California State University, Long Beach

Show simple item record O'Neill, William (4/8/1931 - 10/24/2012) Briegel, Kaye, interviewer 2021-08-31T23:07:11Z 2021-08-31T23:07:11Z 2021-08-31
dc.description SUBJECT BIO - William O'Neill was an early student at Long Beach State who returned to teach in the Education Division before moving on to teach at USC. In this single interview, O'Neill describes growing up in Long Beach and attending LBCC before coming to Long Beach State. As a faculty member he observed the struggle among the faculty to gain a voice in academic governance. Later, he took a teaching position at USC because he had more opportunities to do research and write there. This interview was conducted as part of a project to document the history of California State University, Long Beach. TOPICS - governance politics; ; P; Victor Peterson; Carl McIntosh; David Bryant; Ross Hardy; Bob Ross; Hugh Brown; Mike Garver; Black-Martin case; Faculty Council; curriculum development; and Education DivisionCarl McIntosh; David Bryant; governance politics; Education Department; Henry Sehman; professional career; scholarly research; curriculum development; student activities; student clubs; student government; fraternities; education; Liz Jacobs; and LBCC;professional career; scholarly research; USC; and education; en_US
dc.description.abstract INTERVIEW DESCRIPTION - This single interview with William O'Neill was conducted in the CSULB Oral History Resource Center. The audio quality is good. 1/22/1981 en_US
dc.description.tableofcontents *** File: uhwoneill1.mp3 Audio Segments and Topics: (0:00-3:34)... Brief introduction O'Neill believes that the educational system operates within a framework of conservatism and liberalism. And one can see this tension on the Long Beach campus. While he was a student, he noticed that the political climate in the nation affected decisions made on campus. Later, when he joined the faculty in the Education Division, he found that to be one of the more conservative departments in the university. (3:34-6:45)... When he came to teach in the Education Division in 1957, the campus was embroiled in a revolution against President P. Victor Peterson. Two years later, Peterson resigned. Faculty were divided into factions and O'Neill recalls some of them locking themselves in their offices, "drinking and smoking and plotting against the administration." At the same time, the administration was paranoid about the faculty. Peterson was an "old school" educator who hired people that perpetuated his conventional view about campus governance. (6:45-14:21)... There is an interruption in the tape in this segment. Frank Black and Clyde Martin, who Peterson fired, were among the faculty members struggling against the administration; they wanted to play a larger role in campus governance. They weren't leaders of the movement, but were identified with it. Black and Martin were also involved in the campaign to oust the Dean of the Division of Education because of his ineffective leadership. Additionally, the administration targeted Martin because of his role in organizing a chapter of the American Federation of Teachers on campus. Martin had a tendency to fall asleep, sometimes even in class, but he was not a fool. Black was not as vehement or tactless as Martin. If Black and Martin deserved to be fired, many other faculty members deserved the same treatment. Then administration tried to fire Ross Hardy. The people who testified against Hardy , O'Neill believes, were puppets that the administration promised special treatment in return for their testimony. Hardy was an outspoken leader of the faculty, but he did not resort to unethical and tactless methods to fight the administration as did Bob Ross [sic] and Hugh Brown. (14:21-25:49)... Mike Garver played an instrumental role in establishing the Faculty Council. His emotional and physical health suffered as a result of the political struggles on campus and he eventually retired and died at an early age. O'Neill's involvement with the Council was a necessary "evil," and he does not believe that the Council met its objectives. O'Neill's impression of the Council is that it eventually became a debating society, in which the members were split into different factions. As a result, the Council was susceptible to "buy offs" and administration promises of promotion. The faculty's main targets were Peterson and David Bryant. The faculty did not have as many problems with Wesley Bratton, Robert Rhodes, and Frenchy Flynn, but considered Bryant as Peterson's "hatchet" man. The Council indirectly influenced Peterson's resignation. O'Neill believes that Peterson's resignation was forced by the embarrassment that state officials felt about Peterson's inability to solve his problems with the faculty. (25:49-31:23)... Although he does not know the details of his faculty appointment, he believes that most of the hiring was done by the president without consultation with the faculty. O'Neill's doctorate was in Educational Philosophy, and when he got to Long Beach, he discovered there was already another faculty member teaching those courses. Most of the faculty in the Education area taught courses outside their specialties. (31:23-36:20)... When O'Neill was hired, he was unaware of how the decision was reached. The student population was rapidly expanding but the school was new and were no established procedures. Ross, Brown and others struggled with Peterson over whether the campus would become a liberal arts college or a teachers college. O'Neill was more interested in working with students, so these issues were never a priority for him. Because he shared an office with 2 of the most political figures in his area, he was automatically identified with the "revolutionary" faction on campus. (36:20-40:41)... For some faculty on the campus, the political struggles were just a power trip. The man who headed the education program left and the man who replaced him was inept but a supporter of the rebels. O'Neill thinks he may have joined the rebels to avoid being fired for incompetence. Under his leadership, the education program on the campus was screwed up and these problems persisted for a long time. (40:41-45:26)... Even though people were dissatisfied with campus policies and the political environment, many chose to stay for personal reasons or because they enjoyed the climate or the ethos of southern California. Many people dramatized the importance of the campus in the community. At the time of the interview, O'Neill believed that if the campus disappeared tomorrow it would not make any difference in the area. It is not necessary to have 20 schools with several duplicate departments in the state. Most of the faculty at Long Beach were not superior scholars or teachers. Overall, however, he believes that superior academics will find a home in southern California because people want to be in an area even if it means working in an unstable environment. (45:26-46:30)... When Carl McIntosh became president, the atmosphere on campus changed. He was an excellent speaker and congenial with the students and faculty. Many, however, believed that he did not have a strong academic background. His administration came under attack shortly after he came to campus. End of tape *** File: uhwoneill2.mp3 (0:00-3:58)... O'Neill believes that the faculty was unfair in their criticism of Carl McIntosh. He handled himself gracefully, but never seemed to have anything in mind. When P. Victor Peterson resigned, David Bryant remained in the administration, but was embittered. He was a business-oriented person and ran his office accordingly, which did not appeal to the faculty. He stayed at Long Beach until he retired and used to count the days by removing a jellybean from a jar each day. Even though he was aware of Peterson's failings as an administrator, Bryant remained loyal. (3:58-6:03)... During McIntosh's administration the environment in the Education Department only got worse. Henry Sehman was a difficult dean who alienated both students and faculty. Many people denied the problems because they had supported his hiring. As a result of Sehman's authoritative manner, a number of good faculty members left the department. (6:03-8:54)... While teaching at Long Beach, O'Neill noted that few faculty members conducted research or published articles or books. The curriculum focused on preparing students for careers in teaching, not on providing liberal arts training. This emphasis did not create an environment favorable to scholarly pursuits. All of O'Neill's publications occurred after he began teaching at USC. (8:54-12:44)... When the chair of his doctoral committee at USC took a sabbatical leave, O'Neill was asked to fill the position in his absence. O'Neill took a leave of absence from Long Beach and after teaching at USC for a year, he was offered permanent a job there. He decided to move to USC because the environment there was more conducive to research and scholarly work. Long Beach professors were burdened by campus politics and committee meetings. There was an expectation that faculty spend a certain amount of hours and days on campus, limiting any opportunities to pursue outside academic interests. In addition, offices were crammed with 3 or 4 faculty members, which made it impossible to work on campus. When he went to USC, he was expected to conduct research and publish. (12:44-18:28)... When he was a student at Long Beach, O'Neill and his friends formed a fraternity that was meant to parody other fraternities. They called themselves Sigma Epsilon Chi, which looked like "SEX" when written into Greek characters. Many early Long Beach students had previously attended LBCC where student clubs were well organized and successful. Their commitment to student activities carried over to the new campus. After he graduated, a national fraternity took over his fraternity and all of the new members were required to memorize the names of the founders, including his own. His involvement in student government began in high school and continued in college. He served as student body president at LBCC, and also at Long Beach State. (18:28-22:35)... The first students at Long Beach State established many of the school's traditions such as the school colors and the forty-niner mascot. Many of the students were older and they used their experience to organize clubs and other student activities. The administration was involved in student activities, but students did not appreciate the administration's attempts to bully them into following the administration's dictates. There were some conflicts with David Bryant; some students who were older than Bryant weren't afraid to disagree with him. Lois Swanson became Assistant Dean of Students for Student Activities but O'Neill did not work with her on too many occasions. His personality conflicted with hers because she was a reserved person who did not identify with the students' needs for social interaction. (22:35-26:05)... After graduating from high school in 1948, O'Neill enrolled in LBCC. The majority of the faculty members at LBCC held doctoral degrees. O'Neill believes that many of the student body decisions and activities at Long Beach State seemed to be modeled after those at LBCC. When the school at Long Beach was first began, it was called South Los Angeles-Orange County State College. (26:05-29:50)... When he enrolled in the new college, there were approximately 60 students. The faculty was small, but most of them taught courses in more than one department. O'Neill earned a bachelors degree in Social Sciences and a masters degree in English. One of his professors was Liz Jacobs, who eventually left the university because the environment was not suited to her academic interests in liberal arts. When O'Neill graduated, he enlisted in the Navy and served in Europe for 2 years. He attended the University of Vienna on the GI Bill and then returned to California, where he received a doctorate in Educational Philosophy at USC. He taught for a year at Hamilton Jr. High School and worked as a substitute teacher in several Long Beach area schools. He taught at Long Beach State from 1957 to 1961 and then took a position at USC. (29:50-39:50)... O'Neill published a book about the educational ideas of Max Rafferty who was California's Superintendent of Public Education and edited a book of readings on educational heresies. He also wrote a book analyzing Ayn Rand's philosophy. His wrote his dissertation about Jean Paul Sarte and it won the dissertation of the year award at USC. (39:50-46:30)... As a student, O'Neill was more influenced by the social interaction and the campus environment than what he was taught in classes. He considers himself an independent thinker and an individualist, which was one of the reasons he didn't enjoy being on the Long Beach faculty. As a student, however, the campus was representative of what an educational experience should be. The faculty, administration, and the students interacted and socialized. The size of the campus did not distract from the development of a collegial and informal environment. End of tape *** File: uhwoneill3.mp3 (0:00-3:57)... Tape begins abruptly with a continued discussion of O'Neill's ideas. He believes that many of his students just write down what they read and do not engage in independent thought. Sometimes doctoral student read to avoid thinking; it is an illusion of productivity. O'Neill is committed to writing 8 hours a day, 3 times a week. When he prepares to write a book, he hibernates for a couple of months to read through his research and then begins to write. (3:57-15:19)... O'Neill considers himself an intellectual who was intolerant of unstructured situations and non directive teaching while on the Long Beach faculty. As a student and a teacher at Long Beach, he was impatient and sought action rather than meaningless talk. Teachers were not inspiring people who were active in their field of study or scholarly in any way. He believes that this climate exists at many institutions and leaves students unsure about whether they are really smart or talented or not. When students are around scholarly and famous professors, students often realize that the professors are really not that good. This provides students with a measurement by which they can evaluate themselves. When these factors are absent, students often graduate with an inferiority complex and never realize their full potential. End of tape en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.rights This repository item may be used for classroom presentations, unpublished papers, and other educational, research, or scholarly use. Other uses, especially publication in any form, such as in dissertations, theses, articles, or web pages are not permitted without the express written permission of the individual collection's copyright holder(s). Please contact the CSULB Library Administration should you require permission to publish or distribute any content from this collection or if you need additional information or assistance in using these materials: en_US
dc.subject Development of California State University, Long Beach en_US
dc.subject Long Beach Area History en_US
dc.title O'Neill, William (audio interview #1 of 1) en_US
dc.type Recording, oral en_US

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