Suzanne Jagel O'Brien

Interviewee: O'Brien, Suzanne Jagel
Interviewer: Burgett, Paul
Duration: 90 minutes
Date: 2014-05-27


Biographical note: Suzanne O'Brien is a 1959 graduate of the University of Rochester, with a B.A. in English. As a Junior, she spent the 1957-58 academic year in Paris, at a time when there was no formal University program to support students who wanted to study abroad. The letters she wrote home to her parents are preserved in the University Archives.

She began her over 45-years of service to the University as a secretary in the Center for Brain Research, where she worked for almost a decade. In the ensuing years, she became an academic advisor, director of academic advising, coordinator of career services and placement, and associate dean of undergraduate studies. In 2009, she became associate dean of the College.

A Phi Bete herself, she is the historian of the Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

O'Brien has been honored throughout her career with a variety of awards: in 2003 she received the Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning; in 2007 she was received the Susan B. Anthony Lifetime Achievement Award., and in 2014, she received the Witmer Award.

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The views expressed in the recordings and transcripts on this website are those of the speakers, and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the University of Rochester.



PB: This is an interview with Associate Dean of the College, Suzanne O’Brien. I am Paul Burgett. Today is Tuesday, May the 27th, 2014. This interview is taking place in the media room in Carol Simon Hall. Suzanne, it is absolutely a pleasure and a thrill to have you here with us to talk about your life at the University of Rochester. You are clearly, as I have written to you, part of the architecture of this institution. Anyone who has been associated with it as long as you – having come as an undergraduate in the mid ‘50s and essentially, except for a couple of spots away, essentially been here that entire time and risen from a secretarial position to the august post of Associate Dean of the College. You have truly seen it all. What I thought we might do is ask you to just talk about Suzanne O’Brien and start wherever you would like and where you came from. You’re a New York Stater, I believe. You’re originally a New York Stater but maybe you’d like to tell us a little bit about your background and how is it you ended up coming to the University of Rochester.

SO: Okay. Sure. Yeah, I’m from Queens in New York City. Born and brought up there. My family was wonderful. Had high aspirations for everyone. I always assumed I would go to college. But they didn’t have a lot of money so I thought I would go to Queens College and that would be just fine. It turned out that my sister-in-law’s uncle was George Abbott, who was a legendary director on Broadway – a writer, producer, director.

PB: And a graduate of the University.

SO: Absolutely. And he had a scholarship program at the University. And it was – his scholarships were awarded only to people he knew, so it turned out… And my sister-in-law prevailed upon him and he awarded me the scholarship. I also had a New York State Regents Scholarship but I think it was $350 or something like that. And the George Abbott Scholarship, which was $1,000 a year. And that is why I came to the U of R.

PB: That was real money in those days, wasn’t it?

SO: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I think it was after my first semester I got money back from the Bursar. So, kind of amazing.

PB: Do you remember what tuition was back then?

SO: Well no, but it was minuscule compared to what it is now. So I came. I visited with my oldest friend. Her father drove us up. I, as many other alumni have attested, I fell in love with the campus as soon as I set eyes on it. And I still remember what it was like driving between Todd and the fraternity quad. I think, “This is what college should look like.” So we both – we both came. And had a marvelous time. Hard to say – I don’t know where I should go from there but...

PB: Were you….

SO: My class – class of ’59 was the first class to live – first class of women to live on the River Campus.

PB: I was going to say you graduated in ’59, so the women came in ’55…

SO: That’s right.

PB: …to the River Campus. So yours would have been the first.

SO: Very first.

PB: The very first class that had not started on the Prince Street Campus. And you would have lived in Susan B. Anthony Hall and Margaret Habein would have been your Dean.

SO: So it was known as the Habein Hilton on the Hill. I remember that. And the building was called the Women’s Residence Hall. One of the wings was Anthony, but naming the whole building after her was some – happened sometime later. Just as Frederick Douglass, the Frederick Douglass Building was known as the Men’s Dining Center.

PB: I was going to ask you – so the women ate in Danforth.

SO: Absolutely.

PB: And the men ate in what was called the MDC.


PB: Right. The Men’s Dining Center, right.

SO: Yeah.

PB: And could you eat in – was there any interchange or exchange at all?

SO: Not that I recall.

PB: Not at that particular time?

SO: Not that I recall. No, I remember eating our evening meal formally in the dining room. No jeans.

PB: Tell us about that.

SO: We sat at, I think, there was waitress service, as I recall. We sat around big tables and were served. We – each wing had a housemother. You know I cringe at the thought now. And so each hall would have the responsibility to eat with the housemother every, you know, few weeks. So that was set. Things have changed, my goodness me.

PB: Would you – when you ate – dinner was sort of formal. Did you have to say grace? Was grace said before dinner, do you recall?

SO: I don’t think so. I don’t remember that.

PB: Okay. But you did have to dress?

SO: Yes, we did have to dress. Yep.

PB: And that was every night.

SO: Every night.

PB: And how about meals earlier? Like breakfast?

SO: Well that was – as I recall that was kind of grabbing a glass of orange juice on the way to class. Our classes were at 8:00 a.m., some of them. Again, that’s unheard of these days.

PB: How about Saturday? Were there classes on Saturday, do you recall?

SO: I – there may have been. I don’t really remember. I don’t really remember. I do remember Sunday brunch. And I can remember my senior year when I roomed with that old friend who came to college with me. We would go down in our robes, pajamas and robes. We would have jelly donuts and we would do the New York Times crossword puzzle. That I remember very clearly. So, and I – other things that are just so outlandish now looking back – the one phone per hall. When men, whether it was fathers or boyfriends who, whoever was allowed to come onto the – into the residence hall – there was always the alarm sounded – “man on the hall, man on the hall.” So many things are a lot healthier now than they were then, I think.

PB: Do you remember Dean Habein?

SO: I don’t. I can – I can see her but I don’t think I knew her actually.

PB: So you represented really kind of groundbreaking – you were here at a groundbreaking time for women on the River Campus. What was life like relative to your association with the College for Men, although it wasn’t called the College for Men, I don’t think, at that time, it just became the College.

SO: Right.

PB: But was the – what were the relationships between male students and female students like?

SO: Well, you know, everything just seemed normal to me as I had nothing to compare it to. And they seemed fine to me. I don’t know what I can say. The man I wound up marrying, John O’Brien, was an alum. And he had been in the College for Men and he liked those old Prince Street days and I think a lot of people who experienced them liked those days. The – another old friend since college – Bobbie[1], who I’ve traveled with, went to France with, she spent a year on the Prince Street Campus and really liked that. So it was more of an adjustment for her. It wasn’t for me. Just things just seemed fine.

PB: She’s the “B” that appears in the letters that you...

SO: Yes.

PB: …wrote home, is that right?

SO: That’s right.

PB: Say a bit… since I’ve mentioned the letters…say a bit about your travel abroad. Now was this your junior year?

SO: It was my junior year and it was her senior year. We – this was her idea and I thought it sounded like a great one. And I was able to, again, thanks to George Abbott, whom we in the family called Uncle George, who allowed me to use my $1,000 scholarship to go abroad or I couldn’t have done it. We left in October. We chose the French Line to go on. We were on the smallest of the ships, the Flandres. It took us; I think, eight days to get from New York to Le Havre. And we really knew we were going abroad. I think that is one of the great differences between then and now and everything is so close by phone, by plane, what have you. So we had – we knew where we were staying our first night in Paris because we made that – those arrangements ahead of time. And that was – everything was just magical to us both. I think that whole year was full of adventure, full of great joy.

PB: Your letters, which are, copies of which are in the Archives of the University for which…we’re very grateful that you provided that. And I’ve had the chance to look at them and there’s something that everyone should have the chance to read, because they’re – they’re just an exquisite narrative about what the experience can be like. And I dare say it changed your life in some ways.

SO: Yes, certainly. The letters are kind of like a blog, I think, that somebody would write now. I wanted to write home. I think everybody wrote home because we didn’t – you couldn’t afford to call. So every couple of days I would write down what I had done in kind of amazing detail. Well, I didn’t tell my parents everything. I did tell them almost everything. And what amazed me was years afterwards I discovered that my mother had kept those letters, so I guess we have her to thank for their still being in existence. We did – we did go to school at the Sorbonne in a part of the university that I believe still exists. It’s for the instruction of foreigners who intend to return to their home countries and teach French, which of course I never did, although my friend, Bobbie, did do that for a while. So we didn’t meet many French people in school but we met people from around the world and that was also great, great fun. And everything was a learning experience. We hitchhiked, as you know, from having read my letters. Where we – to save money and where we thought it would be safe. We never had – never had a problem. Probably wouldn’t do it if I were young today, but we did it then. We hitchhiked up to Belgium, around France to Southern France. We hitchhiked a little bit in England but I think that’s about it. Other countries that we went to we took more standard transportation.

PB: And then you returned after – you were gone for a semester?

SO: A year.

PB: Oh, you were gone for a year, oh, that’s right. That’s right.

SO: A whole year.

PB: Because then you traveled in Europe after you had finished your studies.

SO: Well one of the great things about, I think, going to school in Europe and this is probably still true is that the vacations tend to be pretty long. So we had a brief vacation in the fall. We had a long vacation over Christmas time. Another pretty extensive one in March, around Eastertime, and then after school was over. So there was a lot of traveling that we could do.

PB: And then you returned after having – after having comments with – exchanges with your father about whether you should come home in July or you should come home in August. You returned for your senior year.

SO: Right.

PB: Tell us what your academic interests and passions were, your major and, of course, it concluded with your election to Phi Beta Kappa, which is a distinction of – well perhaps the greatest distinction that an undergraduate can receive.

SO: Oh it was a great honor. I’ll just say one more thing about returning from the year abroad. We were so independent that year. It wasn’t as if we were on a formal program. Probably Rochester kept us – kept a tab or two on us but I don’t remember anything like that. We took an exam from Alfreda Hill, who was a French Professor, when we got home. And we passed the exam and basically got a year’s credit for what we did. So that was – that was pretty nice. I was an English Major, had started out wanting to major in English. Because I went abroad I didn’t consider the Honors Program, which was thriving at the time. But I loved – I loved my classes. I remember. I remember wonderful things. I remember Ruth Adams in particular. My very favorite professor was J.W. Johnson, Bill Johnson, who remained for many, many years. Only retired relatively recently it seems to me. He was just wonderful. He was brand new, very young when I took Eighteenth Century Literature from him. I remember odd things, I think, from college. Things that I wouldn’t have thought I would remember.

PB: Oh, tell us something, do.

SO: Well one of them was a year-long art history introduction from Carl Hersey, that I took in my freshmen year. That was the most practical course I ever had because it prepared me for that study abroad and for traveling everywhere and seeing all these magnificent works of art and buildings and all of that. He prepared me for that. That was great. And odd – just one lecture I remember from my required science course, lab science course, which as other – many other non-scientifically inclined people took--was geology. The last lecture from Professor Sutton was about the universe – about the planets and the stars and the – and I had never really thought about that before. And I was just so astonished. So I remember that. Kind of funny.

PB: Wonderful things, that are almost unexpected in some sense. You go into it – what I think I’m hearing you say – you go into it but not being entirely certain what the long term effect and benefits of it might be. It’s always a process, isn’t it? And if it goes on for the rest of one’s life and affects one’s learning for the rest of one’s life, which it sounds like was an experience that we hope for all of our students and certainly was for you.

SO:     And the – yeah. You mentioned Phi Beta Kappa.

PB: Yeah.

SO: That – because of that – that provided a way for me to continue my participation after I became a staff person here. And I worked with the, with the chapter of Phi Beta Kappa since the ‘70s when my original boss in the Dean’s office encouraged me to become involved. She was a hard person to say no to.

PB: Well I think the idea of Phi Beta Kappa and Suzanne O’Brien are sort of inextricably and permanently linked because the faculty all know they’re going to hear from you at some point about that, with the list of names that you prefer…

SO: Right.

PB: …as possible candidates.

SO: Right, right.

PB: Well then you went on and graduated in ’59. And decided – it would appear to take a brief hiatus from the University of Rochester but then you came back in 1961.

SO: Well I did get married almost immediately after I graduated.

PB: Didn’t so many?

SO: Yeah, right. Again, something else that’s changed dramatically. Lived in Manhattan for a year when my husband went to library school and that was fun. But came back and had an odd job for a year. Was friends with other U of R alumni. The man played in a little chamber music group and one of the other people in that chamber music group was a man by the name of E. Roy John who was the founding director of the Center for Brain Research. And he was very frustrated with the secretary who was there at the time. So my friend, Phil, said “why don’t you apply for that job?” And that’s what I did.

PB: Now was the Center for Brain Research at that time located in that temporary building?

SO: My office was Morey 108. And that’s where the Center for Brain Research existed on the first floor of Morey Hall.

PB: So that’s the basement level.

SO: That’s the basement level of Morey Hall. The temporary structure...

PB: Yes.

SO: …was built while I was there. As a matter of fact Roy John happened very neatly to go abroad when the main – I don’t know -when the building was going up and there were all kinds of decisions that had to be made at the last minute. So I had to step in after that. So that was not a very beautiful building. It was a cinder block building.

PB: It was.

SO: We all knew it was a temporary structure. And then Brain Research actually moved to the Medical Center, I would say. That was – in some respects I think of that decade of the ‘60s as my lost decade because it’s the only time I’ve worked here that I haven’t been involved with undergraduate students. It was a graduate program and it was all science, which was a foreign country to me… talk about “studying abroad”! That was really pretty amazing and a wonderful learning experience for me. The faculty members there were generous and they were great to me. And I just learned how passionate they were about what they did. I thought – I knew you could be passionate about literature but I didn’t know you could be that way about anatomy or chemistry or biology. And so they showed me that, so.

PB: Perhaps that early experience in Brain Research and in the sciences combined with your experiences in the humanities helped to coalesce as Suzanne O’Brien whose career took her back into the world of undergraduates, some of whom were in the Humanities side, and some of whom were in the Social Sciences. And…but a lot of whom were in the Natural Sciences, so perhaps that – those early days were a continuing part of your education as well to prepare you for what the next fifty years would bring.

SO: Absolutely. Absolutely. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They were very important to me in my development as a human being.

PB: Yeah. So then you made your way into the Dean’s Office.

SO: Yeah.

PB: Now, as I think about your career, you’ve known six presidents.

SO: Have I.

PB: Six presidents – going back to de Kiewiet.

SO: Yes.

PB: Right up through Joel Seligman.

SO:     Yes.

PB: And you’ve known some number of Provosts or been here during the….

SO: Right. Known some and….

PB: Known some Provosts. And some Deans of the College, perhaps most notably Kenneth Clark. I don’t know but maybe you would just extemporize a bit for us on the leadership and your interaction with that leadership and how you’ve seen things evolve and change and tell us a little bit about some of the people.

SO: Well, Kenneth E. Clark…

PB: Yes.

SO: …in my mind was the quintessential Dean, probably because he was my first Dean. I think he was Dean for fifteen years. And he was a dignified person.

PB: Shocking white hair, as I recall.

SO: Yes, yes. Beautiful hair. And of course he was Dean of the Faculty, but the students were not part of the College the way they are, the way they are now – that’s been a major change. I became involved – well, Miriam Rock…

PB: Rock.

SO: …was his assistant and then became Associate Dean, I believe, under him. And she was my first mentor and just an extraordinary woman, brilliant person, with more energy than it seems possible.

PB: And she was known as Mims, right?

SO: Mim.

PB: Mim.

SO: Yep. So she always – she, as well as, I think, every Dean, Associate Dean, for whom I’ve worked has always given me my head. If I wanted to do something and expressed an interest in that they just gave it to me, which has been really fortunate for me… Is… A major reason why I think I’ve stayed so long is that there was always one challenge after another, so we go back to Mim. I mentioned this someplace else – one of the things that Mim and I talked about back in the ‘70s probably was establishing a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program. And we never did that, but it was a very interesting idea. When Peter Lennie rejoined Arts and Sciences, or whatever it was called at the time, he rejoined us as Dean of the Faculty. And I had known him when he was here before. He’d been at NYU, which has a successful post-bac pre-med program, and he came to me and talked to me about maybe beginning one. So I thought that was exciting. I mentioned it to Mim in a Christmas card, and I thought she would say, “Oh isn’t that wonderful, dear. I’m so happy that this is happening for you.” But she didn’t say anything like that. She said, “Well have you thought about this, and have you done this.” And so, anyway, that’s what I liked.

PB: It took long enough for it to happen but eventually it did. The….

SO: …the post-bac program.

PB: The post-bac program.

SO: That’s right, that’s right. And I’m still pretty involved in that. That’s good.

PB: You know Ken Clark, I think, is kind of a heroic figure in the – in the eyes of some people. There have been a number of Deans; you’ve served a number of Deans subsequently. What can you say about some of that?

SO: About the subsequent Deans?

PB: Yeah.

SO: Gee, I hope I don’t forget somebody, you know. They’re all different. I think I have a great respect for all of them.

PB: There was Paul Hunter.

SO: Paul Hunter was the person I was going to name, yes, Paul Hunter. In maybe superficial ways, one can see the passage of time and the changing society. When Ken Clark was Dean, his wife, who was a wonderful person, she took care of everything “social” for him. He didn’t have to worry about that at all. Paul Hunter’s wife was a professional woman in her own right and she didn’t do that, you know, so it… There are different kinds of – I don’t want to call it burdens necessarily, but different, different kinds of responsibilities that have fallen through. So who came after Paul? Jack.

PB: Jack. Jack Kampmeier

SO: Yeah, Jack Kampmeier. Sorry. Yes, Jack Kampmeier who was terrific. He was very generous to me. I knew him quite well. And he – each Dean had his – always his own way of organizing people and things. And I know Jack had appointed quite a number of faculty members to serve as Associate Deans but they weren’t full time, so they learned something more about administration then they probably would have otherwise. And that was an interesting thing, interesting thing to do. Of course, Jack taught organic chemistry and got to know many, many pre-med students and wrote wonderful letters of recommendation for them. Patiently writing – just I’m impressed by that sort of thing. Dick Aslin who I just read today in @Rochester was welcomed into the National Academy of Sciences. Dick is a terrific person, again, just always wonderful to me. And what can I say. I think it was under Dick that Ann Fehn was the Associate Dean. And I worked closely with her. I reported to Dick but I worked with Ann. She was a wonderful person, talented, brilliant pianist and had her tenure in German here.

PB: And a great loss to the faculty when she….

SO: A great loss. That was a tragic…much too early. Then who? Then who? Did Paul? Tom, I mean? Did he?

PB: Tom LeBlanc.  

SO: Tom LeBlanc.

PB: Tom LeBlanc succeeded Dick.

SO: Dick, right. And Tom appointed Bill Green as Associate Dean. And that’s when I guess the major changes in the structure of Arts, Sciences and Engineering took place. A… little by little, each year something else changed and each of those changes had quite a dramatic effect on all of us who worked there. It certainly did on me.

PB: It would seem that, that – the structural changes were a long time in coming but were very important to the – to the College of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. It has been said that in the distant past and not so distant past, the College was run out of Wallis Hall, which is – which goes back 164 years to our founding when, of course, the President—thinking people like Martin Brewer Anderson and others—essentially ran the… ran what really was a college.

SO: Right. I didn’t know him.

PB: But with – pardon me. Nor did I. But the move of the – of Admissions and Financial Aid, the Registrar and all this – so much of student services moved into the College.

SO: Dean of Students, yeah.

PB: The Dean of Student’s Office, Athletics and Recreation, Residential Life – all moved into the College, which struck me as a seismic shift in the organization of the College. And for the better, I think. But I’d appreciate. I’d like to know your thoughts. It would have changed the culture in some important and salutary ways, I think. But I’d appreciate your thoughts about that.

SO: Yes. Not that it wasn’t good beforehand, but I think it’s better this way. I really do. I think I – I think it was Bill Green who said that students don’t view the University or the College as “Student Affairs” and “Academic Affairs.” They’re just in the College. And with – by bringing everybody together it – this sounds ridiculous to say but it really did become more collegial. There were no more “us against them” kind of thing – if there ever had been that – we are, we’re working together. And I think, I think everybody is happy about that. I don’t know that this was necessarily true here but I know, having attended conferences, it always seemed to me as if those who were affiliated with the academic part of the institution felt better off than those who were affiliated with the student part. I don’t know whether it was money or prestige or what it was, but I think this kind of brought everybody together.

PB: Together. Well, you clearly had a key role in all of that as someone who has been a part of our – natural winner of three Goergen Awards. I mean you were a member of the committee – the curriculum committee that created the Rochester Curriculum. The Goergen Award for distinguished contributions to undergraduate learning. And there was a third.

SO: Take Five Scholars Program.

PB: Oh, the Take Five Scholars Programs, that’s right. Plus the Susan B. Anthony Lifetime Achievement Award, plus the…most recently the Witmer Award.

SO: Right.

PB: So you have amassed a legacy of – that demonstrates your contributions to the University in significant ways. Would you comment about that and I’d also – I think those seeing this video will be interested in your views over almost six decades now since you were – you came as a student – how life had changed? How it looked then and how you’ve seen it evolve over time in your various roles?

SO: I hardly know where to begin. It has – we’ve always been an institution that attracted serious-minded students, I think. People who wanted to do well. And I think that’s been a strength. Students are wonderful these days. They’re just terrific. I think they were terrific when I was an undergraduate. So that in a sense hasn’t changed. But I do think, if I may digress, I want to go back to when the Rochester Curriculum began, which was for the – which was in the fall of 1970 officially. Is that right? The class of 1970.

PB: No, I think 19, maybe 19 – for our current curriculum? The Rochester curriculum?

SO: Right.

PB: That would probably be 1990.

SO: See that’s the problem. Decades are…

PB: They blur.

SO: Each decade is like another, yeah.

PB: Sure. I think maybe ’90 so it’s been 24 years.

SO: Yes, I’m sorry. Yes indeed. The – but that was implemented at the same time, although one had nothing to do with the other, as Tom Jackson’s Renaissance Plan, which I think was brilliant. I mean I think both things were brilliant and I have great admiration for what he did, and for the curriculum. So those two things together did a great deal to change…. I can remember. I can remember the change in the feeling about students after the Renaissance Plan and the Rochester Curriculum came into being. Students really wanted to be here and were able to succeed in the higher percentages than I think had been true before. So that was – that was a major – a major change. Extra-curricularly, there’s much more nowadays, I think, than there was in the past. I wasn’t very active and the only real activity that I was involved in as an undergraduate was Stagers, which was the theatre program of its kind. Not that I had any talent at all but I went along, again, because a friend was going to be acting and I discovered that there was such a thing as a stage manager, so I became – the first semester I became an assistant stage manager and then I became the stage manager for a number of productions. And that, I believe, was the – was the vocational marker for me because what I wound up doing as an administrator really resembled in many respects what I did as a stage manager. So…

PB: Describe for us a little bit about that – that interesting juxtaposition and what the similarities were.

SO: Well I – this was all under the directorship of Lisa Rauschenbusch who was an institution, and wonderful – my husband and I got to know her quite well. She would watch what was going on and she would write little notes, and I would need to transmit what she was saying to the actors or the crew or whatever. So there was a lot of human interaction and organization. And I think that’s kind of what I…

PB: …And that’s what Suzanne O’Brien has been doing for all these years in the College Center for Academic Support.

SO: Who would have thought?

PB: Yeah. Right. Now when you were doing this with the theatre program, was that in the days when there was the shed that was located where – along Wilson Boulevard. You’ll recall there was a theatre shed where plays were done.

SO: Don’t remember that.

PB: Don’t remember that. Yeah, it was right – down by Towers.

SO: No, I don’t remember that. I wasn’t involved in that. I was involved with Stagers when they were – when we produced Midsummer’s Night Dream and there was a fire in the Psi U House during the performance. And in those days there were a number of Psi U fraternity brothers who were acting. And Miss R., as we called her, had to – on the spot rewrite Shakespeare, you know, move scenes around so that the Psi U guys could go check on their belongings, whatever the heck they were doing over there. My friend, Bobbie[2], the one that I went to France with – who is still a good friend of mine—she played Titania, is that right? And she was lying on a bench when the fire was discovered and she lay on that bench for an awful long time. So that was rather dramatic.

PB: That’s – you’re just – you’re describing that little episode. By the way where were the – where were the theatrical productions done in those days?

SO: Oh this was in Strong[3].

PB: It was at Strong.

SO: Oh yeah, absolutely. Aha.

PB: Okay. And but are there other moments of interest and excitement that you can recall along those lines or other lines that sort of stand out as funny or sad or interesting?

SO: Oh my. They were all, you know, we – one thing that I learned when I became active with the Stagers was how close all of the members of the theater company become. I guess that’s true on Broadway, Off Broadway, wherever. It’s just, that was a wonderful thing. And we would get together off campus and I remember doing various fun things.

PB: It’s kind of an affinity group wasn’t it, yeah. And maybe not unlike sports teams, for example. They...

SO: Exactly.

PB: They constitute a kind of affinity group that has a tendency to carry on, even after they’ve left university. Was Nick Tahou’s a part of your experience?

SO: No, no. I don’t think so.

PB: You haven’t had a Garbage Plate?

SO: No, I still haven’t had a Garbage Plate.

PB: Well I need – we need to do something about that and I will tell the brothers of Sig Ep[4] who have a, Sig Ep has a Garbage Plate Run every year, so I need to tell them that Dean O’Brien has never had a Garbage Plate.

SO: What I do remember – I didn’t drink until I was – until I went abroad. But so I was a cheap date in those early years when the drinking age was 18.

PB: Right.

SO: And I do remember going on dates to Eddie Folts’s on Genesee Street. So I – that doesn’t exist anymore, but that’s what I remember.

PB: Well one of our alums, Mark Zaid, who graduated in ’85[5], I think.

SO: Yes.

PB: Mark, you may remember the name. Well whenever Mark – he’s a now prominent attorney in D.C. and whenever Mark comes to Rochester, which is periodically, he always does a Nick Tahou’s Garbage Plate run. And he has a list and he sends it out to all of us. And I’m going to add your name and you can choose to come or not, but a number of us do this and it’s an interesting assembly of people including alums like Mark. So I will simply add your name to it.

SO: That will be good.

PB: You know the – the University of Rochester has always been noted for its strong science background.

SO: Yeah.

PB: And in fact when we were founded in 1850 the Bachelor of Science degree was included as one of the degrees. The Bachelor of Arts being the sort of the gold standard in Liberal Arts education, but the BS degree was fashioned at that time as well. And we have seen a lot of our students… Can you comment about your experience with students, student careers and student ambitions over time? How you’ve seen those change or how they morphed or?

SO: No. In some respect they haven’t changed all that much. I think back in my undergraduate years we had a business degree, undergraduate business degree. And so I knew a bunch of guys, I guess they all were, who were business majors. And then that disappeared but is now back. As an English major at the time, I felt… I was happy here as an English major, don’t get me wrong. But I felt as if there were more of them, be they science or what have you than there were of us. And I think that – that can still be true, especially these days, nationwide where the Humanities seem to be in a decline because it’s – because of the economy and the belief that you need to have a trade in order to succeed. And this I disagree with completely. But I think our English Department has always been incredibly strong and I’m very proud to be a graduate of that program. The Social Sciences here have – I don’t remember, I don’t remember whether they were as strong as they are now when I was an undergraduate but clearly they’ve met the need of many, many students. And the sciences continue to just blossom.

PB: Well you should know that your observation about the Liberal Arts education not being for preparation for a trade goes all the way back to Martin Brewer Anderson, our first President, who eschewed the idea of vocational education.

SO: Yes.

PB: And granted we were an all-male institution, but what he said was we’re not – we’re about educating the “whole man.” It was an all-male school, of course.

SO: And we’ll forgive him that.

PB: We’ll forgive him that, that’s right. A couple of other dramatic shifts, it seems to me, during your time, is the demographics of the undergraduate population and what you have seen in that, with an increase in our international student population. The stability and slight growth of our historically underrepresented minority population. So that’s one thing that I would be interested in your views about.

SO: There’s also a shift in gender since that’s kind of what started it. When I was an undergraduate, my recollection is that it was 60% men and 40% women. I remember looking that up in the college guide at the time and thinking, “Wow, that’s nice. I like that.” And then it became much more 50/50. It’s now a teeny bit higher than 50% for men in our incoming[6] freshmen class, I just heard. When I was here as an undergraduate there – there probably – I know for sure there was one African-American student. There were, I think, two Asian-American students. It was really quite appalling in retrospect. So while our – the numbers of – of students of color is not where we would like it to be, it’s incredibly higher than it was when I was an undergraduate. And that is, obviously, true for international students as well. I think it’s – it’s just amazing to walk around campus now and see such a variety. It’s an – it’s a great thing. It just adds to everybody’s learning of the world. So....

PB: True, a true reflection of the shrinking of the globe isn’t it?

SO: Absolutely, yes, yeah.

PB: The other thing that occurs to me is the ways in which the University’s units have tended to open their doors to one another and maybe you could say something particular because I know you have, you have been – you are the interface for, and advisor for the dual-degree students between the Eastman School and the College, so maybe starting there with your experiences with the dual-degree Eastman students – how you’ve seen that change but also how you’ve seen students in the college take advantage of the broader opportunities, academic opportunities in other units of the university.

SO: Yes. One of the joys of my professional life for many years has been serving as the pre-major advisor, the undergraduate advisor to students in the dual degree program at Eastman. When that began we had a couple students a year who came in as freshmen. I know that the – I believe that the faculty in the College were always thrilled to discover that they had a Bachelor of Music candidate in their class who was also pursuing a degree here in the college. Eastman faculty, not so much. And it was hard for some of the students to exert the will that was necessary to – to meet their academic goals over here. That has changed significantly over time. I don’t think it’s – I don’t know whether to say “just because” or because of some notion that it’s more practical for a student to earn a degree in some academic field. But I think that there is appreciation – much more appreciation for that now. These students are fantastic. They are gifted, obviously, not only musically but academically, intellectually, however you’d – I don’t want to disparage anything musical here by what I say.

PB: No, but you have been the glue to help hold things together. I happen to know that first hand, that you have been the glue to help students accomplish their goals. And the reason I know that is because I know of actual instances where that has happened. And I know that students have been greatly appreciative of your larger vision, being able to, being able to see what it is they envision for themselves. So that’s been – your place in all of that has been very, very important.

SO: That’s very nice of you to say but it’s just, you know, it’s so. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to do this and these people.

PB: And they needed it. They need… Suzanne O’Brien was essential, I think, to make it happen. Well, there were maybe one or two way back then, but what do we have now?

SO: Well there – a couple of years ago there were 20 in the incoming class.

PB: That’s what I thought, yeah.

SO: And then it’s varied between 10 and 20 but always very healthy. I’m not sure about next year’s class. My understanding is it’s a large class. When you think that there’s not many more than a 100 in the…

PB: …Freshman class at Eastman…

SO: …Freshman class at Eastman. That is really quite incredible.

PB: Yes.

SO: Four students, who were in the Class of 2014 earned Phi Beta Kappa, were elected to Phi Beta Kappa. And that is amazing. And our first junior Phi Bete who was a dual-degree student was elected this year.

PB: Wow. That’s quite an accomplishment.

SO: Yeah.

PB: And students in the College who were taking advantage of opportunities at Eastman. I mean they’re – they number a couple of hundred or so. I mean.

SO: Yes, they…

PB: …who were taking lessons and…

SO: Yes, indeed. It’s always been a musical campus, right. We have…our undergraduates, no matter what their majors, have high interest in music. And certainly our science programs, many of them require courses at the medical school. We have clusters that contain medical school courses and not many of them, but a few. I was kind of meandering through the Deans before, and stopped at a certain point. I mentioned Peter Lennie, who we’re happy to have back here as Dean and Provost now. But when Bill Green left, Rich Feldman became Dean in the College and he’s been my boss ever since that happened. And he’s been a wonderful person to work for. And I think has been – talk about glue – I think that he – his conscientious, honest look at everything that is happening and his welcoming to students as well as faculty has been just really wonderful examples of the way, the way a Dean should be. He has certainly worked with faculty from the other, from the other Schools as we’ve put together programs here. The business program, for instance—he was very, very much involved in. So.

PB: And he’s been – if I may just insert this – I think that Rich Feldman has been involved in the academic and the in-class and out-of-class lives of students for decades. I mean I found that to be true. He was one of the true heroes in my own experience, so…

SO: Yes, and I know he worked with the ACJC I think.

PB: He did. That’s exactly right. He helped to write the document of Rights and Responsibilities and without his keen insights it would not have been as good a document back in the mid ‘80s as it turned out to be. So there’s a heroic element that’s been going on with him for a long time, I think.

SO: Yes, yes indeed.

PB: Yeah, Take Five.

SO: Ah.

PB: Take Five. Now what an interesting idea and as a musician, of course, I immediately thought of Dave Brubeck but, and I’m sure it’s inventors were thinking of Dave Brubeck also, but tell us a little bit about the establishment, the founding of that program.

SO: Well, Dave Brubeck was invited here for the 20th anniversary because Joel Seligman thought of Dave Brubeck, too.

PB: Of course. And we did give Brubeck an honorary degree.

SO: That’s right. That’s right. Now Ann Fehn was Associate Dean when the Take Five Program was established. Sid Shapiro was an Electrical Engineering Professor at the time the Take Five Program was established. Far be it from me to say which of them created the program. I think that both of them were instrumental in doing this. Initially the program was for students, typically Engineering undergraduates, who just didn’t have room in their schedules to take these wonderful liberalizing courses. So that made a lot of sense. After a few years, I think it was Bill Green who opened it up to any student, to every student. And that program is just – as far as I know it’s unique in the country. And I don’t know why that is but we find that the students who are accepted into that program are just amazing in and of themselves. They add so much to the classes that they’re in. They leave here often changed people, changed for the better. We require each of them to write an abstract of what they did before they graduate and those are published and if you ever want to be inspired you just need to read a few of those. They’re online, they’re available.

PB: I’ve had the good fortune of being the advisor for some of those, so I know exactly what you’re referring to. And when it was expanded some time ago, and I think you’re right, I think it was probably Bill – when Bill Green was Dean of the College. Students sort of flocked, whereas when it was largely focused on Engineering and maybe a few Eastman students, it was just a handful of people, but now how many Take Fivers do you – would you think there are?

SO: Oh, I’m so horrible with numbers.

PB: Yeah.

SO: In the Fall semester we tend to, these days, receive more than 100 proposals. Typically, although we do not have a pre-determined number we can admit, we wind up admitting about half of them. So add together a couple of years of those.

PB: You have about a hundred, a hundred students who are at…

SO: …Probably at any one, at any one time….

PB: …One time, yeah.

SO: Spring semester because graduating seniors aren’t eligible to apply, we have fewer proposals. But it’s just – that’s a lot of reading for every member of the review board.

PB: I’ll bet.

SO: And it’s slogging through a few, but then you’ll read about one… and go “Wow!”

PB: Yes.

SO: And it makes it all worthwhile.

PB: Yes. We’ve added two – the Take Five, with the KEY Program now.

SO: Yes.

PB: And can you say a word or two about KEY – because it’s relatively new, I think.

SO: Right. The Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year Program.

PB: Right, which Bill Green, I think, also was largely responsible for.

SO: Yes. And that’s when the Kauffman Foundation actually gave the University or the College or whoever, I don’t know, some money...

PB: …Some money…

SO: At the beginning of this, so that’s – that’s no longer true and the College just continues this with the outlines the same as for the Take Five Scholars Program. The fifth year tuition free, a ninth semester or fifth year for the – for students who are admitted. It’s very different. Take Five is more of an intellectual program I’d say. And the entrepreneurship program is for something quite different. It doesn’t have to be creating something that you’re going to patent. It can be anything entrepreneurial or studying things entrepreneurial. But the students are very different in their, in their goals. We – and they’re totally different – one from the next. Again, it provides such a terrific opportunity for students. It’s been a smaller program. I’m not quite sure why, but we have probably around – my guess would be 15 to 20 in the program at any one time.

PB: Yeah. The students have had the opportunity to present to the Board of Trustees at Trustee meetings and they’re always – the Trustees are always sort of blown away by, first of all, the brilliance of our students and the brilliance of some of their ideas. And the KEY Program has now made its first presentation…

SO: Oh, good.

PB: …to the Board and it – the Trustees, particularly because it’s a business. It’s sort of a business piece of it and we have a lot of business, very successful business people on the board, were realizing that they were looking at their successors. So they were suitably impressed, I would say. It was very interesting and we were all very proud of the presentations the students made.

SO: That’s good.

PB: You know, the College Center for Academic Support has been your meat and potatoes for a long time. A long, long time and I must admit that there a heroic group of people and as a pre-major advisor myself I have called upon them many, many times and they have never failed to be incredibly supportive. So I sort of feel as though I’ve been part of that team but maybe you could talk a little bit about – about something that essentially you – you invented, you created it. I mean it’s your baby.

SO: I wasn’t in on it from the very beginning, but not….

PB: Well, the very beginning is….

SO: Not too long after that.

PB: …is neolithic, so.

SO: Right. When I joined the Dean’s office in 1970 there was an Academic Advising Office. I was the second advisor in that office. And we had a records office and these two advisors. And I became Director sometime, I don’t know, a few years after that, I guess. Added advisors. One of the – one of the things that was very true at that time was that the faculty in general was skeptical, suspicious of staff people doing such a thing. So one of the goals I set for myself was to be cognizant of this and to keep it in mind throughout. So whenever I dealt with a faculty member, I mean the faculty set the rules and the staff, advisors or whoever, implemented those rules. And I think it’s important for the – it was important for the faculty to realize that that was what was going on. This was meant to be helpful. As the years went on – just as you say you’ve called the office to find something out. Well, now faculty calls all the time because it’s the rare faculty member who knows his or her own rules whereas the staff does know those rules. So back when we began, it was an unusual kind of an office to have with staff advisors, and now it’s very, very common everywhere.

PB: Including pre-professional advising, particularly with medicine and with law and its specialized…

SO: Yeah, way back; you know, when I said “way back we had a pre-med advisor”; again, that’s kind of changed over time. But we – then we added a pre-law advisor. The pre-law changed from reporting into academic support or advising services – its name has changed over time. But pre-med, now health professions advising – that’s remained with us. Again, changed in the way we do things but very important for students. We have now Engineering advisors, staff advisors who help pre-Engineering students and that didn’t used to be true.

PB: The faculty used to do that, right? And so now there are...

SO: They still do, but there are professional advisors who assist…


SO: Yes.

PB: Right. Another, another interesting aspect of support for students for which you’ve had some involvement that those viewing this and listening to you would probably appreciate hearing, has to do with our understanding of the challenges that students face with different ways of learning. So learning disabilities, for example, health issues, for example. In some ways I think we may have become more sophisticated in our understanding of them and maybe you’d comment a bit on your experience and your views about the ways in which we understand the students who are coming to us and the kinds of issues and problems they’re bringing to us that maybe we didn’t see before or maybe were already there but we didn’t recognize them.

SO: Certainly there are a relatively significant number, I have no idea what the number is and what the percentage is, of students that have learning disabilities, documented disabilities. They get very good help from what used to be called Learning Assistance Services and is now the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning which is, which I have no affiliation with, no formal affiliation with, although lots of informal time. And those students who have these sorts of disabilities can make it and that’s often inspirational to me… anyway. We – they meet the requirements or they wouldn’t graduate. We – certainly students with – well, I remember when I was an undergraduate I know we had a blind student, so that’s not new. But we have students who use wheelchairs now, occasionally, not a lot. But we’re equipped to help them. And it is, as you kind of indicated, you don’t realize that there are people like that perhaps until you make things possible for them to participate and then, my goodness, there are a lot. It’s true here as well as everywhere, I think, at similar institutions. Students come to us now, many of them having had affiliation with mental health professionals, whether it’s for depression or anxiety or what-have-you. So they come with more sophisticated needs than we think used to be the case. And I think that the University has stepped up to that challenge, too. Again, I’m not involved in this, but there’s the CARE network that was established a few years ago that is just a great resource for faculty, staff, fellow students, parents to indicate some concern about an undergraduate and that student is – we try to take care of them. Try to help.

PB: Given the diversification of the student body whereas once upon a time we might simply exclude people because we didn’t have the understanding or perhaps the resources to understand and assist that student to, as you put it I think quite rightly, to be successful here. I think about our McNair Program, for example. The McNair Program that Beth Olivares runs – she graduates – her students graduate. Students who come with various and sundry diagnoses – the University would you say, or the College particularly, is better equipped to – has expanded its resources and its assets to enable these students to succeed.

SO: Absolutely, in so many ways. I think they get assistance from many offices and many people. You reminded me of a program we started a long time ago now. Which was, in a sense, modeled after Take Five although it has nothing to do with Take Five. There are certain students who just are unable because of significant disabilities, and documented disabilities, to carry a full course load every semester. And they can apply for this free fifth year program that allows them, if they need it, to come back in a fifth year and complete their undergraduate degree with no additional tuition paid on their part. That’s great.

PB: It really does suggest a greater sensitivity on the part of the University to meet the needs of a changing demographic student population.

SO: Right. And understanding that it’s there.

PB: Yeah.

SO: You know, recognizing that. Yeah.

PB: What, you know, something that just popped into my head – we’ve talked about all of the opportunities that the University has to offer. We’re a Division 3 school, aren’t we? And we when I was Dean of Students I thought there could be nothing better than to be a Division 3 school. You know recognizing that Division 1 has challenges that I would just as soon not have to deal with. Do you – have you had any – is there any aspect of your life work that has taken you into that domain?

SO: Primarily through the Director, George van der Zwaag. It’s great to see how committed he and the coaching staff and his staff are to the goals of the college. The academics do come first. Even for an athlete, a varsity athlete. Again those – every year we get letters of recommendation from coaches for stellar sophomores who have succeeded wildly in academics and who are also varsity athletes – forty hours a week, whatever it is they spend practicing. They – I think because of their – the way that area is run when students need a break, kind of, from a faculty member, from an instructor, because they’re going to miss an exam, because they’re going away for a game. They get that cooperation, many more times than we’ve had a problem. Very few problems. So that speaks well for them.

PB: Yeah, having had that in my own classroom where students have said – they have said to me, “Dean Burgett, I’ve got a…” whatever it is. There’s something so honest and straightforward and a willingness to take responsibility, which I think is infused or reinforced by the athletic folks themselves.

SO: Yes indeed, yes.

PB: Now I’m going to put you on the spot.

SO: Oh, oh.

PB: Yes. I’m going to put you on the spot.

SO: I’ve been afraid of this point.

PB: Yes, oh but this is an easy spot to be put on. And of course you have the all the rights to your interview. But what occurred to me was to ask you to single out faculty members. You’ve already done a little of it. Single out faculty members over a long period of time. You know, you know how we talk about John Rothwell Slater. Well John Rothwell Slater was just – he’s an icon, as is Dexter Perkins. The two icons in the early part of the 20th century. But you would – I’m going to put you on the spot and say, Suzanne, just highlight and with a word or two or three or no more than a sentence, those – those faculty members who come to mind as Titans.

SO: Oh my. Titans. Now if you mean those whom I had as Professors when I was an undergrad.

PB: I’ll leave it to you.

SO: Yeah, yeah.

PB: Up to – from 1955 to 2014.

SO: I’ve already mentioned some that I think made…

PB: You have.

SO: …made quite an impression on me. So I will feel terrible if I don’t come up with many more right now.

PB: It’s okay. It’s just you and me here, that’s all.

SO: What. The – someone like Elissa Newport, who’s no longer here. Not that she’s – she’s still alive and kicking. I don’t mean that but she’s no longer at the U of R. I think that she was certainly a Titan serving as Chair of the Curriculum Committee, for many years as Chair of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. And a very powerful, strong-minded person. I think that was – it was a great opportunity for me to work with her. John Jaenike who is now, until this year, well anyway, has been Chair of the Curriculum Committee. Is very different from Elissa but is an amazing person who does all kinds of things that he’s modest about. You wouldn’t know that he’s done all of this. Dick Aslin, who I just mentioned. Very, you know…these people are not egocentric. They have strong characters but they don’t brag. I was just thinking. I don’t know where I ran across his name, John Romano, who wasn’t in the College but I had the distinct pleasure of serving with him back when there was a Faculty Club. And I think I was the President of the Board of Directors, whatever it was called.

PB: You and I shared that – that experience by the way.

SO: Okay.

PB: In case you didn’t remember. But you and I shared that experience and John Romano was a member of, a member of the Board. I remember it quite distinctly.

SO: I don’t… – and he was just great. We shared the dubious distinction of it being the last year of the Faculty Club’s existence. We had made a proposal that we thought would save the Faculty Club from the dire straits that it was in at the time and that proposal was rejected and the rest is history. But anyway, John Romano typically gave me a beautiful print of – that is in my office to this day. I mean he was just a great – he was a great man. I think he was a great man. I remember walking through some of the halls of R Wing of the Psychiatric Wing with him and his – the way he greeted every person that we ran across was identical. Some of them clearly were patients and some of them were no doubt esteemed faculty members. But he was the same with everybody. So who else, who else. I mentioned Bill Johnson, who was my….

PB: Bill Johnson, yes.

SO: My favorite. But there are wonderful people that are now…

PB: Russell.

SO: Russell Peck. Thank you for saying Russell Peck. What a paradigm of – he is the way a professor should be, right. He is just astonishing, astonishing. With a memory that – I remember talking to him once about a student – a former student who had come back to us and wondered about finishing his degree, you know, twenty years later. And Russell remembered him, remembered what grade… he’s be – just incredible. He is – talk about people with energy. Russell Peck has enough for five other people.

PB: But a lot like Suzanne O’Brien in that.

SO: Oh, I don’t know.

PB: The two of you have seen a lot and continue to be – even though he’s supposedly retiring now, I guess.

SO: Yeah, well we’ll see...

PB: You will see. That’s exactly right.

SO: Yeah, amazing.

PB: That’s exactly right. Were there any disappointments? There had to be disappointments. There are for all of us. But what are those moments, you know, life is full of crests and troughs and what are those moments, either personally or as you look at the University and think, oh my, oh dear, it’s unfortunate that such and such is going on.

SO: Oh yeah, my sense for the University or for the College in particular since I know it the best, is that it’s the best of times. I really think it has grown in strength over these years. And it’s a great place. I think students are happy here. I think they came because they wanted to come in general. And they have the freedom to craft their education within sensible guidelines set by the faculty in a way that they want and so that’s terrific. Disappointments, I think they would have preceded that, I think. So they’re really ancient history.

PB: So the movement of the College into its current incarnation where it isn’t run out of Wallis Hall, except that our Dean of the Faculty is the Provost, although that could be a good thing, I suppose…is in charge of its own destiny, its own future, does it feel that way to you?

SO: Yes, it does.

PB: …in a way that it might not have before.

SO: It does but at the same time it doesn’t feel to me as if we are isolated in any way. I think we really, as you were indicating before, I think we really are part of the University and there are good, good times. Now you know we just finished our Middle States accreditation review. And you know that the people who came here to look us over were very impressed by that quality, I think, of schools greeting each other, not being forced to do things but actually having established ties that let us all get together. I think it’s very – it’s a great thing.

PB: The idea of “one University” is growing in meaning and for those who’ve been around it – you have for some time perhaps seen a greater porousness of the academic intellectual assets of those various units, which only serves to strengthen the University as a whole. Would that…?

SO: That’s right. I think there are other things that can be done to make it even better.

PB: Sure.

SO: But again, that’s our motto, isn’t it.

PB: It is. What would you like a hundred years from now – your epitaph to read?

SO: This is going to sound really corny but it’s a thing that came to mind – “She helped where she could.”

PB: Who can ask for anything more, right? Suzanne, is there anything more you’d like to add to what this extraordinary and astonishing moment in time that we had?

SO: My – I think of myself as a very fortunate individual. I mean I never would have predicted when I came back to the University in 1960.

PB: ’61.

SO: ’61, that I would still be here. I would have – ah, I probably would have fainted if you’d told me that. But one day follows the next. And I kept learning, I kept being challenged, there were some bad times – personally, a little bit, professionally but not much. But really it’s been – I am just so fortunate. I am so fortunate.

PB: On balance, that’s a plus side on the ledger is what I think I hear you saying.

SO: My being here is a plus for me.

PB: Yeah, I mean the total experience is a plus side of the ledger.

SO: Absolutely.

PB: Yeah. Well I assure you that as the Living History Project has taken shape and form and I’ve been a part of the planning committee for it. And when we put together a list of those names, at least in the early going, that we wanted to be sure to include yours… was among those and to be able, as I wrote to you when we first approached you about doing this. I said to the other members of the committee, “Oh, Suzanne O’Brien, I want to do it, I want to do it, I want to do it.” Because I have had the utmost respect and admiration for you for so many years and, you know, I talk about the University as two principles. The vigorous pursuit of quality of the highest order has been, has been a dogmatic tenet from the founding, and secondly, the identification and cultivation of inspired and effective leadership. And boy, you fit both of those. You are evidence of both of those. And so it is – it is so important for us to keep – to have, to have a record of that and so that future generations can not only hear Suzanne O’Brien but see her because you have made the lives and careers of people possible intergenerationally. That’s amazing. And it cannot be lost, so I am very grateful to you for your willingness to do this.

SO: So, will the – okay, and that’s very generous of you and I’ve always enjoyed dealing with you, being with you, never being after you on a program because that’s impossible for anyone to speak after you. But you know one thing that I didn’t say, if I may at this point, one of the joys retrospectively if not always at the time is in hiring people and having them added to the mix of the – of what’s available – of the resources – the people available to the students here. There have been a whole bunch of people that I hired that were no-brainers. Right. I was thinking of Jody Asbury, whom we kind of shared….

PB: We did.

SO: …supervision of.

PB: We did.

SO: But I hired her first as an academic counselor, you know. And…

PB: …and then we stole her away into the Dean of Student’s Office.

SO: Yes, right, I know. That I’m not going to forget.

PB: You’ve forgiven me for that, right?

SO: Yeah, yes I have, yes I have. The current head of CCAS, Marcy Kraus, again that was a no-brainer. I knew her back when she was in Admissions before she left and then returned. Sean Hanna – lots of, lots of people – just been – that’s another. It’s a kind of a legacy in a way.

PB: You’ve hired your successors.

SO: Yeah.

PB: And that’s really important. You’ve hired those people who succeed you to carry on and take it to the next.

SO: Next level. That’s right.

PB: The next level.

SO: That’s right.

PB: Exactly right. Well thank you, again, so much.

SO: Okay.


[1] Roberta (Bobbie) Kirsch Thomas ’58.

[2] Roberta (Bobbie) Kirsch Thomas ’58.

[3] Strong Auditorium

[4] Sigma Phi Epsilon

[5] 1989

[6] Class of 2018

Suzanne Jagel O'Brien