woman again.
About the second week, I was sitting in between classes in the Erfrischungsrǝum, the snack bar,
and here came this young woman, whom I’d met on the ship. She came in, was getting herself coffee,
and just looked terrible—sad and so forth. And she saw me and came over to the table.
And I said, “What’s wrong?”
She said, “I was just thrown out of Professor Doctor Shirmer’s advanced seminar, because we
were doing something in English, and I said, ‘rather’ (flat American a)
Fiksdal: Instead of “rah-thuh”?
Teske: Instead of ‘rah-thuh’.” He, without directly looking at her, said, “If Fräulein So-and-So has lost
her sense of proper English during her year in the United States, she might wish to absent herself from
our company for a week, until she has gotten real English back.” That’s part of your Germanic training.
But really, I have never lived sort of higher on the hog than I did when I returned as a “visiting
professor.” And I could play things both ways, because I was—what?—33, and there were a bunch of
the teaching assistants who were older than I was. We could either play it that I was their superior, or
we could play it that I was one of them, and we could move back and forth. At any rate, that was very
pleasant. I must say, another mother-pin-a-rose-on-me thing.
My dissertation was done. I had my doctorate. The reason I was in Göttingen is that in order to
follow the connection between the English and Scottish oral traditional ballads as they metamorphosed
into the literary ballads, if you think about pity and terror, the pity side stays in England and produces
Wordsworth. The terror side, you have to go to Germany. That’s when you begin to get the ghoulish
imagery, probably because of the lasting effects of the lurid imagery of the Thirty Years’ War—1618 to
1648—imagery of skulls and hanging and so forth.
But it’s in Germany that you get the—well, when Coleridge writes about the nightmare, Night
and Death, in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, that’s German. You can’t get there by staying in
England; you have to go to Germany. The center of that, of English, a fascination with English—we
would have called it “pre-Romantic” movement—was the University of Göttingen, because it had been

founded by the House of Hanover, which was on the British throne. If you were a German, and you
wanted to study things English, you would go to Göttingen; and if you were one of the few English
people who wanted to learn German, you would go to Göttingen.
Fiksdal: Hm interesting- It helps me understand.
Teske: That was a real center, and the library was not bombed in World War II. There were a few shell
fragments. You could go in and find out which member of the young Germans, who were following
what was going on in English, and doing their own versions of that, you could find out who took what
books out in what week in 1775. That’s why I was there, and that was really exciting.
The tavern still stands where the group called the “poets grove” would meet on the second floor
once a week. You can go up there and look at the room and have a beer where these people in the
1770s were meeting.
But, well- just take it from me, no English tradition going through Germany—no Rime of the
Ancient Mariner, a whole lot of English Romanticism—gone. You have to track that. That’s what I was
doing there. I was refining my dissertation. I wound up trying to get going on the way to a book.
I’d started in Edinburgh Library, the National Library of Scotland. I had spent five weeks in the
British Museum. Then I got to Germany, and was beginning to do this. This one day . . . in the U.S. at
that time, if you wrote an article in English literature—a historical article or a historical critical article—
the usual time- you would submit it all over the place, but only one place at a time. You were
encouraged to type a clean first page, because otherwise, it would sit on somebody’s desk and get
shopworn. Might take six or seven months before you would get a nibble, and then it would be
publication probably two years from now.
Well, sitting there in Göttingen in December, and Head of Department comes into my office and
says, “By the way, Professor So-and-So, from whom you took the Carlyle and Ruskin class at Bonn, he’s
visiting today. He’s at the University of Erlangen. Would you like to have lunch with him?”
“Oh, man, that’d be great.”
We had lunch, and after lunch, he said, “Oh, I’m taking my turn as editor of a publication in
English Lit. Would you have anything for me?”
Oh, boy, there was my first chapter of my dissertation- it really didn’t belong with the rest of it.
I thought, if I can take that, and break it off, and polish it . . . I shifted gears and worked through the rest
of December in doing that. Because then, if that gets into print, instead of having to redo it in the book,
I can just quote it and move on. I sent it to him in early January. It appeared in the journal in April.
Fiksdal: Wow. Talk about quick turnaround.

Teske: Of course, the journal, half the stuff would be in English, half in German, and a lot of the German
professors were writing their articles in English. The journal is called Anglia and it’s the equivalent of
PMLA here. It’s my one world-class thing. [laughing]
Susan, that article was not really in my field, because it dealt with a poem from 1715. My field
really is 1770s through about 1830s- Romanticism. I had two offers—one from Notre Dame, one from
the University of Cincinnati. They didn’t say they had read the article, but the job was for early 18 th
Century, or the Augustan period, late 17th, early 18th.
Fiksdal: Based on that article.
Teske: The only reason they would have thought that, “Oh, here’s a new name. We don’t know this
guy’s name. We like the article. Let’s get him while he’s cheap.” I didn’t go.
Fiksdal: No. Well, that would have been kind of a struggle to sort of get there and say, “Well, I’m just
really going to teach Romanticism.”
Teske: Yeah. But it indicates- so anyway that was the German experience. I don’t know, it seems that
here I am, talking against publish or perish.
Fiksdal: Well, we’re always thrilled when we get published.
Teske: Well, and with that speed. I didn’t realize—I thought it was some little thing, not the main
German English Lit journal, so that really pleased me.
That gets me back to Oberlin. Now, there are things that went on in 1967 through 1970 at
Oberlin that were extremely important for my—whatever contribution I could make to Evergreen. TheI guess first thing, chronologically, would have occurred in the fall of ’67. Here I have to go back a little
bit. Oberlin was one of the 12 colleges in the Great Lakes Colleges Association. There were six in Ohio;
three in Michigan; three in Indiana. That had been formed in the early ‘60s.
There was a sort of something that was going around in the early ‘60s. You had your Associated
Colleges of the Midwest. That was the next group west from ours. These were all private, fairly small
schools. Why did they get together? One big thing was that they wished to be able to offer—they could
not all duplicate the same resources and interests. Languages and culture, all the schools would have
had, at that time, something going in German, French, Spanish; beginning, most of them would have
something in Russian; maybe a little something in Italian. But what are you going to do with other
languages? As the group got together, Oberlin handled Chinese; Earlham in Indiana handled Japanese;
Kalamazoo in Michigan handled Swahili and East African culture; I think Wooster was Hindi. If you really
wanted to study that, you could transfer for a year and concentrate on that kind of thing.


Also, some of the colleges had summer programs overseas, some didn’t. Well, this was a way
that a person from any one of the 12 colleges could take advantage of a summer program of any of the
Something that got to be very important for me, and in part for Evergreen, and Evergreen
students, the National Science Foundation had been formed as a reaction to Sputnik, and the
demonstration that the Soviets were ahead of us in space travel technology, so the National Science
Foundation started—when?—’59 or something like that.
Kennedy had this dream of having something in the humanities, and something in the arts, that
would be the equivalent of NSF. There never has been an endowment for social sciences. And social
sciences, the way that it’s turned out, if you’re doing quantitative things in the social sciences, you get
your money from National Science Foundation. If you’re doing interpretive things, you get it from
National Endowment for the Humanities.
For example, if you are a political scientist, and you were doing patterns of voting- statistical
patterns of voting, you get it from National Science Foundation. But if you were doing an analysis of
Supreme Court decisions, you get it from—
Fiksdal: Actually, we have the same thing in linguistics. I’m always in the humanities area, because I do
qualitative work, but there’s plenty of quantitative.
Teske: Right. And the phonologists would be over in the—
Fiksdal: Yeah, that’s NSF.
Teske: Ok, you know what I’m talking about.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: But that’s why we have three rather than four. Kennedy did not live to see the Endowments
started. But when Lyndon Johnson had his huge landslide, and was also, quite frankly, trying to prove
that he was not a barbarian, that he would carry out Kennedy’s ideas here. You had, in 1965, the
foundation of the Humanities endowment and the Arts endowment.
Now for the consortia, this was a godsend. It meant that instead of having 12 different hands
reached out pleadingly to funding sources, you could have one hand representing all 12 schools, doing
that. There was a Natural Sciences coordinator, there was an Arts Coordinator, and there was a
Humanities Coordinator in the Great Lakes Colleges Association.
In the fall of ’67, here the newly founded National Endowment for the Humanities was trying to
look around for ideas. What should they fund? What would be their function? Well, instead of just
going around and asking a whole bunch of different schools, they arranged things so that our

Humanities Coordinator would have a conference, where a main officer of the endowment would be
present, and the representatives of the 12 schools. What the discussion would be is, how could the
Endowment be most useful in the humanities?
We had an art historian who was the Oberlin representative to the faculty- so there was a
special faculty that met maybe two times a semester, where all the schools were represented. But here
was an extra meeting in the humanities. He asked me if I would like to go, and another colleague, a
philosophy teacher, if he would like to go—“I know it’s short notice, but could you go with me this
weekend, it’s an overnight deal. We’ll pay your flight and everything”—to this conference? I got there,
and I was sitting there in small, seminar-like meetings with the Great Lakes Colleges Humanities
Coordinator, and the representative of NEH. I started speaking out—not belligerently or anything like
that, but just some ideas that I had.
Well, apparently, that went over rather well. The next spring—wait. That would have been
November of ’66, the endowment had just been founded the year before. But the next spring, in ’67, I
got a call from the humanities coordinator at Kalamazoo. He said, “Could you drive up here and stay
overnight with me? I have some things I want to talk about with you.”
I got there and he said, “Okay. He said another man and I”—and this is another man who had
quite a bit to do later with Evergreen. And what’s her first name Beluccia Brown? Our faculty member,
who started in Vancouver? Oh, god.
Fiksdal: Who started in Vancouver? Well, Lucia Harrison.
Teske: Lucia Harrison. Yeah. She lived in Morris Keeton’s house when Keeton was Provost at Antioch.
This was Morris Keeton, who later became an advisor to Evergreen. Keeton and the Humanities
Coordinator had been offered the chance to do a book, but Conrad Hilberry, the coordinator, realized he
could not do a book, and do his teaching at Kalamazoo, and do the Great Lakes Colleges thing. Would I
take over for him as Humanities Coordinator?
He had two irons in the fire where he already had started discussions about grants. Would I
take over from him, write the grant proposals? One of them was for a big conference—run that—and
then the other kind of program that they were just beginning to talk about, would I be willing to work
with that?
But, Susan, he did—and this turned out to be very useful—he did make the point, he said, “If
you’re going to do this, you don’t get a salary as a GLCA coordinator. But you’re going to be writing
grant proposals, and you are then going to be the project director. Make sure to pay yourself enough
that if, in the still of the night, you find yourself saying—“Here I am, doing a full slate of teaching,

running the Oberlin English Honors program, and why am I doing this?”—that it will be worth your
while. As it turned out, I could not be paid more than 100 percent of salary, so I got paid in the summer.
Fiksdal: Oh, nice.
Teske: The work was year round, but I got paid in the summer. I became the Humanities Coordinator,
and the grants succeeded, and I fed on the public trough for about three years and it was important that
I was paying myself enough, because one of the grants was running in what would be the planning year
at Evergreen. I had to find somebody to take it over; and, thank fortune, there was enough money to
make it worth his while to take it over.
I got to be doing that, which involved thinking. Thinking about big, new ideas. Thinking about
abuses that ought to be corrected. Thinking about opportunities that haven’t been used that could be
used. Which sort of got me out of “you’re an English teacher,” got me into big groupthink about
academic policy and so forth. That was one thing that happened.
Another thing, there were two elected committees, elected by the faculty, at Oberlin. One of
them—eight members—was this all-powerful Faculty Council that did the decisions on hiring, firing,
tenure, promotion, pay. Their deliberations were secret.
But there was another one called Educational Plans and Policies, which was public, and which
was the one who developed suggestions, which were then taken to the faculty for votes on new things,
new wrinkles. I guess I was sounding off enough that I was elected as one of these eight people. I’m
sorry, but it is a source of pride to me that the next two years, when I was in the Dean’s office, my
faculty colleagues kept electing me to this committee. [laughing] It was sort of interesting because the
Dean would be at these meetings but in that committee, I was not representing the Dean’s office, I was
representing the faculty.
Fiksdal: I think they did a good job then (laughing).
Teske: I sat at the opposite end of the table from the Dean. But when I went with him to the faculty
council, I sat next to him and spoke when spoken to.
Fiksdal: Interesting.
Teske: It was a completely different relationship. But we started getting things done. I must say, we
got more stuff done to Oberlin in that two or three years—the three years that I was on it—than had
happened for a whole bunch of years before, and so that got my educational policy chops going.
The year after, I also became the Humanities Coordinator. That’s when the newly appointed
Academic Dean came to me. He was a trumpet player.


He said, “Okay, I checked with the Provost”—a bass player, and we used to play sessions
together—and he said, “Charlie, I want you to be my Associate Dean for at least a three-year hitch.”
I said, “Don, I’m- I’m a teacher. I’m not an administrator.”
He said, “Look, I feel comfortable working with”—he was a political scientist, but on the NSF
data side—he said, “I feel comfortable working with natural scientists and social scientists, but I don’t
really have the feeling for humanities and arts. You do, and also you have, as a musician, you have
connections with the Conservatory of Music, the other wing of the larger Oberlin College.”
I said, “Oh, Don, I don’t know.”
That’s when he said, “Look, I remember the conversation we had several years ago where we
figured that there are enough jazz musicians who want the chance to play, and there are enough
listeners who want to hear jazz. What we need are better proprietors who know enough about jazz,
enough about listeners, and enough about money that they can put this together and make jazz clubs.
This is your chance to become a proprietor. I’m calling your bluff.”
Well, I had to do it. When I learned to divide and subtract, they made me a Dean.
Fiksdal: That’s when you were a dean (laughing). I believe it.
Teske: I was getting my stuff together about that. Then, see my situation with the Great Lakes Colleges
was very interesting. Because when I would go to their faculty meetings to testify about how things
were going in the humanities, I was offering them things that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. What
were they going to do? Say no? Give the money back?
Fiksdal: You were a much moneybag. [laughing]
Teske: Yeah. [laughing] Exactly. But I also, since I was there, spoke up about some things, and how
things were going. Then, one of the great things—it would have been the spring of 1969—the day after
our faculty- the Great Lakes College’s faculty meeting, the Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek,
Michigan—the Kellogg cereals—laid some money on us so that we could have an additional day—I think
there was a representative of each college and I—and it was supposed to be just a blue-sky think tank
kind of thing.
Here was the deal: There were 12 Great Lakes Colleges. But one of the things, the colleges were
all pretty much in exurbs and separate villages, like Oberlin and Wooster. A lot of people were
interested in having some inner-city component. Here was a nunnery and religious school in Detroit
that had gone bankrupt, and was being sold. What if the 12 schools would get together and buy that
facility, and found a 13th Great Lakes College in downtown Detroit? What would you do, and what


wouldn’t you do, if you had a chance to start fresh? The tape recorder was running and everything, and
I—“Hey, I don’t know. Why not?”
We spent the whole day with these ideas of what we would do and what we wouldn’t do. We
agreed, without too much pressure from me—we agreed, as a group, that we would not start with
departments. We would find a way out of dealing with that. I think we started talking about some
interdisciplinary stuff that should happen, because we figured that the standard, the canon of divisions,
was not responsive to what was going on now, and we needed to have things more flexible.
But the important thing, Susan, I had no idea there in—what?—April or May of ’69 that a year
later, I’d be doing the same kind of thing, but the money would be on the table. It would be a real
school, and not something hypothetical. But it was great to have that additional run-through.
One other very large thing that I recall when I was first interviewed by Dave Barry and he was
trying to assess my experience. His eyes just lit up, and it was this. One of the things that we did in my
first year on that Educational Plans and Policies Committee was to put in a January term. That was in
the wind. There were a lot of places who were starting to do that. They would call it “winterim,” or
something like that.
The problem would be if you were running a semester school, during the early years, when I
taught at Oberlin, the college would begin its classes in late September. Then would come the
Christmas break, and you would still be going to your classes for three weeks in January
Fiksdal: Oh I see.
Teske: And then have a rigorous exam week period. Then, with maybe a few days off in February, you’d
go through ‘til the end of May. That would be rough Susan because think about it. As human beings, in
the fall, you’ve got a Thanksgiving vacation, you’re got a Christmas holiday vacation. But then, when
you went in, and you would have only two or three days between the beginning of January and the third
week in March—spring vacation. That’s an awful long stretch. The feeling was, “Can’t we do
What we did was to start school earlier in September, finish the first semester at Christmastime;
then, start the second semester in the second week of February, and go through to early June. January
would be its own special term. The deal would be that if you were a four-year student at Oberlin, you
would have to take three January terms.
I pushed very hard that these should be pass/fail. The only time I had run a pass/fail course
before is when I was teaching playwriting, because I said, “This is ridiculous, this play’s an A-minus, this
is a B-plus play.”

Fiksdal: Yeah, how would you determine?
Teske: If it’s a play, and the person has written it, you get the credit. Now, let’s see how good we can
make it.
It was pass/fail. And well, what would be the organization? Why don’t we use that time to let
the teachers and students do things that would be outside their majors, but that would really be things
they had always wanted to learn about. Let’s give opportunities for individual work, and clusters of
work, and maybe really intensive courses, something like a full-time course.
When I became Dean—“All right, you helped start this, right”—the main Dean put me in charge
of the January term. I was it. You couldn’t have an individual project or a group project. You needed
my signature. I had to help plan everything. Well, what does that sound like, Susan? Full-time
individual projects done with a—
Fiksdal: Sounds like the work I did a lot when I was a Dean—reading contracts.
Teske: Yeah. Full-time with a teacher in a really intensive program.
Fiksdal: Yeah, group contracts.
Teske: Group contract. Nobody knew anything about Evergreen. Nobody knew anything about
coordinated studies. Two different groups came in and said, “We would like to have something where
three or four different faculty members would be working together, and we would work with them on
those projects.” Coordinated studies—and I was in charge of watching that develop, and signing things.
There are a couple of things- four guys wanted to go, as their project, to climb Mount
Washington in New Hampshire in January, where the winds at the top of the mountain can go up to 100
miles an hour. The college lawyer and I pretty much quashed that. Another student who was interested
in bodybuilding wanted to go to York, Pennsylvania, where the barbells and so forth were made, and
where they had the big lifting gymnasiums, and wanted to experiment with taking steroids.
But one group that I did give my blessing to, we had had a student who had been down in
Louisiana trying to organize some of the people working on the big plantations into union groups, and
he needed help in doing this. It would have been something that, boy, you talk about grassroots
organizing and labor things. However, a lot of the bosses did not want unionization. The union reps
would not be allowed onto the plantations to talk. The workers would have to come out and stand at
the fence near the field. A couple of the people had been shot at, and still, these students made a
proposal—and I talked to a college lawyer. We ended up having to get releases from all of their parents.
But I think there were about 12 students who went down to Louisiana with a faculty member. I sweated


that until they all got home safely. But at any rate, just think of that. I had an opportunity, as a Dean at a
regular undergraduate college, to be doing that kind of experience.
Fiksdal: When you talked to Dave Barry about this, was that—I mean and then later, in the planning,
that was your idea, to do group contracts and to do individual contracts?
Teske: No. The group contract and individual contract—individual contracts, I was in charge of.
Fiksdal: Okay. Because you already had experience.
Teske: Group contracts were not planned for; they just sort of grew logically. Of course, coordinated
with the change in culture.
Fiksdal: But some of them had the first for group contracts. I mean, we knew what they were.
Teske: It just seemed logical to fit in. Well, it’s also true that part of my thinking here, I knew—I don’t
want to spend too much time on this, but it did have something to do with Evergreen. There was
something that didn’t work.
Kalamazoo had embarked, right at this time, on what they called the Kalamazoo Plan. The
campus was landlocked; it could not grow anymore. It ran, as most campuses did, nine months a year,
with maybe a little bit of work in the summer, ok? The idea was that it could not grow otherwise, but
what about if we moved from semesters to quarters, and we make the year in four quarters?
Then, the pharmaceutical firm Upjohn was located in Kalamazoo, and had big connections with
Kalamazoo College. Upjohn gave them a whole lot of money so they could open foreign centers that
would operate not just in the summer, but year-round. Ok.
The Kalamazoo Plan was if you sign up with Kalamazoo, you start in September here, and you
come out 15 quarters later, in June. Let’s see . . . how did that work? One quarter would be vacation
during that time. One quarter would be rustication; you’d be writing a big paper or something, but you
weren’t on campus. One quarter would be work-study, which took you down to 12 quarters on campus.
One or two quarters would be at a foreign center.
Fiksdal: Wow, interesting, yeah.
Teske: This meant that your campus could be used year-round, because there’d be only three-fourths of
the students on campus at any given time. It meant that you could increase your faculty by one-fourth.
It also meant, Susan,—and this is not a small thing at all—if your faculty members do want to do
research, normally the only time they can do it is in the summer. If they go to a university library during
the summer, you’ve got closing hours. This way, if you chose to do your research winter quarter, when
everything would be fully running, you could do this.


Kalamazoo is still working this way. The only people who didn’t like it—the coaches and the
music group people—because they would continually have students—
Fiksdal: Yes, they’d disappear.
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: Well, languages, too.
Teske: And facilities got a little bit their noses out of joint because they used to use the summer to fix
Fiksdal: To clean everything up. Yeah.
Teske: This way, it was being used. But they were able to add—so that was going on. Then, I was also
quite aware of the Colorado College Plan, which was moving into blocks, and having in it that full-time
courses, single teacher, but, like a group contract.
Fiksdal: Yeah just move from one to another.
Teske: I was pretty much—I guess the point was that I sort of raised my head out of the day-to-day
work in English Lit, and had been doing a whole lot of big thinking, and reading Change magazine, which
was the harbinger of the new day to come and so forth. At any rate, all that was going on.
Fiksdal: Tell us how did you hear about Evergreen? What happened? Did you apply, or did someone
recruit you?
Teske: No. I had gotten, as I mentioned, a couple nibbles to change, to move somewhere for teaching.
But after I got in the Dean’s office, I started getting some nibbles to come and be an administrator. As I
told my Dean, I said, “Look, I’ve had these offers. I’ve turned them down until afterwards. You want
three years, you get three years.”
Then, this one day in late November 1969, here came this envelope- business envelope and in it
was a brochure, and no buildings. A picture of what looked like evergreen trees in a fog, next to a big
patch of water that I later recognized as our beach at Eld Inlet. No buildings. But there were a couple
things that showed some obviously intelligent people hard at work discussing among themselves. There
was just this blurb. Hmm.
Then there was a letter, written by David Barry, Academic Vice President and Provost. “You
have been mentioned to us as someone who might want to have something to do with the development
of a new state-supported college in Olympia, Washington. If you are interested in the process of
planning and development of the new academic venture, we are assuming that we will not be just a
carbon copy of what exists, but will be trying to do what makes sense now. If you are interested, please
get in touch.”

I looked at that, and I went over to my buddy’s office and said, “Don, always before, when I got
a memo about something, I turned it down and told you later. But there’s something about this that’s
different (laughing).” “No buildings?”
He says, “Well . . . “
I said, “All you have to say is, ‘Charlie, I want my three years—forget it.’ And that’s it. You’ll
never hear anything again.” He said, “Look, you have to protect yourself. Why don’t you write?”
I did, and then I got this package that had some of the early, hopeful statements, but nothing
specific about what the academic program would be. Just “The Legislature has founded this, and it’s in
the capital, and we want to make use of being in the capital for having public administration work. But
otherwise, we are not bound to the past.”
I took it to the Dean, who took it home overnight. And he said, “Look, if I were you, I—follow
this up. Remember all of the problems that you and I have had when we’ve tried to get programs
started, and tried to get departments to work with us.” If they’re not- I think they did say something
about “We’re not going to have departments.” He said, “You should go ahead. Go ahead.” At that
point, once I showed interest in that, he shifted from trying to talk me out of it to being my advisor, and
sort of coaching me about how to handle it.
I got back to Barry, and set up—it would have been I guess the second week of December. He
would be flying to Chicago, and getting a motel room near O’Hare Airport. Could I come over of an
evening to meet with him at O’Hare, and then take a late flight back to Cleveland?
“Yeah.” We set it up.
Now I add this next thing because it gives you a feeling for what was going on at the time. Ok.
When I was driving toward Cleveland Airport, it started snowing, and it started snowing relatively hard.
By the time I got to the airport, there was considerable snow. People were having difficult wheel
spinning and so forth. I got into the terminal and found that my flight had been canceled. There were a
couple flights. One had just come in, but that was going to be it. The airport was going to close down.
Nobody was going to leave, and there were no more flights coming in that night.
So I called Barry, and got him at his motel, and said, “Sorry I can’t make it.”
He said, “Well, could you make it tomorrow? I’ll be here all day tomorrow.”
So apparently he was in Chicago to do recruiting. Again this is something I did not find out until
later. The recruiting of the Academic Deans was one of his biggest jobs. It was supposed to have
happened by September, so that the Deans could have come on for a year before the planning year.
Things had not worked out, and so he was just getting to it in early December.

I called back to Oberlin and got my buddy, the Dean. I said, “Don, would it be okay if I was out
of the office tomorrow?” And I explained to him, and he said, “Yeah.”
I called Dave back and said, “Yeah. I’ll see you soon and it’s going to clear off. The weather
forecast said it was going to be a bright, sunny day tomorrow, so I’ll probably be able to leave here midmorning, and I’ll see you for lunch or something like that.”
I came out to go to my car in the parking lot, and here outside were a couple Oberlin students.
Now, we did not use “doctor.” As at Yale and Harvard, we were “mister.”
“Mr. Teske, could we ask you a great favor?”
“Sure. What’s the problem?”
“Well, we have to go back to Oberlin, and our car won’t start, and it will just be too much of a
hassle. And we have to get back, because our speaker just came in on that last flight from Chicago.”
“Well, yeah, sure. Sure, I think I’ll be able to get us back there.”
The speaker was Jerry Rubin, now I don’t know if that rings a bell. Okay, in 1968, there had
been this big foo-fa-rah at the Democratic Convention in Chicago.
Fiksdal: Oh, that Jerry Rubin, yeah.
Teske: “The whole world is watching.” Out of that, the people who had fomented the riots and became
the Chicago Seven: Jerry Rubin; a former student of Richard Jones, Abbie Hoffman; ah-there was Dave
Dellinger; Bobby Seale. I forget the other three, but it was the Chicago Seven, and they were
represented by this lawyer, William Kunstler.
Why do I remember these things? Judge Julius Hoffman was running the trial, which kept going
on for months. At some point, the Chicago Seven asked for permission—they were on bail, but they could
not leave the Chicago area—they asked for permission, in order to raise money for their defense, if they
could be absent for evenings. But the judge said that you have to be in court a 9:00 in the morning, or
you’re going to be in contempt.
Rubin was slated to give a talk at Oberlin that night. He had come in on the plane. The car of the
student activists, who were going to pick him up and take him, the car wouldn’t run. I got to drive back
[laughing] through a snowstorm, instead of seeing Barry about Evergreen,
Fiksdal: Saved the day!
Teske: And I found out only later. Jerry Rubin had been an Oberlin student. He had typed a poison pen
anonymous letter to some legislator in Washington, D.C., and sent it from Cleveland or something like
that. No, he sent it so it would have come from Lorain or Elyria, Ohio, something like that. You don’t do
that. You don’t make a death threat to a Congressperson. The FBI had checked the letter, and tracked it

back through the postal system to Oberlin, and asked around. Rubin had typed it on a portable typewriter,
where the typefaces left this- like a fingerprint, and they had identified him. Oberlin had suspended him,
and Rubin said, “As long as you’re suspending me, I’d rather be expelled,” and he left. That was about
three or four years before.
He had become one of the big rabble-rousers, right?. I got to take him back in the car. [laughing]
and Susan, I wish I had a tape recording of that conversation. One of the guys in the car was, for his
January term—now this was early December—for his January term wanted permission to go work for the
Chicago Seven movement in their office.
I was holding forth. I said, “Look, the academic credit is for the learning you do, not for just
running a Xerox machine or a mimeograph machine or something. Rubin didn’t say anything. Finally,
when I was done, he just exploded. “This is another example of this academic—messing up, and red tape.”
He was really getting mad. But he was worried. “Do you think I’ll be able to get out of Oberlin?”
The guys figured, “Look, if nothing else, if you can’t get back for a plane, after you’re done talking,
we can get somebody who has chains or studded tires, who will drive you back to Chicago. So don’t worry
about that.”
At one point, I was getting a little fed up and I said, “Well, Jerry, I’m over 30. What should I do,
because I’m useless?”
“Oh,” he said, “you could think of committing suicide.” No, I said, “Should I commit suicide?” He
said, “Well, that wouldn’t be a bad idea.”
He was the one who had said, “Don’t study history. Make history!”
As I mentioned to the students, “Beware of anybody who tells you, ‘Don’t study history, make
history,’ because he’s going to try to sell you his own particular version of history.”
We had a high old time. He and I are arguing through the snow [laughing] when I should have
been talking to David about Evergreen.
Fiksdal: What a story. I didn’t know that you knew Rubin.
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: I’m going to have to say it’s 4:00, we’re going to have to stop.
Teske: Well, let’s just finish with a note that I did, the next day, get to see Dave Barry. I don’t know who
the other people were that he talked to, but he invited me out to the campus. It was the last working day
for the staff before Christmas break. I flew, for the first time, out to the State of Washington, and had my
first- my day of interviews at Evergreen.
Fiksdal: Do you remember who you had the interviews with?

Teske: Oh, yeah. Everybody but Joe Shoban, and this caused a problem later. Shoban got his nose out
of joint. Why had he not been told that I was going to be there to be interviewed?
All right I’ll leave with a cliffhanger. The three-hour difference. I drove to Cleveland Hopkins for
the plane. The plane sat on the ground at O’Hare, and then went on to Seattle. Rented a car. Here it
was, at Oberlin, frozen, icicles dripping from gray.
When I asked Barry, “Am I going to need an overcoat?”
He said, “Bring a raincoat.”
I rented a car at Sea-Tac and I thought, well, I’ll wait to eat. There will be a whole lot of places
along the road where I can eat. At that time, Susan, once you got on the big hill going up from Sea-Tac,
you couldn’t see anything on either side until you came to the Milton-Fife area, where I stopped at a
McDonald’s or something. Where are the people? I had the windows open because it was so nice and
warm, and then I had this smell—and, of course, it was Tacoma.
And it was bizarre, because Barry picked me up from the old Tyee Inn at 7:30 this time—it was
10:30 my time—and took me to McCann’s house, where McCann had arranged a cocktail party with
people whom he thought I ought to meet. I walked out, walked into the living room, took one look at
McCann and said, “I know you.” And McCann looked at me and said, “I know you.”
Fiksdal: Ok I like that. I like your ending.
End of Part 2 of 2 for Charlie Teske on 11-3-16


Charlie Teske
Interviewed by Susan Fiksdal
The Evergreen State College oral history project
Interview 3, November 8, 2016

Begin Part 1 of 3 of Charlie Teske on 11-8-16
Fiksdal: Okay, we are beginning our third interview with Charlie Teske.
Teske: Well, as we left things the last time, I had walked into an evening cocktail party on the evening
before my day of interviews. And that day of interviews was the last day before the official vacation for
the Evergreen staff that were on board.
And, of course, there was a three-hour difference from my time in Ohio, so it was only 7:30 when
David Barry, the Provost and Academic Vice President, took me to the President’s mansion. And I looked
at Charlie McCann and I said, “I know you.”
And he looked at me and said, “I know you.”
All right, how did we know each other?

As I was able to piece it together afterwards—I

don’t think we ever sat down and compared years—Charlie had graduated from Yale right at the end of
World War II. He had been in the Naval Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, so he put in at least a couple
years of his required hitch as an ensign. Then, when he got out of that, he put in at least a year in, I
believe, it was an executive training program for people who were going to be doing things like managing
department stores and so forth.
And Charlie decided he didn’t like it, and so he enrolled in Yale University Graduate School in the
Department of English. Okay. I started there in the fall of 1954. One of my four courses—three
seminars, and then a course in Old English—one of my four courses was called “Age of Wordsworth,” and
in the fall, we studied Walter Scott, Coleridge and Wordsworth; and in the spring, we studied Byron,
Shelley and Keats. Romantic poetry. I think there were about 25 people in the class, and there was an
auditor; an older student who had taken his coursework, but was getting ready—it must have been the
January holding of the oral exams that he was preparing for.
Just a word about the oral exams. At the time that I entered Yale, there was a mandatory yearlong course in Old English, so that was exempted from the oral exams. But starting with Chaucer, and
other medieval poets, you could be asked questions about any British, or American, or Irish writing in
English author from 1350 or something like that to the present time.

The exam was only an hour long. That doesn’t seem like much, but if your answers are just yes,
no, for facts or something, you can cram an amazing number of questions into that hour. Now, another
thing that sounds superficially good: You would have a panel of five examiners, and then the Director of
Studies would serve as a kind of referee. The examiners were all teachers in the English Department, but
they did not examine you in their fields. So, for example, the questions that were asked of me about
Chaucer were asked by Cleanth Brooks, who was a 20th century literary criticism person. It was the man
who had taught me Tudor/Stuart drama—Shakespeare and contemporaries—who asked me the
questions about Romantic poetry.
That seems great, you know. You’re not supposed to know as much as a specialist knows, but
just what somebody in general as an English teacher should know. The problem is all of these people
had side vocations, pet hobbyhorses, in the areas. And they figured if that wasn’t their specialty, but
they knew it, that you better know it, too. And there’s some very fascinating stories about what goes on
in those oral exams.
At any rate, apparently Charlie McCann either had not taken a course in Scott, Wordsworth,
Coleridge, or he had taken it only as an undergraduate. So he felt he needed to get that sharpened up
for the oral exam, so he had been given permission to audit it.
Charlie was very reticent—and, of course, he was, by that time, considerably older than the rest
of the people in the class. And, as you know, Susan, age differential means less and less as you go along.
But still, when you’re starting a graduate study, and there’s somebody there who’s—I think Charlie’s six
of seven years older than I—there was a difference.
But at any rate, I recall a couple instances where some of us went out for coffee after the
seminar, and he went along and was sitting at the table. And I recall one instance—and I can see that
clearly, clearly—of our standing out on the broad sidewalk in front of the gate at the Hall of Graduate
Studies for about 20 minutes chatting about something.
And, of course, another thing, he and Barbara were living off campus in an apartment, so I did
not see him--the rest of us—most of us—were eating, sleeping, playing ping-pong and going to class all
in the same building. Charlie was coming there only for classes, so I did not meet him otherwise.
Fiksdal: Yeah, right.
Teske: So I had not seen him since, I guess, January of ’55 would have been the last time. And so here it
was 1969, December, and I walked in. As I’ve told people, other than Charlie’s own family, I had made
his acquaintance earlier than anybody else at Evergreen. So that was an interesting evening.
The next day, I had a series of interviews. Dave Barry had interviewed me back in O’Hare Airport

to see if I would be suitable, and if I was at all interested. So his time with me that morning was about
dollars and cents, the exact parameters of hiring; and how TIAA-CREF was going to cut in, and things like
that. But there were two things that happened that day that I think—you asked about sort of the flavor,
the feeling, of the school at that time. I met with McCann from 10:30 until about quarter of 12:00. And
at one point as we were talking, it became clear to me [laughing] that they were not talking to me as a
consultant. They were talking to me as a candidate for deanship of Humanities and Arts.
He said, “Okay, you’re from Oberlin with a big conservatory. If you would join us, what would
you do about music?”
I said, “Well, I can tell you what I wouldn’t do. I would not, first of all, have anything like a
professional school of music. Even though Evergreen was planned to grow to 12,000, UW would never
allow us to do that, and I wouldn’t want to do what that implies.” I said, “I would not limit things to
notated Western music between 1685 and 1913. I would be willing to have all kinds of music, so long as
it was good.”
“Fine. How would you start?”
“I would start with a big band—a stage band, a jazz big band, or whatever you want to call it.”
“First off, it couples the need for tight ensemble playing of notation, and thinking as a group and
getting those values, with taking your turn playing improvised solos. It has both things in it.”
And at that time, in the ‘70s, you’re crossing generational lines. “The people who grew up with
Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton and so forth will just love this. But almost all
community colleges and other four-year schools have jazz bands, so this would fit right in. And also”—
and I gave Charlie the lecture—“America is not producing string players, but it is producing wind players,
and this is some of the most exciting wind music,” and so forth.
“Okay, well, that sounds . . . who would you get to lead that?”
I said, “I would want somebody who himself or herself is a practicing jazz musician, who would
earn the respect of other jazz musicians around the place, but who has a big interest and experience in
classical music—in chamber music, and, if possible, in music theater.”
“Okay, do you anybody like that?”
I said, “Not right now, but I know exactly where to find them.” And I was thinking about North
Texas State, Long Beach State, Indiana Jazz Workshop and so forth.
McCann said, “Okay, if you join us, that’s what we’ll do.”
Well, Susan, I had been writing position papers [laughing] for the Oberlin Conservatory year after

year. And my point was, “Look, you’re training your people to sing in the Metropolitan Opera, play in the
New York Philharmonic, and do piano recitals in Town Hall. But most of them are going to earn at least a
large part of their livelihood as music teachers, and to have somebody pretend to be a music teacher
who does not know about the way that the rest of world has done most of it’s music as long as there
have been human beings, that’s just simply wrong.” And 10 years, I’d been writing those. Hadn’t moved
an inch.
Fiksdal: And one talk with Charlie McCann . . .
Teske: And here, I’d come out, one talk with Charlie McCann, who “Okay, if you join us, here’s what we’ll
Now, I insert here, about 20 years later when we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary and having a
party, I reminded Charlie of that talk. And he said, “Well, you know . . . “
And I said, “I felt I didn’t have to hold anything back. I got a job. You know? You say you’re
serious about something different? Okay, here you go.”
He said, “I did the same thing. When I came over from Central”—where he was Dean of Faculty
—“to be interviewed by the Trustees of Evergreen,” he thought, “I’m not going to hold back. They want
to know what I think, I’m going to let them know.” And he said, “I let it all hang out; and I got back in the
car feeling good, and I drove back to Ellensburg. And when I got there, and Barbara said, ‘Well, how did
it go?’ [laughing] I said, ‘Well, I told them what I thought. They’re not going to touch me.’”
A couple hours later, the phone rang with the offer. I checked with Rudy Martin. Same thing at
his main interview. He had all sorts of prospects. “Are you serious? Are you really serious when you say
you want to do thus-and-such?’” So Evergreen has the habit of calling people’s bluffs.
The other interesting thing that happened that day, here I was teaching in Ohio, just south of
Lake Erie, at a time when Lake Erie was so polluted that even the lake perch, you could get a few from
quite a distance away. Right after I left there, the area was so polluted that the Cuyahoga River caught
fire. I had grown up in a place where one truck came over from Fulton Fish Market in New York every
morning, and another came up from the Philadelphia docks. I was used to fresh seafood, and there was
precious little—you had to exert yourself around north central Ohio to get great seafood.
Barry had been extolling the virtues of the Olympia Oyster House, and he had promised, when I
was out for the interviews, he would take me to the Oyster House. Well, he picked me from McCann’s
office, what he called “Slaughterhouse Four”(where the budgets were cut)—the one permanent building
on the campus, which now is Daycare. That was the one permanent building; the rest were all office
trailers and prefabs.

And I noticed Dave was a little bit antsy, and I said, “What’s the problem?”
He said, “Well, I know I promised you to take you down to the Oyster House, but this is the last
day, and staff are having a potluck lunch, and I really feel I ought to go. But if you want to hold me to
going to the Oyster House, we’ll go.”
I said, “No, no, no. No, Dave, I’ll go with you to the luncheon.”
And I did, and I was exposed to my first experience of Evergreen-ness.
End of Part 1 of 3 of Charlie Teske on 11-8-16
Begin Part 2 of 3 of Charlie Teske on 11-8-16
Teske: And after the potluck was over—which was very good, by the way; I mean, people were sort of
showing off—and, you see, Susan—this might be important to mention—when I arrived, there were
already three staffs here. There was the Financial Staff, and they had their own trailer—pretty much led
by Ken Winkley, and working under Dean Clabaugh—because, if you’re going to set up a college, and
you’re going to set up funding, you have to do that in advance. You don’t just walk in the day the doors
open and say, “Here we are. Give us money. Okay?” So the financial systems had to be all set up, and
preparing for the necessary funds. That’s number one.
Number two, Facilities. Those buildings, at least the Library and the Lecture Halls and the dorms,
had to be ready in our first year. And so you had to have not only Jerry Schillinger and his engineers, but
we had three staff architects, so that when the clients for the buildings came on board, the drill would be
that—okay, so when I became client for what became the Communications Lab, my architect was Bill
Phipps. So I would sit down with Bill and start drawing flowcharts. “I want this to connect with that, and
I want to make sure we have a thus-and-such, and so on. And we’re going to do what’s called sea-level
flooring, so that in 110, 117 and the recital hall, you can just roll the pianos and other equipment in; you
don’t have to lift them onto a stage. And I want the doors in that one corner, the audience left of the
stage of the recital hall, the door here in 117, the choral room, and the door here, 110, the orchestra
ensemble, I want them all to be large enough so you can move a piano right in.” Things like that.
I would tell him, “So here’s what we want to have happen,” and just sketch flowchart. “Thusand-such has to be connected with the so-and-so. Okay? How are you going to insulate the recital hall
from the experimental theater? You put those green rooms and a corridor in between, and those will be
your ready rooms for the respective theaters, and give you a big, long, wide space in between, so it’s
easier to keep the sound”—you know, things like that.
Then Bill would take that to the outside professional architect hired by the architectural firm,
and Bill would translate that into architect-speech. And that guy would then do the actual design, send it

back to Bill, who would sit down with me and explain. I forget who the third guy was. Let’s see, Norm
Johnson was one of ours—at any rate, there was an architect working with Mervyn Cadwallader, another
with Don and another with me to design . . .
Fiksdal: . . . the Library Building?
Teske: The Library was already designed. Okay? Because that was a huge hole in the ground when I
came. A very, very large hole in the ground.
Fiksdal: And that was what year that you arrived?
Teske: I arrived in ’69, right before Christmas. That was my date. So one of the things—okay, the third
group—Finance was one. Construction was two. Library—because you do not just snap your fingers
when the school opens and have 90,000 or 100,000 volumes—so the Library staff, including Malcolm
Stilson, had to be there before.
So the Library already had a fairly large prefab office building. At that time, the Facilities was
located in a mobile home, and Finance was located in an office trailer. And then the Vice Presidents and
President had their office, in what had before been a regional meatpacking place, and then now is the
Daycare Center. Okay.
So after the luncheon, I was exposed for the first time to a Malcolm Stilson musical comedy.
Fiksdal: Oh, he did it that soon?


Charlie Teske
Interviewed by Susan Fiksdal
The Evergreen State College oral history project
Interview 4, November 11, 2016

Fiksdal: Okay, Charlie. We’re ready for our fourth [Fiksdal says “fifth”] interview.
Teske: Okay, I wanted to go back a little bit to this meeting that I regard as all important. It occurred on
February 8 and 9 of 1970. Merv Cadwallader, Don Humphrey and I had met the first time the day before.
And, as I wrote—this is available [in the Archives]; if a person goes to the Evergreen homepage, and in
the search slot, types in Planning Conference, February 8 and 9, 1970—one of the things that will be
entered here is Summary of Academic Planning Conference, February 8, 1970-Teske. And this is my
beginning statement:
For a day and a half, the President, Vice Presidents, Deans and some Directors met in the temporary
prefabricated Library Building to decide upon the broad outlines of the curriculum to be offered in
the early years of the Evergreen State College.
The President, Vice Presidents and Trustees, aided by an advisory board drawn from around the
country, had arrived at some definitions of goals, and at some firm principles about what Evergreen
should not be. But they were waiting for the appointment of the first three Academic Deans, who
would be directly responsible for administering the curriculum, before defining the kinds of programs
which would be offered, and the conditions of learning and teaching. The Academic Deans, all of
whom were still functioning at other institutions, at first met each other on Saturday, February 7.
Now it was time to put something specific inside the frame, which had already been drawn.
Not only was there pressure from outside, political and public, to announce how the college would
provide educational options for its students, it was imperative to make some firm decisions, so that
the Academic Deans-elect could start to recruit the 18 or 19 Planning Faculty Members, who would
be working through the academic years ’70-’71, before the arrival of the first students in the fall of
What kinds of faculty members do we wish to recruit, and what would we tell them about the work
they would be doing? How should the interior spaces of the vast Library Building—still mainly a hole
in the ground—be defined to serve and academic program? What could we announce to prospective
The conference resulted in the commitment of the college in its early years to the theme-oriented,
team-taught, interdisciplinary arrangements later called Coordinated Studies Programs,
complemented by the offering of individual learning contracts, some of them including internships.
In effect, the conference set the guidelines for the main and most distinctive academic features of the
college, which have persisted to this day.
In other words, a very important day and a half. You will also find, if you go to Academic

Planning Conferences, a memorandum to President McCann from the Office of the Provost—
that’s David Barry, the conference chairman. Subject: Summary of Academic Planning Conference.
Dave excerpts some of Introductory Remarks for Planning, Phase 2, Charles McCann, President.
It was a statement that Charlie had written out that he presented at the beginning of the conference,
which stated the broad outlines. Now, the big thing that Charlie had no idea about—interdisciplinary,
team-taught, full-time. Charlie’s main emphasis was, “We should be pleased if our graduate turns out to
be a generalist, or one familiar with one of today’s great problems, and satisfied, if he’s a specialist, even
a narrow one. Terms like ‘breadth’ and ‘depth’ requirements will have no place here, since they assume
that the B.A. is, on one hand, the end of all education, or, in a few cases, not even the beginning, but
simply a prep school for real learning later.”
Now, no departments; generally, the traditional disciplines—the natural, social sciences,
humanities and arts. And Charlie was very much interested—he even said at some point—I don’t think
it’s in here, but in something else—he wrote that if the majority of our students in their fourth years are
not doing individual projects, we failed.
So I felt a particular burden on me, because I had been brought in because of my beginning
experience in working, not full-time, but in working with, at Oberlin, the private reading courses, and
then some full-time, month-long ventures during the Oberlin January term.
At any rate, that, Charlie said at the very beginning. And then Dave, at the end, looking back—
this memo is dated February 17—looking back, Dave said, about the discussion, “It was agreed that the
faculty would be assigned by the Provost and Council of Deans to plan for and to serve in
interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary project groups or task forces. The groups could vary in numbers of
both faculty and students. Each faculty person would generally be responsible for giving educational
leadership to 18 to 20 students. The groups would be organized around a limited number of agreedupon “central themes.” And he gives some examples of what might happen, what he had in mind
—“Crises in Western Civilization.”
“It is recognized also that subject groups could be formed from within the theme group as time
and interest would indicate appropriate,” and so forth.
And then the alternative was: “The other track options would have to be made available for
some students whose level of maturity, experience and career interests would enable them to move
directly into special areas of knowledge.” And here, we did call it “contract programming.”
And let me insert here, Susan, something I feel pretty strongly about. There can be no such thing
as an “independent” contract. By definition, contracts are binding; they are not independent. What we

are talking about is an individual contract for independent study. And, as you might imagine,
through the years, it has really grated on me that people walk around talking about independent
contracts. That’s like saying “state worker” or “military intelligence.” You know? [laughter] It’s an
oxymoron, and it should be avoided. Okay, I—
Fiksdal: Well, you know now they’re clearly called individual learning contracts.
Teske: Yes. Okay, that mollifies me.
Fiksdal: And a lot of people just call them ILCs.
Teske: My goodness.
Fiksdal: Which I always have to think, now, wait a minute, what is that?
Teske: Like DTFs. Yeah.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: Okay. Okay. Well, this leaps way ahead to something I hope that we can get to sometime in a
later session, and that is a question that we were asked by a very great man, who turned out to be a very
good friend of ours. What he said was, “Are you in danger of sliding back into traditional learning?” That
was one of his main questions.
And I thought about that, and my answer was—and it’s on paper somewhere in something that’s
in my writings under the Notes to a Future Historian—yes, Evergreen is getting more traditional. But, to
a surprising extent, they’re our own traditions. And I think that is happening. An example is the
language that we are developing about things.
Now, since we’re on this topic of the team-taught, interdisciplinary, full-time Programs, instead
of departmentally driven specialized courses, let’s try to solve this problem of nomenclature. What we
started using during that day, and during the rest of the planning, were “theme teams,” the teams
devoted to studying a theme. And at one point—yeah, you can get a litle bit goofy in the late hours of
committee discussions—we were thinking of calling them “demes,” which is Greek for the city-states, the
people, demo—democracy, demagogue. The people. So they would be demes. But then, people said,
no, if they’d be under a particular Dean, grouped that way, they’d be Dean’s deme teams. [laughter] But
it was still the language of theme teams that we kept using.
And when the Planning Faculty Members met in the fall of ’70, and got together the programs—
ideas for the first programs—we started inviting in what would now be called focus groups—a sampling
of high school seniors; a sampling of students enrolled at other schools; a sampling of people who would
be thinking of transferring. We met at least a sampling of maybe first-year graduate students. We met
at least three or four focus groups. They abhorred the term “theme team,” because apparently, some of

them were still familiar with the use of “theme” as a weekly required essay in an English course.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And so we figured we had to get rid of it. Now, here we have 18 Planning Faculty Members there,
the Provost and three Deans, three Vice Presidents and a President. One of the questions that we had
first was our printed materials—brochures and so forth—were not getting through. We needed a new
Admissions brochure. We needed something fairly small, fairly short, that would make the points
succinctly, and make them in language that would get across to students.
[Sigh.] Here we had all of this brain power, and we weren’t getting it. So the Deans, for the first
of—now, I recall our doing this twice, the first of two times, declared a bottle contest; paying out of their
own pocket for anybody who could come up with the wording for a succinct brochure that would really
strike through to students. The prize of the contest would be up to a reasonable expense—maybe 25
bucks a bottle—a .75 liter—of your favorite hard liquor. That was it, the bottle contest.
The winner was a young man working for the library, who then registered as one our first
students, Tim Moffatt. He made sure that the moment that registration opened that he got in there first.
And it was Tim, who came through with—we were able to print it out in a sort of 4x6” little pamphlet—
with something that, you know, just really hit the target.
Well, if the “theme team” thing didn’t work—and we’re talking now about getting into
December, where we really had better make up our minds, because I had the first catalog to edit, and we
had to know what we were going to call these things. We went to the bottle contest again. Can you
come up with a name for whatever it is we’re doing? And the winner was Richard Jones, with the term
“coordinated studies,” which seemed just right.
Up until that time, we had been talking about the planner and leader as a theme team captain.
Then we started talking about coordinator, and that’s how it got into our nomenclature. And one of the
things I’ve liked, through the years, is that it holds up. It points out that if nothing else, other schools’
curricula are anything but coordinated.
When somebody would be asked, “Why did you take Spanish?”
“I had to take a foreign language.”
You ask a Greener, “Why did you take Spanish?”
“Well, I’m interested in studying . . .”
All the difference in the world—“coordinated.”
And if you want to get really highfalutin about it, Susan, you could say, as I have often said, that
the regular system of class bells, where you have to pretend to be a little biologist from 9:00 till 10:00, or

9:00 to 9:50; then the class bell rings and you’re on your way to becoming a little historian; and there are
all of these shifts. And, of course, as you felt, as I felt, and as many students feel—it’s time after supper
to start studying. You’ve got five competing courses. Which do you study for? It’s a way that diffuses
energy, effort and concentration.


Charlie Teske
Interviewed by Susan Fiksdal
The Evergreen State College oral history project
Interview 5, November 15, 2016

Fiksdal: Okay, Charlie. You wanted to talk to us about the summer of 1970.
Teske: Yeah. And, again, as I mentioned, the order was Don Humphrey moved here first in April, and did
this single action crucial thing, (unifying the three academic divisional budgets), but with Merv
Cadwallader’s and my blessing, and the blessing of the Vice Presidents and President. McCann and the
rest did not want departments, but they were contemplating something like divisions. And so the
budget had been set up so that there would be a budget for each of the three Deans. They would have
their own budget, their own justification to make, and their own turf, and their own equipment funds
and so forth.
And Don, one of the first things he did when he got here, and was put in charge of the budget,
said, “Well, we’re not going to have departments, but we’re not really going to have functioning
And so setting up these individual territories and turfs would just be preparing the ground for
acrimony and wheeling and dealing and so forth. So he unified the budget, and that’s the way it’s been
ever since. And that—when I think of how crucial that was—there are things, Susan, where people have
assumed that we, the Deans and the Planning Faculty, didn’t really know what we were doing, and just
blundered into things. That’s partly true. But there are other things that somebody had —“Boy, that
was really smart.” Well, yeah, we did sort of blunder in. But still, as you look back, there was a kind of
line that we were following very gradually emerging, with these things.
Two of the things that happened after the three of us were finally here together. The one was—
and I don’t know if it was ever clearly written out on paper, but it’s the way things turned out—each of
the three Deans had really three large functions. One of them, even though we were not going to have
divisions, was to take responsibility for thinking about our strength and our offerings in particular areas,
so that I was thinking about humanities and arts; Don was thinking about natural sciences, and what we
would do about mathematics; Merv was thinking about social sciences. Now, he was also charged, when
the time would be right, to be thinking about doing something with public administration, developing
programs there.
So each of the three of us still felt obligations. As I mentioned earlier, we could trade, so that I

would come with Ed Kormondy, who really belonged in natural sciences, and give him to Don; or
Mark Papworth, and give him to Merv. On the other hand, I would take Sid White in art, whom Don
recommended, and Peter Elbow and Richard Alexander in literature and so forth, whom Merv
recommended. So there was trading off, but we still felt that responsibility to quasi-divisional thinking.
That’s one responsibility.
With that came being the clients for the construction of the facilities to serve those three areas.
So Don became the client for the Lab complex; Merv became the client for the Seminar Building
complex; and I became the client for drama, music, art.
Now, what means “client”? It was really as if each of us was designing and building a house
under the supervision of Jerry Schillinger. “No, that’ll be too expensive. That won’t work,” and so forth.
But we would then meet with—I can talk more about my own area—the staff architect assigned
to me was Bill Phipps. The College had already hired Walker, McGough, Foltz and LyerleDon of Spokane
to be the architectural design firm. So I would explain to Bill Phipps the kind of thing that I wanted, and
even draw out some diagrams or something like that—not the way the shape of things should be, but
how a room should be located so that it could be adjacent to thus-and-such and so-and-so.
Fiksdal: Yeah, you’ve talked about this a little bit.
Teske: Yeah. Right, a functional diagram of that. Bill Phipps would take that and translate that into
architect’s language, and communicate that to the project architect over there in Spokane. He would do
the rough drawing for what he thought we wanted, and give it back to Bill; and then Bill would sit down
to me and explain to me what it was like. And I would say, “Like this”; “Like this”; “No. Here you
misunderstood,” and so forth. And Don was doing the same thing with the Lab Building, and Mev was
doing the same thing with the Seminar Building.
Now, as it turned out—and this may explain to people why things are visually and architecturally
the way they are—of the three of us, Don was the only one who got both phases of his building. There
were supposed to be two phases of Lab. Each of them would have faculty offices and so forth; each of
them would have certain basic spaces. The second, Lab 2, would be more sophisticated, made for more
specialized equipment that Don wanted. But still, they were akin to each other.
Mervyn—and this was one of my trivia questions, How come we call it the Seminar Building
when there are only a few seminar rooms in it?—answer is Merv had his architect design a building that
would serve as a gateway, and faculty offices with a few seminar rooms, in the—well, we didn’t talk
about our first phase yet, but that would be a nice end enclosure to the college square of the plaza and
so forth—and then behind that, going down about three stories into the sloping meadow of daylight

basement. It would be maybe three stories down. It would go down to the level of the parking lot
behind the Library. That would be the flat level down there. And then, there would be maybe three
more, at least three more, stories up above. And that would be where the seminars would be. And
there would be then, on each floor, there would be a center thing, like the lounges in the Library
Building, for whole-group meetings; so that you could, in effect, get a total of 500 or 600 persons in
coordinated studies programs stacked up in that building. And the entranceway that had the open arch,
that’s where the offices were for the faculty members who were going to teach in main the Seminar
I, over on the other side of the campus, was responsible for having a building that would have
the intramural stuff—the rehearsal rooms for the orchestra; the rehearsal rooms for smaller musical
groups; the practice rooms and so forth; the faculty office studios, for the music and drama and dance
teachers and so forth; the dance studio. And then, in that area—and my reasoning was that the
audience spaces in there should not be for the wider public. There should be audience spaces because
the students would need audiences in order to develop their craft in music and dance and theater.
Therefore, we would have a small recital hall, and we would have a small experimental theater, which
would also serve for dance, some dance would be done in the recital hall. And then, the whole thing
there would be made to fit onto a 2,000-seat auditorium.
And indeed, we were enough committed to the auditorium that, as I may have mentioned, one
of my trips away from Ohio for a weekend was not here; it was down to Santa Monica where the
acoustics expert, who was designing the auditorium acoustics, I met with him to tell him what I wanted.
And this, of course, Susan, was the big thing that a lot of people don’t think about, but if you don’t
understand it, you don’t understand why this school is the way it is—that we were supposed to go to at
least 12,000 by the early ‘80s. And, of course, then we would need a 2,000-seat auditorium.
There were also plans—Pete Steilberg had come on, and his assignment was to serve as client
for both the intramural Recreation Building that would have the swimming pool, the conditioning rooms,
the racquetball courts, the weight rooms, multipurpose rooms and so forth, where we used to meet, too,
when they would be for dance, exercises, and so forth. And then, that would also be directly connected
to a basketball arena.
Those were the big projects that confronted us in the summer, as we had to get busy right away.
One of the big decisions made that summer was to split all of these into two phases. Don Humphrey,
with the Science Labs, was the only person who got both phases. With Merv’s, the entryway and faculty
office building, with just a few seminar rooms, was what, for many years, was there as the Seminar

Building. And I got the first phase, Drama, Music, Art 1.
Fiksdal: Yeah. I didn’t know both those buildings were supposed to have additions to them. I knew, of
course, about the College growing.
Teske: Right. Because—well, just as an example, Susan, why is Room 110 in the ComLab, why did that
used to have “Orchestra Rehearsal” in front of it? A lot of the things that I learned was allowed to have
three consultants from Oberlin in music, drama, and visual art to instruct me on this.
And I was sick and tired at Oberlin of observing people having to rehearse in different-sized
spaces from where the thing was going to be put on. I mean, it isn’t too difficult with the symphony.
There will be acoustic problems. But with a drama, if you block people in a space that’s much smaller
than your mainstage, they’re going to get out and wander around and waste a bunch of rehearsals on
that. Whereas there was another show that I was in at Oberlin where the place we rehearsed was
actually larger than the mainstage, and we kept bumping into each other in the final rehersals.
So I wanted a room built into the first phase that was going to serve as the exact duplication of
the mainstage and orchestra. Well, so there it stands.
Fiksdal: Yeah, that’s interesting.
Teske: Okay. And now, of course, because nobody bothered to look at the old drawings, or, since I was
teaching in Tacoma, even to talk to me, you now have this marvelous addition on the parking lot side of
the ComLab that is great: offices, beautiful hallways and so forth; but which, in effect, blocks any attempt
to put the auditorium there. Which we’ll never see anyhow because we’re not going to be that large.
Fiksdal: No, we’re not.
Teske: But, well . . .
Fiksdal: It would have been nice, though, to have bigger events.
Teske: Yeah. The whole story is, when I think of all the things that we did plan that were knocked into
oblivion with this, what I have written about as March Mayhem 1973, the restriction of the College to
2,500, and then maybe further up to 4,000-5,000.
So Merv was left with just the first phase of the Seminar Building. And, as you know, for many
long years, we had the swimming pool and the intramural parts of the Rec Building, but not the gym.
Now, part of the reason for this, Susan—and here, I think, we were—we, led by Jerry Schillinger, Facilities
Director—were actually pretty smart. We figured that the Legislature would understand the need for a
basketball floor. They might not for conditioning rooms, weight rooms, swimming pool. They would
understand the need for an auditorium by the time the school got to be 12,000. But rehearsal rooms
and so forth, they might not.

Now, the worst thing that could happen—and Merv agreed with this, too, about his part of the
project—would be that you would get Phase 2 and wouldn’t get Phase 1. Suppose he would have gotten
his six-story-high Seminar Building, but without the faculty offices? Suppose I would have gotten the
auditorium, and no rehearsal rooms or dressing rooms, or costume shops or set shops? Suppose Pete
Steilberg would have gotten a basketball court, and no place to dress for the games? So that was what
happened. But that was a fairly big and serious move that took up quite a bit of thought during that
Fiksdal: I can imagine.
Teske: Assignment #1 of the three Deans were the quasi-divisional responsibilities.
Fiksdal: Hiring and that sort of thing.
Teske: Assignment #2 was the Facilities for these activities. Assignment #3 would be, you might call it,
educational modes. Merv’s baby was what came to be called, a few months later, Coordinated Studies
Programs. Mine, individual contracts, though we did not really—at first, we planned to have no
individual contracts in ’71-’72. Then, well, maybe we can devote one faculty member to individual
contracts. Well, there might be more pressure, so let’s hire another, so there would be two faculty
members. But the idea was to hold off, because the individual contracts were supposed to be for
advanced work.
So Merv, Coordinated Studies; I, contracts. Don—and just in listening again to the beginning of
that crucial planning meeting, Don, already there, is starting to talk about what he calls auto-tutorials;
later came to be called Self-Paced Learning. And Don’s dream was that if you could do it by a computer
and a computer program, don’t take up faculty time to do it.
Again, one of the things that we were all hoping for, but that was really Don’s initiative, was as
much as possible to use our strong audiovisual bent to record lectures, so that if I gave a lecture that I
was pretty pleased about, instead of my giving a lecture like that to a later Program, I could tell the
students on their own to go over to the library and watch, so we could start ahead, and we could
gradually build up. I must say, of the three—and Don certainly felt this—the Self-Paced Learning didn’t
work out as he had hoped. But that was his kind of assignment.
Fiksdal: I remember that. I knew about the SPLL [pronounced splew]—Self-Paced Learning Lab—and I
even created some materials for it. And I think a lot of people did. But reluctantly, because for me, it
harkened back to the way that Richard Alexander and Al Wiedemann were thinking about having
languages be all using some kind of machine, and you could just sit there with it individually, and learn
something; which I kept arguing was just impossible and not correct, because language is not about—

language is for communication with other people. That’s the whole point of language. We wouldn’t
have language if we didn’t need to communicate orally, or with sign. So, yeah, I remember sitting and
typing these little cards that you could type on, and they would be placed in a machine, and pop up
when you turned it. And then I made recordings to go along with it. I would say the word, and then I
would say how it was used in a sentence, in French. Maybe it’s somewhere in the library in some box.
Teske: Yeah. But at any rate, that’s another big dream that we had, even in that 1970 planning meeting.
Fiksdal: Why do you think that didn’t get off the ground so much, while everything else did? Was there
resistance to it?
Teske: Probably the same reason that people didn’t, with some of my projects, go back and look at the
groundwork that had already been laid. We love to reinvent wheels.
Fiksdal: Yeah, we do.
Teske: But it isn’t just that, Susan. Remember, early on—I don’t know if it got on the recording or not—
but I mentioned that my friends, basically working in the sciences, would invite me into their programs
to give my lecture on romantic nature, and how that fitted in with the whole concept of life scientists.
And, as I told the guys, I said, “I don’t have a lecture. I lecture on that topic, but I’m a jazz
musician. And every lecture is going to be different, and it’s going to be fitted, as much as I can do it,
into your Program, and into your students’ context. So therefore, it’s all very well to talk about ‘Go listen
to Charlie’s lecture on thus-and-such,’ but that isn’t what I would say to your class, because every
context . . .”
So that, I would say, is the biggest.
Fiksdal: And everybody felt that way. That’s a good point.
Teske: Yeah. At any rate—well, Don got so much else accomplished, and later on, I want to devote some
time to what he did in the visual arts.
Fiksdal: Yeah. And I think getting the two phases, and talking about the amount of time it took, that was
probably another reason that he didn’t have time to devote to SPLL.
Teske: Yeah. And he just a marvelous job on those two lab buildings.
Fiksdal: Yeah, they’re incredible buildings.
Teske: But at any rate, we spent quite a bit of time on that. And then, we spent—the three of us, we,
the Deans—spent quite a bit of time thinking about what we knew so far of the personalities of the men
—and they were men—hired for the Planning Faculty.
And then, of course, this big decision that just seemed so obvious, and that is, Merv—again, Don
and I deferred to Mervin on almost—not almost all, but let’s say seven out of 10 points, he would be

right. And the other, he wasn’t really thinking about putting his thing as the main academic thrust of a
whole institution. But he certainly was right to use Willi Unsoeld to organize a retreat.
One of the things that Merv knew is that we would be working in very close quarters. Now,
when you think of it, Susan—think of it—every single member of that Planning Faculty was no shrinking
violet. [laughter] We wouldn’t have been there if we were. And we were used to—most of us, the
places we came from, we had been trying to push the envelope on our own. We had had to try to be
personal forces for change.
I did it by being the sponsor of the Jazz Club. I did it with early assumptions about the
importance of oral performance, as opposed just to documents. I did it as fostering—it took three years,
but we changed the name from Audiovisual Aids Committee to Audiovisuals, with their own status, not
just to be used—well, as I said a couple times, a lot of English Department people think it’s okay for
students to go to Shakespeare plays, because then they could write better papers about the text. No!
No! You’re putting the priorities in the wrong order! The text is there so you can work toward
understanding the play, as performed. Etcetera. So it was no longer Audiovisual Aids, it was
I also was working with the cooperative houses, which bucked the dining hall-dormitory system,
and was where the radical students and the artists tended to be. Of course, I had no assumption I would
ever get tenure. I doubt, if I’d had any political savvy, I would have—
But at any rate, so that would be all of us, wherever we were, had been doing things like that.
And then you put us all together. You get a bunch of individual people, and then you get them to say,
“Now, cooperate.”
So Merv knew that this, from his experience at San Jose, even with just five Faculty Members, he
knew that this was going to—and we wouldn’t have any students to vent to. We wouldn’t have
Fiksdal: That’s right. You’re just all together.
Teske: We were all together, and we were going to be discussing—as you just said—haggling out every
single detail, looking at a whole bunch of alternatives, before finally settling. “No, we’re going this way.
Now, if we’re going this way, then we need to go do this. Then we need to do that.”
So it would be very intense, and therefore, Willi Unsoeld was going to get us all bound together
by taking us out, for several days, into the wilderness, and putting us through exercises together.
Fiksdal: In the wilderness? You went into the wilderness, Charlie? [laughing]
Teske: It’s part of my Notes to the Future Historian of Evergreen . . .

Fiksdal: Great.
Teske: . . . of how the Evergreen Planning Faculty got onto NBC Television. And so, it’s there. I
encourage people to look at it. [laughter]
But can you imagine? Here I am—to me, back in Pennsylvania, our Scout camp was up against
the beautiful Delaware Water Gap. The ridges are 1,400 feet high. And I thought that walking up nice,
wide trails to the top of a 1,400 ridge was sort of mountain climbing. The Poconos, which I thought of as
mountains, Mount Pocono, the highest point, isn’t as high as Capitol Peak. That’s what I thought—
I love what Mark Papworth said when I recruited him. He just wanted to get out here, and I said,
“Are you a mountain climber, Mark?”
He said, “No, I’m a mountain walker. If I have to climb it, I’m not going. If I can walk it, I will.”
At any rate, I was just sort of a beginning mountain walker. And then my mother, in February, is
sitting back in eastern Pennsylvania, watching this NBC show [laughing] that I warned them about, with
Hugh Downs as narrator. And it showed me, on a couple things. And the NBC cameraman had actually
put the cameras a little bit tilted, so it made what we were doing look even . . .
Fiksdal: . . . even harder.
Teske: Yeah. And my mother is sitting back there saying, “He can’t do that! He can’t do that!” [laughter]
And then, for circumstances I mentioned, we’d forgotten about it. And there’s a whole harum-scarum
tale about why we now have that in the Archives.
Fiksdal: I’m glad we do.
Teske: We were in there for only about three or four minutes, but the first national mention of The
Evergreen State College came on that. And we got viewers, who were sharp enough—and this is before
videotape or VHS cartridges or anything like that—that they were watching, and we got some mail about
why did we see no women?
Fiksdal: Well . . . [chuckles]
Teske: In that first couple years, if you wanted to get in here, you had to write an essay, which included
how you first found about the school. And we got a bunch of people from around the country whose
first acquaintance with Evergreen was to see us as part of the Hugh Downs wilderness special.
Fiksdal: Students saw that and wanted to come. Well, for heaven’s sakes.
Teske: Yeah. Unfortunately, Susan, that cannot be—part of the deal with the NBC Archives is it can’t be
shown ever, for profit, and it can’t be really be shown to a full audience. So as long as we—but you can,
you know, if you ask Randy, you could see that. It’s sort of fun to see us back there.
Fiksdal: Yeah, it’d be fun to see it.

Teske: So we did that, and it turned out to be really crucial.
Fiksdal: Were you on Mount Rainier? Where were you?
Teske: No. We asked Willi to find—no, Willi—okay, we’re getting into third week of September. The
contracts started September 15. And so it was a little bit touchy about how early rains might start, so
Willi started asking around about a rain shadow. So we went up on the east side of the Cascades, right
below Mount Stuart. And it involved going on I-90, over Snoqualmie Pass to Cle Elum; and then turning
left, and going up as if we were going to Blewit Pass. And then, after about 12, 14 miles, you turn left
and go back into the Cascades. And there’s a marvelous campground where we camped.
And, of course, [laughing] as I tell in the story, Willi put us through some exercises in the
afternoon, while the people he had recruited to cook were making our stew and so forth. So it got dark
fairly early in September, and we were having our supper, and we were standing around with our cups of
coffee and smoking. And all of a sudden, here along the gravel road, came these headlights. And our
parking area was, oh, about from here over to the house of the daughter and stepdaughter and son-inlaw back there.
And we were here, and the car was pulled in there. And this voice: “Is Willi Unsoeld there?”
[deep voice]
And Willi said, “Will they never leave me alone?”
At any rate, this was a team. Earth Day had been in the spring of ’70, and it was starting to heat
up with things about the environment. And the team had been out, and they had all these shots of
beautiful mountains and tall trees and waterfalls and so forth. And they needed some people.
Fiksdal: I see.
Teske: And the producer wanted to—the director wanted to set it up so that there could be some sort of
conflict between people representing mining industry, tourist industry and so forth, who would want to
exploit the wilderness. And he needed somebody who was going to be a spokesperson for the
wilderness, and somebody said, “The person you want is Willi Unsoeld.”
Fiksdal: So they tracked him down, huh? [laughing]
Teske: Yeah. “Where is he?” “Ask at Oregon State. They would know.”
So I don’t know if they drove from California into Corvallis. At any rate, they asked Oregon State,
and Oregon State said, “No, no, no. He’s moved. He’s now at a brand-new college in Washington State.”
So they came up I-5 in the mid-afternoon. They turned in. They finally found Evergreen, which
was not the easiest thing in the world. [laughing] They finally found our prefab buildings. [Sigh] “Is
Willi Unsoeld here?”

“Oh, geez.”
“Oh, no, no. He’s out with our Planning Faculty on a wilderness exercise in the Cascades.”
Free actors. So you can imagine what the director thought when he was told, “No, he’s not
here.” [laughing]
“Yeah. He’s out with a bunch of”—Perfect. And that’s why these guys—
So the way Willi did it, he was down there talking to these people for about a half-hour. And we
were out there: “What is he doing?”
And Willi came back sort of [low sigh]. “Guys, when you get up out of the tents in the morning,
it’d be a good idea to have some trousers on, because an NBC camera crew is going to be here.”
At any rate, so that was really a memorable experience. And in case people doubt that, we do
have the tape of that.
Fiksdal: So did the retreat work? I mean, did that help you come together?
Teske: I am sure it did. I am sure it did, because there were things later—okay, one of the things that
Willi had us do was rappel. That was the only time in my life I’ve ever done it. And this is a little bit
scary, if you’ve never done it.
Fiksdal: Yeah, I can imagine.
Teske: Going over something. I almost got the feeling going down—whee!—and went down too far.
And we weren’t hitting solid ground at the bottom. We would hit a ledge. And I was almost running out
of rope and didn’t know it. But at any rate, I think there was one member of the Planning Faculty that
didn’t do it. My attitude, Susan, was that if I’m going to be a Dean, you know, I’ve got to do it.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: I don’t care whether I want it or not. It didn’t help at all, though, that Willi would be up there on
top, as I wrote, singing the equivalent of “15 Men on a Dead Man’s Chest.” Except that it’s about
breaking bones, and bodies hurtling through space. [laughter] You talk about the Galgenhumor, the
gallows humor. At any rate, so that’s how we started our Planning Faculty.
Fiksdal: Nice.
Teske: But I’m sure when things got really tough later on . . .
Fiksdal: That’s very significant.
Teske: . . . it was hanging around. Because just think of these personalities, all banging against each
other. And, of course, it meant so much. All of us, one way or another, had cut ties with other—we were

going into the unknown together. And so it—yeah, I think that was really important.
Now, another big issue, main issue, or answer to the question, “Why are we still here?” I think
one of the reasons is that we, the Deans, with the approval of Dave Barry—on things like this, he pretty
much gave us our head. He did not micromanage. He delegated, and that was it. And McCann was also
an excellent delegator. “I want to have these results. Tell me how it’s going, but otherwise, you do it.”
And, of course, with the building, as I said in writing about it—it’s, again, in the Notes for the
Future Historian, and also on a podcast that I made about the building—it wasn’t that the other Deans
and Vice Presidents didn’t care about my building. They didn’t have any time. So, there I was with my
architect, with Schillinger riding the top gun.
“How’s it going?”
“Yeah, it’s going.”
“Okay, fine. Let me know how it’s going.”
That’d be pretty much it. So we did have a lot of say on why things would be as they turned out
to be.
Okay. Very important point here, I think. Some of the new alternative institutions, which were
founded in the 1960s, were founded by academic thinkers who had written out too much, and arrived
too much at more than a framework, but a blueprint, before they actually started working on the school.
And one of the hallmarks here is that it wasn’t just aims, goals, some exclusions, the way McCann put it,
but it was a full-fledged academic policy plan for the school. And only after that did people start thinking
about what would actually be taught and learned day by day.
We did it the other way around. The very first thing that the Planning Faculty did, we first—
Mervin, Don and I sort of defined our vision of the kinds of things that the theme teams could be/should
be doing. And then, after a couple weeks of just housekeeping, getting things together, the faculty
members set out on their main duty of reading, talking to each other, and coming up with plans for
eight, nine, ten Programs.
Now, during that time, we still kept having meetings, part of which was to bring people up to
speed with the thinking that had gone in so far to the planning of the school. But then, it was something
else; and I believe this is the kind of memory—because I don’t think it’s on paper anywhere—that is
otherwise likely to be forgotten. Merv felt that it was going to be difficult for faculty members, who
were used to lecture discussion, where the teacher stands up and gets individual questions from the
students, which often began with, “Sir do you think . . .?” “Well, yeah. Maybe, maybe not. You know?”
And I was so happy back at Oberlin when, in just a few times, instead of all the questions being

directed at me, the students started arguing with each other. And I thought that was just great.
But that wasn’t what the lecture discussion thing was based on.
So, how do you learn to do the kind of seminar Merv had in mind? You hold seminars. How do
you do that? Merv divided us into three schools. Merv assigned the names of three great seminal
Don was the head of the Alfred North Whitehead School. The great mathematician, philosopher
of science, who is the founder of what’s called process philosophy, which is used now very much for
ecology and things like that. But at any rate, I recall reading his Adventures of Ideas, as sort of more
general reading that a bright undergraduate, or ambitious undergraduate, might read.
Merv’s school was the Arthur O. Lovejoy School. Lovejoy’s big work is his magisterial, historical
treatment of The Great Chain of Being. And he really founded, in the U.S., the discipline called the
history of ideas. And he founded the Journal of the History of Ideas, where you take a discrete idea,
which is still loaded with all sorts of significance, such as romanticism, or free will versus determinism,
and so forth. And you then press, press, press on that.
The way that I think really that Mortimer Adler has the companion volume for the Chicago Great
Books set up, it’s all by big themes like that—freedom of thought and so forth. Where did this idea come
from? Where did this idea come from? Where did this idea come from? Deism—God is divine
watchmaker. God is a physicist. Where did these come from? That was Lovejoy.
And mine was the John Amos Comenius School. Jan Amos Komensky. I knew only a little bit
about him then. But, as Lilo and I have done much more study of the Moravians and their background,
I’ve come to realize the tremendous importance of Comenius. He’s even been called the “father of
modern education.” He was born 1592. Lived into a large part of the 17th century. He set up
educational programs in this time of Enlightenment. He was brought to Sweden, brought to Poland, to
set up an educational system. He was brought to England, but some of that got involved in political stuff.
He never came to the colonies, but he was actually considered for appointment as President of Harvard
Of course, he did all his writing in learned Latin, learned ,Late Latin and so forth. But—
tremendously important—first person to believe in the idea of using the printing press for woodcut
illustrations, so that books dealing with a subject would have illustrations to teach children about that.
Fiksdal: Illustrations? Imagine that.
Teske: So at any rate, we had these three schools. I doubt if Richard Alexander and Richard Brian will
remember even the names of the schools, but that’s the way Merv, Don and I—I think we eventually

called them Alpha, Beta, Gamma. It got easier for the teachers.
Now, what did we do? We read major texts. As I recall, we took about two weeks on each.
Joseph Tussman’s Experiment at Berkley. Alexander Meiklejohn’s Education Between Two Worlds. [John]
Dewey . . . it’s Education and Democracy or something. At any rate, it has “democracy” in the title.
[Transcriber found Democracy and Education.] Richard Alexander—Stephen Pepper’s World Hypotheses.
Oh, I really dug on that.
So there would be six faculty members and a Planning Dean. And we would get together usually
for two, two-hour sessions a week to haggle about these major books.
Fiksdal: So you would seminar?
Teske: We would seminar. So we got used to the idea of instead of saying, “I’m an English teacher. Do
not bother me with anything that is not English literature or language,” that here we were, as human
beings, bringing our specialties, but holding large discussions. Some heat. No ill will at all. But at any
rate, we were getting ready to do the job.
And then it was, of course, during this time—no, we didn’t invite the focus groups in until after
the programs. I think that would have been in November, maybe even early Dec-, no I guess it was midNovember before Thanksgiving break. We had this great day when the Planning Faculty members
showed up with their program designs. And since there were 18—I don’t know if Fred Tabbutt was with
us the whole time. I don’t think so.
Fiksdal: He was half-time in that year.
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: He must have still held his position at Reed.
Teske: At Reed, yeah. We had 19 positions, and Fred was sort of half-time in there, and six faculty
members and a Dean in each of these groups. So Jack Webb was the one who was going to be in
contracts, so he was working with me in planning what the parameters would be for doing contracts.
And again, we had really no guidance. Now, Oberlin had had a program called Senior Scholar,
and Yale had had a program, College Scholar. At Harvard, it was Scholar of the House. But, first of all,
Susan, you had to demonstrate that you were excellent in all of the regular things before they let you do
it. That’s point one. Point two, you had to go through so much paperwork to justify, as a junior, asking
for this status. You almost had to have your project done in order to be allowed to do it. And nobody
asks, “Will there be students for whom it will be better to be doing individual work?” And certainly, as
full-time, for a whole lot of people to be doing. Wow.
So Jack Webb and I were sort of on our own. We ended up talking to each other about planning

for that. But otherwise, you see, there were enough faculty members to go around that each of the firstyear programs had two Planning Faculty members who had worked out, between themselves, what was
going to be offered. And I still recall, Susan—you would have loved this—Sid White and Byron Youtz had
gotten together on what turned out to be this great program, “Space, Time and Form” that would
combine math and scientific principles and art principles.
So the way they did it, when they made their presentation, we had—oh, yeah. The two planners
would come in and, at length, try to describe and sell their Program to the rest of us, so that we would all
know what was going on. They came in with the stereotype. Sid came in carrying a slide rule, and Byron
came in with a beret and a fake mustache and an artist’s smock. That was the sort of spirit.


Charlie Teske
Interviewed by Susan Fiksdal
The Evergreen State College oral history project
Interview 6, November 22, 2016

Fiksdal: Okay, Charlie. Ready to begin?
Teske: Well, we still have some things to pick up about the planning year, and something that is
generally forgotten, the visit, before we opened to students, of four of us to the Danforth Foundation
Summer Workshop that had something to do with the way that we later developed. That took place in
the summer of 1971.
But I think, Susan—and this is difficult to talk about—but if we’re talking about crises that the
college had to overcome, and about being able to answer these “how come” questions. Why are we the
way we are? Another way of phrasing it is, “You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where
you’ve been.” Of course, to my mind, the biggest single thing there is the realization that the school was
being planned to have an enrollment of some 12,000 by the early 1980s. And I deal with that in my
Notes to a Future Historian under the heading of March Mayhem 1973. I spell that whole thing out.
One of the very large problems—and it already had started before I came—was—I don’t know
exactly how to phrase it—a feud or coolness, difficulties in working together—between two of our Vice
Presidents that caused difficulty in the higher echelons of the school.
Okay, our three Vice Presidents. Dean Clabaugh—who was never a Dean, that was his name
[laughing]—Dean Clabaugh had been hired first to work with the Trustees in their selection of a
President. And Dean had many connections with the Legislature; he know how the financing of the
college had to be set up; he knew good people to get for the financing, and for liaison with the State; and
generally, a very sagacious man. Unlike the rest of us, I don’t think he had any axes to sharpen or
anything like that. When it came to academic policy, he was quite willing to let that go, and to follow the
lead of whoever was planning that. He would be able to supply the knowhow to get legislation drafted
and things of that—especially to get the money flowing. That was a very big thing. So Dean, after
Charlie McCann was hired by the Trustees, Dean became the first Administrative Vice President. His title
may have at one time been something like Vice President for Business, but I think it ended up as
Administrative Vice President.
Then the second person that hired after McCann was David Barry to be the Provost and
Academic Vice President, two functions being joined.

And then, I’m not quite sure how this happened, but E. Joseph Shoben—Joe Shoben—came on
and was given the title of Executive Vice President. I know that this historical doctoral dissertation of
William Henry Stevens III does go into some detail about the correspondence between McCann and
Shoben. And Shoben, at that time, was really riding high. I think, at the time that he applied, his
bibliography contained something like 99 items. He was one of the main contributors for Change
magazine that at that time was the big organ—journalistic organ—for academic innovation. And he had
either just before he signed on with Evergreen, or just after, he became a major consultant for the State
University of New York. In other words, this was a major academic theorist, and his field had been
educational psychology. Very much interested in learning, but interested in students as people, and had
experience that he was writing about, and so forth. He’d mainly come out of, I think, the USC, Southern
California, background.
At any rate, he was given the title of Executive Vice President. Now here, I don’t exactly know
what happened. It appears, on the surface, as you look back, as if functions were taken from both the
other two Vice Presidents, and given to Shoben. And at times later on, when there were problems with
how this was working out, all I could think of was the problem that Charlemagne had three rather than
two grandsons. But if you look at the map, and you look at on the French side, the Ardennes, and on the
German side, the Eifel, it looks like a natural barrier, so that you have the French on one side and the
German speakers on the other.
But Charlemagne had three grandsons: Charles, who took over France; Ludwig, who took over
the German-speaking area; and Lothair, from whom we get Lothringen (German)=Lorraine (French), and
his was the Middle Kingdom. He got Alsace, Lorraine, Burgundy, and they’ve been fighting over this
Middle Kingdom ever since.
What happened was that you would think the Provost and Academic Vice President would be
dealing with the Library and the Registrar. No. Shoben got the Library, got the academic computing as
opposed to the purely fiscal. So, for example, anything to do with students’ records with computing,
that was under Shoben. And, of course, with the Library came the Media Services, which, as you know,
was a large part of the school from the very beginning. Shoben also got Registrar, Admissions, Student
Services, Counseling, eventually the Infirmary, and so forth, and I think even part of the Security force.
And Clabaugh still stayed with the financial part, the liaison of the State. But it must have been
that when that deal was made—as I say, that was in operation before I came—that David Barry must
have felt as if turf was being taken away from him and given to somebody else.
There was another thing in there that I actually did not know until a year ago, when I read this

doctoral dissertation. Shoben also, in addition to having under his aegis the Office of
Institutional Research, he was given the function of internal analysis and planning coordination. And it
wasn’t that spelled out. What did it mean? In practice, the way Joe interpreted it, it meant that if Dean,
who very rarely came up with anything that had a larger academic significance, or Barry, who continually
was overseeing things academic, it had to go to Joe for his comment and his approval.
And at times—one of the memos that’s included in this dissertation—Joe himself writes about a
troika, the Russian three-horse sleigh that is very difficult to manage. And, of course, there are a lot of
jokes about something we talked about earlier, that the first permanent structure that Evergreen
inherited on the campus was a meat-packing plant, a slaughterhouse. [laughter] And Kurt Vonnegut had
written the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, and so sometimes McCann—I don’t know if McCann used it, but
the Vice Presidents used it—McCann and his three Vice Presidents were the “Slaughterhouse-Four.”
Fiksdal: Oh, my gosh.
Teske: But at any rate, there was this problem. Now, so what? You know? Well, early on, as I was trying
to work with the other areas at the college—and I might insert here something that I did not earlier—at
the time that Mervin Cadwallader and Don Humphrey and I agreed that we were going to serve limited
terms, and then rotate, one a year, back into the faculty, there came a question of, how are you going to
get continuity?
And not the whole idea, but just the verbiage, came from me. I said, “Why don’t we use what
the State Department and the Institute for International Education uses, and talk about desks. So that
there will be, you know, a Baltic Republics Desk, and it will be headed by different people at different
times, but the desk will be the locus of policies, information, files and so forth, so there would be that
Fiksdal: That still surprises people.
Teske: Yeah. And I believe that—
Fiksdal: I think it’s a good, yeah.
Teske: I believe that we still use the nomenclatures of “Deans’ desks.”
Fiksdal: We do. It’s a good organization.
Teske: Now, one of my desks was liaisoned with the Library. Another desk was liaisoned with the
Registrar. But if I wanted to talk to them, and I wanted to follow sheer protocol, I would have to go up—
literally up, because the Deans, when the Library building was founded, the President’s office and the
Vice Presidents were on the third floor on the side back of the clock tower. And we three Deans worked
out with Jerry Schillinger—the Facilities Planner—that our offices should be on floor one at the furthest

possible distance from the President and Vice Presidents. Any further out, Susan, and we would have
been on the loading dock. [laughter] You know? Why? To give an outward and visible sign that we
were there for the faculty, and we were not just part of the higher administration.
We followed that again by the moment that the Lab—two years, later that the Lab building, Lab
One, was opened, we moved the Deans’ office over there. And it was only when I left that the Deans’
office got moved underneath the higher administration. But I think by then the policy of rotation, and
the sort of autonomy of the Deans’ office, had been established.
At any rate, the important thing there was that I had intimate dealings with a couple of the
people who were reporting to Joe Shoben. And if I would have gone up to Barry, waited for Barry to get
willing to talk or send something to Shoben, and then Joe, bless him, was quite often absent from
campus because he not only had this large consultant job going on, but he was in quite a bit of demand
for speaking at conferences—and there were all sorts of conferences—on innovation. And so he very
often would not be around to give his seal of approval. So this got to be a real problem.
Now, that being said, there was also a problem of temperament. Dave had been a champion
heavyweight wrestler at the University of Iowa—and Iowa takes wrestling very, very seriously—and
otherwise, big, huggy-bear man, heart as big as all outdoors. But if he felt threatened, he could pull in,
get worried, get anxious, showed a whole other side of himself. And he felt threatened by Shoben.
Now, William Henry Stevens III, the author of this very large, very well-documented dissertation
on the history of Evergreen, he never interviewed McCann or Barry—or Don Humphrey or me, for that
matter—but he did interview Joe Shoben some five years after Shoben had been fired. And Shoben
talked about Barry as having very strong territorial feelings, a turf war kind of thing. Well, [laughing] that
wasn’t completely wrong. But one of the reasons why Dave felt that way—now, McCann had been very
much for being able to make use of library and computer and media staff to help generate credit, so that
students would be able to use them as well as the, in quotes, “faculty” members.
But as that developed—and Jim Holly, head of Library, was very much interested in that. We
were getting the kinds of faculty librarians, faculty-status librarians, who would be interested in doing
that kind of thing. Well, that part was great. But it meant that Barry had assumed that he, as Academic
Vice President, would have the oversight of any credit-bearing activities. But here you had the specter of
people who reported to another Vice President starting to do that. And that, of course, made Barry very
Another issue—and I hope I’m not misstating the case here—Barry, several times, would take up
portions of Deans’ meetings trying to reason about why he was second-in-command. And he used the

fact “I am Provost. Therefore, I’m second-in-command.” Well, I think the reason he did that is that
Shoben had said, “I am Executive. Therefore, I am second-in-command.”
Now, fortunately, we never had the kind of emergency when Charlie McCann was off campus
that would have forced that issue. A very practical thing would have been in the winter, a snow day.
Only the President can declare a snow day, and he’d better declare it fast. If he does not, then all of the
classified staff in—Facilities, academic secretaries, Finance, Library and so forth—who would not be able
to make it to campus would be docked either a sick day or a vacation day. Whereas if it were declared a
snow day, then that went by the boards. So it had both tremendous fiscal implications, as well as morale
and so forth for the staff.
Fiksdal: Yeah, especially for classified staff.
Teske: And it had to be the President who would do that. Now, what if McCann had been at a
conference, or looking at another school or something like that, when that would have occurred? Who
would have been second-in-command? I don’t think we ever knew for sure who was going to be doing
And I don’t understand where this internal analysis and planning coordination in effect had
almost a veto power. Now, it was one thing for us three Deans to have veto power when we were
looking at the faculty candidates, but it’s quite another when you’re talking about institutional policy.
And you get something together, and you send it over, and nothing happens. I had that happen to me
once, and I’m going to handle that in writing later.
And I also don’t understand—because Charles McCann could be a very deliberate man. He
would sit and listen and listen and think, and then he would act. And why he let this go on, I do not
know. Maybe he feared that he would lose one of the troika. I have no idea, and it’s not something that
a Dean could have gone to a President and said, “Why are you doing this?”
Now, that being said, there were so many things to like about Joe. Joe was one of these people,
if you were in a meeting and somebody said something inadvertently funny, you could look around the
room and you could be sure that maybe the only other person in the room who would get the joke
would be Joe. You can feel very close to him about that.
And another kind of thing that went on, my wife Lilo mentioned, who was it who came out to
her bookstore in Lacey and said, “Hello. I’m representing the Evergreen State College. Let’s sit down and
talk, and I’ll tell you about what we’re doing. And I’ll look at your store. We’ll have our own bookstore,
but still, it’s nice to know . . .” He was the only one who cared. He and his wife, [Ann], were large
movers and shakers in setting up ECCO, the Evergreen College Community Organization, which got

townspeople and college people together once a month during the winter. There would be dinners,
there would be special lectures, and even excursions to art exhibits and things like that that would be
ECCO. That was Joe and Ann.
One of the times that I came out here during this siege [laughing] in late winter and spring of
1970, when I was almost commuting, one of the Saturday evenings that I was out here, the Shobens
invited me for dinner. And there were Sam Sumner Reed and his wife, and some other people, who had
kids who were ready to go to a ballet school—and at that time, Olympia didn’t have any, and the reason
why they were there—and I was invited so they could lobby me for trying to get somebody at Evergreen.
And sure enough, Susan, sure enough—it was two years later—I did not have the money left to
hire Bud Johanson full-time, but I had the money left to hire him half-time. And he and Mary
[Johanson?] were very much interested in setting up a ballet school. And so, when I interviewed him in
the morning, I called up Mrs. Reed, and she and her people got together and got a chance to talk with
Bud, and they guaranteed the ballet school that would make it financially worthwhile for Bud and Mary
to come out. That was Joe. That was the kind of thing that he could set up.
Now, he was also very good as a speaker to Rotary and Kiwanis. He did, out of conscience, make
several big public speeches against the Vietnam War that got the more conservative elements mad at
him. But still, it was really painful to watch these two people, about whom there was so much to like,
but realize that they simply did not get along.
Fiksdal: So when was that that he was fired?
Teske: Well, I’ll get to that in a moment. But one other thing—and you can read all about this in my
Notes to a Future Historian—what saved us was the Deans and Directors breakfast. From before the
students came, the summer of 1971, through, I believe, the summer of 1973, just about every
Wednesday, the Deans and Directors would meet at the Golden Carriage restaurant out on Plum Street,
right off the throughway. Nice, big parking lot; nice room where we could meet. And the President and
Vice Presidents were not invited. In two years, [there was] only one meeting where we asked them to
And what we would do—no decisions were taken. Now, I go into detail of how we worked, but
the point is it was a chance for us to talk, to clear the air, not to gossip, not to have rumors, but to set
things up. So the typical kind of thing would be we’d go around the table, and I would be It. And I would
say two kinds of things. “Here are some of the things that are on my plate. If anybody doesn’t talk me
out of it, here’s what I want to do, and here’s what I want to do here. Now, these other things, I don’t
have a clue, so I would appreciate any suggestions that you would have.”

And after I would be done, you, let’s say, would be speaking up for Admissions, and you’d say,
“Okay, Charlie, your folks are causing us problems here, because your language is not clear. This
afternoon, we can straighten that out.”
It was a way of our getting rid—let the Vice Presidents do what they wanted to do up there. We
were getting things done by talking to each other. And frankly, it sounds melodramatic, but I wonder if
the school would still be there if we had not had—and it was Ken Winkley’s idea, Finance Officer,
Comptroller—if we had not had those breakfasts for sharing. But it certainly made a strong bond.
The whole story of our being cut down—one of the major catastrophes—is in my piece March
Mayhem 1973. We had been planning—and I naively, not knowing State education—assumed you tell
me to plan for something, fine, I will plan for something, which included a 2,000-seat auditorium,
because we were going to have 12,000 students by the mid-‘80s, and we had to plan ahead. So I had to
plan the first building so it would fit into—etcetera.
And I mentioned how I really messed up, but I couldn’t help it, on foreign languages and in the
arts. Foreign languages? I wasn’t going to commit to hiring until we knew what our students, in the
absence of requirements, would be wanting to take. So we had to use the tutor apparatus, which you
worked so well. And with the arts, to bring on anybody else in music and drama and dance and visual art
when we didn’t have the buildings, the assumption, Susan, would be that we would be growing by
almost 1,000 students a year, which would mean 40 to 50 new faculty positions. I figured we could
afford to wait until we saw what the demand was in foreign language; then hire a whole bunch of
people. Ditto with the arts. So when we had the facilities, then we could hire the people.
Well, guess what? Understaffed on both of them, or just skeleton staffs; and then March 1973,
the lid was placed on it—no more growth, or just very small growth in the next years. And I defy—
people talk about academics not having much business sense or something like that. I defy a
corporation to try to set up a factory that’s planning to produce thus and such and so and so, and then to
be told, “No. You’re not even going to—you’re going to have about a fifth of that.” They would not be in
business, you know? We had to live with that.
But it was that crisis, in which, as I say in my article, so many people were going to have to be let go.
That’s what finally stiffened McCann’s resolve. And he let Shoben go, and he moved Barry into the
position of Legislative Liaison. And Dave stayed for, I think, two years, no, one year in that position.
Then he taught for a year, and then he moved on to become an administrator elsewhere. So with Dave,
it wasn’t so much being fired or let go. It was what Lawrence Peter in his book, The Peter Principle, calls
the “lateral arabesque.” [laughter] You find something over here with someone else.

Fiksdal: Well, you certainly needed a better structure.
Teske: Yeah. And Ed Kormondy, who had been serving as one of the Academic Deans, was moved into
the provostship. And I think, as a kind of segue to the other sort of problem, I think Mervyn Cadwallader
pretty much assumed that he would be chosen as Provost.
Fiksdal: Oh, I see.
Teske: And that, I am sure, changed his attitude toward the school somewhat. Any other questions that
you have about the vice presidential problem?
Fiksdal: No, that was very clear.
Teske: Okay. I hope it’s right. You know, it’s very hard. After all, I was reporting to Barry, and our friend
here who did the doctoral dissertation did not interview Barry. And it’s just that document makes it look
as if it’s all Dave’s fault for wanting to consolidate turf. And, no, it isn’t like that. There is much to be said
on both sides.
Fiksdal: Well, we both know—we’ve both been Deans—it’s never one person’s fault. There’s always
different perspectives.
Teske: Yeah. And, of course, the other thing, too in the Deans’ office that you probably found, and my
buddy at Oberlin explained to me, he said, “Look, Charlie, in the Dean’s Office, you’re going to find out
that there are a lot of arguments in which one person thinks 60 percent this way and 40 in the other, and
is against somebody who thinks 60 where he thinks 40, and 40 where he thinks 60. But they will both
argue as if they’re arguing 100 percent against 100 percent. And you just have to be aware that that is
going on.”
Fiksdal: Yeah, that’s good advice.
Teske: Yeah. Now, I did not have a clear vision in moving from Oberlin about what I wanted to have
happen. There were various things I knew I did not want. Departments. I’d had some not actual
political problems, but just the sense of the departments—stemming from the compartments of the
Germany university system—were oftentimes where people were rewarded for being more loyal to the
field than they were to the college and the college’s programs. Well, maybe in the upper reaches of
graduate schools, that’s fine. But if you’re trying to run an undergraduate school, which will appeal to
the whole person, and trying to enlighten the whole person, you can’t have everything chopped up like
that into tiny fiefdoms.
Fiksdal: But can I interject right there?
Teske: Sure.
Fiksdal: Because you just reminded me that I didn’t ask you about why Evergreen was founded as a

purely undergraduate institution. Was that something that was planned from the very beginning?
Teske: Yes. The Legislature plan—see, we never got a legislative mandate to do what we are doing. The
idea was it was to be a counterpart of Western, Central and Eastern, which at that time were colleges
that had originally been teachers colleges, colleges of education, and at that time were colleges, and
were until—what?—the late ‘70s, when people decided to go for the big bucks and call themselves
universities. Whereas we, being snobbish, said, “No, we’re going to stay a college. Even though we do
have Masters programs, we’re going to stay a college.”
And William Henry Stevens does a very good job of talking about the minutes of Senator Gordon
Sanderson’s discussion, where he says—it’s not in the charter, or the legislative action—but he says, “It
was never the intent of the Legislature that Evergreen should be just one of the same, but should take
advantage of its opportunity of starting new.” And didn’t stipulate what that should mean.
And I gather—this is hearsay—that Evans told the first Trustees, “Don’t think you have to have
what everybody else has. Start thinking on your own about what makes sense now. And while you’re at
it, do emphasize—make use of your location to be offering work in public administration.” Fine. So
that’s how that occurred.
But I knew I wanted—one of the things that sort of frustrated me at Oberlin was here you had a
topflight conservatory, and it was the only one that was right next to and part of a very good liberal arts
college. And aside from the fact that the students ate together, and that they were in my beginning
classes for English Comp and English Lit, the conservatory students—there were all sorts of opportunities
that were not taken advantage of. I was able—once—to run an evening seminar called “Words and
Music,” with six students from the conservatory and six students from the college. Once in 12 years, I
was able to do that.
So I had these visions of what could happen. Opera—you know, being able to study the text, the
librettos, the poetry, and then the drama of what was going on, and the music. And, of course, if you get
into Wagner, you’ve got the mythology and the anti-Semitism and the politics and so forth, and happy
hunting ground for interdisciplinary study. And, as I told you in one of our first interviews, my favorite
undergraduate course had been a sort of interdisciplinary course, which was just one-sixth of my time.
But I thought, Wow! Suppose you could have the same group of people, and the teachers, instead of
visiting, a good number of them would be inside the program working along with the students. So that
was sort of in the background. I didn’t have any dream of doing something like that, but still, that was
something that we were thinking about. And, of course, doing away with grades. I felt they were too
ambiguous to bother with, and they were getting inflated so they were even more ambiguous. Etcetera.

But I did not have a firm sense. The one thing I knew was that I was being brought in to organize
the individual learning contracts that McCann had been very much for right at the start. Indeed, Susan,
he is quoted in Stevens’ doctoral dissertation as saying—and I think he said that in his statement the
morning of February 8, 1970—“If, by a student’s fourth year, he is not doing most of his work as an
individual, we have failed.” So that was a very big interest of McCann’s, and I was being brought in
because I had experience with that.
That being said, then we get to this crucial time in the first meeting when Mervyn explains—
talking also briefly about [Joseph] Tussman’s program, and, of course, mainly his own program at San
Jose State—of comparing Athenian politics and the stresses and strains on the polity of the
Peloponnesian War to the current situation in Vietnam, and working in this area at the intersection of
humanities and social sciences. Though Merv at one point, in presenting it, said, “It’s not so much
interdisciplinary, it’s non-disciplinary; that you’re getting human beings working on a problem and using
the skills and different disciplines to do so.”
But as we go through that first hour and 50 minutes, after some housekeeping, McCann reads
his statement. Bob Barringer, Computer Director, reads to us the editorial in that morning’s Olympian,
saying, “When are we going to hear about the program of this place?” And backing and forthing.
Of course, what interests me in listening to this is where I hear the beginning seeds of the things.
For example, the word “coordinated” turns up several times. I use the word “subcontractor,” which
other people then start using. But the big word is “preceptor,” who would be both your advisor your
But at one point, it gets really flaky. They’re talking about a teacher of having three functions; of
handling individual learning projects, handling a seminar, and being a preceptor. And I think it’s Joe
Shoben who points out, “If we’re having an 18-to-one ratio of students to faculty, that means a given
teacher would have to deal with 54 different students. This is ridiculous.”
And we’re going along, and finally, about minute 151, Barry says, “Look, we have to focus. We
have to leave here with something that we can use for hiring the Planning Faculty, something we can tell
them. We must come up with something specific.”
And McCann adds, “Let’s forget about these other things for the moment and start going after
And Merv said, “Well, okay, I’ll go first.” That’s when he describes, for about 10 minutes, the
idea of having one, at most two, five faculty-100 student programs, which would be two years long, and
that would take up a fraction of our first-year students. And then he goes on to extol the glories of

getting close interaction; how the problem of advising would be largely solved; and how there
can be fairly easy movement among component seminars in the program, etcetera.
And then when he finishes, that’s where I jump in and said, “I haven’t talked to Merv about this,
but I think I see a way that we could use this as our main vehicle in the early years.”
And I go on, and then we start shifting. So right at the start, Mervyn had come to talk about a
specific content focus in which you would use these pedagogical means to deliver the content of the
program. And, as Richard Jones points out very clearly in his Experiment at Evergreen, what the Planning
Faculty did was to disjoin them. Nobody in the Planning Faculty was interested in replicating Merv’s and
Tussman’s subject matter.
What they did was to take the method, the methodology to be used, of the seminars, and a
combination of those group meetings, etcetera, [water running, dishes clattering, making it difficult to
understand what he is saying] and individual projects contributed, etcetera, and do those things, but
with different subject matters. And really, until Merv himself had, I think, a three-person program for a
year called “Democracy and Tyranny,” nobody followed the content idea that he had proposed.
Fiksdal: I didn’t realize that he wanted a particular content. So that helps explain that.
Teske: The methodology with Tussman, and, to a certain extent, I think, with Alexander Meiklejohn, the
methodology was devised to teach a certain kind of content.
Fiksdal: Oh, I see.
Teske: And what Merv and I—wait, Don Humphrey and I did was to take that and bring in the arts and
the sciences, which Merv had never contemplated having in there. But there was no conflict about that.
I never felt at all undercut by Merv. He did not like individual contracts because to him, part of the
problem with the Education Between Two Worlds that Alexander Meiklejohn talked about, part of the
problem was the fragmentation of the students’ responsibilities, of the students’ concerns, of the
students’ time, which also led to a fragmentation where you separate the issue of ethics from the issue
of technique.
Can you turn it off?
Fiksdal: Yeah, I’ll stop.

Charlie Teske
Interviewed by Susan Fiksdal
The Evergreen State College oral history project
Interview 6, Part 2 of 2, November 22, 2016

Begin part 2 of 2 of Charlie Teske on November 22, 2016
Fiksdal: Okay. Do you remember where you were? I think the separation of ethics and . . . ?
Teske: There are all kinds of fragmentation going on, Susan. Again, if you think about the regular
system, as I believe we said before, you’re supposed to think like a little historian between 9:00 and 9:50,
and then you go and you’re supposed to think like a little biologist from 10:00 to 10:50 and so forth. And
the issues of, what does this all mean? How does it all fit together? They will never be addressed.
Then also, I don’t know what you felt about this, but, oh, my, did I ever hear complaints from my
Oberlin students about that, because they tended to be very serious. Oberlin was very much like a
graduate prep school. At the time I was there, within a year after graduation, 70 percent of the men
would be in either graduate school or law school or med school, and 50 to 55 percent of the women
would be like that. Oberlin had about 2,000 students. One-sixth of the professors in the U.S. with Ph.Ds
had done their undergraduate training at Oberlin. It was a graduate prep school, which meant very little
excitement because it was just another four years on the way.
But what the students said one of the most difficult times was when you sat down after supper
to decide what to study for first when you had competing claims of these five different courses upon
you. One of my students, who had a background mainly in science, got so fascinated with mythology, I
recommended Edith Hamilton’s book to him. He got it and he got so fascinated, he sat down and he
read the whole thing. He fell so far behind in physics that several weeks later, he had to ask me to give
him an extension on a paper, because getting fascinated and into this book had really messed up his
schedule. That’s not a good thing to have happen. That is not something good for learning.
At any rate, Don and I, we didn’t try to choose up sides—all scientists over here to Don; all artists
and literary types over here to Charlie; you concerned social scientists and historians and philosophers,
you go to Merv—we did not do that. As I say, Merv did not really believe in individual contracts. But he
compromised and so we went ahead.
Same thing when we started approving programs. I never heard Merv—directed to Don and me,
or the people who were signing up with us—say anything against. We were all looking for the strengths
of the programs. We not trying to undermine each other. We were working for things, and trying to

choose which programs would work, which faculty members. For a time there, Susan, we had
one of the strongest deans’ offices in the country because it would be as if the faculty—we had the
money from the state that was given to us as a block grant. Then the faculty members approached us
with proposals about how to get paid for teaching the next year. And we were able to say “yes,” “no,”
“yes,” “no” and so forth.
Once we said that, we became one of the weakest deans’ offices in the country because people
did their own budgets, their own schedules, and we just watched and hoped that everything would work
out okay.
So, that’s the way that went along in the deans’ office. And at one point, when Merv was being
interviewed by Stevens, he the briefly touched upon this problem of the vice presidents, and he said,
“It’s too bad they could not have worked the way that the three of us deans worked together.”
Really, it was exciting. And not just the planning year, but also the first year. The Planning Faculty
could help us from mid-winter through the spring in recruiting the 30 new people that we needed for
our first-year faculty. But then, the second-year faculty, our faculty members were so busy teaching their
first years’ programs that you asked how often the deans met, when we would meet with [Dave] Barry,
that would be about once a week. But then, as we started having these needs to go around the country
recruiting, and Don and I trying to raise money in D.C. and New York and so forth, the first teaching year,
I think we realized when we had some sherry together right before Thanksgiving that we hadn’t seen
each other for about three weeks, because we had been off on the road and so forth. But the main thing
is, Susan, we trusted each other.
So, things went along like that. In 1973, Don left. After his heart attack, he had been replaced by
Ed Kormondy. But then, in ’73, Ed became Provost and Byron Youtz then replaced Don when Don went
back on the faculty. Then, in ’74, Merv left and was replaced by Rudy Martin, and she was then LLyn
Patterson—later, LLyn De Danaan—with Byron still in there. Then, in the June ’75, I left. I did go back in
for a term and a half on an emergency, but I left the deans’ office.
It would have been around October 1975, Merv called me up and said, “I’m coming over, and it’s
going to be a sort of serious talk.” Merv announced to me—and he said he’d already talked to a bunch
of faculty members in clusters, but he wanted to talk to me individually, and he’d already talked to
McCann—he was going to propose a reorganization in which Evergreen would be divided into two. One
of them would be teaching his version of coordinated studies, the San Jose—what some of the planning
faculty members had started referring to as “Merv’s little red schoolhouse,” his pure version of that.
Then, there would be three academic deans; not necessarily departments, but divisions that would be

using regular classes and so forth.
Fiksdal: Oh, that would go back to using courses?
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: Oh, I see. Huh.
Teske: Not necessarily departmental organization, but still, courses within those areas. And Merv said
to me, “Face it. Sciences and the arts have never really worked out under this system.”
Well, as I was thinking about this, Susan, just recently, I thought, wait a minute. The way that
the deans organized their dean groups, Don was pretty much in charge, and then after him, Ed and then
after him, Byron, of the programs that had a strong science component.
Fiksdal: Yeah, so he hadn’t really seen them.
Teske: And I was in charge of the programs that had a strong arts component. So Merv had never really,
at dean-group level, witnessed, evaluated, talked all that much with people who were doing hands-in
programs in the sciences and the arts.
I should add here—lest it get completely forgotten—all of the first-year programs save one were
planned and in the first catalog. The one that came later—remember, this was 1971—Man and Art—
sorry, Person and Art—anyway, Man and Art. There I recruited all three of the faculty members for that.
Jose Arguelles was a very interesting, enigmatic person. But still, he and his wife, Miriam, right as they
arrived at Evergreen, they had done a book on mandala, with her help on the drawings and his text.
Printing ran to 70,000, translated into four languages at least.
Fiksdal: Amazing.
Teske: And he was our coordinator. And then Don Chan, who was a separate great story—did so much
for the school—and then Cruz Esquivel, the other faculty member. They were so important to the artistic
life of the school and its reputation in those first couple years.
But still, Merv had really nothing to do with Man and Art, so he didn’t know about that. But
when Merv said, “It hasn’t worked,” I said, “Merv, what about”—and I think this was the second or third
year—“Forms A and B, Peggy Dickinson and Linda Kahan?” Peggy brought 20 students from the arts;
Linda brought 20 students from biology. The biologists learned to draw; the artists learned about
biology. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them, but they turned out a suite of drawings that almost
rivaled Audubon in their interest of birds, plants and so forth. Every once in a while, they will be shown
in the Lab Building.
Fiksdal: Yeah, I think I went and saw them. I remember.
Teske: But to my mind, that was really great, and, of course, in the first year. But again, these people

reported to me. Space, Time and Form with Byron Youtz, physicist; Sid White, artist; Beryl Crowe, Lee
Anderson, and Don Heard, who got killed. Very successful program that really did not have much of the
humanities or the social sciences at all, but instead of, as I said, aligning with sciences at one extreme
and arts at the other, it was more like a circle, with the arts and the sciences meeting at the top of the
Fiksdal: Another great one—I don’t know if you were aware of this working—Jake Romero, who was a
physicist, a power systems person, and Bob Gottlieb, who was music—20 physicists meet 20 musicians.
The program was called Harmony of the Universe. Their concert was amazing. They had developed new
instruments, new scales, all kinds of things going on. And I said, “Merv, you can’t say that there haven’t
been real successes, successes that other schools cannot duplicate because they do not have the
At any rate, Merv was circulating this plan among the faculty. He talked to Charlie McCann and
he said, “McCann agrees.” At that time, we were in session for the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving
week, and the students left campus on Tuesday evening. The idea was we would hold a special faculty
meeting on Wednesday, when the students were not around. McCann had agreed—and I never talked
to him about this; I still have my doubts about whether he’s being quoted directly—that if the faculty
enthusiastically wanted to change, he would go along with it. I said, “Well, if you’re going to hold that
meeting, I’m going to have to speak very much against it.”
Somehow, the word got out to the students, and apparently even what Merv had on paper got
out to the students, and at the beginning of November, there was a huge uproar. Several mass meetings
about this. It was not just that the students felt they had come to Evergreen for coordinated studies and
contracts and so forth, but that they were being bypassed, and a whole new thing was going to be put in
that they would have no say in.
Boy, I did not envy Ed Kormondy as Provost and the other new deans’ lot. They didn’t have
anything to do with it, but they were like the U.S. Embassy. You’ve got to have something to throw your
rotten eggs at, right? They were the ones that were in view, so they had to declare no classes. “On
Monday and Tuesday, we will have institution-wide meetings.”
Fiksdal: What year did this occur in?
Teske: 1975, after I had left the Dean’s office. The very first day I sat in on most of the thing, and I still
recall the head of the deans being seated at the table in front, and the bright lights because the video
cameras were working. They were being attacked for the students for this change, which they had
nothing to do with. I do not recall if Mervin even was there to be asked questions.

I just now dug up again, and I will read from this. This is a letter to the editor. It would be the
Cooper Point Journal. I unfortunately don’t have the date right here, but it’s the first issue that came out
after Thanksgiving. The letter is by a man named George S. Wood, who obviously is a very serious, very
committed student. The title of the letter is “Return to What?”

Evergreen, from the beginning, has been an institution of crises. The events of the past three weeks merely seem
more intense, due perhaps to a lack of historical perspective in the few years of the college’s existence. The tremendous
concern that I see pressing Evergreen is not the call for student power. That, I can handle. But what I fear is the call for student
power without an underlying educational philosophy. All too often during debate for power and its location, concern with what
that power is for was lost, and thus, a real opportunity to reaffirm the college’s mission was ignored. If much can be seen from
the effects of the teach-in and its related activities, it would be a call for power for the sake of power. No one questioned the
validity of some student desires in light of what I saw the school attempting to do. By not questioning these motives, I feel a
shaky step has been taken to separate the college into diverse sections, and may split the very thing that makes Evergreen a
powerful institution.
The proposals put forth by Merv Cadwallader are in sharp conflict with the kind of educational philosophy on which
Evergreen is founded. His proposals, point by point, are a return to traditional college education built on the model of the high
school experience we all wanted to leave behind, and agitating for power for the sake of power will only lend itself to that kind
of experience. A four-college system, with its own deans and its own budgets, will point the institution to the type of
departmental backbiting that plagues most, if not all, colleges in the country. Evergreen’s insistence on interdisciplinary study
attempts to get past the idiocy, and instead recognizes the need to teach composite education, with heavy emphasis on reading,
writing and thinking. If you can agree that high schools and traditional colleges are models of fragmented supermarket
educations, then formulate a student power group on refining and maintaining Evergreen’s mode of innovative studies. After
all, it is clear to see what is wrong with education without substance. Do you wish to return to that which you disliked so much?

Well, he continues in this vein. It is one of the most emphatic statements in favor of
interdisciplinary, team-taught, full-time programs that you can imagine. It did happen, according to him,
that in the second day of the discussion, it left entirely what would be taught, and it was on the issue of
how students would get the initiative.
There were two things that the students did not like. Number one was what he’s getting at, a
return to what they perceived as what’s wrong with the regular system. Number two, the fact that they
felt that they were being sandbagged, when an individual faculty member, who isn’t even any longer a
dean, could come in with something like this that would be taken seriously.
I guess the reason I read that to you, Susan, is for maintaining some sort of objectivity. This isn’t
just me, this is a bright student seeing this. Now, what really hurts is this person doesn’t realize that the
coordinated studies come out of Merv.
Fiksdal: Yeah.

Teske: But to me, it was very sad to see this. And, of course, I think there is a corollary: if Merv’s
attempt at changing things—which some people called a palace revolution—if that had failed, but the
students had not heard of it, Merv could have stayed. But when you have this kind of thing going on,
very, very difficult to remain. Because not only did he not get his way so that he could—you know, the
main reason he wanted the separate interdisciplinary college was what he said at the outset when Larry
Eickstaedt was taking him to the airport for the February conference that he was hoping to sell us at
least one theme team, and then he would be quite willing to have a conventional school for the rest of it.
So this was his attempt to get back his vision at Evergreen.
Fiksdal: Original vision, yeah.
Teske: And it didn’t work. And there are two ironies, and then finally we can wrap this up. It’s really sad
that if I’d known this student, I would have tried to get hold of him and said, “Look, don’t you realize how
important he was to this? It’s just that we took his vision and went somewhere else with it, and now it
looks as if he has to pay for your disgruntlement about this.” But I must say, one of the big things that
came out of this was a reaffirming by the students of what they were coming to us for.
Okay, two ironies. One of them, if anything, Merv and I became closer, really heartfelt talks. As
he started looking for work, he was sort of using me as a sounding board. I recall he was looking at two
different places, a vice chancellorship of the Platteville campus of the University of Wisconsin, and the
Chicago Art Institute, being head of the academic enterprise connected with the art institute.
He said, “You know, Charlie, I’m very much attracted to the art institute, and there’s a very
strong, charismatic leader. But I have to watch it, because when I went to Old Westbury, I was drawn by
Harris Wofford—a strong, charismatic leader—and it didn’t work. And, of course, at Evergreen, McCann
was not the kind of strong, charismatic leader that I wanted. I guess I have to stop doing that. What do
you think?”
We talked about that, and he eventually took the Platteville job. But he said to me—and this is, I
think, really sad—“Well, I hope you won’t think that I’m deserting a sinking ship.” I said, “Merv, the ship
is not sinking, and some of us are going to be just doing our level best to keep it from sinking.”
Fiksdal: Why did he think that it was a sinking ship? And I still don’t quite understand why he left.
Maybe we can talk about it a little more next time.
But it’s interesting how the story reminds me of how you talked about Dave Barry and Joe
Shoben; that you do have your own perspective, and maybe that becomes so all-encompassing when
you’re already so busy and doing so much that you can’t move out of that perspective to make things
better for yourself.

Teske: There was one thing, as I look back on myself, where I would refuse to budge. If we were going to
have interdisciplinary programs, I wanted to stop any departmentalism from creeping in. Because the
dean and I at Oberlin had tried hard to get some interdepartmental programs going, and the inertial
momentum of the department is so strong that it ripped it apart.
And again, I go back to the experience of Fairhaven at Western, of starting as if it were to be a
healthy, vibrant alternative campus within the college. And then I—what do you call it?—degenerating
or whatever into a sort of office for special types of programming, and I did not want that to happen.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: Now, I mentioned one irony, and that irony was that Merv and I began even more heartfelt talk.
The other irony is [chuckles] that Merv was so much against the division into individual learning, of
individual contracts, and where did he wind up as an administrator? At the Union of Experimenting
Colleges and Universities where, in effect, they were giving Ph.Ds as individual contracts.
Fiksdal: Oh, my goodness?
Teske: Maxine Mimms has one, LLyn De Danaan has one, Joye Hardiman has one. I think Betsy Diffendal
is also from there.
Fiksdal: I think Helena Knapp, too.
Teske: But that’s where Mervyn—but that wasn’t his last stop. His last stop was University of Phoenix.
And whether he was engaged in the distance-learning there, I don’t know. But isn’t that amazing . . .
Fiksdal: Yes, it is.
Teske: . . . that he should end up in—
Fiksdal: Well, he ended up knowing a lot about it, and maybe that’s what they wanted at the time.
Teske: I guess. So.
Fiksdal: It’s so interesting.
Teske: Well, Susan, listen. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. I’m sorry, but it is part of our
Fiksdal: Yeah, it’s a sad part.
Teske: And you can’t really understand the background of the place if you don’t understand this.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
End part 2 of 2 of Charlie Teske on November 22, 2016

Charlie Teske
Interviewed by Susan Fiksdal
The Evergreen State College oral history project
December 6, 2016

Begin Part 1 of 2 of Charlie Teske on 12-6-16
Fiksdal: Okay, Charlie. We may have several more sessions, so we agreed to answer a couple questions
that are burning in my mind right now. One is, in the planning year, and in those first few years—and
maybe the whole time you were teaching, I’m not sure—what was it that gave you the belief, the idea
and the belief, that coordinated studies programs could serve students for at least three years of their
time at Evergreen? Because, obviously, you had the individual contracts, you had group contracts, but
what made you feel that that would be the way a student could get a strong liberal arts education?
Teske: This is something that we talked about before, but we did not touch upon it in this particular way.
What Mervin Cadwallader—the founder, in effect, of what became coordinated studies—had in mind
was a five-faculty, 100-student program, interdisciplinary, team-taught, full-time, which would last for
two years, so that a student’s whole lower-division freshman and sophomore year would be taken up by
this program. And his hope was that he would be allowed to organize one, or perhaps at most two, such
programs for our first thousand students.
And then, of course, Don Humphrey and I got hold of it. Merv’s idea had been the work on
Athens, especially the Peloponnesian Wars, by contrast to our current involvement in Vietnam. It was to
be a study of democracy . . .
[Telephone rings, recorder turned off]
End Part 1 of 2 of Charlie Teske on 12-6-16
Begin Part 2 0f 2 of Charlie Teske on 12-6-16
Teske: . . . a study of democracy and tyranny. It would be very much, I would think of as soft-data, social
science, going over into humanities. Relatively little hard data—and by that I mean statistical sociology
and so forth—but areas covered by political science, history, philosophy, literature. Perhaps, I guess,
because of the Athenian connection, there would have been some concern with drama. But, at any rate,
it would be very definitely—it would not have hands-on work in the sciences or in the arts.
And so, Merv had the idea of this particular subject matter, and he—following Joseph Tussman,
who, in turn, was following Alexander Meiklejohn—had devised the pedagogy to be a delivery system for

this particular kind of program. That’s what we were after. That was Merv’s ideal.
So, what was happening, Susan, is that we were starting at perhaps the most rigorous ideal
point. And then, we were moving away from that—lightening up, varying, adding more things. So
already, in that all-important conference of February 8-9, 1970—after Merv had said his piece, and I’d
said mine, and Don was talking about how the sciences—he received a lot of questions. “How could you
possibly do science under this?” We found, during the rest of that day and the next day, that we were
talking more in terms of one year rather than two years, but we still were talking about five faculty
members and 100 students as the sort of package that we would be dealing with in the program.
Now, there was another issue, too. Some people—I don’t recall it occurring at the planning
conference, but before it—had been suggesting, “Well, maybe, yeah, we want to be different, but maybe
we should be cautious. We’ll start with a few things, and then try to use our opportunity to begin new,
to add more things.”
Well, especially after we had that conference, the realization was if we want to make a real break
with the departmental system, and the premature specialization, and the recent past of American higher
education, we’ve got to do it decidedly and drastically at the start. Because we’ll always be able to move
backward to compromise, but if we start by compromising, we’re not going to achieve that. So, I guess,
in phrasing your question, it would be looked at it the other way, and assume that we’re starting with
two-year programs, and five faculty members and 100 students, and then we’re modifying and
compromising from there.
So, okay, we’re going to have one-year programs. Well, our initial programs, if you look at the
catalog, I think most of them were five faculty members. There were a couple even with six faculty
members. And the one that was not thought of at the beginning was the one we called Man and Art.
Okay? And I staffed that by recruiting Jose Arguelles and Don Chan and Cruz Esquivel. That had three
faculty members and 60 students. But we then found, with the interest in that program, and also how
active they were being, that we were able to add Ainara Wilder part-time, for the winter and spring
quarters, and for the spring, Miriam Arguelles for the big art project, the dragons in the stairwell. So,
even there, the program became more than three.
Okay. I think another important part of this—and, of course, there was one thing I found as
dean to be looking over and trying to nurture these programs [laughing] but quite another to be
teaching in it. Right? I really—well, that’s why I think it’s so important to be drawing deans out of the
faculty, who already have been teaching, you know, in the, in the programs, and understand what it’s
like. And initially, by the way, in the planning year, the planning faculty, we were talking about the idea

that any future President of the school should come and teach in a coordinated studies program
for a quarter before becoming President, and if the person didn’t want that, then we didn’t want that
But anyway, we felt, you know, very strongly about that. And, of course, by working . . . let’s see
. . . I think Eric Larson was first-year faculty? Pris Bowerman was second year. David Marr had been firstyear faculty. But I fell into an advanced program that had people who already knew what they were
doing. Okay.
Now, one of the things, I think, is we were conceiving very large problems, so that a year would
not be really enough to be studying them. And so all we could hope to do is to make a good start. And I
think, well, David Marr certainly is the intellectual center of the CISCA program. He certainly had more
than enough to do. [chuckles] And the next year, I was coordinator of the Roots of Our Romanticism,
and there, had the additional chore—Bill Winden was supposed to be handling music history. He was
put into the dean’s office, so I got Brother Ronald Hurst from St. Martin’s College to fill in there. And Hiro
Kawasaki, who was a first-year faculty member in the history of art, came and filled in there. Luckily, the
grant gave us time from mid-August to be preparing for that.
Okay, so I guess it was the size of the program, I mean, just to deal with something like
Romanticism. And, so far as length of the program was concerned, I, at least, was able to follow straight
through there.
One of the most important programs I was in at Evergreen, 1993-94, was a Great Stories
program, with Don Finkel, Al Leisenring, Tom Grissom, Setsuko Tsutsumi and me A year-long program,
with five faculty members.
Fiksdal: Were you able to retain your students? I mean, did they stay in, the same number as began?
Teske: Only if they were graduating did we lose them. Where there might have been some cases where
students—now, it is true that Setsuko left the program in the spring quarter—is that if you had a threeor four-person program—now, yours and my program, the Making of Meaning program, there, the deans
were going to cut us back, so that when you left to finish your doctorate in the spring, we’d go to three
faculty members. And they just took for granted that the program would lose. I told them, “No,” and I
insisted that Betty Estes join us, and she did, and we kept the students.
Fiksdal: Thank heavens, yeah.
Teske: Yeah. Because in a way, Susan, that’s a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy . . .
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: . . . if you tell the students, “We will lose people in the spring.” There were several programs that

the deans figured could go for only two quarters, and in both of those programs—Sig Kutter’s and my
Stories of Creation, and Bud Johansen, Craig Carlson and I in the Perceptions program—we gained in the
second quarter, but we were already planning to leave in the third quarter. So, okay.
Now, there is the problem that you know only too well. It’s like writing a three-act play, where a
part of the audience can leave, if it has to, at the end of act one, and will have gotten something. And a
lot of them will at least stay for act two, but you will let people in for act two. And, of course, typically—
at least in my experience—the students who would join us for act two, for the winter quarter, were
people who had been friends with folks in the first—who had been in the program the first quarter, so
they already knew quite a bit about what we were doing. More difficult to allow any students in for the
third quarter, you know.
Fiksdal: Yeah, that’s always really hard.
Teske: Yeah. And so, really, I think it was wise. Now, the Irish program, there, the program was
conceived of as a year. But the faculty would teach it on campus for only two quarters, and then, Patrick
Hill and Sean Williams would take students to Ireland. And I was teaching Irish poetry; and then the
second year I was in there—James Joyce. But then, I was out in the spring. But there was a program
deliberately planned to have attrition in the spring.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: Now, one of the things, though, that I was careful to do as coordinator—and I noticed I still have
some of this stuff on my hard drive—was to do a stock-taking at the end of the first quarter. And not just
the program description, but something longer than that, which we would give to the students in
December. And we would hold this sort of faculty fishbowl seminar, in which the faculty members would
talk about where we thought we had gotten to, and then would open it up to the students. But there
was always this idea—of course, we deliberately did a bit of this—“Well, in the winter when we ... in the
winter when we . . .” and so forth. And so the students, we got them into thinking that way.
Fiksdal: Also, what you’re reminding me of is talking with the students about their ideas for winter. I
mean, “Here are some of our ideas. What are your ideas?” And then . . .
Teske: Exactly.
Fiksdal: So there can be a little more interest built up if students have some input. And I think that
that’s quite rare now.
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: One of the things I like best about Roots of Our Romanticism program, the last reading

assignment and lecture was given by one of our students.
Fiksdal: Oh, wow.
Teske: Yeah, I mean, it was that, you know . . .
Fiksdal: Mm-hm.
Teske: Yeah. And then, of course, it was a bit more difficult for the spring. But still, these questions.
Here is where we’re still going. And in one of—I don’t know, it might even have been for our program,
you’ll have to tell me—but there was a Hagar the Horrible cartoon in which there is crag, and Hagar is
bringing lumber out. And Lucky Eddie is out, and there’s a cantilever coming out from the crag. And
they’re building a bridge, but you don’t see the other side. And Lucky Eddie is out there with a hammer
and some nails, and Hagar is bringing more timber. And Lucky Eddie says, “What’s holding this thing up?
And is there anything over there?” And Hagar says, “Shut up and keep hammering.” [laughter] And that
was our sort of idea with the students, you know. “Is there anything over there on the other side?”
“Well, if there is, we’re going to reach it.” You know?
Fiksdal: We’re headed towards it, yeah. [laughing]
Teske: And one of the things about listening to students in the first—the end-of-first-quarter conference
of the Roots of Our Romanticism—I thought that a lot of the students would at least have some idea
about what Romanticism was. One of the brightest students [unintelligible 00:13:12], when he came in
for the conference, he said, “You know, Charlie,” he said, “it was as if we were at a county fair or
something. It was one of these things with this big ladder going up, and there’s this construction, and at
the top is a diving board.”
Fiksdal: [Laughing]
Teske: “And then, there’s a round tank at the bottom, and the ladder is so high, you can barely, from the
top of it, see the tank. And you tell me ‘There’s water in the tank. Go up and dive.’ And I don’t know if
there is or not, but you told me, so I went up and dived, and, of course, it was just great.” And one of the
things, again, that fits with how you learn gradually, by experience.
As coordinator, I took the first couple days of the first week of Roots of Our Romanticism, and
talking about the program covenant, and the ground rules, and how credit would be awarded and so
forth. And only on Thursday did we start showing them Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation series on
Romanticism, and playing them some music—and here, we’re talking about slides—and the students
said, “Wait a minute. Is this all we’re going to be doing?” We said, “Yeah.” “Oh, great. We should have
started on Monday already.”
Fiksdal: Started that way, yeah. Get the hook, yeah.

Teske: All right. By the Irish program—we did this in each of the three years—the first day with the
students, a great play by Brian Friel that has three characters, one woman and two men—Patrick and
Sean and I sat on stools and performed the play for the students. Not talking about ground rules and so
forth, but actually doing something together.
So, part of it, yeah, you know, part of it, you have to sort of be tricky; that there’s going to be a
payoff; there still are these questions. Now, one of the things that I used—and that we’ve done in ours,
because we didn’t know sufficiently where we’d be going—but I used it in a program that involved
American performance traditions, and certainly used it in Romanticism. That was faculty made out a sort
of namedropping list of people and titles—titles of works, and people’s names. And we passed them out
to the students, and we said, “Okay, we don’t want to see these back, but we want you to keep these in
your notebooks, in your portfolios. Look at the person’s name. If you’ve never heard it, or heard the
work’s name before, don’t mark anything. If you have heard the name and you could maybe write or
speak two sentences about what it is, put a one. If you could write a paragraph about what it is, put a
two. If this is something you really know something about, where you could go on for quite a while, put
a three. Okay? Do that now. Don’t show it to us, and put it in your journal. At the end of the first
quarter, go back through it again and renumber. Where are you now? At the end of the second quarter,
go back and renumber, and at the end of the third quarter. We’re not saying we’re going to get to
everything.” But so that the student had some sort of measurement of getting a hold of an artistic,
Fiksdal: I think that really is smart. Because I remember just teaching French, how students loved it
because they could finish chapter one, and all those subsections, and then they’d get to chapter two.
And there’s a sense—they have a little quiz; they have a sense “I know this. I can now go on, and it’s just
further in the book.” But in programs, you don’t have such a solid sense. Often, as you know, you come
up—all of you, faculty and students—with more questions.
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: And so it can be much harder. So, that aspect of it, I think, is really important; to think about
sort of how can you help students realize how much they’ve learned, so that not only are they willing to
continue the work, but that they feel a little more confidence, and they’re able to move on. Yeah.
Teske: Mm-hm. Well, of course, this wasn’t in the winter, but the kind of thing that happens at
Evergreen was one of the summers when I was doing a one-faculty individual contract. I had done it
with two people twice, but this was the third year, and I was doing it by myself, in Wagner’s Ring in
conjunction with the Seattle Opera August performances of the whole Ring. And at that time, I still was

pals with the management, and was able to get reduced-price tickets for my students. Well, what they
turned out to be, Susan, was not reduced prices, but they would take unsold seats from around. And
one thing I had to tell the students: “Do not tell the people sitting next to you what you paid for these.”
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: You know? Because they were getting—they were paying at that time, 28 bucks or something
instead of $110.
Well, at any rate, so I had the whole thing ready to go. Got a call from—I think Larry Stenberg
was still involved with counseling at the time—he said, “Charlie, we’ve got a problem.” He said, “This
young woman came up from Texas because she was interested in one of our summer programs, a very
specialized summer program, I don’t know, marine science or something like that. Well, there hadn’t
been enough students signing up, and the program was canceled, and her she was. She was interested
in the possibility of coming to Evergreen in the fall, but here she was, stuck. And he said, “Could you
take her?” And I said, “Send her over.” And she said, “Well, he said that you were doing something
Fiksdal: [Laughing]
Teske: She had never heard of Wagner. She had never heard of The Ring.
Fiksdal: Oh, for heaven’s sakes!
Teske: I had an LP with a 45-minute summary of The Ring on it. And I had a syllabus with the books that
we were going to be reading, and what the week was going to look like. I said, “Okay, you take this over
to the Library to a listening area, and you listen. You’ll hear the story, and you’ll hear some of the music
from this, and you could read through it. And you come back and tell me this afternoon whether you
want to join or not. Because if you’re willing to take that plunge, I’m certainly willing to have you.”
She came back, and said, “Wow! I didn’t even realize anything like this existed. Yeah, I’d like to
do this.” “All right.” She took the program. A very serious student. I think the program went on for
about four or five weeks, and then came the couple-week period—because it was given, The Ring was
given twice—the couple-week period when our students would be going.
She got a seat next to a bunch of people who had bought their seats at about four times what
she had paid. And they were talking. “Well, I wonder what this is?” And my student was saying, “Excuse
me. That’s pronounced Don-ner, the god of thunder” “Oh.” And they started asking her questions.
[chuckles] And she just was bathed in glory coming back, coming back in our van.
Fiksdal: I bet!
Teske: She said, “I’m an expert!” You know? And, okay, but that’s, that’s when something like this really

But the irony is, I know there are people who talked about having problems. Now, one of the
things that I’m very much concerned with—I don’t want to make this about the old [voice trembles]
days, you know, and how much better they were, but one of the things that I am concerned about is,
when you mentioned the fact, in conversation, that faculty seminars have fallen out of disfavor. Because
one of the reasons that, you know, I was attracted so much to this idea was the faculty seminar. That
should not just be a glorified business meeting—how should we deal with these particular students? Or,
how are you going to be teaching this? But rather, I’m sorry, Susan, you’re a social scientist and I’m a
humanist, and I don’t understand your kind of linguistics. You know? I probably wouldn’t put it that
Fiksdal: Yeah, no.
Teske: But I need to find out, from you, the kind of thing that you do. And I think you need to find out,
from me, the kind of thing that I do, and we’ll be all the stronger. And the German administrator
professor who visited us in ’94, in February, it was a week in our program, Great Stories, was dealing with
Platonic dialogs, and he sat in on our faculty seminar. Now, he didn’t know that Al Leisenring had been a
classics major. He thought of him as being—his doctorate was in mathematics.
He said, “A person from English literature, from mathematics, from physics, from Japanes
studies, and from educational psychology are sitting around discussing Socrates like human beings.” You
know? “And then I went into the student seminar,” and he said, “the students were talking about
Socrates as if it was somebody living now who was having these problems and bringing these questions.”
He was amazed, because in Germany, you don’t touch that unless you know your way around the
classics, and if you don’t know the teacher’s job is to fill your head with things.
So, the program, I don’t want to go quite so far as saying that there’s a direct connection
between the strength of the faculty seminar and the strength of the program. But it’s in there
Fiksdal: Well, but I think it does have something to do with the strength of the seminar, because if
you’re going in as a novice, or really less than a novice on Marx, for example, and that’s what you’re
discussing, it’s really hard to help move the discussion along, or to help students understand a few things
by turning to this page or that page. So, I think it does matter a lot for how you teach your own
But I think the other thing that I’ve been trying to figure out, I remember those early years, and
not—I don’t remember it being so burdensome somehow. And I think part of that was because there

were so many faculty in the programs that you didn’t—you weren’t on every week. You know?
Teske: Right.
Fiksdal: There would be one, two, even sometimes three weeks when you didn’t have to give a lecture,
so you had time to do the reading, you had time to get started on your lecture, or whatever you were
going to do.
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: And so there’s that; I think it’s a timesaver to have more faculty teaching. And then, I think, you
know, the college has just grown a lot in a number of different ways, and so there’s a lot more
governance than there used to be. And I think that I might be wrong about that, but there seems to be
an awful lot. So, we have two afternoons a week, and there’s still not enough time—free time—for
people to get together and work out problems.
Teske: Yeah. But, see, that—but, see, we were strong enough on that, and I’m trying to recall if it was
our program that Barbara came to, and asked us if we could take Richard Jones in, in the seminar.
Fiksdal: Yes, that—I remember those years, too, where, if we were teaching alone somehow—because I
remember I was teaching French, so I needed a faculty seminar. So, I talked to Sandra Simon and Eric
Larson—they were teaching together—and I said, “It sort of fits. I want to come and read your books.”
And I had to read their books. Of course, I had read most of the ones I was—I think I’d read everything I
was going to teach. But anyway, had to read their books, and then go to their seminars. But—and my
students came to a number of their lectures because they just—I thought it would be enriching, you
Teske: Sure.
Fiksdal: So that, yeah, that used to happen, and I don’t remember when it fell off. Yeah.
Teske: The early ‘90s, I was doing group contracts—several different cluster contracts—but I needed a
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And my office was on the same floor with Marianne Bailey and Paul Sparks, the photographer . . .
and then Terry Setter. And there was a visitor. Marianne was doing Africa through the Arts. And, since I
was on the same floor, and I had to be in a seminar, I decided to do that. And I read most—I didn’t—
wasn’t able to read all of their readings, but I read most of them, and I think I gave two lectures to the
Africa program. And then, in the spring quarter, Terry was leaving, but there were still a bunch of
students who wanted to do things in music. So, I came in and did that, and I was, you know, attached in
that fashion.

At any rate, so that was one program in the beginning of the ‘90s. Then, the next year, I was on
sabbatical, and so I taught group contract. The next year after that, I was with this five-faculty program,
Great Stories. And, by the way, we did not just The Odyssey and Greek drama and so forth—with
Setsuko, we did some big Japanese works. But, we also did the history of science, the big stories there—
the development of mathematical notation and so forth. That was really great. All those seminars, I
looked forward so much to them.
And Setsuko, at one point, said, “Oh, Charlie, I just feel so much behind in reading this that I
can’t really contribute all that much to seminars.” I said, “Setsuko, there would be a big temptation for
the four of us to try to play ‘King of the Hill,’ and with you there, you know, really”—but I looked forward
so much because I learned so much.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: I mean, let’s face it, Susan, we’re not getting paid that much.
Fiskdal: Right.
Teske: It’s important that the students learn that it’s more important that we learn. I mean, let’s keep
our priorities straight. Another big thing that I found was, when people asked me again, “Is Evergreen a
great books place like St. John’s? We all agreed these were great books.” I said, “Yeah, except that it
might be a great book that was published last year.”
And I don’t know if you have given this thought. I was just thinking about this in this past week.
There are at least five programs I was in that depended upon one of us having read and found a great
book in the interim, which we then all worked with.
Fiksdal: Yeah, yeah, of course.
Teske: And if you ask other people how many books that I was reading and they were assigning were
books that had just been published. And, of course, they were real books, not surveys or, you know, prechewed things like that. And this was exciting. And I know it’s a topic that you wanted to talk a little bit
about, and that is, faculty members developing expertise in new fields to them.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: Okay. Now, I am blessed to say now, I do not have a credit in music to my name.
Fiksdal: [Laughing] I do find that a little surprising.
Teske: I took 10 years of trumpet lessons, but I did not, in high school—grade school or high school—
have anything that was labeled music. In college, I was the lead trumpet player in the marching band
and the concert band, but Lafayette did not offer courses in music appreciation or anything like that. So,
I, you know, I knew quite a bit about it.

But at Evergreen, it became necessary for me to fill out programs by doing this. And I still recall
the great moment when I worked with Bill Winden for a whole year in Revolutions in Art and Thought,
and then, for another whole year when we were running group contracts, but then joined in a program
on American performing arts. And Bill was getting me to do more and more of the lectures on music,
including making cassettes of excerpts and things like that.
And at the end of that year, he said, “Okay, Charlie.” He said, “You don’t need me anymore. You
can handle the music on your own.”
Fiksdal: Wow. Yeah.
Teske: And one of the things that I, you know, things that didn’t work, with our system of being able to
give credit for experience for things that people knew that they had not taken academic work in, I
wanted to put myself through there on music.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: I wanted some authoritative people to tell me, “You’re strong here, strong there,” and so forth.
“Weak, weak, weak.” You know? I really wanted that. But that was something—and, of course, with the
Wagner. The first two times I did it, I needed help. The next times I did it, I could do it on my own.
Fiksdal: Yeah, yeah.
Teske: And, of course, one of the very large things that we’ve talked about is the main books of that
year, five of them published all in the same year by people who did not know each other. And I forget
the fifth; that was done by a biologist. But one of them was The Singer of Tales, about the South Slavic
epic poems. Marshall McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy. Eric Havelock’s Preface to Plato. And John Goody’s
book on—I think his first one was called The Domestication of the Savage Mind, but it was about sort of
literacy and anthropologists.
Fiksdal: Yeah. No, I’ve read all of them. [laughing] I’m just thinking how these seeped into our culture.
Teske: Yeah, and at any rate, these people did not know each other at the time. But they’re all laying
the groundwork for the idea of oral culture preceding literacy, and what that meant, and opening things
up. Then, of course, Walter Ong came along shortly thereafter, and became the sort of—we called
ourselves the “Onglish” department. [laughter] At any rate, studying orality and literacy.
All right. Now, I got my doctoral dissertation in ’62. I did not know about these books, and so
these were not anything that I had ever studied for credit, or had ever been examined on. This was
mine. You know? I wasn’t doing it because other people had told me I had to do it. And, of course, it
fitted in so much with my dad as an improvising preacher; my grandfather as a storyteller and collector
of stories and jokes and so forth. It fitted in with my interest in jazz, and, you know, my knowledge of

singing around the campfire telling ghost stories, and things like that that all provided a sort of
intellectual home for doing that. And so, that became a very, you know, big thing with me.
Fiksdal: Yeah, I think this whole notion of—I think, for you, you already had a lot of background. I think
for some people that branched out, they didn’t have much background. They were just interested, and
they figured by teaching it, they would just try to stay one step ahead of the students. I know that
happened with me because I had to start teaching Spanish, there was so much demand.
Teske: Oh, boy.
Fiksdal: And there wasn’t anyone doing it. So, I just went to the UW and took second-year Spanish. I
figured, how hard could it be? Well, you know, I did have to study. [laughing] It was different than
French. But, yeah, I did that, and then I took students to Mexico and, you know, it was great.
Teske: All right, see that—yeah.
Fiksdal: So, you push yourself in order to help the curriculum and to help the students, and you learn
something new. And I think we still have that. I think that’s still a value, and I think that’s still there.
Teske: Okay, that’s great. That’s great. Because one of the things, out of all things—this was not an
American professor, this was my favorite German professor who said this—he said, “You cannot go into
students and demand that they exert themselves to their utmost to stretch their understanding if you’re
not doing it yourself.” Now, there are different ways of doing this. One way is you publish.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: You go out to the frontier and you push the frontier further. Okay, that’s fine. But another way is
you extend into a new field.
Fiksdal: Mm-hm.
Teske: That’s also very demanding, and very rigorous.
Fiksdal: Mm-hm.
Teske: And another thing that I kept doing, I tell my students every once in a while, I said, “Look, you
may think I sound pretty top-lofty, you know, speaking down to you or something like that, that I know all
about this and you don’t. But,” I said, “I’m going to go home, and I’m going to practice my brass
instruments and thoroughly humiliate myself. But,” I said, “I figure I cannot ask you to be pushing
yourself if I’m not pushing myself.”
And this teacher then went on to say, “It’s like a dog’s instinct if you’re showing fear. The dog
can smell whether you’re showing fear. Your students can tell whether you’ve retired on the job, or
whether, in some way, you are still pushing and moving ahead.”
And another thing that was—what?—my fourth program at Evergreen, working with Bud

Johansen and Craig Carlson. The program was called Perception. It should have, I think, been called GutLevel Aesthetics. Now, as you know, aesthetics is a fairly lofty field, really a branch of psychology. But
what we were doing, people were painting, dancing, making music. You know? And there were a lot of
students who came into the program saying, “Well, I want to do music. I’m not going to get interested in
anything else.” Or, “I want to do drama, and I’m not interested in anything else, but I guess the only way
I can get it is if I take the whole program,” who then shifted, and found that they were interested in
another kind of art.
But, at the very end of the program, one student said, “You know, Charlie, that first day, we were
just wondering about this business of faculty members trying to learn with us. And then Bud took us up
to room 4000, and you and Craig took your shoes off, and you might have been awkward, you were
trying to do the moves that Bud was teaching us that day.” He said, “It was then we realized that you
were serious.”
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And [chuckles] it’s just—now, I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, Susan. And, of course, it’s
illegal as all get-out, but there was a student, a first-year student, who was looking at our Perceptions
program for the academic year, and he said, “Are you going to do rock music?” I said, “Well, we will if
you join us, because you’ll—we’ll depend upon you to introduce some of the things.” “Oh, well, okay.”
Well, then he came to the end of the first quarter. And I don’t know how much thought you’ve
put into this, but just think about this. If you’re a student from a high school, and you’ve waited until the
papers are handed back to find if you’re a B+ person this week, or an A- person, or whatever, and hear
the faculty members say, “You have to write a self-evaluation.” Oh, boy. That’s the first time that
anybody’s ever asked, “What do you think you’re learning?”
And there are two obvious extremes. One is the whistling in the dark. I’ll say, “It was all very
interesting, and I was interested, and it was so interesting, and this was interesting, and that was
interesting, and maybe he won’t hit me too hard.” Okay. The other way is, “I’m going to say I know I was
rotten. I was lousy. I didn’t really learn.” You know. The other, “Don’t hit me, don’t hit me” kind of
thing. You know, those are the two extremes.
There’s always the third one. “You better not be too hard on me, because I’m going to leave the
program.” It usually starts during the conference. A student comes in and says, “Well, I’m thinking of
leaving the program.” Then afterwards, I also, at one point, Susan, wanted to get some background
noises from the dentist’s office . . .
Fiksdal: [Laughing]

Teske: . . . and play them, so that somebody sitting in the waiting room could hear that “Arghhhh!” You
know? Okay.
So, he tried this on me. And he said, “Well, I guess I’m thinking of leaving the program.” I said,
“No, you’re not.” And he said, “Well, what?” And I said, “Rusty, look, you have been our person for rock,
and distinguishing poor, meretricious rock from valuable rock and so forth. You know your stuff, and
you’re the one who’s been suggesting things, and bringing in records for listening sessions and so forth.
And if you leave the program, that’s going to be gone, and we need you.” “Oh.” “So, you know, you
might not need us, but we need you.”
Fiksdal: Yeah. That’s very interesting, yeah.
Teske: Okay. Three years later, when the students—student-engineering, student-producing, studentperforming—made their first Evergreen LP record, he had a jazz/rock/fusion group, and he asked me to
play with the group on the recording.
And then, graduation time. Here—he must have been the child of fairly elderly parents—here,
his father came up to see me from New York, and looked at me. He said, “You know, you’re the first
people who, outside of his family, ever told him that he had value; that he was necessary, and was
helping. And you saw the results from it, but I just want you to know that we saw the results, too, and,
you know, we are very, very glad about this.”
Sometimes, Susan, I think we ought to be allowed to meet the parents with the students right at
the beginning.
Fiksdal: Yeah, really. [chuckles]
Teske: You know, it would help us so much.
Fiksdal: It would, yeah.
Teske: But it’s things like that. The observation of the students learning. And, I don’t know, I found it
particularly heartwarming when you would have—well, two different sorts of boundary situations. One
would be—and this is in several programs dealing with music—that you would have an 18-year-old, who
maybe knew three chords on the guitar, sitting next to a 35-year-old, who had been out on the summer
fair circuit, with his wife, doing bluegrass and so forth. Under normal circumstances, that 18-year-old
would be scared to death . . .
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: . . . of having that 35-year-old as a competitor. And, unbeknownst to the 18-year-old, the 35year-old would be scared about, can I get back into this? Can I do this again? And it would take, I found,
three or four weeks for them to realize that they were not in competition. And out of that comes my

mantra that you are here to collaborate with others, and compete against yourself.
Fiksdal: Yeah, and there’s something about that notion of trust, also, that’s underlying what you’re
saying, that you’ve got to trust that you do have something to offer, and trust that another student has
something to offer you. That’s always something that, I mean, students come in expecting to learn only
from the professor, and I think when they realize that in workshops, and small collaborative group, and
project groups, and seminar that, in fact, they’re learning from other students, that that’s a huge step
forward. And I think that’s pretty unusual, and something that we’ve got at Evergreen that’s—
Teske: Well, and Hiro, you see—Hiro Kawasaki—one of the big things was if I would say to the students,
“Help me because I don’t understand this,” I tried to be honest about it, but they’re “Aw, he really does,
he’s just playing with us.” You know. But when Hiro, a native Japanese, would come in and say, “I do not
understand this,” the students were helping him. [laughing]
Fiksdal: Oh, that’s great.
Teske: And so he was doing just a great job with this. But now, one other question I would have for you
—because, as I think back over it, back to the planning year, some of the—a couple of the smartest
policies that we made—now, who’s “we”? Frankly, Joe Shoben, Executive Vice President, although he
was the big educational psychologist, he rarely came to our interminable planning faculty meetings,
unless we were touching upon the social contract, and something that had to do with students and
governance. Okay.
David Barry, when he delegated, he delegated. And he trusted that Don and Merv and I, who
were going to have to keep running the things as middle managers, that we were doing that, and we
would talk to him about the results, and ask him to come in.
Charlie McCann, the President, came in more often than either of the Vice Presidents came. But
—and usually only when we’d arrived at a point that we were trying something out on him as policy. But
we did get these policies going, one of them being, Susan, is the business of you didn’t get paid more or
less for being a man or a woman, or being a minority or a majority.
Fiksdal: I’m still sort of in awe of that decision. You know, I still think that’s quite spectacular.
Teske: Yeah. And it just saved so many problems.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And, as I’ve said a while ago, yes, it causes difficulties, but causes fewer difficulties than almost
any other system you can think of. And, of course, a huge benefit was this decision not to be looking at
only academic credentials and teaching time, but looking at things that the person knew, and could
contribute from—a bunch of other specialties and experiences.

Fiksdal: By the time I was dean, though, of what was then part-time studies, I was told to calculate
salaries for the adjuncts at one-half of their workload. So, if they’d done something for 20 years, they’d
get 10 years’ credit only; they wouldn’t get credited for the 20. So, I don’t know when that changed. I
have a feeling that might have changed with Barbara Smith, when she became Provost, but I’m not really
sure about that. Because, I mean, she was the only Provost I really worked with, you know, I mean, as a
dean, and knowing really well. But I don’t know when it—it could have changed with Byron [Youtz],
because he was right before her, I think.
Teske: And I don’t know.
Fiksdal: Or Patrick.
Teske: Again, it’s amazing what—how the world is different when you move out of administration, and
you cancel your Daily Olympian subscription, you know, and you’re worried about how your program is
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And—but it really—that was one of the things that I sort of hoped for, and that is, that if we did—
of course, I’m thinking, again, of the three-, four-, five-faculty member programs that last for a whole
year—that they would, in effect, become little colleges within the college . . .
Fiksdal: Yeah, and I can see that they would.
Teske: . . . and develop their own momentum.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: But, at any rate, I think I got just a marvelous education on the backs of the taxpayers of the State
of Washington.
Fiksdal: Yeah. Well, me, too. I mean, that’s one thing you can say about having taught there is that
you’ve learned more than you ever thought you would. And that’s what kept you going, because, as you
say, I mean, it certainly wasn’t the salary. [chuckles]
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: And it was a lot of work. A lot of work. But we did keep learning. I just, on the back of this—I
don’t know if you’re quite done with what you were talking about, but just thinking about—mentioning
Barbara Smith. She came in as an outside dean, like John Perkins did, and I think we have had no others
like that.
Teske: How about Jose Gomez? I think he came as an—
Fiksdal: Oh, you’re right. Yeah, he came as half-dean, half-staff or something. He had a strange
appointment. But, yeah, he did also come from the outside. But Barbara was brought—Barbara and

John were brought in as budget deans, so that was like [chuckles] really important stuff, where they
controlled money, and you would go and talk to them.
The one thing, though, about at least Barbara’s experience, she got to know everyone really fast
because she needed to, because she had this money, and had to allocate it correctly, and she had to get
to know people pretty fast. And when she became Provost, she continued that. But one of the ways—I
recalled the other day—the way she was able to do that is she was still, you know, evaluating faculty
every three years, and so she knew the faculty. She knew them because she—I wonder if she was
Budget Dean, now that I’m talking about it. I can remember her working with curriculum.
Teske: Hmm. No, I think she was mainly curriculum, at the beginning.
Fiksdal: But anyway, she—I think it was curriculum, yeah.
Teske: And John was budget.
Fiksdal: So sorry, that was a mistake. So, she was curriculum. Well, so she had to know people for that
reason. And then, when she became Provost—oh, no, as Curriculum Dean, she came in and evaluated
me. She knew all of us. She could make suggestions about who we might want to teach with. She could
see a trajectory for us in the college, if we wanted to hear it. You know? And I think we just have lost
that now, with the change to, really, tenure now we have, where we’re not, you know, we don’t have this
close connection to any dean. The deans are there, but you don’t really need to talk to them unless you
need money, or you need, I don’t know, something happening within your program. So, you’re not in
connection with them like we used to be at all.
Teske: Yeah, and I used to visit the programs.
Fiksdal: Yeah, you would know.
Teske: And, yeah, and I was, I guess, the first port of call if there were grievances or something like that.
Fiksdal: Mm-hm.
Teske: And, with some of the programs, I actually, if they were reading something new, or if I was going
to be visiting them, I wanted to make sure that I was visiting something. [chuckles]
A little story, but kind of thing that can go wrong. When Tom Foote and I were doing America’s
Music in Cultural Context—okay?—Tom had us reading a really good bibliography for the popular music
and bluegrass and even rock and so forth. He’d been keeping up, and I, for American classical music and
jazz and theater music. We had a marvelous book called Great Day Coming, the connection of, well,
which was falsely called folk music and even rock music, and the American left. Okay.
Fiksdal: Yeah, very important.
Teske: And we were working on that very good book [unintelligible 00:52:46]. And, again, a real book,

not somebody’s survey. And, at any rate, our dean was York Wong, a very strong political scientist, and
we gave him a copy of the book. And the book ended with the Beatles’s John Lennon being quoted, “I
don’t want to make a revolution,” you know, and so forth. And we had given York a copy of the book.
Well, he didn’t have time to read it, but he still came. And he said, “I can come only for about the first
hour of your seminar.”
He heard whoever was lecturing—I guess it was Tom lecturing that morning—but then he came
into my seminar. And some of the students were saying, “Well, but, you know, Lennon says in this
book”—and York said, “No, no, no. Lenin did not say that, or if he did, what Lenin meant was thus and
such.” [laughter] And the students were beginning to get glassy-eyed, and their jaws were sort of
dropping. And the students said, “But, but Lennon’s quoted here as saying it.” “No, no! Lenin did not.
This was not his way!”
And so York left, and the students looked after him, and they looked at me. “What was that all
Fiksdal: There’s an I-N and an O-N. [laughing]
Teske: I said, “He was talking about Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov!—Lenin—not John Lennon!” [laughter] But
that, to me, was one of the high points . . .
Fiksdal: That’s pretty funny.
Teske: . . . of the kind of thing that went on.
Fiksdal: Yeah, that’s great.
Teske: But, oh, no, I certainly—I thought I knew what it was like teaching coordinated studies. I did not,
until I actually got into it.
Fiksdal: Yeah, and so that was—you were already at the college the year before the planning year—the
planning year, and then four more years as dean, did you say?
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: Yeah, because you had to stay; they made you stay another year.
Teske: ’75, yeah.
Fiksdal: So, that’s really interesting, yeah. And then, you went into it with gusto. [laughing]
Teske: Oh, yeah. Oh, I was just—in so many ways, I just could not wait to—and, you know, later on,
Susan, I mean, I know I got nibbles from other places. And there was one in those days when—frankly, it
was not until the early 1980s that I did not, at some point in the winter or spring, worry about where I
was going to be to feed my family the next year, because really, it was either an official or unofficial
attempt to close us down, or to turn us into a standard school. And I would have left.

Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: I mean, if I’m going to go to a standard school, I’m going to go to a standard school.
Fiksdal: A really good one, yeah. [laughing]
Teske: Not something that has, not something that has, you know, slipped into it or something like that.
Fiksdal: Right.
Teske: But I thought, oh my god, you know, you’ve got your main field of Romanticism, you’ve got the
subsidiary field of oral tradition—balladry and so forth—and now, you have this new field of orality and
literacy. But really, I was—as you well know, you cannot really keep in touch reading the scholarship and
so forth in your field, and be doing our kind of thing.
Fiksdal: No.
Teske: And I was worried. You know, your skills have gotten . . .
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: . . . you might have to go someplace where they need somebody who’s been a dean. What I
didn’t know, and I found out only when the man who had asked me to replace him as humanities
coordinator for the Great Lakes Colleges—he was a teacher at Kalamazoo College—and I was able—he
sort of felt in some ways having important connection with Evergreen, right? And so he and his wife
came out here for a whole quarter. He took a quarter of sabbatical. They came out here, and he did not
teach, but he sat in on various programs. He gave some readings of his poetry. I think he did some
lectures. And when he was there, he said, “You know, Charlie,” he said, “we at Kalamazoo—I and these
other guys you’ve worked with there—we are trying to figure out how to get you away to come and
teach with us.”
Fiksdal: [Laughing]
Teske: And ironically, Susan, he would have been one of the first people—if I would have wanted to
leave Evergreen—that I would have called up. And here he would have been saying, “You have a job
with us.” And I didn’t know then. I, I just told him . . .
Fiksdal: Very interesting, yeah.
Teske: . . . I said, “You know, life would have been a lot easier for me [chuckles] if I’d known that there
was that safety net.”
Fiksdal: Yeah. Thinking that the college would close down, yeah. The other thing I was thinking about
was, you know, the rank thing that you brought up that I asked about. You know, there’s no rank, there’s
just member of the faculty. And I remember when Rudy [Martin] got a job in New York—at NYU? I can’t
quite remember which.

Teske: Either that or Columbia.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: Gail [Martin] was at Columbia, I think, but Rudy got—yeah.
Fiksdal: So, he went somewhere. Anyway, they asked his faculty rank, and he said, “Well, I’m a member
of the faculty. That’s just what I am.” And so they looked at his years of experience—got his resume, of
course—and he was a professor. And he came back and said, “I was a professor!” [laughing] I think that
made us all sort of—I mean, we didn’t think about it too much, but knowing that he could go
somewhere else and be a professor was inspiring, I think, to all of us. I think it really impacted us a lot.
It’s funny, you live in this kind of other alternate universe at Evergreen, where none of that matters.
Teske: Mm-hm.
Fiksdal: But it kind of does. I mean, if you go out, you do kind of want to know where you are, just like
you. It’s nice to know that someone would have hired you in a flash, you know.
Teske: Yeah, and, well, that’s one of the reasons—now, I don’t know how legitimate it is, but I asked
Byron—Byron Youtz—at our tenth anniversary celebration. I think it was tenth of the founding of the
school. And I got a nice little certificate that called me “Founding Dean of Humanities and Arts.” And so I
said, “Byron, could I use this as a title?”
Fiksdal: [Laughing]
Teske: He said, “Oh, I don’t see why not.” Because my problem was writing letters of recommendation
for my students to graduate schools.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: If I just say “member of the faculty,” it sounds like somebody who comes in on Tuesday nights,
you know?
Fiksdal: [Laughing]
Teske: And I didn’t want to say “professor,” because I’m not.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: But this way, I could say “Founding Dean of”—but I think I told you about this anecdotally before
that writing a letter to Senator Howard Baker. Did I tell you that story?
Fiksdal: No, I don’t think so.
Teske: Okay, it went like this. For about four or five years, colleges were supposed to have Fulbright
advisors. And, since I’d had one, I was made Fulbright advisor for Evergreen. And here, it would have
been, I guess—what?—late ‘70s. There was a kind of crisis of taking funding away. And Howard Baker,
Senator of Tennessee—at any rate, Baker was in the upper echelons of Republicans. There was even talk

about him running for President, and he would have made a very good candidate. His wife had
psychiatric problems, and had been in a psychiatric hospital. And he already knew, though it wasn’t as
bad then as it is now, about how people would pick up something like that and just make life miserable.
So, he decided he was not going to run for President.
But he was in charge of the committee that, in effect, oversaw the budget for the Fulbright
program. And so we Fulbright advisors on the campuses got this rocket. “Please, please do what you
can. If nothing else, write to Senator Baker and tell him how important the program is,” and so forth.
And so I tried very hard, Susan, to write a letter that would be no longer than one page, telling about
what my experience had been, and about where it had led me, and then, coming up with a peroration.
And it struck me, you’ve got to give him something that would work as a soundbite.
So, I said, “Okay. President Theodore Roosevelt said that we should speak softly and carry a big
stick. Now, with our tremendous defense budget, we most certainly have a big stick, but it is also
necessary that we speak softly, and the Fulbright program is one of the main ways of doing this.”
Fiksdal: Nice, yeah.
Teske: You know, wrote it to him. Dan—Slade Gorton, as Senator—I think it was before Dan [Evans]
became Senator . . .
Fiksdal: Oh, yeah. Yeah, he was.
Teske: But Slade was Senator, and he arranged it so that Howard Baker came and visited Evergreen, gave
a speech and so forth. And Baker asked to see me. He just wanted to say hello. Okay, so that was nice.
But then, I started getting communications, of all things, for prayer breakfasts—Founding Dean of
Humanities and Arts—even though I—you know, where did they get that?
Fiksdal: Oh, so . . . yeah, from . . .
Teske: They got that from my letter to Baker, and that got me on the list, and for about 10 years, I was
getting invitations to the prayer breakfast because of that. [laughing]
Fiksdal: For heavens’ sakes.
Teske: But, okay, now, one of the things that probably is different—and here’s my problem, my question
to you. I did not see a copy of the recent U.S. News & World Report, but I noticed that we are in there as
number one for schools having learning communities, at least schools west of the Mississippi, you know,
in our particular regional university category. Okay.
Now, one of the things—and I’m wrestling with this right at the moment, because I’m trying to
write some comments on the piece that I did for Puget Soundings before the college opened—what I
was interested in, Susan, for my own writings is, could I somehow duplicate what my stump speech was,

you know, about Evergreen?
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And I realized, you’ve already written this, and it’s that article for Puget Soundings. But I wanted
to go through it and . . . now, I’ve got it somewhere . . . I wanted to go through it, and make comments
from our point of view now.
Fiksdal: Oh, nice, yeah.
Teske: And the—at any rate, one of the things that was in there—this was not my title, but the editor—
my title would have been “A New College for Washington State,” or something. The editor called it
“Today’s Alternative, Tomorrow’s Prototype.”
Well, that’s further out than I would have gone. And then, the issue is, I guess, to what extent
have we been a prototype? Now, apparently there are a whole bunch of people who now offer
something . . .
Fiksdal: Yeah, we have—
Teske: . . . that they call learning communities.
Fiksdal: But, you know, it’s not exactly Evergreen, it’s the Washington Center for Improving
Undergraduate Education . . .
Teske: Exactly.
Fiksdal: . . . that Barbara [Leigh Smith] founded. And when she was a—I think that was her big insight
when she became Provost was that all kinds of people knew about us, everywhere she went. The same
for me. I was at an international conference at the end of my Fulbright in Hong Kong, and people came
from all over, and lots from the U.S. And I happened to sit next to a group from Kentucky or someplace,
and I said my home institution was the Evergreen State College, and wouldn’t you know it, one of them
said, “Oh, my son goes there.” You know? I mean, it’s no matter where you are, academics know
something about Evergreen.
Well, anyway, they know something about Evergreen, but they don’t know very much about it.
And what Barbara thought we should be doing is exporting our philosophy to people in whatever form
they could manage it—so, doing linked courses or whatever. And she started, as you probably
remember, with the community colleges nearby and things like that.
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: But now, it’s there—well, this last summer was the first time to have two national conferences
at Evergreen, hosted by the Washington Center; that for years they’ve had one on learning communities
—helping people see how they work, working with them for a very intensive week.

Teske: Great!
Fiksdal: And some faculty members are invited to come in and lead various things. But what’s
interesting about it is that now, there are lots of other people that know all about it who are coming
from other places.
So, there are these linked courses, and then there are first-year seminars, which have been
traced back to this idea, too, of a learning community, where—I don’t know too much about the firstyear seminars, but they have them at the UW and lots of different places—where students come
together in a sort of first-year experience; that it’s the same group every week, and they talk about the
university, sort of the things that it can offer you. People come in and talk, and tell them about
internships or tell them about whatever there is. And so, they might have a little bit of reading, but it’s
mostly about how the university or the college functions. And that has gone out as a kind of learning
community that comes from . . .
And then, there are some universities—now, I can’t remember too many of the names, but one
in Florida—yeah, okay, so I can’t remember any of them, I don’t remember the name of the one in
Florida—but where one part of the university is—runs like Evergreen does.
Teske: Mm-hm.
Fiksdal: And so, and that’s a later experience. Instead of having, you know, the people that were
revolutionizing the education at the same time you were, at the beginning of Evergreen, very few of
those kept going . . .
Teske: Right.
Fiksdal: . . . with any sort of, you know, alternativeness to them. Santa Cruz, no. I mean, they went back
to grades. Hampshire, whatever they did. But they’re connected to all these other colleges or
universities that are very well known, so, I mean, they have no issues with whatever they want to do.
But here, there are these other instances of people who have started these things. And they
think the Mecca is Evergreen, and we just sit and criticize ourselves. [laughter] And worry about, really,
do we know what we’re doing?
Teske: Yeah. Well, but again, one really from left field. In 1998 was our sort of big trip to celebrate
retirement from full-time teaching, Lilo and I went back northeast for, oh, about three weeks. And the
two things we wanted to do, she wanted to get me to Newfoundland, where she had lived for about
three years with her late husband, and I wanted her to see the places on the Maine coast where I’d
waited on table at two small summer hotels. Okay.
So, we went to Newfoundland. It was a great trip. We went to Newfoundland first, and then

came down to the Maine coast to Ogunquit. And the place where I had waited previously had been a
full American plan, but it had shifted to bed and breakfast, but it had been repainted and it looked just
great, you know.
And we went in when there wasn’t anybody around, in the afternoon, and I was saying to Lilo,
“Well, the piano used to be there, and they’ve taken the drapes out here.” And a man and his wife came
in and very nicely said, “Can we help you?” I said, “Oh, I’m just reliving the old days. The summer of
1950, I was right out of high school, and I was waiting table here. It was called the Chapman House.”
“Oh, where are you from now?” “Well, Olympia, Washington. Have you ever heard of The Evergreen
State College?” And the woman said, “Oh, my son goes there.” [laughter] You know, it’s one of those
And the—well, one of the guys that I’d worked very closely with in the mid-‘70s—it was a fiveyear plan, and I was chairman of one of the component committees—he was from Skagit Valley
Community College, Walter Coole. And he endeared me right away, because when we were on the
committee and we were talking, he said, “Look.” He said, “I’m fascinated with what you’re doing at
Evergreen.” He said, “But I promise you, I will never ask you for a job, because I’m at a community
college.” He said, “They have let me—I have devised new ways of self-paced teaching of math and of
logic. And they’ve let me do that, and I am very pleased. And I’m a hunter and a fisherman, and I love it
there. So, don’t worry, you know. But otherwise, I’m on your side.”
Fiksdal: Yeah, yeah. [laughing]
Teske: And we got some things going, where he would send me students—send students to Evergreen.
Or, after they finished their work with him, they would do individual contract internships and so forth. In
other words, he was a big friend.
Fiksdal: Very nice, yeah.
Teske: Late ‘70s, he started doing some publications that caught people’s eyes about these techniques.
He was invited to a conference at University of Amsterdam to give a paper—of course, in English,
because that’s the way European conferences are run now—to give a paper on his methods of self-paced
teaching of logic and math.
When he finished, question period. “We see that you’re from the State of Washington. Do you
know anything about Evergreen?” No questions about his techniques [chuckles], or about Skagit Valley.
“What can you tell us about Evergreen?” And then afterwards, he asked one of the organizers, he said,
“What was going on?” “Oh,” he said, “we here at the University of Amsterdam, we’re studying
Evergreen. Now, what’s happening now with their budget fight?” And so forth.

They were using the Freedom of Information Act and they were getting—they had copies of our
budget justifications and so forth. And he finally said, “Look, why don’t you send somebody over?” He
said, “Nah.” He said, “They’d give us a dog-and-pony show. You know, we’re not interested in that. We
can find out what’s happening here.”
But he said the real kicker was he was walking around the campus of the University of
Amsterdam, and here came a student in an Evergreen sweatshirt. [laughing] You know? And so, I don’t
know, Susan.
Fiksdal: Huh. Yeah, word gets out. What are you going to do?
Teske: Yeah.
Fiskdal: It’s very exciting. It really is.
Teske: So, but I still—I think what I’m going to say about this use of the term “prototype,” I think, okay,
we could do what we’re doing—and I believe I said this before in an earlier time—we were one of the
last of the innovative alternative institutions to be founded in the 1960s. By being last, we risked the fact
that we might not be open at all. There was a very real possibility that we would have been postponed,
and if we would have been postponed, they would have paid us off and used the buildings for State
offices and so forth. But that way, we could take advantage of what had gone wrong at the other
Fiksdal: Yeah, that’s what I think the benefits were, because you hired people from these other schools.
Teske: Yeah. And then, there was this—yeah, and they were blooded, they had the scars to show.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: Okay. Then there was this. I don’t know if you would have been aware of this, but, one by one—
there was Prescott and there was Grand Valley and Thomas Jefferson—schools—New College—schools
either closed down, or else became conventional, and the students were cast adrift. And Evergreen, not
having distribution or major requirements, was one of the few places who would accept their credit.
And all I could think of was something like Paris after the Russian Revolution, where you had these little
bands of emigres, who had been forced out of Moscow, out of Leningrad and so forth, and they would
be meeting in Paris. So, you’d have your cluster of former Prescott students, your cluster of this kind of
student, you know. We were one of the few places, you know, that they could go to.
Fiksdal: Yeah, that’s very interesting.
Teske: And so we had that luxury. Then, there was the other thing, too, and that is, we could hire
people to do what we wanted to do. Whereas in other places, people are hired as members of

departments, and their homes and their reward system will be within the department. And it’s all very
well what you’re doing over there, with those bunch of people doing Kumbaya, and hugging each other,
and fighting, and seminaring and so forth. But your real—your bread and butter, your promotion, your
possibility of tenure and so forth depends upon what you do in the department, and especially about
how much you’ve written for publication.
Okay. So, again, I’ve run into several places—one of them, our friends at Drew University in New
Jersey. They do have graduate doctoral interdisciplinary programs. But when I was talking to the dean at
the graduate school, he said, “A lot of our faculty members, who are really—belong to departments in
the undergraduate college, they want to turn this place into a little Berkeley. You know?” So, he was
trying to get interdisciplinary work done top down. It doesn’t work unless you can hire people . . .
Fiksdal: Yeah, it really doesn’t.
Teske: . . . from, you know, bottom up.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And so I don’t think you can call us a prototype, but it sort of got me. I don’t—you probably don’t
know anything about this, but Mervin—even though he didn’t quite like what Don and I were doing in
extending his program idea into arts and sciences, Mervin still felt that we had hold of something so
exciting that I recall, let’s see, Neils Skov, because of his business and accounting background and
somebody else—maybe Richard Jones—as a psychologist and so forth—Merv was actually thinking of
founding a little consulting group, which would go around the country . . .
Fiksdal: Oh, that would have been great.
Teske: . . . and would be in hard demand to get things started. Would have been great, but here, as it
turned out, by 1973—spring—we were fighting for our lives.
Fiksdal: Yeah. Yeah.
Teske: So it wasn’t a question of—but one of your questions—your written questions—to me was, was I
surprised at the versatility of our faculty members? Well, not really, Susan, because we were hiring for
that. You know, it was something that we were continually looking at, you know. All very well, but can
she do thus and such?
And, you know, and also, well, just take us two shining examples from the late ‘80s and ‘90s,
Ratna Roy being able—did she exploit Evergreen? Well, not really, but making this a center for Orissi
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And producing students who will then go out to teach Orissi dance? And then, of course, our

friend, Nalini Nadkarni, you know. Okay, you’re a specialist in this. But, of course, one of the keys,
unfortunately, is we dared not commit ourselves to a specific kind of equivalent of a major, so that
students would assume, oh, because they had an Orissi dancer, even though she’s retired, we can come
to study Orissi dance. No, you can’t do that.
See, there the irony is, for example, at Oberlin, one of my close friends, his predecessor was in
the Spanish Department, but also taught comparative linguistics. So, when he retired, they look for a guy
who could teach Spanish and comparative linguistics.
Fiksdal: That doesn’t exist. [laughing] Yeah.
Teske: In other words, they had to keep fulfilling—what would you call it?—the inertial momentum that
the school had established. And, of course, I’m sure you’ve lived through this; that somebody will come
to you, and may actually visit a program you’re teaching in now and say, “Oh, that’s great. I want to take
it next year.” And you say, “Sorry, it isn’t going to be here.”
Fiksdal: Yeah, and that’s a big problem, actually. Maybe we can talk a little bit about that next time, too,
the changing curriculum.
End Part 2 of 2 of Charlie Teske on 12-6-16


Charlie Teske
Interviewed by Susan Fiksdal
The Evergreen State College oral history project
June 29, 2017

Fiksdal: Okay, Charlie. This is our last interview. We have a lot to say. [laughing]
Teske: Yeah. And whereas before, Susan, I tried hard to find transitions to try to make things as flowing
as possible, today, because there are a bunch of things that we may have touched upon before where I’d
like to see a bit more, and some things we neglected talking about. So, this is going to be somewhat
herky-jerky because we’ll simply say—you know, I’ll ask you, “Do you want to hear any more about this?”
And if you say, “No,” then we move to a new topic.
Okay, one of the things under the headings of already discussed, but either lost due to technical
problems, or things to underscore about the planning year, which was September 15, 1970 through to
June 30, 1971. We’re 18 of us—planning faculty members, three academic deans and the academic vice
president—we were the academic group working on the whole academic program.
Okay, one of the things that I think is very important, and one of the reasons why Evergreen
worked at all, is that we did things in the right order. There were a number of colleges—among them,
our dear friends at Hampshire College in Massachusetts—in Hampshire, not only did they have a long
planning time, and some strong educational theoreticians working—the Hampshire planners wrote a
book. Before they built the school and hired a faculty, they wrote a book about what their education
was going to be like.
And, of course, what happened is [when] they hired the faculty, and actually started working
with students, they found that their book did not fit what was actually going on. Okay. What we did the
very first thing, after our wilderness experience—which I describe in my—I’ll speak a little bit more about
this later.
Fiksdal: But you did talk about it in the tape.
Teske: Yeah, in the “Notes to a Future Historian.” After we got back from that, the first order of business
was to start planning the first coordinated studies programs. But, now, let me add—we talked a little bit
about this before—about the fact that Merv, Don and I—and it was mainly Merv’s doing—organized the
planning faculty into three groups, each led by a dean, that we called the various schools. There was the
Alfred North Whitehead School, the A. O. Lovejoy School, and I had the John Amos Comenius School.

And we started, because Mervin knew from experience that most faculty members themselves,
unless they’re fresh out of graduate school, had forgotten how to hold seminars, and how be behave in
seminars. [He is pounding his fist on the table throughout.] And so, we had to have book seminars,
sometimes one two-hour session a week, sometimes two two-hour sessions a week. And what we
worked on were, at first, the educational philosophy materials—Joseph Tussman’s experiment at
Berkeley; Alexander Meiklejohn’s Education Between Two Worlds; some of the John Dewey things on
education. And then, we branched out doing other sort of large-vision, philosophical works about
culture. But, of learning how to do seminars when you’re not—when, you know, you’ve been in faculty
department meetings, and you may lead student seminars, but you have not been doing it yourself.
So, but the other order of business was to be working up the programs for the first year. And
that was done, I think, pretty much around Thanksgiving-early December that we had those. And that
enabled me, as editor, to get together the academic section of the first catalog, so that we could be
publishing those.
All right. Only after we had the actual programs in mind that we would be running—we then, of
course, we now included the planning faculty—we knew what kinds of people to recruit. We looked at,
okay, if we’re going to do this program, we’re going to need a so-and-so. But now, that person should
also be adaptable enough that the person would be able to serve later on.
Okay. So then, we started having these heavy-duty discussions about educational policy. And, as
you might imagine, what group discussions we had, the work on the programs was mainly small, two
men—and they were men, all men—two men or one person asking others for advice. But that was a
very supportive time, trying to come up with ideas, blue-skying, you know, trying to get the [hire the
much? 00:05:06]. When you get into discussing educational policy—“Now, are we going to do it this way
or that way? And how are we going to organize ourselves? And what power will the coordinator have?”
And so forth—that’s ripe for argument.
And we would do that. And, although Provost [Dave] Barry came in a bit, Merv, Don and I were
there almost all the time, unless we were out trying to raise money; or, in certain cases, do the first
recruiting. We would go to LA, San Francisco—several times, I was in Chicago, Cleveland, D.C. and New
York City—and we would deliberately get hotel rooms or motel rooms near a transportation hub. And
so, the faculty—the would-be Evergreen faculty members—would pay their own way to come to hold
recruiting sessions with us.
And I remember [chuckles] the day in New York, when I first talked to Nancy Allen and to Betty
Estes, I had had an impacted wisdom tooth. But I had a terrible abscess, and I had taken a Polaris—I’d

put in a Polaris pad, which drains the gum, but then you get your cheek all swollen.
Fiksdal: Oh, no!
Teske: And that was hurting me enough that I had a bottle of sherry that I was continually drinking.
[laughter] So, I’m sitting in the Commodore Hotel, you know, and Hiro and Nancy, and later in the day
Betty, coming in. “God, is that some sort of growth?” You know? “Should I say anything?”
At any rate, other than trips like that, you know, we were working every day along with the
faculty. And Barry, the Provost, did not come to that many of the meetings, but McCann came quite
often to sit in. But that’s when we made these pretty much collective decisions about no tenure, no
ranks, etc. But it seems so easy to say that now, Susan, but there was a whole lot of serious discussion
going on.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And, of course, one of the ironies that I notice, there are some things that we did that the faculty
just—the later people, faculty and students, later faculty—assumed, well, it just sort of happened. No,
we’re the result of very careful thought. And there were other things that happened. Well, did we get
on tape the business about why there were no classes on Wednesdays?
Fiksdal: Yeah, we did talk about it.
Teske: Okay, then we now have that. It turned out, you know, here was this thought of great planning.
We’d allow a day in the middle of the week when we had enough space so the students could revise
papers, and maybe we could have two different short readings in the week rather than one big reading,
and so forth. And the answer, of course, was Merv Cadwallader wanted to be able to go skiing in the
middle of the week. [laughter] But at any rate, this was intense.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And, of course, one of the things that Charles McCann—Irish, bald, very, very fair skin—and he’d
be there. And as we’d be talking about contracts, and about—and he, of course, was the big one—“no
requirements”—he said, “You mean to tell me”—for some reason, it was ceramics. That was his
bugaboo. “Do you mean to tell me a student could go through here for four years and do only
ceramics?” [pounding on table] And Mervin and, I think, I chimed in and said, “Well, if that person
could find a program, and then could find sponsors who really thought that that would be what the
student ought to be doing.” You know?
I mean, think about what life would be like if Leo Daugherty had told Matt Groening, “No, you
don’t do any more cartooning. Uh-uh. No, we’re going to cut that out. No more credit for cartooning.”
As I say, the world would be quite a bit different.

All right. So, Charlie said, “You mean that—?” We said, “Charlie, yes, if that person can talk
faculty members into this is the right thing to do.” Charlie turned around and faced the wall, and we
were all quiet, and the red started at the base of the neck, and went up and all around the bald head.
And sometimes when he would be doing this, he had a cigar, and there would be puffs of smoke coming
out. It took about two minutes, Susan. And then finally, Charlie turned around and looked at us and
said, “All right.” So, that was what happened.
Fiksdal: So, that was—you could see his thinking process.
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: Whereas the rest of you had been thinking about it and talking about it.
Teske: Yeah.
Fiksdal: Yeah, because he just popped in sometimes. I see.
Teske: Yeah. So, he would get results. Now, there was one time—it must have been about three or four
weeks after this contretemps about the ceramics—Charlie was away for about four days or something,
and we, the planning faculty, started cooking up this idea. Well, maybe—we kept thinking, at that time,
about four-year students, you know, freshmen through senior. We weren’t thinking about a large
number of transfers or anything like that. Well, maybe what we ought to do, if we really do believe that
individual contracts are good, and we believe the coordinated studies are good, maybe, as a
requirement, we should say that a student earn at least one-third of his or her Evergreen credit through
interdisciplinary, team-taught programs, and at least one-third through contracts.
And Charlie came back on a Friday, and we tried it on him. It lasted about 15 minutes. Charlie
looked at us and said, “You people talked me into no requirements, and no requirements means no
requirements.” Bam! End of that particular story. [laughter]
But now one, to keep going on with Charlie, he found out—after it would have been about the
first full year of school being open to students—he heard through the grapevine that when he would
appear before legislative hearings that the legislators would deliberately try to nettle him, because they
wanted to see his complexion turn red. Now, once he heard that, he started on a program of whenever
he was due on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday to testify before a House or Senate committee, he would
go out sailing over the weekend, and would get a windburn and sunburn, so they couldn’t make him
change colors. [laughter] You know?
And another thing, too, we started, I think, doing that even before we were open to students.
But when Charlie had to appear before, let’s say, the Senate Ways and Means, or Senate Higher
Education Committee—okay—we would meet. Let’s say he was due to testify on a Tuesday, he would

invite the deans and directors over to his house on Monday night. And he would take the various items
that were in our budget, or whatever it was we were asking for—a building or something like that—and
he would press us individually to the wall to make us defend what it was we were asking for in that
budget, until he got—he forced us to give him the ammunition so that he could do a good job.
And there would be a certain moment, and after a while—it wasn’t Charlie who said it, it would
be one of us—where we sort of figured, all right, he’s briefed. And instead of waiting for him to ask us a
question—[deep voice]—“President McCann, how can you justify thus and such and so and so?” And
Charlie would automatically say, “Well, Senator, thus and thus.” And so, it came from him pushing us to
the wall that we would then push him to the wall . . .
Fiksdal: Nice, yeah.
Teske: . . . to make sure that he knew.
Fiksdal: Because then, you could verify. Yeah.
Teske: Yeah. And, as I say in my piece about—was it “Little Drops of Credit, Little Drops of Cash”?—that
once you briefed Charlie, he was tremendously retentive. He might bring you along, in case he needed
information. But there was only one time I would go. Dan Evans changed all of that. When Charlie was
there, I don’t think Merv ever went to the Hill, but Don Humphrey, when he was in the dean’s office, and
I, and, I think, Byron, when he was in the—we would go along for the hearings. Just moral support, you
know, friendly face, but if—the only time that I spoke out, it was in the Evans’s legislative hearing, where
Evans was trying to press us to the wall, because he was then going to turn around and try to sell it to
the Legislature. Okay.
And one of his staff members started talking about “Well, these courses, this course does thus
and such, and this course does so and so.” And I thought to myself, oh my god, he isn’t thinking. We’ve
sent him the stuff. He thinks we have a multi-four-or-five-course-at-the-same-time school. And I finally
put up my hand.
And McCann said, “Well, Dean Teske has something to say. What is it?” And I looked at the staff
member and I said, “Excuse me. You’re talking as if we’re talking about individual courses. We are not.
Remember that a program like this will be a student’s full-time activity, the equivalent of four or five
courses elsewhere.” “Oh.” Okay. So, that’s the only time that I spoke up in all that time.
But at any rate, Charlie was very adept at that kind of thing. Now, he could drive people nuts out
here by not being willing to come down and say, “Yes, yes, no,” or something like that. If he knew what
he wanted, or what he didn’t want, then you had it right away. But if he needed to make up his mind, he
would let you go ahead.

Indeed, when he was retiring from the presidency and was off to Yale for two years in the School
of Management, we had a roast for him. And Dick Nichols, the PR man, said, “Isn’t it interesting that the
School of Management that President McCann, after he’s resigning, is going to learn what he should
have known when he took the job.”
And what I did—this was close enough to Watergate that people still thought about tape systems
in offices, and I said, “Well, unbeknownst to Charles McCann, there was a tape system working in his
office. And I now bring to you a heated exchange and a telephone call between Charlie and Mark
Levinsky.” And I turned it on, and, of course, it was a blank cartridge. And after about 45 seconds
[laughing] people got the . . .
And I even wrote a parody meeting Larry Stenberg, and how he’s all trembling and everything.
He’s coming out of McCann’s office. Let’s see . . .
In all the groves of academe
No tougher task you’ll find.
No more exacting enterprise
Than changing Charlie’s mind.
And I saw Larry Stenberg staggering out. His eyes were red, he was trembling. I said, “Larry, what’s
wrong?” And this was what he said. “I’ve been in there a half an hour of changing Charlie’s mind.”
[NOTE: Transcriber could not determine whether this last was part of the rhyme that came before.]
At any rate, that was sort of the dynamics, you know, that were going on then.
Fiksdal: Laughing.
Teske: Okay. So, the point is, we devised the programs first, and then we devised the policies to fit the
programs. And then, we went from there to trying to get the, oh, the whole business of living
conditions, social contract and so forth that would foster this. But the point is, we started with the
concrete educational program planning first, and then went to the larger questions of policy and polity
and so forth. Okay.
Fiksdal: So, just one more point about that. So, was that because some of you knew about the former
failed colleges, and you decided to do it differently?
Teske: Yes, yes. Very good point, Susan. Remember—I don’t know if I said this before—but the
planning faculty, and in their own way, the deans, came out of different backgrounds. Merv represented
people who had been out trying to innovate and bore scars because of it. He was able to be successful
at San Jose. That led him to be an administrator at Old Westbury. And Old Westbury collapsed, and out
of that, we got Byron Youtz and Larry Eickstaedt and Bob [Solis? 00:19:57], who had been with Merv

before, and came to the planning faculty.
So, there, if we were trying to recruit them, we would say, “Look, it can still work. Don’t give up,
it can still work.” But that was money in the bank. Will Humphreys, later Charlie Lyons and so forth, we
had a bunch of people who had been at New College at the original Old Westbury at the [unintelligible
00:20:22]. Jack Webb had been at Prescott. Prescott failed. And so these were people who had to be
talked into “It can still work. Don’t lose faith.”
Fiksdal: I see, yeah.
Teske: Then, there would be other people, like me, who had had a relatively good time at liberal arts
colleges or something like that. And we would say, “Oh, boy, just let us try this. This’ll be grand.”
And the other recruiting strategy was “Wait a minute. It’s not going to be as easy as you think.
You’re going to have this problem, you’re going to have that problem.”
And again, you see, Merv and Don both had state school backgrounds. I was all private school
background. So, at any rate, we did have this balance, and you could go around the faculty and what
they would be bringing. In the one case, too much hope. [chuckles] On the other case, despair, but
we’re willing to give it another chance.
Okay. One of the things that I don’t think should get lost. Mervin was generally known as the
intellectual leader, the one who had actually run successfully the team-taught, full-time, interdisciplinary
programs, and so Don and I very definitely deferred to him. Sometimes we deferred to him and we
shouldn’t have. One issue was Merv did not want women on the planning faculty. He thought that the
presence of one or two women on that planning faculty would cause all sorts of morale problems, and
he did not want it. I don’t know what he expected; that it would be a king-of-the-hill, me-Tarzan-youJane kind of environment. So, at any rate, we shouldn’t have done that. We should not have followed
that. That was not my, you know, background, certainly not at Oberlin College as a coed school.
Okay. Another place where perhaps—well, not perhaps—we should not have listened was this.
We did not, in that planning year, figure out a way to tell somebody to go down the road. And one of the
reasons we didn’t, for Merv it was a non-problem, because he had run his successful programs as small,
ancillary programs, right next to a big, conventional apparatus. And if you, Susan, came over from the
French Department or the Linguistics Department to teach in our wing—you know, the lunatic fringe or
something like that—you’d come over to teach, and you wouldn’t make it there. You had your
department to go back to, and they’d probably “Welcome home, Susan. You’ve finally come to your
senses.” You know? Whereas here, this was it. You didn’t have any place to go to.
Fiksdal: It was the loss of a job, yeah.

Teske: And Merv’s feeling was, well—and, of course, at that time, at the very beginning, Susan, it was a
seller’s market still for faculty.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: We were still enough into the Baby Boom that there were lots of jobs. But still, we got this huge
number of applications, even though these were not people saying, “A job, a job, any job.” You know?
Okay. So Merv just felt, well, if a person weren’t cutting it, he or she simply wouldn’t want to stay.
Fiksdal: Oh, right.
Teske: So, it was a non-problem. So, when we ran into our first couple situations, where we thought
that the person had to go down the road but the person didn’t think so, we did not have an apparatus
set up to handle that. Okay, so there were mistakes there.
But Don, of course, the first big thing that he did was to unify the budget.
Fiksdal: Yeah, you’ve talked about that, too.
Teske: Yeah. And then later on—now, this is, in a way, not exactly painful, but a bit embarrassing for me
to talk about—as Dean of Humanities and Arts, I was responsible for developing—even though we did
not formally organize with budgets and territory—formally organized divisions—I still was responsible for
fostering work in the humanities and arts. Now, my background is all performing arts—acting, playing,
singing. Okay?
Don had a sideline—I don’t know how much work he himself did—in visual arts. He was very,
very strongly interested. And he was the one who got Sid White [unintelligible 00:25:03] Sid White and
so forth. And so, as we were starting to work, we ran into this problem. And I’ll say something again
about both problems that I’ve had.
Okay, first of all, as Dean of Humanities, I was responsible for fostering work in foreign
languages. And most foreign language departments around the country are subsidized by requirements.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: That’s why they have their faculty members and so forth. We weren’t going to have
requirements. We did not know what languages we were going to need for our various programs, and
we didn’t have any idea at first of whom to hire, and how many, and what would be the demand for
languages in the absence of distribution requirements?
And so, the three—I proposed my initiative, but the others agreed with me, that we would put
off hiring more than a skeleton crew of foreign language people until we found out if there was a
demand, and then what the demand was for.
Fiksdal: Yeah.

Teske: All right. That’s why you were pressed into such important service when I got Andrew Hanfman
as coordinator, to be a tutor. Okay? And, of course, what happened, Susan, is—and I’ve written about
this in my piece called “March Mayhem”—that we, the deans—well, I initiated with the agreement of
the other people—we thought, look, the way we’re going to grow to be 12,000 people in the early
1980s, we’re going to grow by 35—we’ll have 35 or 100 new—yeah, 35 or 50 new faculty members at
least every year. So, we can wait until we find out what we need in foreign languages, and then hire a
whole bunch of people. Okay?
With the arts, it was quite different. You bring on visual artists, they need studio space. They
need furnaces for their ceramics; if they’re metal shop artists. You need printmaking facilities. You bring
in performers and you need practice rooms; you need choral rehearsal spaces and so forth. We didn’t
have those. And so, again, bring on a skeleton crew, just enough to get us started. Try to get the art
spaces. Then, when we get the spaces, we will have 35 to 50 new faculty members every year, so we can
hire a whole lot.
When the “March Mayhem” occurs in 1973, and a lid is put on our enrollment—you’ve got to
stay the way you are—there I was, and I thought it was completely rational, the decisions, these
decisions, but there we were with just so few language teachers, and so few people in the arts. Okay.
And then, the building that had first been—I was supposed to be working for two buildings at
the time when people thought there would be departments. One was a performing arts building, the
other was a visual arts building. The visual arts building, you lived with part of this architect’s dream.
That nice, curved dormitory at Western?
Fiksdal: Mm-hm.
Teske: The architect of that was the one who did the preliminary design for a fine arts building that was
supposed to be right across from where the Communications Lab is now.
Fiksdal: Oh, wow.
Teske: The building was not well thought out. Politically, we saw no possibility of getting it. I still don’t
understand. The man did a good job with the Western dormitory, but he had his painting studios on the
first floor, and his welding and ceramic and sculpture stuff on the third floor. No! [laughing]
Fiksdal: All that heavy equipment!
Teske: Exactly! [laughter] All right. So, one of the things that—well, Sid White and I and a couple
others on the planning faculty took the initiative. We scuttled that visual arts building. Instead, I put in
that large room on the third floor of the Comm Lab that has sloping, vinyl floors with drains. It has space
for big artistic portfolios. And, if you recall, has three faculty offices on each side, which can be opened

both ways and can be turned into ancillary paintings studios.
Fiksdal: Oh, nice.
Teske: And I fought Jerry Schillinger tooth and nail to get skylights.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: Jerry was not—the facilities planner—he was having such problems with the huge library roof
leaking that when I came around and, as client, said I wanted skylights, he [makes a grumbling noise]. I
finally talked to him into it. Guess which roof did not leak?
Fiksdal: That one.
Teske: My building, yeah. But, at any rate. So, see, what I was hoping—and originally that building was
called Drama, Music, Art Phase 1—and I was hoping we did have one program that you could have your
drama and music and painting and some sculpture going on all in the building. Well, but that was not
going to be enough, and the students wanted more work. We even—I don’t know if I mentioned this
before—we had the expedient of renting a second floor big, open space in a building downtown . . .
Fiksdal: Oh.
Teske: . . . and turning that into our art studio. But then, we had to arrange transportation for the
students. And, because a lot of them wanted to use it at nights, we had to get escort services. It did not
work. So we said, “Wait a minute. We’re not going to hire any more artists until we get the building.”
All right.
So then, I got—finally, pushing and shoving—got my building in ’74. But the price—inflation had
worked—the total building—construction maximum and allowable construction costs and equipment—
was supposed to be $6.5 million. We were assuming that we’d get the building for $5.5 million, and we’d
have a million dollars left for equipment. As it turned out, we had about $400,000 left for equipment.
Fiksdal: Oh, dear.
Teske: And we needed desperately a lot of equipment. Don, by that time, had already gotten his Lab
Phase 1, and Lab Phase 2 was approved. Don did two big things. With the Lab buildings, he put
printmaking studios; I don’t know about welding, but ceramic studios to begin with. Then, some of the
rooms, especially ground-floor rooms in Lab 1, were so made that they could be painting studios, with
sinks and so forth.
Fiksdal: Oh, wow.
Teske: And there were painting classes. And then, he turned around—now, he was out of the dean’s
office, but wisely, since he had been the client for the Lab buildings, he still was put in charge of making
decisions about the money for the science labs. He, in effect, gave me—the sciences gave the arts—

$500,000 for equipment. Now, where do you find that; that an administrator in one division . . .
Fiksdal: Yeah, that’s pretty amazing.
Teske: . . . gives the equipment? He then went ahead and found the money, and got the design going,
for the lab and the arts annex in the Lab building with the heavy-duty [unintelligible 00:33:14]. That was
all Don’s initiative. So, he bailed me out when it came to the spaces for the visual and plastic arts.
Now, where did that money come from? I did not know this untl the late, great Fred Tabbutt,
when we were doing the Evergreen visual history archival stuff in the first decade of the 2000s. Fred and
I were both working on that, and I talked to him about this, this marvelous thing that Don had done for
the arts. And Fred said, “You know where that money came from?” I said, “I have no idea. I’ve always,
you know, wondered. Did Don rob banks? How come we have a standing electron microscope [that’s
worth? 00:33:57]?” He said, “Now, here was the deal. Don’s designs for the science buildings were the
first designs for science facilities that the capital wing of the program planning group had gotten. The
last one that they had gotten before Don’s requests was for the lab for the UW Medical School that had,
as you might imagine . . .
Fiksdal: . . . everything under the sun.
Teske: . . . tremendous budget. And so the capital planners downtown at Program Planning and Fiscal
Management, they had on their minds the kind of money that they had given for Seattle, and that’s the
kind of money they gave us, and Don took that and just ran with it, including running in our direction in
the arts with a whole bunch of money. So I just thought—
Fiksdal: Yeah, the first and last time that ever happened.
Teske: Yeah. And it’s just, you know—well, Merv on campus and I off campus maybe made bigger
splashes, but Don was in there thinking all the time. And, as I read from our first meeting that was in
here, I don’t know exactly what—I speak a lot about my motivation in getting behind Merv’s idea of it
being a team-taught, interdisciplinary, full-time programs. I don’t know what it was in Don’s background,
but he joined in that effort.
Now, I know one of your questions down here: Why was it that the deans were able to work
together when the vice presidents couldn’t? Well, I think one of the reasons, Susan—it seems very
ironic—but one of the reasons why we could work together is when we observed the Executive Vice
President and the Academic Vice President not talking to each other, being scared to talk to each other,
and even, in some cases, feuding, we determined that we were not going to do that. And therefore, we
really, I think, suppressed some of our differences in the interests of good order.
And another thing, you know—and, Mother, pin a rose on us—another thing that I think was

really great is the three of us—you know, Merv, of course, was leaning more and more toward
the humanities in his own academic interests, but he was trained as a social scientist, and he knew the
woods. He had done the exploration about what went on in the social sciences. Don knew very much
what went on in the natural sciences, and I knew about the humanities and arts. So, in effect, Susan, we
were an interdisciplinary team in the dean’s office.
Fiksdal: Yeah, you needed each other, actually.
Teske: Right. We needed each other. And then, as we retired, we were able, for the first go-rounds, to
keep that interdisciplinary fit. But then, it collapsed, and I think one of the reasons why the specialty
planning areas were so badly needed, Don and Merv and I, the three of us, we got hold of faculty
applications for people. One of the three of us would be able to figure out what that meant. See? The
person is saying this; this is what she means. You know? And so we did not have to call. “Hey, this
person says he’s a thus and such.”
There was this marvelous moment there when Merv beat me to it. People were trying to sell us
stuff. “New college? Oh, they’ve got a new budget started. Okay, let’s . . .”
The University of Washington had extra gamelan, and they were trying to sell us the gamelan,
and they had written Barry, the Academic Vic President. At one of our meetings, Dave said, “All right.
UW is trying to sell us a gamelan. What’s a gamelan?” And, before I could speak, Merv said, “It’s an
instrument made to be played by a Javanese village.” [laughter]
Fiksdal: Pretty darn good!
Teske: Yeah, it was pretty accurate. But the very fact that that was Merv and not me. And, I must say,
Susan, that continued when we then had Rudy [Martin], and Byron Youtz as dean, as scientist, and LLyn
De Danaan as social scientist. Great moment in there, maybe one of these only-at-Evergreen moments,
when a group was talking about—what was it?—science and philosophy and architectures, something
like that. And I think it was Rudy who said, “Well, what kind of thing would they be studying?” And I
piped up and I said, “Well, I hope they’d be studying the Golden Section and the Phi.” And Rudy said,
“What’s that?” And Byron said, “Well, it’s like pi, except that with Phi, it’s an irrational number like pi,
but it’s a relationship.” And he started talking about the Fibonacci Series of numbers, and I started
talking about how that ratio was used in the arts.
And, of course, it isn’t really true, but the assumption was that it’s the length of the Parthenon
by the width of the Parthenon, and so forth. It very definitely is true, Susan, if you find curled conch
shell or something like that, the way that that is laid down will be laid down according to these things.
And Byron went to the board and started writing equations, and drawing how these proportionate

would work. We had about a 40-minute faculty seminar on this important interdisciplinary concept as
part of a dean’s office business meeting.
Fiksdal: Yeah, wonderful.
Teske: Okay, again, only at Evergreen.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: Okay. Now, I don’t want to say too much about this, but Mervin never was all that happy—he
kept it suppressed, but he wasn’t happy about the idea that the rest of us had taken his dream about the
faculty team, interdisciplinary, full-time program. That had been devised by [Alexander] Meiklejohn and
run by [Joseph] Tussman at Berkeley and by Merv at San Jose, to work on a particular kind of subject
matter. And, as I say in what I’ve given you today, we never had an Evergreen program that worked on
that subject matter.
Now, Merv and Nancy Taylor, when Merv left the dean’s office, did something like that for a year.
What we did was to take the pedagogical methods’ delivery system rather than the content, and we
developed completely different kind of content.
Well, Merv didn’t like that, and he never liked the idea—his dream did not include hands-on
work in the sciences or the arts. He didn’t see how his vision could—whereas Don put and I put in quite
a bit of time fostering program development that would do just that. Forms A and B. [Mendicon?
00:41:59], biology and Peggy Dickinson, ceramicist arts, where 20 artists and 20 biologists met. Let’s
see. Another one, Harmony of the Universe—Jake Romero, physicist, and Bob Gottlieb, music. Twenty
physicists, 20 music students, getting together and doing a whale of a program.
Fiksdal: So, he hadn’t been in a program like that, that was different from his vision.
Teske: Merv had never been in a program like that.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: And, of course, Susan—I hadn’t thought about it until this moment, but obviously, the programs
that I, as dean, got in my dean group were the ones that included work in the arts.
Fiksdal: Yeah.
Teske: So Merv, even as dean, did not experience here all that much. Well, it came to a head in the fall
of 1975, when Merv was no longer in the dean’s office, floated this idea of dividing Evergreen into two
colleges, one of which would have departments and conventional classes, and the other, which would
have Merv’s now-pure version of coordinated studies.