AN INTERVIEW WITH JERRY NIEBAUM
Interviewer: Jewell Willhite
Oral History Project
B.A., Math Education,
M.A., Mathematics, Northwestern University, 1965
Ph.D., Computer Science,
Service at the
First came to KU in 1981
Director of Academic Computing 1981-1982
Director of Computing Services 1982-1986
Director of Academic Computing
Executive Director of Computing
Director of Academic Computing
Developed Digital Library at Spencer Library
Assistant Vice Provost for Information Services
Planning coordinator for the KAN ED project
Executive director of the Great Plains Network project
AN INTERVIEW WITH JERRY NIEBAUM
Interviewer: Jewell Willhite
Q:††††††† I am speaking
with Jerry Niebaum, who retired in 2004 as Assistant Vice Provost for
Information Services at the
A:†††††††† I was born
Q:††††††† What were your parentsí names?
A:†††††††† My father was Herman Niebaum.† My mother was Grace and her maiden name was Smith.† They were married in 1926, just prior to the Depression years.
Q:††††††† What was your parentsí educational background?
A:†††††††† I think Dad didnít complete sixth grade but he went through part of sixth grade.† Mother was always proud that she went one semester to high school.† But neither had very much education, a lot of self-education over the years.† Mother liked to read, so she educated herself pretty well.† You would never know that she didnít have a high school education.†
Q:††††††† What was your fatherís occupation?
A:†††††††† Well, when
they were first married Dad really wanted to be a farmer.† Farming was all that he really knew.† They did start farming, but then the
Depression hit and they were unable to stay on the farm.† So they moved to
Q:††††††† Did you have brothers and sisters?
A:†††††††† I have one
sister.† In fact my autobiography is My Sister Was an Only Child.† Thatís because sheís 12 and a half years
older than I am.† So she was nearly a
teenager when I was born in 1939.† She
still lives in
Q:††††††† Did you grow
A:†††††††† In and
Q:††††††† Was that school with eight grades a one-room school?
A:†††††††† No, it was huge.† It was a two-room school.† We had grades one through four in one room and grades five through eight in another.† Over the course of my eight years I really had only three different teachers.† I had the same teacher for grades one through four and then five through seventh grade and then another teacher for my eighth grade year.† But I feel like I really got a good education in grade school.† It had a very small library and encyclopedias in only one of those rooms.† That was grades five through eight.† So I didnít have exposure to encyclopedias until I was a fifth grader.† But in spite of that I felt like I had a good education.†
Q:††††††† Iíve heard a number of people say that who went to that kind of school.† They kind of learned from the people who were ahead of them as well.
A:†††††††† My wife Judy went to an even smaller community school.† Her school was truly grades one through eight, a one-room school.††† She was the only student in her class for nearly all her eight years there.† I suppose we had five to seven in my class most of the time I was in grade school.†
Q:††††††† Then when you got ready to go to ninth grade, did you have to go in to a larger town?
A:†††††††† Yes.† We still lived in Corbin.† The nearest high school was
Q:††††††† Did you have influential teachers?
A:†††††††† Yes.† In grade school I was really pretty good in mathematics.† I had a lot of encouragement from my grade school teacher, one in particular, Oraleen Merritt, who married in my seventh grade year and became Oraleen Urban.† She was just really good at helping guide me in my interest in mathematics.† Then in high school the first year I was in high school I took high school algebra from Clarence Martin, who was also the superintendent of schools.† He was an old Navy guy, who was a pretty strict disciplinarian but also a real motivating teacher.† In that first class of high school algebra we had all grades, nine through 12, students who were taking algebra.† So I was in there with seniors as well as fellow freshmen and sophomore and juniors.† But it was a really good start.† Then the principal of the high school, David Shannon, was my math teacher throughout high school, and he was just absolutely excellent.† He was motivational but also very bright, so that got me off to a great start.† In grade school I had decided that I really wanted to be a math teacher when I completed my college work. †I had my sights set on college even when I was in grade school.† That was a little unusual in our family, since they had little educational background.† Partly it was my motherís push.† She was the one who always saw education as very important.† So she pushed me pretty hard to make sure I understood that education was important.†
My senior of high school I had taken all of the formal math
courses that were offered.† There was
nothing else for me to take.† A friend of
mine, John Dillard, and I asked our math teacher, David Shannon, if we could
study math on our own.† He found a small
study room for us and we studied trigonometry all on our own.† Then Mr. Shannon gave us standardized
tests.† So we were in pretty good shape
to begin our work at the university.†
John lives in
Q:††††††† Were you involved in extracurricular activities in high school?
A:†††††††† Yes.† Some of the extracurriculars were really curricular activities, such as the music program.† I enjoyed singing.† So I was in Boysí Glee Club and Mixed Chorus.† Itís pretty hard to go to a small high school and not be involved in athletics.† So I was in the track program for four years and the football program the last two years, my junior and senior years.† We had a good high school football team.† We were undefeated all four years that I was in high school.† We had two ties during that period.† We had 39 consecutive games without a loss.†
Q:††††††† Thatís quite a record.
A:†††††††† Yes.† It was fun.
Q:††††††† Did you have honors in high school.† Were you valedictorian?
A:†††††††† Thatís a
question with an interesting answer.†
Iíll give you a little longer answer than you might expect.† I was salutatorian of my class.† I was beaten out by a very bright woman who
went on to
Q:††††††† Your family has done pretty well.
A:†††††††† We were lucky.
Q:††††††† When did you graduate from high school?
A:†††††††† I graduated
in 1957.† And in the summer of 1956 two
friends and I visited the
Q:††††††† Youíve mentioned Judy.† Did she grow up in the same town?
A:†††††††† She did.† In fact, my wife and I were both delivered by the same doctor in the same hospital.† She was about 14 months after me, but we were delivered by the same doctor, Dr. Barnes.† Then she and I didnít know each other well as kids.† But we became acquainted and started dating in high school.† In fact, next year in February we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our first date.
Q:††††††† Did you have summer jobs when you were going to high school?
yes.† Mostly farming jobs.† I once figured out that I had driven about 18
or 19 different John Deere tractors in my time as a high schooler.† I remember telling my dad one time that there
must be an easier way to make a living than that.† I actually started doing farm work when I was
12.† My dad, still wanting to be a
farmer, bought a tractor and plow with the idea of doing custom plowing.† But then his job changed and he was unable
to.† But he found a job for me.† The summer that I was 12, I pulled box cars
with that tractor at a local elevator.†
That was a pretty big responsibility for a 12-year-old.† Then we had a custom plowing job that I did
that same summer with the tractor and plow.†
That summer I made between $300 and $400.† That was a lot of money for that time.† My goal was to buy a television set.† And so in August of 1952 I bought the
familyís first television set.† The
family thought I was crazy.† There we
were in southern
Q:††††††† When you went to KU you lived in the scholarship hall.† What was your major?
A:†††††††† I was a math
major.†† Then my junior year I moved to
Other summer jobs back in high school.† One summer my senior year I got the
mumps.† I had been a roughneck on an oil
rig for a while.† I couldnít do that
after I got the mumps, so I became an ice man.†
I delivered ice around the city of
Q:††††††† My parents had one.
A:†††††††† People still had ice boxes in 1956 or 1957.
Q:††††††† Did you have jobs when you were in college or in the summers?
A:†††††††† Yes.† I was really fortunate.† After my freshman year at the university my
dad was working for
Q:††††††† Did you have influential teachers at KU as an undergraduate?
A:†††††††† Yes, there were a few who were helpful.† Donald Alderson was Dean of Men.† He had a special interest in scholarship hall fellows.† I got to know him through our scholarship hall.† He was very encouraging to all.† Actually, when I returned to KU as an employee in 1981 I managed to visit with him about the days of my undergraduate time.† That was a very special time, because he died not very long after that.† I recall that fondly.† Gilbert Ulmer was the mathematics professor who was in charge of student teachers.† He was a grand old fellow who was very encouraging and tried to help students in their work.† G. Baley Price was chair of the math department.† I had a lot of respect for him, although I never had him as an instructor.† He had a very excellent math program here at the university, so that was good.† Those are the ones who kind of stand out.† My wife and I were both in University Chorus.† Clayton Krehbiel was the choir director at that time.† He was really fabulous.† He used to direct concerts in his tuxedo and cowboy boots.†
Q:††††††† Were your concerts in Murphy or Hoch?
A:†††††††† They were in
both Murphy and Hoch.† In 1959 or 1960 we
did Beethovenís ďNinth Choral SymphonyĒ with the Kansas City Philharmonic in
Music Hall in
were.† We didnít venture out very
far.† Of course we had the Varsity and
what was the other theater downtown that is still there?† And Liberty Hall was actually in use as a
movie theater then.† It was called something
else.† So there were three theaters
downtown.† I donít recall
Judy and I were married in June of 1961.† Then we moved to
But in 1960 at the university I took the first computing course that KU offered.† It was a mathematics course, Math 158, I believe.† I still have my notes from the course.† It kind of changed my life because I was just absolutely enthralled with computing from 1960.
Q:††††††† What kind of computer did they have then?
A:†††††††† I tell people it was the first personal computer I ever used.† It was a personal computer in the sense that only one person could use it at a time.† You had complete control of all of the resources.† It was an IBM 650.† It was a big, old, very noisy machine.† As I recall, you could hardly talk in the machine room because the air conditioners were so loud to keep it cool.† It had punch card input and punch card output.† The cards that it punched out for answers didnít have anything on them but holes.† You had to take that deck of cards over to another machine and have it printed out so that you could see whether or not you had the right answers.† But I was just fascinated.† We didnít have Fortran.† We were programming in very primitive assembly language.† In fact, it was called SOAP, Symbolic Optimum Assembly Program.†
Q:††††††† Which building was this in?
A:†††††††† This was in Summerfield.† Summerfield was brand new.† The computer was acquired by the university in 1957.
Q:††††††† I didnít realize it was that early.
A:†††††††† Yes.† They were quite early in getting a computer.† G. Baley Price was instrumental in getting the first computer here at the university.† It was located in Strong Hall basement when it was first installed.† But by the time I used it, it was in Summerfield Hall.† I think it was in the basement of Summerfield.† Summerfield was brand new at that time.†
Q:††††††† So you were
was.† I never sought a deferment.† But because I was a math teacher, that was
considered a critical teaching area at that time.† And I was classified 2A rather than 1A.† It wasnít anything that I requested.† It was just because of my profession.† Then in 1963 our son Richard was born.† So at a time when I might have been drafted,
we were married, had a son, and I was teaching in a critical area.† So I never did serve in the military.† My wife Judy actually taught at
In 1963 I was really enjoying my junior high teaching.† I decided that I really needed further
training and an advanced degree.† So I applied
for some summer institutes and got a National Science Foundation institute to
Q:††††††† Did you write a thesis for that?
A:†††††††† I did not.† In lieu of a thesis we had a six-hour comprehensive written examination that was just a mammoth thing.† It was just totally exhausting.† But I managed to pass and got my degree.
Q:††††††† Was Northwestern using computers then in the math department?
A:†††††††† Yes, they
were.† We had a Control Data computer,
CDC3400.† In 1964 I took my second course
in computer programming.† We were using a
programming language called Algol, algorithmic language.† That just further stimulated my interest in
computing.† So in 1965 I was looking for
a school that had computing or a computing emphasis in which to teach.† I moved to
Q:††††††† For high school kids?
A:†††††††† Yes.† This was quite unusual.† They had gotten the computer with a 90
percent grant from the federal government and a 10 percent grant from the
state.† The computer they had was just
slightly better than the computer at
In 1966 a friend of mine was teaching at the
Q:††††††† Did you like teaching college students better than teaching junior high school students?
A:†††††††† I did,
although one of my big responsibilities was a night class of maybe 150
students, who were primarily young men trying to avoid the draft.† They didnít have much interest in learning
mathematics or being in school at night.†
It was kind of hard to get them motivated, a problem that I never had
while I was teaching ninth graders.† I
really didnít intend to leave teaching high school.† Thereís a little bit more to the story.† I had applied for a different high school
position in the
I had a friend at
Q:††††††† Was this to work on a Ph.D.?
A:†††††††† Yes.† It was my expectation to get a Ph.D. in
computer science, but
Q:††††††† I suppose you
knew that we are both from
A:†††††††† I think I did know that.
Q:††††††† As undergraduates.
A:†††††††† Would that have been in the mid Ď60s?
Q:††††††† I graduated in November of 1958 and Paul in the spring of 1959.† So it was a little before you were there.
Q:††††††† Did you live
A:†††††††† No, we
didnít.† Pammel, for those of you
listening to the tape, was like the Sunnyside residences, World War II barracks
Q:††††††† What was your dissertation on as a Ph.D. student?
A:†††††††† Design and Complete Definition of a Systems Programming Language for Data Communications.† I was interested in networking and that was a little unusual at that time.† But it was the design of a language that could be used for developing systems around data communication.† It was nothing that changed the world, but it did get me a degree.
Q:††††††† What year did you get your Ph.D.?
A:†††††††† That was in 1973.†
Q:††††††† Then while
you were at
A:†††††††† Not nearly
to that extent.† We had each year
something called the VEISHA parade.† You
remember VEISHA.† I remember students
having war protest floats in the VEISHA parade.†
But certainly it was nothing like they were having here in
Q:††††††† What did you do after you got your Ph.D.?
A:†††††††† Well, it was
my intent to teach mathematics or computer science at the college level.† Thatís what I really intended to do.† I had been working at the computer center.† I liked my work at the computer center.† I applied for a job at
Q:††††††† So you werenít teaching at this time.† You were just working at the computation center.
A:†††††††† Thatís correct.† I wasnít teaching any classes at all.
Q:††††††† What were your responsibilities at the computation center?
A:†††††††† By then we had some major large computer systems.† And we were trying to develop our networking.† My responsibility was data communications and networking.† I had a staff of four or five.† We did equipment maintenance repair, or I should say the staff did.† I was responsible for some of the planning, planning for a new computer system that we acquired in 1978.† I had just general administrative and manager responsibilities.† I was an assistant director all those years.
Q:††††††† How long did you stay in that position?
A:†††††††† From 1973 to
1981.† My immediate supervisor at
Q:††††††† Did you come
to KU from
A:†††††††† I did.† The story that I tell is that the only reason Judy let me apply for the position here was that she was so certain that I wouldnít get the position here.†
Q:††††††† So she liked
A:†††††††† She liked
Q:††††††† I donít know.
A:†††††††† Well, he was certainly on the search committee, Paul Willhite, your husband.† It was a very large committee.† So I visited in May of 1981.† I was asked down for an interview that was to run for a day and a half.† In the first half day I decided I didnít want the job.
A:†††††††† Well, the
computation center was in financial trouble.†
It was clear that they were going to run a deficit.† For that year it turned out they had a deficit
of $76,000.† The university was committed
to a 100-month contract on the purchase of Honeywell Computer System.† Now 100 months is eight years and four
months.† It was just an incredibly long
time for purchasing the electronics.† It
was clear that the electronics were going to be outdated long before the
contract was ever paid out.† The
university was paying Honeywell about $1 million a year for the computer system
that they had.† So things were in less
than good shape financially.† Morale was
kind of low.† Iím not sure whether Paul
Wolfe was asked to leave his position or just decided that it was time to move
on.† Honeywell was not a well-known name
in computing, so it was a different system from most every place else in the
country at that time.† Our first
Q:††††††† You mean because the town had grown?
A:†††††††† Yes, it had.
On the positive side the
When I got here, things were not very different from what I
expected them to be, except that the staff at the computation center were just
really excellent.† My mentor at
Q:††††††† In one year?
A:†††††††† In one year.† I understand nowóI was pretty naÔve at the timeóthat itís not at all unusual for the university to pick up a debt like that so that the new person coming in has a clean slate to begin with.† But we were very, very tight-fisted and managed to end my first year with a positive balance, including paying off the $76,000 that we had from the year before.† And from then on until I stepped down as director, we never had a deficit at the computation center.
Q:††††††† Thatís quite an accomplishment.
A:†††††††† I thought it was a good accomplishment.† Some have criticized me for it saying that if I had just put us in debt more we would have had more things and the university might have rescued us.† But I felt differently about it.† Fiscal responsibility, I think, was one of the things that I brought to the position.† Iíve often said that I felt I was the right person for the job at the right time and hired for all of the wrong reasons.†
Q:††††††† What reasons do you think they had for hiring you?
A:†††††††† They hired me because 1. I had a Ph.D. in computer science, which was of almost no value to me as a director of an administrative unit.† I judged that they hired me because I had teaching experience, but I was not moving into a teaching position.† There was some concern about my tenure situation.† They thought that I would be asking for tenure with the computer science department here.† I did not, so that became a non-issue.† They were really looking for an academic when they should have been looking for someone with management experience.† I had a little, not much.† With fiscal experience I had none.† I certainly grew into those things, and I think I did a reasonable job as a fiscal manager.† But those were not skills that I had coming into the job.†
Q:††††††† You must have learned a lot while you were here.
A:†††††††† It was on-the-job training.† It surely was.† When I came I had my own microcomputer, my own personal computer.† I had an Apple II.† The computer center also had an Apple II and that was the only microcomputer that we had.† Iíve said that we had more vending machines than microcomputers when I came.† We had one microcomputer and two vending machines at the computer center.† Of course, the microcomputer revolution was about to really catch fire.† This was before IBM had introduced its personal computer in 1983, I believe.† The microcomputer revolution hit about 1982 or 1983.†
I think one of the things that Iím proud of is that I, along
with my staff, embraced the microcomputer revolution as something that was a
real positive for the institution.† Some
of the computer centers around the country saw it as a threat.† They saw computing moving out of a central
facility, which we saw also.† But we saw
that they were compatible, at least for the near term.† So we created a microcomputer repair facility
and we really focused on supporting microcomputers.† In 1983 we were instrumental in getting a
statewide contract for the purchase of microcomputers.† It was the efforts of folks here at the
Q:††††††† It was just a few years later than that when students began getting their own computers.
A:†††††††† Right.† And that was something that we encouraged also.† In fact one year I sent a letter out to all parents of incoming students encouraging them, if financially possible, to send their kids off to school with a microcomputer.† One of the examples that I gave was my own.† I said, ďMy parents sent me to college with my own word processor, a Royal typewriter.Ē† It made a huge difference in my ability to my work and do quality work at the university.†
Q:††††††† I understand that you worked at the Spencer Research Library to put images from their collection on computers.
A:†††††††† That was
much, much later.† In about 1986 we
decided that with the divestiture of AT&T and the breakup of AT&T and
the creation of the Baby Bell Telephone Companies that the university ought to
be considering its own communication system as an alternative to
Q:††††††† By networking do you mean that computers in various parts of the campus can talk to each other and exchange information?
A:†††††††† Right.† It also included in this case getting a voice switch and we had switchboard operators.† We had our own telephone system at the university from about 1986 on.
Q:††††††† I didnít know that.†
A:†††††††† Thatís another thing that I take some pride in, helping to create the environment for networking to grow on campus.† I saw the importance of computer networking.† This was still fairly early on.† Anyhow, that worked out reasonably well.†
Q:††††††† One thing that has come from that is that students no longer stand in long lines to register for classes any more.
A:†††††††† That came along more after my time than during my time.† It was certainly something I encouraged.† My emphasis was always on the research and instruction side of computing.† For a few years I had dual responsibilities for administrative computing and academic computing.† But for the most part I was on the academic side, the research and instruction side.
Q:††††††† I understand that with some other people you have designed video games to teach math.
A:†††††††† That was a
fun thing that my wife and I did in the early Ď80s.† Bill Maxwell and Jerry Chafin had designed
some computer games that they had implemented on the IBM PC.† They were working on the Apple version.† By then I had a Commodore 64 computer and I
knew quite a bit about the Commodore.†
They approached me to convert the games to the Commodore 64.† So I took it as kind of a consulting and
after-hours job.† We eventually did three
of them for the Commodore 64, Alien Addition, Minus Mission, and Meteor
Multiplication.† These were action games
for kids to learn their basic arithmetic skills.† It was fun and they sold pretty well.† Unfortunately, Commodore went out of business
as a computer manufacturer.† So the Commodore
64 phase of microcomputing didnít last.†
But at its peak in about 1984 there were Commodore 64 user group meetings
Q:††††††† There have been a lot of changes in computers through the years.† I suppose that is a problem because you have to replace things so frequently.†
A:†††††††† Yes, you absolutely do.† That is just part of the technology and technology changes.† If you choose wrong it can be an expensive change.† I was one of the first to buy a Sony Beta Video cassette recorder.† In the early days of VCRs there was competition between the Beta users and the VHS users.† Even thought the Beta was better technology, the VHS users won out with marketing.† So the Beta VCR that I have is obsolete, kind of like the eight-track tapes.† With microcomputers, the first small computers had eight-inch floppy disks.† Then about 1978, I suppose, with the introduction of the Apple they went to the five and a quarter floppy disks.†
Q:††††††† Those are the first ones I had.
A:†††††††† Those are the ones we got at the university then in the early eighties.† I remember one faculty member, when the new three-inch disk came out, said, ďYou surely donít expect us to convert over to this new technology, do you?Ē† I said, ďYes, indeed.† It is just a matter of time.Ē†
Q:††††††† How long did you remain in this position?
A:†††††††† I had a
variety of different positions.† I was
director of academic computing services from 1981-82.† Then we combined administrative and academic
computing and I was director of computing services, which combined
administrative and academic, for about five years, until about 1986, I
believe.† Then I was ready to not be
director of both any more and asked to step back to be just director of
academic computing.† I did that for a
couple of years.† Then as we expanded
with the telecommunications responsibility my boss, Dick Mann at the time,
asked if I would be executive director for all of the area and I took that
responsibility on for several years.†
Then I again stepped back to be director of academic computing services,
although I have always considered that that was my home, research and
instruction computing.† Then in 1999 Bill
Crowe was just being replaced by Mary Lou Goodyear as assistant vice chancellor
for information services.† She agreed to
have me move into a position in Spencer Library, where I didnít have staff
responsibilities and help set the stage for developing a digital library.† So I did that for about a year and a
half.† Then I had a chance to become a
liaison for the provosts of the regentsí schools for information services at
the Board of Regents office in
Then the KAN-ED legislation was passed, which created a statewide network for schools, libraries, and hospitals that was to be administered by the Board of Regents office. †They didnít know what to do with that.† And I was around and was familiar with the executive director and he asked me to be what we called the planning coordinator for the KAN ED project.† For the first six months I was the only employee for the KAN ED project.† I spent a year and a half getting that together.†
Q:††††††† Did this involve putting more computers into the schools that were out in the state?
A:†††††††† It was
networking, taking broadband, high-speed network service to schools, libraries,
and hospitals in a coordinated effort around the state.† Up until then we had no coordinated
network.† In 2003 we got the legislation
and in 2004 KAN-ED got funding, $10 million a year to fund that project.† Until then we had planning grants.† So in January of 2003 I stepped down as the
planning coordinator and we had hired an executive director for the KAN-ED
project.† I became the executive director
of the Great Plains Network, which provides Internet II to schools in the
Midwest, including the
Q:††††††† Have you had some honors in the course of your work?
surprises, yes.† In 2000 I received an
award by a professional organization called Educause.† This is a national organization.† The award was ďexcellence in leadership in
the profession.Ē† It was one of four
awards given that year.† It was a
national recognition for some of the work that I had done over the years in
leading the profession.† In 2001 I was
inducted into the Association for Computing Machinery Hall of Fame, which was a
nice honor. †In 2002 I was given a State
Q:††††††† Did you serve on committees, or did you not do that kind of thing?
A:†††††††† Yes, I did.† I served on many committees, including the planning committee for the creation of Anschutz Library and lots of search committees.† I was on the search committee that brought Bill Crowe in as dean of libraries.† He eventually stepped up to other responsibilities.† So I served on quite a number of search committees.† Memories of committee work tend to fade quickly.†
Q:††††††† You probably didnít have a lot of contact with students.
A:†††††††† In the early Ď80s, probably í84, I decided there ought to be a course in microcomputing.†† There had been one planned but never taught.† I taught the first course in microcomputing that we had here at KU.† I taught it for two or three years.† I was also an adjunct assistant professor in electrical engineering.†† Dale Rummer was teaching a course in electrical engineering that I sat in on and then taught the following year.† So I did some teaching.† Then Sue Nishikawa, who just recently joined the Endacott Society, and I reprised the microcomputer course and co-taught a microcomputer course in the Ď90s.†
Q:††††††† Do you remember former students who have gone on to greater things?
A:†††††††† No, I donít.
Q:††††††† You probably donít have continued contact with them since you didnít have graduate students.
A:†††††††† I have had a few students come back to me and say, ďI was in your microcomputer class.† You made a difference.† I went intoÖĒ† I have had a few things like that that are just real gems.†
Q:††††††† Have you been involved in community activities here?
A:†††††††† Yes.† Weíve always enjoyed Community Theater.† People said, ďYou really ought to get
involved in Community Theater.Ē† Judy had
done a Community Theater production of Oliver
We had just a grand opportunity in June of 2004.† Our choir director is John Paul Johnson, who
is also the director of choral activities at the
Q:††††††† I knew some people who went to that.
A:†††††††† We sang the ďDurufle RequiemĒ in Latin.† I suppose the hall was half to three quarters full.† We did get a standing ovation for our 40-minute performance of the ďDurufle Requiem.Ē† We had about a 300-voice chorus and a 75-piece orchestra.† It was a marvelous sound.† The ages were from junior high kids to folks in their 80s.† So it was a real eclectic group.†
Q:††††††† Do you plan to have continued involvement with KU?
A:†††††††† I donít know whether you are aware that the Endacott Society has drafted me to be the convener for the computer study group.†
Q:††††††† I didnít know that.
A:†††††††† We are
kicking that off next week.† I have
started planning the programs for the year with the computer study group.† I think it is a fun bunch of people.† So I intend to be involved in that way.† I still do a little consulting, especially
for the Kansas Board of Regents.† And my
friend and colleague, George Strawn, who I mentioned earlier, and I are
conducting a half-day workshop in knowledge management and leadership at a
national conference in
Q:††††††† Anything else you plan to do in retirement?
A:†††††††† I really enjoy computing.† Right now I maintain three web sites.† So I am still very much involved in computing, only as an avocation rather than a vocation.† Iím also converting our old videos to DVD.† Iíve done maybe 25 DVDs at this point.† I enjoy doing those things.†
Judy and I love to travel.†
This summer has been a phenomenal year of travel for us.† We spent two weeks in
Q:††††††† Do you have grandchildren?
A:†††††††† We have four
grandchildren. †We have a 20-year-old
step granddaughter, who is a sophomore this year in
Q:††††††† To kind of
finish up Iíd like to ask about your assessment of KU, the
A:†††††††† Well, computing services has changed immensely in the past few years because the need for research and instruction computing support has diminished significantly.† The microcomputers have replaced that.† People still need a place to go to get help, and I think academic computing services continues to do that.† Iím amazed at what they are doing in administrative computing now.† I think they are doing a much better job of supporting the administrative effort on campus than they did when I was active at the computer center.† Thatís come about not because of a change of computing administration but because of a recognition by central administration that thatís really important to have.† So they have put the financial resources into it to make it successful.† I think they are doing a good job.† I am concerned and evidently Iím not alone about the overemphasis on athletics that we have taken on in recent years.†
Q:††††††† Oh, yes.
A:†††††††† I think it
is way overblown, far out of proportion to its importance to the
institution.† I donít see that changing
quickly.† But Iíve seen less emphasis on
the academics and more emphasis on the athletics, and I think thatís a
mistake.† We still have a lot of talented
faculty.† I think the strong emphasis on
research has hurt the instructional program at KU.† I donít consider the instructional program to
be as good as it was when I was an undergraduate.† I think thatís a shame.† I think the research program is doing
well.† But I think that one reason that
KU doesnít have broad support by other
Q:††††††† Is there anything Iíve left out youíd like to add?
A:†††††††† I think that weíve covered it reasonably well.† I hope that someone in future years finds some of this to be of interest.† Thank you, Jewell, for arranging this and doing this.† Itís a nice contribution that you make.
Q:††††††† Thank you.