Sweeney: Today's interview is with Professor Reuben Cooper of
the Speech Department at Old Dominion University. The first question down
there, Professor Cooper, has to do with your background and educational
interests and vocational interests before you began to teach at Old Dominion.
Cooper: I was born in Liverpool, England, and got to the United
States about the age of twelve and moved to New York City and in New
York City was educated. I Went to CCNY, where I got the bachelor's and
master's degrees. I did some student teaching and high school teaching
in New York City, and then the war broke out, whereupon I was drafted
and sent to the Air Transport Command. I was taken out of the Air Transport
Command for a special program called the Army Specialized Training Program
where I was put into a program, the learning of Turkish. After being
in that program for a short period of time, something like three months,
the AST Program was abolished, and I was sent to the Signal Corps, and
then from the Signal Corps I was sent to Puerto Rico, and in Puerto
Rico I taught the Puerto Ricans English -- full cycle round. When the
war was over, I said to myself that I didn't want to go back to teaching
high school in New York City. As a matter of fact, I wasn't certain
I wanted to stay in New York City; it was wonderful to be educated there,
but it was a different matter living there. So I decided that I'd like
to find another place. I came through Norfolk on the way out of the
Army, and then a friend of mine that I met here called me up and said
that they were looking for a professor at the Norfolk Division of William
and Mary. In my ignorance I thought that William and Mary was the school
that I was going to. However, it turned out to be the Norfolk
Division, and then I accepted a position here in the English Department.
And I taught English for a period of time. And we had a speech professor
here that wasn't considered very good by anybody, and finally he was
asked to leave. And then they looked around for someone to teach speech.
By this time I was over my neck in grading English papers, and I thought
it would be a good idea to get out of some papers by going into speech.
So I went into speech, and I organized the first public address course
at the university, and it was highly successful, and I received many
compliments for the course. Therefore, I began to get interested in
speech. I began to pursue speech and therefore went on for my doctor's
degree in speech, first generally in speech and then into speech pathology
down at LSU. First I went to Columbia University after the war, and
then I went down to Louisiana State University, did some summers of
work in speech pathology at Northwestern University, the University
of Wisconsin, then back to Louisiana State University, where I passed
all my examinations and orals and so on but never completed the dissertation
for very complicated reasons.
Sweeney: When you came to the Norfolk Division of the College of William
and Mary, what were your impressions of the students here and also of
the faculty and the physical conditions you taught under?
Cooper: When I first got here, my first position, I had spoken to
Lewis Webb and Frank MacDonald, who was assistant director, and they
were pleased that I made the application. And Dennis Gray was the head
of the English Department at that time. Of course, the faculty was small.
We occupied what is now the Old Administration Building, and that was
the entire university and college. My first impression was, with regard
to the students, that they were inferior to high school students in
New York City. And I was amazed to see the low level of achievement
in English, in English ability. This impression that the students at
Old Dominion University at that time could not pass a senior English
course in a New York City high school remained for a considerable period
of time. Faculty morale was excellent. Of course, we were all low paid
at that time. We were struggling after the war to see if we could raise
wages. New faculty members coming in always came in for more pay than
we who were here already were receiving, and this created some kind
of a problem. But the morale was good. The total faculty was very friendly
— naturally, as it was a small faculty — and we organized at that time
a group that used to meet every week on Sunday evenings, drink some
beer, and we'd discuss all kinds of topics. These discussions generally
would become very heated. They dealt with all sorts of
topics in aesthetics, art, literature,science, and so on ---whatever
would come up. They were rather informal, but they were constant and
represented, of course, the intellectual vitality of the faculty at
that time, which on the whole was a strong kind of faculty. Frank MacDonald
has moved on to William and Mary, where he's now chairman of the Philosophy
Department. Other people have moved to other areas. The ones that still
remain, of course, are Bob Stern, Professor Stern in government and
a few others. The others have retired. The next question concerns the
physical condition.. Well, naturally, the classes were much smaller.
The pressures were somewhat different, and one could tolerate the physical
condition. We added a building after awhile, the old academic building,
which is now being torn down, and that building wasn't too bad. It certainly
compares favorably with these new buildings in all respects except the
rooms were larger, airier, and you didn't suffer from the air conditioning
and overheating/underheating problems which modern architecture has
created. It's not the architecture, of course, it's the lack of adequate
funds to make decent buildings which are really functional. However,
that old school was still a very good building, and it broke my heart
to see them tearing it down. In general, we could handle the conditions.
The traffic conditions in Norfolk were not as bad as they are now, and
Norfolk was a place where you could move around and enjoy the entire
area with great facility and ease. So recreationally it was excellent.
Culturally it was backward. Of course, when you come from New York City,
where you're listening to Toscanini every week, you see beautiful theater,
and a lot of this, a tremendous amount of theater, art exhibitions,
the Metropolitan Museum of Art and so on, then you come to Norfolk where
the museum had nothing, the symphony was poor, the quartet ---- there
was nothing here at all. Culturally, one really suffered quite a lot
in comparison. But with the passage of years one got used to it. "Why
did you choose to remain at the Norfolk Division?" Well, I'll tell
you, I liked Norfolk and I liked the recreation in Norfolk. I liked
some of the freedom of movement that was available in Norfolk, and although
there were other jobs offered to me in Detroit, in New York, and so
on, I decided I would just enjoy staying here because of the conditions
of life that seemed to be around. And then we'd run up to Washington
and New York to absorb some culture and didn't find it too much of a
deprivation after awhile. When I look back at it, I think although Norfolk
is a wonderful place to stay in and I've always enjoyed being here —
it was a mistake academically to stay here because staying here became
a rather frustrating thing, especially economically. Wherever you moved,
you could make more money very easily.
Sweeney: "When did you first become interested in speech and hearing?"
The problem of speech and hearing was something like this, that, in
the beginning, when I was teaching English, we needed a speech teacher
because one of the speech teachers had to leave. We only had one, and
the problem was getting someone to teach speech. And Dr. Gray looked
around and asked for a volunteer, and I very readily volunteered to
do this because I thought 1 wouldn't have so many papers to grade, and
it would be a godsend, actually, so I decided that speech might be interesting.
And then, when I got into this speech, I began to read publications,
and I became interested in a field called speech and hearing. It's at
that time that I went back to Columbia University to take some courses
during the summers and then developed a definite interest in this speech
and hearing problem and then decided to become a speech pathologist.
At present I'm a speech pathologist and licensed by the state of Virginia.
Sweeney: "During the early l950's, while you were still a member of the English
Department, did you offer any courses in speech?"
Yes. The original courses in speech were offered as part of the English
Department. We had one course in speech and we taught that one course,
and at the same time taught American literature and the history of English
literature, in which I still have an abiding interest.
"How did it come about that the Speech Center was established in
Now that indeed is a long story. After going to LSU and finishing my
graduate work, I came back to Norfolk. And the first thing I did was
establish the Speech Center. That was established in the old academic
building with Lewis Webb's approval. And we set up four therapy rooms,
actually, in that building. And I experimentally tried out some therapy,
in addition to my duties, just to see how it would go. The need was
definitely there. And then the next question: how can I get a speech
and hearing center and a speech and hearing program at Old Dominion
University, or, what it was called then, the Norfolk Division of William
and Mary. To do this, the details are clearly outlined in the annual
reports. In brief, I spoke to various civic groups in the area, received
aid from the women's clubs, from the Junior League, from the Cosmopolitan
Club, from the Lions Club, and from the Kiwanis Club. The Kiwanis Club
became definitely interested in
establishing a building which I asked for, and donated $40,000, which
finally evolved, as the annual reports will show, into a sum of $240,000.
So finally Melvin Spence, the architect, who is a member of Kiwanis,
and I went down to Corpus Christi, Texas, examined a speech and hearing
center that is one that we wanted to model ours after, took notes and
photographs of it, and Melvin Spence built the present building in conjunction
with discussions with me and our board that was set up, and the building
was completed as a speech and hearing center originally, with the first
floor being a speech and hearing center, the second floor vacant and
open for other programs, primarily, because of the Lions Club interest,
a visual center. And it was at this time that the speech and hearing
program was placed into the Department of Education. And then the visual
program was followed up by Dean Jones, who was dean at that time. When
the Lions Club came to me, I referred the Lions people to the dean to
solve the problem of finally completing the building upstairs and getting
the funds from the Lions Club. That is why the building now is both
a Kiwanis building and a Lions building, and I think two plaques exist
on the building. I secretly would like the building to be called the
Reuben Cooper Speech and Hearing Center or the Reuben Cooper Child Study
The next question deals with civic groups.
Yes, the civic groups were very generous. We got ---- the first, as
a matter of fact, the first hearing testing unit came from the Junior
League. And there's a photograph in the morgue at the newspaper or probably
in our own files showing the donation of the check for that particular
equipment. The speech and hearing center occupied the old buildings
that Lewis Webb agreed not to have torn down, that were on the corner
of Bluestone Avenue and, I believe it was 49th Street. We had two old
houses that were not thrown down on each side of the street, one on
each side of the parking lot. And in the speech and hearing center proper
—-was placed in the north building, and in the south building we had
some therapy rooms and a program for the hearing—impaired children,
which became involved with our program.
Then in ‘56, yes, we received an audiometer from Soroptimist. This
was a small audiometer. The Junior League gave us a large one, a $3,000
affair with soundproof booths.
And the clinic -- it was a charming little clinic. It leaked rain.
It was small. The children looked at it as a doll house when they came
in. We had a lot of interest, and the morale was high. We had a one—way
vision mirror, and they could see the kind of therapy that was going
on. We always had a therapist who was a qualified therapist that would
be a guide for the
therapy that the students were able to imitate. We graduated from our
program, when we were able to get the major finally established, an
undergraduate major first and then a master's degree program, we graduated
some of the finest therapists in the city of Norfolk. Some of them went
on to supervisory positions, and I don't think that the people that
we graduated could be matched. A list of those people, or listings,
are in the annual reports with regard to that early program.
"To whom did the clinic provide services?"
Cooper: Well, referrals were made to the clinic by the community, by
physicians, by other clinics, and the parents, of course, who'd find
out about it. And we provided services of this kind. The parents were
interviewed. Case histories were taken by me, students listening, of
course, so they could learn how to do it. Case summaries were made,
programs were ascertained that would be of best use to the children.
The children were placed in therapy, the guidance of a therapist with
student assistance. And then after awhile, when the students were given
permission to work by themselves in certain aspects of the program with
the child, but always under the direction of both myself and the chief
therapist. . . .We also had audiological services. These audiological
services were provided for by an audiologist— we could not afford one,
we didn't have the funds for one at the time — who came down from Richmond
twice a week. His fare was paid for by one of the clubs ...... I forget,
I think it was one of the clubs interested in hearing impairment. I
can't think of the name of the club now, one of the women's clubs. And
they paid for the transportation. He would come twice a week and provide
audiological services for us.
At that time fees were charged. Of course, they were nominal fees.
But we turned nobody away. If a child could not afford it, we always
got some agency to pay for the services. In some instances we even had
the college pick up the tab. And the college used to object to that.
There were some conflicts about that. But we would not turn anybody
away from the center.
We were the first ones in the city of Norfolk to integrate speech and
hearing centers. We never turned away any blacks. Our policy then was
not to mention the fact. So we didn't mention it, but when blacks came,
of course, they were handled just like anybody else. And there was no
reaction from anybody against the activities that we were carrying out.
At that time silence seems to have been the best policy.
Of course the director — that was me — had the finest relationships
with the medical profession. We organized a cleft palate clinic,of which
I'm still a
member. That cleft palate group worked in conjunction with our program.
And, at the present time, of course, it's working through the Rehabilitation
Institute rather than through the university, which was a mistake, I
think. And that mistake was created by President Bugg's feeling, at
least as it was expressed by Dr. Eickhoff, that this was not a program
that belonged to the university. So we split, and then the program went
to the Rehabilitation Institute. This was a grave error in relation
to the program that we had, and that is training students. However,
it always seems to me strange that new people never understand the nature
of the program and therefore interfere with its operation. And that
was a definite interference which, of course, I regret.
"What kind of staff assisted you at the clinic? What staff needs
The staff that we had at the university then consisted of, finally,
an audiologist - I forget exactly when we got him —the speech pathologist
— all qualified people — myself as director. We had a staff of three
and a secretary. That was adequate at that particular time. Our program
was small; we attracted something like ten students per class, not what
we have now. For example, I have a class in speech sciences —sixty students,
which is fantastic, especially since half of those students won't find
jobs in speech pathology. All of our people at that time were destined
for definite jobs, and they were very well motivated, and they worked
very well. It's ironic that both of my secretaries in that job in the
speech clinic became very ambitious. One went into reading and is now
a reading specialist with the school system, and the other is a speech
pathologist. I had a great difficulty holding on to my secretaries because
they'd immediately become ambitious. That was basically, then, our staff.
Oh, we had an additional staff member — that's right — we had a staff
member for the hearing impaired children and our hearing impaired program.
And that staff member always was a qualified teacher of the deaf. And
then this person had somebody else under them, Wanda Summers, who worked
under the direction of the qualified teacher of the deaf, but we always
had a qualified teacher of the deaf handling that particular program.
This situation changed drastically after I resigned from the speech
and hearing center because of the activities of both Dean Jones and
of Paul Wrens, who was at that time the director of the Child Study
Center. There was some incompatibility with what they were doing and
what I felt needed to be done, and I separated the
speech and hearing program from the Speech Department, divided the
two up, moved the Speech Department - started to move it back into Arts
and Letters, and let Special Education have the speech and hearing program.
This, in retrospect,. was also a mistake, I believe, because the program
has been going down ever since. Recently the program is trying to come
up, and it may still survive, at least from what I understand at the
present time. Naturally, we tried to experiment with various kinds of
programs, and we developed various kinds of theories with regard to
such programs. One is the minimal contrast theory, which is now included
in Communication Disorders, which just recently appeared in the press,
which is a national textbook. But one of our programs had to do with
a nasal vibrometer, which would attempt to — this is in relation to
our cleft palate studies - which would be an objective means of evaluating
the degree of nasality that exists in someone's speech by virtue of
a complicated circuit containing a throat mike and a nasal vibratory
response — two VU meters and two circuits. The instrument — I never
had time to develop the instrument adequately. The person who was working
on it was fired from the Technical Institute, and he took with him some
of the equipment that I had. So I had to rework it all over again, and
it was recently completed once more last year. And it's still now in
an experimental stage, although I don't think I'll ever have time to
develop it any further — the thing right now.
"To what extent did students become involved in the operation of
The students were involved in the operation of the clinic, of course,
through conferences. They listened to every phase of activity. They
listened to the case histories. They were to ma histories. They were
to make up a case summary. They were to participate in all phases of
all the kinds of children that we had. They had a pretty well—rounded
background in the problems of speech and hearing, which I think to some
degree has been changed since 1969. Courses were first offered as a
separate part of the curriculum —I don't remember the exact date; I
think it was in 1960, I think the undergraduate program started. I'm
not positive; it would have to be checked out in the history things.
Well, then, when these programs were getting underway, naturally it
was necessary to separate from the English Department and found the
Speech Department, which was part of the Arts and Letters at that time.
And the Speech Department consisted of the following programs — we developed
the following programs in it. One was drama; we hired a drama man. Two
was rhetoric; we hired an additional person in rhetoric. And I myself
was also in rhetoric in part. And then, of course, speech and hearing,
and then a person
in debate. And therefore we had a fourfold program. I was director
of the speech and hearing clinic, and the other men acted in the particular
programs that we had. And I was both chairman of the Speech Department
and director of the speech and hearing clinic. Naturally, this represented
a lot of activity, and the necessity to divide these begins to grow.
I was very much opposed to. The transfer of the speech and hearing clinic
into the School of Education. The background to this was very complex,
and it would take a lot of time in explaining. The reason for the transfer
arose out of a conflict that we were having with the medical profession,
who were interested in developing the Rehabilitation Institute. When
Kiwanis was Offering $240,000 for a new building, they naturally wanted
that money for the Rehabilitation Institute and couldn't see why the
speech and hearing clinic couldn't be centered or placed down in the
Rehabilitation Institute and give them the money, which they could have
matched. I was adamant about having the speech program of f the campus.
An off—campus program could not work. Students could not attend classes
properly. It would be very difficult. President Webb supported me in
this; so did my board support me in this. And the problem now was how
to placate these people. So they won't be antagonistic to the university.
So Lewis Webb thought by putting us in the Education Department it would
underline the fact that the program was educational and did not conflict
with what they had in mind. But they didn't get the money, which is
what they wanted. And we got the building. An interesting sidelight
which was also spelled out in the annual reports is as follows, that
as soon as I developed this speech and hearing center, I developed a
board made up of prominent people in the community. And this board would
meet monthly at the university. The president was ex officio
member and he would be present at all of these meetings. We'd have monthly
dinners at which we'd discuss problems of the speech and hearing clinic
and so on. This board was an outstanding board. It consisted of Dr.
Charles Horton, a plastic surgeon, Dr. Cantor, a prosthedontist, Dr.
Sam Buxton, an orthodontist. It consisted of prominent radiologist Dr.
Jack...you'll have to get his name from the list, who had a hearing
impediment and was very much interested, of course, in the total program
that we were carrying out. Mayor Martin's wife was a member of the board.
Marceline Staples, our present registrar, was a member and was secretary
of the board. She was one of the first clients that the cleft palate
clinic ever had. Marceline suffered from a cleft palate, a birth problem,
and the clinic did a remarkable work on her. And she was very happy
and became our first secretary. The board consisted of people who were
prominent in the community also, in
Kiwanis Club, and it also consisted of Dr. Ross Fink, the first dean
of the School of Education. The other names are listed in the annual
reports. I can't recall them at the moment. The board was a vital board;
it was dynamic, and it helped in all respects in the development of
the program at Old Dominion. It also assisted me in getting the funds
from Kiwanis since so many of them were members of Kiwanis and were
very active in obtaining the funds for a new building for speech and
"What was the clinical practicum which students undertook in their
At that time every student was required to have a minimum of 225 hours
of clinical practice, and the students got it. They got it with a variety
of clients, and I think excellent instruction and models on which they
could base their activity. None of our students were permitted to graduate
without the practicum. At that time, of course, the courses were in
excellent sequence. They started off with the basic course in speech
science, then in English phonetics, and no one could do any pathology,
any practicum at all without these basic courses. Then followed a sequence
of speech pathology courses, three of them, and then two clinical practice
courses. This wound up the basic undergraduate program that was developed.
And this sequencing was disturbed by Dr. Wrens when he was placed in
charge of the program by Dean Jones, and the program after that went
down very rapidly until finally Dr. Wrens was removed and Dean Jones
was also removed, both inadequate, as I understand it, inadequate operation
of their activities, or inadequate, I don't know what else... .The objectives
that we set up in speech pathology were achieved at that time. The further
objectives had to do with getting national accreditation. At that point
we were definitely interrupted by the disruption of the program and
my resignation from the speech and hearing program and separation of
the speech and hearing program from the Speech Department. I think that
explains question 26, "How did the School of Education and the
college react?" The college administration was very much in favor
of the program. This included the dean of Arts and Letters, Dean Peele,
it included the President, it included many others. The School of Education,
however, decided this would be a feather in their cap, and they tried
to take over the program. Politics became involved when Dean Jones was
going to be removed. He tried to maintain his position by obtaining
support from faculty members by making them promises. And the promises
he made involved directing the speech and hearing
program. This was a promise he made to Wrens, and finally gave the
program to Wrens.
"During several summers in the 1950's you worked at the Cleft Palate
Speech Center at the University of Wisconsin. Could you describe your
Yes, that's where I got my background in cleft palate. I worked with
a great variety of clients, both doing diagnosis and therapy. My main
work was therapy at the University of Wisconsin, as well as courses
in speech pathology. Every summer, in order to maintain a program on
the campus, so the students could get some practicum, we did have speech
programs and supported programs by different groups. In ‘57, it is quite
correct, the Kiwanis Club did support our speech-handicapped program
by paying for the fees of the children and supporting the program. These
were highly successful, and other groups also lent it such support.
And we always had a fine program during the summer until, of course,
the program went down.
"Could you tell me about your participation in the lecture series
at the Norfolk Museum in the early 1950's?"
Now, before I went into speech and hearing I naturally was very active
in lecturing in the community and speaking to different groups. And
I've spoken to almost every organization in the city of Norfolk. And
I gave a series of lectures at the Norfolk Museum under the auspices
of... what do they call themselves, that group? . . .Mrs. Spindell is
one of the members of it.. .I've forgotten the name of the group. They
would sponsor a lecture and they would pay for it., Alf Mapp also did
lectures in that particular series. Those lectures were interesting.
I gave a series of lectures, one on Puritanism and American literature,
a lecture on drama, and so on. These lectures were also given to the
Women's Club in town.
"Did you have any connection with the Speech Workshop conducted
on campus by Professor Bernard Schlanger of West Virginia University held
at the college in the summer of 1962?"
When Bernard Schlanger came here, no, I didn't participate in that
workshop, in that speech workshop. It was for mentally retarded programs,
and I did not have any connection
with it. That was organized by Ross Fink,and he decided to run it,
so I decided to keep out of it. However, I did play tennis with Bernard
Schlanger, and we had a great time on the tennis court.
"In 1962, a professional football game at Foreman Field was given
for the benefit of the speech and hearing center. How much help was forthcoming?"
The money was raised for the new building by. Kiwanis through the Kiwanis
sponsorship of the professional football games at Foreman Field. And
all of the proceeds from these games for a period of time — I forget
exactly through what years —I think beginning with 1962 on - every year
the funds that they raised went to the speech and hearing center, that
is, for the building. And a great deal of help came from that. As I
said, it eventually became $240,000. The building now is worth at least
a half a million, and I think it was a very good contribution to Old
Dominion University. I'm proud of my contribution, and I think it should
be appreciated also by others.
"How deeply involved were you in the planning of the Kiwanis Child
Study Center? What arguments in favor of the college did you use during'
the debate on whether the Kiwanis Club-sponsored center should be located
on campus or at Norfolk General Hospital?"
My involvement in the planning of the Kiwanis Child Study Center, of
course, was complete. I worked with the architect. All my demands were
fulfilled. I demanded one—way vision mirrors in all of the therapy rooms.
I demanded the therapy rooms have a certain size so they were not just
cubby—holes such as they have in other places. I demanded a large area
for hearing and audiological testing, which was put in. I demanded windows
that could open so we wouldn't be stuck with the kind of thing that
they were planning to do originally, that is, closed windows and being
victims of machinery. We planned the arrangement of the offices. We
planned everything in relation to a very smooth—flowing speech and hearing
center. The only thing we did not plan with Kiwanis was the second floor
because the second floor they ran out of money, and we couldn't get
any more funds from them. They felt their commitment was complete. Of
course, we argued against the pressure on' Kiwanis as well as on Old
Dominion to put the speech and hearing center, not at the Norfolk General
Hospital but the Rehabilitation Institute. It would be quite impossible
to operate a viable program in speech and hearing where the students
had to leave the campus and come back. It just would not be possible.
They'd lose too much time from class— work, and one could not arrange
programs adequately. Super— vision would not be adequate. We were also
involved in teaching. The whole program would not be adequate at all.
The need for more than one center anyway is obvious. The number of people
who are involved in speech and hearing difficulties are great, and we
needed at least two centers. I remember when I told Dr. Andrews, Mason
Andrews, who was a main force in the fine construction of the Rehabilitation
Institute, when I told him, "You know, we could use two centers,"
he was very unhappy. He used to call me "Reuben." After, he
called me "Professor Cooper." But the two—center idea did
come out, it did finally emerge, and it's quite obvious that the two
centers were what was needed, at least two centers of this nature. Naturally,
the idea of cooperating with the Rehabilitation Center is always present,
and many of our students would go down there to observe' and participate
as they've' been doing since both centers were established.
"By 1966, were you still the director of the speech and hearing
I remained director of the speech and hearing clinic until 1969, at
which time — let's see, no, I think it was until 1970, then resigned
in ‘70. I think it was ‘70; it was either ‘69 or ‘70.
"Why did you cease to play your previously active role in speech
pathology after' the opening of the Child Study Center?"
The reasons, I think, I've already given, in answer to question 35
here. The reasons had to do with what I considered a very disruptive
role by the administration of the School of Education. The role was
so disruptive that it was quite impossible to carry out my program.
This was not only true of me, but we had a splendid person in visual
education, and she left also. She couldn't handle the kind of thing
that was going on, and she was a most valuable person and a rare person,
and she left as we'll and went to another' program in another university.
Therefore, I ceased to play a role in the speech and hearing clinic
and in speech pathology, which is still my major field. I'm still active
in speech pathology. I still take on private clients occasionally to
keep my fingers in it. I have a license, a state license, and I have
and I'm still a member of the American Speech and Hearing Association.
My experience in speech pathology is very valuable in my present program.
I teach speech science to speech pathologists, and I teach English phonetics.
In the course of speech for teachers, which I also teach, my knowledge
of pathology, of course, is very significant, not only' in correcting
the errors of these would—be teachers who have speech problems, but
also showing them the roles they're to play in relation to children
with speech difficulties.
"In 1964, you instituted a Students Speakers' Bureau to arrange
for students to speak before various civic organizations. Could you tell
me more about this?"
As part of the Speech Department program, we instituted of course,
a good debate program. The theater program was always difficult because
you had no theater. We arranged to have an old room changed into some
kind of a theater — the auditorium, rather, at the old academic building,
but it didn't work out very well, because everybody used it for classes,
and it was very complex to use. We also instituted a Students' Speakers
Bureau and arranged for students to speak at various organizations.
This grew out of our public speaking course because the first courses
we introduced in public address, we asked our students who were "A"
and "B" speakers to make their final speeches outside of class.
No one could make his final speech inside of class. He had to arrange
to get an audience. And therefore we built up a lot of interest from
the community in our students as speakers. I have a whole list of organizations
to which they've spoken, and I think this is also included in the annual
report. However, this naturally began to produce, as these other changes
took place, and the Speakers' Bureau began to — what shall I say —fade
away. It faded away, and then the new faculty members came and it was
hard to interest them in this kind of a program, having the students
go out to speak. So I don't know if there is a new Students" Speakers
Bureau now; I don't think so. It could be re—vitalized, but it would'
have to be re—vitalized under the Speech Department because that would
give the impetus to the students going out. Because they would do it
for credit; that would motivate them very much.
"In 1972, the Speech Department was transferred from the School
of Education to the School of Arts and Letters. Why did this change come
about? What role did you play in it?"
When the Speech Department was transferred from the School of Education
in 1972, — Lewis Webb was about to do this in ‘71, but all of a sudden
he retired, and that change was interfered
with, so Dr. Ralph Lahaie, who became chairman of the department and
after had a heart attack, completed this transfer. And that's what occurred
then in ‘72. My role, therefore, was initial, and then, of course, I
threw it into Dr. Lahaie's lap, and he took care of it from then on.
"Could you assess the growth and development of the Speech Department
first in the School of Education and more recently in the School of Arts
The Speech Department grew in the School of Education only to the extent
that they — well, I'll put it like this. It did not grow. We were enabled
to maintain the same kind of staff that we had before, you ‘see, and
that staff consisted of what I said they were before. More recently
in Arts and Letters, of course, it's grown. We have an addition now
of three faculty members — let's see, no, two' actually, two additional
faculty members,' not counting replacement, so that the growth under
Arts and Letters has been greater in the Speech Department — well, it
isn't actually greater; the rate is about the same, considering the
length of time. But in ‘the School of Education we faced some problems,
I think, in growth in the Speech Department aspect. I believe that summarizes
the chief differences.
"How has speech and hearing therapy developed on the campus over
the past ten years?"
In question 39 — Now, in the past ten years the speech and hearing
program developed excellently well until 1969. It started to go down
in l970—'7l—'72. Let's see, no, wait a minute. It's got to go down in
‘71. In ‘72 it went down further, in ‘73, of course, it was almost disorganized.
Students began to complain about what was going on. In ‘74 it started
to come up a little bit. In ‘75 right now I understand it's improving,
but I'm not constant with the details of the program. If I were not
retiring, I would probably like to go back into my field again and either
teach in speech pathology or work in the program. I'd still like to
direct it, of course.
"What are your hopes and goals for the Speech Department today?
What courses have you been teaching over the past five years?"
Now, with regard to the Speech Department, I think the goals are excellent.
I think that we're doing very well in the Speech Department. The courses
that we're teaching, I think, are expanding, in relation to so—called
"relevance" and the need of the present world. I've been teaching
speech courses as I mentioned before, I've been teaching speech science,
English phonetics, speech for teachers, a course in diction, and occasionally
public address — the main courses.
"Could you compare today's students with those whom you had twenty-nine
years ago at the Division?"
The students now are superior to the students we had twenty— nine years
ago at the Division. When I said originally that the students I had
then could not pass, in general, a New York City senior class, or even
lower, at least not in English —of course, I didn't know how they'd
do in other subjects -but they couldn't write English. They still can't
write English and they can't spell. So probably, probably, if I were
looking at the students with the same eyes that I had twenty—nine years
ago, I might say they're about on the same level in English. I have
noticed, however, some improvement in the ability of students within
the last four or five years, those who are coming to the Division. I
think the reason is we're getting a lot of transferees from kids who
went to other schools, and the parents can't afford the other schools
anymore, and they're coming to Norfolk. I think this is one feature.
And probably another feature is that many kids can't get into other
schools because of the standards they've set up, which are extraordinarily
high. So good students are coming here. I don't know what the reasons
are, really. These are my hunches about it. Soon the whole I think we
have a kind of a better student body. Certainly the students in liberal
arts and sciences seem to be somewhat better even than those in education,
and I think, on the whole, perhaps superior to what they were. I have
no hard data.
"What would you say have been your chief satisfactions and disappointments
in your career at the college?"
The chief satisfaction in this college, of course, is working with
the students, and, for a time, the absolute consideration of the administration.
The chief disappointments, I would say, have been the lack of consideration
by administration, both the School of Education administration and the
administration of Drs. Bugg and Eickhoff, a certain coldness, a certain
of interest, a certain lack of insight as to what the programs needed,
and certainly a certain lack of consideration for those who were instrumental
in developing the programs. It seems to me that administrators should
always consider the human aspects of program development. I'm not persuaded
that what has happened to this university is in the best interest of
the university, where those who have worked very hard to create programs
find, after their arduous labor and work and achievement, find themselves
in secondary positions with regard to those very programs. Certainly
we're interested always in fine and outstanding people, but the people
who developed these programs were always fine and outstanding people.
As a matter of fact, that's why they developed the programs. They didn't
develop them for raises. They didn't develop them for special rewards.
They developed them because of their interest in education, interest
in the university, and interest in promoting these particular programs.
This kind of interest should be rewarded and should not be penalized.
But with complete disregard for achievement by many faculty members
in this school, people were replaced and overridden, which seemed to
me sheer callousness and administrative brutality. That's my evaluation,
then, of that last question, disappointments and satisfactions. It's
been a great satisfaction, indeed, for me to have been active in the
promotion of the humanities lecture series over the past five years
where we've had faculty members in arts and letters give papers in humanities
for interdisciplinary discussions and feedback. We've also been very
happy in working with the UFO film program over the last three or four
years, and this program has been an especially good program, for which
I've been writing critiques of the movies, have been very active in
establishing and working out the programs. This is a quick summary of
some of the features that I have been involved in as a professor at
Old Dominion University. I should also mention the fact that the failure
to move out of this area into other areas which would pay more has been
a source of low' income in comparison to incoming new members and has
been a sore spot with all faculty members who remained here, who were
not repaid for their activities, at least they were not repaid commensurate
with the activities that they gave to the university, where the funds
were mainly spent on new people because they were unobtainable without
sufficient money. Therefore, my chief "beef" in the whole
setup was, and is, that the so-called old—timers, who were competent
and did great service to the university, did not receive adequate financial
compensation for their work.